sabato 23 gennaio 2010

Krugman incita Obama (che lo ascolta) a riformare banche e finanza: e i mercati vanno giù. Aggiornamento al 22 gennaio 2010.

La settimana si apre con un accorato appello di Krugman che in un editoriale sul New York Times critica l'amministrazione Obama per la sua mano troppo leggera con banche e con la riforma finanziaria. Scrive Krugman:

The Obama administration’s troubles are the result not of excessive ambition, but of policy and political misjudgments. The stimulus was too small; policy toward the banks wasn’t tough enough; and Mr. Obama didn’t do what Ronald Reagan, who also faced a poor economy early in his administration, did — namely, shelter himself from criticism with a narrative that placed the blame on previous administrations.


e dopo aver esaminato molto criticamente l'operato dell'amministrazione conclude:

So what comes next?
At this point Mr. Obama probably can’t do much about job creation. He can, however, push hard on financial reform, and seek to put himself back on the right side of public anger by portraying Republicans as the enemies of reform — which they are.
And meanwhile, Democrats have to do whatever it takes to enact a health care bill. Passing such a bill won’t be their political salvation — but not passing a bill would surely be their political doom.


Non so se è tutto merito di Krugman o se il successo repubblicano in Massachussetts ha pesato ma le posizioni di Obama sulle banche si fanno sempre meno accomodanti: ecco cosa scrive il  New York Times 
di venerdì 22: 

The tougher approach to financial regulation that President Obama outlined on Thursday reflected a changed political climate, the rebound in big banks’ fortunes after their taxpayer bailout and a shift in power within the administration away from those who had been seen as most sympathetic to Wall Street.

In calling for new limits on the size of big banks and their ability to make risky bets, Mr. Obama was throwing a public punch at Wall Street for the third time in a week, underscoring the imperative for him and his party to strike a more populist tone, especially after the Republican victory Tuesday in the Massachusetts Senate race.
(...) The new approach (...) was also a victory for Paul A. Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman and outside adviser to Mr. Obama.
Until Thursday, when he stood beside the president at the White House announcement of the new policy, Mr. Volcker truly had been on the outside of administration decision-making. And, in frustration, he had been increasingly vocal about the need for the administration to clamp down on what he described as the casinolike operations at the big banks that nearly destroyed the financial system in the first place.
In adopting the tougher line, Mr. Obama set aside a more limited approach to regulation that had been championed since last year by his economic team, led by Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner.
Yet even Mr. Geithner of late has been moving toward a tougher stance on Wall Street, in part out of anger that big banks, having ridden a taxpayer bailout back to comfortable profitability, are now rewarding themselves with big bonuses and fighting harder in Congress against the administration’s initiative to tighten regulation of the financial system. 

e le osservazioni del Times sul risentimento contro le banche diffuso negli USA sono molto simili a quanto scriveva una settimana fa Mario Platero su Plus :


The administration’s new tack suggests just how much big banks have miscalculated Americans’ intensified resentment against the bailout — anger stoked by persistent high unemployment, banks’ stinginess in lending to small business and the revival of Wall Street’s bonus culture.
(...) 

Until now, the president has had a low profile on the banking bill, though the House debated its version most of last year before passing it in December.
Some Democrats complain that the White House was too absorbed by the health care issue, but they acknowledge the banking issue was widely seen as an insider’s game over arcane issues like derivatives trading that have little resonance with the public.
Now that has changed. As Thursday’s call for new bank limits showed, the president personally is taking the lead as First Populist.
“Never again,” he said, “will the American taxpayer be held hostage by a bank that is too big to fail.”


Avevamo già parlato mesi fa dell'idea di Volker di reintrodurre una variante dello Glass-Stegall act : in un altro articolo il NYT riconosce ampiamente il ruolo importante svolto dell'anziano ex-governatore della Fed nel convincere l'amministrazione ad assumere una posizione molto più rigida sulle banche:

