The biggest news in a very slow week of news is the beginning of the Brexit plan as Prime Minister May sent a six-page memo to Brussels as Article 50 begins and the two-year time period allotted for extrication from the EU starts the clock ticking in a very formal fashion. I SAY THIS TO ALL MY READERS: Two years is a very long time. There are many political and economic events (unforeseen by the static minds of entrenched power elites) that can dynamically change currently perceived outcomes. The fragility of global politics can wreak havoc with the certainties laid down by the likes of Jean Claude Juncker. The current position of the Brussels bureaucrats is the desire to punish Britain for the temerity of its citizens to vote to exit the “UTOPIAN” construct of the European Union.
Posts Tagged ‘Italy’
Please Donald, will the POTUS STFU, PLEASE. This is not a political statement. It is free advice because the more you communicate the less impact you will have. You may be trying to use the bully pulpit to jawbone the DOLLAR lower but every tweet diminishes your influence. Peter Navarro tried to create a weaker dollar but you have lessened the impact of his misinformed missives. Historically, jawboning has had a short-term market effect, but your late-night 140 character references are losing the power to persuade. You must learn that words are like your campaign sexual references, less is more. SO PLEASE, STFU.
In the 1969 cult classic Putney Swope written by Robert Downey, Sr., the film opens with the death at the board room table of the firm’s chairman, Mario. Not realizing he has had a heart attack the sycophants play charades to get at the message Mario is trying to convey, thus asking HOW MANY SYLLABLES MARIO? Tomorrow, the world will be asking Mario a different question. How much QE, Mario? How long? The European equity markets were en fuego early this morning, led by the German DAX, even as the SPOOs were lower to unchanged. There were rumors about a nationalization of Monti Paschi but it seems that the Italians were trying to delay an actual bailout of the troubled lender and wanted more time from the ECB. MY OPINION IS THAT THE ECB WILL ANNOUNCE SOME EFFORT TO BUY FINANCIAL DEBT FOLLOWING TOMORROW’S MEETING. The ECB has avoided buying financial debt in its QE program because it is also the banking supervisor for the EU.
The Mario Draghi brought forth a new and improved standard of “truth obfuscation” at Thursday’s ECB press conference. When Draghi answered a question about the ECB basing its policy on politics he answered: “We are not in a political game.” In his “perception” there is NO POLITICAL WAR BETWEEN THE ECB AND ITS MEMBER NATIONS. This is of course unadulterated nonsense as everything the ECB does is political. During the ECB’s initial state of decision-making, then-President Wim Duisenberg said, “WE HEAR BUT WE DO NOT LISTEN.” The ECB claimed it pays attention to political discussion but its policy is set by objective criteria. Duisenberg brought proof to the nonsense of objectivity as the ECB kept its interest rates ridiculously low to aid the Germans in their cost of financing German unification and making the implementation of the HARTZ IV labor restructuring easier to easier to absorb for the German government. Duisenberg’s policy of negative real yields put severe pressure on the EURO as it dropped in value from its initial price of 117.5 to 82.5 which created credit problems for all of Europe but the Germans. As usual, it raises the question, WHOSE EURO IS IT?
Just some summary points as this year the summer doldrums will prove to be anything but:
“There ain’t no room for the hopeless sinners,
who’s hurt all mankind just to save his own,
have pity on those whose chances grow thinner
’cause there’s no hiding place from the kingdom’s throne.”
The sentiment is aptly described in this song but also in Niall Ferguson’s book, “War of the World.” In the book, Ferguson explains that European bond markets were initially unfazed at the start of World War I. They traded at a steady valuation, even as the troop trains were heading for the front.
While attempting to enjoy Pittsburgh (and hopefully a Cubs game), the markets buzzing about the U.S. Treasury’s report about the “Trade facilitation and trade Enforcement Act of 2015.” In a Bloomberg News article published late Friday afternoon, “U.S. Places China, Japan, Germany on New FX Monitoring List,” it seems that the Treasury and Jack Lew are raising the threat of retaliation against nations that meet the Congressional crafted criterion of currency manipulation. These include: 1. Significant bilateral trade surplus with U.S.; 2. Material current-account surplus; and 3. Engaged in persistent one-sided FX intervention. The issue of “one-sided intervention” is defined as only weakening a currency by conducting repetitive net purchases of FX amounting to more than 2% of its GDP.”
When Alan Greenspan was Fed Chairman he would regularly orate on the concept of low probability events that could create disruption in the global financial system. These events are not BLACK SWANS because by definition a black swan is unknowable nor foreseeable. So it is time to take a survey of what Greenie called low probability:
1. Paul Ryan being parachuted into the candidacy for the Republican Party. There is a possibility but is a potential problem, which could rip apart the GOP. What would the fallout be for financial markets if the U.S. was splintered into a three- or four-party system? The same could be said for the Democratic Party if there was a revolt by the left-wing in response to the super delegates. The issue for the Democrats will rise to the fore if Hilary Clinton were to lose New York. Bernie Sanders is a low probability bet but his impact would be great.
