Fundamentals Remain Positive Despite Sell-Off

Despite the recent fluctuations and concern about major corrections in global equity markets, Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda, says fundamentals, like corporate earnings, remain positive.

CAC Climbs on Strong German, Eurozone GDP Reports

Futures Higher But Market Remains Vulnerable

Will it be a Valentines Day Massacre for the Dollar?

US Dollar Rout Continues With Inflation Data in the Horizon

Safe haven flows after the stock market collapse favour JPY and CHF

The US dollar is once again on the back foot on Tuesday. The currency is softer against major pairs ahead of key US inflation data for January. The U.S. Federal Reserve along with traders will be looking at the consumer price figures for signs of higher inflation and further validations of their plans to keep raising US interest rates in 2018. The U.S. non farm payrolls (NFP) report earlier in the month boosted the USD with a positive wage growth signal at 0.3 percent monthly gain. The market will be watching the core CPI released on Wednesday, February 14 at 8:30 am EST looking for confirmation.

  • US January inflation expected to underperform
  • US Oil producers putting downward pressure on prices
  • US inflation trend to continue on Thursday with the release of the PPI



The EUR/USD gained 0.52 percent on Tuesday. The single currency is trading at 1.2355 ahead of the release of monthly inflation and retail sales data in the US. The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to lift rates 3 or more times this year, but to do so it would need inflation in the US to pick up, as this was the biggest debate within the central bank last year. Doves within the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) are pushing for more patience, until inflation rises, while the hawks who lost Chair Yellen as their biggest supporter would rather raise rates sooner rather than later. The core consumer price index, the Fed pays more attention to this data point that excludes food and energy, is expected to come in at 0.2 percent. Retail sales are forecasted to have gained 0.2 percent in January, but the core reading to have advanced by 0.5 percent by removing auto sales.

The tumble in stocks prices has had a negative effect on the confidence in the US economy. The employment report released on February 2 posted higher than forecasted number of jobs and more importantly hourly wages rose by 0.3 percent. Several dollar rallies that started with a strong employment report have been cut short by disappointing inflation and retail sales data. This time around the USD has not been able to find solid footing in 2018. With a stock market correction and bond yields at four year highs inflation takes a more important role as it could solidify the case of Fed hawks and make way for a 4 rate hike scenario. The USD has been impacted by improving growth around the globe and other central banks have hiked or signalled and end to low rates cutting the lead of the U.S. Federal Reserve and reducing the attractiveness of the dollar. A higher than expected inflation figure could trigger a US currency recovery alongside a drop in the stock market as higher rates would be forthcoming. Vice versa a lower than expected consumer price gain could sink the dollar even lower as the market is already pricing in 3 rate hikes and could start reevaluating that position with weak inflationary pressures.

European politics have reached some stability with the German coalition now in place but with the upcoming Italian elections in March the boat is sure to rock. Economic fundamentals have been strong in the eurozone with Germany leading the way as usual. The gap between the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank (ECB) is closing with regarding monetary policy. The ECB is expected to end its QE program and could even lift interest rates later this year. The week will bring minor indicator releases in Europe with the German central bank chief Jens Weidmann speaking in Frankfurt on Wednesday, February 14 at 3:00 am EST. Earlier that day the GDP figures for Germany will be released with a 0.6 percent growth expected.



The USD/JPY lost 0.84 percent in the last 24 hours. The currency pair is trading at 107.73 as the JPY has benefited from risk aversion and risk appetite moves. Usually the USD is the main beneficiary of a risk aversion move, but given some of the global uncertainty is happening in Washington and Wall Street the greenback is not the sturdiest safe haven for investors. The USD is soft ahead of inflation and retail sales data with both having to overcome concerns.

The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to reappoint Haruhiko Kuroda as the head of the Bank of Japan (BOJ) for his second term and that in itself could be a sign the central bank is ready to start dealing back some of its massive stimulus program.

Market events to watch this week:

Wednesday, February 14
8:30am USD CPI m/m
8:30am USD Core CPI m/m
8:30am USD Core Retail Sales m/m
8:30am USD Retail Sales m/m
10:30am USD Crude Oil Inventories
7:30pm AUD Employment Change
Thursday, February 15
8:30am USD PPI m/m
Friday, February 16
4:30am GBP Retail Sales m/m
8:30am USD Building Permits

*All times EDT
For a complete list of scheduled events in the forex market visit the MarketPulse Economic Calendar

New Reports Shine a Spotlight on Tether’s Legal Status

New Reports Shine a Spotlight on Tether’s Legal Status

Rarely a week passes when Tether, the company responsible for issuing the USD-pegged cryptocurrency of the same, isn’t in the news. In the last 24 hours, two separate reports into the status of Tether and its USDT tokens have been published, one examining its legal status and the other exploring its blockchain. Meanwhile, Upbit exchange has reassured its customers that in the event of USDT being withdrawn, it will guarantee all deposits in USD.

