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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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Market Analysis
BoE's Haskel: Activity appears to be coming back faster than anticipated
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Company News
GBP Bank Account
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Market Analysis
Forex Today: Gold shines, markets look for direction after a successful Q2, ahead of busy start to Q3
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Market Analysis
Gold eases below $1770 level, downside seems limited
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Market Analysis
EUR/USD: Europe fights coronavirus and stuns the dollar
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Market Analysis
Forex Today: Markets attempt to shrug off grim coronavirus developments
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Market Analysis
Forex Week Ahead – Jitters Continue into Busy Week
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Market Analysis
US Dollar Index clings to gains near 97.50 ahead of data
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Market Analysis
ECB’s Lagarde: Economic recovery will be a complicated matter
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Market Analysis
Gold sticks to the positive outlook
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Market Analysis
EUR/USD Price Analysis: Focus now shifted to 1.1170
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Market Analysis
Forex Today: Dollar dominates, gold shines as coronavirus rages in the US, triple data release eyed
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Market Analysis
EUR/USD Price Analysis: Rising bets for a test of 1.1400 and beyond
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Market Analysis
EUR/USD recedes from tops above 1.1300
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Market Analysis
Gold: Falling US Real Yields fuels bull trend towards new highs at $1921 – Credit Suisse
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Market Analysis
Forex Today: Risk rides the Navarro rollercoaster, Eurozone/ UK PMIs, virus stats in focus
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Market Analysis
BoE is seen increasing further the size of QE – UOB
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Market Analysis
Forex Today: Risk-recovery back in play, US dollar recedes with second-wave virus fears
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Market Analysis
Forex Week Ahead – Markets play tug-of-war with Covid-19 concerns and reopening momentum
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Market Analysis
Forex Today: Coronavirus, weak data outweigh reopening optimism, BOE, jobless claims eyed
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Market Analysis
ECB's de Guindos: Better if EU aid is distributed via grants rather than loans
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Market Analysis
Gold Price Analysis: XAU/USD slumps toward $1,710 on improving risk sentiment
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Market Analysis
Forex Today: Dollar up as health, geopolitics replace consumer optimism, Powell, COVID-19 data eyed
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Market Analysis
Gold clings to modest daily gains, around $1730 area
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Market Analysis
Forex Today: Double stimulus talk downs dollar ahead of Powell's power-play, US retail sales
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Market Analysis
Forex Today: Coronavirus concerns trigger dollar domination, commodity currencies climb down
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Market Analysis
Forex Week Ahead – Market Recovery Under Threat?
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Market Analysis
Forex Today: Houston, we have a problem, US coronavirus, Fed gloom, crash markets, consumers eyed
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Obsessed
Killing Hope ( Before it Kills You )
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Market Analysis
Euro Fails at Resistance as Federal Reserve Expands Lending Program
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Market Analysis
Forex Today: Can the dollar lick its wounds? Fed speculation, geopolitics, and data eyed
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Market Analysis
GBP/USD: Brexit, coronavirus and protests to pressure the pound
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Market Analysis
Gold: The beginning of the end, $1600 by Q3
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Market Analysis
Forex Today: Dollar looking for a new direction after the excellent Non-Farm Payrolls, Lagarde eyed
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Market Analysis
Forex Week Ahead – The Recovery Continues
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