Category Archives: Euro

(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.

(ECO) Cumprir o Programa que apresentamos – Mário Centeno

(ECO) O país tem de ter consciência plena de que, no futuro, terá que continuar a adotar medidas com vista ao controlo da evolução das contas públicas.

Portugal está a percorrer um caminho de credibilização das suas finanças públicas. Muitos se questionam se esta situação é duradoura e sustentável. No essencial são os mesmos que questionavam, em 2015 e 2016, se havia alternativa ao caminho de austeridade recessiva e de emigração em que o país se encontrava mergulhado.

Hoje, juntam-se vozes questionando o presente, no que denominam como excesso de zelo na condução da política orçamental. Sendo um avanço, embora um pequeno salto mortal, esquecem-se que governar é decidir, talvez porque quando foram Governo não decidiram. E não implementaram as medidas necessárias à promoção do potencial de crescimento da economia portuguesa.

O país tem de ter consciência plena de que, no futuro, terá que continuar a adotar medidas com vista ao controlo da evolução das contas públicas. Uma economia não funciona em piloto automático. É por isso que estamos obrigados a acautelar o futuro. Esse é o mais claro mandato que os portugueses nos deram. O futuro assegura-se através de medidas que fazem com que o crescimento da despesa seja ponderado, e não como em períodos passados de euforia despesista com ou sem correspondência do lado da receita.

O futuro assegura-se através de medidas que fazem com que o crescimento da despesa seja ponderado, e não como em períodos passados de euforia despesista com ou sem correspondência do lado da receita.

Se olharmos para a experiência deste século, vemos a razão de termos entrado em défice excessivo: entre 2002 e 2011 o peso da despesa corrente primária no PIB cresceu 6,7 pontos percentuais, 4,1 pontos percentuais nos primeiros quatro anos e 2,5 pontos percentuais nos últimos seis. Esta situação não se pode repetir. Como já dissemos muitas vezes: não podemos voltar para trás.

Atingimos nos últimos três anos saldos primários compatíveis, finalmente, com a mera normalidade na condução da política orçamental. Hoje temos a margem necessária para deixar funcionar os “estabilizadores automáticos”, sem colocar em causa os limites do défice e da dívida com que Portugal deve conviver para garantir um futuro estável.

Hoje podemos dizer que estamos no décimo oitavo trimestre consecutivo de crescimento da economia portuguesa. Este padrão de crescimento é marcado por uma forte dinâmica do mercado de trabalho. Temos a maior redução do desemprego deste século, com o desemprego dos portugueses entre os 35 e os 55 anos a situar-se em 5%, um terço do que se observou em 2013. Mais de três quartos do emprego criado na legislatura corresponde a emprego estável, não são contratos a prazo. E os salários crescem de forma responsável. Portugal converge em termos reais com a área do euro.

Por isso, é tão importante falar em normalidade para os valores do défice. O valor projetado para 2019 é historicamente baixo, mas é normal na Europa. E é compatível com a sustentabilidade das contas públicas e com a qualidade do serviço público.

O traço distintivo desta legislatura é o de que a trajetória das finanças públicas portuguesas que foi apresentada em 2015 foi inteiramente cumprida.

Esta trajetória permite poupar centenas de milhões de euros em juros, que de outra forma seriam suportados pelos portugueses e redundariam em sacrifícios para os serviços públicos.

Esta poupança em juros permite-nos investir mais (e não menos) nos portugueses e nos serviços públicos. Aqueles que não o querem ver são os mesmos que disseram que os portugueses não conseguiriam cumprir os seus compromissos e que aplaudiram a chegada de quem viria – diziam – colocar o país em ordem.

As metas alcançadas permitem, pela primeira vez, perante um futuro abrandamento da economia europeia, evitar que entremos novamente em défices excessivos. Isso implicaria aumentos de impostos, cortes de despesas sociais e congelamentos de pensões e salários.

As metas alcançadas permitem, pela primeira vez, perante um futuro abrandamento da economia europeia, evitar que entremos novamente em défices excessivos.

Esta evolução mostra que as políticas seguidas são sustentáveis. Nem o Governo teria mandato para colocar de novo o financiamento da economia em risco.

Faz, ainda, com que os portugueses possam enfrentar o futuro com estabilidade e confiança, na melhoria dos seus rendimentos.

A sociedade portuguesa merece, de todos, que cumpramos este compromisso. Um compromisso traduzido em mais professores, mais médicos e enfermeiros. Em contratos mais estáveis. Em pensões que não estão congeladas e prestações que combatem a pobreza e a exclusão. Num alívio fiscal colossal, superior a 1.000 milhões de euros, sobre os nossos salários. Num equilíbrio virtuoso entre receitas e despesas que nos permite, em inteira normalidade, reforçar as despesas sociais e reduzir as despesas financeiras.

A discussão em torno das opções económicas, financeiras e orçamentais deve ser aberta na procura das melhores soluções. Isso reforça o capital social do país. Mas o equilíbrio das opções deve estar sempre presente. Não podemos apenas considerar um lado da balança, seja aprovar aumentos de despesa ou reduções de receita. Ao elegermos essas medidas temos que promover o equilíbrio responsável que nos trouxe até aqui.

(Reuters) Portugal debt chief says difficult to see near-term Italian ratings downgrade

(Reuters) Italy’s credit rating is unlikely to be downgraded in the near term because the country still has a primary surplus and is less exposed to external shocks than other countries, the head of Portugal’s debt agency said on Tuesday.

“I find it difficult to see Italy downgraded in the near future,” Christina Casalinho, chief executive officer at the Portuguese government debt agency said at a conference in Brussels.

She added that Portugal had a more diverse investor base, helping to limit contagion from Italian market volatility.

(BBG) Macron Says the Euro Is Not Yet an Alternative to U.S. Dollar

(BBG) French President Emmanuel Macron said that the euro is not “a clear alternative” to the dollar thanks to the U.S. currency’s international “strengths.”

“Until now, we fail to make the euro as strong as the dollar,” Macron, speaking English, said in an interview with CNN broadcast on Sunday. “We made a great job during the past years but it’s not yet sufficient.”

For the French president, European corporations and entities are too dependent upon the U.S. currency. “This is an issue of sovereignty for me. So that’s why I want us to work very closely with our financial institutions, at the European levels and with all the partners, in order to build a capacity to be less dependent from the dollar,” he said.

“It doesn’t mean to be opponents — but I think for the stability of the global order, you’ll need a strong currency like (the) dollar, but you need some alternatives. Euro has to be one of these alternatives, which means we have to better enhance our financial structures and the financing of our players at the euro-zone level,” Macron said.

Macron said the Chinese currency was a de facto alternative to the greenback, “not at the global level but for a certain region.”

(OBS) Alexander Stubb: “Europa deve uma desculpa e um agradecimento a Portugal”

(OBS) A Europa deve uma desculpa a Portugal pelas “tremendas medidas” de austeridade que foram impostas durante a crise, afirmou Alexander Stubb, pré-candidato à presidência da Comissão Europeia.

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT HANDOUT/EPA

A Europa deve uma desculpa e um agradecimento a Portugal pelas “tremendas medidas” de austeridade que foram impostas durante a crise, afirmou Alexander Stubb, pré-candidato do Partido Popular Europeu (centro-direita) à presidência da Comissão Europeia.

