We must be getting closer to the global asset bubble bursting or the end of central bank intervention, or both since the latter is likely to cause the former. How do I know? Central banks and the international agencies that support their policies have already begun the blame game, in order to deflect criticism from themselves when the bubble does burst.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi started the process two weeks ago. With the troubles at Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest bank, perhaps as his reference point, Draghi struck back at European bankers’ criticism of the ECB’s negative interest rate policies, which the banks blame for their difficulty in turning a profit. While accepting some of the responsibility for that, he instead said a good part of the blame belongs to the commercial banks themselves.
“Low-interest rates tend to squeeze net interest margins owing to downward rigidity in banks’ deposit rates,” Draghi admitted. “But over-banking is also a factor in the current low level of bank profitability. Overcapacity in some national banking sectors and the ensuing intensity of competition exacerbates this squeeze on margins.”
He was quickly seconded by other members of the European establishment, who make the rules that others have to live by the best they can. Continue reading "Central Bank Chutzpah"
Peril is on the horizon for the Eurozone and its currency, the Euro. The survival of Deutsche Bank, the largest lender in the Eurozone, is at risk. And even more worryingly, the trouble brewing at the bank is not isolated but is rather part of a wider systemic risk across the Eurozone banking system. As the conundrum unfolds and radiates across the region, the Euro will not be spared.
Eurozone Banks On The Balance
The Deutsche Bank crisis was seemingly ignited in mid-September when the US Department of Justice announced its intention to fine Deutsche Bank $14 billion to settle claims of wrongdoing during the mortgage crisis of 2008. Last week, it was reported that Deutsche Bank was on the verge of reaching a settlement with the Justice Department which would reduce the fine to $5.4 billion. Nevertheless, and regardless of the amount, with Deutsche Bank’s total capitalization at $18 billion, it’s clear the bank does not have sufficient capital to pay such a hefty fine. The fact is that troubles within the Eurozone banks, and specifically in Deutsche Bank, have been brewing for a while. Continue reading "Deutsche Bank Woes To Hit Euro"
The Federal Reserve has made it pretty clear, by its actions if not by many of its pronouncements, that, like Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener, it really would prefer not to do anything. Now it looks like it’s planning to take off not just the rest of this year but the next couple of years, too.
Instead of no rate increase this year, which is looking more and more like a done deal, we may not see higher rates until 2019 at the earliest, at least according to one Fed official.
Last week, as expected, the Fed left interest rates unchanged while lowering expectations for future rate increases, both this year and beyond. In arriving at that decision, which was unanimous, the Fed’s monetary policy committee cited recent weakness in the jobs market, previously an area of relative strength in the economy. Continue reading "Fed To Markets: See You In 2019"
No doubt the most dramatic event of the FX market this past week was the ECB decision. Draghi, it seems, has finally "cut the mustard." He delivered a powerful response to the latest softness in Eurozone inflation. Essentially, the ECB expanded its QE program to €80Bln of purchases a month and pushed the deposit rate lower into negative territory. But if you expected these moves to play right into the bears' hands (as it has in times past) you might be in for a surprise.
Eurozone: The Good vs. Bad
When the Euro ended up higher in the aftermath of the ECB decision many were caught off guard. Some claimed the Euro's reprieve was the result of Draghi's rhetoric which suggested no more "bazookas" anytime soon.
But what seems more probable is that Draghi's words might just be the consequence rather than the cause. That is the consequence of some green shots that had started to appear in the latest Eurozone data. Those readings suggested that printing money until the apocalypse was not necessarily needed. That's what we call the "good news."
Below are two important indicators for the Eurozone; the balance of trade and industrial production. Both indicators are keenly scrutinized for this export-oriented region.
Chart courtesy of Tradingeconomics
The balance of trade figure has upticked higher and reaffirmed its rising trend from 2012. This suggests that the Eurozone exports more goods than it buys. Continue reading "Euro Out Of The Woods?"
After a wild day in the markets yesterday, Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, was at center stage this morning. What he said was almost incomprehensible to most people, including me. The clear takeaway was that European interest rates will not be going higher anytime soon. He was also asked what instruments the ECB have left to fight the current impasse in the markets. His answer was classic mumbo-jumbo Central Bank talk and did not address the question at hand.
It seems to this observer that the ECB and the Fed are literally out of ammo and have no clue what to do next. Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen's decision to raise interest rates here in the United States was, in my opinion, too late to have the desired effect. Should the markets head south as it looks like they may be doing, does the Federal Reserve have a backup plan or do they move rates back down again to stimulate the economy with another QE? Continue reading "The Head Of The ECB Speaks - What Did He Say?"