Category Archives: Central Banks

(ECO) A ideologia que queria ser teoria – José Maria Brandão de Brito

(ECO)

A tentação de abraçar a Teoria Monetária Moderna vai revelar-se irresistível para muita gente, mas é muito melhor para vender sonhos do que para gerar crescimento económico sustentado.

Volvida uma década desde a Grande Crise Financeira e, não obstante a recuperação económica global, o endividamento mundial, sobretudo dos estados, não parou de crescer. Tal circunstância constitui uma restrição à política económica, pois à medida que os rácios de dívida pública crescem torna-se mais difícil e oneroso financiar os défices nos mercados de capitais. A não ser, claro, que se dispensem os investidores dessa tarefa.

Mas como?

É simples. O Estado gasta. Se os investidores não cederem os seus fundos a baixo custo, o banco central emite moeda e financia a despesa pública.

Mas isso não viola todas as regras de política económica?

Sim, à luz das teorias convencionais. Acontece que para um coro cada vez mais estridente de ativistas o mundo precisa de uma visão moderna da economia que liberte os nobres intentos do estado do jugo dos detentores do capital. A solução é a chamada Teoria Monetária Moderna (TMM).

A TMM parte da ideia de que a moeda é um monopólio do banco central de cada país e, como tal, pode ser produzida nas quantidades suficientes para satisfazer as necessidades financeiras do estado, quaisquer que estas sejam.

Daí decorre o postulado essencial da TMM de que os défices orçamentais são irrelevantes. O facto do desprezo pela sobriedade orçamental poder constituir um risco para os investidores que financiam o estado é um dano colateral de somenos importância que não pode obstar à construção de um futuro mais justo. Resulta como corolário que políticas de consolidação orçamental não só não produzem benefícios para a sociedade, como impedem o estado de prover bens e serviços críticos para a população.

Seria ótimo que a prosperidade dependesse da possibilidade do Estado gastar sem limite. Mas só para as mentes menos versadas nas minudências da economia é que a TMM equivale a um visto para um mundo sem restrições. Na verdade, a TMM é muito melhor para vender sonhos do que para gerar crescimento económico sustentado.

Como tentativa de racionalização de uma ideologia que vê no Estado a solução de todos os problemas económicos, falta muita coisa a esta teoria. Desde logo, falta perceber que a inflação monetária é um imposto que afeta primordialmente os pequenos aforradores, pelo que a presunção de que um elevado nível de despesa pública não implica agravamento da fiscalidade é de uma cândida ingenuidade.

Falta, também, perceber que o abuso da prerrogativa monopolista dos bancos centrais na produção de dinheiro pode destruir a fé dos cidadãos na moeda, que é a quintessência das moedas fiduciárias. Se tal acontecer, as pessoas abandonam o dinheiro oficial em favor de meios de pagamento alternativos (ouro ou a moeda de outro país), num cenário provável de hiperinflação, com consequências económicas e sociais dramáticas. Veja-se a Venezuela.

Na melhor das hipóteses, o financiamento endémico dos défices orçamentais, ao inundar o sistema financeiro de liquidez, impede a regeneração dos tecidos podres do setor empresarial, o que conduz a uma estagnação perene, de que as quase três décadas perdidas do Japão são um eloquente exemplo.

A tentação de abraçar a TMM vai revelar-se irresistível para muita gente, o que promete um incessante crescimento da sua popularidade. Como muitas vezes acontece com estes fenómenos, quem questionar a bondade desta teoria arrisca-se a ser acusado de insensibilidade social, de indiferença para com os mais pobres, de desprezo pelo planeta e de outros pecados na religião do politicamente correto. Mas, demagogia à parte, a TMM não é uma teoria, não é monetária e muito menos moderna.

  • Não é teoria, é um expediente para legitimar uma ideologia, que não sendo economicamente sustentável, é politicamente atrativa num mundo onde os instrumentos convencionais de política económica já foram esgotados.
  • Não é monetária porque postula a total irrelevância da moeda como mecanismo de alocação dos recursos económicos.
  • Não é moderna porque desde tempos imemoriais que reis e príncipes ignoram a restrição orçamental na prossecução dos seus desideratos políticos e militares, incumprindo nas suas obrigações de dívida ou, simplesmente, depreciando a moeda através de emissão ilimitada de moeda.

(ECO) BCE dá dinheiro. Porque é que a banca portuguesa não o quer?

(ECO) Com a fraca procura de crédito pelas empresas, a banca em Portugal deverá passar ao lado do TLTRO III. A CGD, o maior banco nacional, diz que “não tem intenção, à partida, de participar”.

O Banco Central Europeu (BCE) está a preparar o caminho para novos estímulos à economia da Zona Euro através da banca. A terceira ronda de financiamento de longo prazo a baixos custos — Targeted Longer-Term Refinancing Operations (TLTRO III) — vai começar em setembro, com Mario Draghi a dar incentivos para que os bancos concedam crédito às empresas. Para a banca portuguesa, a “borla” não terá grande interesse. Têm liquidez, não têm é a quem a emprestar, tornando mais complicado para o setor gerar rentabilidade num contexto de juros abaixo de zero.

Na última reunião de política monetária, a instituição liderada por Mario Draghi lançou o TLTRO III. Os pormenores ainda serão conhecidos, mas a maturidade de apenas dois anos (face aos três anos das anteriores rondas) e a novidade do juro variável desanimaram os bancos. Desde então, já foram dados alguns sinais mais animadores, nomeadamente que as taxas poderão ser mais favoráveis se a economia desacelerar, mas o mercado ainda espera detalhes que podem ser conhecidos na reunião desta quarta-feira.Após oito anos, Draghi pode sair do BCE sem ter subido juros Ler Mais

“Ainda não são conhecidas as condições na totalidade. De qualquer forma, as sete operações trimestrais que irão decorrer entre setembro de 2019 e março de 2021 (tendo cada uma dois anos de maturidade) podem ser interpretadas como sugerindo que o setor bancário europeu terá acesso a condições favoráveis de liquidez na sua atividade de concessão de crédito até março de 2023, ou seja, ao longo dos próximos quatro anos”, afirma a Patris Corretora. “Apenas após serem conhecidas todas as condições é que poderemos avaliar até que ponto poderá revelar-se significativo o interesse do setor bancário”.

A Caixa Geral de Depósitos afirmou ao ECO que as condições técnicas e financeiras poderão ser “determinantes para avaliar” o interesse, mas por agora afasta a possibilidade de recorrer a estes empréstimos. “A CGD não tem intenção, à partida, de participar nestas novas operações, atendendo à sua sólida e muito confortável posição de liquidez”.

Fonte oficial recordou ainda que o banco público, o maior no país e responsável por um quarto do mercado em termos de clientes, reembolsou antecipada e integralmente o financiamento junto do BCE em junho do ano passado. Contactados pelo ECO sobre se têm interesse neste novo programa de financiamento de baixo custo, Novo Banco, BPI, BCP e Santander Totta não quiseram comentar.

Fraca procura por crédito das empresas portuguesas limita estímulos

Os analistas concordam que os bancos portugueses não deverão mostrar grande interesse por esta nova ronda de financiamento de baixo custo, apesar de fazerem um balanço positivo da medida. Por um lado, estimulam a banca a desempenhar o seu papel de fornecer de crédito à economia e, por outro, equilibram o impacto negativo das taxas de juro em mínimos históricos para a rentabilidade dos bancos.

Filipe Garcia, economista da IMF – Informação de Mercados Financeiros considera que o programa até poderia ser “virtuoso” para a economia portuguesa, no curto prazo, se resultasse num crescimento do crédito. “Porém, o que se tem observado é que, no caso das empresas, não tem sido nem a disponibilidade do crédito nem as taxas de juro a provocar a queda nos empréstimos. Tem sucedido devido a uma fraca procura de crédito por parte das empresas“, diz.

A concessão de novo crédito às empresas atingiu os 2.259 milhões de euros em fevereiro, de acordo com os últimos dados disponíveis do Banco de Portugal. O valor representa uma quebra de 225 milhões face ao primeiro mês do ano e mantém-se ainda longe dos níveis pré-crise. O stock situou-se em 68.878 milhões de euros, em fevereiro. “Se destes TLTRO resultar uma alteração nos critérios de concessão de crédito, então poderemos observar uma aceleração nas operações de financiamento”, acrescentou o economista da IMF.