“Penso que, de muitas formas, a Europa deve uma desculpa e um agradecimento a Portugal, no sentido de que as medidas de austeridade que o governo de centro-direita tomou em plena crise foram tremendas”, disse Stubb numa entrevista à agência Lusa em Lisboa.

Mas para o ex-primeiro-ministro (2014-2015) e ex-ministro das Finanças (2015-2016) finlandês, considerado um “falcão da austeridade”, não havia alternativa: “Tivesse eu de fazer o mesmo na Finlândia, como primeiro-ministro ou ministro das Finanças, tinha de avançar. É assim”.

O Governo de coligação PSD-CDS, “fez um ótimo trabalho numa situação difícil”, mostrando “muita coragem”, mas “desde que o governo mudou”, Stubb diz que “não tem visto muita ação”.

“Se olharmos para o desenvolvimento económico português, gostava de ver um desempenho melhor. Penso que é a 20.ª economia com crescimento mais lento na Europa neste momento”, considerou Stubb, que é atualmente vice-presidente do Banco Europeu de Investimento.

Quanto ao futuro da União Económica e Monetária (UEM), Alexander Stubb assegurou que, enquanto “pró-europeu ávido”, é e sempre foi “a favor de mais integração” e de “aprofundar o euro”.

“Em relação ao euro, penso que demos passos enormes durante a crise, a legislação [de coordenação orçamental] ‘two pack’ e ‘six pack’, o mecanismo de estabilidade europeu e, obviamente, o embrião da união bancária. No final, quero ver uma união bancária plena, incluindo a garantia de depósitos e provavelmente uma mutualização da dívida”, assegurou.

“Mas isso não vai acontecer de um dia para o outro. As condições têm de estar lá [e] estamos a alguns anos disso”, advertiu.

Para Stubb, desenvolvimentos com o orçamento que Itália apresentou para 2019, que prevê “o agravamento anual da dívida em 40 mil milhões de euros durante três anos”, “não ajudam”, porque “aqueles que querem abrandar o curso nesta matéria, vão apontar o dedo à Itália”.

“Não sei qual é o Orçamento de Portugal, o da Finlândia é de cerca de 55 mil milhões, e se a Itália está a assumir 40 mil milhões por ano de mais dívida para aplicar uma política fiscal estúpida, não vai fazer avançar a causa da união bancária ou outros objetivos”, frisou.

Vice-presidente do Banco Europeu de Investimentos, Stubb sublinhou que esta instituição “é um exemplo de um banco completamente mutualizado”.

“Partilhamos dívida e funciona. Mas partilhamos dívida com base nas condições do mercado, não com base em decisões políticas, e é provavelmente isto que tem de ser tido em consideração”, afirmou.

Alexander Stubb, que disputa a designação como ‘Spitzenkandidat’ do Partido Popular Europeu (PPE, centro-direita) com o alemão Manfred Weber, da CSU, foi entrevistado à margem da iniciativa Escola Europa, organizada pelo Partido Social-Democrata (PSD) de Portugal e pelo Partido Popular (PP) de Espanha com o apoio daquele grupo político europeu.

Após as eleições europeias, em maio próximo, cabe ao Conselho Europeu, compostos pelos chefes de Estado e de Governo dos membros da UE, designar um candidato à presidência da Comissão, o qual se submete depois a votação no Parlamento Europeu.

O Tratado de Lisboa determina que o resultado das eleições europeias seja tido em conta na escolha do presidente da Comissão, mas o Conselho não é legalmente obrigado a fazê-lo.

A escolha de candidatos pelos grupos políticos, os chamados “Spitzenkandidat” ocorreu pela primeira vez nas eleições europeias de 2014, em que Jean-Claude Juncker, candidato pelo PPE, sucedeu a José Manuel Durão Barroso.

(EurActiv) ‘No thanks!’ to EU and Nato, Iceland PM says

(EurActiv)

  • Katrin Jakobsdottir became Iceland’s first Green prime minister on 30 November 2017 (Photo: Seppo Samuli/norden.org)

Eurozone failures mean Iceland should stay out of the EU, its prime minister told EUobserver.

She would also quit Nato if she had her say.

  • During the Second World War US troops kept Iceland free from German occupation (Photo: EUobserver)

“I don’t think we should enter the EU right now. I don’t think there is any reason to apply,” Katrin Jakobsdottir said in an interview with this website, as Iceland’s new government prepared to celebrate its first anniversary in power.

“Personally, I’m critical towards the economic policies of the EU – the creation of the eurozone without any real centralised policies on taxes or fiscal policies,” she said.

“The European Central Bank has become really powerful without being very democratic. The economic policies of the EU have been really distant from people in the eurozone and they’ve created divisions that need not be there,” she added.

Iceland applied to join the EU in 2009, but abandoned the process in 2015.

It has remained a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Economic Area (EEA), two free-trade clubs, instead.

The North Atlantic country, with a tiny population of just 340,000 people, is also a member of Nato, the world’s largest military alliance.

The issue of EU membership remained divisive, Jakobsdottir said.

“It was controversial then [in 2009] and still is,” she said after recent polls, which indicated that 60 percent of Icelanders wanted to stay out of Europe, while 40 percent wanted to go in.

Free trade with the EU had been unequivocally good for Iceland, the eurosceptic prime minister said, however.

“Iceland’s position within the EEA has proved beneficial to us,” Jakobsdottir said.

“When we look at our economy, our social structure and our policy-making, I think that we’ve done pretty well without being members of the EU,” the prime minister said.

“You can check all the indices of the world: We’re not doing too badly on economic performance, social indicators, or gender equality for that matter, where we’re ahead of all other Nordic countries,” she added.

War games

The 42-year old Jakobsdottir, a former academic, became the second-ever woman to lead Iceland last year.

Her party, the Left-Green Movement, formed a coalition with the liberal Progressive and Independence parties to take power.

The government supports Nato membership, but the prime minister said she favoured “diplomatic and political” solutions to modern security challenges.

“My party’s position is that we are against Iceland’s membership of Nato. However, we’re the only party in Iceland’s parliament that holds that position,” she said.

“We – as the Left-Green party – recognise that there is a strong majority in Iceland in support of our Nato membership, but we don’t favour the idea of a permanent military presence here in Iceland,” she added.

US troops kept Iceland free from German occupation in World War II.

Iceland also became a founding member of Nato in 1949, but the US quit its permanent base there in 2006.

Jakobsdottir spoke amid mass-scale Nato war-games – Trident Juncture – which began last week and which saw three Canadian and two British frigates as well as a US amphibious assault ship, the USS Iwo Jima, and 7,000 American soldiers come to Reykjavik.

The operation’s focus is to defend Norway from a “fictitious aggressor” – Nato’s veiled term for Russia.

But the straits between Greenland, Iceland, and the UK have received increased attention after Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and began a military build-up in the Baltic and Arctic regions.

US P-8 Poseidon aircraft, which hunt for Russian submarines, have also become frequent visitors at Iceland’s Keflavik airport in recent years.

Diplomatic solutions

Jakobsdottir said she was “critical of any increased militarisation of the North Atlantic.”

