S&P futures opened higher on Sunday evening on the back of expectations that U.S. Treasury secretary Tim Geithner would announce details of the government's plan to buy troubled assets off the bank’s balance sheets, and the dollar began falling against the higher-yielders as it gained on the yen.
Also working against the dollar was the reverberations from the Fed's plan to purchase up to $300 billion in longer-dated U.S. debt and the acknowledgement by Mr. Bernanke that the Fed was essentially printing money, which he announced for all to hear last Sunday during an interview on 60 Minutes.
Meanwhile, it looks more than ever that the ECB will not be joining the Fed, the BoE and the BoJ in a quantitative easing program and that governments in Europe will not be matching the U.S. in plans for fiscal stimulus.
Speaking with the Wall Street Journal, ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet said Europe doesn't need to boost spending more to combat the global financial crisis, throwing the bank's weight behind European governments which oppose such plans.
Nothing will really work until the financial sector is back on track and ready to lend on a sustainable basis' Mr. Trichet said.”I would say exactly the same with the budget. Decisions have been taken; they are very important. Let's do it! Quick implementation, quick disbursement is what is needed.
The U.S. has hoped to press the Europeans to enact stimulus packages similar in scale to its $787 billion plan at a meeting of the Group of 20 leading economies in London on April 2. European leaders, who have pledged less than half the U.S. amount, have rebuffed that notion based on the idea that social safety nets in terms of health and unemployment benefits, along with the ECB's plan to provide unlimited amounts of liquidity against a wide range of assets for up to six months, are sufficient to the task of supporting economic growth going forward. The ECB intends to keep the program operational through the end of 2009.
Mr. Trichet also warned that if governments went too deeply into the red, the move could backfire by pushing up long-term interest rates and puncturing public and business confidence.
To be efficient in rebuilding confidence, you have to demonstrate that you are doing, immediately and audaciously, what is necessary, said Mr. Trichet. But at the same time, you have also to reassure your own people that you have an exit strategy.
Revent reports show output contracted by 5.8% on an annualized basis in the fourth quarter of 2008, the worst showing for countries sharing the euro since World War II. The International Monetary Fund forecast last week that the euro zone's economy will shrink by 3.2% this year, compared with a 2.6% contraction in the U.S.