Tuesday, September 2, 2014
11

Inversione della Rinazionalizzazione Europea

NEW-YORK – Lungi dal diminuire, la crisi dell’euro ha preso una piega sempre più& brutta negli ultimi mesi. La Banca Centrale Europea è riuscita ad attenuare un’incipiente stretta del credito mediante la sua Operazione di Rifinanziamento a Lungo Termine (ORLT), con cui ha dato in prestito più di mille miliardi alle banche della zona euro ad un tasso d’interesse dell’1%. Quest’operazione ha apportato notevole sollievo ai mercati finanziari e la ripresa che ne è risultata ha oscurato il deterioramento sottostante, ma è improbabile che ciò duri per molto ancora.

I problemi fondamentali non sono stati risolti; difatti, lo scarto tra paesi creditori e quelli debitori continua ad ampliarsi. La crisi è entrata in quella che potrebbe essere una fase meno instabile, ma potenzialmente fatale.

All’inizio della crisi, la disgregazione della zona euro era impensabile: gli attivi e passivi denominati in valuta comune erano così intrecciati che un fallimento avrebbe causato un collasso incontrollabile. Ma, con l’avanzare della crisi, il sistema finanziario della zona euro si è progressivamente orientato nuovamente lungo linee nazionali.

Questa tendenza ha acquisito slanci negli ultimi mesi. L’ORLT ha consentito alle banche spagnole ed italiane di impegnarsi in un arbitraggio molto redditizio ed a basso rischio nei propri titoli di stato. Ed il trattamento preferenziale riservatogli dalla BCE sulle sue obbligazioni greche scoraggerà altri investitori dal detenere debito sovrano. Se continua così per qualche anno ancora, è possibile che vi sia la disgregazione della zona euro senza un tracollo –la frittata potrebbe non essere strapazzata- ma lascerebbe le banche centrali dei paesi creditori in possesso di crediti di grandi dimensioni, difficili da esigere, verso le banche centrali dei paesi debitori.

La Bundesbank è consapevole del pericolo. È ora impegnata in una campagna contro l’espansione indefinita dell’offerta di moneta, ed ha iniziato a prendere dei provvedimenti per contenere le perdite da sostenere nel caso di un fallimento. Questo comporta una profezia che si auto avvera: una volta che la Bundesbank comincia a mettersi in guardia contro il collasso, tutti faranno lo stesso. I mercati stanno cominciano a rispecchiare questo comportamento.

La Bundesbank sta restringendo il credito anche in patria. Questa sarebbe una politica corretta se la Germania fosse un paese indipendente, ma i paesi membri della zona euro fortemente indebitati hanno un enorme bisogno del rafforzamento della domanda tedesca per evitare la recessione. Senza di esso, il “pacchetto fiscale” della zona euro, approvato lo scorso dicembre, non può funzionare. I paesi fortemente indebitati non saranno in grado di attuare le misure necessarie, o, nel caso lo facessero, non riusciranno a raggiungere i loro obiettivi, poiché una crescita prossima al tracollo spinge verso il basso le entrate di bilancio. In entrambi i casi, saliranno gli indici di indebitamento, e si allargherà il divario di competitività con la Germania.

Sia che l’euro resista o meno, l’Europa si trova a far fronte ad un lungo periodo di stagnazione economica o peggio. Altri paesi hanno attraversato esperienze simili. I paesi latino americani hanno subito un “decennio perduto” dopo il 1982, ed il Giappone è stato in stagnazione per un quarto di secolo; entrambi sono sopravvissuti. Ma l’Unione Europea non è un paese, ed è improbabile che sopravviva. La trappola del debito deflazionistico minaccia di distruggere un’unione politica ancora incompleta.

L’unico modo per sfuggire alla trappola è riconoscere che le politiche attuali sono controproducenti e cambiare rotta. Non posso proporre un programma predefinito, ma emergono tre osservazioni. In primo luogo, le norme che disciplinano la zona euro hanno fallito e devono essere radicalmente riviste. La difesa di uno status quo che risulta impraticabile non fa che peggiorare le cose. Secondo, la situazione attuale è fortemente anomala, ed alcune misure eccezionali sono necessarie per ripristinare la normalità. Infine, le nuove regole devono tener conto dell’instabilità intrinseca dei mercati finanziari.

