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Mon, 20th February 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report

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Archives of “european central bank” Tag

Greece : Banks worry over sudden bad loan spike in January

Nonperforming loans last month posted a major spike of almost 1 billion euros, reversing the downward course set in the last few months of 2016. This has generated major concerns among local lenders regarding the achievement of targets for reducing bad loans, as agreed with the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) of the European Central Bank for the first quarter of this year.

Bank sources say that after several months of stabilization and of a negative growth rate in new nonperforming exposure,the picture deteriorated rapidly in January, as new bad loans estimated at 800 million euros in total were created.

This increase in a period of just one month is considered particularly high, and is a trend that appears to be continuing this month as well. Bank officials attribute the phenomenon to uncertainty from the government’s inability to complete the second bailout review, fears for a rekindling of the crisis and mainly the expectations of borrowers for extrajudicial settlements of bad loans.

Senior bank officials note that a large number of borrowers will not cooperate with their lenders in reaching an agreement for the restructuring of their debts, in the hope that the introduction by the government of the extrajudicial compromise could lead to better terms and possibly even to a debt haircut

Le Pen Victory Would Lead To “Massive Sovereign Default”, Global Financial Chaos, Economists Warn

With two months left until the French election, analysts and political experts find themselves in a quandary: on one hand, political polls show that while National Front’s Marine Le Pen will likely win the first round, she is virtually assured a loss in the runoff round against either Fillon, or more recently Macron, having between 20 and 30% of the vote; on the other, all those same analysts and political experts were dead wrong with their forecasts about both Brexit and Trump, and are desperate to avoid a trifecta as being wrong 3 out of 3 just may be result in losing one’s job.

Meanwhile, markets are taking Le Pen’s rise in the polls in stride, and French spreads over Germany are moving in lockstep with Le Pen’s rising odds. In fact, as noted earlier in the week, French debt is now the riskiest it has been relative to German in four years.

Frexit would ‘impoverish’ France warns ECB’s Cœuré

Image result for frexitMarine Le Pen’s plans to take France out of the euro would consign the country to impoverishment, one of the European Central Bank’s most senior French officials has warned.

Benoît Cœuré, executive board member at the ECB, called the notion of a ‘Frexit’, a choice for “impoverishment” that would “threaten the jobs and savings of the French people”.

Ms Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, is vowing to hold a referendum to take France out of the eurozone and redenominate the country’s €2tn of outstanding debt into a new franc after 18 years of membership should she become the country’s new president in May.

Should a Frexit occur, “debts incurred by French businesses and households would increase”, warned Mr Cœuré.

“Inflation, which would no longer be restrained by the ECB, would eat into savings, the fixed incomes of households and small pensions”, he added.

Despite Ms Le Pen’s assurances of an “orderly” exit, the French central banker said “leaving the euro would mean taking risks which have unpredictable consequences”.

The prospect of surging popularity for Ms Le Pen and the apparent demise of one of her main rivals for the job, the right-wing Francois Fillon, has sent the country’s 10-year bond yields to an 18-month at the start of the week.

Investors have dumped French debt, demanding the highest premium in four years to hold its benchmark bonds over Germany’s, as the likes of S&P Global Ratings have warned a Frexit would result in a likely downgrade of France’s sovereign borrower status.

With less than three months since the start of the first round presidential vote, Mr Cœuré said he could “not contemplate” a French vote in favour of leaving the euro, with the latest polling showing around 68 per cent of French people still back membership of the single currency area.

Amid promises by Ms Le Pen to restore monetary sovereignty to France and reverse the forces of globalisation, Mr Cœuré defended the euro, arguing it had proven to have had “greater benefits for the disadvantaged and the vulnerable”.

ECB sees seeds of next crisis in Trump deregulation plan

The European Central Bank rejected U.S. accusations of currency manipulation on Monday and warned that deregulating the banking industry, now being openly discussed in Washington, could sow the seeds of the next financial crisis.

