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2 August 2013updated 22 Oct 2020 3:55pm

The EU’s cat-herder-in-chief fails to move the markets where he wants

Mario Draghi strained to have an effect, but to no avail.

By Nick Beecroft

Unfortunately all rather boring really – and not a little bizarre. Whilst S. Draghi seemed to be straining every sinew to give the impression that the market simply was not understanding the full significance of his message to the members of the Governing Council to “expect key interest rates to remain at present or lower levels for an extended period of time”, he just couldn’t quite get the market to play ball.

He could hardly have dropped more hints that we should be expecting rates to stay were they are, or move lower, for many, many quarters. He stressed (twice) that the ECB’s Deposit Rate, could go lower, even though it is currently zero. He stressed that liquidity would remain ample, and if it didn’t, he’d see to it (presumably with another Long Term Refinancing Operation, LTRO)

He even borrowed the Bank of England’s assertion that “the current market pricing of rate hikes is unwarranted”. Getting a little desperate, maybe, he emphasized the pathetic growth in money supply, and that lending by banks in the periphery was still very weak.

Despite all his efforts, futures markets remained steadfastly rooted to the spot by the time he finished, stubbornly refusing to extend their timescale for rate hikes, however he may insist they should. The euro weakened a little initially, but then recouped some of its losses – which may have been caused by a strong dollar anyway.

Perhaps the problem is that markets know he has the most unenviable role in major central bank leadership – he needs to be an Olympic-level Cat herder. Everything is compromise, mixed with liberal amounts of bowing and scraping to the Bundesbank. Therefore the markets are screaming “show us the money!” – until he actually cuts rates, or adds another LTRO, or firms up his forward guidance with depressingly distant economic thresholds, investors remain very sceptical of the current, “words are easy” form of forward guidance.

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Finally, what about publication of ECB meeting minutes? They couldn’t even reach a decision on this-Mr Draghi announced an intention to publish more specific information on decisions taken by the GC, but, the discussion is at an “early stage”. The ECB board is to make proposal in the Autumn. Yawn.

Look for some, (but surely not all!), of these actions next month or in October.

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