Ed’s Daily Notes for August 26th   1 comment

Financial Times: François Hollande purges government after leftwing revolt

Plas brought this up yesterday:

François Hollande has purged his embattled Socialist government of leftwingers opposed to EU austerity after a revolt led by Arnaud Montebourg, the flamboyant economy minister.

Mr Montebourg quit the cabinet on Monday, delivering a blistering attack on what he called “absurd” austerity policies – supported by Mr Hollande – which had brought about “the most destructive crisis in Europe since 1929”.

The outspoken minister said in a televised statement that the eurozone’s fiscal stance was “the cause of the unnecessary prolongation of the economic crisis and the suffering of the European population”.

The cabinet crisis was triggered by figures this month showing there had been no growth in the French economy in the first half of the year, with unemployment continuing to rise.

The economic gloom alarmed the left, already worried by the deep unpopularity of the government. An Ifop poll at the weekend showed Mr Hollande’s approval rating at just 17 per cent, with prime minister Manuel Valls plunging nine points to 36 per cent.

This presents a unique market situation. On one hand, France moving farther away from Germany politically would destabilize the European Union. On the other hand:

Bloomberg: Draghi Pushes ECB Closer to QE as Deflation Risks Rise

Mario Draghi just pushed the European Central Bank closer to quantitative easing.

With euro-area data this week likely to show the weakest inflation since 2009, the ECB president used a high-powered central-banking conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to warn that investor bets on prices have “exhibited significant declines.”

Stocks rose, the euro fell and bond yields dropped to record lows today as the comments fanned speculation the ECB is finally heading for a form of monetary stimulus it has long avoided. Draghi previously said that a worsening of the medium-term inflation outlook would provide a reason for broad-based asset purchases.

The Aug. 22 speech “was a major event and marked a turning point in ECB rhetoric,” said Philippe Gudin, chief European economist at Barclays Plc in Paris. “We think the recent economic developments have increased the chance of outright QE as the next step.”

From a market perspective, central bank action always trumps politics (contrary to popular opinion). One can argue the ECB should have done this several years ago, although I don’t: As we have seen in the U.S., QE only creates economic window dressing by artificially pumping up markets and allowing banks to sell overpriced assets to the Fed (instead of lending money to truly help the economy). If Europe wants to pursue this, expect European markets to do well.

But what about the U.S.? With the Fed ending QE this Fall, around the same time we will possibly getting ECB action, the effect on the world economy should go like this: Dollar rises in value, euro falls, U.S. exports to Europe fall, European exports to the U.S. increase. However, because most European products tend to be high-end, unless the euro falls through the floor (which would require an exceedingly large QE from the ECB, which is not expected), European exports to the U.S. have limited upside. Overall, I would expect the U.S. exporters to be hurt by this news.

As an aside, I would also expect China to be hurt by this news, being effected in the same way as the U.S. If it hurts the Chinese economy severely enough, we might even see the Chinese de-pegging the yuan from the dollar. But this is speculation on activity at least a year away (more likely several years away). Honestly, it is hard to say what the Chinese may do.

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One response to “Ed’s Daily Notes for August 26th

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  1. I think Germany will change its mind. Yes, they still fear hyperinflation (with reason!). But on the other hand, Germany is getting crushed by abenomics. Japan is now the better competitor for exporting to China. Will Germany “allow” this? (Will South-Korea and all the other who are getting crushed too?). EU (Germany) is falling behind USA, UK and Japan; with Japan leading the way.
    Bernanke is right about one thing: the longer countries held to the gold standard in the 30’s, the longer their recovery was postponed. The Euro is our own modern gold standard.
    (But printing is not the best solution, the debt shouldn’t have been there in the first place. But the time we good make good choices is behind us. Only bad and worse choices now …)

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