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PIG TODAY-Mixed Signals from the Eurozone

BRUSSELS – What does the eurozone’s future hold? It depends where you look. Some economic indicators suggest that things are looking up for the common currency’s survival; for example, employment has returned to its pre-crisis peak, and per capita GDP growth exceeded that of the United States last year. At the same time, political risks seem to be increasing, despite the improvements in Europe’s economy.

The evidence of an increasing risk of a eurozone breakup comes from three different indicators. But closer examination of those indicators suggests that, while the longer-term risks remain substantial, the short-term risks are rather low. One widely used indicator is based on Sentix surveys of market participants, which show a strong increase in the proportion who believe that the eurozone will break up soon (over the next 12 months). And this time it is not Greece that is driving the result, but France and Italy.

Of course, Greece is in difficulty again. But, according to the Sentix indicator, the perceived likelihood of “Grexit” remains, despite a recent surge, well below its previous peaks. By contrast, the perceived likelihood of “Frexit” and “Italexit” are at 8% and 14%, both much higher than even at the peak of the eurozone crisis earlier in the decade.

The balances among national central banks within the eurozone constitute another widely used indicator of the probability of a breakup. These so-called TARGET2 balances are often taken as a sign of capital flight: investors in countries at risk of abandoning the euro might be tempted to transfer their funds to Germany. That way, these investors would benefit if their country left the currency union, because balances with a German bank presumably would remain in euro, or in rock-solid “neue Deutsche Mark” should the eurozone break up.

But this line of reasoning does not seem to explain recent developments, because the TARGET2 balances are not correlated with the euro breakup probabilities as measured by the Sentix surveys. For example, the TARGET2 balance of the Bank of Greece has actually improved slightly in recent months, and that of the Bank of France has remained close to zero (with a small recovery just as the probability of a victory by the anti-European presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has increased).

True, the balances of Spain and Italy are now again nearing €400 billion ($423 billion) in net liabilities, a level last reached at the peak of the euro crisis, before ECB President Mario Draghi promised in July 2012 that the European Central Bank would do “whatever it takes” to save the euro. But the increase in the negative balance for Spain is difficult to reconcile with the country’s robust economic data and the absence of any significant anti-euro political force.

The only country for which the Sentix indicator is correlated with TARGET2 balances is Italy. The ECB’s explanation of the increase in TARGET2 imbalances – that it is mainly an indirect consequence of the ECB’s own vast bond-purchase program – thus seems much more reasonable than attributing it to capital flight. And, in fact, these imbalances began growing again with the onset of the bond buying, long before the recent bout of political instability.

The third indicator of renewed eurozone tensions is probably the most reliable, because it is based on where people put their money. This is the so-called “spread”: the difference between the yield of, say, French, Italian, or Spanish bonds relative to those issued by Germany. And the spread has increased sharply in recent months. But this indicator is also not consistent with the focus on France’s presidential election this spring, or on Italy’s general election (which must be held by early next year) as somehow determining the fate of the euro.

After all, the widely quoted spread refers to the difference in yields on ten-year bonds. A spread of 180 basis points for Italy, for example, means that the Italian government is paying 1.8% more than the German government, but only for ten-year bonds. If one were to take the forthcoming elections as the proper time horizon, one should look at 1-2-year maturities. But for these shorter-term investment horizons, the spreads are much lower: close to zero for France and a few dozen basis points for Italy and Spain.

Thus, there seems to be little reason to fear for the euro’s survival in the near term. Small short-term spreads belie the focus on the forthcoming elections in France (and those in Italy), which supposedly imply a concrete short-run danger of a breakup. Likewise, while the accumulated TARGET2 imbalances would indeed create a problem in case of a euro breakup, they do not constitute an independent indicator of capital flight.

