The Greek government has taken a huge gamble, bringing forward by two months to next a week a parliamentary vote on a new president. Two further rounds of voting will be held before the year-end.
Euro zone finance ministers meet in Brussels to discuss member states’ 2015 budget plans. We know the European Commission thinks France, Italy and Belgium are breaking EU deficit rules but will defer decisions on any action until March. At that point, France could face a multi-billion euro fine and Italy and Belgium be put on a disciplinary programme.
New European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will unveil his investment plan for the bloc to the European Parliament today which aims to generate 315 billion euros of investment and lift growth onto a higher plane. The details were put out last night and there’s no new money in it. Instead, 21 billion euros of funding is expected to leverage private investment of a whopping 15 times that amount.
After the Federal Reserve wound up its bond-buying programme, as expected, and the Bank of Japan sprung a surprise by sharply increasing the pace of its money-printing, this week the European Central Bank takes its monthly bow and will probably come up with nothing new.
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.
Surprisingly low take-up at last week’s first round of cheap four-year loans by the European Central Bank begs a number of questions – How low is demand for credit and what does that say about the state of the economy? Are banks cowed by the upcoming stress tests? Does this make an eventual leap to QE more likely?