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Dudley Says September Hike Possible, Markets Too Complacent

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William Dudley

The Federal Reserve could potentially raise interest rates as soon as next month, New York Fed President William Dudley said, warning investors that they are underestimating the likelihood of increases in borrowing costs.

“We’re edging closer towards the point in time where it will be appropriate, I think, to raise interest rates further,” Dudley, who serves as vice chairman of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee, said Tuesday on Fox Business Network. Asked whether the FOMC could vote to raise the benchmark rate at its next meeting Sept. 20-21, Dudley said, “I think it’s possible.”

Investors expect about one rate hike between now and the end of next year, according to federal funds futures contracts, and they marked up probabilities only slightly on Tuesday. Dudley said such estimates are “too low” and that “the market is complacent about the need for gradually snugging up short-term interest rates over the next year or so.”

“We are looking for growth in the second half of the year that will be stronger than the first half,” Dudley said. “I think the labor market is going to continue to tighten, and in that environment I think we are getting closer to the day where we are going to have to snug up interest rates a little bit.”

The FOMC left interest rates unchanged when it met last month, but said in a post-meeting statement that “near-term risks to the economic outlook have diminished.” The Fed will publish minutes of that meeting Wednesday at 2 p.m. in Washington.

Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, also speaking Tuesday, said he’s confident growth is accelerating, setting the stage for one or two rate increases this year. He said he wouldn’t rule out one coming in September.

‘Serious Discussion’

“If the meeting were today, I think the economic data stream would justify a serious discussion of a rate increase,” Lockhart, who isn’t a voting member of the FOMC this year, told reporters after a speech in Knoxville, Tennessee. “Now we have more data to come in in the next few weeks before the meeting. We’ll see what that tells us. But I would not rule out September, at least for a serious discussion.”

While U.S. stocks rose to another record high on Monday, the New York Fed chief said he didn’t see any signs of asset bubbles that are “particularly disturbing.” At the same time, the bond market “looks a little bit stretched,” in part because major central banks are “creating a search for yield globally” through their bond-buying programs, he said. That demand is spilling over to the U.S., where Treasury yields are higher than in Japan, Germany and the U.K.

“The 10-year Treasury yield, at 1.5 percent, is pretty low in an environment where we think we are making progress towards our objective, we’re pretty close to full employment, we think inflation is going to trend back to 2 percent over the next couple of years,” Dudley said.

Brexit Risks

Even so, Dudley struck a cautious tone on the pace and ultimate amount of Fed tightening. He said near-term risks from the effects on financial markets of the U.K. vote in June to leave the European Union had diminished, but added that there were uncertainties about the longer-term economic impact and whether foreign central banks would be able to support global economic growth with negative interest-rate policies.

In the U.S., “there are reasons to think that monetary policy isn’t particularly stimulative right now, and you can sort of judge that by the fact that we only grew at a 1 percent annual rate in the first half of the year,” he said. “So we probably don’t have a lot of monetary policy tightenings to actually do over time.”

A Labor Department report released Aug. 5 showed two straight months of strong job creation in June and July following a tiny increase in May that raised worries about the health of the economy. The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, which has been below the central bank’s 2 percent target for four years, has been slow to pick up.

“In my mind, the inflation outlook really hasn’t changed very much,” Dudley said. “The key question is: Are we going to get enough growth to put pressure on resources, pushing up wages and gradually pushing up inflation towards 2 percent? So far we seem to be on that trajectory.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Forex

Nigeria’s Diaspora Remittances Decline by 28 Percent to $16.8 Billion in 2020

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US dollar - Investors King

Nigeria’s diaspora remittances declined by 27.7 percent or $4.65 billion from $21.45 billion in 2019 to $16.8 billion in 2020, according to the World Bank Migration and Development report.

A critical look into the report shows remittances to sub-Saharan Africa declined by 12.5 percent in 2020 to $42 billion. This was largely due to the 27.7 percent recorded by Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, which accounted for over 40 percent of the total remittance inflows into the region.