A expectativa dos bancos sondados pelo BdP aponta para que não ocorram “alterações de relevo” na procura de crédito tanto por parte das empresas como de famílias no segundo trimestre deste ano. Sobre os critérios de disponibilização, também “não antecipam alterações de relevo” depois de no primeiro trimestre de 2019, critérios e termos terem permanecido, “praticamente inalterados” e de, em julho, terem entrado em vigor recomendações do Banco de Portugal para que os bancos tenham em conta três tipos de limites nos critérios para a concessão de crédito à habitação e consumo.

Stock de empréstimos das empresas em queda

Fonte: Banco de Portugal

Bancos mais fracos são os que mais pedem

A nova ronda financiamento pretende exatamente que os bancos mantenham linhas de crédito abertas aos consumidores, mas especialmente às empresas. “É natural que quem peça os empréstimos seja quem mais precisa de liquidez. É uma tendência que deverá continuar e espera-se que o crédito concedido nesses países possa acelerar, mas também que a dívida pública desses países possa beneficiar”, afirmou Garcia, da IMF.

Ao contrário da estratégia expectável de retirada dos estímulos, a desaceleração da economia global obrigou o BCE a reforçá-los e retomar o financiamento de baixo custo à banca. “As economias periféricas da Zona Euro estão ainda muito fracas e sem força para se protegerem de uma recessão global“, alertou Mário Martins, analista da ActivTrades.

“É possível, mas não previsível, que os bancos portugueses procurem aumentar a exposição nesta nova ronda. No panorama económico atual português, não acredito que o setor bancário português tenha possibilidade de competir por estes fundos”, concordou Martins.

Espanha e Itália foram os países que mais recorreram ao TLTRO II, com 250 mil milhões e 200 mil milhões de euros, respetivamente. O montante compara com menos de 25 mil milhões de euros em Portugal. Atualmente, o único banco fora de Itália com mais de 10% de fundos TLTRO II face aos ativos é o Novo Banco e nenhum outro banco português tem uma exposição significativa a este programa.

A forte procura por esta ronda deveu-se às condições mais favoráveis que a primeira, que levou os bancos a substituírem os fundos que tinham ao abrigo do primeiro TLTRO, para alargarem o prazo de pagamento e usufruírem das condições preferenciais. Isto num cenário em que os bancos têm de pagar para ter dinheiro guardado no BCE.

TLTRO não é boia de salvação, mas dá oxigénio em tempos de juros negativos

“Enquanto a nova ronda de empréstimos baratos irá ajudar os bancos mais fracos, o atraso na subida dos juros de referência penaliza a rentabilidade do setor bancário enquanto um todo”, defende Azad Zangana, economista sénior e estrategista da Schroders. A gestora de ativos projeta, desde a última reunião do BCE, que as taxas de juro subam pela primeira vez apenas em março de 2020 e, pela segunda vez, em dezembro desse ano.

Juros negativos têm sido desastrosos para muitos bancos, especialmente em Itália, Espanha e Portugal”, diz sobre a taxa de depósitos em -0,40%, enquanto a aplicável às operações principais de refinanciamento está em 0% e a aplicável à facilidade permanente de cedência de liquidez em 0,25%. “O BCE reconhece que há bancos que estão a ser negativamente influenciados e que, em consequência, os empréstimos poderão ser mais baixos. Ainda assim, continua a manter os juros negativos, apesar de ser um claro erro”, critica ainda Zangana.

Mário Martins alerta, no entanto, que é “redutor” considerar este tipo de opção como uma “boia de salvação” para bancos problemáticos, já que a eficácia da última ronda foi menor em países mais vulneráveis. “O que se pode constatar é que os empréstimos concedidos nos países vulneráveis caíram, tanto nos bancos que acederam ao TLTRO II, como nos que não acederam“, sublinhou o analista da ActivTrades.

Dados do último relatório económico do BCE indicam que, nos países vulneráveis (grupo em que Portugal se inclui), o TLTRO II foi utilizado para fortalecer o balanço dos bancos em dificuldades ou como financiamento de baixo custo. Em sentido contrário, nos países menos vulneráveis, os empréstimos concedidos por bancos que acederam ao TLTRO II subiram consideravelmente, ou seja, teve o efeito desejado pelo BCE de fomentar o investimento na economia.

Objetivo do BCE não foi conseguido em países vulneráveis

Fonte: Banco Central Europeu

(ECO) Portugal paga taxa mais baixa de sempre por dívida a 10 anos. Juro caiu para 1,143%

(ECO) Portugal continua a tirar partido da descida dos juros nos mercados. Num duplo leilão, com títulos a 10 e 18 anos, viu as taxas caírem, conseguindo mesmo o custo mais baixo de sempre a 10 anos.

Portugal conseguiu mil milhões de euros num duplo leilão de dívida. Colocou a maior “fatia” dos títulos no prazo mais curto, a dez anos, prazo no qual registou a taxa mais baixa de sempre. Os investidores aceitaram financiar o país com um juro de apenas 1,143%abaixo dos 1,298% registados na operação realizada em março.IGCP quer emitir até 4.000 milhões em dívida de curto prazo Ler Mais

Com as taxas de juro da dívida a renovarem mínimos nos mercados de dívida internacionais, à boleia do Banco Central Europeu mas também da melhoria da perspetiva do rating de Portugal por parte da DBRS, o IGCP aproveitou para emitir 600 milhões de euros no prazo a dez anos. A procura elevada registada (2,28 vezes a oferta) ajudou a taxa a descer para novo recorde.

Ao mesmo tempo que colocou dívida a dez anos, a agência liderada por Cristina Casalinho avançou com um leilão com um prazo mais longo, a 18 anos, linha na qual acabou por colocar os restantes 400 milhões de euros. Nesta maturidade, o IGCP conseguiu uma taxa de juro de 1,896%.

“A título comparativo em novembro de 2018 Portugal fez emissão a dez anos a pagar 1,9%, hoje consegue emitir para 18 anos com uma taxa mais baixa 1,896%”, diz Filipe Silva, do Banco Carregosa. “Face ao último leilão comparativo de 10 anos, que se realizou em março, a taxa baixou dos 1,298% para os 1,143%”, acrescenta, salientando que o país continua “a tirar partido da política que tem vindo a ser levada pelo BCE”.

Este duplo leilão, que tinha sido anunciado ao mercado no final da semana passada, marcou a primeira emissão de dívida de longo prazo deste segundo trimestre do ano. Não existe uma meta em termos de obrigações do Tesouro, mas com bilhetes do Tesouro o IGCP pretende obter até 4.000 milhões de euros, num contexto de queda das taxas.

“Estes leilões são bastante importantes para conseguirmos ir reduzindo o custo médio da nossa dívida”, nota Filipe Silva. A descida dos juros da dívida permitiu ao Estado poupar 1.270 milhões de euros com as emissões de dívida desde setembro de 2017, altura em que Portugal voltou a ter uma notação de investimento, notou recentemente Mário Centeno, ministro das Finanças. Os analistas consideram a margem para a redução nos juros está a ficar limitada, mas ainda veem espaço para melhorias no prémio de risco.

A redução das taxas está a levar o prémio de risco da dívida nacional para mínimos. Portugal conta já há algum tempo com taxas inferiores às de Itália nos mercados, apresentando um prémio de apenas 9,5 pontos percentuais face à dívida espanhola.No caso da dívida alemã, o spread é de 116 pontos.

(ZH) “It Belongs To The People, Not The Bankers” – Italy Moves To Seize Gold From Central Bank

(ZH)

Two weeks ago, somewhat out of the blue, ECB President Mario Draghi issued an odd statement confirming that the European Central Bank needs to approve any operation in the foreign reserves of euro zone countries, including gold and large foreign currency holdings.

“The ECB shall approve both the operations in foreign reserve assets remaining with the NCBs (national central banks)…and Member States’ transactions with their foreign exchange working balances above a certain threshold,”

“The purpose of this competence is to ensure consistency with the exchange rate and monetary policy of the Union.”

Specifically, Draghi made this statement to two Italian members of the European Parliament.

At the time it did not seem notable for any reason other than its peculiar timing, but now things are starting to make more sense as The Wall Street Journal reports that Italy’s ruling populists pushed ahead this week with efforts to seize control of the central bank and its gold reserves.

Complaining that hundreds of thousands of small individual investors lost billions of dollars after several Italian banks failed in recent years, the anti-establishment ‘5 Star Movement’ and the nationalist ‘League’, depict the central bank as a symbol of a technocratic elite aloof from the needs of ordinary Italians

“We need a change of course at the Bank of Italy if we think about what happened in the last years,”said Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, leader of the 5 Star Movement.