But all is not well, either. Persistent longer-term yield differentials suggest that market participants have some doubts about the euro’s long-term survival. Speculation about election outcomes in the immediate future is more fascinating than discussions about eurozone reforms. After the votes are counted, however, policymakers will no longer have any excuse not to address the fundamental longer-term issues of how to run a common currency with such diverse members.

BRUSSELS – What does the eurozone’s future hold? It depends where you look. Some economic indicators suggest that things are looking up for the common currency’s survival; for example, employment has returned to its pre-crisis peak, and per capita GDP growth exceeded that of the United States last year. At the same time, political risks seem to be increasing, despite the improvements in Europe’s economy.

The evidence of an increasing risk of a eurozone breakup comes from three different indicators. But closer examination of those indicators suggests that, while the longer-term risks remain substantial, the short-term risks are rather low. One widely used indicator is based on Sentix surveys of market participants, which show a strong increase in the proportion who believe that the eurozone will break up soon (over the next 12 months). And this time it is not Greece that is driving the result, but France and Italy.

Of course, Greece is in difficulty again. But, according to the Sentix indicator, the perceived likelihood of “Grexit” remains, despite a recent surge, well below its previous peaks. By contrast, the perceived likelihood of “Frexit” and “Italexit” are at 8% and 14%, both much higher than even at the peak of the eurozone crisis earlier in the decade.

The balances among national central banks within the eurozone constitute another widely used indicator of the probability of a breakup. These so-called TARGET2 balances are often taken as a sign of capital flight: investors in countries at risk of abandoning the euro might be tempted to transfer their funds to Germany. That way, these investors would benefit if their country left the currency union, because balances with a German bank presumably would remain in euro, or in rock-solid “neue Deutsche Mark” should the eurozone break up.

But this line of reasoning does not seem to explain recent developments, because the TARGET2 balances are not correlated with the euro breakup probabilities as measured by the Sentix surveys. For example, the TARGET2 balance of the Bank of Greece has actually improved slightly in recent months, and that of the Bank of France has remained close to zero (with a small recovery just as the probability of a victory by the anti-European presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has increased).

True, the balances of Spain and Italy are now again nearing €400 billion ($423 billion) in net liabilities, a level last reached at the peak of the euro crisis, before ECB President Mario Draghi promised in July 2012 that the European Central Bank would do “whatever it takes” to save the euro. But the increase in the negative balance for Spain is difficult to reconcile with the country’s robust economic data and the absence of any significant anti-euro political force.

The only country for which the Sentix indicator is correlated with TARGET2 balances is Italy. The ECB’s explanation of the increase in TARGET2 imbalances – that it is mainly an indirect consequence of the ECB’s own vast bond-purchase program – thus seems much more reasonable than attributing it to capital flight. And, in fact, these imbalances began growing again with the onset of the bond buying, long before the recent bout of political instability.

The third indicator of renewed eurozone tensions is probably the most reliable, because it is based on where people put their money. This is the so-called “spread”: the difference between the yield of, say, French, Italian, or Spanish bonds relative to those issued by Germany. And the spread has increased sharply in recent months. But this indicator is also not consistent with the focus on France’s presidential election this spring, or on Italy’s general election (which must be held by early next year) as somehow determining the fate of the euro.

After all, the widely quoted spread refers to the difference in yields on ten-year bonds. A spread of 180 basis points for Italy, for example, means that the Italian government is paying 1.8% more than the German government, but only for ten-year bonds. If one were to take the forthcoming elections as the proper time horizon, one should look at 1-2-year maturities. But for these shorter-term investment horizons, the spreads are much lower: close to zero for France and a few dozen basis points for Italy and Spain.

Thus, there seems to be little reason to fear for the euro’s survival in the near term. Small short-term spreads belie the focus on the forthcoming elections in France (and those in Italy), which supposedly imply a concrete short-run danger of a breakup. Likewise, while the accumulated TARGET2 imbalances would indeed create a problem in case of a euro breakup, they do not constitute an independent indicator of capital flight.

