World braces as deflation tremors hit Eurozone bond markets

‘The forces of monetary deflation are gathering. Global liquidity is declining and central banks are not doing enough, either in the West or the East to offset the decline,’ warns CrossBorderCapital

Eurozone fears have returned with a vengeance as deepening deflation across Southern Europe and fresh turmoil in Greece set off wild moves on the European bond markets.

Yields on 10-year German Bund plummeted to an all-time low on 0.72pc on flight to safety, touching levels never seen before in any major European country in recorded history. “This is not going to stop until the European Central Bank steps up to the plate. If it does not act in the next few days, this could snowball,” said Andrew Roberts, credit chief at RBS.

Calls for action came as James Bullard, the once hawkish head of St Louis Federal Reserve, said the Fed may have to back-track on bond tapering in the US, hinting at yet further QE to fight deflationary pressures and shore up defences against a eurozone relapse.

“The forces of monetary deflation are gathering,” said CrossBorderCapital. “Global liquidity is declining and central banks are not doing enough, either in the West or the East to offset the decline. This may not be a repeat of 2007/2008, but it is starting to look more and more like another 1997/1998 episode.” This is a reference to the East Asia crisis and Russian default triggered by withdrawal of dollar liquidity.

Ominously, French, Italian, Spanish, Irish, and Portuguese yields diverged sharply from German yields in early trading today, spiking suddenly in a sign that investors are again questioning the solidity of monetary union. The risk spread between Bunds and Italian 10-year yields briefly jumped 38 basis points. This was the biggest one-day move since the last spasm of the debt crisis in 2012.

This sort of price action suggests that the markets fear deflation is becoming serious enough to threaten the debt dynamics of weaker EMU states. The yields are not just discounting a protracted slump, they are also starting to price default risk yet again, or even EMU break-up risk. This is a new development that may some heartburn in Frankfurt.

The markets were further rattled by an IMF warning that just 30pc of eurozone banks are in a fit state to rebuild capital and boost lending, a hint that the ECB’s stress tests could contain some nasty surprises for lenders when results are released this month. The IMF says 80pc of US banks are healthy.

Greece’s yields have soared 300 basis points to 8.73pc over the last month as markets react badly to populist plans by premier Antonis Samaras to break free of the EU-IMF Troika and return to the markets for debt finance.

This is compounded by fears that political deadlock will force a general election in February, opening the door for the Syriza party’s firebrand leader Alexis Tsipras. The latest polls put Syriza six points ahead of the government. The party has vowed to tear up Greece Troika “Memorandum”, deeming the terms to be debt servitude.

One banker with Greek ties said the local sell-off is entirely political. “The Athens stock market has tanked 24pc and residual Greek bonds have lost almost half their value. That is the clearing price for a Tsipras government. But at the end of the day the EU has too much at stake in Greece to let it fail,” he said.

Professor Richard Werner from Southampton University said talk of recovery in the eurozone over recent month has been wishful thinking. “There has been a huge contraction in bank credit in southern Europe, and that means their economies are slowly imploding.

Full article: World braces as deflation tremors hit Eurozone bond markets (The Telegraph)

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