In the good old days, financial and economic observers used to worship Alan Greenspan’s deliveries as if they were Moses’ Tables of the Law. Many even earned their living interpreting his messages. This has no longer been the case since the first moment Janet Yellen took office. Most acknowledge that reading the Fed minutes is tantamount to a sheer waste of time. What we want to know, and the sooner the better, is the degree of commitment the Fed will demonstrate in hiking rates and reducing the liquidity glut.
Articles by JP Marin Arrese
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On the eve of the Jackson Hole Fed gathering, the San Francisco Reserve Bank Chairman, John Williams, has launched an enlightening debate on the challenge raised by protracted natural interest rates. The so-called r-star would rank now close to zero in the US and below that threshold in the Eurozone.
The outstanding labour market performance in the US has triggered widespread speculation of a Fed rate hike as early as September. Nonetheless, most new jobs are part-time, while the hourly wage increase lags well behind its pre-crisis pace.
As the Brexit initial turmoil little by little abates, the ECB has no immediate reason for acting. Its room for manoeuvre already seems extremely tight. Running negative rates allows a most limited scope for driving down the money price. The Euro slide provides on its own enough impetus to the economy. The case for further loosening lacks of enough ground. The wait-and-see stance by the Federal Reserve suffices to shore up the ailing pound.
The ‘leave’ campaigners have shown their inability to run the Brexit. They felt unspirited to undertake the awesome task of taking Britain out of the European Union, let alone lead the country in these difficult circumstances. One after another they either refused to challenge premiership or were brushed away by poor support among Conservative MPs. It stands as no surprise Ms May has snatched an easy victory.
Calls for keeping a low-key profile till the new UK Prime Minister takes office and agrees terms with its EU partners on the broad Brexit strategy seem to be being largely ignored. Mr Juncker jumped on the opportunity to deliver a stern and ill-timed warning to the UK.
Brexiters hailed their victory with muted enthusiasm and undisguised concern. Prominent ‘leave’ campaigners called for restraint and patience, highlighting the need to assess strategy carefully before moving for a pull-out. They adamantly rejected triggering the process before informal talks with European partners could pave the way for a balanced outcome.
Today voters will decide which parties have a chance to decide Spain’s future government. The latest opinion polls show the right-wing Partido Popular winning the elections but in need of a helping hand from the Socialists to secure enough backing. The leftist movement Podemos emerges second in the people’s choice, with the potential to seize power if it forges a coalition with the Socialists. So once again, social democrats hold the key to government. An uneasy prospect as supporting others might wreck their future standing.
Just as the British Isles can hardly drift away from the continent we call Europe, the UK won’t quit the EU so easily, even if Brexit supporters are victorious in Thursday’s referendum. Agreeing to the terms of a switch-off process would prove agonisingly slow and tricky, taking no less than five years to complete the disentanglement from common discipline.
Economic forerunners from the four Spanish leading parties engaged themselves in a confusing TV debate on Sunday night. The moderator was much to blame as she hardly clarified the key policy issues, although the participants also proved unable to put forward a coherent analysis of what is at stake in these elections.