Expectations for the highly anticipated June 6 ECB meeting ranged from hopeful to pessimistic.
Mario Draghi – whose term ends in November – may now be a lame duck central bank president, no longer able to ram through policies that do not carry the full support of the governing council, which had been a hallmark of his eight-year tenure.
For investors, negative yields, flatter yield curves and – quite possibly – a stronger euro all appear to be in the cards, suggesting an increasingly moribund economy.
By Andrew Mulliner, CFA
The June 6 meeting of the European Central Bank (ECB) effectively marked the beginning of the end of its president, Mario Draghi’s, reign. Andrew Mulliner, a Global Bonds Portfolio Manager, reflects on the outcome of the meeting and what the future holds with Mr. Draghi on his way out, an empty toolbox at the ECB and weakening global growth.
The European Central Bank (ECB) meeting on June 6 was anticipated, with a range of expectations across the market, from hopeful to pessimistic. With market-implied, medium-term inflation expectations close to all-time lows, ECB President Mario Draghi’s reputation as the “man who can” in Europe is on the line.
Source: Janus Henderson Investors, Bloomberg, daily, as of 6/10/19. Note: 5-year, 5-year euro inflation swap rate
With rates in much of the eurozone already negative and quantitative easing (QE) finished, the ECB’s toolbox appears to be close to empty. Mr. Draghi, the mercurial central bank president who “saved” Europe back in 2012, has a reputation for finding ways to provide additional accommodation to the European economy where other, more conventional, central bankers would likely struggle.
However, the June 6 meeting effectively marks the beginning of the end of Mr. Draghi’s reign. Actual ECB policy actions were modest and the ECB’s forecasts are based more on hope than experience. Mr. Draghi’s term finishes in November; he may now be a lame duck central bank president, no longer able to ram through policies that do not carry the full support of the governing council – a hallmark of his eight-year tenure.
The ECB delivered further accommodation, however, adjusting its forward guidance a further six months into the future. It assured the markets that rates would not go up, at least until the second half of 2020. The credibility of this forward guidance and its impact on markets can be questioned as markets assume a higher probability of the ECB cutting rates over this time period – so much for reining in rampant market expectations for imminent hikes.