The German Constitutional Court is scheduled to hear the arguments in the issue of the constitutionality of the ECB providing unconditional funding for the bailouts of European sovereigns plagued with financial problems. The main issue really becomes this: Can the ECB consign German citizens to be the paymasters for the entire European project without their DIRECT CONSENT–or what the highly regarded Otmar Issing rightly called “taxation without representation” in an FT op-ed piece several months ago? Germany’s Constitutional Court sits in Karlsruhe and decides major issues of law impinging on the legality of the BASIC LAW. Previously, the court has held that the sovereignty of the people resides in the Bundestag but has warned that the transfer of German wealth and property to an outside foreign body has its limits without direct consent of the people. Where does the demands of the European Union conflict with the sovereignty of the citizens in determination of German rights?
Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category
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.
Notes From Underground: The Markets Are Reacting to Rising Interst Rates, While Equities Continue to Roll On (And Fed Anticipates a Roll Off)May 28, 2013
In post-Memorial Day trading the BONDS had a large selloff as yields on long-term debt rose dramatically. The U.S. DOLLAR followed the rate increase and rose against all major currencies. Let’s reflect: Equities are impervious to rising long-term interest but the DOLLAR attracts foreign investors in search of a little more yield. The fact that the short-end of the curve is anchored by the FED, the result is that the 2/10 U.S. yield curve is steepening and actually made 52-week highs today as it rose to 186 basis points. The STEEPENING YIELD CURVE is aiding financial stocks. The 2/10 has increased to 184 from 145 basis points during the last three weeks, which has helped banks and other financials to pick up 40 EXTRA POINTS in yield by selling the short-end and buying the longer end. This is an interesting situation for usually steepening curves will put pressure on a currency.
There were no real market-moving news stories this past week, but that didn’t stop the precious metals from coming under severe pressure on the Asian opening as prices in gold and, especially silver, fell prey to liquidation and downside stops were elected in a relatively illiquid market environment. The DOLLAR/YEN was also under initial pressure as Japanese Economics Minister Akira Amari was on the Sunday morning Japanese news show saying, “the correction of the strong yen is largely completed.” Mr. Amari was voicing concerns about further rapid yen depreciation could negatively impact Japanese consumers. The selloff in DOLLAR/YEN seems to be rather tepid based on the massive LONG DOLLAR/YEN POSITIONS, but this bares watching when Europe and the U.S. markets open. More importantly, the initial price action in the Nikkei equity market doesn’t seem to be very concerned about the comments of Mr. Amari.
The last two days has seen two of the world’s key central banks deliver fresh interest rate decisions and there was very little in way of surprises. In a salute to the philosopher Isiah Berlin, I have noted that Chairman Bernanke is a HEDGEHOG and President Draghi a FOX. A hedgehog is one who “views the world through a single defining idea.” The economy is slowing, unemployment is high, inflation is low, so it is appropriate for the FED to buy and continue buying Treasury debt. You say it is not having the desired effect? Buy more. In yesterday’s FOMC statement, the FED noted that ”… FISCAL POLICY IS RESTRAINING ECONOMIC GROWTH.” The meaning of this is that Washington is acting irresponsibly, thus the FED needs to possibly INCREASE its bond and mortgage-backed securities purchases. Whatever it is, QE IS THE ANSWER.
The international distress call is going out from Europe as the overall eurozone unemployment rate reached 12.1%. Germany had a low rate of 5.4% while Spain was more than 27%. So how is the ECB to do deal with the huge discrepancy between the economic performance of its 17 members? If the austerians are being relegated to economic purgatory then the pressure on the ECB to act will be diminished. Cutting rates for the sake of a show of action will be a detraction from the bigger political issue. Why irritate the Bundesbank and Chancellor Merkel by moving the ECB lending rate by a measly 25 basis points?
It seems that the European debt markets are rallying in response to the end of ADVERSE FEEDBACK LOOPS. In a mind-numbing thought, it appears that the implementation of austerity budgets actually had the effect of increasing deficits as economies slowed as austerity began to bite. (The outcome of the adverse feedback.) The more austerity, the larger the deficit, which is compounding the debt problems of peripheral nations. Greece is the poster child of austerity gone awry. So as the threat of AUSTERITY diminishes, the more a nation’s bonds rally. The ITALIAN BTPs (10 years) saw its yields drop precipitously as a new government was formed over the weekend. But the rally in the BTP futures had begun well before the new government was actually crafted, as I noted last week. The BTP FUTURES had closed over the February 25 high–that was made before the failed election was a reality.
First, I need to clear the air on an issue that is cited over and over, of which causes me great discomfort. In last Thursday’s Financial Times, Robert Pollin and Michael Ash, the two professors who sponsored graduate student Thomas Herndon of UMass-Amherst–and of recent fame for finding the flaws in Rogoff/Reinhart–published the article heard round the world: “Why Reinhart and Rogoff are wrong about austerity.” I am not disputing the results of their work but I am questioning a causal relationship that they note:
It appears that the world is awash with Schadenfreude as analysts and pundits are experiencing great satisfaction and joy in the misery of others. Today the European automakers released sales data for March and the numbers were much weaker than the markets had expected. Registrations fell 10 percent and German auto sales dropped 17 percent. It appears that European auto sales in the passenger market are expected to hit 1993 levels. Ford and Peugeot also saw double-digit falls in sales. The euro rally against the YEN is dramatically biting into German car sales and the proof is in the fact that Japanese auto production has increased, and Toyota, Honda and Nissan stock prices have performed very well during the last six months.