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Eco Focus is an aperiodic publication providing up-to-the-minute analysis of a current topic.
The issue of populist movements does not stop at elections. In the longer term, it poses the problem of the legitimacy of elites and solutions for reconciling democracy and globalisation. In fact, we have now entered into a political cycle, ie, a point in history where politics has taken over from the economy and is imposing its own rationality. There is no going back: we are seing a transition of both internal and external political equilibrium.
The ECB has been in full Barbadian-pop-star mode between September and December 2016: "work, work, work, work, work, Draghi said they have to work…". Now, after the announcement, the explanation and the publication of the legal acts, the relevant committees, the ECB and NCB staff and the Governing Council members can take a break.
Inflation rates in the Eurozone surprised to the upside in December 2016, and we forecast that inflation will continue to rise over the next few months, coming close to 2% before receding below 1.5% during the summer. There have been voices calling for monetary tightening following these inflation figures. Calling for ECB tightening today is to misunderstand the inflation trend, the macroeconomic outlook in the Eurozone, the ECB's mandate and the way the ECB understands its mandate.
After two and a half years of active and changing monetary policy – ABSPP, CBPP 3, TLTRO I, PSPP, PSPP extension, PSPP expansion, TLTRO II, PSPP reduction, PSPP extension and change in modalities – the ECB has set the conditions for a period of unchanged monetary policy.
Fears about 'hard Brexit' have escalated in recent days and that has pushed GBP to fresh multi-year lows. We expect the concerns to linger and lower our GBP forecasts. We expect GBP/USD to finish the year at 1.23 and EUR/GBP at 0.90. Further out, we expect a cautious recovery because we believe that 'hard Brexit' will be avoided and that the UK will able to secure an enhanced free trade agreem ent with the EU in the coming years.
October nonfarm payrolls rose by 161K, which is likely closer to a sustainable pace of employment generation going forward with the economy near full employment. The October unemployment rate crept down to 4.9% while the participation rate slipped to 62.8%. October average hourly earnings rose 0.4% MoM, and accelerated to a 2.8% annual pace (after revisions to September). We expect earnings to strengthen in the months ahead with the economy close to full employment.
We expect the FOMC to keep policy unchanged at its November 2 meeting with the Fed funds target range maintained at 0.25% to 0.5% and no change in the FOMC's portfolio reinvestment policies. We continue to look for the FOMC to hike rates at its December 14 meeting as part of a gradual pace of rate normalization, including two additional 25 bps rate hikes during 2017.
We received the shortest ECB press conference in three years today and, to be honest, we have not learned a lot. We might be happy because the little we got tends to confirm our preview but we would have been happier if Mario Draghi had more clearly confirmed what we feel. Tapering fears are clearly overstated: albeit M. Draghi did not commit to anything, the ECB does not seem to be in the mood for a monetary policy tightening in the near term.
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