Her government would “stick to the security policy [Nato membership] that we’ve agreed upon”, she said.

But “we [her party] favour more peaceful solutions and we don’t think that increased militarisation is a solution,” she added.

“We need to strengthen diplomatic and political relations. We will not give up that position even if there is trouble around us,” she said.

(CNBC) Comparing Italy debt concerns to Greece is ‘not quite fair’: European Stability Mechanism chief

(CNBC)

  • It’s unfair to draw comparisons between Italy and Greece at the height of its debt crisis, according to Klaus Regling, managing director for the European Stability Mechanism.
  • Italy had always been in a much better situation because of its relatively smaller deficits, current account surplus and high private sector savings, Regling told CNBC.
  • Last month, the government agreed on a 2.4 percent budget deficit target for 2019, which is three times higher than the number that the previous government had planned.
Italy was 'always in a much better situation' than Greece: ESM

Italy was ‘always in a much better situation’ than Greece: ESM  

It’s unfair to draw comparisons between the current concerns about Italy’s budget deficit targets and Greece at the height of the its debt crisis, according to the managing director of Europe’s bailout fund.

Over the last eight years during the euro crisis, Italy never lost market access, Klaus Regling, managing director for the European Stability Mechanism, told CNBC’s Nancy Hungerford on Thursday at the IMF and World Bank annual meetings in Bali, Indonesia.

“The comparison with Greece is, I think, not quite fair, at least not when we compare Greece when it was in the difficult phase,” Regling said, adding, that Italy had long been in a much better situation.

“Because (Italy’s) deficits were relatively small, there’s a current account surplus for Italy, we know that a lot of the Italian sovereign debt is financed by residents because savings of the Italian private sector is very high,” he said.

Still, the country has become a concern for investors in recent weeks after its new coalition government announced plans to increase public spending in the coming years.

Last month, the government agreed on a 2.4 percent budget deficit target for 2019, which is three times higher than the number that the previous government had planned. It set a debt-to-GDP target of 130 percent in 2019. Italy also predicted growth rate for next year to be 1.5 percent.

Klaus Regling, managing director of the European Stability Mechanism. 

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Klaus Regling, managing director of the European Stability Mechanism.

Rome holds the second-highest debt pile in the euro zone, totaling about 2.3 trillion euros ($2.67 trillion), and investors are worried that higher spending could prevent Italy from reducing its massive debt pile and may plunge the country into a sudden crisis.

Regling said there are some worries around the country’s deficit targets but pointed out that there is only a “preliminary indication” of what might be happening.

“There’s concern about budget numbers. We don’t know the details. They would only be given to the European Commission next week. They have a the job of checking the underlying data, which we don’t know yet,” he said.

When asked if the ESM is prepared to bail out Italy in the event of a potential debt crisis, Regling said such a question was jumping a bit ahead but pointed out that programs were available to all member states .

“I prefer to look at the detailed numbers when we get them next week,” he said. “As I said, Italy has its strengths, and I would not jump three steps ahead.”

Italy is due to send its 2019 budget to the European Commission for analysis by Oct.15.

Italian bond yields hit nearly a five-year high earlier this week, which indicated a higher risk environment. Ratings agencies are expected to announce their latest rating decisions for Italy before the end of October.

(JN) A Zona Euro tem um novo mega banco. E é demasiado grande para falir

(JNNo arranque deste mês, o número de bancos considerados demasiado grandes para falir na Zona Euro passou de sete para oito. O recém-chegado é o Nordea Bank Abp, que vai transferir a sua sede de Estocolmo para Helsínquia.

O banco, cujos 670 mil milhões de dólares em activos representam mais do dobro do PIB da Finlândia, deixou claro que a mudança foi motivada por questões regulatórias e pelo desejo de estar dentro da união bancária europeia.

“Estaremos no núcleo da Europa”, disse o CEO Casper von Koskull aos jornalistas, em Estocolmo. “Acho importante que também possamos influenciar a Europa”.

Sob a liderança de Von Koskull, que ocupou vários cargos importantes no Goldman Sachs antes de se juntar ao Nordea, o banco vendeu vários activos fora da região nórdica, incluindo no Luxemburgo, nos países bálticos e na Rússia.

Em entrevista à Bloomberg TV, na segunda-feira, Von Koskull disse que crescer através de aquisições na Europa não está na agenda.

“Liderar um banco com foco no seu tamanho não é um bom sinal, pelo menos para mim”, disse. “A consolidação europeia, claro, é algo que acompanhamos, mas que não está nos nossos planos por enquanto”.

O Nordea está a atravessar uma grande transformação, na qual os serviços automatizados e digitalizados estão a substituir os seres humanos. O Nordea afirma que precisa de cortar cerca de 6.000 postos de trabalho como parte deste plano. Von Koskull acredita que todo o sector financeiro global precisa de adoptar uma abordagem semelhante para manter a competitividade.

A chegada de um banco internacional sistemicamente importante mudará de forma significativa o sector financeiro da Finlândia. Os activos da indústria financeira daquele país subirão para 400% do PIB após a mudança e o Nordea substituirá a Nokia no lugar de maior empresa de capital aberto com sede na Finlândia.

O regulador do sector financeiro da Finlândia teve mesmo de aumentar a sua equipa em 10% para se preparar para a chegada do Nordea.

O presidente do Banco da Finlândia, Olli Rehn, disse que a decisão do Nordea de se mudar para Helsínquia “deve ser vista como um voto de confiança na união bancária da Zona Euro”, em entrevista à emissora finlandesa YLE TV1, no sábado.

“Para a Finlândia, a união bancária garante mais resistência para enfrentar possíveis dificuldades e isso é importante” se considerarmos o tamanho do sector financeiro em comparação com a economia do país quando o Nordea chegar, acrescentou.

A Suécia, por seu lado, ficará com um sector financeiro consideravelmente mais pequeno, o que está a gerar preocupações a respeito da posição de Estocolmo como centro financeiro quando o Nordea sair. O governo liderado pelo Partido Social-Democrata adoptou uma postura mais dura em relação aos bancos quando esteve no poder, e os partidos da oposição afirmam que isso acabou por afastar do país o maior banco da região nórdica.

(PUB) “Há dois Mários Centenos” – Pauto Trigo Pereira

(PUB) Catedrático do ISEG e deputado do PS, Paulo Trigo Pereira é um dos autores do cenário macroeconómico que Costa levou às eleições. Em entrevista ao PÚBLICO e à Rádio Renascença, afirma que a Comissão Europeia vai ter que aceitar a derrapagem do défice italiano e que isso pode ser bom para Portugal. Contrariamente a Centeno, defende uma redução mais lenta do défice e é contra os superávits a partir de 2020

Foto
NUNO FERREIRA SANTOS

O deputado eleito nas listas do PS considera que é mesmo importante baixar a factura da luz às famílias. Também discorda do Governo em termos estratégicos: se depender de Paulo Trigo Pereira, os superávits preconizados pelo executivo socialista bem podem esperar…

António Costa deixou na entrevista à TVI que não se confirma a descida do IVA da electricidade neste Orçamento. O primeiro-ministro admitiu que a factura da luz talvez desça, mas por outras vias. Concorda com esta opção?
O preço da electricidade em Portugal é dos mais caros da Europa e o peso dos gastos da energia nos orçamentos das famílias portuguesas também é muitíssimo elevado. Temos que reduzir isto. A questão é que uma baixa da taxa do IVA teria uma repercussão orçamental brutal. Está na taxa máxima. Mesmo que fosse para a intermédia teria uma implicação brutal e depois teríamos que ver como iríamos financiar isto, se era com aumento de impostos, se era de outra maneira.

