Notes From Underground has been concerned that 2017 would be the year of Europe as the ECB’s quantitative easing policy and NEGATIVE interest rates would be an issue for many of the elections taking place this year. The Dutch, French and Germans will hold parliamentary elections. Those following the mass media will be focusing on immigration while NFU will continually seek to underline the importance of the repressive financial policies of the ECB. It is this narrative we will use to take the pulse of potential upheavals to the status quo. There is no doubt that the opposition to President Draghi is growing. In a threat to the Empress of Europe, Angela Merkel, received news that her coalition partner, SPD, has overtaken her party in the polls.
Posts Tagged ‘Mario Draghi’
The inauguration is over. Davos is behind us. Let’s start examining the impact of policy and politics as we move forward. The first three weeks has brought stasis for equity markets as the S&Ps have not set new highs since the December exuberance. Investors are beginning to comprehend that the slow-moving legislative process will impede Trump’s efforts for an expedited deregulation and tax reform program. But, if you follow the proliferation of stories about a possible dissolution of the EU, my prediction with Rick Santelli about Europe being the main focus of 2017 is coming to fruition. One wonders what was discussed in the backrooms of Davos that led so many global executives to suddenly express concerns about the increased populism in the Netherlands, France and even Germany. It seems that the Dutch elections have gained a prominent position as a severe test for Brussels-based eurocrats.
Oh yes, we got trouble right here in Frankfurt City! It rhymes with T and starts with G and is spelled Germany. Today (and of no genuine market surprise), the ECB made no adjustments to its current QE and negative rate policy. The press conference was where all the potential market moving “tweets” would take place, but Professor Mario Draghi danced around the very fine questions from the European financial cognoscenti. Draghi was sharp as he insisted that “we need lower interest rates to get higher rates.” Also, when one inquisitor asked if the ECB was ready to DO LESS if inflation reached close to the MAGIC 2% level, President Draghi admitted that we only considered doing more QE (never LESS). Thus, the ECB allowed us a look at the asymmetric BIAS of all central banks. The ECB is far more worried about low growth, low inflation that the main concern is always more. And Draghi’s ultimate fallback position for the construction of counterfactual policy formation is the ongoing deleveraging process in Europe.
I’m still nursing a New Year’s hangover. It takes a long time for the mind to rid itself of all the news the mainstream media deems fit to read. But as the third rock keeps spinning, markets will keep moving and we will strive to untangle the ball of confusion. After today’s tepid ADP data the market has settled into a consensus for 175,000 nonfarm payrolls. Again, I would love to see a number greater than 250,000 just to test the recent market action. BONDS rallied, currencies rallied against the DOLLAR, precious metals are showing early year strength and commodities have held support levels in the age of TRUMFLATIONARY EXPANSIONARY EXPECTATIONS.
This year has been a year of surprises as conventional wisdom-based forecasts have proven to be like oral agreements: not worth the paper on which they are written. The coming year promises to bring more confusion and volatility as the markets are preparing for the U.S. to be a Trumpian utopia of wealth creation. I caution against blindly accepting this narrative for it will not be a U.S.-centric year. Attention will turn to Europe as the political cycle brings elections in the main players. France and Germany are the EU and the rest just the trimmings (so stated Charles De Gaulle). The EU is fraught with problems, so the more uncertainty raises the profile of the ECB President Mario Draghi. Senator Charles Schumer once said to Fed Chair Ben Bernanke, “You are the only game in town.” Well, an ECB with a printing press and no political accountability provides a central bank on steroids. Mario Draghi perceives himself as the savior of the EU project so expect him to be hyperactive in response to any major political changes in France. Greece, Italy and Spain still remain an economic issue so the entire EU financial system will be subject to paroxysms within its debt and equity markets.
“When you’re in the shit up to your neck, there’s nothing left to do but sing.” This is what Samuel Beckett wrote and it was the way President Mario Draghi performed today. Never in the history of central banking has a policy maker spewed so much crap about monetary policy and the annals of central bank shenanigans is voluminous. The EURO CURRENCY rallied 1 percent on the headline of the ECB‘s desire to cut monthly purchases to 60 billion euros a month but announced that the duration of QE would be extended through December 2017. So tapering on a monthly basis, but not on a longevity measurement.
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 world is all abuzz with the good feelings radiating from the aftermath of the Trump victory. However, no matter how long the U.S. equity market rallies, be certain that Trump is not draining the swamp of Washington, D.C. He is proving to be a caretaker. Today’s pick of Elaine Chao for Transportation Secretary is just more of the same. Ms. Chao is certainly qualified. After all, she has an MBA from Harvard, but being a past member of the Bush Cabinet means we are using old, worn-out tires. The Transportation Secretary will be overseer of many of the INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS the Donald has promised to deliver. The pork barrel these projects will be dipped in will be beyond lucrative and the wife of Mitch McConnell ought not to have been given this role.
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?