giovedì 23 settembre 2010

Le obbligazioni blu e le obbligazioni rosse?

L'Economist appena uscito dedica uno degli articoli di apertura all'euro, ai suoi guai e alle sue prospettive future. L'ho trovato davvero ben fatto e vi raccomando di leggerlo. Tra le proposte dell'articolo c'è l'emissione di una serie di obbligazioni con la garanzia esplicita di tutti i paesi dell'eurozona, un'idea forse incoraggiata dalla buona accoglienza da parte delle agenzie di rating dell'European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), l'organismo creato in primavera con una dotazione di quasi 700 miliardi di euro (di cui 250 promessi dal Fondo Monetario Internazionale) e incaricato di aiutare i paesi dell'eurozona nei guai con i mercati obbligazionari. Lunedì scorso le tre principali agenzie di rating (S&P, Moody's e Fitch) hanno dato il rating più alto (AAA) all'EFSF.

Ecco il passaggio dell'articolo dell'Economist nel quale si propongono gli eurobond (blu) in contrasto con le obbligazioni (rosse) con la garanzia dei singoli paesi:

Euro-zone countries could try to build their own version of the Treasury market through a common bond issue. Analysts at Bruegel have proposed such a scheme, which might also be used to impose fiscal discipline. Countries would be allowed to issue jointly guaranteed (“blue”) bonds but only up to a limit of 60% of their GDP. Additional “red” bonds would be backed only by the standing of the sovereign issuer. Blue bonds would be senior to red ones, which would be subject to an “orderly” restructuring in default.
Such a scheme would be tricky to implement swiftly. Most euro-zone countries’ debts are way above the 60% limit and rising each year (see chart 3). So withdrawing the implicit guarantee on the rest of their bonds would be likely to cause tremors in financial markets. In its favour, the Bruegel idea may be a way to set long-term limits on each country’s debt levels. The requirement to meet the terms of a blue bond issue is likely to be a more powerful disciplinary device than penalties from Brussels for missing a fiscal target.

Uno dei problemi principali di molti paesi dell'eurozona è una perdita di competitività che rende la politica di risanamento dei bilanci un'impresa quasi disperata. Secondo l'Economist:

Broadly, there are three ways for a country to restore competitiveness: devaluation (which reduces wages relative to those in other exporting countries), wage cuts or higher productivity. In the euro area, the first option is out. The other two rely on easing job-market rules so that pay matches workers’ efficiency more closely, and workers can move freely from dying industries and firms to growing ones. Governments also have to tackle the lack of competition in markets for goods and services, notably in non-tradables (eg, utilities), whose prices affect the costs of other firms, including exporters. A bigger push from Brussels to open services to greater cross-border competition might do far more good than more prescriptions about debts and deficits.
Adjustment by cutting wages is quite brutal, especially without the support of an expansionary fiscal policy. An alternative would be for competitive, trade-surplus countries, such as Germany and the Netherlands, to spend more: the combined deficits of the euro zone’s “periphery” are more or less offset by surpluses at the zone’s “core” (see chart 4). John Maynard Keynes believed that in a fixed exchange-rate system, the burden of adjustment to trade imbalances should fall equally on deficit and surplus countries. So he proposed that excess trade surpluses should be taxed (see article). A scheme such as this would not be easy to implement: it would be hard to gauge the point at which the saving surpluses of an ageing country like Germany become harmful. But such a proposal would at least put “creditor adjustment” on the agenda.

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