European Central Bank
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...
- Invade Syria already, we know you will: Islamic State in Syria abducts at least 150 Christians (Reuters)
- Greece Struggles to Get Citizens to Pay Their Taxes (WSJ)
- Doubts Shadow Deal to Extend Greek Bailout (WSJ)
- In surprise result, Chicago's Mayor Emanuel faces election run-off (Reuters)
- Obama vetoes Keystone pipeline bill (Reuters)
- Another sign of the top: Cushman & Wakefield Going Up for Sale (WSJ)
- Lure of Wall Street Cash Said to Skew Credit Ratings (BBG) ... and threat of DOJ lawsuits also
- Oil rises to $59 as Saudis say demand growing (Reuters)
"The economy is booming, according to recent data. GDP grew by 2.6% annualized in the last quarter. And yet oil prices have dropped faster than they did in the crisis of 2008. The US dollar is at record strength. And the gold price has spiked in many currencies ... Something’s not right here." So says Eric Sprott in his latest report observing what may lie in store for oil and gold in the near future.
Last week it was 19 central banks (including the ECB which accounts for 19 nations) which had cut rates in 2015, mostly in "surprise", unexpected easing decisions. Moments ago the number became 20 when the Israel central bank just cut its interest rate by 0.15% to 0.1%, the lowest on record, a move which once again caught the market by surprise as only 3 of 23 analysts had predicted it.
When it comes to the ongoing Greek question, I see a lot of people eagerly jump to conclusions, after the ‘debt deal’, that I don’t think are justified; certainly not yet. The overall conviction in the press seems to be that Syriza has given in on just about all fronts, and Germany and Dijsselbloem are the big winners. But since that may well be the exact position Syriza wants ‘the other side’ to be in, where they think they have prevailed, one will have to try and think a few steps ahead before judging the situation. There’s far more grey area here than many pundits seem to assume, easily 50 shades of it.
A quick recap of the key implications of Friday’s Greek “deal”, and what it means for the future of the Eurozone, the common currency and capital markets.
A bank which has €54.7 trillion, or a little over $62 trillion at today's exchange rate, in derivatives - a number that is 20 times greater than the GDP of Germany - just failed a central bank stress test due to lacking governance and risk management controls and, just maybe, has insufficient capital? What can possibly go wrong.
Just out from the Eurogroup, the final statement. Bottom line: Greece caves on pretty much everything, however it has two semantics successes: the dreaded "Troika" words has been replaced with "institutions" and "Current programme" has been changed to "Current arrangement" - surely nobody will notice. Sarcasm aside, Greece has just kicked the can for four months. Why four months? Because that's just ahead of the big Greek debt maturity.
All of the biggest problems in the financial world revolve around the bond markets today:
This is what peak bluffing looks like. Moments after there was much hope for a deal, suddenly ze Germans yanked the carpet from under any potential leverage Greece may have though it had when the Maltese foreign minister said:
- GERMAN-LED BLOC WILLING TO LET GREECE LEAVE EURO, SCICLUNA SAYS
- "I think they’ve now reached a point where they will tell Greece if you really want to leave, leave"
This in turns follows minutes after a Spigel article said that the ECB prepares for Greek euro exit.