Category Archives: QE

4/7/20: ifo Institute Eurozone Growth Outlook

Germany's ifo Institute issued a new growth outlook for Eurozone economy:

  • "Overall, the eurozone economy is likely to see a sharp recession in the first half of 2020. 
  • "GDP already contracted in Q1 by 3.6%. 
  • "In Q2, the decline of GDP is forecast to be historic (-12.3%). 
  • "On the other hand, the recovery is likely to be quick supported by massive stimuli in some eurozone countries with GDP growth reaching +8.3% in Q3 and +2.8% in Q4 2020. 
  • "Yet, the GDP level at the end of last year will not be reached by the end of this year."

In 1Q 2020:

  • GDP fell by 3.6%. 
  • "The greatest negative contribution came from private consumption. 
  • "... firms hold back their investments due to liquidity issues and uncertainty on future developments. 
  • "... external demand was weak and caused exports to plunge. 
  • "Economic activity went down by 5.3% (Italy), 5.3% (France) and 5.2% (Spain). Germany was affected less severely with GDP contracting by 2.2%. 
Dynamics into June:
  • "The European Commission’s economic sentiment indicator fell from 94 points in March further to 65 points in April, rebounded somewhat in May and increased strongly in June up to almost 76 points."
  • "The IHS Markit composite purchasing manager’s index reflects a similar development as it dropped from 30 points in March to as low as 14 points in April. In May it recovered to 32 and in June again up to 48 points." Note: Markit PMIs below 50 indicate continued, compounded contraction, as a rise in index from 32 to 48 between May and June means that contraction was weaker in June.
Summary of forecasts:

Headwinds to the above forecast:
  • "Currently, economic projections are made in face of high epidemiological uncertainty. ... This forecast assumes that a second COVID-19 wave will be prevented. The occurrence of a second wave, with containment measures to being introduced again, is thus a downward risk for our forecast. 
  • "Another uncertainty for this forecast is that we are still learning about consumer reactions to containment measures and it is still unclear, how quickly consumption behavior will normalize.
  • "In addition, the liquidity situation of many companies is deteriorating rapidly. An unexpectedly high number of insolvencies might disturb the economic recovery and cause bigger than expected problems for the banking sector. Currently, in many countries new regulations for postponing insolvencies were introduced, which means that these will become evident later than usual, probably not before autumn. 
  • "Also, numerous private households might run into solvency issues due to lower income and a worsening labour market situation."
In contrast, here are the IMF latest forecasts for the euro area:

Markit PMIs:

3/7/20: ECB Jumping the Proverbial Shark?

ECB's money-printing press has been running overtime these weeks. So let's put the Euro area central banks' monetary policy shenanigans into perspective, comparing them to the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) related measures, the Euro area sovereign debt crisis and the subsequent painful recovery:

Good thing: ECB has deployed COVID19 response at scale and fast. Bad thing: it is highly uncertain how much growth all of this activism is going to sustain. From 2000 through 1Q 2020, there is zero (statistically) relationship between current GDP growth (nominal) and ECB assets accumulation in the same year and in prior year:

Even ignoring statistical significance, the relationship itself is not positive, especially in the lagged data. In other words, there is absolutely no evidence of causality from ECB asset purchases to higher economic growth. While reasons for this results are complex (and not really a matter for this post), there are some serious questions to be asked as to how much tangible growth is being sustained by the Central Bank's activism. On the other side of the same argument, if we assume that the ECB purchases of assets are effective at sustaining growth in the Euro area economy, then we must have some serious questions as to what the Euro area economy is capable of producing in terms of GDP growth without such interventions.

In simple terms: we are damned if we do, and damned if we do not:

  • Either monetary activism is not effective at sustaining growth, or
  • If monetary activism is effective, then the state of the economic institutions overall is so dire, it remains comatose even with extraordinary supports from Frankfurt.

Neither is a pleasant conclusion. And there is not a third alternative.

