Friday, October 24, 2014
7

Europa is nog niet uit de problemen

NEW YORK – Sinds november vorig jaar heeft de Europese Centrale Bank (ECB), onder haar nieuwe president Mario Draghi, de rente verlaagd en het banksysteem van de eurozone voorzien van twee liquiditeitsinjecties van ruim €1 bln. Dit heeft geleid tot een tijdelijke verlichting van de financiële druk op de met hoge schuldenlasten kampende landen in de periferie van de eurozone (Griekenland, Spanje, Portugal, Italië en Ierland), het risico verminderd van een run op de banken en de financieringskosten van Italië en Spanje omlaag gebracht van het onhoudbaar hoge niveau van afgelopen najaar.

Tegelijkertijd werd een technisch bankroet van Griekenland vermeden, en heeft het land een succesvolle – zij het gedwongen – sanering van zijn staatsschuld doorgevoerd. Een nieuw begrotingspact – en nieuwe regeringen in Griekenland, Italië en Spanje – hebben de hoop aangewakkerd dat er op geloofwaardige wijze zal worden gewerkt aan bezuinigingen en structurele hervormingen. En het besluit om het nieuwe reddingsfonds van de eurozone (het Europese Stabiliteits Mechanisme) te koppelen aan het oude (de Europese Financiële Stabiliteits Faciliteit) heeft de omvang van de beschermingswal rondom de eurozone aanzienlijk vergroot.

Maar de daaruit voortvloeiende opleving van de financiële markten is van korte duur gebleken. De rente op de staatsobligaties van Italië en Spanje is weer aan het oplopen, terwijl de kredietkosten van Portugal en Griekenland de hele tijd hoog zijn gebleven. En de recessie in de periferie van de eurozone verdiept zich en dringt door tot de kern van de zone, te weten Frankrijk en Duitsland. De recessie zal dit jaar verergeren, om diverse redenen.

In de eerste plaats wordt de krimp versneld door de bezuinigingen – hoe noodzakelijk ook – omdat de hogere belastingen, en de lagere overheidsuitgaven en overdrachtsbetalingen het beschikbare inkomen en de vraag omlaag drukken. Bovendien zal er, als de recessie zich verdiept en de begrotingstekorten nog verder oplopen, een nieuwe ronde van bezuinigingen nodig zijn. En nu zal, dankzij het begrotingspact, zelfs de kern van de eurozone gedwongen zijn zich te bekeren tot recessie-verzwarende bezuinigingen.

Terwijl het zeer goed concurrerende Duitsland kan leven met een eurokoers van $1,30 of meer, zal de wisselkoers van de euro voor de periferie van de eurozone, waar de arbeidskosten het afgelopen decennium met 30-40% zijn gestegen, op gelijke hoogte moeten komen met de dollar om de concurrentiekracht en de externe balans te kunnen herstellen. Door de pijnlijke schuldensanering – minder uitgeven en meer sparen om de schulden omlaag te krijgen – wordt de binnenlandse vraag ondermijnd. De enige hoop op het herstellen van de groei is dus gelegen in een verbetering van de handelsbalans, waarvoor een veel zwakkere euro nodig is.

Intussen is de kredietcrisis in de periferie van de eurozone geïntensiveerd: dankzij de goedkope langetermijnkredieten van de ECB hebben de banken daar nu geen liquiditeitsprobleem, maar wel een enorm tekort aan kapitaal. Gesteld voor het probleem dat ze een kernkapitaal van 9% moeten hebben, zullen zij dat doel bereiken door bezittingen te verkopen en hun kredietverstrekking in te krimpen – niet bepaald een ideaal scenario voor een economisch herstel.

