Friday, October 24, 2014
6

Una gran Unión

PARÍS – En las últimas semanas la idea de establecer una unión bancaria europea se ha convertido en el remedio más reciente de que se tenga conocimiento como solución a la crisis del euro de larga duración. Sin embargo, cualesquiera que sean las cualidades de una unión bancaria –y tiene muchas– las propuestas para establecer una más generan más preguntas de las que actualmente se pueden responder.  

Las motivaciones de los partidarios de una unión bancaria difieren marcadamente. Para algunos, en particular en Europa del Sur, dicha unión se ve como la forma de desviar la carga de soportar sus bancos indigentes a aquellos que tienen más dinero. Para otros, especialmente en la eurocracia de la Unión en Bruselas, se ve como otro salto hacia la construcción de un súper Estado europeo. Basándose en la sagrada referencia  del Tratado de Roma, “una unión cada vez más estrecha”, los teólogos de la Comisión Europea ven cada crisis como una oportunidad para promover su agenda federalista.

El Banco Central Europeo ha sido más reflexivo aunque igualmente entusiasta, y señala que una unión bancaria debería tener tres objetivos. Primero, una vigilancia más estrecha de la eurozona debería fortalecer la integración financiera, “mitigar los desequilibrios macroeconómicos”, y mejorar el desempeño de la política monetaria. ¿Cómo un solo supervisor de la UE abordaría el problema de los desequilibrios? no se ha explicado aún, pero sin lugar a dudas en un objetivo meritorio.

El segundo objetivo debería ser la separación entre los bancos y los soberanos, que ha sido una característica particularmente peligrosa del último año, mientras que el tercero es “minimizar los riesgos para los contribuyentes mediante contribuciones adecuadas de la industria financiera”. El tercer objetivo se podría lograr país por país, aunque indudablemente es discutible que un impuesto bancario generalizado, o un impuesto europeo sobre las transacciones financieras, serviría para eliminar las distorsiones competitivas.

¿Cómo se podrían alcanzar estos objetivos encomiables? La Comisión Europea ha señalado que una unión bancaria plena tendría que sustentarse en cuatro pilares: un esquema único de protección  de los depósitos que se aplique en todos los bancos de la Unión Europea (o de la eurozona); una instancia de resoluciones comunes y un fondo de resolución común, al menos para los bancos transfronterizos sistemáticamente importantes; un supervisor europeo único para dichos bancos; y un reglamento uniforme para la supervisión prudencial en todos los bancos de Europa.

Cualquiera que haya participado en la supervisión bancaria puede darse cuenta rápidamente que estos cuatro pilares requerirán de un diseño cuidadoso. A muchos países individuales les ha llevado una generación desarrollar sus propios programas nacionales. Y en este caso hay tres importantes asuntos políticos pendientes por resolver.

Primero, sigue sin decidirse la identidad del supervisor único bancario europeo, y el BCE ha visto la oportunidad de acaparar poder. Los banqueros centrales en Europa siempre han resentido el estrecho margen del mandato de la política monetaria dado al BCE en el Tratado de Maastricht. La supervisión bancaria no se incluyó en los objetivos de dicha institución, aunque en uno de los artículos del Tratado se prevé que el sistema de bancos europeos centrales tendrá la tarea de contribuir al logro de una supervisión efectiva. Ahora argumentan que la solución más simple sería expandir ese cometido y hacer del BCE el supervisor paneuropeo de facto.

Ese no es el resultado que busca la Comisión Europea, que apenas estableció la Autoridad Bancaria Europea (ABE). La ABE está estrechamente relacionada con la Comisión, y es vista como la candidata natural para adquirir funciones más amplias.

La Comisión tiene razón en lo que señala, pero también tiene un problema. Durante el estira y afloja político que precedió la creación de la ABE (junto con dos organismos equivalentes encargados de valores y seguros), se acordó que la nueva autoridad tendría su sede en Londres. Ello parecía lógico en ese momento, pero no si se quieren ampliar las funciones de la ABE. ¿Cómo un supervisor de la eurozona podría tener su sede fuera de ella?

El segundo asunto sin resolver es cómo lograr una unión bancaria en términos jurídicos. Las enmiendas constitucionales a este nivel normalmente requerirían de un nuevo tratado europeo. No obstante, ello llevaría tiempo, y los líderes europeos ya no lo tienen.

Además no existe la garantía de que los votantes en los países donde se requiere un referéndum para hacer cambios constitucionales apoyarían una mayor transferencia de soberanía. Así pues, el resultado probable es que la unión bancaria se creará de acuerdo con los métodos tradicionales de la UE usando los poderes existentes, actuando con tacto en cuanto a la cuestión de la soberanía y evitando cualquier referencia a la opinión pública. Ello apunta a que se recurrirá al BCE.