But all is not well, either. Persistent longer-term yield differentials suggest that market participants have some doubts about the euro’s long-term survival. Speculation about election outcomes in the immediate future is more fascinating than discussions about eurozone reforms. After the votes are counted, however, policymakers will no longer have any excuse not to address the fundamental longer-term issues of how to run a common currency with such diverse members.

Source: project-syndicate.org

BRUSSELS – What does the eurozone’s future hold? It depends where you look. Some economic indicators suggest that things are looking up for the common currency’s survival; for example, employment has returned to its pre-crisis peak, and per capita GDP growth exceeded that of the United States last year. At the same time, political risks seem to be increasing, despite the improvements in Europe’s economy.

The evidence of an increasing risk of a eurozone breakup comes from three different indicators. But closer examination of those indicators suggests that, while the longer-term risks remain substantial, the short-term risks are rather low. One widely used indicator is based on Sentix surveys of market participants, which show a strong increase in the proportion who believe that the eurozone will break up soon (over the next 12 months). And this time it is not Greece that is driving the result, but France and Italy.

Of course, Greece is in difficulty again. But, according to the Sentix indicator, the perceived likelihood of “Grexit” remains, despite a recent surge, well below its previous peaks. By contrast, the perceived likelihood of “Frexit” and “Italexit” are at 8% and 14%, both much higher than even at the peak of the eurozone crisis earlier in the decade.

The balances among national central banks within the eurozone constitute another widely used indicator of the probability of a breakup. These so-called TARGET2 balances are often taken as a sign of capital flight: investors in countries at risk of abandoning the euro might be tempted to transfer their funds to Germany. That way, these investors would benefit if their country left the currency union, because balances with a German bank presumably would remain in euro, or in rock-solid “neue Deutsche Mark” should the eurozone break up.

But this line of reasoning does not seem to explain recent developments, because the TARGET2 balances are not correlated with the euro breakup probabilities as measured by the Sentix surveys. For example, the TARGET2 balance of the Bank of Greece has actually improved slightly in recent months, and that of the Bank of France has remained close to zero (with a small recovery just as the probability of a victory by the anti-European presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has increased).

True, the balances of Spain and Italy are now again nearing €400 billion ($423 billion) in net liabilities, a level last reached at the peak of the euro crisis, before ECB President Mario Draghi promised in July 2012 that the European Central Bank would do “whatever it takes” to save the euro. But the increase in the negative balance for Spain is difficult to reconcile with the country’s robust economic data and the absence of any significant anti-euro political force.

The only country for which the Sentix indicator is correlated with TARGET2 balances is Italy. The ECB’s explanation of the increase in TARGET2 imbalances – that it is mainly an indirect consequence of the ECB’s own vast bond-purchase program – thus seems much more reasonable than attributing it to capital flight. And, in fact, these imbalances began growing again with the onset of the bond buying, long before the recent bout of political instability.

The third indicator of renewed eurozone tensions is probably the most reliable, because it is based on where people put their money. This is the so-called “spread”: the difference between the yield of, say, French, Italian, or Spanish bonds relative to those issued by Germany. And the spread has increased sharply in recent months. But this indicator is also not consistent with the focus on France’s presidential election this spring, or on Italy’s general election (which must be held by early next year) as somehow determining the fate of the euro.

After all, the widely quoted spread refers to the difference in yields on ten-year bonds. A spread of 180 basis points for Italy, for example, means that the Italian government is paying 1.8% more than the German government, but only for ten-year bonds. If one were to take the forthcoming elections as the proper time horizon, one should look at 1-2-year maturities. But for these shorter-term investment horizons, the spreads are much lower: close to zero for France and a few dozen basis points for Italy and Spain.

Thus, there seems to be little reason to fear for the euro’s survival in the near term. Small short-term spreads belie the focus on the forthcoming elections in France (and those in Italy), which supposedly imply a concrete short-run danger of a breakup. Likewise, while the accumulated TARGET2 imbalances would indeed create a problem in case of a euro breakup, they do not constitute an independent indicator of capital flight.

