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BBVA Research | Geo-World: Conflict & Social Unrest

BBVA Research | Geo-World: Conflict & Social Unrest

The European Council meeting held on June 28 and 29 took some steps toward euro reform; conclusion of agreements will likely occur at the next meeting in December. Although it was hoped that the summit would address key questions like the budget proposed by Germany and France, ultimately the European partners chose to adopt a minimum agreement. The agreement includes measures such as support for a banking resolution fund, but the reform of the euro was deferred.

After the bare minimum agreement on the banking union achieved at the recently held European Council, the debate about the future of Europe continues unabated. With this agreement still fresh, the Bank of Finland invited scholars, representatives of the financial sector and regulators talk about the future of the Old Continent. The experts gathered in Helsinki called for advancing towards a greater banking and capital markets union. The next date in the calendar: The European Council meeting in December.

The Council of Europe will hold its June summit at a complex time with significant challenges on economic, political, and social issues. As BBVA Research points out, it also represents an opportunity to further strengthen the EU’s Economic and Monetary Union. As such, the reform of the euro will be one of the decisive elements, although also one of the most controversial.

“I love food and I am mad about sports.” Hearing him talk about his hobbies, Jaime Sáenz de Tejada (Madrid, 1968) comes across as someone who enjoys life. As a kid he was into basketball and track and field. Later, he got interested in paddle tennis and golf. About a year and a half ago he fractured his thigh bone forcing him to focus a bit more on swimming and cycling. He defines himself as a lover of Peruvian cuisine, because it offers “the best fusion of sensitivities from many places, with ingredients of unparalleled quality.” He’s even given cooking chifa (a fusion of Peruvian ingredients and traditions with Cantonese elements) a go, but “being surrounded by so much talent, I would never dare to compete in culinary skills.” Married and with five children – “one of them is on his way to becoming a chef, just like his mom,”- he’s been a part of BBVA for more than 25 years. In 2014 he became the Group’s Chief Financial Officer. He devotes most of his scant free time to “living his children’s education intensely and sharing activities with them.” He’s been lucky to live in New York – at two different periods – , London, Uruguay and Peru.

As the European Central Bank celebrates its 20th anniversary, we take a look back at some of its defining milestones. Not in vain, the ECB has been the guarantor of the euro’s survival and, since 2014, the central axis of the euro area’s financial system. Since the onset of the 2008 financial crisis, the ECB took on a role that was pivotal for a huge part of the recovery. However, “it cannot act alone”: “further strengthening of Europe´s institutional and legal framework is necessary to construct a more united and resilient Europe to face future challenges.”

Every time Mario Draghi speaks at the news conference after the European Central Bank’s (ECB) monthly monetary policy meeting, the markets hold their breath. And after he finishes, they react. In the wake of the 2008 crisis, the expectations created by the bank’s message have taken on added relevance. BBVA Research is aware of the importance of being able to gauge if the ECB’s message adequately reflects its policy and has used big data techniques to this end.

The new accounting regulation IFRS 9 aims to buttress financial stability against future crises.  It obliges financial institutions to more faithfully reflect credit risk and calculate provisions for insolvencies following an expected loss model (versus the previous “incurred loss” model). For a majority of financial institutions, this has resulted in an increase in provisions and the subsequent impact on capital.

Of the tax revenue paid by Europeans, only one euro per taxpayer is used to finance the EU’s budget. In total, the EU manages a budget of about 1% of the gross national income of its member states. Nonetheless, how this money is invested directly impacts Europeans’ lives; it is therefore of interest to understand the EU budget as of 2021, the first spending plan after the UK’s exit from the EU.

As expected, the European Central Bank left interest rates and its asset-purchasing program, or quantitative easing (QE), unchanged. After its policy meeting, Mario Draghi instead stressed concerns about the global risks posed by protectionism as well as the need to focus on inflation.

The Eurosystem is the monetary authority of the euro area. It comprises the European Central Bank (ECB) and the national central banks of the Member States whose currency is the euro. Its primary objective is the maintenance of price stability, and specifically, keeping inflation in the euro area (calculated based on internal stats of the ECB) “close to but under 2 per cent.”

Fears of a trade war between the U.S. and China are escalating by the day. Trump announced extra duties on 10% of Chinese imports and the two world powers have entered into a “tit-for-tat” trade retaliation that has unnerved investors and shaken financial markets. Nevertheless, the likelihood that these skirmishes will turn into a full-blown trade war are still low, as explained in a BBVA Research report.

Although the uncertainty surrounding Catalonia’s economic policy hasn’t had the expected negative impact, the favorable global environment seems to have offset the its negative effect on production and employment. Consequently, BBVA Research has upgraded its 2018 and 2019 GDP growth forecasts for Spain to 2.9% and 2.5% from 2.5% and 2.3% respectively. The report was presented today by Jorge Sicilia, Chief Economist of BBVA Group and Head of BBVA Research, Rafael Doménech, Head of Macroeconomic Analysis of BBVA Research and Miguel Cardoso, Chief Economist Spain and Portugal. Under this scenario, the country is expected to generate about 940,000 jobs over the two year period, causing the country’s unemployment rate to drop below 14%.

