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Markets

Yellen to tell lawmakers ‘act big’ on coronavirus relief

  • The plan calls for bold investment to jump-start the economy and accelerate the distribution of vaccines to bring the virus under control.
  • We think it more likely that Yellen tries to nudge the USD weaker over the medium term
Published January 19, 2021

NEW YORK: Janet Yellen, US President-elect Joe Biden's nominee to run the Treasury Department, will tell the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday that the government must "act big" with its next coronavirus relief package.

Yellen's 10 a.m. EST (1400 GMT) testimony comes one day before Biden is to be sworn into office, having last week outlined a $1.9 trillion stimulus package proposal. The plan calls for bold investment to jump-start the economy and accelerate the distribution of vaccines to bring the virus under control.

US stock futures were up ahead of Yellen's presentation, pointing to a higher open on Wall Street. The US dollar index was off and US 10-year Treasury note yields were about 1 basis point above where they closed on Friday.

COMMENTS STEVE ENGLANDER, HEAD, GLOBAL G10 FX RESEARCH AND NORTH AMERICA MACRO STRATEGY, STANDARD CHARTERED BANK, NEW YORK (EMAIL)

"We expect that the Yellen Treasury would choose a weaker dollar over a stronger dollar given the choice, and that competitiveness in tradable goods and services industries would be a major consideration. There may be some realism that global macroeconomic consideration will limit how far the USD can go.

However, we think it more likely that Yellen tries to nudge the USD weaker over the medium term, and that she will not advocate strength unless the USD depreciates a lot further than we or markets see as likely."

EDWARD MOYA, SENIOR MARKET ANALYST, OANDA, NEW YORK (email)

"Gold could see added gains if Yellen seems unconstrained about more spending and adding to the engorged balance sheet.

Much of Yellen's dovishness is priced in, but it could still serve as a bullish springboard for gold as investors prepare for another wave of ultra-easiness now that the Fed and Treasury will have improved coordination.

Permanent economic scarring to the economy will keep fiscal stimulus coming for the next couple years even as the US economy is clearly on the other side of COVID." KIT JUCKES, HEAD OF FX STRATEGY, SOCIETE GENERALE, LONDON (email)

"Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen will take centre stage today, if she uses using a Senate confirmation hearing to argue for fiscal easing. Press comment suggests Janet Yellen intends to argue that the US should 'go big' on fiscal easing.

Four years ago, markets (and forecasters) underestimated the economic impact of President Trump's proposed fiscal policy.

Consensus growth forecasts for 2018 and 2019 were too pessimistic and the focus, as soon as the French elections were out of the way, quickly shifted to ECB tapering. The euro went up, growth slowed, the US out-performed and the rest, we know.

The big difference this time is that the Fed's commitment to accompany fiscal largesse with super-easy policy, should keep the dollar down even if the economy does well in both absolute and relative terms.

However, with a market that is short and bearish of the dollar, I'm still wary of getting over-excited about buying EUR/USD on the back of this morning's positive risk mood."

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