The threat facing the global economy — including the Fed’s role in it — is expected to dominate the conversation next week as economists and government officials convene in Washington for the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

In a speech at Georgetown University on Thursday, Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the I.M.F., offered a grim assessment of the world economy and the tightrope that central banks are walking.

“Not tightening enough would cause inflation to become de-anchored and entrenched — which would require future interest rates to be much higher and more sustained, causing massive harm on growth and massive harm on people,” Ms. Georgieva said. “On the other hand, tightening monetary policy too much and too fast — and doing so in a synchronized manner across countries — could push many economies into prolonged recession.”

Noting that inflation remains stubbornly high and broad-based, she added: “Central banks have to continue to respond.”

The World Bank warned last month that simultaneous interest-rate increases around the world could trigger a global recession next year, causing financial crises in developing economies. It urged central banks in advanced economies to be mindful of the cross-border “spillover effects.”

“To achieve low inflation rates, currency stability and faster growth, policymakers could shift their focus from reducing consumption to boosting production,” David Malpass, the World Bank president, said.

Trade and Development Report said.

So far, major central banks have shown little appetite for stopping their inflation-busting campaigns. The Fed, which has made five rate increases this year, has signaled that it plans to raise borrowing costs even higher. Most officials expect to increase rates by at least another 1.25 percentage points this year, taking the policy rate to a range of 4.25 to 4.5 percent from the current 3 to 3.25 percent.

Even economies that are facing a pronounced slowdown have been lifting borrowing costs. The European Central Bank raised rates three-quarters of a point last month, even though the continent is approaching a dark winter of slowing growth and crushing energy costs.

according to the World Bank. Food costs in particular have driven millions further into extreme poverty, exacerbating hunger and malnutrition. As the dollar surge makes a range of imports pricier for emerging markets, that situation could worsen, even as the possibility of financial upheaval increases.

“Low-income developing countries in particular face serious risks from food insecurity and debt distress,” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organization, said during a news conference this week.

In Africa, officials have been urging the I.M.F. and Group of 20 nations to provide more emergency assistance and debt relief amid inflation and rising interest rates.

“This unprecedented shock further destabilizes the weakest economies and makes their need for liquidity even more pressing, to mitigate the effects of widespread inflation and to support the most vulnerable households and social strata, especially young people and women,” Macky Sall, chairman of the African Union, told leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in September.

To be sure, central bankers in big developed economies like the United States are aware that they are barreling over other economies with their policies. And although they are focused on domestic goals, a severe weakening abroad could pave the way for less aggressive policy because of its implications for their own economic outlooks.

Waning demand from abroad could ease pressure on supply chains and reduce prices. If central bankers decide that such a chain reaction is likely to weigh on their own business activity and inflation, it may give them more room to slow their policy changes.

“The global tightening cycle is something that the Fed has to take into account,” said Megan Greene, global chief economist for the Kroll consulting firm. “They’re interested in what is going on in the rest of the world, inasmuch as it affects their ability to achieve their targets.”

his statement.

But many global economic officials — including those at the Fed — remain focused on very high inflation. Investors expect them to make another large rate increase when they meet on Nov. 1-2.

“We’re very attentive” to international spillovers to both emerging markets and advanced economies, Lisa D. Cook, a Fed governor, said during a question-and-answer session on Thursday. “But our mandate is domestic. So we’re very focused on inflation as it evolves in this country.”

Raghuram Rajan, a former head of India’s central bank and now an economist at the University of Chicago, has in the past pushed the Fed to take foreign conditions into account as it sets policy. He still thinks that measures like bond-buying should be pursued with an eye on global spillovers.

But amid high inflation, he said, central banks are required to pay attention to their own mandates to achieve price stability — even if that makes for a stronger dollar, weaker currencies and more pain abroad.

“The basic problem is that the world of monetary policy dances to the Fed’s tune,” Mr. Rajan said, later adding: “This is a problem with no easy solutions.”

