We are just midway through February, but already 2015 has been a very dynamic year. We have seen the high market volatility many expected. The Swiss National Bank surprised everyone out of nowhere with a decision to let the Swiss franc float freely against the Euro. Currency movements have been very volatile around the world as well (Brazil, Russia, Venezuela, and even the Euro).
We have also seen a ramp up in pressure on the IMF. They are in the middle of high profile problem resolution attempts in both Greece and the Ukraine. They are under increasing pressure from the BRICS delegation (and the whole G20) to get something done about stalled IMF governance reforms.
The US Fed is still suggesting they will try to move forward with an increase in interest rates even as there are many who either don't think they will be able to. Some are calling outright for them not to raise rates.
All these issues are important and certainly have potential to impact monetary system change. So what is coming up now that we need to keep an eye on?
Monday is said to be an important date for Greece. Monday is the last day Greece can ask to extend its current bailout program. Greece has said they will not ask to extend it. They want to negotiate an entirely new deal. The EU/ECB/IMF have said they will not do that. So Monday looks to be an important day to see what happens there.
A ceasefire agreement is signed, but obviously we have to see if both sides live up to it. The IMF has a lot at stake and needs very badly for the agreement to hold. They are going to chip in another $17 billion in aid for the Ukraine. If the ceasefire breaks down, the Ukraine will probably have to default on its debt at some point. A default would impact world markets and hurt IMF credibility significantly. It would also shake stability in the Eurozone.
The IMF has said not much more will happen on this until April, but the G20 issued a statement saying they are going too slow. So we will see if that changes their timetable.
US Federal Reserve monetary policy
The Fed still maintains they are likely to start raising interest rates this year. Others are less sure. Some well known people (Jack Welch) are saying the Fed would be "crazy to raise rates now." We'll see what they actually do. And how markets react.
Oil and Gold Prices
The price of oil and the price of gold are always two keys to watch. Oil gives us an idea of how the global economy is doing (demand rising or falling). Gold provides clues as to whether deflation or inflation is on the horizon. Also, the global demand for physical gold (who is buying it) is something to keep an eye on. China, Russia, and India are all big buyers right now. Central banks in general are still big buyers.
Reports and Warnings from the IMF and BIS
We will continue to watch for any relevant reports or warnings they issue. They have issued plenty already as we have documented on the blog here many times.
Alternative views and Opinions
We will continue to look for credible alternative views and opinions to post here on all the above topics. Experts like Jim Rickards, Nomi Prins, and Andrew Huzsar are always worth listening to when they provide public articles or interviews. Other respected analysts like Egon Von Greyerz, Peter Schiff, Marc Faber, Stephen Leeb, Art Cashin, Eric Sprott and others do interviews on alternative news sites like King World News that are of value as well. We will continue to follow those.
The goal here is to try and provide the best mix of news and credible alternative opinions we can find to help readers stay informed and see a variety of different credible views. Readers can compare those views with the mainstream views we get every day from the mainstream media.
The ultimate goal is to encourage readers to stay informed and formulate a plan in case we do get another big financial crisis. If this blog can do that, it is serving a useful purpose.
For new readers, here are some of what we think are the most important articles we have posted recently that set the stage for what we will continue to cover here:
Taking the National Debt Seriously - How Do you Plan to pay your share?
IMF Reforms and SDR's - Why Should Anyone Care about them?
The Biggest Monetary Issue in 2015 that is Flying Under the Radar?
Why Silver Works Best for the Average Person
Does the IMF become more or less influental in 2015?
Another warning from the IMF - this time on Shadow Banking
Do the BRICS want out of the IMF and the UN? Part I
Do the BRICS want out of the IMF and the UN? Part II
And just for a break from all the serious stuff, here are a couple of fun posts that readers here liked:
Time out for some humor - How to save on home security
Time out for some Hayden Hope