Also read: Hong Kong Cracks Down on Securities Tokens – 7 Crypto Exchanges Targeted

Tether Faces a Twin Attack

New Reports Shine a Spotlight on Tether’s Legal Status
Nicholas Weaver

Nicholas Weaver is a computer security researcher at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley. On Thursday, he published a piece in Lawfareblog giving his thoughts on the likelihood of Tether being targeted by U.S. regulators. It was recently revealed that Tether was subpoenaed in December amidst mounting speculation as to the company’s operations. Subpoenas of companies that have a presence on U.S. soil are not unusual, and are not evidence in themselves of an imminent shutdown by financial regulators. But with no official comment from Tether or U.S. regulators, onlookers have been left wondering.

In the opinion of Nicholas Weaver, “Because of their use in criminal activity, most cryptocurrency exchanges are cut off from the conventional banking system. Those that have access are required to generate IRS reports on transactions of a certain size and report suspicious activities. But substantially more could be done to disrupt unregulated exchanges – and the token Tether should be the government’s next target.”

In particular, U.S. regulators should investigate those behind Tether for possible violations of Patriot Act provisions on money laundering and other financial fraud laws. Prosecution is likely to inhibit criminal scheming and to substantially disrupt the exchanges that rely on Tether to function.

Weaver goes on to write: “Tether appears likely to be a scheme that facilitates money laundering or to be a “wildcat bank,” one that prints banknotes that aren’t actually backed. In both cases the U.S. government can, and should, intervene.” The comparison he draws is with Liberty Reserve, an early experiment with self-issued currency without government approval. It didn’t end well. By the time U.S. officials swooped on the Costa Rica based company, alleging money laundering and providing unlicensed financial services, it had amassed over one million users. Many of them lost everything when the company was shuttered in 2013.

The Loss of Liberty

New Reports Shine a Spotlight on Tether’s Legal StatusLiberty Reserve’s achilles heel was that it was centralized, and thus had a single point of failure. When Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin, three years after Liberty launched, he didn’t make the same mistake. Tether, as an organization dependant upon formal banking arrangements of some kind – even if the precise nature of those arrangements is murky – doesn’t have that luxury. It is a sitting duck for U.S. regulators should they decide to come after the company for money laundering – a charge that can be slapped on any financial company, regardless of culpability – or for forgery-related charges on account of ‘impersonating’ the U.S dollar.

Nicholas Weaver continues: “Tether isn’t just theoretically useful for money laundering; its use as a reserve currency for unbanked exchanges shows its value for laundering funds. Tether is used to conduct electronic financial transactions that bypass the oversight inherent in the banking system. Consider also that only one cryptocurrency exchange with banking, Kraken, accepts Tether for trading at all and that the only thing Tethers can be sold for on that exchange is U.S. dollars. On Kraken, one can’t use Tethers to directly buy different cryptocurrencies.”

Exploring the Tether Ledger

In his daming opinion piece on Tether, Weaver also writes that “While Liberty Reserve used a private ledger to track balances, Tether uses a public pseudonymous ledger. This sort of ledger means that intermediary holders are not known to Tether, only to those who redeem Tethers. If anything, such willful ignorance suggests more, not less, criminal culpability.” That ledger came in for added attention on Thursday in a piece published by data researcher Alex Vikati.

New Reports Shine a Spotlight on Tether’s Legal Status
Issuance of tethers has ballooned in recent months

Together with her partner Edwin Ong, she took a closer look at activity on the Omni blockchain that Tether uses. Vikati confirms that Tether has issued $2.2 billion worth of USDT plus another $60 million in the form of USDT ERC20 tokens to date. The report examines the biggest senders of tether, which are predictably exchanges such as Poloniex and Bitfinex. She goes on to write:

In Tether’s case, the top 200 addresses out of Tether’s nearly 100K active addresses hold over 2B USDT. Yes, the top 0.2% owns over 90% of the token’s total supply. This is more than double BTC’s wealth concentration.

When Tether’s owners founded the company in 2015, they could never had envisaged that, three years later, its every move would be subject to such intense scrutiny from legal experts, regulators, and data researchers.

Do you think U.S. regulators have Tether in their sights? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter, and Alex Vikati.


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