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In Global Slowdown, China Holds Sway Over Countries’ Fates

BEIJING — When Suriname couldn’t make its debt payments, a Chinese state bank seized the money from one of the South American country’s accounts.

As Pakistan has struggled to cope with a devastating flood that has inundated a third of the country, its loan repayments to China have been rising fast.

When Kenyans and Angolans went to the polls in presidential elections in August, the countries’ Chinese loans, and how to repay them, were a hot-button political issue.

Across much of the developing world, China finds itself in an uncomfortable position, a geopolitical giant that now holds significant sway over the financial futures of many nations but is also owed huge sums of money that may never be repaid in full.

the lender of choice for many nations over the past decade, doling out funds for governments to build bullet trains, hydroelectric dams, airports and superhighways. As inflation has climbed and economies have weakened, China has the power to cut them off, lend more or, in its most accommodating moments, forgive small portions of their debts.

The economic distress in poor countries is palpable, given the lingering effects of the pandemic, coupled with high food and energy prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Many borrowed heavily from China. In Pakistan, overall public debt has more than doubled over the past decade, with loans from China growing fastest; in Kenya, public debt is up ninefold and in Suriname tenfold.

two hydroelectric dams in southern Patagonia. Bradley Parks, the executive director of AidData, a research institute at William and Mary, a university in Williamsburg, Va., estimated that Argentina’s twice-a-year interest payment was $87 million in January and $137 million in July.

Argentina will owe a payment of over $170 million on the loan in January if interest rates keep rising at the same pace, he calculated. Argentina’s finance ministry did not respond to emails and text messages about the loan.

According to the I.M.F., three-fifths of the world’s developing countries are now having considerable trouble repaying loans or have already fallen behind on their debts. More than half the world’s poor countries owe more to China than to all Western governments combined.

For now, Chinese officials in poor countries face unpleasant jobs as debt collectors.

“You have a lot more influence when you’re providing the loan,” said Brad Setser, an international payments specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations, “than when you’re begging for repayment.”

Abdi Latif Dahir in Nairobi, Emily Schmall in New Delhi, Skandha Gunasekara in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Salman Masood in Islamabad, Pakistan, contributed reporting. Li You and Ana Lankes contributed research.

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SWIFT sets out blueprint for central bank digital currency network

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LONDON, Oct 5 (Reuters) – Financial messaging system SWIFT has laid out its blueprint for a global central bank digital currency (CBDC) network following an 8-month experiment on different technologies and currencies.

The trial, which for the last month has involved both France and Germany’s national central banks as well as global lenders like HSBC, Standard Chartered and UBS, looked at how CBDCs could be used internationally and even converted into fiat money if needed.

Around 90% of the world’s central banks are now using, trialling or looking into CBDCs. Most don’t want to be left behind by bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but are grappling with technological complexities.

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SWIFT’s head of innovation Nick Kerigan said its trial, which will be followed by more advanced testing over the next year, resembled a bicycle wheel where 14 central and commercial banks in total connected spoke-like into its main hub.

The idea is that once scaled-up, banks may need only one main global connection, rather than thousands if they were to set up connections with each counterpart individually.

“We believe that the number of connections needed is much fewer,” Kerigan said. “Therefore, you are likely to have fewer breaks (in the chain) and you are likely to achieve greater efficiency.”

CBDCs are being seen as a step forward as they could effectively be programmed to meet both governments’ and individuals’ specific needs, although they have also raised concerns about privacy and surveillance.

SWIFT’s trial also tested different underlying CBDC technologies known as Distributed Ledger Technologies. The use of various technologies has also been raised as a potential hurdle for rapid global adoption.

There was a separate trial too carried out with Citi, clearing house Clearstream and Northern Trust on ‘tokenised’ assets – traditional assets like stocks and bonds transformed into digital tokens that can then be issued and traded in real-time.

Some countries such as the Bahamas and Nigeria already have CBDCs up and running. China is well advanced with real-life trials of an e-yuan, while central bank umbrella group, the Bank for International Settlements, has also been running cross-border trials.

