domenica 19 settembre 2010

Che si fa quando i tassi di interesse sono troppo bassi? Si risparmia!

Nell'ultimo numero dell'Economist Buttonwood si domanda se i bassissimi tassi di renumerazione del capitale adottati dalle banche centrali in Europa e negli USA non finiscano per incoraggiare troppo il risparmio, vanificando uno degli obiettivi dei banchieri centrali (rendere attraenti gli investimenti rischiosi).

Investors seem to have two reactions to the prospect of a prolonged period of low rates. For the bulls, it is a sign that investors will eventually decide to reject the safety of cash in favour of the higher returns available from riskier assets.(...)
For the bears, low rates are a sign of the desperation of central bankers, and an indication that economic growth will be subdued for some time to come. They predict Japanese-style stagnation.
Not everyone accepts the Japanese parallel. But there is a reasonably broad consensus that growth will be more sluggish than it might have been, thanks to the lingering effects of the financial crisis and to deteriorating demography, particularly in western Europe.

Ma al di là della diatriba tori contro orsi, uno dei nodi principali sono le pensioni: 

A long period of low rates has profound consequences for savers. Take pensions.(...) Low rates increase the liabilities of pension schemes. Or, put another way, you need a much larger capital pot to buy a given level of income. According to Nick Horsfall of Towers Watson, a consultant actuary, British liabilities have risen by 15% over the past three years, thanks to lower nominal government-bond yields.
In addition, deflation is a hidden risk for pension schemes. If it occurs, it will cut the nominal incomes of those (companies, public-sector bodies) that have to fund future pensions, creating another potential gap between assets and liabilities. It is possible for pension funds to insure themselves against deflation in the derivatives market. But the cost of this has risen sharply in recent years, as deflation has become more likely.
However pensions are funded, the consequences are clear. More money will have to be put aside to pay for them. In other words, savings will have to go up.

La scelta sembra essere obbligata: al deleveraging si aggiunge un accumulazione di capitale, anche se con rendimenti esigui, nel tentativo disperato di non morire di fame quando si va in pensione.

Indeed, the rich world may be due for a cultural shift. If the motto of the past 25 years was “borrow now, pay later”, then “save now, rather than starve later” might soon be the more appropriate philosophy. Many people are unprepared for retirement. (...) If they think they will have a comfortable retirement on state benefits, they are in for a nasty surprise.
Interest-rate cuts hurt savers’ incomes even as they make borrowers better off. If this income effect were to become powerful enough, it would be a nice irony. Low interest rates, which have the main aim of encouraging spending, could have the perverse effect of encouraging saving.

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