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Libor 2.0 and a £10bn UK-US trade agreement

Over the weekend…
we saw the first proposal for a Libor reform from Martin Wheatley of the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority and successor of the FSA), who told the FT about the Libor 2.0, which could look something like this:

[…] a dual-track system with survey-based lending rates running alongside transaction-linked indices as soon as next year.

In the US however, Gary Gensler of the CFTC calls for an immediate switch to transaction-linked rates. read Financial Times

Meanwhile, the G7 met just outside London to talk about monetary policy and how much liquidity is too much with the conclusion that money is something you can never have enough of: Go ahead Japan, ease some more. read Businessweek

In the US, WSJ correspondent Jon Hilsenrath published two articles on the future of the Fed, both in terms of staffing and monetary policy. Until yesterday, Friday’s article (read ZeroHedge annotations) was pretty much the most talked about news of the weekend, discussing how the central bank will unwind its QE program that is worth $85bn a month. It was followed it up with a piece on Janet Yellen, [probably] the next Ben Bernanke. read Friday’s Wall Street Journal read Sunday’s Wall Street Journal

This morning…

David Cameron is meeting with Barack Obama on future trade agreements, something that is being interpreted as a potential first step for the UK to leave the EU. A free trade agreement between the new and old world could be worth up to £10bn for the British economy. read Bloomberg

The Eurogroup is kicking of with both Cyprus and Greece on the agenda. Cyprus is seeking approval of the first chunk of its bailout program, worth €3bn, while Greece is set to receive €7.5bn in the latest bailout payment. read BBC read comment on Reuters MacroScope

As for the rest of the week, we’ll get all kinds of data from the US, including industrial production and inflation and housing. Same goes for the eurozone and Germany; the UK reports unemployment figures and Japan will give us preliminary Q1 GDP figures.

So long.

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US budget deficit decreases; ECB rate cut likely

Yesterday…
The IMF warned of the Asian bubble, saying too much FDI was leading to explosive credit growth and property prices, and it was to get even worse if Japan’s monetary policy was to have the intended effect on the Japanese economy (hold your horses, Christine). read FT

Deutsche Bank is issuing €2.8bn of new stock to improve its capital base. According to WSJ, Deutsche Bank has one of the lowest capital ratios among European banks. read WSJ

This morning…
The Dutch Queen Beatrix abdicated, to be replaced by her son Willem-Alexander. She will be demoted to Princess Beatrix. read BBC

The US Treasury is expecting the first lowering of the budget deficit since 2007 between April and June 2013, when it is looking to repay $35bn, against the February estimate of shouldering another $103bn in debt. The deficit cut is due to tax increases, spending cuts and tax revenues recoveries. read FT

There was a whole flood of data out of Europe this morning: both Eurozone and German inflation came in at 1.2%, lower than expected, making a rate cut by the ECB on Thursday more likely. German unemployment added to its rise in March, but the adjusted rate is still only marginally above the two-decade low of 6.8%. Eurozone unemployment climbed to 12.1%. No surprise there, when has it not been rising… read Alphaville

Spain reported GDP growth for the first quarter – keyword ‘growth’ – at -0.5%, leading the Bank of Spain to lower it 2013 growth expectations from -0.5% to -1.3%. read CNBC

So long.

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All according to plan – US set to grow 3%; China’s slowdown on purpose

Over the weekend…
the UK lost its Fitch-assigned AAA rating on the back of the weak economy and poor outlook. Moody’s downgraded the country in February, but also assigned a negative outlook, while Fitch is optimistic that the UK will return to credit-worthy prosperity around 2014/2015. read article

In Italy, Giorgio Napolitano was re-elected President for the coming seven years on Saturday. The independent is expected to propose a bipartisan cabinet, considering that he was elected by both sides of the political spectrum to avoid another round of elections. Everybody except for Beppe Grillo seems happy; he had called Napolitano’s re-election a coup d’etat. read article

The G20 meeting ended with everyone promising to not engage in competitive devaluation of currencies, defending Japan’s monetary policy as appropriate and targeting domestic demand. read article

This morning…
word got out that the US will see 3% growth in July, due to a reform of the methodology behind government statistics. 21st century GDP also takes film royalties and R&D spending into account:

Billions of dollars of intangible assets will enter the gross domestic product of the world’s largest economy in a revision aimed at capturing the changing nature of US output.” read article

Meanwhile in China, central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan justified the country’s below-expectations growth rate of 7.7% in the first quarter of 2013, saying slow growth was necessary as structural reforms are being put into place. read article

Otherwise the counter-austerity voices are getting louder again, this time it’s Pimco’s Bill Gross (not that surprising) and Jose Manuel Barroso of all people, the President of the European Commission. Could this be the beginning of the end of Angela Austerity Merkel’s dominance in European policy? Probably not.

So long.

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Obama ready to cut social security for budget deal

Yesterday…
it was all about central banks: the Bank of Japan expanded its asset purchasing program to JPY7tn per month, which will increase the Japanese monetary base to JPY270tn – double – by early 2014. read article

Both the Bank of England and the ECB left their policies alone. Mario Draghi shared mixed views of the European economy, saying it was to benefit from improving financial markets sometime soon, while bank lending was negative and needed encouraging. Interest rate cuts are possible again.

