Reuters blog archive
The big question of the week is whether financial market gyrations continue, worsen or calm. European stocks are being called higher at the open.
Greece has been effectively shut out of the bond market. If it and others on the euro zone’s southern flank come under persistent market pressure, in a way that hasn’t happened for two years, the onus on the European Central Bank to act will grow and grow.
None of the countries likely to be in the firing line appear to qualify for the conditions attached to the ECB’s still-unused OMT bond-buying programme, the legality of which is under review by the European Court of Justice.
So full-on QE might be the only option to restore calm if the turmoil persists or worsens. We’re a long way from that yet and internal divisions within the ECB may rule it out altogether. Maybe that dawning realization, as the Federal Reserve prepares to turn the money taps off, has contributed to the unnerving of investors.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Poroshenko are due to meet on the sidelines of the EU/Asia summit in Milan today to try to find a way out of the Ukraine crisis.
Germany’s Angela Merkel and French President Hollande will also meet the pair as part of a four-way contact group. The Kremlin has just said Putin and Merkel have "serious differences".
A two-day summit of EU and Asian leaders, which was going to be most notable for a meeting between the heads of Russia and Ukraine, risks being overtaken by financial market tremors which have spread worldwide.
There’s a good case that markets, primed with a glut of new central bank money, had climbed to levels which the state of the economies that underpin them did not justify. With the Federal Reserve about to turn its money taps off, investors seem to have woken up to poor growth prospects in much of the world.
from Anatole Kaletsky:
What’s spooking the markets?
One thing we can say for sure is that it is not the slightly weaker-than-expected retail sales that triggered the mayhem on Wall Street on Wednesday morning. Most U.S. economic data have actually been quite strong in the month since Wall Street peaked on Sept. 19.
So to find an economic rationale for the biggest stock-market decline since 2011, we have to consider two other explanations.
The European Court of Justice holds a first hearing on the legality of the European Central Bank's Outright Monetary Transactions programme. There won’t be anything definitive today but it serves to rekindle debate about the limits of the ECB’s powers.
In February, the German Constitutional Court asked the European Court to rule on the legality of OMT, the mechanism that drew a line under the euro zone crisis when it was unveiled in 2012. The court may give guidance about how best to make a final ruling which is expected in late spring next year.
The predictable battle lines were drawn at the G20/IMF meetings in Washington - most of the world urged Europe to do more to foster growth while Germany warned against letting up on austerity. The argument will doubtless be reprised today when euro zone finance ministers meet in Luxembourg.
Given a ghastly run of German data last week and sharp cuts to its growth forecasts by the IMF and Germany’s economic institutes, Berlin’s stance looks increasingly odd but Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble continued to make it abundantly clear he will not countenance any more public spending in the one European country that could really afford it.
The recent stretch of dire economic data from Germany is starting to bear an unfortunate resemblance to late 2008 – when Lehman Brothers collapsed and the world tipped into the worst recession since the Great Depression.
On a severity scale, a downturn now will probably be nowhere close to the first quarter of 2009 when Germany’s gross domestic product shrank 4.5 percent on the quarter.
from Anatole Kaletsky:
Following the grim market response to European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s latest monetary policy pronouncements, Europe is approaching another make-or-break moment comparable to the crisis of 2012. The summer quarter ended this week, and financial markets delivered their judgment on just how bad things are, pushing the euro down to its lowest level since September 2012. Europe’s quarterly stock market performance was the worst since the nadir of the euro crisis. The question is whether the miserable summer will give way to a milder autumn. Or whether the summer squalls will turn into a catastrophic tempest.
Given the absence of any decisive action at this week’s European Central Bank meeting, the answer will depend on three events in the month ahead: the Ukrainian elections on Oct. 26; the bank stress tests due to be finalized in late October by the central bank, and the judgment on French and Italian budget plans due to be delivered in outline by Europe’s political leaders at the Milan “growth summit” on Oct. 8 and then in detail by the European Commission at the end of the month.
Turkey's parliament has voted to give the government a green light to order military action against Islamic State as the insurgents tightened their grip on a Syrian border town, sending thousands more Kurdish refugees into Turkey.
There is little sign of it being put into imminent use but the vote gives the government powers to order incursions into Syria and Iraq to counter the threat of attack "from all terrorist groups". By common consent, western air strikes alone are unlikely to vanquish IS and there is a great deal of doubt that Syrian and Iraqi forces can best them on the ground.
The European Central Bank has one of its two offsite policy meetings of the year, in Naples. After a glut of measures last time it’s inconceivable that further action will be taken now but there is plenty to ponder.
A first tranche of cheap four-year loans has been offered to banks in the hope they will lend it on but the take-up was poor. The ECB is playing up the prospects of a second round in December after bank stress tests are out of the way. But having pledged to add the best part of 1 trillion euros to its balance sheet to rev up the euro zone economy, there is a lot of ground to cover.