Mr. Obama said the banks had nearly wrecked the economy by taking “huge, reckless risks in pursuit of quick profits and massive bonuses.”
The administration wants to ban bank holding companies from owning, investing in or sponsoring hedge funds or private equity funds and from engaging in proprietary trading, or trading on their own accounts, as opposed to the money of their customers.
Mr. Obama called the ban the Volcker Rule, in recognition of the former Federal Reserve chairman, Paul A. Volcker, who has championed the proposal. Big losses by banks in the trading of financial securities, especially mortgage-backed assets, precipitated the credit crisis in 2008 and the federal bailout.
It was not clear, however, how proprietary trading activities would be defined.
Officials said that banks would not be permitted to use their own capital for “trading unrelated to serving customers.” Such a restriction would most likely compel banks that own hedge funds and private equity funds to dispose of them over time. Officials said, however, that executing trades on a client’s behalf and using bank capital to make a market or to hedge a client’s risk would be permissible.
(...)
Mr. Obama also is seeking to limit consolidation in the financial sector, by placing curbs on the market share of liabilities at the largest firms.(...)
The Obama administration said the new proposals were in the “spirit of Glass-Steagall” — a reference to the Depression-era law that separated commercial and investment banking, which was repealed in 1999.
Economists have debated whether the repeal of that act contributed to the crisis. The two big investment banks that imploded, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, were not commercial banks, and Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley converted to bank holding companies only after the system started to come unglued.
(...) The House bill passed last month would consolidate oversight, require stronger capital cushions for the largest banks and impose regulation of some derivatives. In many ways, the new White House proposal amplifies provisions in that bill that would have left regulators discretion over proprietary trading and excessive liability.

Forse è per via di queste posizioni più dure dell'amministrazione USA, forse è a causa di voci sulle difficoltà nella riconferma di Bernanke al posto di governatore della Fed, oppure è solo per colpa del caso ma rimane il fatto che i mercati azionari hanno perso oltre il 5% in tre giorni cancellando il buon inizio di settimana. Delle sei asset class che seguimamo settimanalmente solo il dollaro si è salvato riprendendo la sua corsa sull'euro (-2.0%) e trascinandosi dietro le obbligazioni a lungo termine (+0.4%). Tutti gli altri asset sono andati giù: lo SP500 ha perso il 3.9%, l'eurostoxx il 3.3%, le materie prime il 2.1% in dollari e oltre il 4% in euro, i fondi immobiliari il 3% in dollari e il 5% in euro. 

Ecco l'aggiornamento al 22 gennaio.


2 commenti:

giovanni.gambino ha detto...

Carissimo Prof SM,

in merito alle proposte per uscire dalla crisi di Luigi Zingales, circa la tassazione delle operazioni finanziarie a breve termine, cosa ne pensa?
Cordiali Saluti

Stefano Marmi ha detto...

Caro Signor Gambino,

credo che lei si riferisca all'articolo di Zingales uscito sul Financial Times poco prima di Natale, e che i lettori possono trovare al link:

http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/luigi.zingales/research/papers/a_tax_on_short-term_debt_would_stabilize_the_system.pdf

Sono completamente d'accordo con la critica di Zingales sulla proposta di alcuni leader dell'Unione Europea di introdurre una Tobin Tax che penalizzi indiscriminatamente tutte le transazioni finanziarie. Sarebbe un provvedimento inutile e potenzialmente dannoso che viene proposto semplicemente perchè "It has strong political appeal, catering to demands to punish banks for the crisis they have
bestowed. It satisfies the political need to do something to avoid a repeat of the crisis. And, at a time of fiscal crisis, it
provides an easy way to raise revenues without increasing income taxes."

Zingales propone invece di tassare solamente i debiti a breve scadenza delle istituzioni finanziarie: "(...)if we want to prevent a repeat of 2008, we
need to target the behaviour most likely to have caused the crisis. It was not caused by excessive trading, but by
excessive risk-taking. What transformed a relatively small loss on subprime mortgages into a crisis was the enormous
leverage of financial intermediaries, much of it short term. (...) When subprime losses hit financial intermediaries, short-term lenders, fearing bankruptcy, refused to
renew lending. This progressive withdrawal of funds forced intermediaries to sell more assets, depressing prices
further. It was similar to a traditional bank run, except initiated by short-term lenders.
Anticipating this risk, why did financial intermediaries choose to borrow so much in the short term? Because it allowed
them to borrow more and borrow more cheaply, increasing profits. Short-term lenders, meanwhile, felt confident that
they could get out of troubled companies in time. But while the exit option is available to each lender individually, it is
not available to all lenders together. "

E ancora: "By taxing the use of short-term debt (let us say with
maturity of less than a year), we discourage both excessive leverage and use of short-term leverage, preventing a
crisis. "

A me pare che abbia ragione, anche se non credo che da sola basterà a salvarci da un'altra crisi e che occorra anche istituire un mercato per i CDS oltre che rivedere profondamente la regolamentazione delle banche.