It’s the most important chart in the world right now: real interest rates in the United States.
Real interest rates are just nominal interest rates (the rate you see on a 10-year Treasury bond, for example) adjusted for inflation.
For the first time in years, real interest rates are rising in America, leading to strength in the U.S. dollar – which is causing currencies around the world to crumble (especially in Japan and in emerging markets).
As David Wessel puts it in this morning’s Wall Street Journal, “The tectonic plates of the world economy are shifting.”
Currencies aren’t the only thing taking a hit as U.S. real rates rise, though.
Bond markets across both the developed and the emerging worlds are selling off as rising interest rates in the U.S. make American government debt a more attractive investment.
And while the rise in real rates is likely a sign of good things to come, right now, it’s causing jitters over the prospect of the removal of monetary stimulus from the market by the Federal Reserve.
In the past few weeks, those jitters have caused a bout of weakness in stock markets from the U.S. to Europe, from Japan to emerging markets, and almost everywhere in between.
All of this begs the question: are central bankers finally losing control of long-term interest rates, which for years following the global financial crisis of 2008 have been their most powerful policy instruments?
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.