venerdì 15 ottobre 2010

La guerra delle valute, il quantitative easing e il prezzo del grano

L'Economist appena uscito dedica la copertina alla guerra delle valute, insieme a due articoli di commento che potete leggere quiqui.
Il tema dei cambi si intreccia con quello del quantitative easing promesso dalla Fed per sostenere una crescita U.S.A. che non riesce a creare occupazione.

Ma nessuno sa se lo scopo che la Fed si prefigge sia realistico:  qui    potete leggere l'opinione dell'Economist sull'argomento, mentre qui  trovate un articolo del Wall Street Journal che ancora una volta mette in guardia gli investitori sui rischi associati alle obbligazioni con lunga scadenza, se l'inflazione dovesse finalmente fare di nuovo capolino, e con essa un rialzo dei tassi. Scrive il WSJ: 

Of course, quantitative easing mightn't succeed in triggering core price inflation, at least in the short term. The impact may be simply to inflate the price of financial-sector assets and commodities, rather than driving activity in the real economy. Over time, policy makers seem to hope that asset-price inflation will boost confidence and encourage risk-taking. They ultimately have the power to generate inflation if they choose and seem willing to err on the side of doing too much rather than too little.
The policy carries huge risks. But price rises for gold and inflation-linked bonds suggest a return to inflation is starting to be baked in. Tipping the balance toward inflation should boost the allure of equities as real assets over bonds as nominal assets. And yet, so far flows into bonds have shown little sign of slowing: U.S. equity mutual funds saw $19 billion of outflows in September, while bond funds saw $32 billion of inflows, data from the Investment Company Institute show.
Long-dated U.S. Treasury investors can salivate at the prospect of the price-insensitive Fed increasing its purchases, even with yields already at rock-bottom levels. But if the central bank does succeed in juicing inflation, anybody left holding the bonds is in for a rude awakening.

Oltre ai prezzi dell'oro e ai tassi di interesse in molti tengono d'occhio i prezzi delle materie prime. Negli ultimi giorni si è assistito a un netto rialzo dei prodotti agricoli, con il future sul grano che ha guadagnato oltre il 20% in una manciata di giorni. Secondo l'Economist  i prezzi sono destinati a rimanere volatili per lungo tempo: 

China, which needs corn to fatten its vast population of pigs, is one source of support. Its assurances that home-grown supplies are adequate conflicts with evidence that it is importing large quantities of corn for the first time in 15 years. American regulators are set to raise the proportion of ethanol in fuel to 15%, which may buttress prices. The fact that prices for other crops such as soyabeans and wheat are also bubbling makes it difficult for farmers to judge which will be the most profitable crop to sow for next season, which may hamper an immediate supply response.
Price volatility could be a more permanent feature of agriculture. The concentration of farming in a few big countries means that a hungry world is dependent for its food on stable production patterns in a small number of places. Whether Russian wheat or American corn, problems in one country can send shock waves through global markets.

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