martedì 2 febbraio 2010

Il debito greco, i dubbi sull'eurozona, l'elogio della noia di Krugman e quando un grafico vale mille parole

Saluti ai lettori da Parigi! Con qualche giorno di ritardo vi segnalo l'analisi del debito greco sul New York Times di venerdì scors e l'editoriale pubblicato ieri sullo stesso giornale sulle ripercussioni sull'eurozona. Scrive il NYTimes:

The euro is facing the most serious crisis in its 11-year history. Greece, one of 16 European Union members that uses the currency, must raise $76 billion this year — more than $50 billion of it before June 30 — or default. A default would threaten the euro’s global credibility, scare investors away from other struggling European economies and likely reverse Europe’s fragile recovery.

Despite those very real dangers, Europe’s richer nations — most loudly Germany — have been acting as if this is someone else’s problem. Last week, the French newspaper Le Monde reported that Germany and France had begun contingency planning for possible financial assistance. Both governments denied it. We hope the report turns out to be true. Failing to develop a plan to step in if needed would be incredibly shortsighted. (...)

The economic fortunes of all the euro-using countries are too tightly linked to contain the crisis to one of them. And Greece may not be alone for long. Similar financing crises could soon hit Ireland, Spain and Portugal. Market anxieties threaten the currencies of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

(...) Nor should the entire burden fall on Greece — one of the European Union’s smaller and poorer economies. Any bailout must be accompanied by greater restraints on the fiscal sovereignty that Athens so egregiously abused. Letting Greece fail would be a disaster for all of Europe.

All'analisi delle conseguenze del debito sovrano, sia della Grecia che di altri paesi sviluppati inclusi il Giappone e gli Stati Uniti, è dedicata l'ultimo weekly commentary  di John Mauldin ispirato dalla lettura dell'eccellente
This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly di Reinhart e Rogoff (e che sto leggendo, un gradito regalo del mio amico Antonio; se proprio non volete comprarvelo potete dare un'occhiata a un quasi omonimo articolo degli stessi autori qui). Scrive John Mauldin:

When Russia defaulted on its debt and sent the world into crisis in 1998, they had
total debt of only €51 billion. Greece now has €254 billion and added another €8 billion
this week, and needs to add another €24 billion (or so) later this year. That’s a debt-to-
GDP ratio of over 100%, well above the limit of the treaty, which is 60%.
Greece benefitted from being in the Eurozone by getting very low interest rates,
up until recently. Being in the Eurozone made investors confident. Now that confidence
is eroding daily. And this week’s market action says rates will go higher, without some
fiscal discipline. To help my US readers put this in perspective, let’s assume that Greece
was the size of the US. To get back to Maastricht Treaty levels, they would need to cut
the deficit by 4% of GDP for the next few years. If the US did that, it would mean an
equivalent budget cut of $500 billion dollars. Per year. For three years running.
That would guarantee a very deep recession. Just a 10% suggested pay cut has
Greek government unions already planning strikes. Nevertheless, the government of
Greece recognizes that it simply cannot continue to run such huge deficits. They have
developed a plan that aims to narrow the shortfall from 12.7% of output, more than four
times the EU limit, to 8.7% this year. That reduction will be achieved even though the
economy will contract 0.3%, the plan says. The deficit will shrink to 5.6% next year and
2.8% in 2012.
The market is saying they don’t believe that will happen.

Ma se Atene piange....Sparta non ride..: proprio ieri
 il presidente Obama ha presentato un budget da quasi 4000 miliardi di dollari:

President Obama declared in presenting his new 10-year budget proposal on Monday that “our fiscal situation remains unacceptable,” but he insisted that the country pursue his ambitious domestic agenda despite facing swollen budget deficits for the foreseeable future.

“Just as it would be a terrible mistake to borrow against our children’s future to pay our way today, it would be equally wrong to neglect their future by failing to invest in areas that will determine our economic success in this new century,” Mr. Obama said at the White House.
The budget projects that the deficit will peak at nearly $1.6 trillion in the current fiscal year, a post-World War II record, and then decline but remain at economically troublesome levels over the remainder of the decade. In the coming fiscal year 2011, which begins in October, the projected shortfall would be under $1.3 trillion.

e il dollaro, continuando la sua correlazione negativa con i mercati azionari, si è leggermente indebolito perdendo quasi l'1% in due giorni.

Continuano le rivelazioni sulla crisi finanziaria:   si scopre così (possibile che si davvero una scoperta?) che l'A.I.G. non faceva scommesse con i C.D.S solo a Londra: 

Ever since the American International Group nearly collapsed, the conventional wisdom has been that the exotic derivatives that drove it to the brink were the product of a lone, unregulated subsidiary in London. The Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, called the London branch “a hedge fund, basically, attached to a large and stable insurance company.”
But the suggestion that A.I.G.’s core insurance business did not dabble in derivatives is not quite true. One of its biggest insurance units, incorporated in Delaware, was also dealing in the derivatives known as credit-default swaps, according to regulatory filings with the state.
Though the Delaware division had a much smaller portfolio of those swaps than the London unit, and its portfolio did not pose a similar risk to the world financial system, the very presence of the swaps in a regulated insurance company points to a weakness in insurance oversight.
There is a continuing dispute over whether such swaps are insurance products or something else; who, if anyone, should regulate them; and whether insurers should have to set aside reserves to secure the promises that swap contracts make. A.I.G.’s insurance business did not set aside such reserves.
Efforts afoot now in Washington to strengthen financial regulation tend to focus on banking, with insurance, which is regulated by the states, almost an afterthought. (...)
“We have a desperate need for federal regulation and federal disclosure by the insurance companies,” Mr. Whalen (co-founder of Institutional Risk Analytics, a research firm) said. “But even after A.I.G., we still don’t have a proposal for federal regulation, or even enhanced disclosure, and that’s the dirty secret here.”
Credit-default swaps, in essence, work like bond insurance, in which the issuer promises to make a bondholder whole in case of problems like a default. But the swaps differ from conventional insurance in important ways. There are no required reserves, for instance. And any institution can buy the swaps — not just bondholders.
That has led critics to liken the use of swaps to buying insurance on a neighbor’s house, in hopes of a payday when he has a fire. A.I.G.’s London branch used these swaps in huge volume, causing a disaster when the purchasers all descended at once, demanding payments, and A.I.G. ran out of money.(...)
“I don’t think an insurance commissioner should tread on the toes of the banking industry,” said Karen Weldin Stewart, the commissioner in Delaware. “This started out as a bank product.”
Her special deputy for examinations, John Tinsley, explained the reasoning. “In insurance, you’re putting together a pool,” he said. Each customer would be charged a premium based on the total risk of the pool.
A credit-default swap cannot be insurance, Mr. Tinsley said, because it does not involve a pool. There is just one seller and one buyer for every contract.
“It’s an investment product,” he said. “It’s closer to buying an option.”
Not everyone agrees. Eric R. Dinallo, New York State’s insurance superintendent when A.I.G. imploded, said he believed credit-default swaps were insurance and should be regulated as such.

Continua così il dibattito sulla regolamentazione delle banche e in generale dei prodotti finanziari... Paul Krugman elogia il modello canadese di banche "noiose": molte delle sue considerazioni mi trovano istintivamente d'accordo, mi ricordano un po' i discorsi di Taleb di banch come utlilities

A chi non piacerebbe conoscere il futuro? (Umanissima debolezza che però tende a sottovalutare il rischio di sorprese spiacevoli e a sopravvalutare le proprie capacità di sottrarsene). Gli economisti bravi, a volte accusati di essere stregoni o cartomanti da uomini politici, più che predire il futuro cercano di dare strumenti di analisi: per questo vi raccomando l'eccellente collezione di grafici che Brad De Long ha raccolto su SeekingAlpha. Se temete l'inflazione date un'occhiata a questo grafico:

e poi al tristissimo 

che cancella quasi 30 anni di progressi...coraggio America! 

2 commenti:

gg ha detto...

Bella Parigi... Anche io sarò li dall'otto all'undici c.m. se vuole ci si può incontrare per un caffè!

gg ha detto...

Coraggio America: segui il consiglio di Krugman, che poi era anche di Keynes: regolamenta!
un'agenzia indipendente sulle questioni finanziarie è quanto di più saggio abbia sentito...i consigli sul blog di Krugman sono da fare tuoi, coraggio America!