Trading volumes were down at the beginning of the trading week with the US markets closed for the Veterans Day public holiday.
Continuing concerns about the euro zone and the so called US ‘fiscal cliff’ increased risk aversion aiding the dollar which reached a new two-month high against the euro.
Despite the positive vote in Athens on Sunday night and some complimentary remarks from German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the progress Portugal has made to date, a public spat between the euro group of finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as Greece's international creditors failed to agree on the country's bailout programme focused market concerns and fuelled safe haven capital flows.
Late on Sunday night, the Greek parliament in Athens finally approved its tough 2013 budget with a wider than expected margin as 167 deputies approved the bill, 128 voted against, four voted 'present' and one member was absent. The 2013 budget forecasts a further 4.5% contraction in the Greek economy next year as the government enacts €9.5 billion in spending cuts and tax hikes. Greek unemployment is expected to average 22.8% as the country enters its 6th year of recession.
The budget forecast that Greek sovereign debt will rise to €346 billion next year, a rise in the debt-to-GDP ratio from 175% in 2012 to 190% in 2013.
However, the so-called troika, representatives from the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank failed to give the final seal of approval necessary in time for today’s meeting of euro zone finance minsters’ with a public disagreement between officials.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said yesterday in an interview with Welt am Sonntag that he didn’t expect the agreement to be signed off on today.
“All of us in the euro group and the IMF want to help Greece, but we don't let ourselves be put under pressure,” he said, adding that “no one in the euro zone has a problem agreeing to the next tranche, but only if the conditions are met. That’s something the Greek government has to take care of.” The troika did however agree to grant Greece a two-year extension to get its fiscal house in order.
Euro group Chairman Jean-Claude Juncker stated that the Greek governments deadline to bring debt down to 120% of gross domestic product by 2020 would be extended to 2022 but was contradicted by International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde who openly showed her disapproval and said that the two organisations obviously had “different views” on the timetable that Greece needs to complete.
The ministers are expected to meet up again on 20 November in order to tie up the loose ends.
In the absence of any material economic data out yesterday, the markets were relatively quiet, albeit with a focus on safe haven flows helping currencies like the US dollar.
Money transfers to America:-
The US dollar has received two boosts in the last 7 days with the result of the US Presidential elections ending any political uncertainty and an increase in risk aversion increasing demand for the safe haven qualities of the dollar.
With a raft of UK economic data due out over the next 72 hours, most analysts expect the pound to come under a renewed bout of pressure and so clients with a demand for the US dollar may wish to consider a ‘sooner rather than later’ policy in order to prevent any further damage to the exchange rate between the pound and the dollar.