Om de zaken er nog erger op te maken is de eurozone nóg afhankelijker van olie-importen dan de Verenigde Staten en stijgt de olieprijs, terwijl de politieke en beleidsmatige omstandigheden verslechteren. Frankrijk kan binnenkort een president kiezen die tegen het begrotingspact is en wiens beleid de obligatiemarkten vrees kan aanjagen. Bij de verkiezingen in Griekenland – waar de recessie omslaat in een depressie – kan 40-50% van de stemmen terechtkomen bij partijen die vóór een onmiddellijk staatsbankroet en een vertrek uit de eurozone zijn. De Ierse kiezers kunnen het begrotingspact bij een referendum verwerpen. En er zijn tekenen dat Spanje en Italië de hervormingen beu zijn. Daar nemen de demonstraties en stakingen, en het ongenoegen tegen de pijnlijke bezuinigingen, hand over hand toe.

Zelfs structurele hervormingen die uiteindelijk de productiviteit verhogen kunnen op de korte termijn recessies veroorzaken. Een grotere flexibiliteit van de arbeidsmarkt door de kosten van het ontslaan van werknemers te verlagen zal – op de korte termijn – tot meer ontslagen in de publieke en private sector leiden, waardoor de daling van de inkomens en van de vraag zal worden verscherpt.

Tenslotte heeft de ECB, na een goede start, de extra monetaire impuls die de eurozone nu nodig zou hebben opgeschort. ECB-functionarissen beginnen zich zorgen te maken over de inflatiestijging als gevolg van de oliecrisis.

Het probleem is dat de eurozone een bezuinigingsstrategie heeft, maar geen groeistrategie. En zonder zo'n strategie is er eigenlijk alleen maar een recessiestrategie, die ervoor zorgt dat de bezuinigingen en de hervormingen zelfdestructief zijn, omdat – als de productie blijft krimpen – de tekorten en schulden zullen blijven stijgen naar een onaanvaardbare niveau. Bovendien zullen de sociale en politieke protesten uiteindelijk overweldigend worden.

Dat is de reden dat de rente op de staatsobligaties van landen uit de periferie van de eurozone weer aan het stijgen is. Deze landen kampen met grote onevenwichtigheden, zoals een toename van de schulden in verhouding tot het bbp en een zich verdiepende recessie, een enorm verlies aan concurrentiekracht en grote externe tekorten die de markten nu niet willen financieren.

Zonder een veel soepeler monetair beleid en iets minder scherpe bezuinigingen zal de euro niet zwakker worden, de externe concurrentiekracht niet worden hersteld en de recessie zich verdiepen. En zonder herstel van de groei – niet pas over een paar jaar, maar al in 2012 – zullen de onevenwichtigheden nog onaanvaardbaarder worden. Meer eurolanden zullen gedwongen worden hun schulden te saneren en uiteindelijk zullen sommigen besluiten de monetaire unie te verlaten.

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  1. CommentedPrasanna Srinivasan

    EU can look towards regaining competitiveness by taking cuts in wages and looking for overseas business (non-EU) based on this. A large part of the deficits run up by govts have essentially been propping up standards of living/real income in these countries without corresponding productivity increases to boost incomes - something Germany has successfully done. In the medium to long term, many EU countries will have to readjust their expectations of the relatively luxurious standards of living they enjoy if they are to generate incomes based on competition from elsewhere or create high value propositions that also employ large numbers (difficult to do).

  2. CommentedJonathan Lam

    gamesmith94134 08:07 06 Oct 11

    Gamesmith94134: Catching up is so very hard to do 67

    Justlistenall said well, ”how about “nations of higher living standards” in lieu of “rich nations”, except for those who really qualify as such?” It was not the yuan or GDP that make China the emerging nation; and the fact is the affordability that gives impetus to growth and not the higher living standard.

    If the rich nations must catch up the up-ward growth spiral, they must cut their living standard to make its people live to grow, instead of, strive to survive. The rich nations are only think of their people are rich but they are not; not afford to consume make its economies anemic. If they want to catch up, they must make it affordable for their people.

    Even if the troika can get 2 trillion to cover the PIIGS, the onward slow or anemic growth is not getting to the level of the proportion on the normalcy. In addition, the solution is short of the fiscal and tax equation among its EU members. Then, the 2 trillion would be spent in vain if the present higher living standard does not meet its affordability level, then, there is no demand to consume. It is still no growth if the durables or oil do not go down enough to provide the cash flow that will change the marginal affordability level and ready to consume.

