The drama of Ukraine and Greece has left old-fashioned economic data in the shade so far this year but, quietly, there are some signs of improvement for the moribund euro zone economy.
Greece sent an economic reform plan to its EU and IMF creditors overnight, according to an EU source, and euro zone finance ministers will this morning see the list which is a condition for extending the country's bailout programme by four months.
The Greek standoff is coming to a head.
A day after euro zone finance ministers couldn’t “even agree to disagree” Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, attending his first EU summit, agreed that Greek officials would meet representatives of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF today.
The prospect of dramatic European Central Bank action – coupled with the deflationary threat posed by a plunge in the price of oil and the pain it inflicts on oil producing countries – is putting the financial system under growing stress.
Volatility is back with a bang.
The Swiss franc leapt by an unprecedented 40 percent at one point after the Swiss National Bank scrapped its currency cap out of the blue. Oil may have bounced but it’s still down the thick end of 60 percent since mid-2014, dragging the rouble and other oil-producer currencies with it. Copper, generally a barometer of world industrial demand, is barely finding its feet after plunging this week.
After dozens of world leaders including Muslim and Jewish statesmen linked arms and led more than a million French citizens on a march through Paris, Europe has both security and social problems to face following last week’s Islamist attacks.