European Central Bank
It has been a while since we have seen the USDJPY rampathon push US equities higher, so in a day dominated by central banks (first the BOE momentarily), and then the ECB's much anticipated announcement of the actual QE launch at the Draghi press conference at 1:30pm CET (taking place, ironically enough, in the place that was the blueprint for the Eurozone's capital controls, Cyprus), it only makes sense that after weeks of stage fright, the USDJPY algos reminded the world they are alive and well, and proceeded to ramp the key FX pair above 120, even though the currency that everyone will be talking about today is the Euro, hugging 1.10 as of this moment, but the real question is what happens after Draghi gives the asset buying green light: has all of Q€ been priced in already in FX, and will the EURUSD resume its surge higher, or is parity next stop?
For the first time in public, though practically the entire world assumed it, an official from The IMF has admitted that the various Greek bailouts were not for The Greeks at all... "They gave money to save German and French banks, not Greece,” Paolo Batista, one of the Executive Directors of International Monetary Fund told Greek private Alpha TV on Tuesday. As KeepTalkingGreece reports, Batista then went on to strongly criticized not only the euro zone and the European Central Bank but also the IMF and the Fund’s managing Director Christine Lagarde for defending Europe much too much...
Just hours after India's 'surprise' rate cut (which saw the SENSEX surge and then dump to close red), Poland has surprised the market with a bigger-than-expected rate cut. Despite two-thirds of econmomists expecting a mere 25bps cut, the Polish Central Bank slashed its benchmarket 7-day rate to just 1.5% - the lowest on record. Today's cut "makes up for inaction in previous months" after Poland held rate flat in January and February (but echoes Poland's Oct 'surprise' greater-than-expected ease of 50bps. Polish stocks dropped on the news (but recovered), banks are weaker, and the Zloty is selling off on this news (pushing back towards record lows)...
“Yes, it’s legal, but it’s just not a very nice or Canadian thing to do.“ Similarly, in Europe, an artist known as Stefanos has been defacing euro notes with images of little human figures in a painfully bleak depiction of life in Greece under austerity.
Just like yesterday, it has - so far - been mostly about Asia in the overnight session, where as reported previously, we got the latest central bank engaging in an "unexpected" rate cut, after Reserve Bank of India Governor Rajan cut rates in an unscheduled move days after the government agreed for the first time to give the central bank a legal mandate to target inflation. This was India's second rate cut in 2 months, and yet despite the Sensex surging to a all time high over 30,000, it subsequently ended up closing red on the day, down -0.7%, despite the Indian currency sliding 0.4% to 62.1463 to a dollar. Is the half-life of thany incremental rate cut in an unprecedented barage of global central bank easing now less than a day?
In a surprise move, the RBI just cut its main interest rates for the second time in two months, taking it from 6.75% to 6.50%, in what the central bank calls a “pre-emptive” policy move, but what is in reality merely a confirmation that so far in 2015 at least 20 central banks have lowered their interest rate.
Greek short-term default risk jumped over 300bps today putting the odds of a restructuring at 50-50 within the next year as the warnings we issued last week with regard Greece's imminent default on its IMF loan loom. Seeking to reassure its lenders (and avoid yet more capital flight), Reuters reports the Greek government said it was "exploring solutions," including delaying payments to suppliers or try to raise up to 3 billion euros by borrowing from state entities such as pension funds. We are sure the Greek people will be enthused when they find out what the 'radical left' has in store for their funds...
"The Fed is out of control," exclaims David Stockman - perhaps best known for architecting Reagan's economic turnaround known as 'Morning in America' - adding that "people don't want to hear the reality and the truth that we're facing." Policymakers are "taking our economy in a direction that is dangerous, that is not sustainable, and is likely to fully undermine everything that's been built up and created by the American people over decades and decades." The Fed, Stockman concludes, "is a rogue institution," and their actions have led us to "one of the scariest moments in our history... it's a festering time-bomb and we're not sure when it will explode."
Somehow, monetary policy is still believed neutral in the long run and that bubbles are market events. Central banks have shown why they cannot command economic performance, but that doesn’t mean they can’t give one hell of a comedic performance. We have taken a monetary ride now into the theater of the absurd.
And then there were 21. Hours ago on Saturday, the country whose currency is largely pegged to the dollar which itself is now anticipating a rate hike in the coming months, surprised the world by confirming its economic slowdown yet again following a recent rate cut just this past November when it lowered its benchmark rate by 40 bps, after it again cut benchmark lending and deposit rates by 25 bps starting on March 1. Specifically, the PBOC will lower the one-year lending rate to 5.35% from 5.6% and its one-year deposit rate to 2.5% from 2.75%. It also said it would raise the maximum interest rate on bank deposits to 130% of the benchmark rate from 120%.
The aim of the Greek bailout was not to restore prosperity to the country's people, but to save the eurozone. Given this, the new Greek government is entirely justified in questioning the terms that the country was given. As negotiations continue (Tsipras "war" vs the initial lost "battle), the single worst outcome of the current negotiations would be Greece's submission to its creditors' demands, with few concessions in return. Default and exit from the eurozone would allow Greece to begin correcting past mistakes and putting its economy on the path to recovery and sustainable growth. At that point, the EU would be wise to follow suit, by unraveling the currency union and providing debt reduction for its most distressed economies. Only then can the EU's founding ideals be realized.
Euro-denominated emerging market sovereign issuance will soar to its highest levels in 10 years on the back of the European Central Bank's quantitative easing programme, as issuers outside the eurozone seek to take advantage of falling euro yields, according to bank analysts.
and more news moving the markets
"Greeks consider taxes as theft," which, among other things, explains, as WSJ reports, at the end of 2014, Greeks owed their government about €76 billion in unpaid taxes accrued over decades; the government says only €9 billion of that can be recovered, with most of the rest lost to insolvency. Syriza is now making tax collection a top priority among the measures promises the new Troika, but as one government official warned, "the Greek economy would collapse if the government were to force these people to pay taxes." The bottom line is that "normally taxes are considered the price you have to pay for a just state, but this is not accepted by the Greek mentality," and perhaps with this latest round of deference to the EU overlords, it is clear why...