This morning…
we’re waiting for US non-farm payrolls, expected to show 190,000-200,000 jobs added in March (according to Bloomberg and Dow Jones respectively), as opposed to 236,000 in February, with a steady unemployment rate of 7.7. read article

President Obama is willing to cut social security spending to finally get a budget deal together, the White House announced this morning. The new proposal would see cuts worth $1.8tn over the next decade and will piss off a lot of Democrats and unions. read article

Weekend reading…
women and Wall Street (again) read article
– why the French are an un’appy folk, read article
– the deal with interest rates, read article

Have a good weekend.

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Central Bank Center Stage: UK prepares for future easing

Today’s central bank action shows the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan leaving things as they were. In the UK, the budget, to be announced on March 20th, will give the BoE more leeway in reaching the 2% inflation target. In other words, it will be a Go! sign for the printers and for new governor Mark Carney to save the day. As for Japan, this was the final monetary policy meeting for current governor Masaaki Shirakawa. Whether his successor will employ this new found conservatism is uncertain. Meanwhile in Brussels, the ECB‘s policy meeting has begun; no changes are expected.

In the US, the Fed’s beige book survey showed moderate economic growth and easing employment conditions. At the same time, the FT (and Bloomberg) is running an article about the 750,000 people who could be out of work by the end of the year if the sequester doesn’t get amended.

A reduction of 750,000 jobs translates into about 0.4 percentage points higher on the unemployment rate. That, in turn, could mean it takes at least six months longer to reach the US Federal Reserve’s threshold of 6.5 per cent for a first rise in interest rates.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives voted in favor of a last-minute legislation that gives greater flexibility to government agencies that are subject to the spending cuts mentioned above, avoiding a government shutdown on March 27th. Next up: the [delayed] budget. read article

Time Warner is going to spin their Time Inc and IPC (publishing the likes of InStyle, Wallpaper* and NME) magazine arms off by the end of 2013 valuing the new public company at $2.4-3bn, after sales talks with publishing group Meredith had failed. In recent years, Time Warner also got rid of AOL and Time Warner Cable, all in the name of “strategic clarity”. read article

KPMG might lose its $81m auditing contract with HSBC, because the bank is considering a new pair of eyes for their books after 22 years. Hello there, regulatory pressureread article

Finally, France reached an unemployment rate of 10.6% in Q4 of 2012, representing the highest rate since 1999 and an increase for a sixth consecutive quarter. read article

So long.

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Italian elections: the morning after the morning after

As expected, center-left Pier Luigi Bersani is looking to form a minority government to lead Italy out of its post-election stalemate misery. A minority government with whom, you wonder? Well, Bersani asked for everyone’s support to curb austerity and promote job creation. Meanwhile, Mario Monti, who definitely lost the election, is considering leaving a €3.9bn bailout of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena be until the new administration is in place. Someone’s had enough. read article

Unfortunately for Italy, the country will try to sell €6.5bn worth of debt today.

Over in Brusselsnervous voices get louder with regard to the ECB, formerly known to do whatever it takes to save the euro for the Europeans through its OMT program. With Italy so obviously against austerity measures, future budget cuts that could be conditional for help from the ECB seem out of the questionread article

When addressing the Senate Banking Committee yesterday, Ben Bernanke advocated the Fed’s current course on monetary policy, saying the risks were clearly outweighed and investors should be encouraged by fair values and high corporate earnings. read article

J.P. Morgan is planning to fire up to 17,000 people, 6.5% of its staff, over the next two years in an effort to reduce costs by $1bn.annually. Most cuts will take place in 2014 in the bank’s mortgage groupread article

In other news, Visa and Samsung have struck a deal to advance mobile payments through Visa’s payWave software, and Chuck Hagel‘s nomination to US Secretary of Defense has been passed by the Senate. read article

So long.

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Italy at the polls; UK loses triple-A rating

Over the weekend, the UK lost its triple-A rating, with Moody’s downgrading the country to Aa1. The pound is weak and nobody is surprised. But Moody’s also cut the rating of the Bank of England, which is confusing, considering the outrageously unlikely event of a central bank default. In other words:

The question then is: what exactly does a rating mean for a sovereign which borrows in its own currency? Right now, it seems little bar political pain.

Responding to said political pain, George Osborne said he wouldn’t bow under pressure from the opposition and have Britain stick to the course of austerityread article
 
The first exit polls for the Italian election will be coming in at 2pm GMT today, when voting stations close. So far the election has seen topless feminists screaming for the end of Berlusconi’s rule over Italy (…), and a 55.2% voter turnout, 7.3% less than last year. read article
 
In Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades’ center-right party has won the election with a 57.5% majority, leaving the country’s bailout to be finalized by the new government and the EU. Anastasiades, however, likes to think of himself as not just another sheep-like follower of the regime of international lenders, and wants to reach a deal that doesn’t include privatizations, which are believed to raise up to €2bn. read article 
 
Meanwhile in the US, only four days are left to steer the country away from the sequester. So far neither side of the table seems to a have an idea how, despite Obama’s begging for compromise. read article
 
In other news, the Deepwater Horizon trial begins today and Japan‘s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is looking to nominate a new governor for the country’s central bank. So far, possible choices, which include the current President of the Asian Development Bank, are all pro-stimulusread article
 
Have a good week.

