Posted by Larry Doyle on May 15th, 2010 6:12 AM |
The European Union, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (and the Fed, as well, although they don’t want to truly highlight it) provide $960 billion in backstops for the Euro-zone and what happens? The Euro ends the week lower by 3%!! Ladies and gentlemen, that is nothing more than a major “F&%@ Y#&“ on behalf of global investors to the aforementioned central banks and government entities.
Think there is tension in Euroland, and specifically between France and Germany? As The UK-based Telegraph reports, President Nicolas Sarkozy ‘Threatened to Pull France Out of Euro’:
President Nicolas Sarkozy slammed his fist on the table and threatened to pull France out of the euro at a meeting of European leaders deciding Greece’s aid package last Friday, according to Spain’s El Pais newspaper.
The last time there was this kind of tension between these countries, guess who was coming ashore at Normandy? (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on May 5th, 2010 8:20 AM |
With social unrest increasing in Greece, anxieties skyrocketing across the EU, and the Euro making new 12 month lows, the question begs as to whether this crisis within the EU can be contained. Is the EU, with the support of the IMF, willing to collectively underwrite the fiscal disaster currently focused within Greece? The German citizenry is showing very little appetite to subsidize this Greek tragedy.
While the EU’s political fortitude is a critical question, ultimately the reality of the mountainous debt levels must be faced. Global government stimulus has been able to mask, if not outright disguise, these debts for a period, but the debts themselves are not going away. How will the EU address this debt?
1. Devalue. That’s a given. It’s only a question of how and when.
2. Restructure. Look for more on this.
3. Default. Do not discount this reality. (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on October 27th, 2009 9:50 AM |
Are emerging markets now the teacher instead of the student? As such, are recent developments in select emerging markets signaling a turn in our markets? Let’s look closer and navigate this corner of our global economic landscape.
Recall that the global market turmoil of 1998 was precipitated by the devaluation of the Russian ruble. As that domino fell, global markets and economies reacted violently. Here in the United States, the meltdown in the broad market caused the failure of the hedge fund Long Term Capital Management. In hindsight, many believe the Fed-orchestrated takeover of LTCM by Wall Street banks set the table for the massive increase in leverage on Wall Street which led to the current crisis. However, what were the lessons learned in the emerging markets from the 1998 crisis?
Many emerging markets were effectively forced to take support from the IMF as a result of the 1998 economic meltdown. The IMF support came with many strings attached. Those strings were tied to strict controls and onerous burdens imposed on many emerging market governments. Having been forced to live under these burdens once, these governments do not want a visit from the IMF again. As such, they have done a much better job at getting their fiscal houses in order and keeping them in order. Many other governments primarily in the Western hemisphere, including the United States, should have done the same.
How is this playing out currently? (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on October 7th, 2009 12:44 PM |
Are all regions of the world improving? Will Asia lead the globe to greener pastures and brighter days? Well, if so, the trek through the fields will not be easy and we will encounter many storms along the way.
While Australia’s raising rates yesterday is an indication of an improving economy in that country, as one moves out of Asia into eastern Europe we encounter a decidedly different dynamic. Let’s revisit the ‘weakest link,’ that being Eastern Europe in general and the Baltic nation of Latvia specifically.
The Swedish krona and a range of eastern European currencies have tumbled as Latvia appears to edge closer to devaluing its currency.
In a re-run of the last major devaluation scare, Latvia failed to attract any bids for one of its treasury bill auctions earlier Wednesday. The country’s treasury received no bids for its offer to sell eight million lats ($16.7 million) of paper maturing in April 2010.
The poor auction results are the latest sign of economic stress in the Baltic nation, where the government is struggling to meet budget cuts required by the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and other bilateral lenders in return for aid.
The Swedish krona, linked to Latvia through Sweden’s large banking exposure to the country, tumbled as news of the failed auction emerged. The euro extended earlier gains to reach a peak at SEK10.3670 against the krona.
Meanwhile, Europe’s emerging market currencies, which often suffer from nerves over risk when Latvia’s problems intensify, also fell.
The euro soared to over HUF269 against the highly risk-sensitive Hungarian forint, from under HUF267 at the start of the day. The euro also swept to over PLN4.24 against the Polish zloty, from a low of PLN4.18.
The Turkish lira and, to a lesser degree, the Czech koruna, also weakened. The failed bond auction was “not good news,” said Nigel Rendell, a European emerging markets strategist at RBC Capital Markets in London.
