Yield curves almost everywhere have been flattening. At the long end of yield curves, bonds have been rallying all year. This is to be expected in Europe, where growth remains lacklustre, inflation is very weak, and the ECB is firmly in easing mode. However, even in the UK and the US, where the market has been gingerly pricing in the beginning of (perceived) hiking cycles, long bonds have been rallying.
Nothing comes for free and with the eurozone periphery deflating its way to a currency account surplus the aggregate external balance of the euro area has increased to its highest level ever at more than 2% of GDP. Coupled with tighter liquidity (less euros sloshing around), improved sentiment and repatriation ahead of AQR the EUR has seen strong support this year.
Core European government bond yields continue to fall and are now outright negative in many countries. Traditionally, this would suggest a stern message from the fixed income market that deflation is around the corner.
But there could be other explanations.
In our view, the Spanish banking system is in need of wholesale recapitalisation to deal with the sizeable losses in the country’s property market. This will likely include a bad bank provision. Before that happens, the ECB’s open market operations will mainly buy time in the form of liquidity as well as provide banks with money to exchange bad loans for lending to the government.
Simon Ward at Money Moves Markets updates us on the latest monetary aggregates from the eurozone and despite strong global growth in excess liquidity and central bank expansion, money growth remains weak in Europe. Going out of 2011, 6 month…
Since early September the ECB’s balance sheet has expanded by 589 billion euros (about 750 billion USD) and the Fed USD swap lines are currently sitting at around 100 billion USD. The second LTRO to be conducted towards the end of February is then very likely to take this number well past 1 trillion USD of liquidity to the European banking system.