mercoledì 28 aprile 2010

Grecia, Portogallo e Spagna sotto pressione.

Oggi vi segnalo:

un video del Financial Times sull'aggravarsi della crisi dopo i downgrades del debito greco e portoghese da parte di Standard and Poors.

Un articolo dell'Economist che cerca di spiegare perchè secondo molti analisti la prima vittima del contagio dovrebbe proprio essere il Portogallo. Scrive l'Economist:

One answer is that Portugal’s biggest problem is not primarily fiscal. It concerns growth—or the lack of it. Real GDP growth over the decade since Portugal joined the euro has been the slowest in the zone, despite a boom in Spain, its main trading partner. The country avoided a property bubble of the kind that burst so disastrously in Spain and Ireland. Though it doesn’t help much, Portugal’s already slow growth also made it less vulnerable to the global recession. “Spain was the wild tiger of Europe and had much further to fall when the recession came,” says João Talone, a private-equity manager. “Portuguese companies were already used to extracting value in a difficult climate.”  (...) 

A slow-moving bureaucracy, inefficient courts, poor schools and state-supported pockets of the economy protected from competition combine to hold Portugal back. Businessmen moan about rigid labour laws, which there is little political will to reform. Portugal has one of Europe’s toughest employee-protection regimes.
In short, Portugal is indeed different from Greece. But if the markets decided to put this to the test, chronic low growth, a drastic loss of competitiveness and high public and private indebtedness are all weaknesses which could swiftly undermine the protection that being different is meant to bring.

Infine un articolo del New York TImes ancora sulla Grecia e sulle conseguenze del downgrade. Scrive il NYTimes:

A major ratings agency cut Greece’s debt to junk level on Tuesday, warning that bondholders could face losses of up to 50 percent of their holdings in a restructuring. The agency also downgraded Portugal’s debt by two notches.
Leading stock indexes across Europe plunged by 2.5 to 6 percent, and the euro fell to a recent low, for a 13 percent decline against the dollar since December. The Dow Jones industrial average slumped 213.04 points, to 10,991.99, a fall of 1.9 percent.
The downgrades, by Standard & Poor’s, pushed up the interest rates that Portugal must pay on its 10-year bonds to a high, and Spain’s costs rose, too. Investors are already demanding nearly 10 percent in returns on Greek’s 10-year bonds. The cost of insuring all three countries’ debt against a default are also at record levels — a clear sign that investors are shunning them.
“The situation is deteriorating rapidly, and it’s not clear who’s in a position to stop the Greeks from going into a default situation,” said Edward Yardeni, president of Yardeni Research. “That creates a spillover effect.”
The problem is that it is not just Greece, which expects to receive international aid, but Portugal, Spain and other countries that must issue more debt soon.
“The issue is rollover risk," said Jonathan Tepper of Variant Perception, a research group based in London and known for its bearish views on Spain. "Spain has to issue new debt plus roll over existing debt to the tune of 225 billion euros this year. Fourty-five percent of their debt is held by foreigners so they are dependent on the kindness of strangers.”
(...) On Tuesday, a vice president of the European Central Bank said that the euro zone was facing its biggest challenge since the adoption of the Maastricht Treaty in 1997. Austerity measures in Greece and Portugal are already causing unrest there. Transportation workers in both countries protested on Tuesday, leaving train stations deserted because of strikes.
Officials from Standard & Poor’s said the main reason for downgrading the debt of Greece and Portugal was the prospect that forced austerity packages would be an even bigger drag on economic growth.
It is the most vicious of circles: stagnating economies are forced to cut back more, which reduces their ability to generate revenue and thus pay off their debts. As part of the euro zone, these countries do not have the ability to print their own money to stimulate growth and bolster exports, so increasing debt and an increasing prospect of default result.
Though they are under the most immediate pressure, Greece and Portugal are relatively small economies.
Given Spain’s size, its debt crisis is seen by many as the looming problem for world markets. On the surface, its debt load appears manageable. Its debt relative to gross domestic product, the broadest measure of its economy, is 54 percent — compared with 120 percent for Greece and 80 percent for Portugal.
But what Spain does have is the highest twin deficit, or combined budget and current account deficits, of any country in the world except Iceland, a reflection of how dependent it is on increasingly fickle foreign investors for financing. Spain has 225 billion euros in debt coming due this year — an amount that is about the size of Greece’s economy.
The base of investors willing to invest in the bonds of Spain and other distressed European countries is dwindling. Mohamed El-Erian, the chief executive of Pimco, one of the largest bond investors in the world, has said publicly that his firm is not a buyer of Greek debt and other Pimco executives have said they are underweight debt from peripheral Europe.
Given the losses that European investors have taken on Greek, Spanish and Portuguese bonds in recent months, it seems doubtful that such investors can be relied on to provide the capital these countries need.
Predicting where and when the next ripple will be felt is an inexact science. During the Asian crisis in 1997, Russia’s debt default took the world by surprise.
Some even worry that the next debt crisis may materialize closer to home — in the United Kingdom or even the United States, where budget deficits and debt burdens are growing. Both countries are now issuing debt at reasonable levels of 4 percent. The long run of cheap financing may be coming to an end, though, even for the most creditworthy countries.

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