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Central banks reaching firepower limits

Friday, December 11, 2020

On 10 December the European Central Bank (ECB) announced an extension to its pandemic emergency purchase programme, boosting it by EUR 500 billion but only by nine months, probably a sign of compromise between those wanting a year-long extension and those wanting a shorter six-month timeframe. Market impact is mostly in the currency and bond markets with yields rising modestly and the euro strengthening. Perhaps this is all down to the fact there wasn’t much in the way of dovish surprises, the markets expected EUR 500 billion boost and that is what it got. It does highlight the fact that central banks worldwide are really at the limits of their firepower now though.

US weekly initial jobless claims continue to disappoint. 853,000 people filed for unemployment insurance in the last week against expectations of a lesser 725,000 figure. This trend has been in place for over a month now with slowly rising levels week to week. No doubt the lockdowns we are seeing across the US in different states as the pandemic increases in America is leading to these increases in job losses, not that Trump seems at all concerned about either Covid-19 case growth or the jobs picture. His self-obsessed focus is only on overturning the election result. A depressing picture all round.

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