G7 finance ministers and central bankers gather in Dresden later today for a two-day meeting at an interesting juncture for the world economy.
The smart money has always been on a last-minute deal being done to keep Greece afloat with Athens making most of the concessions and the euro zone and IMF bending only a little. But the chances of a car crash are growing as each day passes.
The Greek government states that a cash-for-reforms deal with the EU and IMF can be finalized in the next 10 days but the other side is much less optimistic and there was no sign of a breakthrough at the EU summit in Riga which Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had been pinning some hope on.
We all now know by now that British inflation has dipped to slightly less than zero, its weakest since 1960. Much of the recent weakness is down to the same reason inflation is so low in the euro zone, Britain’s main trading partner: the collapse in the price of oil.
Greece’s European lenders have played down hopes of a swift end to aid negotiations and said talks must speed up before the country runs out of cash. That contrasted sharply with optimism in Athens where a series of top officials asserted that a deal was just days away.
Euro zone inflation rose to zero in April from -0.1 percent and in Britain it fell to -0.1 percent from zero, the first negative reading since the 1960s.
In an epic late-night talk show appearance, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said his government was nearing a cash-for-reforms deal with its euro zone partners and the International Monetary Fund that would help it meet debt repayments next month.
An interesting weekend intervention by ECB policymaker Yves Mersch who said there was no question of winding up QE early and that inflation, still skulking around zero, would stay there until autumn then rise sharply late in the year towards 1.5 percent.