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Greece and Europe Could Jolt Global Markets Once Again

Greece and Europe Could Jolt Global Markets Once Again

By    |   Friday, 05 February 2016 07:25 AM

Whatever comes out of today's January U.S. job situation numbers, it might be good to remember what Fed Chair Janet Yellen said at the start of December, “The economy needs to create just under 100,000 jobs a month to keep up with growth in the working age population.

Now, to put that somewhat in context, it might be good to remember the monthly job numbers haven't been below the 100,000 mark since mid-2012.

That said, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester, who is FOMC voting member (hawkish) this year, just gave a few interesting remarks in her latest speech titled “A Monetary Policymaker's Lexicon”: “… I expect monetary policy to remain accommodative for some time to come. But given my outlook of moderate growth, continued improvement in labor markets, and a gradual return of inflation to 2 percent, I believe the appropriate policy path will involve gradual reductions in the extraordinary level of accommodation that was necessary to address the Great Recession and its aftermath … I would be comfortable ending reinvestments after we have a few more funds rate increases under our belt, perhaps when the funds rate has reached 1 percent or so.”

In simple words, if Mester has it right, then we could see at least two rate hikes this year, which is different from what markets expect of, at best, only one rate hike of 0.25 percent this year.

Interestingly, the Dallas Fed latest inflation analysis, which supports in part Mrs. Mester viewpoint, shows CPI core inflation continues to grow and now stands “close” to 2 percent and at its highest level since 2002 while the PCE (Personal Consumption Expenditures) core remains “soft” at 1.4 percent.

Again, it will be all about that monthly jobs statistic that will tell us a little bit more about the very large and complex U.S. labor market where we have seen good job gains for skilled and semi-skilled, but not so much for low-skilled workers.

Maybe it’s good to remember today's employment data will also include revisions, and revisions in other statistics have generally tended to push economic activity higher. We’ll see if that’s also here the case.

That said and in the context of this year’s “political” risks that, if they were to happen, could impact seriously impact broad markets, there is one today I think is worthwhile to mention, especially to non-UK based investors.

A YouGov poll, which is an international internet-based market research firm, that was commissioned by the UK daily ‘Times” shows that those in favor of a “Brexit”  stands at 45 percent compared with 36 percent against, while 19 percent remain undecided.

Interestingly, the poll was undertaken shortly after publication of David Cameron's tentative deal on reform with the EU.

YouGov also asked people what they made of the changes sought by Cameron: 46 percent said they thought it would be a bad deal for the U.K., compared to 22 percent who backed the proposals, and 56 percent said did not think the changes went far enough.

Maybe at first sight all this doesn’t seem that especially important to most investors, but I think they could err for the very simple reason if the U.K. ever were to leave the EU, at a moment Europe has to face its biggest political challenge (with already huge economic and financial consequences) since World War II because of the enormous and out of control colossal refugee crisis, this could be the catalyst of another and disastrous EU crisis.

I’d like to add here that Greece’s problems also are returning to the front-burner.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the current pension system in Greece, which costs the equivalent of 10 percent of the Greek economy annually, is not sustainable and should undergo a profound overhaul, which, I’m afraid, will stir serious upheaval in the country of which the outcome and consequences are literally unpredictable.

Anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised we’ll see a new episode of the never ending European crisis coming back haunting many investors and if, it were to happen (Hopefully not!), should not support a stronger euro, but instead cause substantial further inflows into the dollar, which thanks to its prime reserve currency status remains safe haven number one when everything goes wrong, alongside “physical” gold of course.

Etienne "Hans" Parisis is a bank economist who has advised global billionaires and governments on the financial markets and international investments. To read more of his articles, GO HERE NOW.

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I wouldn’t be surprised we’ll see a new episode of the never ending European crisis coming back haunting many investors and if, it were to happen
economy, invest, fed, europe
Friday, 05 February 2016 07:25 AM
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