At the weekend, French Presidential election frontrunner Emmanuel Macron told the BBC that EU leaders “have to face the situation, to listen to our people, and to listen to the fact that they are extremely angry today, impatient and the dysfunction of the EU is no more sustainable”. He then warned that if EU leaders do not correct this dysfunction, either France would exit the eurozone or the National Front would take over or both. I think what he says is true and let me explain why.
The unexpected ‘Leave’ victory in the recent referendum on EU membership introduces considerable political risk by elevating tail risk scenarios to reasonable worst case status. However, in a global economy that is already slow and already lacks policy space, the referendum outcome also introduces economic and financial risk. Below I have some general thoughts on those risks, with the US dollar, Italian banks, and Japanese deflation foremost among them. At a later point, I hope to also go into some more detailed scenario handicapping.
In the United States, the Republican Party is baffled by how their electorate has favoured Donald Trump for nomination for President in 2016. Equally, the Democrats are scurrying to quell the massive inflow of votes to Bernie Sanders, whose message resonates with the disaffected. But this disaffection is not isolated to the US. Everywhere one looks in Europe, new, alternative and fringe candidates are getting record support. I want to talk about this in the German context because a broadcast by German public TV makes clear that the rising tide of discontent is everywhere, even in countries like Germany that are doing relatively well.
Technological advancement in a world of high private debt means a substitution of capital for labor without big increases in demand. It is a recipe for low or negative growth. Add in demographic challenges in many countries and you have a public policy problem that has been building and will become acute in the coming years. Bill Gross thinks helicopter money and a Universal Basic Income will be necessary to deal with this situation.
Over the past week, European institutions have shown no qualms about bullying, arm-twisting, and humiliating a sovereign nation and its people. This is no union – this is a fiasco.
In the wake of the decisive “No” referendum vote by the Greek electorate and related events, the negotiating landscape has shifted substantially. The negotiating position of the institutions now looks untenable. But this by no way changes the potential outcomes for the Greek economy, which will still either face further harsh austerity or the turbulence of eurozone exit.
The euro crisis is a crisis of Europe, not of European countries. It is not a conflict between Germany and Spain (and I use these two countries to represent every European country on one side or the other of the boom) about who should be deemed irresponsible, and so should absorb the enormous costs of nearly a decade of mismanagement. There was plenty of irresponsible behavior in every country, and it is absurd to think that if German and Spanish banks were pouring nearly unlimited amounts of money into countries at extremely low or even negative real interest rates, especially once these initial inflows had set off stock market and real estate booms, that there was any chance that these countries would not respond in the way every country in history, including Germany in the 1870s and in the 1920s, had responded under similar conditions.
Britain faces a crisis of monumental proportions as the Scottish electorate decides whether to leave the Union and make Scotland a fully independent country for the first time since 1707 when it first entered into political union with England. This vote has all sorts of ramifications for the currency, monetary policy, fiscal policy and the banking system within the UK and Scotland. But it also has far-reaching implications for the whole of the EU. I have a few thoughts on how to frame the issue below as well as a model for how to secede if it comes to that.
There is now a provisional date for that woeful collision to occur: the 9 November this year, the date chosen by the Catalan parliament for the holding a popular (non binding, not a referendum) consultation under a new law which will receive parliamentary approval on 19 September. The original intention of the Catalan parliament was to hold a referendum on the region’s future authorized by Madrid. With that intent parliamentary representatives took a proposal last spring to the Spanish parliament. The reply was a polite but near unanimous “no” since Spain’s parliamentarians took the view any such vote could be considered “unconstitutional”.
The European data out today were not particularly good. We saw a deceleration in the eurozone economy, that when combined with the deceleration in German inflation, suggests that deflationary forces could still threaten a debt deflationary impulse in Europe if an exogenous shock hits the economy. The contrast to Britain, […]
Topics for today: Tail risk from Ukraine is increasing, giving rise to investment opportunity Argentina is still a basket case US housing will not add appreciably to a US growth acceleration I think the big news in the markets is still Ukraine. When I last wrote about the situation in […]
The big news in the markets today is the standoff in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian armed rebels and the Ukrainian military. This has European markets selling off. The potential for problems in eastern Ukraine is something we should have seen as a possibility given the motives in the Texas annexation I outlined as a comparative case. Given that analysis, I still believe the question now is more about how Ukraine responds in eastern Ukraine than how Russia, Europe, NATO, or the US respond. It looks like we will get a military response. And as such, the potential for dramatically increasing tension with Russia is high. The European periphery will be especially vulnerable because of this. In addition, Russia is already moving away from the West as a hedge. Thoughts below