An informal sample of currency and credit market managers approached by The Slog yesterday and this morning told us they regard the euro’s rise against most currencies as “naked manipulation”. Specialist websites (Xe.Com for example) are also carrying headlines offering the same sentiment. ‘Markets suspicious of euro rise’ was a fairly typical headline.
“The ECB [EU central bank] is running scared of overt action on Ireland” theorised a top UK-based currency trader, “If they pile in [to Ireland] with stabilisation fund cash, the market will panic. They’re spending the money on the currency to try and calm people down. It makes sense to do that, but you’d walk a long mile to find anyone here who believes this is anything other than Trichet buying his own currency.”
This must make the ECB a holder of the worst investment portfolio in history: billions in junk bonds, billions of bad debt in euros, and increasing holdings of the shared currency. A sour comment from one credit manager – “guess who’s gonna pick up the tab for that one?” – was stated more politely by Xe.com as it noted, ‘it is very difficult to reconcile the euro’s remarkable climb with the lingering financial and economic troubles the EU continues to face’.
But the euro-hoovers may be outsold today when they take in some of the Irish Government’s comments over the last 24 hours. The Slog’s posting of last night has been widely picked up across financial websites, and our emerald mole is proving accurate so far.
It now transpires, for instance, that Irish Nationwide is in a position as parlous as that facing Anglo-Irish. The Irish regulator was also (I’m told) keen to point out to Brian Lenihan yesterday that Allied Irish ‘is in need of urgent and immediate additional capital’.
“There’s a lot of pie in the sky with numbers between Lenihan and Cowen” said our informant, “but these institutions are haemorrhaging cash. The bailout will nudge the debt to just over the size of the gdp”.
Rather more baffling to many people was the quietly slipped in decision to cancel its bond auctions in October and November. The mantra about Ireland being ‘fully funded until late June 2011’ was trotted ou as reassurance, but as I noted last night, what happens then?
“It smacks of the one-legged man deciding not to climb Everest for the moment” cracked a Paris-based US credit manager last night.
This morning, the FT’s headline records an early drop in the euro, and the Anglo-Irish rescue coming in at 34b billion euro – 5 billion more than Lenihan’s estimate of yesterday. I’d give you the link, but the FT is paywalled these days. Rather like the ECB, I’d imagine.