VoxEU - Currency wars and the euro < 5min

Having promised to do ‘whatever it takes’ to ensure the survival of the euro, the ECB now faces the problem of record high unemployment combined with a strong currency. There is accumulating evidence that the ECB is more willing to fight currency appreciation than the Bundesbank would have been. Capital inflows have been a key source of recent upward pressure on the euro. Should this continue, the ECB may need to intervene more aggressively in order to promote economic recovery in the Eurozone. ... as the currency continues to strengthen and moves into ‘strong territory’ relative to its history, the negative growth effects may eventually become intolerable. The basic challenge for the ECB is to ease overall financial conditions to the benefit of Eurozone growth. So far, easier credit conditions have pulled in foreign capital and caused the currency component of financial conditions to tighten. The ECB may need to enter the currency war more actively to secure a more competitive euro in 2014, and thereby support a more robust economic recovery.

The Economist - Europe’s financial-transactions tax: Oops < 5min

Worries grow about an ill-thought-out new European tax … WHEN the European Commission first mooted a financial-transactions tax (FTT) in 2011, the reaction was subdued. No longer. As plans for an FTT covering 11 European nations—including Germany, France, Italy and Spain, but not Britain—have advanced, opponents have grown more worried. Rather more unusually, supporters of the tax also seem to be more nervous. … In February the commission published a proposal that would allow the 11 countries to press ahead with an FTT without all the other European Union members. It hopes that by the start of 2014 they will begin to charge levies of 0.1% on equity and debt transactions and 0.01% on derivatives.

George Soros - The Future of Europe < 5min

I shall take a holistic approach to the future of Europe. I have developed a conceptual framework, which has guided me in my decisions throughout my adult life. The framework is much broader than the financial markets; it deals with the relationship between thinking and reality. What makes that relationship so complicated is that the thoughts and actions of participants are part of the reality they have to think about. Their thinking serves a dual function: on the one hand they try to understand the world in which they live – that is the cognitive function; on the other, they want to influence the events in which they participate – that is the manipulative function. The two functions interfere with each other – I call the interference reflexivity. The cornerstone of my conceptual framework is the human uncertainty principle, which is based on the twin pillars of fallibility and reflexivity. … The human uncertainty principle has far reaching implications for scientific method. It applies only to social phenomena and thereby it separates the social sciences from the natural sciences.

PIMCO - Cyclical Outlook for Europe: Near-Term Recovery, Long-Term Risks < 5min

- While Europe has emerged out of recession, the relative tightness of monetary policy means the eurozone is still struggling to get back to potential pre-Lehman growth rates.
- The European Central Bank should be able to maintain stability over the cyclical horizon while policymakers continue to address outstanding issues as they look to build a less vulnerable monetary union.
- We are selective in our approach to regional credit and remain neutral on the euro, balancing our cyclical outlook with longer-term secular concerns on the eurozone outlook and valuations.

Financial Times - Debt: A deceptive calm < 5min

Investors are wary that the tranquility in eurozone bond markets could breed complacency ... Whether this new phase in the eurozone crisis is sustainable or simply the calm before the next storm will help determine the eurozone’s future. The stability reflects market confidence in the eurozone’s prospects – and the fact that fickle international investors fled at an early stage of the crisis. But overreliance on domestic investors has thrown Europe’s economic integration into reverse and may prove dangerous. While the calm may provide breathing space – lower bond yields cut financing costs – it could breed complacency. ... arguably a much bigger reason for the recent stability in eurozone bond markets across much of the rest of the region is that foreign investors have retreated. So far this year, domestic investors have accounted for almost 100 per cent of the net issuance of Italian and Spanish government debt, according to calculations by BNP Paribas. Of outstanding Spanish bonds, almost 70 per cent is currently held domestically. For Italy, the figure is almost 60 per cent. ... Japan has illustrated how a country, with strong domestic ownership, can operate with a level of public sector debt equivalent to more than 200 per cent of national output and still keep official borrowing costs down. Yields on 10-year Japanese government bonds are just 0.6 per cent. ... Yet the stability created by “re-domestication” of eurozone bond markets could prove fragile. A mounting concern of eurozone policy makers is the increased mutual dependence between banks and governments in the eurozone periphery, which could quickly exacerbate financial instability if a fresh crisis erupted somewhere in the financial system. ... The links between banks and sovereigns “basically changes the nature of the eurozone. Banks are acting as the arms of the central bank to help governments avoid default” ... Without outside investment, the struggling periphery economies could find it even harder to escape recession and produce the growth needed to reduce public-sector debt mountains.

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