Regulation / banks

The euro is not – and never will be – a lead currency

The US dollar is the world’s leading currency, a fact that serves to cement the economic dominance of the US. The US administration is increasingly exploiting this dominance. One reason why the US sanctions against Iran are so successful is the ability of the US to control international payments processing via Swift. This means that the sanctions policy adopted by the United States can also be imposed on companies from countries with no real interest in enacting this type of policy, such as Europe in the case of the Iran sanctions. For sovereignty over payment transactions entitles the US government not only to control access to the important US market but also to assert the US dollar as internationally recognized means of payment. There are of course good reasons for the dominance of the US dollar. The US is the world’s largest economy and the most important export market for…

The invisible rise in risk

The global central bank interest-rate cycle points downwards. This impacts on the yields on government bonds, which are falling worldwide. In Germany, Bunds are in negative territory, even at the long end. This only serves to make the global bottleneck in investment opportunities all the tighter. As a result, the “Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Negative Yielding Debt Market Value Index”, which covers all bond types offering a negative yield, is now back close to the highs last seen in 2016. Irrespective of whether yield decreases arise owing to a rise in risk aversion among market players or owing to the expectation that central banks will ease their monetary policy, this boosts the relative appeal of bonds offering an appropriate positive yield. Since it is now virtually impossible to achieve positive yields with government bonds, with the exception of those at the very long end, investors will presumably increasingly focus on…

ECB: Ready to act in an emergency

At today’s meeting, the ECB adjusted its forward guidance. Whereas the message in the monetary policy statement to date has been that key Eurozone interest rates would remain at their current levels until at least through the end of 2019, this timeframe has now been pushed back to the middle of next year at the earliest. In other words, the guardians of monetary policy are factoring the current risk factors (trade dispute/ Brexit) into their overall European economic outlook. The circumspect stance of the central bank is also reflected in the revised ECB staff projections. The growth outlook has been revised downwards slightly for both the 2020 and 2021 time horizons. At the same time, Draghi was keen to avoid coming across as overly pessimistic. For example, he also pointed in this context to the positive development of the Eurozone labour market. Inflation projections were adjusted only slightly. One striking…

Wealth creation through less regulation

As the current German Bundesbank study on “Private Households and Their Finances” reveals, average net assets in Germany rose between 2014 and 2017 by EUR 18,300 to EUR 232,800. However, wealth remains unevenly distributed. The unequal distribution of wealth is more pronounced in Germany than it is in the Eurozone as a whole, but is less so than in the United States. It is interesting that above all citizens with real estate and share investments benefited from value increases. In the international comparison though, precisely these asset categories have a weak weighting: German investors are regarded as risk-averse because they avoid equities and tend to favour investments in the form of bank deposits and insurances. Moreover, German citizens more frequently rent their homes rather than own them outright. In this context, both asset categories are especially important for wealth creation: Equities, funds and the corresponding certificates contribute to the broad…

Loan markets adjust for weakening growth – anticyclical capital buffer counterproductive

As the ECB’s current survey of Euroland banks shows, corporate demand for loans held steady in Q1 2019 and the banks also hardly changed their loan approval standards, if at all. By contrast, demand for private housing construction loans continued to grow thanks to the low interest rates and banks tightened their approval guidelines for property financing. The majority of banks also expect to see rising demand in both categories in the coming months. Although the proportion of optimists has edged up marginally since the January survey, compared to 2018 there has been a massive decrease in the size of the majority of credit institutes who believe in growing demand for loans. This is consistent with the growth trend in European loan markets, which has apparently reached its zenith. For corporate loans, this was the case as long ago as the end of September last year, when growth rose to…

Euroland: Slightly weaker growth in corporate loans in final-quarter 2018

According to figures from the European Central Bank, in 2018 corporate loans in Euroland grew just short of 4 percent. In other words, the rise in loans portfolios, after adjusting for sales, securitisation and fictitious cash pooling activities, slowed slightly in the fourth quarter of last year. However, the trend differed greatly from one country to the next. While corporate loans in Germany surged 6.4 percent, the highest rate in almost ten years, they actually fell in Spain. In France, growth in Q4 2018 slowed mildly, while it dipped appreciably in Italy. Loans to private households also developed unevenly, with the overall pace for Euroland picking up slightly to reach 3.3 percent. All in all, the trend last year was gratifying: The European loans markets, which suffered from 2012 to 2015 from a decline and/or weak growth, benefited from high demand for credit among corporations and private households alike. In…

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