Some issues become tedious to discuss but importance is not diminished by the tedium. While the issue of OMT is extremely important for global financial markets, its significance is understated in the U.S.-centric financial press. The European press had two important pieces on the issue of the ECB and possible violation of German law. First, the Telegraph had a piece by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, “Germany’s Brother Gladiators Battle Over Euro Destiny in Constitutional Court.” The title of the article reveals the importance of the issue as it will draw lines in Germany behind the two key issues represented by ECB Vice Chairman Jorg Asmussen and ECB Executive Board Member and Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann. The Weidmann argument is that the OMT PROGRAM “blurs the line between fiscal and monetary policy.” It is not the mandate of the ECB to bail out insolvent states. The argument for the Asmussen group is that the OMT program saved the breakup of the EU and safeguarded the monetary union. But that of course raises the question of what institution provides the financial backstop for safeguarding the EU?
Posts Tagged ‘Euro’
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?
In a “flash,” the LONG DOLLAR positions of the taper crowd came a crashing down upon committed U.S. dollar bulls. The position unwinding started during President Mario Draghi’s press conference. I was a very attentive listener to the Q&A session and am very hard pressed to see anything positive about Europe in Draghi’s answers. In fact, the EURO began its rally just after said that the ECB was “… technically ready for negative rates.” It seems that the ECB council was again discussing the possibility of having EONIA go negative in an effort to unlock the bank deposits currently sitting at the ECB. The fact that the ECB has drawn up plans for “GOING NEGATIVE” is not a bullish EURO indicator. The most bullish and honest statement from President Draghi was he maintained that the ECB has been the most conservative of all the central banks.
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:
Tonight’s BLOG headline is attributable to my friend KM after a long conversation about the IMF and G-20 meetings that took place in Washington during the past four days. It appears that Japanese monetary policy was not the subject of derision but rather applauded as a strong measure to lift Japan’s domestic economy out of two decades of malaise. Let me be as clear as possible: There is a full frontal assault being waged on the German model of GROWTH THROUGH AUSTERITY. The first shot fired was several months ago when IMF economist Olivier Blanchard delivered a paper stating that the previous belief that the negative impact on GDP from austerity was not a multiplier effect of 0.5% but rather a greater measure of 0.9-1.5% in its impact so a decease in fiscal spending would create a much greater slowdown than previously thought. The battle was waged in the efforts to limit the sequestration in the U.S. even as IMF Managing Director Lagarde cautioned that U.S. tightening is “too much, too fast and it’s in the wrong place. It’s not right for the U.S. economy and it’s not right for the world.”
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.
It made little sense to blog about Cyprus last night because the initial news release was so vapid it was of little use. Those who perceived a risk-on based “settlement ” proved to be disappointed this morning. Long before Dutch Finance Minister Dijsselbloem opened his mouth, the euro and its various correlated trades were in a turnaround from last night’s movement. Mr. Dijsselbloem also serves as the head of the ECOFIN (European Finance Ministers) so his voice carried more weight than the usually opining of a podium-addicted eurocrat. It seems that the ECOFIN honcho made it known that the severe punishment of investors and depositors in Cyprus was to serve as the TEMPLATE for all future European banking insolvencies. The stern tone of the message sent global equities lower and the DOLLAR and any currency not in Europe, rallying.
Yes, another day and the markets had to try to understand the significance of Cyprus. The newswires were filled with analysts claiming this was a “tempest in a teapot” and that the doomsayers were blowing the Cypriot problem into a pseudo crisis. Again, a world that is highly leveraged is subject to a “single spark starting a prairie fire” and the fear of contagion and an electronic bank run are very real if the major policy makers don’t invoke the trust of the electorate and investors. The perceived actions by IMF Director Lagarde (the joker) and the liquidationist mentality being thrust from Berlin and Chancellor Merkel (the thief) have created a situation where European bank depositors are nervous, especially so in the peripheral banks. THE MAIN COMPONENT OF THIS UNCERTAINTY WAS THE MOVE IN THE FRONT MONTH EURIBOR CONTRACTS,AS THE JUNE 2013 FELL 10 TICKS ON A DAY WHEN OTHER INTEREST RATES WERE LOWER. NOTHING SAYS BANK FEARS THEN A COUNTER MOVE IN THE EURIBOR AND LIBOR MARKETS. An increase in bank yields with equity markets falling is a sign about the fear in the bank deposits market. It seems that the policy makers that are leading the previously “revered” TROIKA (IMF,European Commission and ECB) have initiated fear for a mere pittance.
Notes From Underground: The Fed’s Zero Rate, Quantitative Easing Policies Are Stock Market FundamentalsMarch 10, 2013
The continued parade of stock market analysts who proclaim the equity market is rallying merely on Fed monetary policy instead of market fundamentals have spent far too much time doing case studies and not reading economic history. Interest rates as the variable signaling the cost of money are a very critical element and a key fundamental of the economy and especially the equity markets. U.S. multinational corporations are sitting on record piles of cash and also reporting strong profits. Much of the growth in profits can be attributed to two factors: Very low borrowing costs and continued pressure on wages. The FED has created the low interest rates and has hoped that the profitability resulting from low borrowing costs would bleed into higher wages and thus the need for increased hiring. The problem is many fold on the lack of success in aiding jobs creation. Globalization has kept pressure off wages and the deleveraging of the private balance sheets has meant that downward pressure remains on demand.