British first quarter growth probably not as bad as reported

April 27, 2016

A man walks up steps in the City of LondonBritish economic growth slowed to 0.4 percent at the start of the year, a preliminary release showed as expected on Wednesday, but the real picture may well be better.

U.S. Q1 GDP could be even more disappointing than recent years

April 26, 2016

U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen testifies at the House Financial Services Committee in Washington February 10, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron - RTX26D37

U.S. first quarter economic growth, if there is any, is set to be disappointing once again, with private forecasters providing the most pessimistic first-take view for the start to the year since the recovery from financial crisis began.

Scotland in the euro zone? Gordon Brown outlines another Brexit scenario

April 22, 2016

Gordon Brown has added one more to the already lengthy list of Brexit scenarios: an independent Scotland that could be forced to join the euro zone.

MORNING BID EUROPE-Panama fallout continues; Greek deal on hold

April 11, 2016

The “Panama Papers” revelations continue to seep into domestic politics in various countries. Seeking to take back the initiative after being on the defensive over his late father’s financial activities, British PM David Cameron will today announce legislation making companies criminally liable if employees aid tax evasion. Some commentators suspect pro-Brexit backers and media are playing the whole business up to damage Cameron and his standing as the main face of the “remain” camp. Elsewhere, after the departure of the Icelandic prime minister, Maltese premier Joseph Muscat is feeling the heat after the leaked papers showed two of his political allies had offshore accounts. Several thousand people took to the streets in Malta’s capital on Sunday to demand his resignation. Muscat says he is looking into the allegations before he takes any further steps.

Schaeuble vs Draghi

April 10, 2016

schaeubledraghi.jpgIt’s no secret that Wolfgang Schaeuble has a dim view of how the ECB has conducted monetary policy. For years he has been sending out warnings about Mario Draghi’s cocktail of low interest rates, bond purchases and generous liquidity for banks. Euro zone inflation may be in negative territory, but for Schaeuble, the ECB’s extraordinary measures are unjustified. He has said repeatedly that they risk creating new financial bubbles. Still, until the past few days, Schaeuble’s criticisms were mostly polite and indirect. Now, suddenly, the gloves appear to be off.

Whiffs of interest rate cuts in Brazil

March 30, 2016

Brazilian Central bank chief Alexandre Tombini leaves the Economic Affairs Committee of the Senate in Brasilia December 16, 2014. Tombini repeated on Tuesday that the bank's forex intervention program has met its goals and that the current stock of swaps has fulfilled businesses' demand for currency protection. The comments raised doubts about the continuity of the bank's currency intervention into 2015. Tombini clarified, however, that the bank is currently deciding on new terms for the program that will take effect as of next year. His comments were not enough to ease investors' concerns. The real weakened further after he spoke, trading at 2.781 per dollar, nearly 2 percent weaker, as the market expected more details on the program that currently sells $200 million worth of currency swaps per day. REUTERS/Joedson Alves (BRAZIL - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS HEADSHOT) - RTR4I9C8 As impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff grows more likely, chances are rising that Brazil’s central bank may also go under new management in a matter of months.

Forecasters once again closer to the mark on U.S. rate outlook

March 17, 2016

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All the talk and the drama on trading floors may be how much the Federal Reserve has bowed to the will of financial markets in its surprisingly more cautious tone on interest rates.

What do Sunday’s German state elections mean for Merkel?

March 13, 2016
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives at an EU-Turkey summit in Brussels, Belgium, as the bloc is looking to Ankara to help it curb the influx of refugees and migrants flowing into Europe, March 7, 2016.       REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives at an EU-Turkey summit in Brussels, Belgium, as the bloc is looking to Ankara to help it curb the influx of refugees and migrants flowing into Europe, March 7, 2016. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Negative U.S. rates? “Simply not a good idea.”

March 11, 2016

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen smiles at the Federal Reserve's ninth biennial Community Development Research Conference focusing on economic mobility in Washington April 2, 2015. More research is needed to understand what policies allow people to move up the economic ladder and what holds them back, Yellen said on Thursday, returning to a controversial topic for the U.S. central bank. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas - RTR4VVN7

Whatever the pros and cons of negative rates, turned into official policy by five major central banks around the world, the chances of the U.S. Federal Reserve following suit are apparently minuscule.

Draghi finds some things are best left unsaid

March 11, 2016

It had all been going to plan until 2:56 pm Frankfurt time. The euro had dipped as ECB President Mario Draghi announced new rate cuts to record lows, promised more bond-buying stimulus and offered to pay banks to borrow cash for lending into the real economy. The big bazooka was firing once again and this time it was hitting the target. Then, in a comment which he perhaps thought would show his confidence that everything was under control, Draghi said he doubted any more rate cuts would be needed. Although many in the market might have come to a similar conclusion themselves, the effect was devastating, sending the euro higher and so effectively wiping out much of the stimulus effect he had achieved only minutes earlier. The response of the market is not wholly logical and is probably best understood in terms of a cheap Hollywood romance: “I knew it had to end sometime, Mario — but I can’t bear to hear you say it.” Whatever. Draghi’s reputation as a verbal enchanter is compromised for a second time, the full impact of this last batch of stimulus has been squandered and the secret is out that central bankers are running out of ammunition. Over to the Fed, Bank of Japan and Bank of England next week.