While the world remains focused on ground zero of the latest emerging markets crisis, Turkey, and whether contagion from its plunging currency will further pressure global assets, a new - well old - threat has emerged.
In an unexpectedly sharp attack on the ECB, in two separate posts on Twitter, Claudio Borghi who is the euroskeptic head of the budget committee in Italy’s lower house, stressed that not only is Italy’s spread with German bonds widening, but also the ones of other nations like Spain are doing so. He added that "either the ECB will provide a guarantee or the Euro will be dismantled" as "there is no third option."
Vediamo se oggi cominciano ad accorgersi che salgono anche gli spread di Spagna e c. e che solo un fesso poteva pensare che con BC inattiva potesse salire solo lo spread di un paese?— Claudio Borghi A. (@borghi_claudio) August 13, 2018
Io sono sereno come l'arcobaleno... ormai credo che il meccanismo sia innescato. O arriverà la garanzia Bce o si smantellerà tutto... Non vedo terze vie.— Claudio Borghi A. (@borghi_claudio) August 13, 2018
Commenting on the interview, several sellside desks have cautioned that this seems like something the ECB is unlikely to do as it represents a destabilizing stance and is thus bearish for the EUR.
In a subsequent interview, moments after his tweet, Borghi said that "there cannot be a system at the mercy of market movements" without any shields by the central bank - in other words, Borghi appears to be very much against a free and efficient market in which price discovery is allowed especially on such assets as Italian bonds - and noted that "it is significant that an external event like Turkey that has nothing to do with Italy unleashes such an effect."
Borghi warned about the upcoming end of the ECB's QE which as we noted previously has been the sole buyer of Italian debt, and whose absence threatens to send Italian bond yields sharply higher: "Nowadays there is a system that has a residual amount of quantitative easing, but with everybody knowing that this is being phased out and will come to an end soon”
He also shared a vivid image of what will happen once the market realizes it is free to short Italian bonds again without an ECB backstop: "all know the fence that protects the prey will soon be lifted and financial speculators easily sees the periphery’s debt as an easy target and are positioning ahead of the next developments."
While Italian bonds moved wider today on the latest slide in Turkish assets and Lira, they have yet to respond to Borghi's provocative comment, with the EUR largely unchanged as a result.