The central banks of the U.S., Japan, England, Switzerland, Canada and the eurozone teamed up this morning to prop up the global economy and make it easier for banks to receive dollars when they need it. At the same time, China has moved to boost bank lending, announcing that it will lower reserve requirements for banks, a move expected to ease liquidity. As a result, global markets are loving it: Germany's DAX shot up 4 percent, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 300 points and S&P 500 and Nasdaq indices rose sharply as the market opened Wednesday morning. The coordinated efforts seem to have eclipsed the bleaker news from last night surrounding Standard & Poor's far-reaching downgrade of the world's largest financial institutions. Here's the tag-team effort governments around the world are taking part in:
Boosting liquidity The move by the Fed, the Bank of Japan, the Bank of England and other Western central banks to make it cheaper for banks to get dollars when they need it is aimed at easing strains on the global financial system. As the Associated Press explains the coordinated effort, "the central banks have agreed to reduce the cost of temporary dollar loans to banks — called liquidity swaps — by a half percentage point. The new, lower rate will be applied to all central bank operations starting on Monday." The U.S. Federal Reserve said the purpose of the coordination was to "ease strains in financial markets and thereby mitigate the effects of such strains on the supply of credit to households and businesses." Jens Sondergaard, a senior European economist at Nomura International, tells Bloomberg the coordination is welcome but may not be a game-changer. “When there’s concerted action by central banks, it’s definitely good,” Sondergaard said. “But are liquidity injections a game changer when the heart of the problem is in European sovereign debt markets?”
Spurring bank loans The other major market mover this morning was China's decision to reduce the the amount of cash banks are required to set aside for reserves—something it hasn't done since 2008. Like the move by the other central banks, it is in response to Europe's debt crisis. However, it was not done in coordination with other governments. As Bloomberg explains the move, "Reserve ratios will decline by 50 basis points effective Dec. 5, the People’s Bank of China said in a statement on its website today. Before the announcement, the level was a record 21.5 percent for the biggest lenders, based on previous PBOC statements." David Jones, chief market strategist at IG Markets, tells CNN Money "This was a surprise, because for much of the last year China has been making things tougher for the banks," said Jones. "This shows China is being a bit less restrictive on its banks, and banks will now potentially be able to be more aggressive with their lending." Shen Jianguang, an economist at Mizuho Securities Asia, tells Bloomberg “The move will help ease liquidity after previous tightening measures cooled credit growth too much and may have added to the risks of a hard landing for China."