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ECB Takes Away Low Interest Rate Punch Bowl

Interest-Rates / ECB Interest Rates Apr 07, 2011 - 02:01 PM GMT

By: Axel_Merk

Interest-Rates

Today, the European Central Bank (ECB) raised its main refinancing rate by 0.25% to 1.25%.

ECB President Trichet has long argued that its monetary policy is independent of the "extraordinary measures" put in place to support the financial system. However, it was only earlier this year that the market took Trichet's suggestions that he may raise rates seriously, even as the sovereign debt crisis remains unresolved.


The role of a central bank is to take away the punch bowl when necessary, to pursue its mandate, not to be a cheerleader. The ECB's move can be seen as a stern signal to the banking system and governments to get their act together. Ultimately, the fate of each individual nation is in that country's hands, just as the fate of each bank rests with it's respective management. The Eurozone as a whole, however, will not wait for local or corporate politics.

With regard to the banking system, a couple of banks this week have announced capital increases, including Germany's second largest bank, Commerzbank. Trichet has previously urged, many times, that it "is essential for banks to retain earnings, to turn to the market to strengthen further their capital bases or to take full advantage of government support measures for recapitalisation. In particular, banks that currently have limited access to market financing urgently need to increase their capital and their efficiency."

With regard to sovereigns, yields imposed by the bond markets appear to be the only language policy makers understand. It is rather impressive how much progress has been made - often by minority governments - in light of market pressures. As we have pointed out in the past, a quarter point rate hike may be the least of concerns for weak countries.

The tough love approach employed by the ECB is taking away the punch bowl. As a result, reform processes may be expedited. Trichet has pointed out in the past that the reward will be lower cost of borrowing and price stability in the future, key ingredients to long-term sustainable growth.

By Axel Merk

Manager of the Merk Hard, Asian and Absolute Return Currency Funds, www.merkfunds.com

Axel Merk, President & CIO of Merk Investments, LLC, is an expert on hard money, macro trends and international investing. He is considered an authority on currencies. Axel Merk wrote the book on Sustainable Wealth; order your copy today.

The Merk Absolute Return Currency Fund seeks to generate positive absolute returns by investing in currencies. The Fund is a pure-play on currencies, aiming to profit regardless of the direction of the U.S. dollar or traditional asset classes.

The Merk Asian Currency Fund seeks to profit from a rise in Asian currencies versus the U.S. dollar. The Fund typically invests in a basket of Asian currencies that may include, but are not limited to, the currencies of China, Hong Kong, Japan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

The Merk Hard Currency Fund seeks to profit from a rise in hard currencies versus the U.S. dollar. Hard currencies are currencies backed by sound monetary policy; sound monetary policy focuses on price stability.

The Funds may be appropriate for you if you are pursuing a long-term goal with a currency component to your portfolio; are willing to tolerate the risks associated with investments in foreign currencies; or are looking for a way to potentially mitigate downside risk in or profit from a secular bear market. For more information on the Funds and to download a prospectus, please visit www.merkfunds.com.

Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks and charges and expenses of the Merk Funds carefully before investing. This and other information is in the prospectus, a copy of which may be obtained by visiting the Funds' website at www.merkfunds.com or calling 866-MERK FUND. Please read the prospectus carefully before you invest.

The Funds primarily invest in foreign currencies and as such, changes in currency exchange rates will affect the value of what the Funds own and the price of the Funds' shares. Investing in foreign instruments bears a greater risk than investing in domestic instruments for reasons such as volatility of currency exchange rates and, in some cases, limited geographic focus, political and economic instability, and relatively illiquid markets. The Funds are subject to interest rate risk which is the risk that debt securities in the Funds' portfolio will decline in value because of increases in market interest rates. The Funds may also invest in derivative securities which can be volatile and involve various types and degrees of risk. As a non-diversified fund, the Merk Hard Currency Fund will be subject to more investment risk and potential for volatility than a diversified fund because its portfolio may, at times, focus on a limited number of issuers. For a more complete discussion of these and other Fund risks please refer to the Funds' prospectuses.

This report was prepared by Merk Investments LLC, and reflects the current opinion of the authors. It is based upon sources and data believed to be accurate and reliable. Opinions and forward-looking statements expressed are subject to change without notice. This information does not constitute investment advice. Foreside Fund Services, LLC, distributor.

Axel Merk Archive

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