But all is not well, either. Persistent longer-term yield differentials suggest that market participants have some doubts about the euro’s long-term survival. Speculation about election outcomes in the immediate future is more fascinating than discussions about eurozone reforms. After the votes are counted, however, policymakers will no longer have any excuse not to address the fundamental longer-term issues of how to run a common currency with such diverse members.

BRUSSELS – What does the eurozone’s future hold? It depends where you look. Some economic indicators suggest that things are looking up for the common currency’s survival; for example, employment has returned to its pre-crisis peak, and per capita GDP growth exceeded that of the United States last year. At the same time, political risks seem to be increasing, despite the improvements in Europe’s economy.

The evidence of an increasing risk of a eurozone breakup comes from three different indicators. But closer examination of those indicators suggests that, while the longer-term risks remain substantial, the short-term risks are rather low. One widely used indicator is based on Sentix surveys of market participants, which show a strong increase in the proportion who believe that the eurozone will break up soon (over the next 12 months). And this time it is not Greece that is driving the result, but France and Italy.

Of course, Greece is in difficulty again. But, according to the Sentix indicator, the perceived likelihood of “Grexit” remains, despite a recent surge, well below its previous peaks. By contrast, the perceived likelihood of “Frexit” and “Italexit” are at 8% and 14%, both much higher than even at the peak of the eurozone crisis earlier in the decade.

The balances among national central banks within the eurozone constitute another widely used indicator of the probability of a breakup. These so-called TARGET2 balances are often taken as a sign of capital flight: investors in countries at risk of abandoning the euro might be tempted to transfer their funds to Germany. That way, these investors would benefit if their country left the currency union, because balances with a German bank presumably would remain in euro, or in rock-solid “neue Deutsche Mark” should the eurozone break up.

But this line of reasoning does not seem to explain recent developments, because the TARGET2 balances are not correlated with the euro breakup probabilities as measured by the Sentix surveys. For example, the TARGET2 balance of the Bank of Greece has actually improved slightly in recent months, and that of the Bank of France has remained close to zero (with a small recovery just as the probability of a victory by the anti-European presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has increased).

True, the balances of Spain and Italy are now again nearing €400 billion ($423 billion) in net liabilities, a level last reached at the peak of the euro crisis, before ECB President Mario Draghi promised in July 2012 that the European Central Bank would do “whatever it takes” to save the euro. But the increase in the negative balance for Spain is difficult to reconcile with the country’s robust economic data and the absence of any significant anti-euro political force.

The only country for which the Sentix indicator is correlated with TARGET2 balances is Italy. The ECB’s explanation of the increase in TARGET2 imbalances – that it is mainly an indirect consequence of the ECB’s own vast bond-purchase program – thus seems much more reasonable than attributing it to capital flight. And, in fact, these imbalances began growing again with the onset of the bond buying, long before the recent bout of political instability.

The third indicator of renewed eurozone tensions is probably the most reliable, because it is based on where people put their money. This is the so-called “spread”: the difference between the yield of, say, French, Italian, or Spanish bonds relative to those issued by Germany. And the spread has increased sharply in recent months. But this indicator is also not consistent with the focus on France’s presidential election this spring, or on Italy’s general election (which must be held by early next year) as somehow determining the fate of the euro.

After all, the widely quoted spread refers to the difference in yields on ten-year bonds. A spread of 180 basis points for Italy, for example, means that the Italian government is paying 1.8% more than the German government, but only for ten-year bonds. If one were to take the forthcoming elections as the proper time horizon, one should look at 1-2-year maturities. But for these shorter-term investment horizons, the spreads are much lower: close to zero for France and a few dozen basis points for Italy and Spain.