Arguing that lax regulation had been a key cause of the global financial crisis a decade ago, ECB President Mario Draghi said the idea of easing bank rules was not just worrying but potentially dangerous, threatening the relative stability that has supported the slow but steady recovery.

 Draghi’s words are among the strongest reactions yet from Europe since U.S. President Donald Trump ordered a review of banking rules with the implicit aim of loosening them. That raises the prospect of the United States pulling out of some international cooperation efforts.

“The last thing we need at this point in time is the relaxation of regulation,” Draghi told the European Parliament’s committee on economic affairs in Brussels. “The idea of repeating the conditions that were in place before the crisis is something that is very worrisome.”

The ECB supervises the euro zone’s biggest lenders.

“Big mistake”

Andreas Dombret, a member of the board of Germany’s powerful central bank, the Bundesbank, said that reversing or weakening regulations all at once would be a “big mistake”, because it would increase the chance of another financial crisis.

“That is why I see a possible lowering of regulatory requirements in the U.S., which is under discussion, critically,” said Dombret, who is also a member of the Basel committee drafting new global banking rules.

World’s Largest Actively Managed-Bond Fund Dumps “Excessively Risky” Eurozone Bank Debt

Back in September, Tad Rivelle, Chief Investment Officer for fixed income at LA-based TCW, said in a note that “the time has come to leave the dance floor”, noting that “corporate leverage, which has exceeded levels reached before the 2008 financial crisis, is a sign that investors should start preparing for the end of the credit cycle.” Ominously, he added that “we’ve lived this story before.” Five months later, the FT reports that TCW, which is also the US asset manager that runs the world’s largest actively managed bond fund, has put its money where its bearish mouth is, and has eliminated its exposure to eurozone bank debt over fears these lenders are “excessively risky.”

In an interview with the FT, Rivelle said the company began to reduce its exposure to debt issued by eurozone lenders following the UK’s vote to leave the EU last June. In the first half of last year TCW, which oversees $160bn in fixed income strategies, had around $2bn invested in European bank debt. This has fallen to less than $500m since the Brexit vote, most of it in UK banks.

Rivelle, who previously was a bond fund manager at PIMCO, said his biggest concern was the number of toxic loans held by eurozone lenders, which amount to more than €1 trilion. Last month Andrea Enria, chairman of the European Banking Authority, said the scale of the region’s bad-debt problem had become “urgent and actionable”, and called for the creation of a “bad bank” to help lenders deal with the issue. Rivelle said: “The [eurozone] banking system [has] a bad combination of negative rates, slow growth and lots of problem non-performing loans. It is inherently prone to a potential crisis should global economic conditions, or European economic conditions, worsen. [These are] the preconditions of a potential banking crisis.”

Continuing his bearish bent, Rivelle added that there is a 50% likelihood of another global recession within the next two years, removing any incentive to invest in the eurozone banking sector within that timeframe. The forthcoming French presidential elections in April, which could see Eurosceptic candidate Marine Le Pen come to power, and the problems facing the Italian banking system, are additional risks for eurozone banks this year.

BOJ on edge after Trump claims devaluation

While Bank of Japan officials see no grounds for Donald Trump’s accusation of currency devaluation, they still worry that the bank’s unique measure to control long-term rates could become the next target as the president continues his rhetorical battles.

“I have no idea what he is saying,” said one baffled BOJ official after learning about the criticism Trump leveled against the central bank. 

 Bond investors seem similarly perturbed. Yields on 10-year Japanese government bonds temporarily rose 0.025 percentage point Thursday, hitting 0.115% — the highest since the BOJ announcement of negative interest rates Jan. 29, 2016. The climb also reflects market anxiety over whether the central bank will continue buying up JGBs at the current pace.

BOJ Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda refuted Trump’s accusation in the Diet on Wednesday, saying Japan’s monetary policy is designed to defeat persistent deflation and not to keep the yen weak. “We discuss monetary policy every time Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers meet,” he said. “It is understood among other central banks that [Japan] is pursuing monetary easing for price stability.”

