venerdì 21 maggio 2010

USA=Giappone? Forse. Trichet=Bernanke? MI pare di no ma le critiche piovono su entrambi

Ahi ahi...forse gli USA non sono la Grecia ma assomiglia sempre di più al...Giappone...Ne parla oggi Krugman sul New York Times e vi assicuro che non è una buona notizia perchè il Giappone è un autentico paradosso vivente dal punto di vista economico-finanziario. Scrive Krugman

Despite a chorus of voices claiming otherwise, we aren’t Greece. We are, however, looking more and more like Japan.
For the past few months, much commentary on the economy — some of it posing as reporting — has had one central theme: policy makers are doing too much. Governments need to stop spending, we’re told.(...)
And what about near-record unemployment, with long-term unemployment worse than at any time since the 1930s? What about the fact that the employment gains of the past few months, although welcome, have, so far, brought back fewer than 500,000 of the more than 8 million jobs lost in the wake of the financial crisis? Hey, worrying about the unemployed is just so 2009.
But the truth is that policy makers aren’t doing too much; they’re doing too little. Recent data don’t suggest that America is heading for a Greece-style collapse of investor confidence. Instead, they suggest that we may be heading for a Japan-style lost decade, trapped in a prolonged era of high unemployment and slow growth.
(...) As of Thursday, the 10-year rate was below 3.3 percent. I wish I could say that falling interest rates reflect a surge of optimism about U.S. federal finances. What they actually reflect, however, is a surge of pessimism about the prospects for economic recovery, pessimism that has sent investors fleeing out of anything that looks risky — hence, the plunge in the stock market — into the perceived safety of U.S. government debt. What’s behind this new pessimism? It partly reflects the troubles in Europe, which have less to do with government debt than you’ve heard; the real problem is that by creating the euro, Europe’s leaders imposed a single currency on economies that weren’t ready for such a move. But there are also warning signs at home, most recently Wednesday’s report on consumer prices, which showed a key measure of inflation falling below 1 percent, bringing it to a 44-year low.
This isn’t really surprising: you expect inflation to fall in the face of mass unemployment and excess capacity. But it is nonetheless really bad news. Low inflation, or worse yet deflation, tends to perpetuate an economic slump, because it encourages people to hoard cash rather than spend, which keeps the economy depressed, which leads to more deflation. That vicious circle isn’t hypothetical: just ask the Japanese, who entered a deflationary trap in the 1990s and, despite occasional episodes of growth, still can’t get out. And it could happen here.
So what we should really be asking right now isn’t whether we’re about to turn into Greece. We should, instead, be asking what we’re doing to avoid turning Japanese. And the answer is, nothing.

Sempre dal New York Times vi segnalo un lungo articolo dedicato al governatore della BCE Trichet e alle critiche che la sua decisione di comprare obbligazioni governative. Le accuse a Trichet non sono molto diverse (anche se di spettro più limitato) di quelle che sono state fatte a Bernanke:

(...) A few days before, on May 6, Mr. Trichet had told reporters that the bank was not even considering buying bonds from the weakest governments of the shaken euro zone. On May 7, markets tumbled.
But a few hours after the leaders adjourned — at 3:15 a.m. on May 10, and by all accounts under severe pressure from President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and other European leaders — Mr. Trichet and the bank board members reversed themselves.
Mr. Trichet’s market-shaking change was controversial enough. But many analysts thought that he had badly misread the markets — and Europe’s politics — in the first place, and that he and the bank, which controls the euro, were too far behind the curve.
In Germany, with its historic dread of inflation, the intervention in bond markets was met with something approaching outrage. One member of Parliament called on Mr. Trichet to resign.
Axel A. Weber, president of Germany’s Bundesbank and a member of the European Central Bank’s Governing Council, distanced himself from the bond purchases in a rare display of internal discord. It was particularly impolite, given Mr. Weber’s ambition, supported by Chancellor Angela Merkel, to succeed Mr. Trichet after his term expires in 2011.
Jürgen von Hagen, an economist at the University of Bonn and seasoned central bank watcher, sounded almost betrayed by Mr. Trichet, who had made controlling inflation his watchword; as governor of the Bank of France in the 1990s, he made his name standing up to free-spending French politicians.
“I think he’s been a good president, particularly throughout the financial crisis,” Mr. von Hagen said before adding, “What we have seen in the last six weeks is terribly disappointing.”
Mr. Trichet has plenty of supporters, even among the inflation-wary Germans. Joschka Fischer, a former foreign minister, came to Mr. Trichet’s defense, praising him for acting intelligently in a crisis.
“We Germans, we love principles,” he said. “Principles are fine, but in the moment of crisis even George W. Bush transformed himself into an American Lenin and nearly nationalized banking.
“When the house is on fire, you don’t think of principles, but containing the fire. That’s the situation we’re in now.”
Whatever the merits of the argument, one thing is clear to outsiders: Mr. Trichet’s willingness to bend or break the rules and buy government bonds — aimed at halting a potentially catastrophic sell-off — served as final confirmation that the central bank had stepped once and for all beyond its narrow founding mission solely as a bulwark against inflation.
The European Central Bank now seems to have been pushed into the much larger role of guardian of financial stability in the 16 countries that belong to the euro area, with implications for all the 27 nations of the European Union.(...)

In entrambi i casi è bene ricordarsi del contesto nel quale delle decisioni controverse sono state prese: ecco un ripassino da un'altra colonna del NYTimes

Carmen M. Reinhart, an economist at the University of Maryland, College Park, said that a restructuring — or a partial default — by Greece seemed probable but was “no panacea.” While other European conditions may not require a restructuring of government debts, she said, “there is a pressing need to facilitate a restructuring of private debts, notably those of financial institutions.”
At most, the newest financing package buys time for other heavily indebted countries in Europe to impose austerity measures and restructure private debts, but “it does not change Greece’s, nor anyone else’s, levels of outstanding debts and their even more worrisome profile in the period ahead,” Ms. Reinhart said.
Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business, predicted that a default by Greece would result in much higher borrowing costs for Portugal, Spain and potentially other countries. “Crisis could easily spread from Europe to the United States, much as the recent U.S. mortgage and broader financial crisis spread to Europe,” Professor Morici said.
Mr. Tarullo laid out how that contagion could spread. If sovereign debt problems were to broadly affect Europe, American banks could face large losses on their overall credit exposures, as asset values declined and loan delinquencies mounted. Money market mutual funds that hold commercial paper and certificates of deposit issued by European banks also would be hurt. The result could be a further contraction in bank lending.
“Although we view such a development as unlikely, the swoon in global financial markets earlier this month suggests that it is not out of the question,” Mr. Tarullo said. 

E la riforma finanziaria USA? Ne parla lungamente il New York Times oggi sul quale trovate peraltro una tabella sintetica molto ben fatta che ne riepiloga i contenuti.

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