O objectivo é reduzir os encargos que as famílias e as empresas têm com a energia e há várias maneiras de o conseguir. Uma é retirar da factura que as famílias pagam componentes que não têm nada a ver com a energia. Por exemplo, a taxa de ocupação do subsolo. Há uma série de rendas que estão nos chamados CMEC que vão para municípios e que deviam ser as empresas a suportar e que são repercutidas nos municípios. A ideia, que já está contemplada no Orçamento do Estado anterior, é que esses custos não devem estar na factura. Ainda por cima os municípios têm liberdade para definir esta taxa, a da ocupação do subsolo, que é o direito de passagem, se quiser. Há taxas inacreditáveis que estão a ser praticadas. Outra questão essencial é pensar nas famílias mais carenciadas e na tarifa social de energia que está muito pouco implementada. É um direito que as famílias têm, mas, por desconhecimento ou por outra razão qualquer, o facto é que há relativamente poucas famílias a aderirem à tarifa social de energia. Se calhar, tem que se simplificar os mecanismos burocráticos.

O economista Ricardo Cabral, que conhece muito bem, escreveu há dias no PÚBLICO que provavelmente pela primeira vez desde 1973 poderíamos ter défice zero  em 2018, a anunciar em 2019, ano de eleições. Paulo Trigo Pereira manifestou-se contra a redução tão acelerada do défice.
Eu acho que não vamos ter défice zero, até porque existem as chamadas medidas “one-off” que têm a ver com capitalização. Mas sim, podemos vir a ter um défice de cerca de menos 0,2.

Tecnicamente é zero.
Já agora, as décimas do défice são geríveis pelo Ministério das Finanças. O ministro das Finanças, com o grau de liberdade que tem nas cativações, na reserva orçamental, na dotação orçamental do Ministério das Finanças, pode ajustar — entre duas e três décimas é perfeitamente ajustável. Acho que não será zero, haverá algum défice, à volta de -0,2% sem medidas extraordinárias. Se eu concordo que o défice vá a zeros? Discordo. Aliás, eu e Ricardo Cabral, meu estimado amigo e colega, fizemos um livro, mais dois investigadores, em que defendemos algo que não se fala e que é a coisa mais importante que se devia estar a discutir neste momento, que é o objectivo de médio prazo para as finanças públicas. Ou seja, para onde queremos prosseguir? Vamos continuar a reduzir o défice eternamente? Isto devia estar a ser discutido, porque está a ser discutido agora a nível europeu e vai ser deliberado no início de 2019. E se o objectivo de médio prazo para as finanças públicas — ou seja, o saldo que devemos atingir no médio prazo — continuar a ser o que está agora, que é de mais 0,25% do PIB, temos que continuar a apertar o cinto até 2022-2023.

A razão que nos levou a escrever o livro é que nós achamos essencial rever isto. Mário Centeno vai ter um papel, enquanto líder do Eurogrupo, nesta matéria. Isto não deve ser só para Portugal. Os tratados, o Programa de Estabilidade, a Lei de Enquadramento Orçamental, falam sempre de um défice de -0,5%. Depois há a regra do -3. Isto é absolutamente crucial para Portugal e para o próximo Governo, já agora, que isto seja revisto em baixa. O que acho razoável, e é aquilo acho expectável, é que este ano o défice sem medidas extraordinárias ande à volta de -0,2 e para o ano a mesma coisa. Chegámos ao limite da redução do défice que é perfeitamente sustentável do ponto de vista da dinâmica das finanças públicas e da dinâmica da dívida pública. Nós não precisamos de continuar a apertar, apertar, apertar o cinto.

E não estamos já a apertar demais?
Não. Estamos a apertar aquilo que é necessário, porque obviamente esta política que o Governo tem seguido de redução do défice tem trazido imensos benefícios para os portugueses. Vamos ver o que se vai passar em Itália. Os italianos, coitados, que têm este Governo, estão a ter objectivos para o défice muito mais ambiciosos do que a União Europeia quer. E as consequências que isto já está a ter no mercado da dívida pública é uma subida brutal dos juros das obrigações do Tesouro italiano. O que significa que, se retirarmos os juros que vão pagar a mais em relação ao défice que vão ter, não sobra nada. Eles vão perder reputação internacional e vão pagá-la com juros mais elevados.

E não nos podia acontecer o mesmo, se, seguindo o seu conselho, o Governo assumisse desde já que nunca iria chegar a um excedente orçamental de 0,25 e iria ficar sempre naquilo que era o défice proposto para os próximos dois anos?

Não, não acontece isso, porque um défice de -0,2 no contexto europeu é perfeitamente razoável e leva a uma redução da dívida pública ao ritmo que as regras comunitárias exigem. Portanto, essa questão não se coloca. Mas eu não vejo isto do ponto de vista exclusivamente português. Acho que isto se devia começar a discutir para pressionar para que a nível europeu essa decisão seja tomada, não apenas para Portugal, mas para todos.

É bom ou mau que Mário Centeno seja presidente do Eurogrupo?
É bom. Eu acho que Mário Centeno não pode obviamente no Eurogrupo defender casos particulares, muito menos o caso particular português. Mas há margem para interpretar e rever as regras do tal objectivo de médio prazo.

Acha que o ministro das Finanças está mesmo interessado em rever esse objectivo?
Eu acho que… (pausa) qualquer pessoa, e o ministro das Finanças incluído, que esteja interessada em criar condições de estabilidade para uma próxima legislatura — e nomeadamente com um Governo PS — deve estar interessado nisso. Eu percebo a sua pergunta… Implicitamente o ministro das Finanças estará dividido nos seus dois papéis.. Claro que está, claro que está.

Há dois Mários Centenos neste momento?
Há dois Mários Centenos, o líder do Eurogrupo e o ministro das Finanças. Agora, eu acho que é possível conciliar os dois Mários Centenos. Esse é o meu ponto. E a conciliação possível, que beneficiaria a Europa e não só Portugal, já agora, é solicitar que países tenham objectivos para as finanças públicas razoáveis. Mais: eu acho que o caso italiano, paradoxalmente, vai dar mais força ao caso português. A Comissão Europeia e o Eurogrupo vão ter aqui um bico de obra. O que vão fazer a Itália, que apresentou um orçamento que à luz das regras comunitárias é inaceitável? Ainda estamos na fase da diplomacia., mas há-de chegar o dia da verdade. Quando for aprovado o orçamento no parlamento italiano e o dia da verdade chegar, vamos olhar para o défice que lá está. E imagine que o défice é 2%. Vai contra as regras comunitárias. O que se passa em Itália tem paradoxalmente efeitos positivos e negativos em Portugal. Tem efeitos negativos porque não estamos completamente isentos de contágio.