Five Star and the League have repeatedly attacked the Bank of Italy for not preventing the banking crises, and blamed it for the losses suffered by mom-and-pop savers who had bought bank shares and bonds.

“If you are here with your current account in the red, it’s because the people who were supposed to control things didn’t do so,” League’s leader, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, told a group of former investors in Banca Popolare di Vicenza, which was liquidated in 2017.

And this week saw Italian lawmakers from 5 Star asking Parliament to pass two draft laws:

One law would instruct the central bank’s owners, most of them private banks, to sell their shares to the Italian Treasury at prices from the 1930s.

The other law would declare the Italian people to be the owners of the Bank of Italy’s reserve of 2451.8 metric tons of gold, worth around $102 billion at current prices.

As The Wall Street Journal notes, such a move could in theory widen the scope for selling the gold and reduce the bank’s reserves, which help underpin the financial system

“The gold belongs to the Italians, not to the bankers,” said Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy, a far-right opposition party that supports both bills. “We are ready to battle everywhere in Italy and to bring Italians to the streets if necessary.”

The establishment sees it differently, warning that their actions are an attempt to undermine the Bank of Italy’s independence, and to spend the nation’s gold reserves on populist policies.

“Gold is part of the assets of the Bank of Italy and can’t be used for monetary financing of the Treasury,” said Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco.

“This looks like revolutionary expropriation,” said Gianluca Garbi, chief executive of Banca Sistema SpA.

But as The Wall Street Journal concludes, the 5 Star Movement and the League support public ownership of the gold reserves, and with backing from parties comprising 60% of lawmakers, the draft law has enough support to pass. Lawmakers from 5 Star also support nationalizing the central bank, while the League hasn’t decided yet, leaving the bill short of a majority with around 40% support.

As of last week they had forced the creation of a parliamentary commission to look into the failure of Italian banks, launching what could be months of tense scrutiny.

Is it any wonder, Russia (and China) have started to horde gold?

(BBG) The Era of Cheap Money Shows No One Knows How Monetary Policy Works

(BBG)

  •  Low rates haven’t lured indebted households and businesses
  •  Central banks face questions as divide from politics blurs

Monetary policy is supposed to work like this: cut interest rates, and you’ll encourage businesses and households to borrow, invest and spend. It’s not really playing out that way.

In the cheap-money era, now into its second decade in most of the developed world (and third in Japan), there’s been plenty of borrowing. But it’s been governments doing it.

The numbers help explain a growing sense that central banks, which took emergency action to pull economies out of the 2008 slump, may not be able to repeat the trick in another downturn.

They’re even facing broader questions about their independence from politics, a cornerstone of economic management in rich countries. In the past decade, still-indebted private actors were mostly unwilling to dive back into the red, even at ultra-low rates engineered by the central banks — while governments could and did. The dividing line is starting to look fuzzy.

‘Fat Tail’

Some analysts say it’s time to redraw it.

The arms-length relationship between politicians and central bankers “was built when the fat tail was excessively high inflation,” said Paul McCulley, the former Pimco chief economist. “Now the fat tail is excessively low inflation, call it deflation. We need to update our thinking on a more cooperative stance between the fiscal and monetary authorities.”

Most economists see that as a slippery slope that could lead to prices spiraling out of control. That’s one reason they’re dismissive of Modern Monetary Theory, a school of thought which supports bigger deficits, and is relaxed about central banks financing them. MMT economists say public debt is generally safer than the private kind, which snowballed in the age of monetary policy dominance before disaster struck.

The question is a live one, and not just in academia. It gets bumped up the agenda every time President Donald Trump snipes at the Federal Reserve. There are similar political pressures in other countries.

‘Somewhat Sluggish’

Also growing are calls for governments to boost economies if central banks can’t.

The European Central Bank has just been forced to postpone any effort to shift monetary policy back toward normal. The region’s growth prospects “are somewhat sluggish,” Isabelle Mateos y Lago, chief multi-asset strategist at BlackRock Investment Institute, told Bloomberg TV this week. “We could use some fiscal stimulus.”

Read more: ECB near end of road seeks government backup

What Our Economists Say

Should governments a) run larger deficits because low rates allow them to or b) because central banks can buy their debt and keep rates low? In a sense it doesn’t matter. In both cases, the answer is that governments should run larger deficits.

Tom Orlik, chief economist, Bloomberg Economics

In Japan, there’s been more cooperation between the people in charge of budgets and those who manage interest rates than pretty much anywhere else.

When the government and central bank work in tandem, “synergy effects from both sides can produce stronger economic stimulus,” former BoJ deputy governor Kikuo Iwata, a key architect of the plan, said at the Bank for International Settlements last year. He’s argued that monetary policy has done what it can, and that Japan — which already has the world’s biggest public-debt burden — needs even more fiscal stimulus to complete its escape from deflation.

Tag Team

In the heat of crisis, collaboration between governments and central banks has been fairly explicit almost everywhere. In 2008 in the U.S., for example, the Fed’s Ben Bernanke and Treasury’s Henry Paulson rapidly formed a tag-team. In Europe a few years later, Mario Draghi’s pledge to do “whatever it takes” to preserve the single currency gave Italian government debt a backstop, and brought yields down from the brink.

Public borrowing at low rates proved to be an effective way of putting a floor under the Great Recession. The U.S. and Japan did more of it than Europe, where there’s no central authority able to tap credit markets and spend on the continent’s behalf — and they’ve had better recoveries.

The problem for policy makers is that what once looked like a short-term crisis stopgap has in fact stretched out for years — making it increasingly likely that the next downturn will arrive with interest rates still low.

In the U.S., a plurality of economists expect a recession in 2020, a presidential election year. The Fed will have some room to cut, though less than the 500 basis points reckoned to be its typical response to a shrinking economy. Its peers have much less, if any.

Read more: ECB, BoJ have ‘very little’ ammunition left

And even if they had, recent history says it would likely be governments that took advantage of the lower rates.

The worst recessions to hit developed countries lately (and some emerging markets too) have followed rapid buildups in private credit — one reason why central banks have found it hard to inject stimulus. And today, households and businesses are still highly indebted by past standards.

Unlike governments, they haven’t been eager to borrow more money, however cheap it is.

(CNBC) ECB in panic mode? Experts warn it’ll take more than a central bank to help Europe recover

(CNBC)

  • The Frankfurt-based institution surprised markets with a renewed dovish tone.
  • ECB President Mario Draghi said that interest rates would remain at record lows at least until December.

Silvia Amaro@Silvia_AmaroPublished 8 Hours AgoCNBC.com

ECB's Draghi: Near term growth weaker than expected

ECB’s Draghi: Near term growth weaker than expected  9:08 AM ET Thu, 7 March 2019 | 02:30

New monetary stimulus from the European Central Bank (ECB) will do “little” to boost the region’s sluggish economy and tackle its biggest risks, analysts told CNBC.

“(The ECB’s) announcements have some flavor of panic as the ECB’s base case scenario still foresees a gradual recovery and the 2020 and 2021 forecasts were hardly revised downwards,” Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING Germany, said in a note Thursday.

The Frankfurt-based institution surprised markets with a renewed dovish tone. ECB President Mario Draghi said that interest rates would remain at record lows at least until December. Growth forecasts for the euro zone were slashed for this year and new loans to euro zone banks were announced.

“The measures as such are not such a big surprise but the timing of the announcement is,” Brzeski added. “(The announcements) are also a bit of a gamble as they will do very little to tackle the biggest risks for the euro zone economy, which according to the ECB stem from external sources.”

Draghi even acknowledged this fact in a press conference following the ECB’s formal rate decision on Thursday. “We are aware that our decisions (new stimulus) certainly increase the resilience of the euro zone economy, but actually can they address these factors that are weighing on the euro zone economy in the rest of the world? They cannot,” Draghi told reporters, adding that protectionism and geopolitics were among those outside risks.

“I wonder if the ECB will ever increase rates in this economic cycle.”-Christoph Schon, Executive director at Axioma

The euro zone economy saw its lowest pace of growth in four years during the final three months of 2018, data showed in January. More recently, manufacturing data have shown a slowdown in activity. This comes amid concerns over global growth, tariffs between the U.S and China, and weakness in emerging markets.

“With few domestic catalysts for a turnaround, it may take a rebound in demand from the emerging world to improve prospects for the (euro zone) region,” Tilmann Galler, a global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, said in a note Tuesday.