Central Bank Digital Currencies around the world

SWIFT’s main advantage though is that its existing network is already usable in over 200 countries and connects more than 11,500 banks and funds.

The Belgium-based firm has gone from being virtually unknown outside banking circles to a household name this year after it cut most of Russia’s banks off from its network as part of the West’s sanctions for the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Kerigan said that kind of move could also happen in a new CBDC system, but doubted whether it would stop countries joining one.

“Ultimately what most central banks are looking to do is to provide us with a CBDC for the people, the businesses and the organisations in their jurisdiction.”

“So a solution that’s fast and efficient and that gains access to as many other countries as possible would seem to be an attractive one.”

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A Strong Dollar Is Wreaking Havoc on Emerging Markets. A Debt Crisis Could Be Next.

The average household in Ghana is paying two-thirds more than it did last year for diesel, flour and other necessities. In Egypt, wheat is so expensive that the government has fallen half a billion dollars short of its budget for a bread subsidy it provides to its citizens. And Sri Lanka, already struggling to control a political crisis, is running out of fuel, food and medical supplies.

A strong dollar is making the problems worse.

Compared with other currencies, the U.S. dollar is the strongest it has been in two decades. It is rising because the Federal Reserve has increased interest rates sharply to combat inflation and because America’s economic health is better than most. Together, these factors have attracted investors from all over the world. Sometimes they simply buy dollars, but even if investors buy other assets, like government bonds, they need dollars to do so — in each case pushing up the currency’s value.

That strength has become much of the world’s weakness. The dollar is the de facto currency for global trade, and its steep rise is squeezing dozens of lower-income nations, chiefly those that rely heavily on imports of food and oil and borrow in dollars to fund them.

But much of the damage is already behind us.

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  • “We are in a fragile situation,” Mr. El-Erian said. “Country after country is flashing amber, and some are already flashing red.”

    Many lower-income countries were already struggling during the pandemic.

    Roughly 22 million people in Ghana, or a third of its population, reported a decline in their income between April 2020 and May 2021, according to a survey from the World Bank and Unicef. Adults in almost half of the households with children surveyed said they were skipping a meal because they didn’t have enough money. Almost three-quarters said the prices of major food items had increased.

    Then came Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The war between two of the world’s largest exporters of food and energy led to a big surge in prices, especially for importers like Ghana. Consumer prices have gone up 30 percent for the year through June, according to data from the research firm Moody’s Analytics. For household essentials, annual inflation has reached 60 percent or more this year, the S&P data shows.

    To illustrate this, consider the price of a barrel of oil in dollars versus the Ghanaian cedi. At the beginning of October last year, the price of oil stood at $78.52 per barrel, rising to nearly $130 per barrel in March before falling back to $87.96 at the beginning of this month, a one-year increase of 12 percent in dollar terms. Over the same period, the Ghanaian cedi has weakened over 40 percent against the dollar, meaning that the same barrel of oil that cost roughly 475 cedi a year ago now costs over 900 cedi, almost twice as much.

    Adding to the problem are large state-funded subsidies, some taken on or increased through the pandemic, that are now weighing on government finances.

    Ghana’s president cut fuel taxes in November 2021, losing roughly $22 million in projected revenue for the government — the latest available numbers.

    In Egypt, spending on what the government refers to as “supply commodities,” almost all of which is wheat for its long-running bread subsidy, is expected to come in at around 7 percent of all government spending this year, 12 percent higher — or more than half a billion dollars — than the government budgeted.

    As costs ballooned throughout the pandemic, governments took on more debt. Ghana’s public debt grew to nearly $60 billion from roughly $40 billion at the end of 2019, or to nearly 80 percent of its gross domestic product from around 63 percent, according to Moody’s.

    It’s one of four countries listed by S&P, alongside Pakistan, Nigeria and Sri Lanka, where interest payments alone account for more than half of the government’s revenues.