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Eurozone stuck in recession until 2014 (except for Germany, because they think positive)

It’s a Europe-centric Friday, with breaking news of poor performance all around Europe’s economies – we know, thanks for pointing it out again.

The Commission revised its growth expectation for the year, saying the eurozone’s economy will contract by 0.3% in 2013. Bye bye, 0.1% growth. Bye bye, post-recession world. It will be accompanied by an unemployment rate of 12.2% and inflation of 1.8%. At least there will be room for rate cuts. read article

In Spain, the budget deficit increased to 10.2% due to aid costs for the banking sector. The bailout package for Bankia alone added 3.2 percentage points to that. Incidentally, Bankia, which is reporting 2012 earnings next week, will report annual net losses worth €19bn+, the largest loss in Spanish corporate history. read article

The German Ifo business climate index came in higher than expected, because Germany is vehemently following its optimism strategy that includes ignoring any data or reality.

In good news, the ECB recorded a €1.1bn profit from interest payments on a €208bn debt portfolio of PIIGS bonds. Over the last year, income from sovereign bonds even amounted to €14bn. read article

Meanwhile, US consumer confidence is being rocked by rising prices on gas, which climbed 15% up to $3.75 per gallon last week. Car owners in Europe are weeping and cycle to the US embassy to apply for visas. read article

Over the weekend, we’ll see Italy’s general elections (24-25 Feb), aka the Silvio Berlusconi show. In case of a hung parliament, the election limbo would continue for months, and Italy would be stuck with a caretaker government that doesn’t want to implement policies. read article

Weekend reading:

– horsemeat economics, read article

– and then ‘cyberwarfare‘ became a thing, read article

– rethinking drug policiesread article

– in case you’ve read the Bloomberg editorial on $83bn annual bank subsidies, here’s a discussion of it read article

Have a good one.

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Central bankers’ secretaries: All about minutes

The minutes from yesterday’s Fed meeting shed doubt on the future of America’s money printing program, showing that “many” (like what, more than four?) Fed officials are uncomfortable with printing all that dough. From MarketBeat:

Fed officials, including Richard Fisher, Charles Plosser, Jeffrey Lacker and Esther George (aha, four…), have previously raised concerns about the Fed’s easy-money policies. The minutes don’t identify participants by name, or specify how many officials expressed a particular view, making it unclear if other more dovish members changed their tunes in the latest Fed meeting.

Maybe someone else should do the minutes next time… At the other end of the spectrum, Bernanke seemed adamant that policies won’t change until the economy shows more convincing signs of recoveryread article

Across the Atlantic, markets are moved by even fewer people. Sir Mervyn King, who is about to leave the Bank of England to spend more time gardening, is pressing for more QE. Or maybe he just wants to take some pressure off of Mark Carney‘s shoulders, who knows. Another £25bn package, would up the Bank’s total easing program to £400bn. read article

Otherwise, the UK saw its budget surplus increasing upon the coupon payment from said QE program, reducing overall net borrowing by £2.6bn. By next the end of the next fiscal year, this number is meant to rise up to £12bn. read article

Elsewhere in Europe, uninspiring data caught on to all those high expectations, with Germany missing estimates and France dropping off the map. This recovery is going super well. read article

In Russia, central bank Governor Sergei Ignatiev, who is stepping down in summer as well, gave an interview saying Russia was losing $49bn a year through untaxed transfers to non-residents to finance illegal activities. read article

So long.

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EU strikes deal on budget rules; Japan continues to confuse

In an effort to mask eurobonds as something less repulsive to German chancellor Angela Merkel, the EU has set up a working group to do a feasibility study for a European debt redemption fund. This is part of a deal on budget rules, which includes the Commission’s insight into national budget proposals before those are voted on in national parliaments. read article 

Meanwhile in China, the PBOC withdrew CNY30bn ($4.81bn) from the banking system to ease inflationary pressures that had flared up following the continuous influx of fresh cash into the economy to reduce borrowing costs. read article

News out of Japan continue to surround monetary policy, with PM Abe saying the governing laws of the Bank of Japancould be conditional to changes if the 2% inflation target isn’t reached. Abe also said that buying foreign bonds existed as an option to exercise monetary policy if BOJ results should disappoint. This was disputed by Finance Minister Taro Aso today, who said Japan had no intentions to buy foreign bonds through a designated BOJ fund. It’s always nice to see consensus in an administration.

In other news, the German ZEW survey exceeded expectations by a ridiculous extent, rising to 48.2. The last time the survey reached that level of confidence was April 2010 (right before Greece started to disintegrate). Now it’s just a matter of time until expectations will probably adjust to the real world. read article

Finally, BP has admitted not to have reached a settlement ahead of the Deepwater Horizon trial, more or less because the company is convinced that the total fines would be much lower than the $20bn that have been estimated by some in the run-up for the court case. read article

So long. 

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