The ECB slashed its growth forecast for 2019 to 1.1 percent from an earlier forecast of 1.7 percent made in December. The bank also lowered its inflation forecasts for 2019. Annual inflation is set to hit 1.2 percent this year, when December forecasts had pointed to a headline inflation target of 1.6 percent. The ECB’s inflation target is “close but below 2 percent.”

“I wonder if the ECB will ever increase rates in this economic cycle,” Christoph Schon, executive director at Axioma, told CNBC Friday, given the prolonged moribund state of the economy.

(ECO) Novo Banco, mentiras e um video – António Costa

(ECO)

Os prejuízos do Novo Banco em 2018 exigem mais do que auditorias passadas, exigem explicações presentes e medidas novas para o futuro.

Vem aí uma auditoria aos créditos do BES e que levaram cinco (!?) anos a serem assumidos nas contas como o que eram, financiamentos sem risco… de serem recuperados. Uma auditoria ao Novo Banco que é em tudo igual à realizada pelo EY à Caixa Geral de Depósitos, que serve os propósitos políticos de Mário Centeno e, em simultâneo, a exigência de transparência sobre os buracos que os fundos públicos estão a tapar. Mas os prejuízos do Novo Banco em 2018, de 1.412 milhões de euros, e o pedido de capital de 1.149 milhões ao Fundo de Resolução (que é financiado pelos bancos, mas precisa de empréstimos dos contribuintes e pesa nas contas públicas) exigem mais do que auditorias passadas, exigem explicações presentes e medidas novas para o futuro.

  1. Quando, em outubro 2017, o Governo assumiu a responsabilidade de decidir a venda do Novo Banco ao único comprador na corrida, o fundo Lone Star, assinou um acordo que previa a existência de um mecanismo de capital contingente – uma garantia pública de 3,89 mil milhões de euros, com um prazo de validade de oito anos, que servia para cobrir os riscos de determinados ativos maus, isto é, financiamentos sem garantias ou com um risco de se transformarem em malparado. Entre a nacionalização e a venda com uma garantia, o que era preferível? Esta venda. Mas, portanto, se este montante foi inscrito no contrato, qual é a dúvida? Esperava-se que o Lone Star não usasse aquele montante? Das duas, uma: Ou há uma grande hipocrisia nos discursos surpreendidos, por exemplo nos que decorrem da decisão de Mário Centene de pedir uma auditoria, ou o ministro das Finanças foi enganado. E por quem?
  2. Como alguns se lembrarão, a Comissão Europeia considerava que os 3,89 mil milhões de euros não chegariam para tapar os buracos do Novo Banco e no contrato de venda à Lone Star, exigiu que o Estado assumisse, no contrato, os custos de uma liquidação se o banco não fosse viável.
  3. Há mecanismos de controlo nos pedidos do Novo Banco ao Fundo de Resolução. Em primeiro lugar, os ativos que estão debaixo da proteção daquela garantia são conhecidos e identificados. Depois, há pelo menos três etapas que o Lone Star e a gestão do Novo Banco têm de passar até aquele pedido ser aceite. Da Oliver Whyman, de três personalidades independentes (José Rodrigues Jesus, Athayde Marques e Bracinha Vieira) e do próprio Fundo de Resolução, presidido por Máximo dos Santos, que tem o poder de dizer ‘sim’ ou não’. Estas três entidades têm de (se) explicar publicamente sobre o processo da validação das contas que justificam mais 1.149 milhões de euros de fundos públicos.
  4. Há um conflito de interesses insanável no modelo de supervisão, que também se reflete aqui. O BCE e o Banco de Portugal estão a pressionar os bancos portugueses a venderem os seus ativos, a venderem as carteiras de malparado, e elas estão a ser vendidas a um ritmo acelerado. Com perdas relevantes, apesar do bom momento da economia. O Novo Banco fez, aliás, as maiores operações de sempre em Portugal, por exemplo com o projeto ‘Nata’, com a venda de mais de dois mil milhões de euros de créditos por um valor de desconto. Qual foi esse desconto? E qual será a rendibilidade dos fundos que compraram estes ativos a desconto? Provavelmente acima dos dois dígitos, portanto, são mesmo os contribuintes a financiarem os lucros daqueles fundos. Mas se o Banco de Portugal manda vender, e há uma garantia pública a cobrir as perdas… Qual é o conflito de interesse? O Banco de Portugal, enquanto entidade de resolução, valida os pedidos de capital do Novo Banco, portanto, dificilmente dirá ‘não’ num dia ao que está a exigir no outro.
  5. ‘O BES mau’ criado no quadro da resolução e do nascimento do Novo Banco era o banco da família, os negócios familiares. Agora, temos um ‘Novo Banco mau’, uma espécie de banco que financiava os amigos. E finalmente temos um Novo Banco (vamos ver se é desta). Só que há outra explicação a dar por parte da gestão. Estes créditos, que são classificados de ‘legacy’, portanto, contratados quando Ricardo Salgado era presidente, foram renovados? Em que condições? E quantas vezes? Não há bancos que estejam a contratualizar contratos de financiamento a dois/três ou quatro anos. O Novo Banco tem cinco anos, portanto, só agora, em 2018, se percebeu que aqueles créditos seriam irrecuperáveis?
  6. A gestão do Novo Banco está a fazer o que o acionista lhe exige e o que o banco precisa para ter alguma possibilidade de ser viável a prazo (com outro dono, como é evidente, porque o Lone Star vai realizar as respetivas mais valias e vai embora). Qual seria o gestor que, nas mesmas circunstâncias, faria de forma diferente daquela que António Ramalho está a fazer? Está a limpar um banco, e até já antecipa que vai voltar a pedir mais dinheiro ao Fundo de Resolução em 2020. Já pediu metade do que está previsto, podemos antecipar que vai usar a totalidade dos 3,89 mil milhões de euros e, por este andar, não vai precisar dos oito anos. Por isso…
  7. …é um vídeo que todos devem ver (incluindo os deputados que querem ouvir Mário Centeno). Com as garantias do ministro das Finanças e do primeiro-ministro no dia em que anunciaram ao país a venda do Novo Banco. Repetiram, ambos, que os contribuintes não seriam chamados nem direta nem indiretamente, e que as “necessidades eventuais” seriam cobertas pelas contribuições dos bancos para o Fundo de Resolução. Tendo em conta a prontidão com que o governo anunciou a auditoria, já terão, ambos, mudado de opinião.

(ZH) What The World’s Central Banks Are Planning For Brexit

(ZH)

With scarcely a month left until the date Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union, the monetary czars at the top of the world’s central banks are increasingly coming to terms with the fact that a ‘hard’, no-deal Brexit now seems to be the most likely outcome. Given Parliament’s recent, overwhelming rejection of Theresa May’s long-negotiated Brexit deal, and the clock rapidly running down on any hope for renegotiation, it looks like the type of Brexit looming on the horizon will be verging on a central banker’s worst nightmare: an abrupt disruption to existing institutions, with all the economic uncertainty that entails, rather than the slow, politically-managed transition period May and others were hoping for.

As the formerly remote prospect of a no-deal Brexit draws ever closer, central banks around the world have begun laying out their plans to shield their respective economies from the turmoil many mainstream analysts are expecting. Little wonder that many of these contingency plans centre around the most important, and most dangerous, policy tool in the central banker’s arsenal: their ability to inflate the money supply and keep interest rates artificially low. 

In the UK itself, monetary policymakers at the Bank of England have indicated that a no-deal Brexit could lead to a reversal of the Bank’s current gradual normalization of interest rates. After having dropped the important ‘Bank rate’ of interest to the historic low of 0.25% in the aftermath of the June 2016 Brexit referendum, the Bank of England has subsequently raised it again twice, to its current level of 0.75%, by far its highest since the official end of the Great Recession in 2009. However, Gertjan Vlieghe, a member of the Bank’s rate-setting monetary policy committee, recently announced that “in the case of a no-deal scenario I judge that an easing or an extended pause in monetary policy is more likely to be the appropriate policy response than a tightening”. Money markets seem to be even more unambiguous in their expectations, predicting no possibility of a rise in interest rates until at least May 2020.