“It has all the makings of the final chapter in the Latvian story,” he added. In credit markets, the cost of insuring Latvian sovereign debt against default continued to climb from recent levels, in a sign that investors are increasingly uncomfortable with the outlook for the country. Regional peers Lithuania and Estonia, which also peg their currencies to the euro, saw their swaps spreads widen.
Still, the debt and currency markets shouldn’t be overly troubled by Latvian devaluation risk, as the threat has been building for some time, and the global financial markets are now much more robust than they were several months ago.
“If they did devalue, there would be a selloff [in eastern European assets], but the impact would not be as severe as it would have been six to nine months ago,” said Mr. Rendell at RBC. “If we had big currency moves, I think people would buy them back,” he added.
Devaluation is also unlikely to catch the Swedish banks off guard. To brace for the potential onslaught of defaulting customers, both Swedbank AB and Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB have set up Baltic units to deal with problem loans and seized collateral.
While officials may care to discount the impact of a full blown devaluation of the Latvian currency, the interconnectedness of the global markets has proven to be more of a risk propellant rather than a risk mitigant. How so? The use of derivatives across currency and credit markets has been shown to be as much speculative in nature as pure hedging. In fact, there certainly are market participants who will benefit by a Latvian devaluation.
Can that devaluation, if it does occur, be well contained?
I’ll be watching.
Related Sense on Cents Commentary
Let’s Cross the Pond and Revist the Weakest Link (May 23, 2009)
Posted by Larry Doyle on July 8th, 2009 12:05 PM |
For those not familiar with the acronyms of the organizations referenced in the title of this post:
IMF: International Monetary Fund
CBO: Congressional Budget Office
OMB: Office of Management and Budget, which operates within the White House
This morning the IMF released their updated Global Economic Prospects.
IMF -2.6% (2009) .8% (2010)
CBO -3.0% (2009) 2.9% (2010)
OMB -1.2% (2009) 3.2% (2010)
The figures provided by CBO and OMB were projections from the 1st quarter 2009. As you can see, the White House projections forecasted by the OMB are wildly optimistic both for this year and next relative to the IMF and CBO.
Those projections play directly into projected tax revenues and then, in turn, to the level of the federal deficit. If the IMF’s current projections are anywhere close to being accurate, our deficit will be significantly worse than previously forecast. What does that mean?
HIGHER TAXES ACROSS THE BOARD!!! What happens then?
SLOWER GROWTH GOING FORWARD!!!
In regard to the rest of the globe, the IMF’s projected numbers speak volumes:
China 7.5% (2009) 8.5% (2010)
Euro Area -4.8% (2009) -.3% (2010)
Japan -6.0% (2009) 1.7% (2010)
India 5.4% (2009) 6.5% (2010)
Emerging/Developing 1.5% (2009) 4.7% (2010)
Advanced Economies -3.8% (2009) .6% (2010)
Global -1.4% (2009) 2.5% (2010)
Bloomberg provides a review of the IMF report, IMF Sees Stronger Global Rebound From ’09 Recession. I would question the accuracy of Bloomberg’s title. I see a wide divergence between growth prospects in the BRIC nations and emerging markets from those of the advanced economies, especially with Europe and the United States. Bloomberg reports:
Still, risks to the outlook, which have “diminished noticeably,” are still “tilted to the downside,” the fund said, citing a possible downward pressure on asset prices resulting from rising unemployment, pressure on bond yields from concerns on public debt, and emerging economies’ vulnerability to financial stress.
A larger-than-expected drop in risk aversion and stronger demand in emerging economies could offer “some upside risk” that boosts growth, according to the fund.
In a separate report today on the state of the global financial system, the IMF said that while financial markets and confidence in an economic recovery have improved since April, risks remain and policy makers must remain vigilant until a sustained recovery is under way. Credit risks are high, bank lending to the private sector is slowing and the recovery so far has been dependent primarily on public funds, the fund said in an update to its Global Financial Stability Report.
Can the emerging economies of the world pull the developed countries out of the ditch? Will the global economies decouple? Is there any surprise why countries are pursuing protectionist measures?
In regard to the United States, President Obama may want to have the members of his economic team, including Secretary Geithner, Larry Summers, and Peter Orszag, call John Lipsky at the IMF and ask him what he sees.
Risks remain extraordinarily high.