2. The probability of Russia attacking Turkey, which could result in the break-up of NATO. If Putin attempts to seek revenge against President Erdogan by providing support to the Kurds against Turkey, the U.S. and its NATO allies would be forced to decide if they were willing to risk war with Russia to honor its commitment to a friend. Imagine what happens to the political situation in Europe if NATO were demolished because of its failure to honor Article 5, which asserts that an attack on one is an attack on all.
3. The June 23rd vote by the U.K. on Brexit results in a vote to leave. Not sure this is a low probability event but it will certainly have a HIGH IMPACT. The greatest outcome will be that others in the EU will request a referendum for this was certainly articulated in the recent Dutch vote on the EU’s agreement with the Ukraine. The most volatile result of a Brexit would be the pursuit of a referendum by German voters. The myriad articles on German unhappiness with the ECB are a mere prelude to what a vote in favor of Brexit would result in for the rest of EU. If you want a good sense of the arrogance of the European elite, watch Mario Monti’s CNBC appearance from today. Mr. Monti decried the outbreak of democracy in Europe and was very critical of David Cameron for falling in the trap and calling a referendum.
The critical assessment by Monti is an infamia for Mr. Monti was appointed Prime Minister of Italy by a “coup” orchestrated by the Brussels elite. Berlusconi was forced from office by threats of Italian debt downgrade and the Brussels eurocrats’ rejection of the Italian budget. When Prime Minister Monti had to call elections in 2013 after the Berlusconi term expired, Monti and his allies received a mere 11% of the vote. So Mario Monti’s views of popular democracy are subject to further review.
4. A failure of a major European bank, something on the order of Deutsche Bank or a major French institution. The cracks in the Italian financial system are well known. It is the exposure of other EU domestic banks that can cause a blind side hit to the financial system. Part of this issue is the BIS view of how sovereign debt is rated. Currently, all EU sovereign debt carries a zero risk weighting. If this were to change, EU banks would be forced to raise a great amount of capital, a total that would dwarf the amount that was recently raised to support the purchase of non-performing loans from Italian financial institutions. The European nations are struggling even with zero interest rates. Imagine what the budget deficits of Spain, Italy and France would be if borrowing rates were to dramatically increase.
This is just the beginning of analyzing low probability, high impact events. The landscape of the global macro system are rife with such possibilities. Now a black swan in an uncertain event this focus will be on those with a probability of occurring. The floor is open to all suggestions.
Open question to Goldman Sachs: ARE YOU ARROGANT OR DEAF? There’s a story in tomorrow’s Financial Times there is a story titled, “Goldman Sachs Makes Large Donation to Pro-EU Campaign.” It is being reported that Goldman has made a large six-figure donation to Britain Stronger in Europe. Whoever thought this up needs their head examined. There is nothing in the world more TOXIC than the big investment banks. In a potentially existential issue for British democracy, the idea of a large U.S. investment bank playing in the U.K. referendum will stir the anti-EU forces to push harder for a NO vote. The anti-euro camp has many strong, legitimate former officials working hard to push England further from the restrictions of an overzealous group of Brussels eurocrats.
(Will the Collapse In Energy Prices Grease a Cut In Rates Or the Introduction of QE?)
Just some tidying up and refocus on things besides China, Iran and the debt of ingratitude to the fracking revolution. Tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. CST the Bank of Canada announces its overnight interest rate. The bank rate in Canada is currently 0.5% and consensus is calling for a rate cut of 25 basis points to 0.25%. Other market participants are suggesting that BOC Governor Poloz will announce a large-scale asset purchase program (better known as QE). I doubt the BOC will change policy at this time even as the Canadian economy suffers from the severe drop in fossil fuel prices and other commodities.
As Poloz articulated in a speech in Ottawa at a BIS BREAKFAST SERIES January 7 (regarding monetary policy divergence): “It is very important that we understand the reasons for these policy divergences. On one level, they simply reflect actions taken by central banks tailored to their own economies. But the underlying forces acting on the global economy are powerful, slow-moving and affect various economies differently. This means that the theme of divergence – both financial and economic – is likely to remain with us for some time to come.”
The Canadian real-estate market has run hot for too long and even though Canadian banks are not of the sub-prime model lenders, Mr. Poloz will not wish to just continue to inflate property values. It would behoove the BOC Governor to wait to see what the newly elected Prime Minister Trudeau puts on offer from a fiscal stimulus perspective before racing down the monetary stimulus track that many other central banks have followed with no proven success (except for counter-factual arguments).