The story coming out of the Federal Reserve has been much the same. Thanks to the relatively strong recovery in the US economy over the past two years, the Fed has been able to raise interest rates much more quickly than central banks in most other countries. After three rate hikes in 2017 and another four in 2018, the Fed Funds Rate now sits at 2.5%, up from the effective zero rate of 0.25% it maintained between 2008-2015. However, the confidence at the Fed which has allowed this welcome trend seems now to be quaking, due to a range of factors including both Brexit and the Chinese economic slowdown. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell recently made his strongest statement yet against continuing the process of interest rate normalization, arguing that “the case for raising rates has weakened”, and revealing that the Federal Open Market Committee had agreed to take a “patient” approach to future rate hikes. Although the Fed had previously indicated the likelihood of two more rate hikes in 2019, futures markets have reacted to Powell’s speech by predicting no further tightening, and even a slight chance of another fall in interest rates over the next year.

The European Central Bank has, predictably enough, reacted to the threat of a no-deal Brexit by calling forincreased integration of EU capital markets and further “deepening” of the Economic and Monetary Union and the Single Market “beyond its financial dimension”. They have also called for their “macroprudential toolkit to be expanded to address potential risks around … liquidity”, i.e. for greater powers to create new money and inject it into the financial system. Consequently, markets have slashed back their previous bets on an upcoming ECB rates hike, and there has even been speculation that the ECB might start a new round of stimulus spending via cheap bank loans.

Japan has also recently signalled that it may begin injecting more stimulus, while Australia and Sweden have indicated that they might rethink their previous plans to raise rates in the coming months.

Having lived through the past decade of artificially low interest rates and monetary expansion by central banks, it hardly comes as a surprise that those same policies should be resorted to in response to the prospect of a no-deal Brexit. Indeed, it would be easy to simply shrug ones shoulders and attribute these announcements to nothing more than the fact that, as the famous Mark Twain quote goes, when all you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.

However, as reflexive and blindly pragmatic as these policy responses may sometimes seem, it is important to remember that they are built on their own intellectual foundation in mainstream economic theory, and therefore cannot be effectively tackled other than on that same level of ideas.

The problem with central banks’ repeated recourse to easy monetary policy is not, fundamentally, that it’s the same solution they always seem to point to in times of crisis. The problem with that policy is that it systematically underestimates and overlooks the damages which result from the financial system’s inflation of the money supply through the creation of fiduciary media, usually enabled and coordinated by central banks. This sort of artificial inflation of the money supply not only diminishes the purchasing power of the currency over time, it also results in a redistribution of purchasing power from ordinary citizens to those close to the financial system and the state. Perhaps most importantly, central banks’ insistence on maintaining artificially low interest rates has been shown, by the Austrian Business Cycle Theory of Ludwig von Mises, to be the key cause of cyclical economic crises.

Only through widespread education in these ideas of sound, Austrian economics, will it be possible to shift the monetary orthodoxy away from its present preference for artificially low interest rates, and perhaps eventually disrupt the current, seemingly perpetual cycle of crises and inflationism.

(ECO) Descobri que sou incompatível com a minha mulher – Pedro Sousa Carvalho

(ECO)

O governador do Banco de Portugal tem um conflito de interesses na Caixa. A vice-governadora também. Os advogados escolhidos também. Isto não é um conflito de interesses, é uma explosão de interesses.

Já vamos ao governador que pediu escusa de participar na análise à auditoria à Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD) por ter sido administrador do banco público num período negro que está a ser investigado pelo próprio Banco de Portugal.

Comecemos antes por Elisa Ferreira, cujo marido foi vice-presidente da La Seda, uma das empresas cujo calote deu maior prejuízo à Caixa. E pelos escritórios de advogados — Vieira de Almeida e Linklaters — que foram escolhidos pela Caixa para analisar os atos de gestão desse período para, eventualmente, colocar ações de responsabilidade civil sobre ex-gestores. O problema é que esses escritórios trabalharam com alguns desses ex-gestores ou clientes da Caixa.

É caso para dizer que somos um país pequeno. O problema é que mesmo depois de detetarmos estes conflitos de interesse, nem sempre os eliminamos e continuamos a conviver com eles. É quando deixamos de ser um país pequeno e passamos a ser um país pequenino. Vamos por partes, sem grande esperança de chegar a parte alguma.

Casamento por amor e não por compatibilidade

Comecemos então pela socialista Elisa Ferreira. Escreve a agência Lusa que Fernando Freire de Sousa, marido de Elisa Ferreira, foi secretário de Estado para a Competitividade e Internacionalização do governo PS de António Guterres e é, atualmente, presidente da Comissão de Coordenação e Desenvolvimento Regional do Norte (CCDR-N).

Fernando Freire de Sousa foi ainda vice-presidente da La Seda entre 2004 e 2008. Na lista dos créditos mais ruinosos da Caixa, o pior de todos foi precisamente o dado à Artlant (nome dado ao projeto químico de Sines) para o financiamento de uma fábrica da La Seda. A Caixa emprestou mais de 350 milhões de euros e já deu como perdidos 211 milhões, ou seja, 60% desse empréstimo.

Duarte Pacheco do PSD tem razão quando questiona “se não existirá na administração do Banco de Portugal outros administradores [para além de Carlos Costa], que por razões diretas ou familiares, não terão o mesmo problema e não deviam pedir escusa da análise à auditoria”.

Elisa Ferreira também devia pedir escusa de lidar com assuntos relacionados com a auditoria à Caixa. A vice-governadora não tem culpa de ter sido apanhada na situação em que está — as pessoas casam-se por amor e não por compatibilidades — mas, a partir do momento em que está nessa situação tem, obrigatoriamente, de pedir escusa. Quanto mais tarde o fizer pior é, eticamente e juridicamente, já que eventuais decisões contraordenacionais do Banco de Portugal correm o risco de vir a ser impugnadas se tiverem a sua assinatura.

O pai de Gabriela e a mulher de Siza

Basta seguir o exemplo de um outro regulador. Gabriela Figueiredo Dias, quando chegou a presidência da CMVM, pediu de imediato escusa de lidar com assuntos relacionados com o BPI (que estava a ser alvo de uma OPA do Caixabank) já que Jorge de Figueiredo Dias, vogal do BPI, é o pai de Gabriela Figueiredo Dias.

Também nos lembramos de Siza Vieira, o mais incompatível dos ministros do António Costa. Além do caso EDP e da empresa de imobiliário, quando ficou com a pasta da Economia e a tutela do Turismo foi-lhe apontado o dedo por eventuais incompatibilidades, já que a mulher dirige a Associação de Hotelaria de Portugal.

Na altura, Siza disse que “nos termos da lei e conforme dita a minha consciência, declarar-me-ia impedido de atuar” quando fosse confrontado com decisões sobre o setor. Acrescentou, em jeito de ironia: “descobriram, ao fim de 30 anos, que sou incompatível com a minha mulher”.

Três advogados para fazer o trabalho de um

Também no capítulo das incompatibilidade e dos conflitos de interesse, Paulo Macedo foi ao Parlamento revelar que a Caixa não vai contratar nem um, nem dois, mas “pelo menos” três escritórios de advogados para tratarem da auditoria da EY e apurar se há motivos para colocar ações de responsabilidade civil sobre ex-gestores do banco público: a Vieira de Almeida, a Linklaters e a Sérvulo.

Dos cinco processos que estão a ser analisados, a VdA invocou incompatibilidades em dois deles, já que ex-gestores ou clientes da Caixa foram também clientes do escritório. Então foi preciso escolher, além da VdA, a Linklaters que também veio invocar incompatibilidade num dos processos. Então foi preciso contratar, além da Vieira de Almeida e da Linklaters, a Sérvulo. Paulo Macedo admitiu, na Assembleia da República, que poderia ainda ir buscar outros escritórios se continuassem a surgir situações de conflitos de interesse.

Isto levanta duas questões: a Caixa não tem mais sítio onde gastar o nosso dinheiro? Se, por exemplo, a VdA tem um conflito de interesses porque esteve com Manuel Fino no passado (mais um dos que deu um calote à Caixa), faz sentido que decida sobre ações de responsabilidade civil de gestores que deram créditos a Manuel Fino ou outros clientes igualmente ruinosos?

Carlos Costa e os pontos nos ii

Sabe o leitor quem foi administrador da Caixa que aprovou esse crédito ruinoso a Manuel Fino? A revista Sábado escreve que o atual governador do Banco de Portugal, que era administrador da Caixa no período negro de Armando Vara e Santos Ferreira, participou nas reuniões que aprovaram créditos a operações ruinosas como as de Manuel Fino, Joe Berardo e Vale do Lobo.