    “We can’t forget that this is happening on the back end of a once-in-a-century pandemic in which governments, to try and support families as best they could, did borrow more,” said Frank Gill, an analyst at S&P. “This is a shock following up on another shock.”

    In May, Sri Lanka defaulted on its government debt for the first time in its history. Over the past month, the governments of Egypt, Pakistan and Ghana have all reached out to the International Monetary Fund for a bailout as they struggle to meet their debt financing needs, no longer able to turn to international investors for more money.

    “I don’t think there is a lot of appetite to lend money to some of these countries,” said Brian Weinstein, co-head of credit trading at Bank of America. “They are incredibly vulnerable at the moment.”

    That vulnerability is already reflected in the bond market.

    In 2016, Ghana borrowed $1 billion for 10 years, paying an interest rate of just over 8 percent. As the country’s financial position has worsened and investors have backed away, the yield — indicative of what it would now cost Ghana to borrow money until 2026 — has risen to above 35 percent.

    It’s an untenable cost of debt for a country in Ghana’s situation. And Ghana is not alone. For bonds that also mature in 2026, yields for Pakistan have reached almost 40 percent.

    “We have concerns where any country has yields that calls into question their ability to refinance in public markets,” said Charles Cohen, deputy division chief of monetary and capital market departments at IMF.

    The risk of a sovereign debt crisis in some emerging markets is “very, very high,” said Jesse Rogers, an economist at Moody’s Analytics. Mr. Rogers likened the current situation to the debt crises that crushed Latin America in the 1980s — the last time the Fed sought to quell soaring inflation.

    Already this year, more than $80 billion has been withdrawn from mutual funds and exchange-traded funds — two popular types of investment products — that buy emerging market bonds, according to EPFR Global, a data provider. As investors sell, the United States is often the beneficiary, further strengthening the dollar.

    “It’s by far the worst year for outflows the market has ever seen,” said Pramol Dhawan, head of emerging markets at Pimco.

    Even citizens in some of these countries are trying to exchange their money for dollars, fearful of what’s to come and of further currency depreciation — yet inadvertently also contributing to it.

    “For pockets of emerging markets, this is a really challenging backdrop and one of the most challenging backdrops we have faced for many years,” Mr. Dhawan said.

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    On Portugal’s ‘Bitcoin Beach,’ Crypto Optimism Still Reigns

    LAGOS, Portugal — The Bam Bam Beach Bitcoin bar, on an uncrowded beach in southwestern Portugal, is the meeting place.

    To get there, you drive past a boat harbor, oceanside hotels and apartment buildings, then park near a sleepy seafood restaurant and walk down a wooden path that cuts through a sand dune. Yellow Bitcoin flags blow in the wind. The conversations about cryptocurrencies and a decentralized future flow.

    “People always doubt when to buy, when to sell,” said Didi Taihuttu, a Dutch investor who moved to town this summer and is one of Bam Bam’s owners. “We solve that by being all in.”

    melted down, and crypto companies like the experimental bank Celsius Network declared bankruptcy as fears over the global economy yanked down values of the risky assets. Thousands of investors were hurt by the crash. The price of Bitcoin, which peaked at more than $68,000 last year, remains off by more than 70 percent.

    But in this Portuguese seaside idyll, confidence in cryptocurrencies is undimmed. Every Friday, 20 or so visitors from Europe and beyond gather at Bam Bam to share their unwavering faith in digital currencies. Their buoyancy and cheer endure across Portugal and in other crypto hubs around the world, such as Puerto Rico and Cyprus.

    Sifted.eu.)

    In beach towns like Ericeira and Lagos, shops and restaurants show their acceptance of digital currencies by taking Bitcoin as payment. Lisbon, the capital, has become a hub for crypto-related start-ups such as Utrust, a cryptocurrency payment platform, and Immunefi, a company that identifies security vulnerabilities in decentralized networks.

    “Portugal should be the Silicon Valley of Bitcoin,” Mr. Taihuttu said. “It has all the ingredients.”

    news outlets covered his family’s story, Mr. Taihuttu’s social media following swelled, turning him into an influencer and a source of investment advice. A documentary film crew has followed him on and off for the past 18 months. This summer, he settled in Portugal and quickly became something of an ambassador for its crypto scene.

