Options market reveals depths of UK/EU jitters

February 22, 2016

Sterling is sliding and gilts and the FTSE 100 are underperforming peers because of growing concern that Britons might vote to leave the European Union. But these moves are just the tip of the iceberg. Derivatives show an even deeper pessimism about the outlook for UK assets.

The real reason to worry about China’s FX reserves

September 8, 2015

The war chest shrank by $94 bln in August. The central bank has good reasons to prevent its botched devaluation from becoming a self-fulfilling slide. And investors have many sound motives to sell yuan. Yet rapid outflows raise the risk of a liquidity squeeze on Chinese growth.

China’s ailing stocks are now contagious

August 24, 2015

Mainland shares are tumbling again. Unlike in July, this sell-off is hurting currencies, commodities, and other Asian bourses. Two things have changed. There’s now the threat of devaluation. And bungled interventions cast doubt on China’s ability to manage markets.

Swiss caught in the wake of massive FX currents

March 19, 2015

Exposure to the European economy has helped Switzerland. The euro has not. The failure of the franc’s peg to the single currency has cut into expected growth, and leaves the central bank searching for a new approach. The lesson: in currency wars, the little guys usually lose.

Turkey’s central bank is in a very tough spot

March 9, 2015

Rate-setters are under pressure from President Erdogan to ease, despite a big trade deficit, high inflation and a weakening lira. The central bank is trying to square the circle, including by cutting forex deposit rates. It could all get much worse, if Erdogan pushes too hard.

FX fines are wake-up call on self-policing

November 12, 2014

The $3.4 bln settlement for five banks works out on average at 20 pct higher than Libor – because the firms failed to mend their ways. Regulators are seeking yet tougher internal controls. Banks have a last chance to show they can treat clients fairly.

UBS’ legal pain is beginning to look manageable

October 28, 2014

The Swiss bank is still paying for past sins, with a 12 month extension of a U.S. non-prosecution deal and a hefty $1.9 bln addition to legal reserves in the third quarter. But the underlying businesses are now prospering. Investors can finally eye decent returns.

Russian central bank intervention is a dead end

October 8, 2014

The central bank of Russia is buying roubles on the market, but the exchange rate keeps sinking. The economy has deep structural flaws, worsened by Putin’s aggressive foreign policy. There are many reasons to take capital out of Russia. For the currency, the only way is down.

Sterling fall shows rational alarm over Scotland

September 8, 2014

The poll lead for Scottish independence may be unreliable, but the decline of the pound – now down 6 pct since July – prices in the realistic risk of trouble. A UK breakup would be fraught, the fiscal and economic damage significant, and the loss of European status definitive.

Euro has further to fall

September 5, 2014

The single currency has dropped sharply since the ECB eased policy this week. The central bank now openly hankers for a weaker euro to boost inflation, and is doing all it can to bring this about. Traders sometimes fight central bankers. This time they look happy to go along.