Per essere realistici, si deve prendere come punto di partenza l’attuale patto fiscale che disciplina la zona euro. Naturalmente, si dovranno modificare alcuni difetti già evidenti. In particolare, il patto dovrebbe tenere in conto i debiti commerciali e quelli finanziari, ed i bilanci pubblici dovrebbero distinguere tra investimenti che pagano e spesa corrente. Al fine di evitare truffe, ciò che si qualifica come investimento dovrebbe essere soggetto all’approvazione di un’autorità europea. Una Banca Europea degli Investimenti allargata potrebbe quindi co-finanziare gli investimenti.

Cosa ancora più importante, si devono inventare alcune misure straordinarie per riportare le condizioni alla normalità. La carta fiscale dell’UE obbliga gli stati membri ogni anno a ridurre il loro debito pubblico di un ventesimo della somma con cui si supera il 60% del PIL. Propongo che gli stati membri premino congiuntamente coloro che si comportano correttamente mediante l’acquisizione di tale obbligo.

Gli stati membri hanno trasferito i propri diritti di signoraggio alla BCE, che guadagna circa 25 miliardi di euro (32.7 miliardi di dollari) all’anno. Il valore dei diritti di signoraggio è stato stimato da William Buiter di Citibank e Huw Pill di Goldman Sachs, che lavorano separatamente, essere tra i due e i tre mila miliardi di euro, perché daranno di più man mano che l’economia cresce e i tassi di interesse tornano alla normalità. Una cosiddetta “società veicolo” (SPV - Special Purpose Vehicle) proprietaria dei diritti potrebbe utilizzare la BCE per finanziare il costo di acquisto delle obbligazioni, senza violare l’articolo 123 del Trattato di Lisbona.

Se un paese violasse il patto di stabilità, perderebbe totalmente o parzialmente la sua ricompensa e sarebbe obbligato a pagare gli interessi sul debito di proprietà della SPV. Che difatti imporrebbe una dura disciplina fiscale.

Poiché premierebbe i comportamenti corretti, il patto fiscale non costituirebbe più una trappola deflazionistica del debito, ed il panorama migliorerebbe radicalmente. In aggiunta, per ridurre il divario di competitività, tutti gli stati membri dovrebbero essere in grado di rifinanziare il proprio debito al medesimo tasso di interesse. Ma questo richiederebbe una maggiore integrazione fiscale; e quindi dovrebbe essere introdotto per tappe graduali.

La Bundesbank non accetterà mai tali proposte, ma le autorità europee dovrebbero prenderle seriamente in considerazione. Il futuro dell’Europa è una questione politica, e quindi decidere va al di là delle competenze della Bundesbank.

Hide Comments Hide Comments Read Comments (11)

Please login or register to post a comment

  1. CommentedFrank O'Callaghan

    Soros has to be given credit for this. He has vast experience with an acute intelligence. But his most valuable characteristic is his resistance to 'group think'.
    The Euro area problem can be interpreted as dog-wagging-tail or as tail-wagging-dog. A currency union with insufficient political and social integration or a loose federation with an inflexible currency union. Something has to give and opportunists will bet on this. They have.
    I do not question Soros' integrity, his ability, his intellect, his originality, his good intentions or his character. He has interests that cannot be obscured. Does this colour his views? In fact I doubt that he is doing anything other than expressing his views. But I do not know if hedge fund management is closer to chess or poker.
    What is the way out of the Euro mess? A looser currency union with two or three or more 'Euro' s? Or a closer political union?
    Take your time to think about this. But do not forget we are dealing with Germany. And France. And Italy. And Spain. Each one of these has tried for not just European domination at least once but the world.
    We are heading for 'integration'.
    It used to be termed "Empire".

  2. CommentedH Gerken

    "In order to avoid cheating, what qualifies as investment should be subject to approval by a European authority." -- Ha ha, you have no idea how the EU process works. Greece won't get carrot without stick.

  3. CommentedH Gerken

    Why take a nation serious where the electorate votes trash parties, where their government fakes their balance sheets with Goldman Sachs. Greece has a reputation crisis and austerity is the only way out. They are the victims of their own political leadership and have to suffer the consequences. You can't blame any other creditor nation. Agreed rules have to apply or the deal is bust. Now the EU treaty is already broken. this means we are in the state of exeption.