    He has goals to turn Meia Praia, the beach where Bam Bam is located, into “Bitcoin Beach.” He is shopping for property to create a community nearby for fellow believers.

    “You prove that it is possible to run some part of the world, even if it’s just one,” said Mr. Taihuttu, with a Jack Daniel’s and Coke in hand. He has shoulder-length black hair and wore a tank top that showcased his tan and tattoos (including one on his forearm of the Bitcoin symbol).

    Ms. Bestandig was among those who Mr. Taihuttu drew to Portugal.

    collapse of Mt. Gox, a Tokyo-based virtual currency exchange that declared bankruptcy in 2014 after huge, unexplained losses of Bitcoin.

    If cryptocurrency prices do not recover, “a lot of them will have to go back to work again,” Clinton Donnelly, an American tax lawyer specializing in cryptocurrencies, said of some of those gathered at Bam Bam.

    Even so, Mr. Donnelly and other bar regulars said their belief in crypto remained unshaken.

    Thomas Roessler, wearing a black Bitcoin shirt and drinking a beer “inspired by” the currency, said he had come with his wife and two young children to decide whether to move to Portugal from Germany. He first invested in Bitcoin in 2014 and, more recently, sold a small rental apartment in Germany to invest even more.

    Mr. Roessler was concerned about the drop in crypto values but said he was convinced the market would rebound. Moving to Portugal could lower his taxes and give his family the chance to buy affordable property in a warm climate, he said. They had come to the bar to learn from others who had made the move.

    “We have not met a lot of people who live this way,” Mr. Roessler said. Then he bought another round of drinks and paid for them with Bitcoin.

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    Strong Dollar Is Good for the US but Bad for the World

    The Federal Reserve’s determination to crush inflation at home by raising interest rates is inflicting profound pain in other countries — pushing up prices, ballooning the size of debt payments and increasing the risk of a deep recession.

    Those interest rate increases are pumping up the value of the dollar — the go-to currency for much of the world’s trade and transactions — and causing economic turmoil in both rich and poor nations. In Britain and across much of the European continent, the dollar’s acceleration is helping feed stinging inflation.

    On Monday, the British pound touched a record low against the dollar as investors balked at a government tax cut and spending plan. And China, which tightly controls its currency, fixed the renminbi at its lowest level in two years while taking steps to manage its decline.

    Somalia, where the risk of starvation already lurks, the strong dollar is pushing up the price of imported food, fuel and medicine. The strong dollar is nudging debt-ridden Argentina, Egypt and Kenya closer to default and threatening to discourage foreign investment in emerging markets like India and South Korea.

    the International Monetary Fund.

    Japanese yen has reached a decades-long high. The euro, used by 19 nations across Europe, reached 1-to-1 parity with the dollar in June for the first time since 2002. The dollar is clobbering other currencies as well, including the Brazilian real, the South Korean won and the Tunisian dinar.

    the economic outlook in the United States, however cloudy, is still better than in most other regions.

    loss of purchasing power over time, meaning your dollar will not go as far tomorrow as it did today. It is typically expressed as the annual change in prices for everyday goods and services such as food, furniture, apparel, transportation and toys.

    A fragile currency can sometimes work as “a buffering mechanism,” causing nations to import less and export more, Mr. Prasad said. But today, many “are not seeing the benefits of stronger growth.”

    Still, they must pay more for essential imports like oil, wheat or pharmaceuticals as well as for loan bills due from billion-dollar debts.

    debt crisis in Latin America in the 1980s.

    The situation is particularly fraught because so many countries ran up above-average debts to deal with the fallout from the pandemic. And now they are facing renewed pressure to offer public support as food and energy prices soar.

    Indonesia this month, thousands of protesters, angry over a 30 percent price increase on subsidized fuel, clashed with the police. In Tunisia, a shortage of subsidized food items like sugar, coffee, flour and eggs has shuttered cafes and emptied market shelves.

