Welcome to central bank week--where the monetary policy fun never stops

11/02/2010 5:01 pm EST

Focus: STOCKS

Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor, JubakPicks.com

Wednesday’s announcement from the U.S. Federal Reserve—how much quantitative easing and when—kicks off what I‘d call central bank week.

The most important central banks--among the developed economies anyway--are set to announce interest rate and monetary policy decisions in the forty-eight hours after the Fed speaks.

If you’ve been hungry for central bank news, I think you’re about to get your fill.

The Fed’s Open Market Committee will issue its latest pronouncement on rates and (maybe, quite probably) a new program of massive buying by the Fed of medium-term Treasuries shortly after 2 p.m. ET tomorrow.

And that will tee up announcements from the Bank of Japan, the Bank of England and the European Central Bank. I’d say that these banks already know what the Fed will say tomorrow and that their own decisions already take the Fed’s move, whatever it is, into account.

The Bank of Japan, for example, is likely to do something to stimulate the economy—the bank has already signaled an intention to buy assets such as real-estate investment trusts—to prevent a weaker U.S dollar (as a result of the Fed’s actions) from further driving up the yen and damaging Japanese exports enough so that the economy slips back into recession.

The Bank of England is scheduled to make its own announcement about 18 hours after the Fed. At its October meeting the bank debated increasing its bond buy-back program and Governor Mervyn King seemed to be moving toward adding more stimulus to the United Kingdom economy in the days before the Fed’s meeting. King has said that buying bonds would be one way for the Bank of England to offset the effect of the government’s proposed budget cuts on the economy.

I doubt that the European Central Bank will reverse its stand in favor of tightening and reducing national budget deficits just because the Fed decides to try to stimulate the U.S. economy. But the Fed’s move will put pressure on bank president Jean-Claude Trichet. A weaker dollar will lead to a stronger euro and that will hurt Euro Zone exports and growth. Every 10% gain in the euro (on a trade-weighted basis) takes about 0.8 percentage points off economic growth, Credit Suisse calculates.

Even without action from the European Bank, the effect will be to extend and magnify any stimulus announced by the Fed on Wednesday.

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