Leo Haviland provides clients with original, provocative, cutting-edge fundamental supply/demand and technical research on major financial marketplaces and trends. He also offers independent consulting and risk management advice.

Haviland’s expertise is macro. He focuses on the intertwining of equity, debt, currency, and commodity arenas, including the political players, regulatory approaches, social factors, and rhetoric that affect them. In a changing and dynamic global economy, Haviland’s mission remains constant – to give timely, value-added marketplace insights and foresights.

Leo Haviland has three decades of experience in the Wall Street trading environment. He has worked for Goldman Sachs, Sempra Energy Trading, and other institutions. In his research and sales career in stock, interest rate, foreign exchange, and commodity battlefields, he has dealt with numerous and diverse financial institutions and individuals. Haviland is a graduate of the University of Chicago (Phi Beta Kappa) and the Cornell Law School.


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FISCAL FINE PRINT © Leo Haviland, February 7, 2012

To create a sustained and substantial recovery, gurus and their audiences agree that much matters on the fiscal front. In the darker days of the economic crisis, most financial sentinels and their allies proclaimed that large sustained fiscal deficits were good (or at least acceptable, up to some point). Whatever have been the short term benefits of enthusiastic deficit spending campaigns in America and elsewhere, epic fiscal measures only shifted some of the debt (and leverage) burden from the private sector to the public one.

However, nowadays big sovereign debt generally is viewed as a problem. Most of the public hopes that noteworthy fiscal progress to reduce terrifying deficits has been made, is being achieved, or eventually (and soon enough) will be accomplished.

Let’s spend time surveying some fine print regarding the fiscal landscape, paying particular attention to Europe and America. At best, only limited advances have been made in recent wars against huge deficits. Actually, judging from their very modest results, these struggles to slash them look more like skirmishes than pitched battles.

A Financial Times front page headlines the European Union’s “tough fiscal treaty” (1/31/12; this refers to the “Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union”). Many applaud this treaty for its alleged fiscal hard line. It indeed takes a step towards resolving Europe’s sovereign debt and banking crisis, but a small step is not a giant leap. Despite the stagecraft of European leaders, the region’s fiscal challenges are not near to being resolved.

Though many states and municipalities face scary times, let’s focus on the federal deficit. The US fiscal situation remains fearful.

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Fiscal Fine Print (2-7-12)


The Japanese Yen has remained powerful relative to other currencies “in general” since autumn 2010. On an effective exchange rate basis, as well as against the United States dollar in particular, the Yen is around major resistance. However, the Yen probably will advance further over the next several months. Though many intertwining variables influence currency levels and trends, the fragility of the current worldwide recovery and the continuation of the global financial crisis that erupted in 2007 will play a key role in the continued Yen rally.

Assume America resolves its current battles related to the federal debt ceiling. Proposals likely to be enacted, though representing progress in cutting deficits over the next decade, are modest. In addition, these Washington fiscal fixes will not be significant in relation to the scope of the underlying long run deficit problem. Therefore, any Yen weakness derived from short-term solutions of United States fiscal deficit issues probably will be temporary.

US policy makers preach their desire for a strong dollar from time to time. Their practices over many months, however, underline their desire for (or at least toleration of) a rather weak TWD. The weak dollar policy may help to boost growth and reduce unemployment, right? Don’t many developing nations want their home currency to be relatively weak? One method by which the US can better compete with many developing (and other) nations, at least in some trade domains, is to depreciate its currency.

Roughly speaking, Japan is a creditor nation. Roughly speaking, and despite its wealth, America is a debtor nation.

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The Strong Yen, the Weak Dollar, a Shaky World (8-2-11)