Friday, June 28, 2013

Bank Interest Settlement Calls Time on QE

Lincoln memorial cent, with the S mintmark of ...
Lincoln memorial cent, with the S mintmark of the San Francisco mint. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Well before American sub-prime debt imploded five years ago, sceptics (castigated as cynics at the time) were questioning the AAA ratings attached by US agencies to packages of individually dodgy loans. Since Lehman Brothers' demise and the subsequent global financial crisis the rating agencies have leant the other way, eager to demonstrate fearless rigour in their risk assessments by downgrading countries right, left and centre. The European Union, having become increasingly upset by the downgrades gratuitously dished out to its blameless members, has decided enough is enough. Henceforth, American agencies can downgrade European sovereign debt no more than three times a year. They must also give Brussels a day's notice of their announcements. And if they fail to comply, well, they will be very very naughty.

The EU would have derived little benefit from advance notice of Friday's economic announcements. Euroland's current account surplus in May was a seasonally-adjusted €19.5bn, down by a quarter from the previous month. Italian wages were up by 1.4% on the year, almost keeping pace with Euroland inflation. UK public sector net borrowing rose to a lower-than-expected $10.5bn in May. Headline Canadian inflation rose to 0.7% while core inflation (ignoring fresh food, fuel, tobacco and mortgage interest) was steady at 1.1%. Canadian retail sales growth remained slow, up by just 0.1% in April, and would have been negative if not for higher car sales.

Only the Canadian dollar showed any reaction to the day's data. The Loonie lost a cent to the US dollar, contributing to a loss of three cents for the week. It touched its lowest level in nearly two years against the US dollar and came close to the lows against sterling that it clocked in December 2011 and May, October and December last year. For more information on currency exchange please click here.

The euro was resilient in the face of news that the coalition in Athens was being rent asunder by a spat about funding for the state broadcaster, ERT, and that EU finance ministers had failed to reach agreement on a plan for restructuring and rescuing banks. It held its own against the Swiss franc, the Japanese yen and the pound but lost a cent and a quarter to the US dollar.

An unlikely grouping of the US dollar, the antipodean dollars and the South African rand delivered Friday's best performances while the northern Scandinavian crowns were hung out to dry. The Norwegian krone had a second difficult day while the Swedish krona played catch-up with the day's biggest loss, -1.5%. For more information on international money transfers please visit the Moneycorp website.

This week gets off to a slow start with Italian consumer confidence and balance of trade, German business confidence and the Chicago purchasing managers' index. That will give investors oodles of time to ponder the annual report from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). It calls on governments to undertake a "forceful programme" of "repair and reform" to restore global economic normality. At the same time it advocates turning off the tap of quantitative easing and calling a halt to the "whatever it takes" mentality among central banks. Whilst they have bought time for governments to get their acts together, "central banks cannot solve the structural problems that are preventing a return to strong and sustainable growth". Mr Carney, you have been warned.

Technical Levels


Major economic releases due today

German IFO Business Climate

Sterling Today
US Dollar
Australia Dollar
Canadian Dollar
New Zealand Dollar
UAE Dirham
Swiss Franc
SA Rand

Date (e.g. 24/2/11)
Time (e.g. 16:27)
Indicative rates as of

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