sabato 17 luglio 2010

La deflazione è in arrivo? Buona e cattiva economia comportamentale. Rilassatevi: arrivano gli stress-tests

Dalle note della riunone di giugno dei membri della banca centrale U.S.A. emerge una buona dose di  preoccupazione per la deflazione prossima ventura :

The Federal Reserve disclosed on Wednesday that its chief policy makers were divided on whether the weak economy faced a new, potentially dangerous threat in the form of deflation. (...)
On Wednesday, the Fed lowered its estimate of economic growth for this year, to a range of 3 to 3.5 percent, from the 3.2 percent to 3.7 percent forecast in April. Inflation has been running well below the Fed’s unofficial target of nearly 2 percent, so much so that a few officials fear that the United States is at risk of the kind of deflationary spiral that has hobbled the Japanese economy for the better part of two decades.
The Fed’s chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, has not embraced that view, but even those who disagree with it say the Fed, whose modern institutional culture was built around fighting inflation, now confronts a distinctly different problem of high joblessness.
“If federal fiscal policy is approaching its political or economic limits, some believe that the Federal Reserve should do more, including expansion of its balance sheet,” Kevin M. Warsh, a Fed governor who is close to Mr. Bernanke, said in a recent speech to the Atlanta Rotary Club. “In my view, any judgment to expand the balance sheet further,” by acquiring mortgage bonds and debt, “should be subject to strict scrutiny.”
The central bank has already held interest rates lower for longer than at any time since the Great Depression, keeping the benchmark short-term interest rate near zero since December 2008. Since the start of the financial crisis, the Fed has more than doubled its balance sheet, to $2.3 trillion, by buying mortgage bonds and Treasury debt to keep long-term interest rates low.
But, as Mr. Bernanke pointed out in a speech in 2002, when he was a Fed governor, a central bank that has run out of ordinary tools to prop up the economy, like lowering short-term interest rates, still has other options to prevent deflation.
By resuming its purchases of assets or by being more explicit about its intentions to keep interest rates low, the Fed could lower inflation expectations and long-term interest rates. That could further stimulate borrowing and spending by companies and individuals.
The minutes released Wednesday from the June 22-23 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed’s crucial policy body, cited the threat of deflation in the United States for the first time in a year.
“A few participants cited some risk of deflation,” the minutes noted. “Other participants, however, thought that inflation was unlikely to fall appreciably further, given the stability of inflation expectations in recent years and very accommodative monetary policy.”
The minutes, which are carefully worded to avoid the appearance of discord, nonetheless made clear a growing divergence in views.
“Several participants noted that a continuation of lower-than-expected inflation and high unemployment could eventually lead to a downward movement in inflation expectations that would reinforce disinflationary pressure,” the minutes stated. “By contrast, a few participants noted the possibility that a potentially unsustainable fiscal position and the size of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet could boost inflation expectations and actual inflation over time.”
Secondo il Wall Street Journal i dubbi della Fed sulle prospettive future dell'economia U.S.A. e sul possibile affacciarsi della deflazione sono alla base dell'indebolimento del dollaro degli ultmi giorni: 

"The market got the picture that the Fed was less optimistic than it had been," Mr. Turner said. "That's really kind of undermined the dollar." (...)
Some analysts are skeptical of the euro's rally, noting as the euro gains, investors with anti-euro bets have been forced to unwind their positions, squeezing the common currency higher, especially in thin summer markets.
"The euro appears to be benefiting from a retrenchment in expectations for the U.S.," said Steven Englander, head of G10 strategy at Citigroup in New York. "Nevertheless, the policy response to mitigate the fallout from the sovereign-debt crisis still presents a short-term hurdle for the euro," he said.

Vi raccomando inoltre di leggere: 
  • un breve op-ed sui limiti dell'economia comportamentale (non sono sicuro di condividere la tesi degli autori ma è indubbio che è un argomento molto di moda e che a volte si parla a sproposito di finanza comportamentale per coprire cattive scelte di investimento da parte di gestori).
  • l'analisi dell'Economist degli stress-tests delle banche europee i cui risultati saranno resi pubblici la prossima settimana. Secondo l'Economist: whereas America’s tests were run in military style, Europe’s efforts have been chaotic—more akin to a rowdy negotiation about cod quotas than the recapitalisation of the world’s biggest banking system. With just days to go regulators must redouble their efforts to make the tests work.

    Stress tests are certainly needed. Banks and transparency are not always a good combination. When a carmaker admits it has a hole in its balance-sheet, its factories are still there a week later; when a bank does so it usually suffers a devastating run. This is why regulators sometimes like to deal with dud banks in secret. But when there is already a widespread loss of confidence, sunlight is the only treatment left. That happened in Japan in 2002-03, when zombie banks were at last prodded to own up to their bad debts, and in America last year.
    Europe has reached a similar point. Some banks have been locked out of international borrowing markets, reflecting worries that they could be brought down by the woes of southern Europe and the suspicion that they are sitting on sour loans from the boom years. The fear of contagion has raised debt costs for other banks. Unless faith is restored, the continent’s banking system, heavily reliant on wholesale borrowing, faces a funding crunch. That would force banks to lean even more heavily on central banks and governments to roll over their debts. It could also bring on a double-dip recession.

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