El asunto final es ¿qué significaría una unión bancaria de la eurozona para el mercado único financiero, y en especial para los países de la UE que están fuera del área de la moneda única? Muchos de ellos la adoptarían gustosamente, e intentan hacerlo tan pronto sea posible, a pesar de las dificultades del euro. Sin embargo, ese no es el caso de Reino Unido, y Londres sigue siendo el centro financiero más grande del continente, por mucho.

Me temo que los franceses y los alemanes han perdido la paciencia en cuanto a los británicos problemáticos, y se niegan a llegar a un acuerdo. Además, los políticos británicos euroescépticos ven en ello la oportunidad de redefinir la relación de su país con la UE; en efecto, para algunos significa una oportunidad de negociar una salida.

En la City de Londres se favorece una solución a medio camino, que permitiría a Reino Unido aferrarse a los beneficios del mercado único sin aceptar una unificación normativa. Ello será difícil de lograr.

Pienso que se implementará una unión bancaria de algún tipo, y pronto. De lo contrario, el sistema bancario de la eurozona se derrumbará. Sin embargo, las consecuencias de un paso así para el gran experimento de libre comercio de Europa serían graves, y si no se manejan cuidadosamente podrían conducir al retiro británico. A nivel político hay mucho en juego, y es probable que el resultado lo refleje.

Traducción de Kena Nequiz

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  1. CommentedCarol Maczinsky

    Banking Union is just a phrase for financial regulation. Necessary as Europe suffers from US regulatory failure.

  2. CommentedJohn Brian Shannon

    Hi Howard,

    Thank you for this very informative piece.

    Perhaps a banking regulator should be EU-wide, perhaps only Eurozone-wide -- a reasonable case has been made for each.

    Perhaps the regulator should be EC-backed, EU-backed or Eurozone backed, again, a reasonable case has been made for each of the choices.

    Those discussions are already in play.

    I look at this with a different perspective.

    1) Voluntary membership. Each country in Europe should have the option to join the regulatory framework, or not. If there are enough benefits to membership vs responsibilities of membership of that institution, then there will be plenty of members.

    2) Once an individual country within Europe decides to participate -- both enjoying the benefits and observing the responsibilities from a national perspective, then individual banks within that nation could then join the institution.

    3) Size of bank. Banks under 10 Billion net value (or 100 Billion, or any agreed reasonable threshold) should be free of any obligation to join. This exemption would still allow community-based banking and allow those who want to bank within their own jurisdiction free of European institutional constraints, to do so. If the drafters of such want tacit support from the German public, this would be a good way to get it.

    4) Taking choices away is the completely wrong approach. Adding choices is the way to go. Adding positive solutions to national governments, to banks, to depositors and to the overall economy of Europe should be the driving force behind the creation of any banking authority, anywhere.

    5) Similar could be said about a European debt-mutualization institution. Taking choices away is the completely wrong approach. Adding choices is the way to go. Adding positive solutions for national governments, to banks, to depositors and to the overall economy of Europe should be the driving force behind debt mutualization plans.

    When the benefits of membership exceed the responsibilities, a lineup will form. This IS the very DNA of every entrepreneur.

    Best regards, JBS
    http://jbsnews.com

  3. CommentedGary Marshall

    Hello Mr. Davies,


    The individual European countries have the means to remedy their current problems with ease. And the means to that end is contained in the little proof below for the abolition of Taxation, which novelty may be absurd on the face of it, but not so when examined.

    If you or anyone can find the flaw in this proof, I shall be more than happy to give the reward of $50,000. None have yet been successful. Perhaps because so few have tried.

    Its not the end of Europe or the world, but a new beginning.

    Enjoy!

    ####

    The costs of borrowing for a nation to fund public expenditures, if it borrows solely from its resident citizens and in the nation's currency, is nil.

    Why? Because if, in adding a financial debt to a community, one adds an equivalent financial asset, the aggregate finances of the community will not in any way be altered. This is simple reasoning confirmed by simple arithmetic.

    The community is the source of the government's funds. The government taxes the community to pay for public services provided by the government.

    Cost of public services is $10 million.

    Scenario 1: The government taxes $10 million.

    Community finances: minus $10 million from community bank accounts for government expenditures.
    No community government debt, no community
    government IOU.

    Scenario 2: The government borrows $10 million from solely community lenders at a certain interest rate.

    Community finances: minus $10 million from community bank accounts for government expenditures.
    Community government debt: $10 million;
    Community government bond: $10 million.