    New research on the impact of a strong dollar on emerging nations found that it drags down economic progress across the board.

    “You can see these very pronounced negative effects of a stronger dollar,” said Maurice Obstfeld, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and an author of the study.

    central banks feel pressure to raise interest rates to bolster their currencies and prevent import prices from skyrocketing. Last week, Argentina, the Philippines, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Britain and Norway raised interest rates.

    World Bank warned this month that simultaneous interest rate increases are pushing the world toward a recession and developing nations toward a string of financial crises that would inflict “lasting harm.”

    Clearly, the Fed’s mandate is to look after the American economy, but some economists and foreign policymakers argue it should pay more attention to the fallout its decisions have on the rest of the world.

    In 1998, Alan Greenspan, a five-term Fed chair, argued that “it is just not credible that the United States can remain an oasis of prosperity unaffected by a world that is experiencing greatly increased stress.”

    The United States is now facing a slowing economy, but the essential dilemma is the same.

    “Central banks have purely domestic mandates,” said Mr. Obstfeld, the U.C. Berkeley economist, but financial and trade globalization have made economies more interdependent than they have ever been and so closer cooperation is needed. “I don’t think central banks can have the luxury of not thinking about what’s happening abroad.”

    Flávia Milhorance contributed reporting from Rio de Janeiro.

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    Analysis: After feverish week, global investors lick wounds and brace for more chaos

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    NEW YORK/LONDON, Sept 25 (Reuters) – Global investors are preparing for more market mayhem after a monumental week that whipsawed asset prices around the world, as central banks and governments ramped up their fight against inflation.

    Signs of extraordinary times were everywhere. The Federal Reserve delivered its third straight seventy-five basis point rate hike while Japan intervened to shore up the yen for the first time since 1998. The British pound slid to a fresh 37-year trough against the dollar after the country’s new finance minister unleashed historic tax cuts and huge increases in borrowing.

    “It’s hard to know what will break where, and when,” said Mike Kelly, head of multi-asset at PineBridge Investments (US). “Before, the thinking had been that a recession would be short and shallow. Now we’re throwing that away and thinking about the unintended consequences of much tighter monetary policy.”

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    Stocks plunged everywhere. The Dow Jones Industrial Average nearly joined the S&P 500 and Nasdaq in a bear market while bonds tumbled to their lowest level in years as investors recalibrated their portfolios to a world of persistent inflation and rising interest rates. read more

    Towering above it all was the U.S. dollar, which has rocketed to its highest level in 20 years against a basket of currencies, lifted in part by investors seeking shelter from the wild swings in markets.

    “Currency exchange rates … are now violent in their moves,” said David Kotok, chairman and chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisors. “When governments and central banks are in the business of setting the interest rates they are shifting the volatility to the currency markets.”

    For now, the selloffs across asset classes have drawn few bargain hunters. In fact, many believe things are bound to get worse as tighter monetary policy across the globe raises the risks of a worldwide recession.

    “We remain cautious,” said Russ Koesterich, who oversees the Global Allocation Fund for Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager, noting his allocation to equities is “well below benchmark” and he is also cautious on bonds.

    “I think there’s a lot of uncertainty on how quickly inflation will come down, there’s a lot of uncertainty about whether or not the Fed will go through with as an aggressive tightening campaign as they signaled this week.”

    Kotok said he is positioned conservatively with high cash levels. “I’d like to see enough of a selloff to make entry attractive in the U.S. stockmarket,” Kotok said.

    The fallout from the hectic week exacerbated trends for stocks and bonds that have been in place all year, pushing down prices for both asset classes. But the murky outlook meant that they were still not cheap enough for some investors.

    “We think the time to go long in equities is still ahead of us until we see signs that the market has bottomed,” said Jake Jolly, senior investment strategist at BNY Mellon, who has been increasing his allocation to short duration sovereign bonds.

