There are sign of a somewhat brighter global recovery and increasing global trade
Cannot yet have confidence that a sustained rise in inflation will materialize in a sustainable manner
Underlying inflation has not shown a convincing upward trend
You could say he’s cautiously optimistic.
Earlier in the year, the market read the optimism as a sign of potential action to tighten but officials have fought back against that idea, and that’s what helped to cap the euro at 1.09.
“As underlying inflation remains subdued and the path of inflation crucially dependent on the prevailing very favourable financing conditions, we cannot yet have sufficient confidence that a sustained adjustment in inflation will materialize in a durable manner,” he wrote.
It’s a similar line to what he said after the March 9 ECB meeting. The next ECB meeting is April 27.
With the reliability of a finely-tuned watch, the latest release of foreign-currency reserves held at the Swiss National Bank has shown yet another record, in a sign the central bank continues to swim against the tide.
Reserves swelled to SFr683.2bn ($SFr679.3bn) in March, up by nearly SFr15bn on the previous month.
Though the SNB famously dropped its hard upper limit on the franc two years ago, it continues to try and manage the currency’s ascent, buying foreign currencies, chiefly euros, whenever it sees fit. It often stresses its view that the franc is overvalued.
The euro now trades at SFr1.07. Deutsche Bank thinks the Swiss currency will climb much further from here, taking that rate to parity.
Among the reasons, it says the Swiss authorities may feel some pressure from the US:
The US Treasury looms large, as it is due to release its latest report on the FX policies of US trading partners sometime this month. As argued elsewhere, Switzerland is already closest to meeting all three criteria of currency manipulation. Its current account surplus runs well above 3% of GDP, and the SNB has intervened well in excess of 2% over the past year. In the past, the Treasury acknowledged the constraints on domestic asset purchases given the limits of the Swiss bond market; but such subtleties could fall by the wayside under the Trump administration. Free trade with the US is too important for Switzerland to be risked by continued FX intervention.
In addition, inflation is picking up, and the German bank disputes the idea that the franc is overvalued.
Just as everyone was finally accepting the idea of deflation and negative interest rates, inflation decides to pay a return visit. In the past week, articles with the following headlines appeared in major publications around the world:
What happened? Well, towards the end of 2015 most of the world’s major governments apparently got spooked by deflation and decided to ramp up their borrowing and money creation. China, for instance, generated the following stats in 2016:
New loans totaling 12.65 trillion yuan, or $1.8 trillion.
M2 money supply growth of 11%.
Debt-to-GDP ratio jump from 254% to 277%.
In Europe, the European Central Bank ramped up its bond buying program, pumping about a trillion newly-created euros into the Continental economy:
The euro climbed to its strongest level against the dollar since mid-February as the markets reassessed the odds of a December rate rise by the European Central Bank.
A day after mildly hawkish comments from European Central Bank president Mario Draghi helped send the single currency higher, the euro tacked on another 0.9 per cent to hit a three week high of $1.0673 following a report that the ECB had discussed whether rates could rise before it ends its bond buying programme.
However, two people familiar with the discussions denied there had been any meaningful debate over the issue. One person said some members are keen for the council to consider raising the deposit rate, now at minus 0.4 per cent, before it ends its quantitative easing programme.
The ECB plans to keep on buying bonds until the end of this year, and is considered likely to extend the programme into 2018 — though at a slower pace than the current level of €60bn a month.
Against the pound, the euro was up 1 per cent at €1.1393 – a level last seen in mid-January. The currency also firmed more than 1 per cent against the Japanese yen at 122.83.
In a recent report, experts of the Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute think-tank revealed that in 2008-2015, European Union member states spent €747 billion ($792 billion) on different bailout packages for banks.
Moreover, as for October 2016, some €213 billion ($226 billion) of taxpayers’ money — “equivalent to the GDP of Finland and Luxembourg” — was lost as a result of such rescue packages.
The authors of the reports also pointed out that the Big Four audit companies (EY, Deloitte, KPMG and PWC) engaged in designing the most important bailout packages were responsible for losses.
“In cases where the bailout consultants gave poor or inaccurate advice on the allocation of state aid there have been few consequences, even when state losses actually increased as a result. Bailout consultants have often been rewarded with new contracts despite their repeated failures,” the report read.
“The firms responsible for assuring investors and regulators that EU banks were stable, the Big Four audit firms, maintain their market dominance despite grave failures in their assessment of the EU banking sector’s lending risks,” it added.Read More
A novel dilemma for the European Central Bank to contend with: above target inflation.
Prices in the single currency area have climbed by 2 per cent on the year for the first time in over four years, posing a fresh headache for the ECB’s dovish policymakers who will mark their two-year quantitative easing anniversary next week.
At the ECB’s latest meeting next Thursday, president Mario Draghi will face the task of convincing his more hawkish colleagues that the current leap in annual prices – from 1.8 per cent in January – is unlikely to be sustained having been driven by volatile energy costs. The central bank, which has been battling with more than three years of low prices, targets inflation of just under 2 per cent.
Here’s what analysts are making of Mr Draghi’s dilemma.
Despite the recent upsurge in inflation driven by higher oil prices Pete Vanden Houte at ING thinks inflation will begin to stabilise over the coming months. If anything, he says the ECB will opt to let inflation run above target to compensate for years of weak prices:
There is little doubt that the ECB will continue to be criticized for its loose monetary policy, especially in the core countries. But the bank will no doubt recall that the inflation target has to be reached over the medium term and for the whole of the Eurozone. If anything the ECB is more likely to err on the side of inflation, to compensate for the fact that consumer price increases have significantly undershot the ECB’s target for now 4 years in a row.
We therefore don’t see any change in monetary policy this year. However, in the third quarter, the ECB might announce its exit strategy, which in our view will probably entail a new extension of the QE program until mid-2018, but with some tapering included.
The premium investors are demanding to hold French over German 10-year debt has hit a fresh post-eurozone crisis high today – exceeding 0.81 percentage points for the first time since August 2012.
The yield gap has swollen to its highest in over four years this month, reflecting investor jitters about France’s upcoming and unpredictable presidential elections in three months’ time.
France’s 10-year bond yield – which reflects the government’s borrowing costs – leapt 7 basis points today to 1.1 per cent after latest polls show the far-right Marine Le Pen is on course to emerge as a clear winner in the first round vote held in late April.
Ms Le Pen, who has promised to hold a referendum on France’s eurozone membership, is polling at 27 per cent in the first round vote, with her two main rivals, Francois Fillon and Emmanuel Macron tied at 20 per cent, according to latest collated polls from Opinionlab.
The prospect of a Le Pen presidency has spooked French bond investors with markets warily eyeing the apparent demise of her biggest rival, the right-wing Mr Fillon.
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
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.