Chronology of a Crisis

Chronology of a Crisis
by Mitul Kotecha

Not many would have thought that the global financial crisis stemming from the sub-prime debacle in the US would have spawned such a massive degree of global contagion, the impact of which is being felt to this day. Indeed, it is evident that global markets have had to face crisis after crisis since the sub-prime saga began. It is equally evident that the chances of returning to the definition of normality that we knew prior to the crisis are extremely slim.

Fast forward to late 2012 and one could be forgiven for thinking that markets are still in the midst of crisis. The stark reality is that, despite the massive amount of fiscal and monetary stimulus enacted since 2008, the world economy remains very fragile and while the financial system is arguably in better shape, policy makers have far less ammunition in their pockets than they did at the beginning of the financial crisis. All is not so bad, however, with signs over recent months that the global economy is finally emerging from its quagmire. Even the crisis in the Eurozone is increasingly moving painstakingly towards some form of resolution.

In this book I give a month-by-month analysis of the period following the escalation of the financial crisis, attempting where possible to determine where and how things could have been handled differently. In assessing the market impact, particularly in relation to currency markets, the analysis will hopefully provide some insight into what can be learnt from the crisis and what to expect should a similar situation arise in the future.

Highlights this week

Better than expected Chinese data over the weekend, speculation that Greece is close to reaching its debt buyback target and even some signs of progress in reaching a resolution to avert the fiscal cliff set up risk assets for a generally positive start to the week. Talks between the administration and senior Republicans will continue this week but it appears that some senior Republicans are willing to give up their objections to tax hikes on the very wealthy.

The November US jobs report released at the end of last week which revealed a 146k increase in payrolls and a drop in the unemployment rate to 7.7% is likely to have little influence at the turn of the week. The report was met with a muted reaction. While on the face of it the data was better than expected, downward revisions to past months and a surprising lack of impact from Hurricane Sandy left markets somewhat perplexed.

However, not everything is rosy. Last week’s sharp downward growth revisions to Eurozone growth by the European Central Bank (ECB), a plunge in US consumer sentiment and comments from Italian Prime Minister Monti that he intends to resign will cast a shadow over markets, restraining any upside.

Although activity will likely continue to thin as holidays approach there is still plenty too chew on this week. In the US the Fed is set to continue purchasing USD 85 billion of longer dated securities following the end of Operation Twist but this should come as little surprise to the market and therefore will yield little reaction. There will be some encouraging news on the consumer as retail sales bounce back in November.

Across the pond the European Council meeting beginning on Thursday will be in focus, with banking union and bank recapitalisation among the topics up for discussion. Given the hint of monetary easing by the ECB markets will scrutinise upcoming data for the timing but a likely increase in the German ZEW investor confidence survey in December and stabilisation in the Eurozone composite purchasing manager’s index will not prove compelling enough to warrant an imminent rate cut.

Elsewhere in Japan the upcoming elections will mark the highlight of the calendar over the weekend although the weaker than expected Q3 GDP reading this morning (-0.9% QoQ) and expected deterioration in the Tankan survey later in the week will maintain the pressure for more aggressive policy action and a weaker JPY.

EUR took a hit from the ECB’s dovish stance last week and will not take too kindly to the news of Monti’s intended resignation after the fiscal 2013 budget in Italy. EUR/USD 1.2880 still marks a solid support level for the currency.

USD/JPY continues to probe higher but extreme short market positioning will likely limit the ability of the currency pair to push higher. On the topside 83.15 will market strong resistance for the currency pair.

AUD and NZD look generally well supported, with Chinese data over the weekend giving further support although for AUD/USD 1.0519 will continue to act a tough technical barrier to crack.

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