    The bank or central bank may free of the old debts with the fresh new debts like the 2 trillion with longer term bonds with low interest, however, the low rate will halt lending to commercial based on the non-profitable, eventually, it will die or go bankrupt itself unless banking cut its own size like BOA or JPM. Such condition will turn into another tourniquet to the commercial needs if the bonds are not restructured by 2013 with the short-term basis. Depression will become inevitable even the BRICS can help to restructure the loans.

    Inflation and deflation is much as virus in fever and cold to one body as it is to an economy; it is understandable that disease works with one’s body to create its anti-biotic to fight diseases. Now, what our economist is facing the anemic economy with too much of sterilization with sub-prime and long-term interest rate that the body or the economy will not respond till the inflation or deflation can take its effects to make the economy change.

    In order to face reality, EU and US must settle on the coming depression, deflation helps in cutting the cost of living in a down turn spiral till the private industries can use human capitals in a lower valuation in wages. If the affordability allows more consumption; then, production will rise. Eventually, growth comes only after there is demand of it.

    If there is no systematic cut the valuation of the present, and the lowest interest of today only make the financial industry suffers. Let the nature take its course to adjust. Any attitude like no on my watch can only make it-- Japanification.

    If the economy is immune to inflation or deflation, then, valuation on price is not valid. I was not surprise if gold can fall 6% in a day; and how about you, Soros? What is you gold standard of monetization if immunization stands?
    Anything else is just excuses, isn’t it?

    May the Buddha bless you?

  3. CommentedAntoine Songeur

    Mr Roubini fails to note the following:
    -The balance of paiements of Europe is roughly balanced with huge excedent in Germany, Netherland... and huge deficits in France, etc... The problem is not Eurozone versus rest of the world but internal to the Eurozone
    - A massive devaluation of the Euro to 1 Euro for 1 Dollar would increase Europe's competitiveness and create huge problems for the US, the UK and other developped economies with a balance of paiements deficit
    - The real problem is Eurozone internal imbalances linked to divergent policies over the past 10-15 years: Germany having gone through "structural reform" (basically building a competitive advantage based on 20% of the workforce making less than 800€/months), the South European countries having been less "virtuous" and being uncompetitive versus Germany

    The necessary rebalancing (as South Europe deficits are unsustainable let alone because the markets will not accept it) can happen through 2 ways:
    - Rebalancing of internal competitiveness through higher salaries and consumption in Germany and lower salaries and consumption in Southern Europe, the overall impact being neutral
    - Break up of the euro

    This, of course, only looks at the specific European problem and does not address the global crisis linked to the massive misallocation of workforce and capital brought by a globalisation whose main unbalancing characteristics are the increase of inequalities, the arbitration of the cost of labour and the massive tax evasion/optimisation which have led to low growth and massive governement endebtness

  4. CommentedRoman Bleifer

    Economic policy, which is now carried out, similar to drug use. After their adoption, it seems that the problem disappeared. But they are not long and require a new dose of drugs. Then comes the effect of habituation. Required to increase the dose, and its validity is reduced. In the economy as a "drug" are used trillions in no way secured the money that are thrown into the financial system. In the real economy, they do not fall, no one system does not solve the problem. The amount of "improvement" from a throw-oh, is becoming shorter and shorter.
    "Vacation" is really short. But it will be short of, not only for Europe but for the U.S. economy and the global economy ( http://crisismir.com/analiticheskie-materialy/ekonomika/54-chto-god-gryadushhij-nam-gotovit-prognoz-na-2012-god-i-ne-tolko.html ). Prolema sovereign debt linked to the global crisis, but it deteriorated as its consequence, and not as a reason. The policy of austerity does not solve all problems. At a time when resources are scarce, Europe more than ever necessary to develop a strategy for economic development. It should be based on an adequate understanding of the processes of the global crisis, and its basis should be used ahead of principle.