The report noted that once Nigeria’s remittance inflows into the region are excluded, remittances grew by 2.3 percent in 2020 with Zambia recording 37 per cent.

Followed by 16 percent from Mozambique, 9 percent from Kenya and 5 percent from Ghana.

The decline was a result of the global lockdown that dragged on the livelihood of most diaspora and unclear economic policies.

In an effort to change the tide, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) introduced a Naira 4 Dollar Scheme to reverse the downward trend and boost diaspora inflows into the economy.

However, the reports revealed that other external factors like insecurities, global slow down, weak macroeconomic fundamentals, etc continue to discourage capital inflows.

On Tuesday, the CBN, in a new directive, announced it has halved dollar cash deposit from $10,000 to $5000 per month.

The move is geared towards discouraging overreliance on the United States Dollar and encourage local patronage and production.

Mr. Guy Czartoryski, Head of Research at Coronation Asset Management, had said in the report, “We looked at the top 10 banks and the breakdown of their deposits showed that 40 per cent of their deposits are in dollars and it is quite astonishing.”

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Forex

Deposit Money Banks Reduce Dollar-Cash Deposits by 50 Percent to $5000/Month

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United States Dollar - Investors King Ltd

Nigeria’s Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) have reduced the amount of United States Dollars that customers can deposit into their domiciliary accounts by 50 percent from $10,000 to $5,000 per month.

A bank official who preferred not to be mentioned confirmed the new policy to Investors King.

He, however, stated that the new policy does not apply to customers making electronic transfers as well as oil and gas companies and dollar payments into government accounts.

Checks revealed that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) introduced the new policy to discourage the strong appetite for the United States Dollar, which has continued to rise.

A recent report has shown that despite persistent dollar scarcity, around 40 percent of bank deposits in the nation’s top ten banks were in dollars.

Mr. Guy Czartoryski, Head of Research at Coronation Asset Management, had said in the report, “We looked at the top 10 banks and the breakdown of their deposits showed that 40 per cent of their deposits are in dollars and it is quite astonishing.”

According to an analyst at ARM Securities Limited, Mr. Olamofe Olayemi, “this has to do with how much confidence the people have in the naira. Over time, we have seen significant depreciation in the naira.

“If you look at what happened in 2020, no one expected that the naira would be devalued twice in that year and even the outlook, this year is suggesting further depreciation in the naira.

“So, it makes sense to a lot of people to store their money in dollars. But, from the CBN standpoint, you agree with me that there is dollar scarcity.”

He, therefore, argued that the new policy might discourage financial inclusion and encourage cash outside the banking system.

Again, it is important for the flow of money to be captured in the system,” he said.

The CBN had extended its Naira 4 Dollar Scheme last week to further encourage dollar inflow into the Nigerian economy.

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Naira

Naira Closed at N411.25 to US Dollar at NAFEX Window

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Naira Dollar Exchange Rate - Investors King

The Nigerian Naira declined further against the U.S Dollar on Tuesday ahead of the Ramadan holiday to trade at N411.25 to a single U.S Dollar at the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange (NAFEX) window.

The local currency plunged as low as N420.23 per dollar during the trading hours of Tuesday despite opening the day at N410.33/US$ before settling at N411.25 to a US dollar.

Investors on the window exchanged $98.33 million on Tuesday.

At the parallel section of the foreign exchange, Naira traded at N483 to a United States Dollar; N673 to a British Pound and N580 to a Euro.

Foreign exchange rates remained largely unchanged at the bureau de change section, with the Naira trading at N482 to a U.S Dollar; N674 to a British Pound and N584 to a Euro.

Several factors continue to weigh on the Nigerian Naira, especially with the foreign reserves hovering around record low and crude oil output not at an optimal level.

Other factors like rising inflation rate and drop in economic activity due to COVID-19 effect on the economy and lack of enough fiscal buffer to cushion the economy.

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