Reuters blog archive
The European Central Bank meets on Thursday with emerging market tumult bang at the top of its agenda.
It’s probably too early to force a policy move this week – particularly since the next set of ECB economic and inflation forecasts are due in March – but it's an unwelcome development at a time when inflation is already uncomfortably low, dropping further to just 0.7 percent in January.
If the market turbulence persists and a by-product is to drive the euro higher, which is quite possible, the downward pressure on prices could threaten a deflationary spiral which ECB policymakers have so far insisted will not come to pass.
Euro zone and UK PMI surveys for January will give the latest on the state of Europe’s economic recovery this morning. The Markit/HSBC manufacturing PMI for China has fallen to a six-month low.
The ECB will reveal more detail today on how it plans to go about checking that top euro zone banks have the risks on their balance sheets under control, laying out how it will define when a loan has turned bad and what the next steps will be.
Turkey’s central bank bit the bullet last night, despite Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan calling for it to hold firm just hours beforehand, and what a bite it was.
After months trying to avoid a rate rise it put 4.25 full percentage points on the overnight lending rate, taking it to 12 percent. No one can accuse Governor Basci of being under the government’s thumb now. The move vaulted expectations.
Hard to look beyond Turkey today. The central bank will issue its quarterly inflation report and has called an emergency policy meeting thereafter and will deliver a verdict at midnight local time. All very cloak and dagger.
The central bank, under heavy political pressure, has so far not raised interest rates but is instead burning through its reserves to defend the tumbling lira with only limited success.
This week will go a long way to determining whether a violent emerging market shake-out turns into a prolonged panic or is limited to a flight of hot money that quickly fizzles out.
On our patch, Turkey is under searing pressure, largely of its own making and that is the theme here. Yes, the Federal Reserve’s slowing of money printing is the common factor, prompting funds to quit emerging markets, but it is those countries with acute problems of their own that are really under the cosh.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan will make his first visit to Brussels for five years where he will meet EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Parliament President Martin Schulz.
The EU has been critical of Erdogan’s response to a sweeping corruption inquiry, clearing out hundreds of police officers and raising concern about a roll-back of reforms meant to strengthen independence of judiciary.
The surveys are likely to show the currency bloc ended the year on a reasonably robust note with Germany leading the way as always, Italy and Spain showing signs of life and France looking worryingly weak.
A deal on European banking union was finally struck overnight. Already the inquests have begun into how robust it is.
As we exclusively reported at the weekend, EU finance ministers agreed that banks will pay into funds for the closure of failed lenders, amassing roughly 55 billion euros which will be merged into a common pool in 2025. Yes, 2025.
A big moment for Turkey. After desperate attempts to shore up the lira by burning through its reserves, the central bank must decide whether to raise interest rates instead.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, fearing an economic slowdown ahead of elections next year, will not want to see a sharp tightening of policy. Instead, he is blaming shadowy forces for his country’s plight.
But a rate rise might be what is required to prevent a full run on the currency and if that is the case, the earlier it is done the better to calm investor nerves. The central bank sent a strong signal last week that it was minded to push up at least some of its key rates regardless of the political pressure.
How much time does massive central bank currency intervention buy? About a day at a time in Turkey’s case. It spent $1.3 billion of its reserves yesterday to stop the lira going into freefall having thrown a record $2.25 billion at the market on Monday.
So far this year, the central bank has burned over $6 billion of its reserves which have now dropped below $40 billion. So that can’t go on for long, meaning an interest rate rise which a slowing economy really doesn’t need must be on the cards. The lira hit a record low versus the dollar on Monday.
from Global Investing:
Turkey's elevation to investment grade last week may or may not be a game changer for its stock and bond markets, but the country is really hoping for a boost to FDI - bricks-and-mortar foreign direct investment into manufacturing or power generation. Its peace process with Kurdish separatists should help.
Speaking last week at Mitsubishi-UFJ's annual Turkey conference, Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek cited data showing an average 2 percentage-point pick-up in FDI in the two years immediately after a country moves into investment grade.