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Forex: EU Non In France Pas Mal

EU Non In France Pas Mal

Pas mal as in not bad. Okay the move to a federal Europe will suffer a setback Sunday if French voters say no to the new EU constitution in a national referendum as opinion polls predict will happen. And in the odd event that the polls were wrong (French Polynesians and Caribes could ironically push the yes vote over the top), Holland will likely vote no next Wednesday. So the EU constitution will be dead in the water regardless of Sunday's outcome assuming Dutch polls are not wrong too.

Why pas mal? Sort of because it is a who cares? Who cares that Europe can't surrender more sovereignty to Brussels? Moreover, surrendering more control to Brussels and federalism could delay reform. What is harder? Getting French Assembly to pass labor market reforms that favor greater employer flexibility or turning labor market reform over to the European Parliament for a one-size fits all solution? Okay in the land of the 35-hour workweek and 6-8 week holidays, maybe there is a better chance in Brussels. But states rights advocates would argue somewhat convincingly that there is a better chance that France gets its labor market reform right than Brussels (if it ever happens). And a no vote might dislodge Chirac who has not been much of an advocate for reform...more like an obstacle.

A no vote also leaves EMU in place...the one functioning part of the Union. So a no vote is simply more of the same. If fiscal deficit overruns are a concern in the wake of Ecofin voting to ease the Stability and Growth Pact rules, the EU referendum is pretty meaningless for budget hawks. And as the no vote camp argues a yes vote is a vote for the bureaucrats. What is the track record of Brussels on economic reform? Not particularly impressive. European economic reforms are critical to long run competitiveness and growth, especially if you believe as I do that the US economic expansion is a castle built on sand...unsustainable and the day of reckoning is nearing. I think there is a strong argument that reform will be helped not hurt by a no vote Sunday.

What about markets? Again pas mal. Forward-looking rational markets discount likely outcomes before they occur. Sure these days a glance at\ yield curves in the US and Europe call into question basic assumptions about how rational markets really are or how non-market forces like foreign central banks and speculative bubbles dominate asset markets. But I am confident that both currency and FX markets have priced in a no vote and there is not a lot of additional downside for the euro (Turkish lira...part of the non vote is an expression of retaining cultural distinctions) and European bonds on this outcome.

I am not saying euro/dollar is a near a bottom. I am still of the school that thinks 1.40 is possible later this year. But what I am saying is that if you think euro/dollar is going lower, you better keep focusing on the packaging of the US expansion and ignore the EU referendum. Oh and it is also best to ignore the sell-by-date on that finely wrapped USD.

I suspect we don't need a oui vote to put euro/dollar above 1.2650 on Monday. Just a discounted no and some short covering will do fine.

David Gilmore
FXA
www.fxa.com

 

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