No further dramatic interventions by the Russian authorities overnight with the result that the rouble has opened five percent weaker against the dollar in Moscow.
A small piece of good news on Brazil’s inflation rate last week probably gave the central bank its best pretext yet to finally stop raising interest rates after more than one year of non-stop increases. But economists still think it’s too early to proclaim “mission accomplished”.
Euro zone inflation has dipped again and some forecasters are hedging their bets on the policy response by saying the European Central Bank could either cut rates this week or sometime in the next two months.
With all signs showing the Canadian economic miracle is fading, the Bank of Canada is understandably starting to sound more dovish. The Canadian dollar has got a whiff of that, down about 10 percent from where it was this time last year.
When the Bank of England decides to start hiking interest rates, it may find that its standard 25 and 50 basis point interest rate moves of old are too blunt a tool for Britain’s delicately-poised economic recovery.
One of the more bizarre aspects of the euro zone crisis is that the currency in question -- the euro -- has actually not had that bad a year, certainly against the dollar. Even with Greece on the brink and Italy sending ripples of fear across financial markets, the single currency is still up 1.4 percent against the greenback for the year to date.
The European Central Bank has to cut official interest rates by at least another percentage point to stop the real cost of borrowing for households and firms jumping in the summer as inflation plummets.
Economists are now certain the European Central Bank will cut interest rates again at its next meeting, the only question is how much.
ECB chief Jean-Claude Trichet’s blunt hint that a rate cut is possible, although not certain, at the next rate meeting on November 6 cemented expectations that the central bank is readying more ammunition to fire at the financial crisis.
Although Trichet would not be drawn on the size of the possible cut, using the past as a guide suggests it could be a repeat of Oct. 8′s half a percentage point reduction.
In June, Trichet flagged a quarter-point rate hike by saying that it was possible, although not certain that the ECB “could decide to move our rates by a small amount” — a qualification that was missing from Monday’s announcement.
”The absence of this language in today’s speech, suggests that the ECB President is leaving the door open to a bigger reduction,” Fortis Bank economist Nick Kounis said, tipping a half a percentage point cut to 3.25 percent.
Although the majority of its 25 rate changes have been by only 25 basis points, the pattern shows the ECB is more likely to be bold when cutting rates than when raising them.
Six of the nine rate cuts the ECB has undertaken since 1999 have been of 50 basis points, compared to only two of the 16 rate hikes.
The last two rate cuts, on Oct. 8 and before then in June 2003, were both 50 basis point moves — so the ECB could well go for three in a row.
Some have speculated that the ECB may even cut rates by 75 basis points, although it has never made such a large leap in its 10-year history, either up or down.