giovedì 9 giugno 2011

Nuovo credito per l'Islanda

E' stata annunciata oggi la prima emissione di obbligazioni islandesi dal collasso del sistema bancario nell'autunno del 2008: è una buona notizia per tutti e non solo per un paese per il quale ho una forte istintiva simpatia. E il commento di Barley sul WSJ mi pare largamente condivisibile. Aggiungerei all'elenco di ragioni che permettono oggi all'Islanda di finanziarsi al 5% con scadenza quinquennale anche un disperato desiderio degli investitori di emissioni obbligazionarie con rendimenti non nulli...

Roll up, Roll up. Orders are now being taken for Iceland's first bond offering since its spectacular economic and banking collapse late in 2008. The five-year offering, which may raise as much as $1 billion at a yield of around 5%, is a milestone in rebuilding confidence internationally and follows a turnaround in the economy, forecast to grow 2.25% this year. It will also fuel debate over whether peripheral European countries such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal would have fared better if they had had their own currencies and let their banks go bust. Iceland's currency flexibility and banking default were important factors, but not unambiguously positive. The 40% fall in the real value of the krona has boosted exports but it also imposed a heavy cost on a country dependent on imports with high levels of foreign-currency linked debt. Similarly, the default of Kaupthing, Glitnir and Landsbanki—unavoidable given bank sector assets had grown to 10 times gross domestic product—was by no means costless. Debt to GDP has soared to 100% from under 30% in 2007 as a result. That burden could rise higher depending on the outcome of unresolved disputes with the U.K. and Netherlands over deposit guarantees for Internet bank Icesave and with private creditors challenging the decision to accord depositors priority in the resolution process. Nor is Iceland out of the woods yet. Unemployment remains high at 7.8%, far above the 2% recorded pre-crisis. The government has already introduced tax increases and spending cuts equivalent to 10% of GDP over two years and will need to go further. Iceland still faces a policy minefield in removing capital controls: Foreign investors have deposits and short-term investments worth some 30% of GDP locked up in Iceland. But Iceland's return to bond markets reflects two key factors available to any sovereign in or out of the euro. The first is time: It has taken nearly three years since the October 2008 bank implosion to get this far. The second is credible, consistent policy-making that has encouraged investors to provide funding even if the recovery is fragile and problems remain. That is the real lesson for Greece, Ireland and Portugal. Write to Richard Barley at richard barley@dowjones com

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