"There's Something Weird Going On": Jeff Snider On The Global Dollar Shortage
The first time we explained that one of the biggest risks facing a world in which the dollar is the reserve currency is a global USD shortage, was in mid-2009, when we wrote "How The Federal Reserve Bailed Out The World."
At the time, the IMF calculated that just ahead of the financial crisis, "major European banks’ US dollar funding gap had reached $1.0–1.2 trillion by mid-2007. Until the onset of the crisis, European banks had met this need by tapping the interbank market ($432 billion) and by borrowing from central banks ($386 billion), and used FX swaps ($315 billion) to convert (primarily) domestic currency funding into dollars." The IMF then extrapolated that "were all liabilities to non-banks treated as short-term funding, the upper-bound estimate would be $6.5 trillion."
Since then the shortage, which some have dubbed a potential multi-trillion dollar margin call, has only grown and became a prominent issue back in March of 2015, when this phenomenon was used to explain why the cross-currency swap had plunged to multi-year lows. As JPM explained at the time, "the fx basis reflects the relative supply and demand for dollar vs. foreign currency funds and a very negative basis currently points to relative shortage of USD funding or relative abundance of funding in other currencies. Such supply and demand imbalances can create big shifts in the fx basis away from its actuarial value of zero."
Fast forward a year and a half later, when none other than the Bank of International Settlements, or the "Central canks' central bank", warned last November that it was no longer the VIX that was the widely accepted barometer of market "fear", it was now the dollar's turn to become the global fear gauge: "just as the VIX index was a good summary measure of the price of balance sheet before the crisis, so the dollar has become a good measure of the price of balance sheet after the crisis. The mantle of the barometer of risk appetite and leverage has slipped from the VIX, and has passed to the dollar."
Shortly thereafter we once recapped the main risks emerging from this increasingly more prominent threat to global financial stability, and wondered at what point would the Fed finally address this risk pointed out not only by this website for nearly 8 years, but also by the BIS, in a post which piggybacked on the recent work by ADM ISI's Paul Mylchreest, who has made tracking the global dollar shortage one of his primary objectives.
* * *Now, in an exhaustive, 70 minute interview, submitted by Patrick Ceresna at MacroVoices.com, another prominent analyst who has been closely tracking the global dollar shortage, Alhambra Partners' Jeffrey Snider sat down with Erik Townsend to explain - once again - why this is such a critical topic, even if it comes at a time of unprecedented global complacency (it's amazing what record high stock prices will do to concerns - or lack thereof - about the future).
As Snider puts it, while most other risk indicators imply smooth sailing, "there is 'something' weird going on" when it comes to dollar funding and global imbalances of the world's reserve currency, i.e., dollar shortage.
While we urge readers to listen to the full interview below, here are some of the highlights, starting with "why the Dollar shortage a symptom of an inherently unstable system."
- In the interview, among the many topics covered, are
- Understanding the Eurodollar Money Market
- Swap Spreads and Interbank Hierarchy
- Dimensions in the Eurodollar Futures and Eurodollar Money Supply
- Why does the World Need So Many Dollars?
- How the Eurodollar market supplanted the Bretton Woods System
- U.S. Dollar and the Dollar Funding Gap
- Reflation Trade Debunked
- Interest Rates Trapped
- Failing Global Currency System
As Snider explains, "the dollar shortage isn't so much the shortage per se, it’s the fact that it's a symptom of what is an inherently unstable system." He notes that "the reason banks are withdrawing from the system is that it's just is no longer tenable" and "so there has to be some kind of – whether you want to look at it like another Bretton Woods – conference, a global monetary system, a global monetary get together where people start to analyze solutions to the problem as they are rather than keep trying to apply band aids that are not going to work. "
But, he concludes, "step one of that task is to actually recognize the problem as it is and so doing more stimulus or doing more QE isn't going to solve anything it isn’t do anything just like prior QEs and prior stimulus haven't done anything either because the problem is an unstable system."...MUCH MORE