Here is an unimpressed Jean-Claude Trichet.
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Mario Draghi has been very clear about what would push him into the full-blown QE of buying government bonds. He faces some serious opposition from German monetary conservatives even to the less whizzy QE he’s unveiled so far, though — that of buying asset-backed securities.
Full-on QE faces legal difficulties from the ban on financing eurozone governments, as well as deep-seated opposition within Germany and major issues about which government bonds it should buy, and in what proportion. (Italy has the most in issue, so buy mostly Italian debt? Or buy in proportion to shares in the ECB? Or to economic size, meaning the biggest share would be German? Or in proportion to the size of the banking system?).
So it feels like time to explore some alternatives that have been, inexplicably in our view, ignored. Read more
Securitisation has gotten a bad rap thanks to its association with dodgy underwriting during the bubble. Yet bundling loans originated by banks and selling them to investors in the capital markets could be just what is needed to boost the flagging euro area economy.
This helps explains the European Central Bank’s recent announcement that it will be shopping for asset-backed securities (including mortgage bonds) and covered bonds starting in October. Read more
A week ago, Mario Draghi set euro policy-watchers all a-flutter, departing from his prepared remarks at Jackson Hole to issue a kind of blunt confession that he and his colleagues had run out of excuses for the ongoing depressed level of inflation across the eurozone, and that maybe some sort of reaction was required. Cue a quall of ECB QE speculation.
Then, on Wednesday this week, a story appeared on Reuters stating that, according to “ECB sources,” there was unlikely to be any new policy action from the ECB at its September meeting next week unless August inflation figures (published on Friday) showed the eurozone sinking significantly towards deflation.
The story remained exclusive to Reuters. But the message was clear: ECB officials are worried that market participants were reading too-much-too-soon into Draghi ad-libbing. Read more
Below is a chart showing the full history of French household indebtedness data. It only goes back to 1996 but provides some additional context about the changes that occurred after the introduction of the euro: Read more
From JP Morgan Asset Management. Tantalisation comes from the end of the black line, which you will note has perked.
This chart shows eurozone inflation since the region’s crisis against Japanese inflation from the bursting of its bubble. The offset puts the peak of 1990 where the eurozone was in 2011, when the US near-default started a panic which threatened the survival of the euro. Read more
The European Reward System (ERS) is a process of annual certifications by the European Commission for sovereign bond issuances by Eurozone member states that adhere to a set of definitive budget criteria defined in advance. These Certifications allow a state to benefit from a budgetary transfer from other member states when higher interest rates are paid compared to the average European system of 100 basis points more or less.
The crisis of individual state debts in the Eurozone has lead to lower interest rates from debts issued by Germany and France, and elevate rates from Italy and Spain. Since 2010, Germany and France have benefitted from savings of approximately €30 billion and €10 respectively during their issuances. Inversely, one can observe an additional cost of around €53 billion for Italy and €30 billion additional for Spain.
Arguably, none of the below matters now.
That’s the prime effect of the German constitutional court turning to the European Court of Justice for a ruling on whether the ECB’s sovereign bond-buying programme is a “structurally significant transgression of powers” under European treaty law.
Big words. But the backing of the Bundesverfassungsgericht judges (pictured right) for that view gets rendered into just another opinion, pending the ECJ’s decision. And the arc of the ECJ’s justice is long, turgidly written, but ultimately quite friendly to pieces of bailout architecture that have an odd relationship to the treaties — as in past musings on the ESM.
But the really interesting thing is that regardless, the OMT’s purpose apparently remains almost completely lost on the court. Read more
A few years ago Capital Economics made a strong case that the UK output gap — or how much slack there is in the economy — was being grossly under estimated by one and all. Their note prompted a spirited debate about the importance of output gaps in ascertaining correct monetary and fiscal policy.
Well, a similar case is now being made for the Eurozone by David Mackie and team at JP Morgan.
It’s an absolutely fascinating note, which argues above all that the ECB and the European Commission are wrong to think that the Euro area output gap is modest or that the growing unemployment rate is structural, given there is so little wage pressure in the region. Read more
Just to put an already-huge year-end move in Portuguese bond yields into some wider context…
Here’s a chart (via Reuters) of the five-year yield since August 2010 — to which levels it’s now, roughly, returned. Click to enlarge.
Icap’s Chris Clark alerts us on Friday to the fact that European liquidity markets are already preparing themselves for a potential liquidity squeeze come the end of the year.
As he notes:
Month-ends have become increasingly significant events for the Eurozone repo markets over the second half of this year as levels of excess liquidity have diminished and market rates have slowly edged higher. This Thanksgivings Day/November month-end liquidity hump has proved a tricky one for the market to manoeuvre, but already attention is focusing on the impending year-end as evidence stacks up to suggest funding might be problematic for some.
Here’s an essay published by the Bruegel think tank, penned by Ashoka Mody, currently a visiting professor at Princeton. He argues that if Europe wants to move forward in terms of integration, it first needs to stop. Click to read.
Update – It’s not just the rate cut, as Mario Draghi opens the presser at pixel time:
Earlier – Bold move or way too late? You decide: Read more
According to Morgan Stanley’s banking research team, one of the focus areas of the upcoming AQR and banking stress tests is likely to be the definition of a non-performing loan (NPL).
These, as FT Alphaville has noted in the past, vary somewhat radically across Europe.
What’s more, even with recent reclassifications, they’re are still rising: Read more
Courtesy of Icap’s market analysis team, here’s the turnaround in the Eonia December 13-January 14 spread this month:
That’s because it’s ghostly and hard to spot. (And it is All Hallows’ Eve.)
First it was the buried announcement that Irish banks with government share ownership are about to get Spanish-style flexibility on deferred tax assets… (though not nearly as far as the Spanish proposal for tax-credit conversion) H/T Lorcan
Next it was Bank of Ireland’s stock rising by more than 4 per cent in Dublin late on Thursday. Read more
Finland’s Chancellor of Justice, Jaakko Jonkka, has criticised the decision to keep the Greek transaction under wraps in the first place: Read more
Click for the ECB’s official introduction to its year-long “supervisory risk assessment… asset quality review and a stress test” for 124 European banks (who are all listed)…
FT Alphaville began writing in detail about emergency liquidity assistance in the eurozone — that is, national central banks lending to stricken, but supposedly solvent banks on highly secretive terms, against collateral not accepted at the ECB — some two and a half years ago.
Throughout that period, the ECB’s precise oversight of this liquidity assistance remained in the dark. Despite the risk being taken by taxpayers, and despite the fact ELA effectively stopped the Greek, Irish and Cypriot banking systems from going under at various points. And despite procedures having been in place since 1999 for the ECB to restrict ELA by a national central bank if it endangers the rules of the euro (as used in Cyprus). Read more
Of course, there are plenty of difficulties lying in wait. As the FT’s Peter Spiegel and Alex Barker write, once a new German government is in place after this weekend’s election, fraught negotiations about Greece, Portugal, Ireland and the banking union will quickly return to the fore. Read more
An interesting pair of charts to juxtapose on a Monday morning, and a PMI day… courtesy of Societe Generale. They point out that the eurozone is straggling to recovery, though apparently in spite of the ECB failing to shore up money growth: Read more
Ok, we’ve been slow to get this up. That’s because…
But here, belatedly, is a paper from Achim Dübel of Finpolconsult: Creditor Participation in Banking Crisis in the Eurozone – A Corner Turned? Read more