The European Court of Justice holds a first hearing on the legality of the European Central Bank’s Outright Monetary Transactions programme. There won’t be anything definitive today but it serves to rekindle debate about the limits of the ECB’s powers.
After a local election drubbing, French President Francois Hollande duly sacked his prime minister last night and tempered his economic reform drive, vowing to focus more on growth and “social justice”. A fuller cabinet reshuffle is expected today.
Shots were fired at an international team of monitors in Crimea over the weekend, violence flared in Sevastopol as thousands staged rallies and Angela Merkel, who perhaps has the most receptive western ear to Vladimir Putin, rebuked him for supporting a referendum on Ukraine’s southern region joining Russia. But in truth we’re not much further forward or backwards in this crisis.
Despite Mario Draghi’s game changer, or potential game changer, the coming week’s events still have the power to shape the path of the euro zone debt crisis in a quite decisive way, regardless of the European Central Bank’s offer to buy as many government bonds as needed to buy politicians time to do their work.
Having not enjoyed a summer lull for a good few years, we might as well take advantage of this one which appears set to last for another couple of weeks yet (famous last words).
Brace yourself for a blizzard of numbers.
EU finance ministers gathered in Copenhagen are poised to decide precisely how much firepower their new rescue fund – to be launched mid-year – will have. A draft communiqué suggests that as of mid-2013, presuming no new bailouts have been required in the interim, the combined lending ceiling of the future ESM and existing EFSF bailout funds will be set at 700 billion euros (500 billion pledged to the ESM plus the roughly 200 billion already committed to Greek, Irish and Portuguese rescue programmes).
New German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is winning over his European Union colleagues with a commitment to reduce Germany’s public deficit at his debut meeting of EU finance officials.************ ”I have great confidence in colleague Schaeuble,” Dutch Finance Minister Wouter Bos said on arrival for the Ecofin meeting in Brussels on Tuesday.******Germany expects its deficit to hit 3.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) this year, and roughly 6 percent in 2010, double the European Union limit of 3 percent.******But the veteran of German politics, a tax lawyer, convinced other EU finance ministers he would put Germany’s public finances in order. The 67-year-old told reporters he expected the Commission to propose that Germany would get it deficit within the EU limit in 2013.******”I think when one listens to Minister Schaeuble, one immediately has the impression one is listening to a very credible politician,” European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said after a meeting late on Monday of euro area finance officials, the so-called Eurogroup.******Schaeuble, in a wheelchair since he was shot and nearly killed by a mentally ill man at a campaign rally in 1990, is seen as one of the most talented German politicians of his generation and may have become chancellor himself had he not become ensnared in the funding scandal that damaged his Christian Democrats (CDU) and former mentor Helmut Kohl a decade ago.******He was not Merkel’s first choice for finance minister but by picking him last month she electrified German media because Schaeuble is expected to be a forceful and possibly uncomfortable presence for Merkel in a cabinet largely devoid of strong personalities.******Spanish Economy Minister Elena Salgado said Schaeuble showed a strong commitment to respecting the EU’s deficit rules, enshrined in the Stability and Growth Pact. “I don’t think there was any doubt on our part as to his absolute commitment to comply with the provisions of that pact,” she said after Monday’s Eurogroup.