Europe and the U.S. need to promote global trade and services standards. And to do this, they must keep relying on multilateral agreements, which set out a strategic position with respect to third parties from a commercial, economic and political point of view. “The United States and Europe, united, are much stronger,” said José Manuel González-Páramo, Executive Member of the Board, Head of Global Economics, Regulation and Public Affairs at BBVA, in Barcelona on Monday.

As we expected, the FOMC increased the Fed funds rate to 1.5%-1.75%, confirming that newly appointed Chairman is committed to maintaining continuity with his predecessor. The language in the statement underpinned the committee’s shift from a defensive to potentially offensive mindset, with strong labor market signals, increased business investment and firmer actual inflation readings.

Over 300 businessmen Monday took part in a meeting in Bilbao of the Business 20 (B20) –a corporate forum of the G20. The companies present at the meeting are at the vanguard of digitalization and industry 4.0. At the start of the event, José Manuel González-Páramo, BBVA Executive Board member and vice president of one of the B20 task forces, called for “greater cooperation between the public and private sectors” to meet the challenges posed by the new digital economy.

Eight years have passed since the B20, known as the “Business G20”, met for the first times with the view of providing G20 leaders with proposals for more inclusive development. Since then a number of constructive policies have been put forward, although the main economic and social problems facing the world remain an unresolved challenge.  The B20 has not only become a beacon throwing light on how to tackle these challenges, but also plays a crucial role within the  G20. It is Argentina’s turn in 2018 to lead this mission.

The headlines about the U.S. dollar this year have underscored how complicated it is to predict the movement of any one currency in a global economy. They’ve gone from grim (“Dollar set for worst January in 30 years”) to triumphant (“Dollar claws back”) to deflated (“Dollar’s rebound fizzles”) in a matter of weeks.

On January 31st, the European Banking Authority (EBA) announced the formal launch of this year’s EU-wide stress test exercise of the euro area. It also unveiled the macroeconomic scenarios under which the exercise will be carried out. The  adverse scenario implies a deviation of EU GDP from its baseline level by 8.3% in 2020, resulting in the most severe scenario to date. The EBA expects to publish the results of the exercise by 2 November 2018

Timothy Bresnahan, Ariel Pakes and Robert Porter study the impact of businesses in the market. To measure this ability that firms have to control prices in a given industry, the three Frontiers of Knowledge laureates in Economics have developed methods that have had a significant and lasting impact on empirical research in the industrial organization field, as well as in other applied fields like health or environmental economics.

Market analysts reported positively on BBVA’s 2017 results. The majority pointed to the solid underlying trends, the strength of recurring revenues and cost containment as the key drivers of the bank’s solid performance.

As had been expected, following its monthly meeting the European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged. At the same time, ECB President Mario Draghi introduced the exchange rate as an element of uncertainty, stressing that he will monitor the fluctuations in the euro and their possible consequences. Likewise, he reiterated the possibility of broadening the bond purchase program, continuing his accommodative policy, which will be accompanied by interest rates at minimum levels for a long period of time.

This year, the World Economic Forum at Davos is attracting plenty of attention. From the long-awaited speech by U.S. President Donald Trump to the criticisms of American protectionism and support for global cooperation expressed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, no leader misses their moment in the spotlight to send messages to the world community.

U.S. President Donald Trump has confirmed his attendance at this year’s annual World Economic Forum, which will kick off on January 23 at Davos, Switzerland. President Trump will share the spotlight with some 60 heads of state and government, and an ensemble of business leaders, scholars, artists and prominent figures from civil society. Together, they will seek to deliver on the meeting’s theme: “Creating a shared future in a fractured world.’ Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Trump will deliver the event’s opening and closing speeches, respectively.

BBVA Research maintains its forecasts for Spain’s GDP growth in 2017 and 2018 at 3.1% and 2.5%, respectively. In addition, it expects that the economic recovery will continue in 2019  (with a 2.3% increase in GDP) and that the improvement in the economy will translate into wage growth. BBVA Research’s latest Spain Economic Outlook was presented today by Jorge Sicilia, Chief Economist of the BBVA Group and Director of BBVA Research; Rafael Doménech, Head of Macroeconomic Analysis at BBVA Research; and Miguel Cardoso, Chief Economist for Spain and Portugal.  If these forecasts prove to be correct, Spain´s unemployment rate could drop to 13.4% by end of 2019, which would imply the creation of 860,000 jobs over the next two years.

In late 2017, the European Commission established a roadmap for deepening the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The plan represented yet another step towards the economic integration of the EU, during a political year marked by the elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany and the Brexit negotiations with the United Kingdom. One of the most far-reaching proposals is transformation of the current European Stability Mechanism (ESM) into a European Monetary Fund (EMF). The year 2018 opens with the challenge of implementing this proposal.