O positivo é que nas negociações à escala europeia temos toda a legitimidade de dizer: ‘Ó meus amigos, então vocês aceitam — porque vão ter que aceitar — este défice italiano e estão aqui a exigir a Portugal ter um excedente primário de quase 4%?”. Nós não temos divergências com o Governo relativamente a 2019, mas para 2020, 2021 e 2022 temos. Do ponto de vista económico, do impacto na economia, na dinâmica da dívida, etc., manter um défice pequeno — perto dos 0,2% é perfeitamente suficiente.

(ZH) Italy Defies Europe, Agrees On 2019 Budget Deficit At 2.4% Of GDP

(ZH) Despite the resistance of Italy’s finance minister Giovanni Tria who had pushed back against demands by the League and the Five Star Movement to push Italy’s budget deficit above 2% in 2019, demanding a hard stop at 1.6%, moments ago the Italian budget negotiations reached a successful conclusion, when Italy’s Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini, and League leader, said that agreement had been reached on the 2019 deficit to be at 2.4% of GDP, as he and Di Maio demanded in recent days to fund what had emerged as key sticking point, namely Universal Basic Income for the people.

Commenting on the outcome, Italy’s other deputy premier Luigi Di Maio, said he had succeeded in a “budget for the people” adding that the budget cancels poverty thanks to “citizen’s income,” at a cost of €10 billion. He added that other measures include reform of job centers, pension reform, and a €1.5 billion fund for victims of bank crises.

Salvini and Di Maio said that Italy’s government is united on the budget goal, although it was unclear if Finmin Tria would stay on after his “fiscally prudent” position had been rejected although Bloomberg reports that according to a League official, Tria had agreed with the 2.4% budget deficit target.

Attention now turns to how Brussels will respond as it will certainly not be excited. Ahead of the decision, EU Commissioner Moscovici was quoted in la Stampa, saying that Italy’s deficit must stay below 2%, while the final number is 0.4% above this.

For now, there has been little reaction in assets, with Italian debt yields unchanged on the news after getting hit earlier, while EURUSD dipped slightly and continuing to trade near session lows.

(EurActiv) Dijsselbloem: ‘Come back to politics? Maybe in my next life’

(EurActiv)

Former Eurogroup President and Dutch Finance Minister, Jeroen Dijsselbloem. [Council]

Former Eurogroup president and Dutch Finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem has ruled out a return to politics as a member of the progressive platform set up by French President Emmanuel Macron, although he supports the movement.

Speaking on the margins of a European Banking Federation conference on Thursday (27 September), Dijsselbloem told EURACTIV.com  how the French leader told him about his plans to launch En Marche! back in 2016.

“I asked him: Can non-French people also join? And he said ‘of course, go to the website’”.

Dijsselbloem confirmed he is a sympathiser of EM. But once Macron turned the movement into a political party, the former Eurogroup chief said he did not become a member.

Macron is looking for likeminded pro-European and progressive politicians to join his platform.

Last June, EM and Ciudadanos, Spain’s liberal party led by Albert Rivera, joined forces and set up a platform to attract similar political movements in the run-up to the European elections in May 2019.

Two weeks after Jean-Claude Juncker’s speech in Strasbourg triggered kick-off debates in the European Parliament about the 2019 elections, the party of Emmanuel Macron – one of the most closely watched politicians in Europe – officially launches its campaign outside France in Berlin on Saturday (29 September).

But Dijsselbloem is not planning to revive his political career under a new umbrella, following the worst results registered by his own party, the Labour party (PvDA), during the Dutch elections held in May 2017.

He said he has “no plans at all” to return to politics. “Maybe in my next life”, he said.

Dijsselbloem is currently promoting his memoirs at the Eurogroup’s helm during the crisis years.

His straight-talk and insights are still well regarded by some. Speaking to bankers on Tuesday he said “banks are too fat”, with too many groups and branches in Europe.

He also criticised the overprotection offered by national politicians to ailing banks. And he defended controversial ideas such as a mechanism to restructure sovereign debt.

However, he remains a divisive figure in Europe.

While he was Eurogroup president, he said that Southern countries had spent all their money “on drinks and women” during the crisis and then asked for help.

Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager skipped the European Commission’s “no comment on comments” policy to criticise Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem’s remarks about southern member states.

Sources close to Macron’s platform also doubted he could bring added value to the initiative given his party’s poor recent results.

The same sources added that there has been no contact with him and they were not planning to take advantage of Dijsselbloem’s affinity with the movement.

Macron and Rivera are currently scoping potential allies across Europe. Members of the platform said they are still discussing the format of the political organisation, although they did not give details about the parties interested to join or whether there would be a kick-off congress in the coming months.

Some of the potential allies are new liberal parties popping up in central and Eastern European countries.

Meanwhile, the leader of the liberal group in the European Parliament, Belgian Guy Verhofstadt, has expressed his willingness to join forces with Macron.

On Thursday, Macron’s right-hand Christophe Castaner published a column in various European newspapers with Italy’s former prime minister Matteo Renzi, Maltese Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, Rivera and Verhofstadt, among others.

They invited progressive politicians to join forces and fight resurgent nationalism ahead of the European elections.

(DW) European Central Bank unveils new €100 and €200 banknotes

(DW) The European Central Bank has said the new notes will include the latest anti-counterfeiting features and come in a slimmer size. The new €100 and €200 bills are slated to go into circulation across the eurozone by May.

    
Presentation of the new banknotes (picture-alliance/dpa/H. Punz)

The European Central Bank (ECB) unveiled the new €100 and €200 notes to the public at its headquarters in Frankfurt on Monday.

Like other bills in the second-generation “Europa” series, introduced in 2013, the new banknotes will include different holograms in a silver strip and an “emerald number” showing the denomination.

The new bills have also been updated to include the latest anti-counterfeiting features, including an improved “satellite” hologram of small euro symbols, while also being reduced in size to match the height of the €50 bill. That means notes will only be distinguishable by their length, with the longer ones bearing a higher value.

The new €100 and €200 banknotes are unveiled at the ECB headquarters in Frankfurt (Reuters/K. Pfaffenbach)The new euro notes are tipped to come with the latest security and anti-counterfeiting features

ECB board member Yves Mersch told reporters in Frankfurt that green €100 banknotes make up some 23 percent of the value of paper money in circulation in the eurozone, making them “not just a niche product and also not just a rich (person’s) product.”

Despite the increasing use of electronic payments, Mersch said Europeans remained attached to paper money. Banknotes, he said, were “the most inclusive payment method” since they do not require special equipment and are equally available to all, including the elderly, handicapped and minors.

Nevertheless, more than a million cash machines across the 19-member eurozone will have to be adjusted before the new notes go into circulation in May next year. The older notes will remain legal tender but will gradually be phased out from circulation.

(EUobserver) No plans for digital euro, Draghi says

(EUobserver) European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi has said the eurozone was not looking to create a digital currency. “The ECB and the eurosystem currently have no plans to issue a central bank digital currency,” he said in a letter to an MEP on Friday, Reuters reports. Such technologies “require substantial further development” and there was no “concrete need” for a digital euro, he added.

