NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, has just announced new moves by the ECB to combat the possibility that the eurozone will fall into a deflationary cycle.
He has lowered the interest rate the bank charges for refinancings from 0.25% to 0.15% and has pushed its deposit rate from zero to a negative 0.10%.
These moves were expected by the financial markets and so there should not be too much market fuss over the actions.
But, this does not mean that investors have already taken positions to take advantage of the ECB policy changes.
Some people have already acted in anticipation of this news: see "Hedge Funds Anticipate Euros Will Fall" for an example. This is what can happen when central bankers and policymakers "have" to act to "save the system."
Tim Geithner, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, speaks to this in his new book Stress Test. Geithner discusses actions that were taken in 2008 to create a "put" to protect large commercial banks from failing; for more, see pages 311 to 314. But here is the gist.
Geithner writes, "The hedge fund manager David Tepper later told the press that in February 2009.... his Appaloosa Management fund began buying bank stocks, because he read our public statements and thought our strategy sounded sensible."
The result: Tepper, according to Geithner, made "billions of dollars" -- not millions or thousands!
"Of course, our goal wasn't to help Tepper make billions of dollars for himself and his investors. Our goal was to get the economy growing again and that required stabilizing the banks so they could start lending again."
George Soros could likely tell a similar tale about his adventures with the British pound in the 1990s.
The story currently taking place concerns the perceived need of the ECB to take action to keep the eurozone from falling into a deflationary cycle, while at the same time the Federal Reserve System in the U.S. is going though the process of "tapering" its purchases of securities.
That is, the ECB is seen as loosening up on monetary policy, whereas the Federal Reserve System is restraining monetary policy from being as loose as it had been.
For economists, this is a recipe for the value of the euro to fall relative to the value of the dollar.
Since the ECB telegraphed this move, the hedge funds positioned themselves accordingly.
The early results: the euro plunged to a four-month low against the dollar after the ECB announced the package, falling 0.7% to $1.3503 from above $1.36 before the central bank's rate cuts.
People are making money off of this change in central bank policy, in short.
I believe that Mr. Draghi could make the same argument that Mr. Geithner made in the earlier instance. The ECB does not have the goal of helping hedge funds to make billions of dollars. The ECB is just trying to prevent the eurozone from falling into deflation.
If some benefit from such a move, then so be it!
Investors, keep your eyes open for such opportunities. They are more frequent than you might guess.
Two final comments on the ECB's actions.
First: psychologically, I believe that the ECB had to act in order to keep European financial markets relatively stable. Stock prices rose after the rate changes were announced.
This is not unlike how Geithner saw his responsibility during the Great Recession.
My second point is this. I don't believe that these actions or even moving to a policy of quantitative easing will get the eurozone economy growing more rapidly in the near term. I see the dilemma being faced by officials in the eurozone as one of a major economic transition, a transition that will take time and concerted effort.
Many members of the eurozone need to reform their governments, substantially reduce corruption, adjust labor union power, and restructure industries. This is going to take much effort, much time and much pain. It is not altogether sure that the European Union can pull it off.
But, for now, the monetary policy of the ECB is the only stabilizing influence in the European markets. It must act, even if it is only keeping the flood from spilling over the dyke.
At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.
This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.