Investors still have Friday to focus on as the day when things actually start, or perhaps better said, should start to happen with Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s speech at Jackson Hole.
There is also ECB President Mario Draghi’s speech, but the ECB President has promised to be boring.
This does not allow for much significant fundamental movement in the financial markets at this moment:
- Globally, the world economy is mid-cycle.
- Inflation is normal.
- Employment is strong or improving.
Only the shift in central-bank policy offers some hope for excitement.
So, we’ll still have to wait a few days for news on that.
Today’s calendar is not offering very much.
Today’s ZEW survey of German business confidence attracts attention because there is nothing else to attract attention.
The economic sentiment index fell to 10.0 from 17.5 points in the previous month while the economy's current conditions ticked up to 86.7 points from 86.4 in July.
ZEW President Professor Achim Wambach commented: “The significant decrease of the ZEW economic sentiment indicator reflects the high degree of nervousness over the future path of growth in Germany."
The economic sentiment indicator for the Euro zone fell to 29.3 points this month from 35.6 in July. By contrast, the indicator for the current economic situation in the Euro zone climbed to its highest level since January 2008, rising to 38.4 points.
The United States has the Richmond Fed survey of business sentiment. Things have to be pretty desperate before economists start reading the Richmond Fed survey of business sentiment as being worthy of comment, and it looks like they aren’t that desperate yet. So, that’s it.
In the world of politics, President Donald Trump outlined what is arguably another policy reversal with an ongoing commitment to expanding operations in Afghanistan.
There is nothing of direct interest for investors in that perhaps, although two questions do arise:
- Whether this changes the attitude of Trump’s core supporters, which seems doubtful, but is possible.
- Whether this is indicative of Trump shifting attention from domestic leadership, which would require collaboration with Congress, toward international policy where the commander in chief powers remove the necessity of so much corporation with Congress.
In European politics, there has been increasing media chatter about introducing a parallel currency in Italy, largely because former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi mentioned the possibility of this.
Citigroup’s analysts describe it as: “Berlusconi said the right-wing Lega Nord’s proposal of introducing the so-called ‘mini-BoT’ (short-term, interest-free, small-sized government securities, a sort of ‘IOUs’ to be used as internal currency to pay government suppliers, taxes, social security contributions, etc.) would not be too far from his idea of a parallel currency.”
For markets, this doesn’t have any importance for the time being, but and regardless of whether Italy goes down the path of an explicit parallel currency or the introduction of small-sized Italian government securities, it’s clear the will to break up the euro’s monopoly in Italy is growing and that merits attention.
Now and all that said, one of the oldest laws in economics is Gresham’s law, named in 1860 by Henry Dunning Macleod, after Sir Thomas Gresham (1519–1579), who was an English financier during the Tudor dynasty, which suggests that in a situation where two currencies circulate in parallel then the “bad” money will drive out “good” money.
For example, if there are two forms of commodity money in circulation, which are accepted by law as having similar face value, the more valuable commodity will disappear from circulation.
The (logic) reason for that has never changed for hundreds of years as everyone always wants to pay their debts with the bad currency while they wish to hoard the good currency.
Whether the new Italian lira would be the “bad” or the “good” currency is perhaps not topic of much circulation now.
For investors, all this is idle chatter in the midst of the summer lull, but with the upcoming Italian election next year, it does perhaps serve as a reminder that the United States does not have a monopoly on unusual political economic views.
Etienne "Hans" Parisis is a bank economist who has advised investors on financial markets and international investments.
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