(KTG) Dijsselbloem: Greece should have been grateful to European aid, kept mouth shut

(KTG) Greece should have been grateful to European aid and kept its mouth shut, the former chief of Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem said more or less in an interview on Saturday. He has clearly not recovered yet from the traumatic experience with former Greek finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. At the same time and after three painful bailout agreements that increased the debt and pushed millions to impoverishment, Dijsselbloem dared saying that  “Greece is obviously not a success story, demands on Greeks were to heavy” and that the Greek “crisis has been so deep, that you can’t call it a success”

Euro zone countries have asked for too much from the Greek people in return for international bailout loans, former Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem said in an interview on Dutch television on Saturday.

“On reforms, we have asked a lot from the Greek people, too much,” Dijsselbloem told current affairs program Nieuwsuur. “Reforms are hard enough to accomplish in a society with a well-functioning government, but this was obviously not the case in Greece.”

“Greece is obviously not a success story,” Dijsselbloem said. “Their crisis has been so deep, that you can’t call it a success.”

At the same time, in the usual North European arrogance, he said that Greece should be grateful for the help it received and keep its mouth shut.

Speaking about former ex finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, Dijsselbloem has obviously not recovered from the traumatic experience in front of the cameras in February 2015 in Athens.

Politics is just a tricky job, you have to compromise, Greece was dependent on help from others, and then to put a big mouth against the people who help you … We set conditions for that. Disagree, but you can not raise a big finger at them,” Dijsselboem said.

Is Dijsselbloem such a political naive to believe that Varoufakis was acting on his own and that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras did not agree with the negotiation policies in the first half of 2015? Apparently….

Does Dijsselbloem who blindly followed the strict austerity orders by German finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble during 2013-2018, now show some kind of remorse? Hardly.

He is one – yet another one – self-righteous, thin-weight man who found himself in a powerful position and who now has nothing else to do than write a book about his glorious past, when he was at the spotlight of media.

He and his Labor party were defeated big in the Dutch parliamentary elections last year and is set to publish a book on his time as head of the Eurogroup.

The book has the title “The Euro crisis the story from the inside” or else “The Animal Farm of Eurogroup and EU solidarity.”

The man who had nothing to say during his term as Eurogroup chief, suddenly has found his tongue and keeps giving interviews whenever sees a microphone in front of him.

In an interview last week with Greek daily tanea, Dijsselbloem also admitted that mistakes were made by the Europeans in handling the Greek crisis, saying that they initially experimented and it took four years for them to stand on their feet and set up mechanisms to confront the crisis.

He conceded that a different policy should have been implemented in Greece, as the bailout programmes were very strict, and their implementation was very difficult. He noted, however, that Greek politicians made many mistakes before the crisis.

The former Dutch Finance Minister who has zero knowledge about finances and who turned Eurogroup chief thanks to Schaeuble went so far to blame on Germany for its delay in accepting the need for collective European action, with the implementation of bailout programmes in countries that were in danger.

Greek Sunday newspaper Documento has also in interview with Dijsselbloem today.

The former eurogroup chief accuses PASOK and New Democracy saying “intermingling interests were enjoying protection by the previous governments.

(CNBC) Greece ends nearly 10 years of bailouts — this is what it means

(CNBC)

  • The yield on the 10-year Greek bond is at about 4.3 percent — the highest across the region.
  • Analysts have pointed out that Greece ends this third rescue with a “massive cash buffer”— meaning that it won’t need market help for nearly two years.

Monday is an historic day for Greece as nearly a decade of external financial help comes to an end.

The Syriza-led government has managed to end a third bailout rescue, implementing all the measures demanded by creditors, despite earlier doubts whether the inexperienced party would manage to complete the arduous task.

“Today we celebrate the end of a very long and difficult journey,” European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told CNBC via email.

“What matters now is to build on this achievement by sticking to sound fiscal and economic policies,” he added.

However, some analysts argue that this is more a “symbolic” moment and there is plenty yet to do to improve the Greek economy. “Both the EU and the Greeks will try to put a positive spin on the end of the bailout, but there is little to celebrate,” Constantine Fraser, European analyst at research firm TS Lombard, told CNBC via email.

CNBC looks at what the completion of Greece’s third financial rescue means and how markets are set to react.

What does ending a bailout program mean?

As of Monday August 20, Greece will be a self-financing nation, so will no longer receive regular financial tranches from its European creditors.

As a result, whenever Athens finds it suitable, Greece will be able to tap financial markets to fund its activities — just like any other country in a relatively healthy economic situation.

Why is it important?

The first time that Greece asked for financial help was in 2010, when the country’s public debt pile became so high that investors were no longer willing to keep financing Athens.

Since then, Greece has relied on European creditors and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to keep its finances afloat. The financial crisis was perpetuated by a number of political events, including the historical spat between former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and other euro zone finance ministers.

As a result, Greece is the last country in the euro zone to end a financial assistance program on the back of the sovereign debt crisis. Portugal, Ireland and Spain (Madrid only requested some help towards its banking system) have all came back from the brink.

After eight years of economic turmoil, Greece can finally claim financial independence. And European institutions are also happy to officially turn the page on the financial crisis that seriously dented the continent’s economy.

How will the markets react?

“On Monday, there might be some positive movements in Greek bond markets, responding to a feelgood factor on the day, but I’d expect most of the news to already be priced-in by now,” Fraser from TS Lombard said.

The yield on the 10-year Greek bond is at about 4.3 percent — the highest across the region.

Premium greece woman 180518 EU
Sakis Mitrolidis | AFP | Getty Images

Analysts have pointed out that Greece ends this third rescue with a “massive cash buffer”— meaning that it won’t need market help for nearly two years.

This buffer stands at 24.1 billion euros ($27.4 billion), thanks to money that Greece put aside during the financial program and tranches from European creditors. The amount is expected to cover all sovereign needs for the next 22 months. This means that Greece won’t have to tap the markets in the coming year-and-a-half, unless it thinks there are favorable conditions to do so.

“Greece has build up a massive cash buffer, so they wont have to tap bond markets, in theory, for roughly two years. So the end of the bailout programme on Monday should not have an impact on the bond yields,” Carsten Hesse, European economist at Berenberg, told CNBC.

Nonetheless, he warned that there could be some contagion risks from other market events that could affect the performance of Greek bonds on Monday.

On the back of the ongoing economic turmoil in Turkey, Greek bonds saw “a little bit of contagion last week,” Hesse said. “But luckily, Greek banks have very, very little exposure to Turkey and trade between Turkey and Greece is also little. So, in theory, there should not be an impact (in the bond market).

“The threat is more politically. If a larger part of the (exiled) 3.5 million Syrians would come to Greece due to a potential massive crisis in Turkey, it would be a big political problem for Greece and could impact the standing of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.”

Greece is one of the main arrival points of Syrian refugees, which has caused several controversies at the European level. The EU made a pact with Turkey to stem the number of refugees crossing to Europe — something that could be at risk if the economic crisis there exacerbates.

Other analysts nonetheless, argue that Greece has yet to rebuild its reputation.

“Now Greece needs to bring confidence to the markets both by political actions and by the country’s gradual exit to the markets,” Constantinos Zouzoulas, head of research at Axia, told CNBC via email on Saturday.

Nevertheless, in the short term, and despite the program exit, Greek government bonds most likely to continue to be impacted by the turmoil in the neighboring countries, since, although not directly exposed, Greece is seen as a weak link, ” Zouzoulas added.

