L'Economist dedica un articolo all'analisi della manipolazione
dei mercati valutari da parte delle banche centrali di numerosi paesi. L'effetto principale della riunione
della Fed di martedì scorso è stato quello di indebolire considerevolmente
il dollaro mediante l'evocazione di uno scenario di crescita economica debole
e di ripresa del Quantitative Easing. L'Economist giustamente osserva come la
mossa della Fed sia giunta pochi giorni dopo l'imponente intervento della banca
centrale giapponese contro la rivalutazione dello yen. I giapponesi e gli americani non sono però i soli manipolatori dei cambi: all'elenco si aggiunge la Svizzera, il Brasile ma, soprattutto, la Cina.
The most active interveners, however, are in the emerging world.
China is the extreme case. It has built up $2.45 trillion of reserves thanks to
its determination to keep the yuan stable against the dollar. Others have less rigid currencies but still intervene to stem what they regard as excessive upward pressure. Between September 13th and 16th Brazil’s central bank bought dollars at a rate of $1 billion a day.
As the recovery slows, a growing number of people worry about a descent into
competitive depreciation, as countries try to grab a bigger share of global demand at others’ expense, a trend that could fuel protectionism. Optimists, however, argue there may be benefits from today’s fad for currency fiddling. One argument is that intervention may be a backdoor route to reflation. If central banks all print money to prevent their currencies appreciating and don’t mop up or “sterilise” that liquidity by issuing bonds, then their exchange rates might end up the same but the world will have had a monetary boost in the interim.
The truth lies in between. Although most of the intervening governments have the same goal—to stop their domestic currency from rising—their circumstances and motivations vary widely. China’s ongoing determination to fix the yuan is the least defensible and most distortive. Unfortunately, it is also the world’s most effective intervener.
Il rafforzamento dell'euro rende senz'altro più difficle la ripresa economica nei paesi in crisi alla periferia dell'eurozona (Irlanda, Grecia, Spagna e Portogallo, ma non sto pensando solo a loro...). Secondo il Wall Street Journal
As in the 1930s, competitive devaluations, whether by fair means or foul,
are likely to increase international tensions and risk protectionist responses.
Meanwhile, they will do nothing to address the global imbalances that led to the
crisis or tackle the chief problem facing the advanced economies today:
lack of domestic demand in many countries.
In the short term, the euro zone has the most to lose from rising currency tensions, given the relative hawkishness of the European Central Bank. The euro already has risen 2.3% against the dollar in the last week. But a rising euro could cause further problems for Europe's periphery as well as for the German export engine at the heart of the European recovery.
Longer term, the biggest gainer is likely to be gold, (...) the traditional refuge of those unwilling to put their faith in politicians.
In un mondo sviluppato completamente nel quale la riduzione del debito (pubblico e delle famiglie) è all'ordine del giorno, non sorprendentemente c'è anche chi ripropone l'idea di Keynes di legare i corsi valutari al deficit della bilancia commerciale (speriamo che i miei lettori tedeschi siano distratti...). Ecco come l'Economist descrive lo schema di Keynes:
Keynes set out a scheme for a “clearing union” that he believed had the benefits to trade of a fixed exchange-rate system but without the gold standard’s shortcomings. At its heart was an international clearing bank (ICB) that would settle the balance of transactions that gave rise to trade surpluses or deficits. Residual balances would be settled by member central banks, but each would have an overdraft facility at the ICB equal to the recent average of its country’s exports and imports (its “quota”). The overdraft would afford deficit countries a credit buffer against the abrupt adjustments required under the gold standard.
The scheme would still discipline members with trade deficits.
A country that used up more than a quarter of its limit would be allowed to
depreciate its currency by 5% against the others. Higher overdrafts would incur an interest charge on a rising scale. A country that breached half its overdraft would be required to devalue, to sell some of its gold to the ICB and to prohibit capital exports. A hopelessly lax country would be expelled from the club.
Keynes’s scheme would also require creditors not to hoard their trade surpluses.
Countries in persistent credit with the ICB would be allowed (and then required)
to revalue their currencies. Credits equal to a quarter of the ICB quota would be
liable to a tax of 5%, rising to 10% for credits above half the quota.
This scheme formed the basis of Britain’s position in the negotiations in 1944 at Bretton Woods, which created the post-war system of exchange rates. However, Keynes could not secure American support for “creditor adjustment”. This was in part because America had both the world’s most powerful economy and (like Germany today) a big trade surplus. Britain was an indebted supplicant.
As Robert Skidelsky argues in his biography of Keynes, this also reflected the contrasting views in America and Britain of the collapse of the gold standard. America associated its earlier prosperity with the standard’s stability and the Depression with the system’s breakdown. Britain linked the misery of the 1920s to the gold straitjacket and its subsequent recovery to being freed from it. The belief that more discipline for debtors is the cure for imbalances persists, though in Germany rather than America. Now a deficit country, America thinks surplus countries should adjust too.