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CIC Aims to Partake in Ground-Breaking Alaskan Natural Gas Deal

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The State of Alaska oversees the Alaska Permanent Fund, which has historically benefited from oil, but in recent years the state has competed with lower oil output and lower-cost shale developments. Across the sea, the Chinese government is trying to pursue cleaner forms of energy such as natural gas over coal. If this holds true, China will have to import more natural gas.

China’s current energy composition is mostly coal and oil. Environmental concerns have prompted a government mandated move to natural gas and other clean sources of energy. In fact, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s address to the 19th Party Congress brought up “environment” at least 88 times.

Alaskan Governor Bill Walker has made significant strides into China in a bid to help breathe life into the state’s aging energy business. China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec) and the China Investment Corporation (CIC) have agreed to help develop Alaska’s gas sector. This deal was announced as part of U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s Asia tour, which stopped in Beijing. President Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss a host of issues including the trade imbalance between China and the United States.

Image Credit: State of Alaska

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Maiden Lane I Ends, Federal Reserve Aims to Shrink Balance Sheet

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The U.S. Federal Reserve’s balance sheet has been set to decline automatically since 2017, as the central bank has been liquidating funds from its US$ 4 trillion in Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities. As holdings matured, the Fed refrained from reinvesting them. This amounts to US$ 40 billion in monetary tightening monthly. Meanwhile, interest rates have slowly, and continuously, risen. The maturation of these Fed assets could exert upward pressure on long-term yields.

Mortgage rates, applications, and home sales have been falling, likely due to the rising rates. While rates are still historically low, U.S. President Trump has criticized the rate hikes. However, the Fed has no interest in changing course, and rates are set to continue to rise. According to Fed meeting minutes, “The Chairman suggested that the Committee would likely resume a discussion of operating frameworks in the fall.”

The size and content of the Fed balance sheet going forward will be a point of discussion for Chairman Jerome Powell. While there is no end in sight for the Fed’s plans to tighten economic policy, changing conditions may warrant further examination. With the U.S. stock market thriving, there is no indication that tightening has had a material impact on the economy. However, conventional wisdom asserts that the Fed will raise rates “until something breaks.” Market commentators have also suggested that, in the event of an emergency, the Fed will have a harder time stepping in due to the size of its balance sheet. A large part of the Fed’s monetary strategy is based around communications, and Fed-watchers have made a habit of hanging on every word. The Fed announced a shrinking balance sheet well in advance, and made gradual moves in that direction. The process has been smooth thus far. The Fed’s tightening will reach its peak, US$ 50 billion, in October. It is unclear exactly how much stimulus is still needed in the economy to reach the Fed’s 2% inflation target. The Fed’s easing policies have been criticized for the lopsided benefits they provided, more for Wall Street than Main Street. However, the easing will reduce their role in the market.

The End of Maiden Lane I

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QIA Gets a New CEO

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Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al-Thani exited as CEO of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). He has been appointed as minister of state by Amiri Order No. (4) of 2018.

Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud is appointed as the new CEO of QIA. He held positions in various organizations such as CEO of Qatar Development Bank and worked at Qatar Museums.

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SWFI First Read, September 19, 2018

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QIA Eyes Investment in Chinese Lender Lufax

The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) is in talks about a possible investment into Shanghai-based Lufax, one of China’s largest online lenders. The seller of the possible stake is China’s Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. Ltd. Lufax’s official name is Shanghai Lujiazui International Financial Asset Exchange Co. Ltd.

Wealth Funds Back Hotpot Giant

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