You can take a gloomy view of today’s eurozone GDP figures. Third quarter growth, at 0.4 per cent on the previous three months, was weaker than in the US and UK – where the talk is about quantitative easing and further measures to boost the economy - and the underlying trend appears to show a clear deceleration from the first half of the year.
But I suspect the ECB is not going to be too disappointed. Germany still managed an impressive 0.7 per cent expansion, while the French and Italian economies continue to expand, even if at a modest pace. Yves Mersch, Luxembourg’s central bank governor, has just told Bloomberg that the latest data were in line with the ECB’s “baseline scenario”. Certainly, the growth outlook will not stop the ECB from pressing ahead with its “exit strategy” to unwind emergency measures taken to support the financial system. Whether Ireland or the other “peripheral” eurozone countries do is another question…
Irish bond yields have dropped back as European officials have dramatically scaled back the impact of a sovereign default on bondholders.
Bondholders had been selling off peripheral eurozone debt – particularly Irish – since Brussels announced they might need to accept a loss – or haircut – in the value of their holdings should a default occur. This effectively reduced the future value of bonds held. The precise nature of who would lose what has remained unclear, as the sell-off sent bond prices down and yields above 9 per cent yesterday for Irish 10-year debt.
Now finance ministers appear to have backtracked, saying
In September 2009 I blogged about the similarities between the Pittsburgh G20 framework for strong, stable and balanced global growth and the 2007 International Monetary Fund multilateral consultations, noting that when global leaders were wrong to say their commitments to get rid of imbalances were new or made significant progress.
Today it is genuinely déjà vu all over again as the “Seoul Action Plan” papers over long-standing divisions on currencies and trade imbalances. Leaders have been doing their best to say the summit was not a failure and that the engine of global economic cooperation is still firing on all cylinders.
What is the evidence? According to the G20 it is this new passage about indicative guidelines in the communique.
Chinese equities have plummeted on rumours that the People’s Bank of China plans to raise rates again to combat inflation, which came in at 4.4 per cent for October. Consumer prices rose substantially during the month – the annual rate was just 3.6 per cent in September.
The Shanghai Composite lost more than 5 per cent, with financial services and resource sectors hit particularly hard and dozens of stocks falling by their 10 per cent daily limit.