Cyprus has finally struck a €10bn deal to become the fifth country “rescued” by the rest of the eurozone, after Greece, Ireland, Portugal and a special loan for Spain. Almost a third of the 17 countries in the single currency have now had to be rescued.
Unlike all the other deals, Cyprus gets immediate deflation, through heavy losses for depositors above €100,000 at its two biggest banks, Bank of Cyprus and Laiki. Read more
It is just wrong that depositors, even large Russian tax-avoiders, are suffering while other senior bank creditors are excluded. It is wrong that Greek depositors in Cypriot banks are excluded, even though it was the Greek assets bought in large part with those deposits which caused a lot of the problems. And it is particularly wrong that small depositors are being hit, making a mockery of the deposit guarantee scheme.
Yet, there is risk in everything, and depositors were being compensated for the riskiness of Cypriot banks through higher interest rates. This chart shows the deposit rates paid on fixed-term deposits of less than a year (much of Cypriot deposits are fixed term, although even overnight deposits pay more interest than the rest of the eurozone).
Now, it is fair to say depositors generally don’t realise the risks they are running. Even when they do realise, they mostly don’t care (as Icesave showed in the UK): that’s the whole point of deposit guarantee schemes, after all. But in fact the compensation paid for the risk that it turned out depositors were running was about right. Read more
Today’s the deadline for European banks that want to repay early the emergency three-year loans from the European Central Bank. James Mackintosh, investment editor, consider the implications for the ECB and the currency wars.
Investors could hardly be more excited about the pressure on the Bank of Japan from new prime minister Shinzo Abe. Japanese equities have soared and the yen crumbled (until this week’s slight strengthening, at least) on hopes the BoJ will act more aggressively to end the deflation, which is widely blamed for crippling the economy.
The big plan is to push the BoJ into adopting a 2 per cent inflation target, double the 1 per cent goal it set last February. But given how badly it has missed that target, would 2 per cent really matter? Read more
Being widely hated is one thing, but being widely hated and poor is even worse. This fate almost befell Europe’s bankers earlier this summer. Share prices have soared in the past two months, so all the bankers now have to worry about is mobs with pitchforks.
Seriously, though, European banking seems to be returning to what passes for normal nowadays: money markets have stabilised, bond markets reopened and Americans are even willing (at a price) to put dollars back into French banks, as I discuss in today’s Short View video:
The result has been that eurozone bank shares were one of the smartest investments of the year – as long as you avoided the trouble periphery. This chart shows the split in returns from buying eurozone core or eurozone periphery banks. Read more
The new blog challenge: put these in order of how awful they’ve been since the euro was created:
It is a serious challenge, given how much everyone hates all the banks. But if forced to choose, the order might reasonably go something like the above – the periphery, in order of rescue, middling eurozone, then the Brits (many of them already nationalised, plus the Libor-struck Barclays), followed by under-capitalised Germans and finally the resurgent Americans as the best of a bad bunch.
Equity investors don’t seem to share this view, as this great chart shows. Read more
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This blog is about asset allocation at the global level. It is an ongoing attempt to explain why investors and markets behave the way they do.
John Authers officially takes the "Long View", while James Mackintosh takes the "Short View" when it comes to investment decisions. In practice both of us end up taking both long- and short-term views, and occasionally disagreeing with each other; all comments and disagreements are very welcome.
James Mackintosh is the Financial Times' Investment Editor, writing and presenting the daily Short View column and video. In 16 years at the FT his posts have included comment editor, motor industry editor and hedge funds correspondent, as well as spells in the Parliamentary lobby and Paris. He was the first reporter hired for FT.com, joining two weeks before it launched.
James has a degree in philosophy and psychology from the University of Oxford, where he spent two further years in post-graduate study of philosophy. If he wasn't here, he'd be skiing.
John Authers is the Financial Times' Senior Investment Columnist, writing the Saturday Long View and a regular Monday column. In a 22-year career at the FT, his previous posts have included global head of the Lex column, investment editor, US markets editor, Mexico City bureau chief and US banking correspondent. His latest book is The Fearful Rise of Markets.
John has a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Oxford, and an MBA from Columbia University. Perhaps more interestingly, he captained the highest scoring team in the history of University Challenge while at Oxford, and also once sung in Pavarotti's backing choir.