Thus, there seems to be little reason to fear for the euro’s survival in the near term. Small short-term spreads belie the focus on the forthcoming elections in France (and those in Italy), which supposedly imply a concrete short-run danger of a breakup. Likewise, while the accumulated TARGET2 imbalances would indeed create a problem in case of a euro breakup, they do not constitute an independent indicator of capital flight.

But all is not well, either. Persistent longer-term yield differentials suggest that market participants have some doubts about the euro’s long-term survival. Speculation about election outcomes in the immediate future is more fascinating than discussions about eurozone reforms. After the votes are counted, however, policymakers will no longer have any excuse not to address the fundamental longer-term issues of how to run a common currency with such diverse members.

Source: project-syndicate.org

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BoJ Governor Kuroda: Possible to deepen negative interest rates further
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Market Analysis
EUR/USD: Faced rejection near the 1.1200 round-figure mark
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Market Analysis
Forex Week Ahead – Fed and BOJ to add more to the punchbowl, Virus disruption, and a fourth week of heightened volatility
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Market Analysis
US: Fed to cut 100bps at its next meeting – Deutsche Bank
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Market Analysis
ECB: EUR/USD heading lower as looks for fiscal measures – Danske Bank
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Market Analysis
Gold: Wave of selling also hit the yellow metal
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Market Analysis
Gold surrenders early gains, back near $1640 level despite coronavirus-led jitters
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Market Analysis
Forex Today: Trump fails to reassure coronavirus-concerned America, stocks down, gold up, ECB eyed
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Market Analysis
Euro Analysis Ahead of ECB Rate Decision and Lagarde Outlook
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Market Analysis
Gold Price Pullback Fizzles Amid Speculation for More Fed Rate Cuts
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Market Analysis
Breaking: GBP/USD tumbles as BOE surprises with 50bp cut to 0.25% ahead of UK budget
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Market Analysis
Forex Today: Yen rallies hard as US stimulus doubts, coronavirus fears hit stocks, USD and yields
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Market Analysis
EUR/USD resuming rise amid doubts over US fiscal stimulus
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Market Analysis
Forex Today: Dollar dominates after the coronavirus crash amid Trump's tax promises, Chinese hopes
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Market Analysis
Global shares plunge in worst day since financial crisis
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Market Analysis
Forex Today: Monday mayhem, wild currency moves, Gold fakeout, oil -30%, amid coronavirus panic
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Market Analysis
Oil Prices Crash 25% As Oil War Begins
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Company News
Time to Spring Forward
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Market Analysis
Forex Week ahead – Market volatility here to stay
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Market Analysis
The Fed could cut rates further at the March meeting – UOB
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Market Analysis
Gold remains confined in a range, around $1640
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Market Analysis
EUR/USD flirting with daily highs around 1.1140
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Market Analysis
EUR/USD – Euro Rally May Just Be Getting Started vs US Dollar
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Market Analysis
US Pres. Trump: Fed should ease and “cut rate big”
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Market Analysis
BoE's Tenreyro: Important to highlight that we were not in a rush to raise interest rates
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Market Analysis
Coronavirus update: First confirmed case in London, total infections in Iran at 1,501
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Market Analysis
EUR/JPY Price Analysis: Upside stalled just ahead of the 200-day SMA
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Market Analysis
Forex Week Ahead – Central Banks, OPEC + and Governments prepare to cushion the coronavirus impact
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Market Analysis
US: Markets not focused on Super Tuesday
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Market Analysis
ECB's Vasiliauskas says extraordinary meeting may be called over coronavirus, EUR/USD off the highs
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Market Analysis
Markets in freefall: Carney warns UK faces downgrade over coronavirus – latest updates
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Market Analysis
ECB's Schnabel: Coronavirus increased uncertainty about global growth outlook
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Market Analysis
EUR/USD now looks to 1.0925 – UOB
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Market Analysis
Gold clings to gains near session tops, around $1650 region
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Market Analysis
Forex Today: Coronavirus clobbers markets, dollar on the defensive (for now), Bitcoin battered
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