Carlos Costa tem um passado duvidoso na banca comercial, que vai das offshores do BCP à aventura da Caixa em Espanha quando ele tinha o pelouro da internacionalização. No banco central, como ficou assente nas comissões de inquérito, o seu papel para prevenir o colapso do BES e do Banif foi medíocre e tardio. Sabe-se agora, teve a sua quota-parte de responsabilização na aprovação dos créditos mais ruinosos da Caixa. Créditos que estão a ser investigados pelo próprio Banco de Portugal, instituição a que preside. Conta o Jornal Económico que Carlos Costa está fora dos lote dos gestores que estão a ser investigados pelo Banco de Portugal, vá-se lá saber porquê.

Carlos Costa anunciou na sexta-feira que vai pedir escusa de participar nas decisões do Banco de Portugal que tenham a ver com a Caixa e com a auditoria da EY. No caso de Elisa Ferreira chega, mas no caso de Carlos Costa não basta pedir escusa. O governador está na posse da auditoria da EY há sete meses e só agora que o documento veio a público, por causa de Joana Amaral Dias, é que sentiu um rebate de consciência e resolveu pedir escusa.

Carlos Costa é a prova viva de que o cargo de governador de banco central é inamovível. Vamos pôr os pontos nos is. Não há incoerência, incúria, incómodo, incompetência ou incompatibilidade que o façam sair do lugar.

(ANSA) Bank of Italy’s gold belongs to Italians – Salvini

(ANSA)

Reports govt considering using reserves to avert VAT hike

 (foto: ANSA)

(ANSA) – Rome, February 11 – Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said Monday that the Bank of Italy’s gold reserves are “the property of the Italian people, not of anyone else”. He was commenting following reports that the government was considering using the central bank’s gold to avert a rise in value-added tax that is scheduled to kick in unless alternative sources of budget coverage can be found.

(BBG) Portugal, Ireland Bond Sales Show Conviction on ECB Rate Outlook

(BBG)

In one fell swoop, Portugal and Ireland completed a quarter of their refinancing for the year.

The two nations sold 4 billion euros ($4.6 billion) of bonds each via syndication Wednesday, compared with Portugal’s 15.4 billion euro target for 2019 and Ireland’s goal of between 14 and 18 billion euros. That follows banks underwriting around 21 percent of Belgium’s target issuance Tuesday.

Orders for Ireland’s 10-year syndication were above 18 billion euros, while those on Portugal’s were above 24 billion euros, according to people familiar with the matter. That’s despite European nations offering more than 30 billion euros in debt this week alone.

The robust demand for the bonds shows conviction among investors that the European Central Bank isn’t going to be able to raise borrowing costs against a backdrop of slowing economic growth and recession fears in the U.S. Their skepticism is also reflected in the yield on German bunds, which touched the lowest level in more than two years last week.

“The New Year has unleashed pent-up demand for sovereign and agency paper on the primary market, and we think this is set to continue,” said Ciaran O’Hagan, head of European rates strategy at Societe Generale SA. “The drive lower in yields has forced buyers out into the market.”

(ECO) Banco de Portugal já chumbou mais de uma centena de intermediários de crédito

(ECO) O Banco de Portugal recebeu 3.876 pedidos de autorização daqueles que pretendem ser intermediários de crédito desde o início do ano, até 22 de dezembro.

O Banco de Portugal (BdP) recebeu quase quatro mil pedidos de autorização para intermediário de crédito até 22 de dezembro, dos quais já recusou mais de uma centena. Foram aprovados 820 pedidos, e os restantes estão ainda em análise.Dois em cada dez intermediários já podem dar crédito Ler Mais

Desde o início do ano, a instituição liderada por Carlos Costa é responsável pela autorização e registo de todas as pessoas singulares ou coletivas que pretendam exercer a atividade de intermediário de crédito. Foram 3.876 aqueles já que mostraram interesse, de acordo com os dados do Banco de Portugal, e 114 os que foram chumbados.

Os 820 pedidos aprovados representam 21,1% do total, obtendo assim “luz verde” para operarem a partir de 1 de janeiro do novo ano.

Apesar de ainda não ter chegado ao fim, dezembro já é o mês em que o BdP recebeu mais pedidos, 736 no total, e também aquele em que foram aprovados mais, cerca de 322 processos.

Os interessados sabem a decisão da instituição no prazo de três meses desde a candidatura, e, se esta for positiva, o registo do intermediário será promovido pelo BdP nos 30 dias seguintes à aprovação.

Os intermediários de crédito facilitam a obtenção deste produto, mas não estão autorizados a conceder crédito, nem a intervir na comercialização de outros produtos ou serviços bancários, como, por exemplo, depósitos a prazo ou serviços de pagamento.

O.P. (BI) Global markets are plunging as the Fed’s ‘hawkish tone’ steals Christmas

O.P.

Conforme eu tinha previsto,
vem aí o maior bear market da história.
Que se segue ao maior e mais longo bull market de sempre.
Perfeitamente normal.
Não há practicamente nada que esteja bem no Mundo.
Era apenas uma questão de tempo.
Ainda por cima com os bancos centrais de todo o Mundo a inprimirem dinheiro desde 2007/2008…
E agora pelo menos a Federal Reserve já parou e está a retirar do mercado 50 biliões de dolares por mês.
Só não viu quem não quis.

FCMP



(BI)

Wall Street trader

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

  • Global stocks drop sharply after Fed raises rates and says monetary policy tightening will continue in 2019.
  • Investors had been hoping that the Fed and Chairman Jerome Powell would be explicitly dovish in his communications, but were left disappointed by the central bank’s tone.
  • It was a sea of red: US stocks dropped on Wednesday, with Asia and Europe following suit on Thursday.
  • All major European indexes are lower by around 1.5% in the first hour of the day. The Euro Stoxx 50 reached a 2016 low. 
  • You can follow the latest market moves at Markets Insider.

Stock markets around the world are tumbling Thursday after the US Federal Reserve dashed hopes that it would go into 2019 with a more dovish policy outlook.

The central bank’s Federal Open Market Committee unanimously voted to raise the fed funds rate by 25 basis points to a range of 2.25% to 2.5% on Wednesday, and said that it expects to continue raising rates in 2019, albeit at a slower pace than the four rate rises this year.

Investors had been hoping that the Fed and Chairman Jerome Powell would be explicitly dovish in his communications, but were left disappointed by the central bank’s tone.

“Investors were expecting a more dovish tone from Powell given the sharp fall in equity markets and challenging global macroeconomic conditions,” Hussein Sayed, Chief Market Strategist at FXTM said in an email Thursday morning. “All they got was a less hawkish tone.” 

“Despite many signs of global economic growth slowing, the Fed does not seem to be very concerned at this stage suggesting that monetary policy will continue to tighten albeit at a slower pace than previously projected,” he continued.

“What appeared to be even more concerning to equity investors is that Powell is not only ignoring Trump’s calls to pause the tightening cycle, but he is also not listening to them.”

Read more: Here’s how the Fed raises interest rates and why it matters

Powell’s comments and the Fed’s overall tone mean that markets are a sea of red Thursday morning, with both European and Asian stocks selling off sharply, and the major US indexes looking set to fall further when the open later in the day.

Here’s the scoreboard:

  • All major European indexes are lower by close to, or more than, 1.5%. Britain’s FTSE 100 has shed 1.3%, while Germany’s DAX is off 1.4%. The benchmark Euro Stoxx 50 reached a 2016 low. 
  • Asian equities were red across the board, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 the biggest casualty, losing 2.8% of its value on the day.
  • Chinese stocks were a little stronger, likely boosted by news that Beijing has resumed purchases of US soybeans. The Shanghai Composite, China’s benchmark index, was down 0.52% on the day.
  • US futures point to another bad day stateside. The S&P 500 dropped 1.5% on Wednesday, and is set to shed another 0.5% when the market opens. Both the Nasdaq and Dow Jones look likely to see similar losses.
  • Oil prices slumped on worries of slowing global growth. Brent crude tumbled 3.9%.



(EUobserver) ECB to reinvest €2.5tn from eurozone stimulus

(EUobserver) The Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) decided on Thursday how to reinvest €2.5tn it has pumped into the economy since 2015 in the wake of the financial crisis in order to help interest and inflation rates go up again. The purchases, known as quantitative easing (QE), cease at the end of December 2018, but redemptions will continue to be reinvested in the public and corporate sectors.

(BBG) Carney Says BOE Ready for the Worst in Brexit Recession Warning

(BBG) Mark Carney said the Bank of England is prepared for the worst possible Brexit and that the U.K. faces the steepest economic slump since at least World War II if it crashes out of the European Union without a deal.

