Greece: A game of chicken

By Mike Peacock
January 19, 2015

Alexis Tsipras, opposition leader and head of radical leftist Syriza party, looks on as he speaks during a party congress in Athens

With six days until elections, the polls have been remarkably steady in Greece, giving anti-bailout Syriza a narrow but consistent lead that suggests this time next week it will be the largest party in parliament with a mandate to form a coalition government.

Volatility back with a bang

By Mike Peacock
January 16, 2015

The logo of the SNB is seen at the entrance of the SNB in Bern

Volatility is back with a bang.

The Swiss franc leapt by an unprecedented 40 percent at one point after the Swiss National Bank scrapped its currency cap out of the blue. Oil may have bounced but it’s still down the thick end of 60 percent since mid-2014, dragging the rouble and other oil-producer currencies with it. Copper, generally a barometer of world industrial demand, is barely finding its feet after plunging this week.

Politics to trump law in QE decision

By Mike Peacock
January 15, 2015

Deutsche Bundesbank President Weidmann arrives for the annual news conference in Frankfurt

If the law was the ultimate arbiter, the European Central Bank would have the most verdant of green lights for an unlimited bond-buying programme with new money. In reality, politics and German concerns will dictate.

Whatever it takes or whatever it can get away with?

By Mike Peacock
January 14, 2015

ECB President Draghi addresses during ECB news conference in Frankfurt

Markets are beginning to ponder just how definitive the European Central Bank may be next week in launching quantitative easing. One reason is today’s ruling at the European Court of Justice.

EU talks investment, Germany balances budget

By Mike Peacock
January 13, 2015

juncker.jpg

The European Commission will unveil legislative proposals for its 315 billion euro investment plan and the findings of a public consultation on the investment elements of a planned EU-U.S. free trade deal which could significantly boost growth.

Sub-zero inflation

By Mike Peacock
January 7, 2015

A sign announcing a discount is pictured at an Electroniki retail chain shop in Athens

Following a dramatic fall in the price of oil, now down at $50 per barrel from above $115 in the middle of last year, euro zone inflation figures for December are likely to turn negative for the first time since 2009.

No inflation, not much growth

By Mike Peacock
January 6, 2015

A metal sculpture depicting a stock exchange chart is seen in the reception hall of the Athens Stock Exchange in Athens

Euro zone service sector PMI readings for December are unlikely to alter European Central Bank thinking about taking the ultimate policy leap and commencing a quantitative easing government bond-buying programme, possibly at its Jan. 22 meeting.

Inflation vanishes

By Mike Peacock
January 5, 2015

Draghi, President of the European Central Bank (ECB) waits for the start of the European Banking Congress in the Old Opera house in Frankfurt

German inflation figures for December will presage the euro zone number on Wednesday, together offering one of the final pieces of the jigsaw for the European Central Bank before its late January policy meeting at which it could commence a quantitative easing government bond-buying programme.

2015 and all that

By Mike Peacock
December 31, 2014

People watch as confetti falls during the annual "air worthiness" test in preparation for New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square, New York

The last day of the year and all is quiet – but not for long.

Unless the price of oil bounces markedly or Vladimir Putin walks away from Ukraine thereby loosening western sanctions – both unlikely – Russia could be heading for a serious economic fall. Reserves are being burned defending the currency. They are sufficient for now but without hefty tax increases, public spending cuts and/or a higher pension age the outlook for 2016 and beyond is much gloomier.

Russian currency crisis

By Mike Peacock
December 16, 2014

Russia's Central Bank Governor Nabiullina applauds during the VTB Capital "Russia Calling!" Investment Forum in Moscow

After the central bank dramatically raised interest rates by 6.5 percentage points to 17 percent overnight, Russia has given up any pretence that it is not in the grip of a currency crisis.