Happy Sunday. A version of this story first appeared in CNN Business’ Before the Bell newsletter. Not a subscriber? You can sign up right here.
A surprise departure from the European Central Bank could highlight the treacherous road ahead for the world’s monetary policymakers.
It’s not clear exactly why Sabine Lautenschläger, Germany’s representative on the central bank’s executive board, recently opted to resign. (Her term would have run until 2022.)
But the announcement that she was stepping down followed the central bank’s high-profile decision to push interest rates further into negative territory and to restart its bond-buying program, a policy Lautenschläger has publicly criticized.
One takeaway: In a world of sluggish growth, stubbornly low inflation and fears of an economic downturn, there may be more room for doves than for hawks. Markets and companies are hooked on cheap borrowing. Meanwhile, central banks’ ability to guide stable inflation and provide efficient stimulus is increasingly in question.
“They’ve shown they’re still limited in bringing inflation up to the targets,” said Ángel Talavera, head of European economics at Oxford Economics.
This could cause headaches for Christine Lagarde, who takes the reins from ECB President Mario Draghi on November 1.
On the heels of Draghi’s big announcement this month that the bank would indefinitely print money to buy financial assets, Lagarde will face early pressure to stay the course, though some at the central bank disagree with the move.
“The level of dissent within the [ECB] is almost unprecedented,” Talavera said.
On the other side of the equation is growing discussions about whether central banks should pursue even more unconventional monetary policy.
Deutsche Bank said in a recent report that it believes “helicopter money,” a term that refers to extraordinary monetary policies that can spur spending (including giving cash directly to households), “could be highly effective if properly deployed.” The bank points out that when interest rates are low but savings rates are high, fiscal policy — or monetary policy that blurs the line with fiscal policy — can be more effective.
Such policies won’t be implemented overnight. But chatter is building. Draghi faced questions about whether the ECB discussed helicopter money at its meeting earlier this month. Other central bankers will soon face similar inquiries.
Coming up: CNN Business’ Richard Quest’s interview with Lagarde in Washington. Stay tuned.
Jobs, manufacturing and the health of the US economy
Handing the baton to my CNN Business colleague Anneken Tappe for a preview of the week’s big releases of economic data:
“Are we or aren’t we headed for a recession? Market participants are leaning towards the latter. But they’re still watching every new bit of economic data closely.
This week’s data will shed light on whether the manufacturing sector bounced back in September following its downturn in August. The ISM manufacturing index, due Tuesday, is expected to show a slight recovery to 50.4 after the sector shrank for the first time in three years in August.
Manufacturing has been hit hard by the trade war, which has both increased the price of materials and harmed global demand. But goods production plays a smaller role in the US economy than consumers. And consumers have remained relatively content during the trade war, in part because the United States is near full employment.
Friday’s jobs report will give us the latest on that front. The unemployment rate is expected to have held steady at 3.7% in September, and nonfarm payrolls should have grown by 162,000, according to a survey of economists by Reuters.”
Monday: China’s Caixin manufacturing PMI; UK final second quarter GDP
Tuesday: US ISM manufacturing PMI; Stitch Fix (SFIX) earnings
Wednesday: ADP US employment report; Bed Bath and Beyond (BBBY) earnings
Thursday: European retail sales and PPI data; US ISM non-manufacturing PMI; Constellation Brands (STZ), PepsiCo (PEP) and Costco (COST) earnings
Friday: Reserve Bank of India rate decision; US September jobs report