The Bank of Canada left interest rates unchanged and even maintained its “tightening bias” in the announced released this morning. It cited strengthening in the U.S. economy and the Japanese stimulus as positive global signs but noted that, “Europe, in contrast, remains in recession.” It is amazing that every central bank notes the weakness in Europe as a drag on global growth, but investors maintain a positive outlook on the European investment picture.” My glasses do not have a rose-colored tint and therefore I remain very skeptical about the ability of Europe to achieve any economic growth.
Archive for the ‘Spain’ Category
The Greek debt issue will be resolved for the moment–as we have maintained for months. What is 31 BILLION EUROS among friends? Now that the Catalan independence parties have won a resounding victory in the Spanish region of Catalonia, the political waters of Europe have become murkier. It will be doubtful that Catalonia will actually secede from the Spanish polity but the mere threat will mean that Brussels will have to become more involved in pushing billions of more euros into the Spanish coffers. The Catalans are angry because they send far more euros to Madrid than they receive back in Barcelona. According to the most recent data from 2009, Catalonia had sent 16.4 billion euros more to the Spanish Treasury than flowed back to the region.
In what was a very slow new weekend the most significant story is that Spanish PM Rajoy’s political party held on to power in the PM’s home state of Galicia. This was considered to be an important test for Rajoy for if his support in his traditional support base had turned against him, there would be no chance that the PM would have proceeded down the road of further austerity. Now Señor Rajoy may be emboldened to surrender to the demands of German-imposed CONDITIONALITY so as to receive the proposed bailout from the ESM. This should be short-term bullish for the EURO as it will remove one of the obstacles that was blocking a massive dose of liquidity into the Spanish financial system. The trade-off game of financial support for enacting more austerity should help the markets as near-term fears of a Spanish collapse should be postponed.
A long time reader of the BLOG (hat tip, SM) called and posed an interesting question about the 25% unemployment rate to which the markets seem to continually refer. The reader has a friend whose son is living in Spain and maintains that the unemployment situation in Spain is not nearly as bad as economists say because of the large underground labor pool. While I do not doubt that many people work in the “shadows” so as to avoid the TAX MAN, it seems that Spanish authorities would want to be very open about the positive impact of the underground economy on its citizens purchasing power. If the underground economy is so large in Spain, statisticians should be able to account for it and thus reduce the nation’s overall unemployment situation.
In his regular Monday Financial Times column, Wolfgang Munchau takes full aim at Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann for trying to make ECB President Draghi the devil incarnate. Because Weidmann invoked the Faustian character, Mephistopheles, from German hero Goethe’s play Dr. Faustus, Munchau accuses the Bundesbank President of undermining the policies of the ECB. Weidmann is going directly to the German public to plead his case that the ECB is taking the EU down the road of inflationary hell and monetary debasement. Munchau takes up the Draghi/Bernanke/Woodford argument that “the debate about nominal income targeting, where a central bank no longer stabilizes the inflation rate directly but focuses instead on stabilizing NOMINAL GDP (emphasis mine).” Munchau assumes that the central banks would be vigilante in controlling inflation but offers no view about what happens if NGDP rises with a significant rise in inflation but unemployment has not met the desired target.
A an op-ed piece in last weeks WSJ created a great deal of buzz in the financial media. Appearing a few days after the aggressive move by the FED, the opinion piece written by five eminent economists–George Schultz, Michael Boskin, John Cogan, Allan Meltzer and John B. Taylor–criticizes the Bernanke Fed’s QE policy from many different aspects. It is not the criticism that is significant but rather the stature of the economists that are calling the question of the FED’s continued one-dimensional response to the tepid growth following the deep recession of 2007-2008. The media would have the public believe that the only economists qualified to theorize on the problems at hand are those chosen by the FED and its research staff. The financial media bowed to the altar of Alan Greenspan– the Maestro, Oracle and whatever else–and thus the cult of personality was thrust upon the markets.
Notes From Underground: S&P Downgrades Spanish Sovereign Debt to BBB+ (Another Example of Grade Inflation)April 26, 2012
The rating agencies are in play again as a late afternoon press release stated that Spain’s DEBT IS NOT AS GOOD AS IT WAS YESTERDAY. Hard to believe it … S&P is really on top of their game. Again, you don’t have to be A WEATHERMAN TO KNOW WHICH WAY THE WIND IS BLOWING. This action, of course, will be the beginning of serial downgrades. As good collateral dwindles, it will put further pressure on the GERMAN BUNDS AND 2-YEAR SCHATZ as REPO TRADERS WILL GRAB THE BEST COLLATERAL. It explains why the SCHATZ TRADED TO A RECORD LOW YIELD OF 8 BASIS POINTS.
ABSTRACT: A theoretical view of NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND is that the initial action of a flattening yield curve is BULLISH, or, most importantly, not BEARISH for a developed market currency for it signifies that a CENTRAL BANK is ahead of the inflation curve and thus, is given confidence by BOND BUYERS. The corollary to this premise is that flattening curves and certainly inverted curves are a BEARISH INDICATOR FOR EQUITY MARKETS. In a RISK ON/RISK OFF algo environment, the market continually reflects this, especially as we saw today. However, day-to-day trading strategies are certainly not the major test of the theory. A reader of the BLOG commented on Sunday’s post that the opposite view was what he believed. Again, theories are to be tested for trading like good science “ADVANCES ONE FUNERAL AT A TIME.” (Max Planck).
Greece is balking at surrendering its sovereignty as the Merkel-led European elite is shouting for more austerity from the “profligates” in an effort to insure the large continental banks against the ravages of default. As one reader e-mailed today, IT IS AS IF THE GERMANS ARE PLACING THE ENTIRE NATION OF GREECE INTO DEBTORS PRISON. Life was much easier when a country could send in its gunboats to collect its loans.
As the polls expected, the Spanish election offered no surprises as the Center Right Popular Party appears to have attained an outright majority and the socialist party has been trounced. The markets appear to want to believe that this outcome is EURO POSITIVE AND SPANISH AND ITALIAN DEBT POSITIVE BUT I WARN THAT IT AIN’T NECESSARILY SO. Did the PP win a historic election so that they can deliver MORE AUSTERITY TO THE SPANISH PEOPLE? HOW MUCH ECONOMIC CONCESSIONS ARE THE SPANISH PEOPLE WILLING TO MAKE? IF THE ANSWER IS VERY LITTLE, THEN WHAT NEXT FOR THE EUROPEAN UNION?