Noises off

Political risk?

There were no economic data to speak of on Monday so investors had to look elsewhere for inspiration.  They didn't find much.  Whilst it would not be a surprise to see them seeking sanctuary from the tensions being stoked by the US administration in the Middle East, they seem impervious to the political risks there.

Admittedly, the NZ dollar and the South African rand were among the weakest performers but the Northern Scandinavian crowns did not have a brilliant day either.  All four were down by roughly 0.75%.  The Aussie only lost half that much and the Canadian dollar was adrift by just a dozen or so ticks, leaving it unchanged against the safe-haven Swiss franc and a touch firmer against the Japanese yen.

The US dollar took the win by a fifth of a cent from sterling.  Between the Greenback and the fifth-placed euro the gap was less than half a cent.  Executive summary: Not a lot happened.

Political risk!

President Erdogan of Turkey told a Bloomberg interviewer that, if he manages to get rid of parliamentary democracy at next month's election, he will take control of monetary policy. 

When politicians set interest rates it invariably ends in tears.  That is why most governments delegate monetary policy decisions to the central bank and instruct it to maintain price stability.  After two decades of galloping inflation the Turkish central bank was given that task in 2001.  Since then the inflation rate has remained mostly between 5% and 10%, making it possible and worthwhile to lop six zeros off the lira's exchange rate and replace the TRL with the TRY. 

Investors are already unhappy with the direction in which Mr Erdogan is taking the country and its economy.  In the last three years they have marked down by 50%  the value of the lira against the euro and in May alone it has fallen by 6%.  This latest threat from Mr Erdogan is likely to mean more trouble ahead for the lira.  It is not for no reason that Turkish estate agents still quote prices in euros, not lira.

Three biggies

The three most important sets of data on today's agenda are UK employment and wages, Euroland gross domestic product and US retail sales.  For sterling the critical numbers will be average earnings, and whether they are rising faster than prices.  The pound's supporters will be hoping they look better than last month's figures.

CPI inflation in Britain was last seen at 2.5% (RPI inflation was 3.3% but let's not go there) and average total earnings were up by an annual 2.6%.  Investors will want to see a widening of that gap today.  If they don't, the pound would be likely to take another knock. First quarter growth in the euro zone is pencilled in at 0.4% and US retail sales are supposed to be up by a monthly 0.3%.  Japanese Q1 GDP comes out tonight.