Posts Tagged ‘Eurozone’
Monti Lashes out at Germany; Merkel Hardens Position; Reader from Italy Explains Why Early Elections Might Lead to “Deadlock”
Merkel Hardens Position
The EU summit is a day away and pre-summit bickering is so intense that it will be difficult if not impossible to get any major agreements.
Two days ago, in a speech in German parliament, Bloomberg reportedMerkel Hardens Resistance to Euro-Area Debt Sharing
Chancellor Angela Merkel hardened her resistance to euro-area debt sharing to resolve the region’s financial crisis, setting Germany on a collision course with its allies at a summit of European leaders this week.
Merkel, speaking to a conference in Berlin today as Spain announced it would formally seek aid for its banks, dismissed “euro bonds, euro bills and European deposit insurance with joint liability and much more” as “economically wrong and counterproductive,” saying that they ran against the German constitution.
“It’s not a bold prediction to say that in Brussels most eyes — all eyes — will be on Germany yet again,” Merkel said. “I say quite openly: when I think of the summit on Thursday I’m concerned that once again the discussion will be far too much about all kinds of ideas for joint liability and far too little about improved oversight and structural measures.”
“There must not be an imbalance between liability and control,” she said today. “For instance, we would do a European deposit insurance immediately if it doesn’t lead to common liability but to improved oversight possibilities and standards.”
Monti Lashes out at Germany
In response his own falling support as much as his displeasure with Merkel, Monti lashes out at Germany ahead of summit
Italy’s technocratic prime minister’s frustration with Germany surfaced in a combative speech to parliament, saying he would not go to Brussels to “rubber-stamp” pre-written documents and was ready to extend the two-day summit until Sunday night if needed to reach agreements before markets reopen on Monday.
Speculation over the fate of his government has become so feverish in Rome that officials were forced to deny that the prime minister had threatened to resign if he were to leave Brussels without success.
Singling out Jens Weidmann by name, Mr Monti said the Bundesbank president had “badly misunderstood” his proposal to deploy eurozone rescue funds to bring down the borrowing costs of countries such as Italy and Spain that had honoured obligations to implement reforms and bring down their budget deficits.
Italy on Tuesday was forced to borrow at 4.71 per cent for two-year bills, its highest level since December, and will face a testing auction on Thursday of up to €5.5bn in five and 10-year bonds.
Italian officials said they were extremely concerned how markets might react Monday if the Brussels talks fail to break new ground. The summit was heading towards “complete uncertainty”, Mr Monti said.
Mr Monti is said by aides to be furious with Mr Berlusconi’s recent anti-European tack which is seen as undermining Italy ahead of the summit. Mr Berlusconi reportedly repeated on Tuesday that it would not be a bad thing if Germany exited from the euro.
Explaining Italian Politics
Reader Andrea who is from Italy but now lives in France, has some observations and comments on Italian politics in response to Monti Threatens to Resign if No Eurobonds; Specter of Early Elections
I have a few comments on your article.
First: Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi made a third call for a euro exit, this time asking Germany to exit if the ECB will not print.
Berlusconi has a certain ability in “feeling” what people wants to hear and use it as his message. In my opinion he is testing the public opinion. I expect he will run polls to check if his anti-euro stance is allowing his party to increase consensus. In this case, I strongly believe that he will raise the level of his anti-euro stance given he has nothing to lose as his party is in freefall.
Second: Monti’s days are indeed numbered because he will step down at the end of legislature (spring 2013) and he will not seek for renewal of his mandate in the new one.
However, his term could be even shorter. There could be early elections before the natural term.
In the Italian constitution, the President of the Republic appoints the prime minister, but the appointment must get Parliamentary approval. If a PM resigns or loses majority approval, a search is on to find another person. If parliament cannot find a coalition leader with sufficient votes, the only choice left is to call early elections.
Berlusconi’s PDL party has the numbers to make Monti step down and to not allow any new majority. He may do just that.
Berlusconi is increasingly uncomfortable in supporting Monti. So are others. Government bond yields are back at very high levels and now Monti is losing popular support. Backing Monti has cost PDL to lose a lot of votes.
However, with early elections, a dangerous competitor like Beppe Grillo’s Movimento 5 Stelle (Five Star Movement) will not have enough time to present candidates everywhere. Thus, Berlusconi might also use a poor EU summit as reason to withdraw support to Monti, given the side benefit of holding elections before the Five Star Movement grows stronger.
Third: the most likely outcome of the next election in Italy is a deadlock, assuming recent polls are accurate.
The reason is the electoral law. The current electoral law gives additional representatives and senators to the “coalition” that scores first. Coalition is the key term. Even if Grillo’s Five Star Movement wins as a party, he will be politically isolated whereas the center-left can form a coalition.
However, additional share is given on national basis for the Chamber of Representatives and on regional basis for the Senate. For this reason, the Senate will most likely be fragmented with no majority at all. To govern, you need majority on both.
What would happen then? Very hard to guess.
For more on the Five Star Movement and Beppe Grillo’s plan to dump the euro, please see ….
- Italy “Gasping Like Beached Whale”; Berlusconi Reiterates Euro Exit “Not Blasphemy”; Beppe Grillo Discusses “Taboo of the Euro”
- Six Reasons Why Italy May Exit the Euro Before Spain; Ultimate Occupy Movement.
- Monti Begs Germany to Stabilize Interest Rates; Merkel Pours Cold Water On “Theoretical Discussions”; Italy Official Denial #1; Why Monti’s Days Are Numbered.
European Crisis Summit Score 0-18 With Another Coming Up June 28; Is Merkel Misinterpreted? Will the FOMC Move Decisively?
Steen Jakobsen, chief economist of Saxo Bank in Denmark, asks via email: “Is Merkel Misinterpreted? Will the FOMC Move Decisively?”
The misunderstood Chancellor.
The market clearly believes Ms. Merkel will, ultimately, not withstand the pressure – and she will end up collateralizing rising debt. I remain extremely skeptical. I even dusted off my school German to read Der Spiegel and Focus, two major German weeklies, which give you a very different perspective.
As a generalization, the Anglo-Saxon driven investment banks and media tend to rely on poorly translated English versions of domestic financial papers, hence they lose the subtle difference on what Merkel is REALLY saying. This is what I believe Ms. Merkel, and Germany, think.
- When countries join the euro, they also directly and indirectly accept the Stability-and-Growth Pact, hence anything that moves Germany and Europe closer to Stability-and-Growth will be supported by Germany.
- Germany knows it will take time – more time than the market wants it to take. But Germany also realizes it will probably mean more crisis before the whole of Europe moves in the same direction.
- The big loser if Germany “caves in” is Germany. Bund yields will rise and all of Europe will have to finance itself at higher rates – the exact same reason the Alexander Hamilton sinking fund will not work – why should Germans pay more for issuing debt and the high debtors pay less?
- Germany has a game-theory upside in Greece failing to comply – only through more crisis will Club Med (Italy, France and Spain) move to more Europe. (The only thing Club Med wants for now is more German money, not more Europe…)
- Merkel needs to reach across to SPD, the opposition, to get her 2/3 majority for the Fiscal Compact. Watch closely what “concessions” she is willing to give SPD. That will give us clear indication on where she stands vis-a-vis the Club Med call for the easy solution of Euro-bonds and Banking Union.
- Merkel and Germany are pro-European. They want the EU to succeed and they will never leave the euro. But they are also aware that collateralizing debt without the Stability-and-Growth pact will end in tears as it will be extend-and-pretend squared. Throwing liquidity at a solvency issue avoids any real reforms and will be the fastest way to Japanisation.
From this old cynical trader’s point of view, the more likely Merkel and Germany give up and bow to the pressure, the sooner will we face a full-blown crisis and collapse of Europe.
European Crisis Summit Score 0-19
Rhetoric and non-plans cannot continue to dominate the agenda at the EU Summits. The meeting on the 28/29 June is, by my count, meeting number 19 without a real result. Zero from nineteen games – talk about a team going towards relegation!
FOMC – more of the same The US data is still getting weaker, but not weak enough to warrant a panic from the FOMC tomorrow. Bernanke failed to provide the juice in his speech last week, so now the consensus is it will have to happen tomorrow. Otherwise… you know the rest of the sentence. The Fed will lower growth; it will probably also extend Operation Twist, but I doubt it will go all in considering the banking system issues and the overall need for having reserves.
On the other hand, however, the Fed also realizes that “promising” has a real impact on the market. So, overall, expect some small adjustment from FOMC/FED, but not enough.
We would be almost square into this meeting, but looking to be heavily bearish on equities post the FOMC and EU Summit.
We still see a summer of discontent as the misinterpretation of Germany and FOMC will lead the market to realize that, for once, central banks and the politicians can’t buy more time.
It is time to reflect not act, as their five-year experiment of doing the same thing expecting different results is leading them nowhere. Probably naive thinking by me… But I think we will all lose if I’m wrong, as extend-and-pretend squared is the road to the poor house.
Market Won’t Wait
I believe Steen has this essentially correct and that Germany giving in would ultimately just make matters worse in spite of all the “mother hen calls” from nearly every other economist.
Yet, the market cannot and will not wait long enough for Merkel to be proven correct. Interest rates in Italy and Spain are at disaster levels and will likely get worse.
My position is summed up in these three posts.
- It’s Just Impossible
- Six Reasons Why Italy May Exit the Euro Before Spain; Ultimate Occupy Movement
- Greek Election Sideshow; Socialists Win Absolute Majority in France
In the meantime, I offer another musical tribute, this one from The Animals.
Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
Global Economic Analysis
From Professor Tim Duy: Is Anyone Answering the Phones at the ECB?. Excerpt:
It is never a good sign when the monetary authority – the lender of last resort – is no longer willing to buy your bonds. If the ECB sees only risk at these rates, why should private investors jump into the pool?
Honestly, I find it incomprehensible to believe that the ECB will not soon come to the aid of Spain and Italy with additional bond purchases. Only the most irresponsible policy body would take such a risk. To not do so almost guarantees the destruction of the Eurozone and a deepening recession if not depression throughout Europe. They cannot possibly believe that fiscal and structural reforms will bear sufficient fruit in any reasonable time frame. Nor can they possibly believe that Spain and Italy can implement a IMF-type structural reform program in the absence of the competitive boost provided by currency devaluation.
Or can they? If they do believe these things – that they can do no more, the job is entirely on the shoulders of fiscal policymakers – then we all need to be afraid, very afraid. Because when the ECB fully abdicates its role as a provider of financial stability for the Eurozone, all Hell is going to break loose.