The stark warning from the governor sees the economy shrinking by 8 percent within a year and property prices plunging almost a third under a worst-case scenario, with Prime Minister Theresa May failing to get her Brexit plan past lawmakers. For context, the peak-to-trough drop in U.K. GDP in the financial crisis was just over 6 percent.

“Our job is not to hope for the best but to prepare for the worst,” Carney said in a press conference in London. “If there is one thing that you take from an avalanche of papers and numbers and the discussion today, it’s that the core of the U.K. financial system is ready for Brexit, whatever form it takes.”

In a no-deal scenario, questions about the credibility of the U.K. would send sterling into a tailspin, forcing the central bank forced to hike interest rates sharply to combat inflation.

Here are the main points in the “disorderly” Brexit scenario:

  • GDP drops 8%
  • House prices fall 30%
  • Commercial property prices plunge 48%
  • Sterling falls 25% to below parity with the dollar
  • Unemployment rises to 7.5%
  • Inflation accelerates to 6.5%
  • BOE benchmark rate rises to 5.5% and averages 4% over 3 years
  • Britain goes from net immigration to net outflow, reducing labor supply

The BOE analysis, carried out in response to a request from a committee of lawmakers, is the latest to highlight the dangers from having no new trade arrangements in place by the time Britain leaves the EU on March 29.

While the pound rose about 0.5 percent against the dollar as Carney spoke, that was because Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell simultaneously gave a speech that investors considered dovish. Powell also said the Fed was prepared for a full range of Brexit outcomes.

The BOE’s scenarios are likely to draw the ire of Brexit supporters who said the central bank was too gloomy before the 2016 referendum on Brexit. It warned then that there was a risk of recession in the months following a vote for Leave. The economy kept growing.

Former BOE policy maker Andrew Sentance tweeted that the analysis is “highly speculative and extreme” and will “add to the view that the Bank is getting unnecessarily involved in politics.”

May is pushing her EU Withdrawal Agreement, but it’s not clear she will have the numbers to get it through Parliament in a crunch vote on Dec. 11.

Read more: May spells out her case against another Brexit referendum

If it’s rejected, the U.K. will be on course to crash out into a legal limbo, with no special rules in place to regulate trade with the bloc. Earlier, the Treasury provided its own longer-term analysis, which also includes a hit to growth and incomes under any Brexit option.

The BOE made clear that a chaotic departure is not its assumption. It provided other options from what it calls a disruptive Brexit to the economic partnership with the EU sought by May.

While a disorderly situation would leave GDP as much as 10.5 percent lower by the end of 2023 relative to remaining in the EU, the loss diminishes to less than 4 percent under an agreement that maintains close ties. Relative to forecasts made by the BOE this month, Britain would actually be better off in the best-case scenario, but that assumes achieving the closest possible ties with the EU.

What Our Economists Say:

“The numbers look very pessimistic, partly because monetary policy is assumed to respond mechanically to a surge in inflation. In reality, would the MPC be so bold as to lift rates in the face of Armageddon? We highly doubt it. Taking a step back, there’s no doubt the BOE is gambling some of its credibility on the analysis but if it helps get Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal over the line, it will be considered worthwhile.”
— Dan Hanson, Bloomberg Economics

The immediate hit to the economy from a disruptive Brexit, under which WTO tariffs and other barriers are introduced suddenly, would be about 3 percent, the BOE said. The decline in house prices would be 14 percent.

Carney reiterated that the chance of no deal was small, but it’s not impossible.

“We have always thought it was a possibility, a tail possibility, and maybe the probability has increased with time,” he said. “But even when it was just small probability, our job was to get the system ready to deal with that.”

It’s not clear the gloomy report will change much. While anti-Brexit groups will see it as reinforcing their argument, those in favor of leaving are likely to accuse Carney of reviving what they call “Project Fear.”

The BOE said the country’s top seven banks are all strong enough to continue lending even during a no-deal Brexit, with all of them clearing the latest stress tests, results of which were released separately on Wednesday.

(CNBC) ECB’s Draghi hints at a possible dip in inflation

(CNBC)

  • “If firms start to become more uncertain about the growth and inflation outlook, the squeeze on margins could prove more persistent” Draghi said at a banking conference in Frankfurt Friday.
  • “This would affect the speed with which underlying inflation picks up and therefore the inflation path that we expect to see in the quarters ahead.”
Patience and persistence in our monetary policy are still needed, says ECB’s Draghi

Patience and persistence in our monetary policy are still needed, says ECB’s Draghi  

Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank (ECB), hinted at the possibility of inflation not rising as quickly as expected due to euro zone firms dealing with a slew of uncertainties.

“If firms start to become more uncertain about the growth and inflation outlook, the squeeze on margins could prove more persistent,” Draghi said at a banking conference in Frankfurt Friday.

“This would affect the speed with which underlying inflation picks up and therefore the inflation path that we expect to see in the quarters ahead.”

Draghi’s speech was generally positive about the region and he reiterated that the central bank’s massive crisis-era bond-buying scheme is still due to be wound down at the end of this year. He said there was no reason why the current expansion in the euro area — which is now in its fifth year — should abruptly come to an end, adding that the economic cycle was resilient.

German bond yields rose on Friday on the back of these comments. The country’s 10-year bond yield rose to session highs at 0.376 percent, extending earlier rises, according to Reuters.

Global uncertainties

However, the lingering doubt Draghi hinted at was how cooperates could unwind recent pay rises due to uncertainties on growth. This would then have an knock-on effect for the central bank’s own inflation forecasts which could potentially alter its future policy actions or the guidance its gives to the markets on these actions.

“The nature of this forward guidance is contingent on economic developments and therefore acts as an automatic stabilizer. If financial or liquidity conditions should tighten unduly or if the inflation outlook should deteriorate, our reaction function is well defined. This should in turn be reflected in an adjustment in the expected path of future interest rates,” Draghi stated.

The ECB is due to start raising ultra-low interest rates at the end of summer 2019 but many market watchers have doubts about the exact timing of the first hike and the bank itself has always said it well remain dependent on incoming data.

Earlier on in his speech he mentioned issues with global trade, name checking protectionism in particular. He also mentioned the temporary effects of weather, sickness and industrial action affecting output in a number of countries. More recently there was disruption for car production due to the introduction of new vehicle emissions standards, the Italian economist added. Euro zone growth has stalled slightly in recent quarters and German gross domestic product (GDP) was surprisingly weak in the third quarter.

All countries should respect the rules of the economic union, says ECB’s Draghi

All countries should respect the rules of the economic union, says ECB’s Draghi  

He added that at its last meeting in October, the ECB’s Governing Council noted that “uncertainties surrounding the medium-term outlook have increased.”

“When the latest round of projections is available at our next meeting in December, we will be better placed to make a full assessment of the risks to growth and inflation,” he said.

Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING Germany, said in a research note that the ECB president had opened the door for a long period of low interest rates.

“Draghi slightly changed the well-known ECB communication. While there is still a strong determination to end the net-QE (quantitative easing) purchases by the end of the year, Draghi opened the door for changes to the forward guidance in the course of 2019,” he said.

(NYT) Paul Volcker, at 91, Sees ‘a Hell of a Mess in Every Direction’

(NYT) The former Fed chairman, whose memoir will be published this month, had a feisty take on the state of politics and government during an interview.

Paul Volcker, pictured last October, said he had no intention of writing a book, but “I’m really worried about this governance thing.”CreditCreditMike Coppola/Getty Images for the National Committee on American Foreign Policy

Paul Volcker, wearing a blue sweatsuit and black dress socks, stretched out on a recliner in the den of his Upper East Side apartment on a Sunday afternoon. His lanky 6-foot-7 frame extended beyond the end of the chair’s leg rest. He added an ottoman to rest his feet.

“I’m not good,” said Mr. Volcker, 91, the former Federal Reserve chairman, who came to prominence after he used shockingly high interest rates to help end the runaway inflation of the late 1970s and early ’80s. Long one of finance’s wise men, he has been sick for several months.

But he would rather not talk about himself. Instead, Mr. Volcker wants to talk about the country, the economy and the government. And if he had seemed lethargic when I arrived, he turned lively in his laments: “We’re in a hell of a mess in every direction,” he said.

Hundreds of books surrounded Mr. Volcker — filling shelves and piled high on virtually every flat surface — as did pink pages of The Financial Times, folded into origami. “Respect for government, respect for the Supreme Court, respect for the president, it’s all gone,” he said. “Even respect for the Federal Reserve.