    “The market is getting closer and closer to pricing in this recession that is widely expected but it is not yet fully priced in.”

    Reuters Graphics

    Goldman Sachs strategists on Friday lowered their year-end target for the benchmark U.S. stock index, the S&P 500 (.SPX), to 3,600 from 4,300. The index was last at 3,693.23.

    Bond yields, which move inversely to prices, surged across the world. Yields on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury hit their highest level in more than 12 years, while Germany’s two-year bond yield rose above 2% for the first time since late 2008 . In the UK, five year gilts leapt 50 bps — their biggest one-day jump since at least late 1991, according to Refinitiv data.

    “At some point, the fears will shift from inflation to growth,” said Matthew Nest, global head of active fixed income at State Street Global Advisors, who thinks bond yields have moved so high they are starting to look “pretty attractive.”

    Reuters Graphics

    Investors fear things will get worse before they get better.

    “The question is now not whether we are going into a recession, it is how deep will the recession be, and might we have some form of financial crisis and major global liquidity shock,” said Mike Riddell, a senior fixed income portfolio manager at Allianz Global Investors in London.

    Because monetary policy tends to work with a lag, Riddell estimates the renewed hawkishness from central banks means the global economy will be even weaker by the middle of next year.

    “We are of the view that markets are still massively underestimating the global economic growth hit that is coming,” he said.

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    Reporting by Davide Barbuscia, Saqib Iqbal Ahmed and David Randall in New York and Dhara Ranasinghe in London; Writing by Lewis Krauskopf; Editing by Ira Iosebashvili, Megan Davies and Daniel Wallis

    Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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    Treasury Recommends Exploring Creation Of A Digital Dollar

    By Associated Press
    September 16, 2022

    The Atlantic Council nonpartisan think tank says many other countries already are exploring or have created a central bank digital currency.

    The Biden administration is moving one step closer to developing a central bank digital currency, known as the digital dollar, saying it would help reinforce the U.S. role as a leader in the world financial system.

    The White House said on Friday that after President Joe Biden issued an executive order in March calling on a variety of agencies to look at ways to regulate digital assets, the agencies came up with nine reports, covering cryptocurrency impacts on financial markets, the environment, innovation and other elements of the economic system.

    Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said one Treasury recommendation is that the U.S. “advance policy and technical work on a potential central bank digital currency, or CBDC, so that the United States is prepared if CBDC is determined to be in the national interest.”

    “Right now, some aspects of our current payment system are too slow or too expensive,” Yellen said on a Thursday call with reporters laying out some of the findings of the reports.

    Central bank digital currencies differ from existing digital money available to the general public, such as the balance in a bank account, because they would be a direct liability of the Federal Reserve, not a commercial bank.

    According to the Atlantic Council nonpartisan think tank, 105 countries representing more than 95% of global gross domestic product already are exploring or have created a central bank digital currency. The council found that the U.S. and the U.K. are far behind in creating a digital dollar or its equivalent.

    Treasury, the Justice Department, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the Securities and Exchange Commission and other agencies were tasked with contributing to reports that would address various concerns about the risks, development and usage of digital assets. Several reports will come out in the next weeks and months.

    On Capitol Hill, lawmakers have submitted various pieces of legislation to regulate cryptocurrency and other digital assets.

    The director of the National Economic Council, Brian Deese, told reporters that “we’ve seen in recent months substantial turmoil in cryptocurrency markets and these events really highlight how, without proper oversight, cryptocurrencies risk harming everyday Americans’ financial stability and our national security.”

    “It is why this administration believes that now more than ever,” he said, “prudent regulation of cryptocurrencies is needed.”

    Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

    Source: newsy.com

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    Stocks subdued by outsized rate risks, yen fragile

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    • Fed looms over broader markets, dollar rises
    • Oil tumbles on demand concerns, U.S. rail strike averted
    • Treasury yields climb while oil gold tumbles

    NEW YORK, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Wall Street indexes were firmly in the red after a choppy start to Thursday’s session while bond yields rose as investors digested economic data that provided the Federal Reserve little reason to ease its aggressive interest rate hiking cycle.

