Draghi! Draghi!

Preparing the ground

In the three-way contest for Most Influential Central Banker the ECB's Mario Draghi showed he still has the knack, five years on from his stirring "whatever it takes" speech in London. The euro was Tuesday's top performer, adding one and a half US cents.

Sig. Draghi spoke of "a strengthening and broadening recovery in the euro area". He expressed "confidence that monetary policy is effective", and noted the need for "persistence" in that policy and "prudence" with regard to modifying it. Investors came to the conclusion that the ECB president was setting the scene for a wind-down of the bank' asset purchase programme, maybe beginning even before the end of the year.

The euro reacted positively, adding half a cent straightaway and picking up the balance during the remainder of the London session. It went up by four fifths of a cent against sterling.

Irrational exuberance?

The Bank of England governor spoke of concerns about over-extended consumer borrowing and the US Federal Reserve chairperson conceded that asset valuations might look "somewhat rich". Neither had an immediate effect on exchange rates but Janet Yellen's words did appear to dampen appetite for the dollar.

Mario Draghi had more impact on the pound than Mark Carney. His optimism was worth an immediate quarter of a US cent to Cable and the pound went on to book a profit of one US cent on the day. The CBI's Distributive Trades Survey helped: the retail sales measure jumped to 12% in June from 2% in May. This morning's Nationwide index did sterling no harm either, showing 1.1% monthly and 3.1% annual increases for house prices.

The Fed chairperson's comments on asset valuations have been compared by some to her predecessor's observation during the dotcom bubble of the nineties. Alan Greenspan asked in 1996 "how do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values?" Ms Yellen cannot have been scaremongering but it was unfortunate that her observation coincided with the emergence of another round of ransom-ware cyber attacks.

Yet more central bankers

M/s Carney and Draghi will be out there again today, taking part in the ECB Forum on Central Banking together with the Bank of Canada's Stephen Poloz. Journalists will be trying to find out if Mr Carney shares the guarded enthusiasm of Ms Yellen, Mr Draghi and Mr Poloz for a move towards more "normal" monetary policy.

Their appearance comes after lunch, by which time investors will already have heard - and probably forgotten - about French consumer confidence, Spanish retail sales, Euroland money supply, Swiss business confidence and Italian inflation. They might have paid closer attention to the US trade figures but even that is not guaranteed nowadays.

This afternoon brings US pending home sales and, perhaps more importantly, a speech by Lynn Patterson, deputy governor of the BoC. Her colleague set the Loonie moving a week ago with hints of higher interest rates. Ms Patterson might be on the same mission today.