First it was Europe that was mired in its coldest deflationary winter ever, then America promptly caught on. It was only a matter of time when cheap energy prices claimed its next victim - Britain. Unlike the Eurozone whose February CPI change settled at -0.3%, the UK saw no change in its price index from a year ago, missing estimates of a 0.1% rise and down from January's 0.3% change. The core figure (excluding food and energy) missed expectations of 1.3%, coming in at 1.2% from January's 1.4%. The market collectively expects deflation to officially strike in March. This comes on the heels of the BoE's Governor Mark Carney's comments about inflation dropping below zero in the next couple of months. Earlier in March, the Bank of England's MPC voted to keep interest rates at a record low of 0.5%, but foresaw a rate hike somewhere in 2016. The BoE is expected to trail the Fed in terms of monetary policy.
The time from when we last published our latest addition of the Daily Grail has been rather eventful. From the blistering jobs report 2 weeks ago that propelled market's expectation for a June rate hike even higher, to the continuation of monetary policy bifurcation by the world's central banks that will soon see the Euro trading at par to the Dollar, the month of March has so far endowed the financial markets with much needed cross-asset volatility.
On 22 January, the ECB unveiled something the world had never seen before. Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, announced that for the first time in the 14 years of the Euro's existence, the ECB was going to monetize debt securities to the tune of €60bn/month. Just 2 short months ago, the ECB termed this open market operation the EAPP (Expanded Asset Purchase Program).
2 months and 1000 pips later, the ECB has coined a new term - the PSPP (Public Sector Purchase Program).The big question on the minds of currency traders across all trading desks is when will parity be attained on EURUSD. Not if but when.
We spoke, we warned, and it has now happened. For reference, we have included a bevy of links documenting our explanation of why deflation was going to be the elephant in the China room.
With the significance of this being the first deflationary headline figure 6 years after Lehman collapsed, low oil prices have conveniently been cast as the straw man. There is some truth to this - the energy index fell 9.7% while the gasoline index fell 18.7% in January, both over December. This marks the fiercest plunge in the 7 consecutive negative prints; the report also noted that the decline in the gasoline was "overwhelmingly the cause" for broad weakness in overall prices. When annualized, the energy index and gasoline index fell 19.6% and 35.4% respectively. Staggering figures!
What makes this move shocking is that just last month the SNB committed themselves to preventing their currency appreciating beyond 1.20 to the Euro and vowed they would enforce the policy with "the utmost determination". The risk for the global financial system is that if the SNB can make such a dramatic u-turn could other central banks follow at some point. We're not so concerned here as their situation is arguably a lot different to the ECB. The ECB might actually look at the wider market moves yesterday and be scared to disappoint.
Update: After surging 9% against the dollar in the early hours of European trading, the Ruble has resumed its slump towards 70 to the dollar, as Bloomberg reports. Seems like all is not fixed even in the surface.
Update 2: USDRUB breaches 80, RTS index down a whopping 15%. Alarm bells going off. Dollar is at session lows and safety is massively bid.
The CBR raised its main interest rate to 17% from the 10.5% last week, a 650bp hike, sending the ruble much higher as traders knew jerked to the eleventh hour decision to try halt to ruble's cataclysmic collapse amid even lower oil prices. The decision to raise the borrowing cost of interbank borrowing came at 1am local time, highlighting the desperation and intended impact of the measure