    Oil futures tumbled more than 3% on demand concerns and after a tentative agreement that would avert a U.S. rail strike, as well as continued U.S. dollar strength with expectations for a large U.S. rate increase. read more

    Economic data showed U.S. retail sales unexpectedly rebounded in August as Americans ramped up purchases of motor vehicles and dined out more while taking advantage of lower gasoline prices. But data for July was revised downward to show retail sales declining instead of flat as previously reported.

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    Separately the Labor Department said initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell for the week ended Sept. 10 to the lowest level since the end of May. read more

    Investors are widely expecting an aggressive rate hike after the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting next week, but nervously awaiting hints from Fed Chair Jerome Powell about future policy moves, said Quincy Krosby, chief global strategist at LPL Financial.

    “The market remains choppy knowing that there’s a Fed meeting next week. Even though participants agree that it’ll be a 75 basis points rate hike, it’s what the statement adds to previous commentary and what Chairman Powell says in his press conference” that have them worried, Krosby said.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) fell 173.07 points, or 0.56%, to 30,962.02; the S&P 500 (.SPX) lost 44.69 points, or 1.13%, to 3,901.32 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) dropped 167.32 points, or 1.43%, to 11,552.36.

    MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe (.MIWD00000PUS) shed 0.96% while emerging market stocks (.MSCIEF) lost 0.57%.

    Stocks, bonds and currencies on Thursday were showing a market “increasingly understanding the Fed is going to hike more aggressively next week,” said Scott Ladner, chief investment officer at Horizon Investments in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Referring particularly to the still strong labor market, Ladner said “economic numbers released today are tying a bow on the situation.”

    Treasury yields rose with the two-year hitting fresh 15-year highs, after data on retail sales and jobless claims showed a resilient economy that gives the Fed ample room to aggressively hike interest rates.

    Also already signaling a recession warning the inverted yield curve – the gap between 2-year and 10-year treasury yields – widened further to -41.4 basis points, compared with -13.0 bps a week ago.

    Benchmark 10-year notes were up 4.5 basis points to 3.457%, from 3.412% late on Wednesday. The 30-year bond last fell 5/32 in price to yield 3.4779%, from 3.469%. The 2-year note last fell 5/32 in price to yield 3.8646%, from 3.782%.

    “In this vicious cycle where the data continues to remain resilient, that would imply a Fed that would likely stay the course and continue to tighten policy,” said Subadra Rajappa, head of U.S. rates strategy at Societe Generale in New York.

    Also clouding investors’ moods on Thursday was the World Bank’s assessment that the world may be edging toward a global recession as central banks across the world simultaneously hike interest rates to combat persistent inflation. read more

    In currencies the dollar was slightly higher against the yen while the Swiss franc hit its strongest level against the euro since 2015. read more

    The dollar index , which measures the greenback against a basket of major currencies, rose 0.091%, with the euro up 0.18% to $0.9995.

    The Japanese yen weakened 0.19% versus the greenback at 143.44 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.1469, down 0.57% on the day.

    Before the tentative labor agreement, fears of a U.S. railroad worker strike had supported oil prices due to supply concerns on Wednesday. In addition, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said this week that oil demand growth would grind to a halt in the fourth quarter.

    U.S. crude settled down 3.82% at $85.10 per barrel while Brent finished at $90.84, down 3.46% on the day.

    Gold dropped to its lowest level since April 2021, hurt by elevated U.S. Treasury yields and a firm dollar, as bets of another hefty Fed rate hike eroded bullion’s appeal.

    Spot gold dropped 1.9% to $1,664.46 an ounce. U.S. gold futures fell 2.02% to $1,662.30 an ounce.

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    Additional reporting by Herbert Lash in New York, Marc Jones in London, Stefano Rebaudo in Milan, Tom Westbrook in Singapore and Wayne Cole in Sydney; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Jonathan Oatis

    Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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