Focus shift back to “fiscal cliff”



Budget talks and the “fiscal cliff” is back in focus after leaving the euro finance ministers agreement on Greek debt cuts on the agenda in the very start of the week. The euro’s short won gains against the USD were eaten up during yesterday. Euro/USD is trading at 1.2939 after falling fifty basis points in the afternoon of yesterday. The Japanese Yen strengthens versus dollar. After USD/JPY has traded in the interval between 82.15 to 82,65, yen is this morning below 82 at 81,95. Asian shares ended a seven-day winning streak this morning. The share index for Asia-Pacific stocks, MSCI, fell 0,5 % and commodities eased as lack of progress in talks on US budget threatened to threw the US economy back in recession.
President Barack Obama launched yesterday a public relations push for his bid to raise taxes on wealthy Americans. US lawmakers remained, however deadlocked over dramatic year-end tax increases and spending cuts known as the “fiscal cliff”. Obama met with small business leaders in the White House. They urged Obama to keep the tax cuts for the middle class to increase consumption and job creation. The US tycoon, Warren Buffet, simultaneously, called on the rich to pay more and proposed a minimum tax on 30 % on incomes between USD 1 and 10 million and 35 % on incomes above.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid expressed last night disappointment over modest progress in the budget negotiations. The remarks had US stocks to slide. Dow Jones lost 0,69 percent and Nasdaq 0,30. Statistics could on the other hand report on record high Thanksgiving sales and the highest US-consumer optimism in 5 years. The Shanghai composite Index slid 0,7 % and the Chinese stock markets to its lowest in nearly four years extending earlier losses and closing below 2000 points for the first time since January 2009. The weak Chinese stock market along with increasing doubts over US ability to resolve the fiscal crisis have over the last weeks strengthened demand for sovereign debt. Japanese government bond futures rise to a 9 and half year high.
Digesting the Greek debt deal comments on Twitter dismissed it as another exercise in kicking the can down the road. A degree of kicking is obvious. There is, however a critical element in the new deal which goes further than any step taken so far to get Greece back on its feet. There is an implicit understanding that Greece will undergo some form of official-sector debt restructuring with euro zone countries at some point in the future forgiving a portion of Greece’s debt. This sort of last-ditch measure is usually reserved for impoverished states in Africa and Latin America. German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble came close to acknowledging such an eventuality on a later press conference.
Oil prices are down a dollar since yesterday. Brent crude is trading at 110. Gold is also down from 1750 to 1741 breaking the good upward trend seen over the last days. Silver at USD 34 is also down.
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