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“And it’s really bad. At least the military still has all the respect. But I don’t know, how can you run a democracy when nobody believes in the leadership of the country?”

Before Mr. Volcker fell ill, he finished his memoir, “Keeping at It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government.” The book was supposed to be published in late November, but given Mr. Volcker’s health, its publisher, PublicAffairs, a unit of Hachette, moved its release up to Oct. 30.

“I had no intention of writing a book, but there was something that kind of was irritating me,” he said. “I’m really worried about this governance thing.”

The book, which Mr. Volcker wrote with Christine Harper, editor in chief of Bloomberg Markets, is a telling memoir about a man who not only redefined the role of Fed chairman but, after the financial crisis, conceived of a namesake rule that eliminated some of the most blatant risk-taking by Wall Street banks. The Volcker Rule, which was part of the Dodd-Frank regulatory legislation, is being chipped away at by Republicans, which doesn’t sit well with him.

“There is no force on earth that can stand up effectively, year after year, against the thousands of individuals and hundreds of millions of dollars in the Washington swamp aimed at influencing the legislative and electoral process,” he wrote in the book.

Image
Mr. Volcker with President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Three years later, Mr. Volcker wrote in his book, the president would pressure him not to raise interest rates.CreditScott Applewhite/Associated Press
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The memoir is at times a dishy tale of Mr. Volcker’s years in Washington. For example, while President Trump has complained in recent months about the Fed’s plan to raise interest rates, he isn’t the first to try to influence the independent Federal Reserve. Mr. Volcker recounts being summoned to meet with President Ronald Reagan and his chief of staff, James Baker, in the president’s library next to the Oval Office in 1984.

Reagan “didn’t say a word,” Mr. Volcker wrote. “Instead Baker delivered a message: ‘The president is ordering you not to raise interest rates before the election.’” Mr. Volcker wasn’t planning to raise rates at the time.

“I was stunned,” he wrote. “I later surmised that the library location had been chosen because, unlike the Oval Office, it probably lacked a taping system.”

The book is not limited to tales of the past, however. It addresses current policy, like the 2 percent inflation target that has become the goal of the Federal Reserve.

“I puzzle at the rationale,” he wrote. “A 2 percent target, or limit, was not in my textbook years ago. I know of no theoretical justification.”

With a laugh, he told me that he believed the policy was driven by fears of deflation. “And we haven’t had any deflation in this country for 90 years!”

But there is something more worrisome affecting policy than fear, he told me. Money.

Over the din of traffic outside an open window, Mr. Volcker hoarsely sounded an alarm on the power it has to shape our culture and our politics.

“The central issue is we’re developing into a plutocracy,” he told me. “We’ve got an enormous number of enormously rich people that have convinced themselves that they’re rich because they’re smart and constructive. And they don’t like government, and they don’t like to pay taxes.”

Washington, when he arrived, “was a city filled with bureaucrats,” he said. “It didn’t make them bad.” At the time, civil servants — like his father, the township manager of Teaneck, N.J. — were respected. “I grew up in a world in which good government was a good term,” he said.

But things have changed. Today, he said, Washington is overrun by lobbyists and think tanks. Mr. Volcker, who started a nonprofit to improve education for public service, contends that our educational system has been perverted by money.

Schools like the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton, he said, have failed to educate a new generation of civil servants. He said they no longer taught governing but policy — a shift that he contended allowed them to hold forums and discussions with generals and under secretaries.

“Rich guys,” he said, “like to go.” He called it “hobnobbing wholesale.”

“They can argue war and peace and poverty and everything else,” he said. “But when you go to a school of public policy, you’re not learning how to run the goddamn government. You’re learning how to debate political issues.”

Unlike President Barack Obama, who invited Mr. Volcker to consult on economic and regulatory policy — and asked him if he would be willing to be Treasury secretary, he said — this White House hasn’t called him. Even so, he has met Mr. Trump twice, both times before he took office.

The first meeting was after Mr. Volcker left the Federal Reserve in 1987. “I was walking down the street, somebody calls out: ‘Hey, Paul! Hey, Paul!’ He comes running across the street and says, ‘Hi, I’m Donald Trump.’”

The other was an unsuccessful attempt by Mr. Volcker to get Mr. Trump to use “The Apprentice” to raise money for a charitable organization. “We had a very nice lunch, and he said, ‘Interesting idea,’ but put me off otherwise,” Mr. Volcker said.

Mr. Volcker is no great fan of the president, but he acknowledged that Mr. Trump had cannily recognized the economic worries of blue-collar workers. Mr. Trump “seized upon some issues that the elite had ignored,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any question about that, in kind of an erratic way, but there it is.”

He wondered how many lectures and presentations he had sat through with economists “telling us open markets are wonderful, everybody benefits from open markets.”

Eventually, Mr. Volcker said, someone in those lectures would always ask, “What about that poor manufacturer in my town?” But that concern was dismissed too easily, with talk of worker retraining or some other solution far easier said than done.

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Mr. Volcker with President Barack Obama in 2009. Mr. Volcker said Mr. Obama had approached him about becoming Treasury secretary.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Today, Mr. Volcker is already starting to worry about the next financial crisis. Asked about the stability of the banks, he said, “They’re in a stronger position than they were, but the honest answer is I don’t know how much they’re manipulating.”

That, he said, is the real challenge facing economic policymakers. “Everybody talks about monetary policy,” he said, “but the lesson of all this is we need better, stronger supervisory powers.”

Even as our conversation came to an end, Mr. Volcker looked as if he could keep talking for hours. I told him that, rather than look sick or depressed about the state of the world, he appeared energized. Or, I told him, that was at least the impression he left.

“Leave it that way,” he said.

(CNBC) Trump directly attacks Fed Chairman Powell, saying ‘Obama had zero’ interest rates

(CNBC)

  • President Donald Trump attacked Fed Chairman Powell by name in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
  • Trump accused Powell of endangering the U.S. economy by raising interest rates.
  • The U.S. president indicated that he sees the current performance of the economy as a competition between himself and President Barack Obama.

President Trump renews his criticism of the Fed

President Trump renews his criticism of the Fed  

President Donald Trump directly accused Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell of endangering the U.S. economy by raising interest rates, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“I’m just saying this: I’m very unhappy with the Fed because Obama had zero interest rates,” Trump told the Journal on Tuesday. “Every time we do something great, he raises the interest rates.”

The president said Powell “almost looks like he’s happy raising interest rates,” but declined to elaborate, according to the Journal.

Trump acknowledged that the Fed is traditionally independent of political influence, the Journal reported, but he still pressed his attacks and appears to view the United States’ current economic performance as a competition between himself and President Barack Obama.

Why do we have the Fed?

Why do we have the Fed?  

As the central bank of the United States, the Federal Reserve’s mission is to set interest rates with the twin goals of maximizing employment and fighting inflation. The Fed is traditionally granted independence from presidential influence so that it can fulfill that so-called “dual mandate” without political interference.

The Fed has raised interest rates three times this year as the U.S. economy has heated up, and it is widely expected to hike again before year-end.

“How the hell do you compete with that? And Obama — remember this, it’s very important — Obama had zero interest,” the president told the Journal on Tuesday.

Obama took office after the Great Recession began in December 2007. The Federal Reserve at that time put historically low interest rates in place, and took other measures besides, in an effort to inject money into the faltering economy.

Contacted by CNBC, the Federal Reserve declined to comment.

The White House did not respond to a CNBC request for comment.

Trump: ‘Maybe’ I regret nominating Powell

Asked if he regrets nominating Powell to his Fed chairmanship, Trump told the Journal: “Too early to tell, but maybe.”

Powell has said neither he nor other Fed officials are letting Trump’s frequent complaints affect them.

“My focus is essentially on controlling the uncontrollable. We control what do,” Powell said in a question-and-answer session with Judy Woodruff of PBS this month.

Also this month, Trump complained that the Fed had “gone crazy” by tightening its monetary policy. His statement prompted International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagardeand others to come forward in defense of Powell and the Federal Reserve’s decision-making.

I wouldn’t associate J Powell with craziness, Christine Lagarde says

I wouldn’t associate Jay Powell with craziness, Christine Lagarde says  

“I would not associate Jay Powell with craziness. No, no, he comes across, and members of his board, as extremely serious, solid and certainly keen to base their decisions on actual information,” Lagarde said, speaking to CNBC in Bali, Indonesia.