Posted by Larry Doyle on April 21st, 2009 9:57 AM |
The FT provides in depth analysis as IMF Puts Financial Losses at $4.1 Trillion. The IMF had forecast these losses earlier this month. The actual report is no better than the initial warning. The simple fact is the world is awash in excessive debt. This debt can be restructured, defaulted, and/or devalued. Each of these respective approaches will take time and money. While the IMF has a checkered reputation, I had the good fortune of working at JP Morgan with John Lipsky, current First Deputy Managing Director at the IMF, and hold him in very high regard. Lipsky is often the public face to the markets for the IMF given his reputation.
The FT report is fairly comprehensive, although I still question the relative amount of losses outside of the U.S., Europe, and Japan. Is there anyplace in the world to truly hide in the face of these losses? Can China single-handedly be the economic engine for the global economy? The FT does a great service in shedding light on this report. (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on April 8th, 2009 7:11 AM |
Forecasted credit losses across the residential mortgage, commercial mortgage, consumer credit, and corporate credit markets have been widely estimated to triple – if not potentially quadruple – in certain sectors. What does that mean in terms of total dollars? The IMF sheds light on these losses in an article this morning in the Financial Times:
The International Monetary Fund is likely to raise its estimate of total credit losses on US assets from $2,200bn to about $2,800bn when it releases its Global Financial Stability report later this month
Those figures equate to an increase of 27% in losses and a total figure of $2.8 trillion, which equates to 20% of GDP!!! Is there any wonder why credit is so constrained in the face of these impending losses? The IMF also sheds further light on these projected losses here in the U.S., as well as in Europe, and globally:
The new estimate, while up significantly from January, will almost certainly be lower than a $3,100bn (€2,350bn, £2,111bn) figure circulating on Tuesday, which contributed to pressure on US bank stocks.
The IMF is also expected to release for the first time an estimate of total losses on European assets, which is likely to exceed $1,000bn. The fund is likely to put total losses globally at slightly above $4,000bn, including some additional losses on Asian assets. (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on March 31st, 2009 8:19 AM |
Could American banking regulators and the Federal Reserve itself work under the purview of the International Monetary Fund? With the G-20 getting ready to meet later this week in London, increased global financial regulation is a major topic on the agenda. French Prime Minister Sarkozy is leading the charge. The WSJ reports An Empowered IMF Faces Pivotal Test:
The IMF is about to gain more power. Thursday’s summit of leaders of the Group of 20 industrialized and developing nations is poised to elevate the IMF by promising to pump more than $250 billion into the fund, and asking it to issue “early warnings” about countries in peril.
“Everyone sees the need for a rejuvenated IMF,” says Egyptian Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali, who heads a policy-making group that oversees the IMF.
The IMF’s track record around the globe is decidedly mixed. In certain countries, such as Ukraine and Belarus, economic conditions worsened despite IMF aid. (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on March 24th, 2009 12:52 PM |
I wrote earlier today about the ongoing pressure being applied on our senior financial representatives in Washington by their counterparts in China. In Congressional testimony this morning, both Secretary Geithner and Fed chair Bernanke have discounted China’s call for a new international reserve currency.
The Obama administration is not only being pressured by China prior to the upcoming G-20. Our European allies also have a decidedly different tact on the appropriate financial maneuvers for global governments at this time. While the United States is currently promoting the need for massive fiscal stimulus on a global basis, the WSJ reports from Europe, ECB Chief Says Stimulus Not Needed.
Posted by Larry Doyle on March 23rd, 2009 11:12 PM |
In ten days, the leaders of the G-20 will meet for the most highly anticipated financial conference since Bretton Woods in 1944. In a bold and aggressive move prior to this conference, China’s central bank called today for the replacement of the U.S. dollar as the international reserve currency.
Make no mistake: the timing, tone, and substance of this message so close to the start of the G-20 is another major shot across our bow. The ramifications for a change in this international reserve currency are enormous, both politically and economically. Check out current, worthwhile discussions on this topic collected from a variety of sources at Memeorandum.com. In addition, I recommend reading the following article from the Financial Times:
China calls for new reserve currency
By Jamil Anderlini in Beijing
Published: March 23 2009 12:16 | Last updated: March 24 2009 00:06
China’s central bank on Monday proposed replacing the US dollar as the international reserve currency with a new global system controlled by the International Monetary Fund. (more…)