Your Evening Briefing
The evening briefing will soon be available in your inbox every day. Sign up here.
Today marks the first of this year’s three crucial European elections. What the Dutch decide in their poll could influence upcoming French and German contests—particularly if there’s a strong showing by the populist Freedom Party led by Geert Wilders. Key battlegrounds include major cities, especially Rotterdam, and the southern region near Maastricht. Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberal party is looking to win the most seats and lead the next coalition government. — Andy Reinhardt
There is no Plan B. U.K. Brexit Secretary David Davis conceded that the government has not conducted an assessment of what would happen if Britain fell out of the European Union without an accord, but insisted the risk of a no-deal outcome is “not as frightening as some people think.” Meanwhile, Chancellor Philip Hammond was forced to scrap a proposed rise in self-employment taxes after public outcry.
‘Dead serious’ on threat. Stockholm-based Nordea is the Nordic region’s only systemically-important global bank. Yet a proposal by the Swedish government to raise by nearly 40 percent the fee banks pay into a crisis fund is prompting Nordea to consider moving its headquarters to another country. “This isn’t a bluff,” says Rodney Alfven, head of investor relations.
Nasty turn. Following on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s criticisms of Germany and the Netherlands, a host of high-profile Twitter accounts were hacked this morning and defaced with swastikas, Nazi hashtags, and slogans supporting Erdogan. The perpetrators gained entry through a third-party app that tracks Twitter traffic.
European stocks are back in vogue. That’s the chorus investors have heard this year from strategists at banks like JPMorgan and BNP Paribas. Now money managers are starting to sing along. But are they too late to the party? Goldman Sachs has just turned cautious on global equities, citing rising interest rates and the risk of external shocks.
Swimming in place. Unemployment is falling almost everywhere in the Group of 7 nations, but wages aren’t rising much anywhere. Even economists aren’t sure why—and figuring it out is crucial for central banks trying to set monetary policy. Low productivity growth and tempered inflation expectations likely play a role.
Has it run its course? European retail innovators Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) and Inditex, the parent of Zara, defined the so-called “fast fashion” model that relies on quick turnover of cheap-but-chic apparel. Now they are facing slower growth and tighter margins—a harbinger of tougher times. And as Bloomberg Gadfly notes, if Zara is falling to earth, pity retail’s mere mortals.