Show an ad over header. AMP

The European Central Bank and the market's moment of truth

The biggest event for markets this week will be Thursday's meeting of the European Central Bank's governing council and the press conference following it from ECB president Christine Lagarde.

Why it matters: With interest rates jumping around the globe, investors are looking to central bank heads to see if they will follow the lead of Fed chair Jerome Powell, who says rising rates are nothing to worry about, or Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda, who has drawn a line in the sand on rates.


The big picture: Government bond yields are rising because central bankers say they want inflation, but rising inflation expectations come with higher borrowing costs in a world that already is indebted to the tune of 356% of global GDP with no real plan to reduce its debt load.

The latest: The continuation of the selloff in equities seen on Friday could push policymakers toward a new sense of urgency.

  • European stocks, like their U.S. counterparts, have sunk in recent weeks as interest rates have risen at spectacular speed, drawing the attention of central bankers as diverse as Kuroda, the Fed's Lael Brainard, Reserve Bank of Australia's Philip Lowe and Bank of Korea's Lee Ju-yeol in the last two weeks.

What they're saying: Lagarde said in late February that the ECB was “closely monitoring” interest rates, but has not firmly committed to taking action that could include increasing the central bank's bond-buying programs or even lowering its -0.5% interest rate, as other members of the governing council have suggested.

  • The majority of economists in a Bloomberg survey expect the ECB to increase emergency asset purchases to counter rising bond yields.
  • Stepping up bond purchases or adding to its pandemic emergency purchase program would mark a turn from verbal intervention to market intervention.

Where it stands: The world's leading industrialized central banks — the Fed, BOJ and ECB, which collectively hold around $23 trillion on their balance sheets — are facing a moment of truth.

  • With the Fed meeting next week, March 16-17, and markets expecting Powell and company to make no changes to their current policy, the actions of the ECB could set the tone for a new phase of action to tame rapidly rising rates.
Data: Investing.com; Chart: Axios Visuals

The concern from ECB leaders over rising bond yields is especially notable given how much more U.S. government yields have moved higher than their European counterparts this year.

By the numbers: German 10-year government bond yields, the European benchmark, have risen from -0.61% to start the year to -0.30% as of Friday.

  • U.S. 10-year Treasury yields have gone from 0.92% to start the year to 1.58% on Friday.

What it means: The increase in U.S. Treasury yields has been more than double that of comparable German bunds and pushed the spread between the two to its most negative in more than a year.

Merrick Garland: Domestic terrorism is "still with us" and remains critical threat

In his first major speech, Attorney General Merrick Garland warned the nation Monday to remain vigilant against the rising threat of domestic extremism.

Why it matters: Domestic terrorism poses an "elevated threat" to the nation this year, according to U.S. intelligence. Garland has already pledged to crack down on violence linked to white supremacists and right-wing militia groups.

Keep reading... Show less

"Nine minutes and 29 seconds": Prosecutors begin closing arguments in Chauvin trial

Steve Schleicher, an attorney for the prosecution in Derek Chauvin's trial, began closing arguments on Monday by describing in detail George Floyd's last moments — crying out for help and surrounded by strangers, as Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds.

Why it matters: The jury's verdict in Chauvin's murder trial, seen by advocates as one of the most crucial civil rights cases in decades, will reverberate across the country and have major implications in the fight for racial justice.

Keep reading... Show less

European soccer goes to war over wealthy clubs' plans for exclusive "Super League"

Europe's biggest soccer clubs have established The Super League, a new midweek tournament that would compete with — and threaten the very existence of — the Champions League.

Why it matters: This new league, set to start in 2023, "would bring about the most significant restructuring of elite European soccer since the 1950s, and could herald the largest transfer of wealth to a small set of teams in modern sports history," writes NYT's Tariq Panja.

Keep reading... Show less

81% of S&P 500 companies have reported a positive earnings surprise for Q1

First-quarter earnings so far have been very strong, outpacing even the rosy expectations from Wall Street and that's a trend that's expected to continue for all of 2021. S&P 500 companies are on pace for one of the best quarters of positive earnings surprises on record, according to FactSet.

Why it matters: The results show that not only has the earnings recession ended for U.S. companies, but firms are performing better than expected and the economy may be justifying all the hype.

Keep reading... Show less

NASA's Mars helicopter takes flight as first aircraft piloted on another planet

NASA successfully piloted the Ingenuity Mars helicopter for its first experimental flight on Monday, briefly hopping the aircraft as NASA's Perseverance rover collected data.

Why it matters: Ingenuity's short flight marks the first time a human-built aircraft has flown on a world other than Earth, opening the door to new means of exploring planets far from our own.

Keep reading... Show less

All U.S. adults now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine, meeting Biden's April 19 deadline

All 50 U.S. states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, have now made U.S. adults over the age of 16 eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, meeting President Biden's April 19 deadline.

Why it matters: The landmark speaks to the increased pace of the national vaccination campaign, but will increase pressure on the federal government, states and pharmaceutical companies to provide adequate vaccine supply and logistics.

Keep reading... Show less

Minneapolis braces for a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial

Minneapolis is waking up to images of an occupied city on Monday, as the city and the world await a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial.

What it's like: Residents running errands, picking up dinner and heading to the dog park in recent days encountered heavily-armed National Guard troops stationed throughout the city.

Keep reading... Show less

Russian authorities say jailed opposition leader Navalny has been transferred to hospital

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been hospitalized, one day after his doctor warned that the jailed Putin critic "could die at any moment," Russia's prison service said Monday.

Why it matters: News that Navalny's condition had severely deteriorated on the third week of a hunger strike prompted outrage from his supporters and international demands for Russia to provide him with immediate medical treatment.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories