Two weeks ago, on one of the slides in a Morgan Stanley presentation, we found something which we thought was quite disturbing. According to the bank’s head of EMEA research Huw van Steenis, while in Davos, he sat “next to someone in policy circles who argued that we should move quickly to a cashless economy so that we could introduce negative rates well below 1% – as they were concerned that Larry Summers’ secular stagnation was indeed playing out and we would be stuck with negative rates for a decade in Europe. They felt below (1.5)% depositors would start to hoard notes, leading to yet further complexities for monetary policy.”
As it turns out, just like Deutsche Bank – which first warned about the dire consequences of NIRP to Europe’s banks – Morgan Stanley is likewise “concerned” and for good reason.
With the ECB set to unveil its next set of unconventional measures during its next meeting on March 10 among which almost certainly even more negative rates (for the simple reason that a vast amount of monetizable govt bonds are trading with a yield below the ECB’s deposit rate floor and are ineligible for purchase) the ECB may cut said rates anywhere between 10bps, 20bps, or even more (thereby sending those same bond yields plunging ever further into negative territory).
As Morgan Stanley warns that any substantial rate cut by the ECB will only make matters worse. As it says, “Beyond a 10-20bp ECB Deposit Rate Cut, We Believe Impacts on Earnings Could Be Exponential.”
Which brings us the the punchline: according to Morgan Stanley, a fellow bank, the biggest threat to its largest European competitor, Deutsche Bank is not its unquantified commodity loan exposures, nor its just as opaque exposure to China, nor its massive derivatives book, not even its culture of rampant corruption and crime which have resulted in constant top management changes over the past several years, but the deflationary challenges to profitability – specifically, “Risks to Trading/Markets Revenues and Due to Negative Rates” imposed by none other than the European Central Bank!
In other words, according to Morgan Stanley the biggest threat to the profibatility, viability and outright existence of the most leveraged commercial bank in the world, is none other than ECB president Mario Draghi…
… who will almost certainly unveil even more negative rates in two weeks time, and in doing so will unleash another round of selling in European bank securities, which will further tighten financial conditions, which may force even more “desperate” ECB intervention and so forth in a feedback loop, for the simple reason that Draghi appears to not realize that just like Kuroda, he himself is the cause of asset volatility and European bank instability.
Which, incidentally, is precisely what Bundesbank president (and ECB member) Jens Wiedmann warned against. As WSJ reports, Weidmann expressed reservations Wednesday about further expansionary monetary policy to combat very low rates of inflation in the currency bloc.
According to prepared remarks to present the annual report of the Deutsche Bundesbank, which he heads, Mr. Weidmann said “it would be dangerous to simply ignore” the longer-term risks and side effects of loosening already highly accommodative policy.
As the WSJ writes, “the comments from perhaps the ECB’s most outspoken critic of very accommodative policy provide further evidence that ECB head Mario Draghi may have a tough time garnering unanimity for any effort to further expand the central bank’s accommodative monetary policy.”
Still, Draghi may well get his wishes: after all, despite the ongoing conflict between the two central bankers, so far Draghi has gotten absolutely everything he has gotten, from QE to NIRP, over Weidmann’s loud objections. The WSJ further adds that the ECB is expected to cut its deposit rate further into negative territory beyond the minus 0.3% where it sits now, as well as expanding its bond buying program beyond the EUR60 billion a month of mostly government bonds that it has purchased since last March.
The two are linked: for the ECB to expand QE – now that the NIRP genie has been released – it will have to cut rates or else it will run into liquidity limitations and an inability to procure the desire bonds.
full aricle at source: