domenica 20 giugno 2010

Bailouts senza fondo. La rivalutazione del cambio yuan/dollaro

Quanto costerà ai contribuenti USA il salvataggio di Freddie Mac e Fannie Mae? Le ultime stime si aggirano intorno ai 400 miliardi di dollari ma c'è chi prospetta anche cifre superiori.
Secondo l'analista e blogger di MSN Money Jim Jubak le cose potrbbero anche mettersi molto peggio:
In August, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated the two companies would need $389 billion in government money through 2019. Barclays Capital said in December that the price tag could run as high as $500 billion if housing prices dropped an additional 20%. (Housing prices as measured by the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index fell 3.2% in the first quarter of 2010 compared with the previous quarter.)
Sean Egan, the president of Egan-Jones Ratings, recently told Bloomberg that a 20% loss on mortgages and guarantees, which is in line with the losses at a mortgage lender such as Countrywide Financial -- now owned by Bank of America (BAC, news, msgs) -- could take a worst-case scenario to $1 trillion.
No one knows the exact number, but there's an awful lot of taxpayer money riding on housing prices.
The obligations are real, but none of it is in the federal budget. How long will the foreign money financing the U.S. deficit buy that one, do you think?
Jubak considera l'esplosione del bailout di Fannie e Freddie uno dei principali rischi di breve-medio termine per la ripresa dell'economia USA e mondiale, insieme all'aggravarsi della crisi del debito spagnolo e al rischio insolvenza del sistema bancario cinese. 
Come ho già anticipato ieri la banca centrale cinese ha annunciato la sua disponibilità a una maggiore flessibilità del cambio dello yuan. Ecco quanto scrive oggi il New York Times:
China announced on Saturday evening that it would allow greater flexibility in the value of its currency, a move that could deflect growing international criticism of its economic policies and defuse one of the greatest sources of tension between Beijing and Washington.
The statement, by China’s central bank, was the clearest sign yet that the country would allow its currency to appreciate gradually against the dollar. World leaders are due to meet next week in Canada for economic talks, and China’s currency policies had appeared a certain source of conflict.
The United States has been leading a chorus of countries urging China to let its currency fluctuate. Many members of Congress believe China’s exchange rate policy gives it an unfair trade advantage, and a movement has been growing to take retaliatory trade action if China did not make an adjustment.
President Obama and the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, immediately praised China’s action. “China’s decision to increase the flexibility of its exchange rate is a constructive step that can help safeguard the recovery and contribute to a more balanced global economy,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. The European Commission also said it supported the move.
But it remains to be seen whether the move will significantly rebalance the global trade picture. The People’s Bank of China was cautious in its statement about how far its currency, the renminbi, might fluctuate, warning explicitly that “the basis for large-scale appreciation of the RMB exchange rate does not exist.” Chinese officials said the renminbi would move in relation to an unspecified basket of currencies, not just the dollar. Experts said that depending on how the system was designed, China could avoid rapid fluctuations.
Mr. Geithner alluded to this in a statement, saying, “This is an important step, but the test will be how far and how fast they let the currency appreciate.”
The first sign of how much currency appreciation will be tolerated is likely to come Monday morning, when the Chinese government will set the initial trading band for the value of the renminbi in Shanghai trading.
China has kept its currency value low since mid-2008 by pegging it to that of the dollar and not letting it fluctuate. Any trend in the renminbi’s value would have been higher without the peg, making China’s goods more expensive to foreign consumers and possibly slowing the country’s export-based economy.(...)
For China, a stronger renminbi will increase the buying power of its consumers and could make gasoline and other imported commodities seem less expensive. Faced with spreading labor unrest, particularly in the auto industry, the government has started to make an energetic effort to improve the standard of living of industrial workers.
But many economists inside and outside China have argued that currency appreciation is in China’s interest most of all. The country has been spending nearly one-tenth of its annual economic output to buy Treasury notes and bonds and other foreign securities while printing and selling renminbi, all in an effort to prevent the renminbi from rising against the dollar.
The renminbi has already risen with the dollar by 15 percent against the euro in the last two months. That has made Chinese officials nervous about the future competitiveness of Chinese sales to Europe, the biggest market for Chinese exports.
Cui Tiankai, a vice foreign minister, said on Friday that the value of the renminbi was not a subject for global discussion, the latest in a series of remarks by Chinese officials indicating strong nationalistic sensitivities about currency policy.
But people familiar with Chinese currency policy making have been saying for two months that the Chinese leadership agreed in early April to a change of direction. A devastating earthquake in western China in mid-April followed by worries about economic turmoil in Europe delayed action on the decision.

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