How’s the future for Greece looking?

“It is a historic day for Greece and will likely be used heavily by the current government coalition, with a view on the 2019 parliamentary elections,” Ricardo Garcia, chief euro zone economist at UBS, told CNBC via email.

Ahead of a general election next year, Tsipras will want to sell this moment as a key milestone that he and his party managed to achieve. Syriza is currently second to opposition party New Democracy in opinion polls — a position that the left-leaning party wants to reverse.

”(The end of the bailout) should also strengthen business and consumer confidence in Greece, as well as entice more foreign direct investment,” Garcia said.

After a decade of economic turmoil and about 260 billion euros in bailout money, Athens seems to be slowly returning to growth. It registered a positive growth rate of 1.4 percent in 2017, after contracting 0.2 percent in the previous year.

According to forecasts from the European Commission, the country is set to grow 1.9 percent in 2018 and 2.3 percent the year after. But Garcia, like other analysts, warned that “there is much more to be done, looking, for example, at competitiveness rankings.”

“However, Greece has already made a huge adjustment on the fiscal and current account side,” he added. “Nonetheless, it is important that fiscal discipline remains in place, and that reforms continue.”

(EUobserver) Euro hit by Turkish lira crisis

(EUobserver) The Turkish lira dropped almost nine percent in early trading on Monday and the euro hit a one-year low as investors feared Turkey’s financial crisis could spread into European markets. The lira has lost more than 40 percent of its value this year on worries over president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s economic management. Erdogan accused foreign countries of waging war on Turkey and said he would respond with trade measures.

(CNBC) US tariffs are an ‘unnecessary test’ to Europe’s economic recovery, top finance chief says

(CNBC)

Mario Centeno, Portugal's finance minister and head of the group of euro-area finance ministers, listens during a press conference following a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. 

Mario Centeno, Portugal’s finance minister and head of the group of euro-area finance ministers, listens during a press conference following a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018.

Higher trade tariffs coming from the U.S. are not what the euro zone needs right now following several years of a promising recovery, a high-ranked European official told CNBC.

The 19-member region that shares the single currency has been growing at a gradual pace over the last two years following a sharp downturn due to the sovereign debt crisis of 2011. But the current threat of higher tariffs with key trade partners, especially the U.S., could prove a challenge for the euro area’s fragile recovery.

“This is a major risk that we see for the global economy and certainly for the relationship between the U.S. and Europe,” Mario Centeno, who heads the group of 19 finance ministers for the euro area, told CNBC Wednesday, speaking on increased duties coming from the U.S.

The region grew at a rate of 2.4 percent in 2017 — an expansion not seen in about a decade. However, the economic momentum has cooled down in the start of 2018 — something that higher trade barriers could dampen further.

“We don’t know exactly how it will evolve, but I agree with those that see this process as an unnecessary test to the economic recovery, and actually to the (economic) expansion that our economies were experiencing,” Centeno said.

He added that right now it is important to work toward a limit to the tariffs both in scope and duration.

Greek bonds now less risky, Eurogroup president says

Greek bonds now less risky, Eurogroup president says  

The European Union is currently studying ways to prevent an escalation in trade tensions with the White House. Media reports earlier this week suggested the EU could propose a deal to the world’s biggest car exporters and thus prevent wider ramifications in case President Donald Trump moves ahead with a 25 percent tax on European carmarkers.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also warned in June that higher trade tariffs are the biggest single risk to the euro zone economy. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde told CNBC that the problem now is not the direct economic impact of higher duties, but “the breach in confidence that undermines the relationship” between both the U.S. and Europe.

Lagarde also warned that if the trade tensions escalate further, then the direct impact on the economy will become more substantial.

Until now, Trump has only raised tariffs against the EU on steel and aluminum exports. However, more recently, Trump threatened to put a 25 percent added tax on European cars.

The EU is the largest exporter of motor vehicles in the world, whereas the United States is the largest importer of motor vehicles in the world.

Correction: This article, including the headline, has been updated to correct a quote from Mario Centeno where he stated that tariffs would be an unnecessary test to the euro zone.

(CNBC) SocGen chairman calls on regulators to help strengthen Europe’s banks 

(CNBC)

  • The French lender announced the acquisition of the equity markets and commodities arm of the German firm Commerzbank last week.
  • Consolidation may not always the best strategy for these banks, Elisabeth Rudman, managing director at DBRS said.

Chesnot | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The chairman of Societe Generale said Europe‘s banking space should follow in the footsteps of the U.S.’s, calling on regulators to facilitate more consolidation in the region.

Speaking to CNBC over the weekend, Lorenzo Bini Smaghi said that European banks need to become more concentrated, so they can compete with American lenders.

“In general if we look at Europe, obviously there are too many banks and it’s too fragmented so I think Europe needs to move in a direction of more concentration to help better the real economy. If we compare (it) to the U.S., we’ve seen this process of concentration 30 years ago,” Smaghi told CNBC’s Charlotte Reed.

The French lender announced the acquisition of the equity markets and commodities arm of the German firm Commerzbank last week. The deal, which still needs to be cleared by regulators, is an attempt to have a larger presence in the German market at a time when Deutsche Bank is re-defining its strategy, after recent turmoil and management changes.

According to Smaghi, the transformation of European banks “has to come.”

“And of course as chairman of SocGen I can say that we will be a protagonist in this process. But this requires for things to happen on the regulatory side.”

“I’m not suggesting anything at this stage, just that we need more concentrated and larger banks able to compete with the American banks,” he said on potential new mergers.

SocGen chairman: You don't get to a fairer system by raising barriers

SocGen chairman: You don’t get to a fairer system by raising barriers  

On Friday, reports suggested that J.P. Morgan and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China were looking to buy Deutsche Bank, which was promptly denied. In June, another French bank, BNP Paribasbought the asset manager DWS, which was owned by Deutsche Bank. The move was also seen as an attempt to increase its presence in the German market.

However, according to Elisabeth Rudman, managing director at DBRS, consolidation is not always the best strategy for these banks.

“We’ve seen big cross-border mergers and acquisitions in the banking sector in the past and a lot of them did not turn out very well at all … (It’s) difficult to see that as a solution to everything,” she told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” Monday.

“Europe is, in many ways, overbanked and there are still a lot of banks, some big banks and some small banks that are still struggling. But there’s not going to be an overnight solution,” Rudman added.

(ECO) Na Europa ganhamos todos – Mário Centeno

(ECO) Confrontamo-nos sempre com a mesma velha questão: seremos capazes de assumir o comando nos bons momentos ou vamos esperar por outra crise para mostrar a nossa força?

Esqueçamos os céticos. A Europa está a ganhar. A crise pôs o euro à prova, mas o euro saiu mais forte. Quando discutimos medidas para fortalecer ainda mais a moeda única, confrontamo-nos sempre com a mesma velha questão. Seremos capazes de assumir o comando nos bons momentos ou vamos esperar por outra crise para mostrar a nossa força?

