Thursday, 6 October 2011

QE2 is launched while Europe prepares its ports for the storm

Markets express the collective views of the many but sometimes they are subject to the whims of the few. In previewing what was sure to be a fascinating week my colleague Mike Lenhoff noted some of our hopes and fears.

"It is doubtful...that the [European] finance ministers will be galvanised into action; that is not quite the behaviour we have come to expect from them"

Maybe not! But their public recognition that the continent's banks need more capital, like the alcoholic's admission of his sickness, is a huge step towards a recovery and one we were pleasantly surprised by.

"It will be astonishing if, against a backdrop where the risk to financial stability in the Eurozone has been steadily worsening...the ECB chooses not to reverse its recent hikes in interest rates."

Well they didn't. They didn't even hint at a rate cut for November but cuts were discussed and extra liquidity was provided (always the ECB's primary concern).

"Equally, there is a good chance that Thursday’s meeting of the BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee will go Adam Posen’s way and endorse a further round of quantitative easing of at least 50 billion pounds."

And in the end it was £75bn - sending gilts soaring and the pound plummeting. Broadly this is shaping up to be a good week for policymakers - two steps forward and only one back. Following through with an audacious recapitalisation program and plan for Greece's orderly default would show our cynicism to be misplaced.

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