Ransquawk

Is Italy more of a threat than Brexit?

To the eurozone? Yes of course but would one country’s departure start a trend, or could the economic bloc survive?

It is curious that the whole of the Eurozone, including Greece, who could be expected to be a little more “Eurosceptic than most, are more than 50% in favour of the single currency. The problem, it appears, is with the overbearing attitude of officialdom which is causing most issues.

For the “man in the street”, the euro is a great innovation, it allows citizens to travel across the region using cash or card and being charged in his “home” currency. What’s not to love? Inflation is low, the currency is, relatively, strong, certainly when compared to pre-euro days.

But, and it’s a big but, the lack of control over monetary policy is a big issue for many smaller nations who feel that their interests are not always taken into consideration despite the good work done by Mario Draghi and the ECB Council.

The Italian election, likely to be held in September, could easily turn into a proxy referendum and this is probably what Five Star and the League will use as their election platform. Whatever happens the common currency faces a long summer of uncertainty.

Brexit to come to a head

The Bank of England has started taking more interest in Brexit. It seemed until recently that Governor Mark Carney had studiously avoided becoming too interested since he felt that the Central Bank was outside the negotiations and would have to deal with the aftermath of the agreement no matter what they were. It has, however, become ever more obvious that the “technicalities” are starting to raise concerns.

It started with Jon Cunliffe, the Deputy Governor responsible for regulation becoming embroiled in an argument with the Treasury over regulation post-Brexit but it has escalated to such an extent that the Central Bank is now openly questioning the Government’s ability to deal with a “no-deal” Brexit.

The concern is that the Government is deluding itself that it’s plans and proposals will be accepted by Brussels, a far from concrete assertion and plans for a no-deal Brexit have fallen by the wayside with no Government official willing to take on a role that Theresa May feels, foolishly, will be redundant.

It all hinges on the proposals which are due for release early next month and the concern is that it will just be more of the same.

Bitcoin languishing but not collapsing

Bitcoin has become something of a spent force to the clear majority of those who bought into the idea of making millions, earlier in the year.

Of course, that is not the purpose of the “flagship” cryptocurrency and its rally was more a case of hope than understanding. It is close to $7k right now and that is testament to those who still own it. It isn’t $20k or even $15k or $10k. It retains value and that is despite the naysayers who say it is worthless since it has no lender of last resort or asset to back its price.

For me, Bitcoin is a “project under development”, perhaps a stepping stone to the next development in a non-centralized exchange of value which is what we all seem to crave now.

The talk of regulation has died down to a large extent now but that and the cost of mining not just Bitcoin, but all new and existing cryptocurrencies still needs to be addressed. That is the major issue. The market is full of entrepreneurs who want to push the envelope and develop something new and unique but when they look over their shoulder they see the destruction and mess they have left behind.

It cannot be right that next year mining Bitcoin will use as much electricity as is used annually by the Netherlands!

Onwards and upwards is a great motto if you have some idea of what lies just over the horizon.

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