In fact, U.S. monetary policy is chiefly responsible for the yen’s depreciation against the dollar. The Federal Reserve in 2015 switched to a tightening mode after keeping interest rates near zero for years, judging quantitative easing to have worked its expansionary magic on the economy. The gap between American and Japanese rates is now the widest it has been in around seven years, encouraging heavier buying of the dollar — the higher-yielding currency — than the yen.

Eurozone unemployment rate drops to 9.6%

Unemployment in the euro area has dropped to its lowest level since May 2009, reaching 9.6 per cent in December from 10.5 per cent in the same month a year ago.

As usual, the Czech Republic and Germany were the EU’s star performers, Eurostat noted in its release, while Greece and Spain were still weighed down by painfully high jobless levels.

Youth unemployment also stands at a lofty 44.2 per cent in Greece and nearly 43 per cent in Spain.

‘Catastrophic Effect’: More Austerity Measures Could Force Greece to Exit the EU

Greec debtThe Greek government has just three weeks to secure a deal with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, to avoid the possibility of a Greek exit from the EU and a fresh debt crisis. Radio Sputnik discussed this with Dr. Marina Prentoulis, a senior lecturer at the University of East Anglia.

When asked whether there was any chance of a compromise that would appease both creditors and Greece, Marina Prentoulis said that the situation hasn’t changed since the first round of negotiations.

“There are different political forces involved and the creditors insist on the implementation of additional austerity measures. One thing the IMF doesn’t want to understand is that these measures have already had a catastrophic effect on Greece and also on the future of the European Union,” she noted.

Meanwhile, it looks like the Greek government is taking advantage of the political instability in the EU to secure a better deal for itself, knowing that if the country enters another debt crisis it could destabilize the already fragile EU.

Eurozone inflation confirmed at three-year high of 1.1%

On the up.

The eurozone’s annual inflation rate climbed above the 1 per cent mark for the first time since 2013 in December, underscoring the impact of climbing energy costs on consumer prices which have lagged at worryingly low levels for the last three years.

At 1.1 per cent, year-on-year inflation in December was confirmed in a second reading from Eurostat, which also showed an uptick in core inflation to 0.9 per cent.

Germany, Europe’s largest economy, recorded a more than three-year high of 1.7 per cent last month while Italy remained more sluggish at 0.5 per cent.

Emerging Markets :An Update

EM FX ended the week mixed. Markets continue to grapple with the outlook for the so-called Trump Trade, which we believe is intact.  MXN and TRY recovered from the relentless selling of recent days, but both remain vulnerable.  Indeed, if the jump in US yields on Friday continues this week, most of EM should remain under pressure.

India reports December WPI Monday, which is expected to rise 3.50% y/y vs. 3.15% in November.  December CPI came in slightly lower than expected at 3.41% y/y, and so there are some downside risks to WPI.  RBI next meetsFebruary 8 and it will be a tough call since the impact of the November demonetization is still being felt in the economy.

Russia reports November trade Monday.  Exports are seen contracting -2.7% y/y, while imports are seen rising 5.1% y/y.  As a result, the 12-month surplus is expected to narrow to $88.5 bln from $90.1 bln in October and would be the lowest since February 2005.  Q4 current account data will be reported Tuesday and is expected at $7.4 bln.  If so, the 4-quarter surplus would fall to $21.8 bln, the lowest since Q3 1999.  Higher oil prices should prevent the external balances from deteriorating further in 2017.
 
Singapore reports December trade Tuesday NODX is expected to rise 7.0% y/y vs. 11.5% in November.  Despite the trade data, the economy remains a bit soft, but rising price pressures are likely to keep the MAS on hold at its semiannual policy meeting in April.
Malaysia reports December CPI Wednesday, which is expected to rise 1.9% y/y vs. 1.8% in November.  Bank Negara meets Thursday and is expected to keep rates steady at 3.0%.  The bank has been on hold since the last 25 bp cut back in July.  It does not have an explicit inflation target, but rising price pressures are likely to prevent any further easing for now.