Dramatic escalation in Yemen overnight with Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies launching military operations including air strikes in Yemen to counter Iran-allied forces besieging the southern city of Aden where the U.S.-backed president is holed up.
Currency concerns in the central banking world have come to the fore again.
Sweden cut interest rates further into negative territory out of the blue last week, fearing its strong currency will engender deflation. The Swiss National Bank said it would aim to weaken what it sees as a “significantly overvalued” franc. And the Bank of England flagged the risk that sterling could strengthen further and leave inflation below target for longer.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras meets Angela Merkel in Berlin late today.
The strategy in Athens seems to be to seek mercy from EU leaders, going over the heads of euro zone finance ministers and the European Central Bank and IMF, hoping that they will see the broad political cost of a Greek collapse rather than focus on the nitty gritty of funding and required economic reforms.
That doesn’t look like a winning strategy.
Not for the first time, Benjamin Netanyahu has defied the odds and snatched electoral victory from the jaws of defeat.
Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog has just conceded although he has not given up hope of forming a coalition government if Netanyahu fails to.
Russia’s central bank meets having unexpectedly cut its key policy rate in January by 200 basis points to 15 percent, raising a question mark over its independence from political pressure, given inflation rose to a 13-year high of 16.7 percent in February.
An economic trend, like a battle plan, often doesn’t survive the first engagement. Data from euro zone countries has generally surprised on the upside since the turn of the year with Germany leading the way. German growth was robust in Q4, with domestic demand to the fore.
Despite the Federal Reserve’s trillions of dollars in newly printed money, workers’ wages and overall U.S. inflation have failed to take off since the recession. Longer-term borrowing costs, from 10-year Treasury yields to 30-year home mortgages, have also compressed without any real signs of reversing. While this has perplexed many economists, transcripts of the U.S. central bank’s crisis-fighting meetings in 2009 show that Janet Yellen, then the head of the San Francisco Fed, was prescient in warning colleagues of these very problems.
The Federal Reserve faces two big challenges in the months and years ahead: how to finally “liftoff” after more than six years of rock bottom interest rates, and how to begin drawing down its $4.5-trillion balance sheet after three massive rounds of bond purchases. But, it turns out, those questions were being raised at the U.S. central bank as far back as 2009.