No auge da crise, não era evidente que o euro saísse ileso. A grande depressão trouxe dificuldades a muitos dos nossos cidadãos, reduziu a popularidade do euro a níveis recorde e precipitou uma partilha de recursos entre Estados-membros. Fomos apanhados desprevenidos, mas perante o perigo real, os líderes europeus escolheram sair das suas zonas de conforto para defender a nossa moeda. A criação de uma ‘rede de segurança’ para a dívida soberana de 500 mil milhões de euros – o Mecanismo Europeu de Estabilidade (MEE) – é provavelmente o exemplo mais claro deste esforço.
Não duvidem: a expansão económica que vivemos hoje é a recompensa.

Todas as economias do euro gozam de um crescimento sólido. Os legados da crise, como a dívida pública, os défices e o desemprego, caem a pique e de uma forma coordenada na zona euro, sem precedentes. De entre todos os países, a Grécia é talvez a melhor prova da nossa determinação. Após oito anos de ajustamento apoiado por 256 mil milhões de euros em empréstimos, a Grécia sairá finalmente do seu programa de assistência financeira este verão.

Paciência e determinação política são fundamentais. A paciência é o melhor antídoto contra populismos crescentes e extremos políticos. Defender o euro com instituições reforçadas é a solução mais barata para promover as nossas sociedades e economias num mundo em transformação. Tentámos outras soluções no passado, mas revelaram-se muito mais caras.

Esta nossa união económica e monetária ainda é um projeto inacabado. Nesse sentido, o Presidente do Conselho Europeu, Donald Tusk, pediu ao Eurogrupo que desenvolvesse soluções para completar a união bancária e reforçar o MEE. O progresso registado nas nossas discussões no Eurogrupo pode ser agora traduzido num conjunto de decisões quando os líderes se encontrarem em Bruxelas no final desta semana.

“É possível avançar na partilha de risco, uma vez que temos reduzido os riscos no setor bancário.”

Mário Centeno

Não se trata de um Big Bang: esse não seria o caminho mais eficaz para reformar o euro. Uma das propostas chave sobre a mesa é fazer do MEE uma rede de segurança de último recurso (‘backstop’) para a resolução bancária. Assim evitaremos de forma credível que bancos em dificuldade prejudiquem no futuro as nossas economias e os nossos contribuintes. Além disso, o MEE pode obter novas ferramentas para lidar com as crises soberanas. E, ao mesmo tempo, estamos prontos para abrir o caminho a discussões políticas no sentido de criar um sistema europeu de garantia de depósitos, de forma a evitar que uma corrida aos bancos se repita na Europa.

É possível dar passos no sentido de uma partilha de riscos, uma vez que temos vindo a reduzir riscos no setor bancário. Um relatório recente da Comissão Europeia, do Mecanismo Único de Supervisão e do Conselho Único de Resolução nota que, nos últimos anos, os bancos aumentaram significativamente as suas reservas de capital, ao mesmo tempo que reduziram o seu nível de endividamento e os stocks de créditos em mal parado. Estes últimos caíram a pique, um terço do total de créditos, desde o início da crise, em particular naqueles países em pior posição. No terceiro trimestre do ano passado, a média dos níveis de crédito mal parado ficou nos 4,4% do total dos empréstimos, mantendo-se a trajetória descendente dos trimestres anteriores. Os indicadores recentes mostram que essa tendência se mantém, e assim terá de continuar.

No mês passado, os Ministros das Finanças da União Europeia deram mais um grande passo no sentido de reduzir riscos ao obterem um acordo para uma posição comum no chamado Pacote Bancário. Isto inclui uma regra que estabelece a quantidade de capital subordinado que os bancos necessitam para absorver as perdas antes do recurso aos fundos de resolução.

Em retrospetiva, o nosso ênfase em desenvolver a união bancária e o MEE revelou-se uma abordagem correta. Permitiu-nos encetar um processo de reforma e reforçar confiança no sistema. Temos de prosseguir este caminho e também mostrar abertura a discutir outras áreas.

Nestes seis meses como Presidente do Eurogrupo, aprendi que cada país – incluindo Portugal – tem as suas próprias preferências neste debate. Para alguns, um instrumento orçamental ou um orçamento da zona euro é uma prioridade chave. Esta ideia tem levantado preocupações relativamente ao risco moral e a transferências permanentes, que não podem ser ignoradas e devem ser tidas em conta.

As propostas recentes da Alemanha e França, mas também as da Comissão, são um contributo positivo para a nossa discussão. Outros países devem também apresentar as suas próprias propostas de forma construtiva. Não podemos construir trincheiras em torno de linhas vermelhas na negociação. O sucesso do euro resulta da nossa vontade política e capacidade de liderança, combinando ousadia e pragmatismo.

Neste debate devemos igualmente estar conscientes dos custos de inação. Se formos incapazes de garantir uma zona euro mais forte onde todos os nossos países possam prosperar, o euro não será sustentável. E esse já não é um problema de alguns, é um problema de todos.

(BBG) ECB’s Job-Rich Recovery Shows Up in Portugal as Italy Struggles

(BBG) The European Central Bank’s choice of Portugal for its annual forum puts its officials in a nation that shows what can be achieved by cheap funding and a program of economic reform — and the limits.

Portuguese unemployment has dived since the euro area came out of a double-dip recession and debt crisis in 2013, and is now below the currency bloc’s average. The turnaround is partly due to economic reforms required as part of its 2011 bailout by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, and partly because of the ECB’s ultra-low interest rates and bond-buying.

That’s likely to please ECB President Mario Draghi, who used his opening speech in the hilltop resort of Sintra to praise the euro zone’s “job-rich” recovery. It’s also in stark contrast to Italy, which avoided financial rescue but put off the structural adjustments that could have helped people back to work.

“I wish Italy had the same prospects as Portugal these days,” Italian-born Luigi Zingales, professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, said in a Bloomberg TV interview in Sintra. Portugal “went through a very tough time, they went through a program with very strict guidelines. But they are coming out of it.”

The country made hiring and collective bargaining more flexible, changes described by the IMF as crucial in facilitating the employment-driven character of the recovery. The reforms helped cut production costs in the country, increasing its competitiveness. That’s vital because membership of the euro means currency devaluation, which would largely achieve the same thing, wasn’t an option.

Italy, on the other hand, hasn’t managed to align wage growth with productivity, even after a controversial labor-reform package was introduced in 2015. Voters have now elected an anti-establishment government that plans to boost public spending despite having the highest debt burden in the region.

Portugal has managed to avert such a rise in populist sentiment, but the current Socialist administration is signaling that the pain of structural reforms has gone far enough. After taking office in 2015, Prime Minister Antonio Costa reversed state salary cuts, raised the minimum wage and reduced the working week for state employees.

That trend has raised some concerns at the ECB and the European Commission, which said in a joint economic assessment of the country last week that “it remains essential for policies to continue supporting the adaptability of the labor market.”

Only So Far

For central bankers, the country demonstrates that there is only so much they can do to help boost growth, particularly as gradually accelerating price pressures reduce the need for accommodative policy.

When Draghi put his institution last week on a gradual path toward halting its stimulus by ending net bond purchases, he also reiterated his call for governments to “substantially” step up structural reforms to boost growth potential.

The same goes for rebuilding fiscal buffers. Portugal is one of several countries at risk from tighter monetary policy because of a debt burden of about 126 percent of gross domestic product — behind only Greece and Italy.