Just in case you need a reality check on how poor Euro area's growth has been, here is a summary:

18/6/20: Cheap Institutional Money: It’s Supply Thingy

In a recent post, I covered the difference between M1 and MZM money supply, which effectively links money available to households and institutional investors for investment purposes, including households deposits that are available for investment by the banks ( Here, consider money instruments issuance to institutional investors alone:

Effectively, over the last 12 years, U.S. Federal reserve has pumped in some USD 2.6 trillion of cash into the financial asset markets in the U.S. These are institutional investors' money over and above direct asset price supports via Fed assets purchasing programs, indirect asset price supports via Fed's interest rates policies and QE measures aimed at suppression of government bond yields ( 

Any wonder we are in a market that is no longer making any sense, set against the economic fundamentals, where free money is available for speculative trading risk-free (

10/8/19: Irish Debt Sustainability Miracle(s): ECB and MNCs

As a part of yesterday's discussion about the successes of Irish economic policies since the end of the Eurozone crisis, I posted on Twitter a chart showing two pivotal years in the context of changing fortunes of Irish Government debt sustainability. Here is the chart:

The blue line is the difference between the general Government deficit and the primary Government deficit, which captures net cost of carrying Government debt, in percentages of GDP. In simple terms, ECB QE that started in 2015 has triggered a massive repricing of Eurozone and Irish government bond yields. In 2012-2014 debt costs remained the same through 2015-2019 period, Irish Government spending on debt servicing would have been in the region of EUR 49.98 billion in constant euros over that period. As it stands, thanks to the ECB, this figure is down to EUR 27.94 billion, a saving of some EUR 4.41 billion annually.

Prior to 2015, another key moment in the Irish fiscal sustainability recovery history has been 2014 massive jump in real GDP growth. Over 2010-2013, the economic recovery in Ireland was generating GDP growth of (on average) just 1.772 percent per annum. In 2014, Irish real GDP growth shot up to 8.75 percent and since the start of 2014, growth averaged 6.364 percent per annum even if we are to exclude from the average calculation the bizarre 25 percent growth recorded in 2015. Of course, as I wrote on numerous occasions before, the vast majority of this growth between 2014 and 2019 is accounted for by the tax-optimisation transfer pricing and assets redomiciling by the multinational corporations - activities that have little to do with the real Irish economy.

31/7/19: Fed rate cut won’t move the needle on ‘Losing Globally’ Trade Wars impacts

Dear investors, welcome to the Trump Trade Wars, where 'winning bigly' is really about 'losing globally':

As the chart above, via FactSet, indicates, companies in the S&P500 with global trading exposures are carrying the hefty cost of the Trump wars. In 2Q 2019, expected earnings for those S&P500 firms with more than 50% revenues exposure to global (ex-US markets) are expected to fall a massive 13.6 percent. Revenue declines for these companies are forecast at 2.4%.

This is hardly surprising. U.S. companies trading abroad are facing the following headwinds:

  1. Trump tariffs on inputs into production are resulting in slower deflation in imports costs by the U.S. producers than for other economies (as indicated by this evidence:
  2. At the same time, countries' retaliatory measures against the U.S. exporters are hurting U.S. exports (U.S. exports are down 2.7 percent in June).
  3. U.S. dollar is up against major currencies, further reducing exporters' room for price adjustments.
Three sectors are driving S&P500 earnings and revenues divergence for globally-trading companies:
  • Industrials,
  • Information Technology,
  • Materials, and 
  • Energy.
What is harder to price in, yet is probably material to these trends, is the adverse reputational / demand effects of the Trump Administration policies on the ability of American companies to market their goods and services abroad. The Fed rate cut today is a bit of plaster on the gaping wound inflicted onto U.S. internationally exporting companies by the Trump Trade Wars. If the likes of ECB, BoJ and PBOC counter this move with their own easing of monetary conditions, the trend toward continued concentration of the U.S. corporate earnings and revenues in the U.S. domestic markets will persist.