    At x years in the future: the asset held by the community (lenders) will be $10 million + y interest. The deferred liability claimed against the community (taxpayers) will be $10 million + y interest.

    The value of all community government debts when combined with all community government IOUs or bonds is zero for the community. It is the same $0 combined worth whether the community pays its taxes immediately or never pays them at all.

    So if a community borrows from its own citizens to fund worthy public expenditures rather than taxes those citizens, it will not alter the aggregate finances of the community or the wealth of the community any more than taxation would have. Adding a financial debt and an equivalent financial asset to a community will cause the elimination of both when summed.

    Whatever financial benefit taxation possesses is nullified by the fact that borrowing instead of taxation places no greater financial burden on the community.

    However, the costs of Taxation are immense. By ridding the nation of Taxation and instituting borrowing to fund public expenditures, the nation will shed all those costs of Taxation for the negligible fee of borrowing in the financial markets and the administration of public
    debt.

    Regards,
    Gary Marshall

      CommentedJohn Brian Shannon

      Hi Gary,

      Pretty elementary stuff here and I don't have the time to cover the entire post, but I will cover one incorrect paragraph for you.

      "The costs of borrowing for a nation to fund public expenditures, if it borrows solely from its resident citizens and in the nation's currency, is nil."

      Not true.

      You are forgetting about the interest on the borrowed money.

      Yes, present interest rates ARE low, but they haven't always been, nor will they always be low. Those rates will increase at some point and all of the borrowed money will then be interested at the new rate.

      You could still make a case that the interest doesn't add up to much money at all. But it is still a cost, which means that there IS a cost to borrowing.

      Above that, the U.S. government debt has a lot of zeros behind it -- and even at a low percentage rate, that is still a lot of zeros.

      Much more information here: http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/

      If you look at the larger context, there isn't enough 'resident citizens' money on deposit in America to act as security to cover the government's total debt, deficit and other financial obligations.

      Which means borrowing outside of 'resident citizens' deposits.

      To make up that difference by additional taxation could (at present) choke-off any nascent recovery underway -- if there is any recovery underway, it is still too early to tell. One thing is for certain, to add tax now, would sink the economy.

      To make up the difference with additional taxation (not at present) does place a drag on the economy. That money which gets paid in taxes, is no longer in the hands of consumers, where every study since there were rocks shows that consumer spending stimulates the economy better than any other stimulus -- government, corporate, or private.

      Don't think there are corporate economies that use stimulus in their jurisdictions? Do a Google search on "Levittown" -- the early years.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levittown,_Pennsylvania

      Finally, when spending by governments (which, in your quoted statement is necessarily limited by the financing available by community or national 'resident citizens') needs to exceeds those limits, then what?

      Any number of things could cause this, from profligate spending by civic authorities, to corruption, to military invasion or attack, weather-related or climate-related crises, or a taxation rate so high it stalls the economy.

      Not to mention a recession bringing on high unemployment where the number of taxpayers (who would otherwise be regular depositors if they were working) must begin living off their savings, lowering the total available security for the governments already spent money.

      More taxation to make up the difference would only cause more savings withdrawals and which would further slow government spending and thereby increase unemployment.

      I admire your advocacy, but if the piece you quoted was actually a panacea for economic systems, it would have been utilized by economists and politicians long ago.


      Cheers, JBS
      http://jbsnews.com

  4. CommentedVal Samonis



    Too late for such gradual solutions in EU, I am afraid; confidence in the EU Paradise is lost for long!

    Instead, divide the EuroZone into Neuro and Seuro (N&S) zones to much better reflect the conditionalities (productivity, etc) of the optimum currency areas (OCA), with free flotation of Neuro and Seuro. N&S zones provide a chance to salvage some positive European integration results and, in the longer time, bring the continent to necessarily very gradual correction of the original architectural sins of the EU (no OCA, etc).

    Failing that, nobody is able to keep Germany in the EU; it might quickly opt out and become another Fortress Switzerland trading fully globally.

    Then all hell may break loose in the rest of Europe!


    Val Samonis

    http://ca.linkedin.com/in/vsamonis

  5. CommentedMatt Stillerman

    I think that a banking union will solve some problems and create some new ones. The banks will be much healthier if they are all backed by the currency issuer, the ECB, as the lender-of-last-resort. Euro liquidity guarantees by the ECB can really be believed!

    However, the EU member states are all accustomed to having their national banks buy their bonds. E.g. Greek banks bought Greek bonds, etc. That will come to a screeching halt. So, the fiscal problems of the European soveriegns will be cast into a much harsher light.

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