In the end Sergio Garcia overcame the wobbles on the 15th to defeat Justin Rose in a thrilling climax to the USA Masters in Augusta last night. It’s hard to think of a more fitting way to commemorate what would have been the great Seve Ballesteros’ 60th birthday and on occasion it did seem that Seve was applying a bit of a heavenly puff as the ball teetered on the edge of holes. A pleasing end to a fantastic weekend of sport that featured a seemingly revitalised Formula 1 Grand Prix race in China ,which augurs well for the forthcoming season, an exciting Grand National from Aintree and thankfully an Arsenal free weekend of football.
Friday’s employment report came out a lower than expected level which raises questions to whether the US is now approaching near full employment. As Irwin Seltzer wrote in The Sunday Times it appears that something in excess of 7m Americans are forever trapped as either semi employed or unemployable. 5.6m of this number involuntarily working part time and 1.6m aren’t even bothering to look for work .Tragically low levels of education is damaging America and it seems that “ We can’t find enough skilled workers “ is the oft heard refrain. With 45% of American work activities at risk of automation we can only hope that the wealth and leisure that this will create will trickle down to those at the lowest levels. I fear that this is a forlorn hope.
Earlier in the week both the Federal Reserve and the ECB started to discuss tapering of QE and in the view of many market participants not before time. At the moment it does feel that the markets are behaving like crack addicts and need the fix of cheap money. The sooner the markets are weaned off the better and one can only trust that Mark Carney at the Bank of England will shortly follow suit. However as of this morning Carney has another headache curtesy of BBC TV’s Panorama programme having found evidence of the Bank of England asking Barclays Bank to “lowball” LIBOR in 2008. At the time that they are accused of doing this the interbank deposit markets were paralysed with fear and the Bank appears to have been trying to lower the temperature of the markets as well as the price of 3 month money. They have done nothing illegal and this really is a non-story. With increasing question marks over the independence of the BBC this does look like another anti-establishment expression of bias.
Equity markets were seemingly unmoved by the waving of a large stick by Donald Trump in the direction of Assad and Putin which appears as a success on several levels, firstly the cynical may see Trump deflecting from his domestic problems secondly a lesson was being sent to North Korea as surely it was no coincidence that this action was taken whilst the Chinese premier was in town and thirdly anyone who thought that Trump was Putin’s puppet most have been given pause for thought. Will Assad, or any other despot, cross a red line drawn by America with such impunity again?
In domestic politics the British labour party seems intent on seeing how much ridicule it can attract with the latest contributor to this horror show being a “dancing and singing “extravaganza from Ed Milliband . The dismaying thing is really that Ed Milliband was seen by many as one of the more electable faces of the party, despite his effort at the 2015 election, and is now surely a laughing stock. A tragedy on many levels but whatever you political hue as serious opposition party id a prerequisite for any democracy.
Tonight Janet Yellen will speak at the University Of Michigan Ford School Of Public Policy and will take questions from the audience and Twitter. We may hear some more hints but with the start of a week of holidays across much of Europe it is hard to see many surprises or large swings in the markets unless Donald Trump feels the need to wave the big stick around again.