Trump remains confusing on tax and the Fed

President Trump was at his imprecise best over the weekend when asked about nominations for the job of the Chair of the Federal Reserve. Trump told reporters “most people are saying it’s down to two – Mr. Taylor and Mr. Powell. I also met with Janet Yellen, who I like a lot, I really like her a lot. So, I have three people that I’m looking at, and there are a couple of others. I’d say I will make my decision very shortly.”

Report at the tail-end of last week suggested that Trump was inching towards the appointment of Jerome Powell, a current Fed governor, who’s worked in the past under George HW Bush and directly influenced policy targeting financial institutions and the market for Treasury debt. In the past, Powell’s been seen as a more dovish member of the FOMC, so his appointment could be followed by a spell of dollar weakness.

The confusion continued on taxes with the top US Senate Republican and the White House’s budget director saying on Sunday that they were aiming for a US tax reform package by the end of the year. President Trump, meanwhile, voiced support for a higher tax bracket for wealthy Americans in an interview with Fox News. One thing that seems slightly more certain is that there will be no change to 401(K) retirement plans under the new Republican proposals – a rare sign of certainty in these affairs.

Dollar will take a slight back seat this week as we wait on news from the ECB although tax and Trump can always send us spiralling.

Japanese currency falls and stocks soar as Abe strengthens leadership

The ruling coalition of Shinzo Abe won the snap election on Sunday night to maintain its super majority grip on Japanese politics. Abe needed 233 seats and won 310 and so will likely be emboldened to drive his reform agenda into the next gear. From an international perspective that means rewriting parts of the Japanese constitution to allow Japan to go to war following 70 years of constitutional pacifism. From an economic and currency point of view we believe that Abe will keep current Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda in a job although another impulse of Abenomics stimulus could need a more dovish Bank of Japan governor.

Madrid vs. Barcelona

Madrid and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy enacted Article 155 of the Spanish constitution over the weekend allowing the central government of Spain to take control of the rebel region. Leaders within the Catalan parliament are set to meet today to discuss their response with calls once again that independence could be officially declared by the end of the week.

The euro’s initial reaction was somewhat muted, but the single currency is on the back foot as the trading day begins. EUR/USD’s now fallen over 1% from last week’s highs and could set the tone for the week. Most newspapers were filled this weekend with pieces on other parts of the EU that fancy independence from their larger countries and while some may have had their day (Scotland, the Basque country) others are either openly emboldened by the Catalan movement (Wallonia in Belgium) or making noises that we haven’t heard in years (Bavaria).

The day ahead

The calendar is particularly quiet today, but data picks up in the early hours tomorrow morning with various PMI measures coming through from France, Germany and the wider Eurozone.