Last week was all about jawboning out of Europe. First from ECB President Draghi followed up by comments from Germany's Merkel reinforcing Draghi's main comment that the ECB will do everything to support the euro. Support for this type of comment from Merkel is very important as Germany is where the money is. For now the jawboning was enough to send many risk asset markets into a modest end of the week short covering rally. However, we can't lose sight that these type of comments have been coming out of Europe for the last three years and so far the sovereign debt issues are still not solved.
The big question is will the bold comments finally be converted to actions. Especially this coming week as the ECB holds its monthly meeting on Thursday August 2. Will the ECB initiate a bold solution that puts the EU problems on the back burner once and for all which has not been the case for the last several years. Will they simply lower short term interest rates and issue the usual support of the euro comments or will their actions include stimulus and some form of bond backing or buying of bonds from the troubles EU member states?
Whatever the ECB decides to do this week the market is now expecting actions that will support the debt problems and drive down the bond yields of the problem countries as well as send the euro into a much longer lasting rally that goes well beyond a simple modest short covering rally like we saw the last two trading days of last week. With the market now trading over the last few session with a strong ray of hope that the ECB and the EU will finally get a handle on the problems any disappointment next week will result in a huge push to the downside in the euro as well as in global equity markets.
Who said August is a quiet and sleepy time for global risk asset markets? Yes many participants are at the peak of the summer vacation season coupled with the London Summer Olympics at its peak but that is not going to prevent the markets from potentially active and volatile trading over the upcoming week and possibly for the rest of the summer. In addition to what is setting up to be a major ECB meeting on Thursday the US Federal Reserve FOMC will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday with many expecting the Fed to embark on a new round of quantitative easing of some form. The US economy has slowed to just a 1.5% growth rate a decline of 0.5% from the first quarter. The employment situation is not getting any better and the plethora of economic data that has hit the media airwaves over the last month or so has been supportive of further slowing of the US economy.
Is there enough negative data to support the Fed taking action now (as a recent WSJ article suggested) or will the Fed take a wait and see of what comes out for the ECB on Thursday while it awaits more data points like Friday's latest nonfarm payroll data? A new round of easing out of the US Fed is not a slam dunk at this meeting in my opinion. I think there are many reasons why it will be prudent for the Fed to wait another month or two before initiating a new round of easing that many believe will have limited success in bolstering the US economy and spurting the private sector hiring process. I do not think the Fed will act at this meeting and save their next so called silver bullet until the end of August at the Jackson Hole symposium (possibly mentioned in Bernanke's speech) or until the mid September FOMC meeting.
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