  5. CommentedZsolt Hermann

    This tends to happen when the problem is only treated symptomatically but the root problems are not addressed.
    Europe's problems are twofold.
    1. They have tried to achieve some fiscal union in between independent countries, all of them based on self calculations only interested in their own progress and profit. In other words they tried building a house without foundations. This kind of structure only works to a certain degree until everything goes well, growth is constant and the in flowing income can cover the imperfections, but today this is not the case any longer.
    2. And it is not the case because the constant growth, profit oriented system exhausted itself, we are not in a recession or crisis, but in a system failure. The writer says: "The trouble is that the eurozone has an austerity strategy but no growth strategy." But today nobody has growth strategy, every country in the world is surviving on cosmetic measures, adjustments including the strongest nations. The principle conditions constant growth was based on evaporated.
    The solution given the above, and the closed, global, integral nature of our human system is increasing, mutual supra-national integration, and a totally new economic system based on necessities and resources which of course requires a fundamental attitude and thinking change from all of us.

  6. CommentedPaul A. Myers

    If you want growth, then you have to go to equity. A very large institutional capability to take European debt--both existing and that still to be issued--and convert it into equity and invest this equity to get growth going again where growth is needed should be the overall solution architecture.

    A shift to a more balanced solution would encourage optimism about future growth. To continue to issue debt is to continue to enslave the future to the sins of the past.

  7. CommentedKeevan Morgan

    both the inflationists and the austerityites are right to fear each other, because in the present situtation following either of those two paths is likely to have the horrible consequences predicted by the opposite parties.
    if europe were merely sick, then depending on the particulars and the psychology of whatever moment was at hand, either more deficit spending or pulling in the governmental belt could work. that is because economic graphs aside, when the elites and the people are confident, they will force the graphs the right way towards increased productivity and prosperity despite even the best analysis of the economic number crunchers that an economy will surely go this way or that. therefore, for a sick economy, it is the effect of the governmental policy on the psychology of the nation that counts most, and the words of the great song must be remembered "musta been the right move, musta been the wrong time" or vice versa.

    but, today, the european economies are not generally sick; they are generally dead. therefore, treating illness won't work; rather, you have to bury the dead and start over.

    an economy either makes money or it doesn't, just like a business, but we just call it expansion and wealth production instead of a profit. the dead european economies cannot do so any more.
    in business when this happens, the company is declared dead and its assets are sold to bottom feeders to reassemble a new business or to attach to old ones, but in either case to make the same assets produce a surplus instead of continuing to flail away at the impossible task of making a profit under conditions where a profit is impossible. when this happens, creditors and equity are wiped out.

    the time has come for a european default--or at least greece and spain. this will cause great pain, but for a lot less time than stretching out the propping up of the dead. the european countries have to just tell their creditors: "we are not paying you anything on your old debt. your old debt is repudiated. now, if you ever want to recover a penny, buy more of our new bonds, which we will issue and have every intention of honoring."

    that takes care of the creditors, who will cry how outraged they are and nobody will EVER give those (()&*^((*& governments credit again--not noway, not nohow, not EVER, OK!!!!

    but the creditors won't really mean it, because in the end, if there is a chance for a profit tomorrow, they will take it. nothing gets you over an old girlfriend or boyfriend like a new one.

    "equity" in the case of a country is the taxpayers. the taxpayers have to be told: "benefits are now reduced to only those that are necessary to prevent starvation, disease, and we will provide emergency medical care. we will also reduce taxes, but not as much as we will reduce spending--at least until we're in the black again."

    in a few years, all the countries in trouble will have large budget surpluses--profits. investors will return more and more as time goes on and the people will see their governments.2 are in the black.

    confidence will be restored and the enterprises, both private and the governments themselves, will begin to hum and nobody will remember the deadbeat governments.1 any more than they do the financial distress of the hapsburgs or bourbons, because they will be so in love with profitable governments.2.

    nothing in the foregoing should be construed that under normal circumstances i think governmental defaults are desirable. however, lazurian feats of resurrection are rare, and when the patient passes away the reality needs to be accepted by the still living and the mourning period short so that the work of the day can begin anew for those still concerned with such things.

    keevan d. morgan, esq., chicago

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