Eq: Dev ex-US
We don’t cover the Brexit saga very much, mostly because it doesn’t seem to have a great deal of relevance to the US. However, interesting news is out today: the UK’s Labour party is trying to get a second Brexit referendum going. The political details are complicated, but the general plan is to derail the government’s current Brexit plan, and then hold a general election that could work as a replacement for the first Brexit result. A Labour party’s spokesman says that it is a “sequenced, structured” strategy.
FINSUM: We have maintained throughout this saga that the UK should not leave the EU. It is still going to have to be heavily involved with the EU for economic and political reasons, and if it leaves it will simply go from a rule-maker to a rule-taker.
The big recovery after the huge losses in Italy might finally be underway. While downward pressure on Italian assets had subsided, there is now a big rally happening. The catalyst is that the country’s finance minster has just pledged that Italy will stay in the Euro, helping ease the market’s largest worry about the political crisis in Rome. The minister also pledged to avoid financial instability.
FINSUM: Italy’s two-year bond has already seen its yield fall 100 bp! That is quite a response. To be honest we doubt this pledge amounts to much, but it is good signaling for the market.
Well it just happened. The two alternative Italian parties—the Five Star movement and the League have just formed a coalition government to govern Italy. The new PM of the country will be Conte, a very inexperienced politician who comes from a legal and academic background. According to the WSJ, “Matteo Salvini, the 45-year-old leader of the League who pledged to deport hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, will become interior minister”.
FINSUM: There is now a strongly anti-Euro and anti-EU government in power in Italy. A default and a devolution to the old Lira are entirely within the realm of possibility.
In what seems to be a spread of European unrest, Spain’s Parliament voted today to remove the country’s PM, Mariano Rajoy, who has been in power for seven years. While the reasons for his ouster are very different than in Italy, the move will add pressure to a European continent that is plagued by political unrest. Rajoy’s party was plagued by a corruption scandal, which seems to have ultimately undone the PM. He will be replaced by a PM from the Socialist party.
FINSUM: The worry we have here is that the socialist party may undo a lot of the budgetary gains that have been made during austerity—not totally dissimilar to Italy in effect. Then again, at least they are not Euro sceptics.
While all eyes are on Italy and its political/markets crisis, the answer to the really scary question—will the Eurozone and EU fall apart—might lay in Spain. Italy is going to go down the road it chooses, but the big consternation is really about whether others will follow. To see the extent of the crisis, one needs to follow Spain, which will be holding a no confidence vote for its PM on Friday, with socialists likely to take over in his party’s absence.
FINSUM: If Italy falls, the next domino seems likely to be Spain. If the pair indicate they are leaving the Euro we will probably have a financial crisis unfold.
For those who consider themselves students of the market, yesterday was a real whopper. Short-term bond yields can usually be seen as a proxy for cash. But in a truly astonishing move, Italian two-year yields rose an amazing 1.5 percentage points yesterday (150 bp) to 2.4%. By comparison, other southern European yields, such as Spain, moved just 12 bp. Markets are worried about a massive Italian default, and possibly the redenomination of bonds into Lira.
FINSUM: When you get right down to it the panic here is not just about a default, but about a breakup of the Euro. We have always said it would be Italy to leave first, and the major question is whether others would join them when that happened.