THE DAILY MACRO BRIEF: The Fed flexes its muscles, Johnson to blame the EU…

10/09/2019 | 10:01am

Stock market indices plunged again yesterday as trade talks between the United States and China are soon due, on Thursday exactly. Meanwhile, Brexit is at a standstill, as Boris Johnson works to shift the blame of stalling negotiations on the EU. In the United States, while Donald Trump flat out refuses to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, the Fed pulls out the light artillery.

Washington's negotiating strategy with Beijing has the merit of being clear, if not subtle. The United States put fuel on the fire before trade negotiations resumed by punishing Chinese companies linked to repression against minorities in the northwest of the country. The former Middle Kingdom obviously responded by suggesting that America should mind its own business. It begs the question as to whether the two protagonists really want to reach a compromise. Unless it's a counterfire lit by Donald Trump, threatened with an Impeachment procedure? The conflict escalated yesterday between Democratic and Executive MPs with the White House's refusal to cooperate in an ongoing investigation.

For once, Trump shouldn't complain about the Fed. The institution's head, Jerome Powell, said yesterday in a speech that the central bank will soon announce measures to improve the liquidity of the banking system and ease the repo market, which has been under stress since September. Powell stressed that this will not be a new "EQ" type support plan. In fact, he insisted so much that some observers find it suspicious. Technically, the measures should focus on short-term treasury bill redemptions, while EQ operations target longer maturities.

In Europe, the discussions on Brexit have not yet produced any results. And the continental leaders are getting annoyed. In London, the press reports dissension within Boris Johnson's government: ministers would be willing to resign if no agreement was reached. At this stage, the "Boris method" is a fiasco. There are three weeks left to find an honorable outcome. Meanwhile, a memo from the government leaked in the press that indicates that the Tory Party stance will be to blame the EU if it has to ask for a Brexit extension.

Today's data: Crude oil inventories in the United States. Every week, the United States publishes the evolution of its crude oil stock. It is a highly regarded indicator because it makes it possible to assess the gaps between supply and demand. Reactions to the reported figures are strong and often give way to a readjustment of Brent and WTI prices. The consensus expects an increase of 1.8 million barrels.

Italy is switching to the dollar. In a constant search for investors, Italy has mandated several banks (Barclays, HSBC and JPMorgan) to issue 5, 10 and 30-year government bonds denominated in dollars. It should be noted that BTPs (Italian government bonds) are the best performing sovereign securities in the euro zone in 2019 (14% yield).

Romain Fournier
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