Friday, July 25, 2014
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Les courtes vacances de l'Europe

NEW YORK - Depuis novembre dernier, la Banque Centrale Européenne, sous son nouveau président Mario Draghi, a réduit ses taux directeurs et a entrepris deux injections de plus de 1 trillion d’euros de liquidité dans le système bancaire de la zone euro. Ceci a conduit à une réduction provisoire des contraintes financières qui pesait sur les pays mis en danger par dette sur la périphérie de la zone euro (Grèce, Espagne, Portugal, Italie, et Irlande). Cela a brusquement réduit le risque d'une panique des liquidités dans le système bancaire de la zone euro et a réduit les coûts de financement insoutenables de l'automne dernier de l'Italie et de l'Espagne.

En même temps, une cessation de paiement technique par la Grèce a été évitée et le pays a mis en application une restructuration réussie - bien que coercitive - de sa dette publique. Un nouveau contrat fiscal - et des nouveaux gouvernements en Grèce, en Italie, et en Espagne - ont stimulé un espoir d'engagement crédible dans l'austérité et la réforme structurelle. En outre, la décision de combiner le nouveau fonds de renflouement de la zone euro (le Mécanisme européen de stabilité) avec l'ancien (le Fonds européen de stabilité financière) a augmenté de manière significative la taille du pare-feu de la zone euro.

Mais la lune de miel avec les marchés qui en découlait a finalement tourné court. Les différentiels de taux d'intérêt pour l'Italie et l'Espagne augmentent encore, alors que les frais d'emprunt pour le Portugal et la Grèce sont restés élevés pendant toute cette période. Et inévitablement, la récession sur la périphérie de la zone euro est s'accentuée et se déplace vers le noyau, à savoir la France et l'Allemagne. En effet, la récession empirera tout au long de cette année, pour de nombreuses raisons.

D'abord, l'austérité fiscale de début de période - bien que nécessaire - accélère le ralentissement économique, alors que des dépenses publiques plus élevées et des paiements de transfert réduisent le revenu disponible et la demande globale. D'ailleurs, comme la récession s’aggrave, causant des déficits financiers encore plus forts, une autre étape d'austérité sera nécessaire. Et maintenant, grâce au contrat fiscal, même le noyau de la zone euro devra adopter l'austérité de récession en début de période.

D'ailleurs, alors que l'Allemagne hyper-concurrentielle peut résister à un euro à 1,30 dollar voire même plus fort, pour la périphérie de la zone euro où les coûts de main-d’œuvre ont augmenté de 30 à 40% pendant la dernière décennie, la valeur du taux de change devrait chuter vers la parité avec le dollar des Etats-Unis pour retrouver la compétitivité et l'équilibre externe. Après tout, avec un désendettement douloureux - dépenser moins et économiser davantage pour réduire les dettes - ce qui diminue les demandes nationales privée et publique, le seul espoir de reconstituer la croissance est une amélioration de la balance commerciale, ce qui nécessite un euro beaucoup plus faible.

En attendant, le resserrement de crédit dans la périphérie de la zone euro s'intensifie : grâce aux prêts bon marché à long terme de la BCE, ces banques n'ont pas à présent de problème de liquidité, mais elles sont en revanche touchées par un important manque de capital. Confrontées à la difficulté de répondre à leur exigence de ratio de fonds propres de 9%, elles réaliseront leur objectif en vendant des capitaux et en diminuant le crédit - ce qui n'est pas exactement le scénario idéal pour la reprise économique.

Pour noircir encore le trait, la zone euro dépend encore plus des importations de pétrole que les États-Unis et les prix du pétrole augmentent, alors même que les circonstances et l'environnement politiques se détériorent. La France élira peut-être un Président qui s'opposera au contrat fiscal et dont la politique peut effrayer les marchés obligataires. Les élections en Grèce - où la récession se transforme en dépression - peuvent donner 40 à 50% des voix aux partis qui favorisent une cessation de paiement immédiate et une sortie de la zone euro. Les électeurs irlandais peuvent rejeter le contrat fiscal par référendum. Et il y a des signes d'austérité et fatigue de la réforme en Espagne et en Italie, où les manifestations, les grèves et le ressentiment populaire grondent contre la douloureuse austérité.

Même les réformes structurelles qui augmenteront par la suite la croissance de productivité peuvent causer à court terme une récession. La flexibilité croissante du marché du travail, en réduisant les coûts de licenciements des ouvriers, conduiront - à court terme - à plus de licenciements dans les secteurs public et privé, aggravant ainsi la chute des revenus et de la demande.

En conclusion, après un bon début, la BCE a maintenant mis en attente le stimulus monétaire supplémentaire dont la zone euro a besoin. En effet, les représentants de la BCE commencent à s'inquiéter à grand bruit de l'augmentation de l'inflation due au choc pétrolier.

L'ennui est que la zone euro dispose d'une stratégie d'austérité mais d'aucune stratégie de croissance. Et, sans cela, tout ce dont elle dispose consiste en une stratégie de récession qui rend autodestructrices la réforme et l'austérité. Car si le rendement continue de diminuer, les ratios de déficit et la dette continueront d'augmenter vers des niveaux insoutenables. En outre, les réactions politiques et sociales deviendront finalement écrasantes.

C'est pourquoi les écarts de taux d'intérêt dans la périphérie de la zone euro s'accentuent encore aujourd'hui. Les pays de la périphérie souffrent de graves déséquilibres de stock et de flux. Les déséquilibres de stock comprennent une forte dette publique et privée en augmentation par rapport au PIB. Les déséquilibres de flux comprennent une récession qui s'accentue, une perte massive de compétitivité extérieure et de grands déficits extérieurs que les marchés sont maintenant peu disposés à financer.

Sans une politique monétaire beaucoup plus souple et moins d'austérité fiscale en début de période, l'euro ne s'affaiblira pas, la compétitivité externe ne sera pas restaurée et la récession s'accentuera. Et sans reprise de la croissance - pas dans les années à venir, mais en 2012 - les déséquilibres de stock et de flux deviendront bien plus insoutenables. Plus de pays de la zone euro seront forcés de restructurer leurs dettes et par la suite certains décideront de sortir l'union monétaire.

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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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