venerdì 3 settembre 2010

Il Fondo Monetario Internazionale e il debito sovrano

Il Fondo Monetario Internazionale si è detto molto preoccupato per l'espansione del debito sovrano nei paesi del G-7. Secondo il New York Times
The world’s most developed economies, which have been racking up spending since the mid-1960s, face record levels of debt as a result of the 2008-9 financial crisis and have little room for maneuver, the International Monetary Fund warned on Wednesday.
Despite the stark warning and the prospect that the wealthiest nations face years of belt-tightening, the fund also said that the risk of default by heavily indebted European countries like Greece, Ireland and Portugal had been significantly overestimated.
Gli economisti del Fondo raccomandano una terapia soft per il rientro del debito, in modo da evitare nuovi traumi ai mercati e all'occupazione e concordano con chi - come ad esempio De Long e Krugman - sottolinea che i bassi tassi di interesse sulle obbligazioni governative di medio-lungo periodo forniscono un po' di margine di manovra ai governi, che dovrebbero approfittarne: 
“There should be fiscal adjustment, but it cannot be too abrupt,” they wrote. “There should be a downsizing of government, but without preventing it from playing a key role in the provision of basic services, and in particular in maintaining a level playing field by giving equal opportunities to all individuals regardless of their conditions at birth.”
The two authors continued: “The current environment of low interest rates, which has so far kept debt service payments under control in G-7 economies despite surging deficits and debt levels, provides a window of opportunity to set the adjustment process in motion.”
Secondo le analisi del FMI, riprese anche dal Wall Street Journal, a number of countries are running perilously close to their "debt limit"—a point at which markets might react to the threat of default by boosting interest rates sky high on new borrowing. According to the IMF analysis of 23 wealthy countries, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Portugal and Japan are very close to that point, while Ireland, the U.S., Britain and Spain are moving into dangerous territory.
The IMF analysis doesn't predict that hitting the debt limit necessarily implies a market reaction. Japan, for instance, borrows at very low interest rates despite very high debt loads.
"Why haven't markets shut Japan out?" asked IMF economist Jonathan Ostry. Because, he said, much of the debt is held domestically, and Japanese households are big savers. "But people have commented that this can't go on forever," Mr. Ostry said. "The aging of the population will diminish the pool of savings."
La buona notizia è che, malgrado tutto, la Grecia dovrebbe farcela:
By IMF estimates, Greece's debt would equal about 150% of GDP by 2013 despite stringentgovernment cutbacks. Analysts have said the Greek populace wouldn't have the stomach to continue austerity, and would insist on a default.
But Mr. Mauro and three IMF economists said that a number of countries over the past 30 years have cut spending on the scale of what is required of Greece without defaulting. They also contend that a default wouldn't help because Greece would be shut off from international borrowing and would still have to sharply cut its government spending.

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