  4. Commentedpeter fairley

    Many market participants feel threatened by Greeks voting for a suicidal party who would leave the Euro this day of 5/28/12?
    Other market participants may feel like me: More mildly threatened by Europe very busy in complexity & democracy but essentially trying to play the same dysfunctional games, leading to continued weakness, recessions and alarm for increasing EU loan extensions to poor credit countries headed for bankruptcy, such that eventually a STRONG COUNTRY LEAVES THE EURO. The stronger countries can leave the euro with a sense of damage, but hopeful that they are cutting losses; certainly they will not feel suicidal or 'playing chicken'. One of the smaller strong countries without as much Club Med bank exposure as France would be a likely candidate.
    The size of the first strong country leaving is an issue, and the rate of political contagion it inspires for other strong countries to leave the euro is an issue.

  5. CommentedMarco Saba

    "A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) owning the rights could use the ECB to finance the cost of acquiring the bonds without violating Article 123 of the Lisbon Treaty." I suggested a similar operation in my 2010 article here: http://leconomistamascherato.blogspot.it/2010/06/salvare-leuro-e-la-bce-zeitnot-o.html
    But seigniorage rights have to be credited directly to the sovereign (the state or the citizenry as a basic income) as a compensation for the forfeited rights on all banking monetary rents arising from creating money out of thin air and interests. This was suggested to me by Gennaro Di Stasi, an old time companion in monetary fights. Obviously Mr Soros stand by the rentiers worldwide hoping that the sovereign issue on money rent never surfaces up.

  6. Commentedcaptainjohann Samuhanand

    The crux of the matter is " Germans must work and save and sacrifice" while the rest of Europe will spend,splash and enjoy.Now with Germans themselves opposing this, I feel break of EURO will show to the rest Germans are not NAZIs as some Spanish,Italian news papers have shown but are "hard workers". Germany must call the bluff of laggards.

  7. CommentedJohn Doe

    I think it important to ask, why Mr. Soros "cannot propose a cut-and-dried plan?"

    It is because it is very hard to admit that somethings, like currency unions (and currency pegs) cannot be done. The United States learned that lesson with Prohibition, albeit we are too stupid to remember it.

    It is time to make lemonade out of a lemon. End the Euro and accept the pain. Use the pain to create a political union.

    The United States did this after the Revolution. We had the Articles of Incorporation and the separate states, huge debt, and a severe Depression.

    Hamilton, Franklin, and Washington formed the United States and paid the debt.

    Europe's problems are political, not economic. Until that reality is accepted, there will be no solution

      CommentedOliver R

      I would argue that if the Eurozone was to take lessons from the USA after its civil war between 1861 and 1865, it would be that greater integration is the answer to problems between the northern and southern members of the currency union. The reason the USA was able to achieve rapid economic growth in what became known as the "gilded age" and transform itself into the worlds leading economic power was through greater cooperation and sharing the pain of reconstruction, rather than the wealthy northern US states hanging the sinful southerners out to dry, which seems to be what we are seeing in Europe today.

      If only Germany could see the error of its ways in trying to enforce budgetary discipline with such an iron fist, and instead promoted greater investment in countries such as Greece and Spain, then Europe may not be careering towards the messy breakup which Mr Soros predicts.

  8. CommentedProcyon Mukherjee

    The reversal in some ways is asking the lender to force the borrower into a profligacy of fiscal austerity, something that would further demean the legitimacy of the compact that the EU is drawn into as aggregate demand has moved to a grinding halt and supply is high-cost. The suggestions make the lender win at the cost of the borrower, something like the cure at the cost of the patient’s life.
    U.S. has been able to deal with the same problems without it being front page news, while the minuscule Greek debt problem makes the headlines. If one accounts for the debt situation of the state of California, the combined debt of Greece and Portugal would be put to shame. This is also part of the problem that bond markets force nations to comprehend; it only shows the power of the bond market intermediaries.

    Procyon Mukherjee

  9. CommentedStephen Pain

    It seems the idea of "good behaviour" is highly questionable - often what is deemed "good behaviour" is in accordance with those who are in a more powerful position. So for example the financial policies of Greece which were for the benefit of a people who had long been economically disenfranchised through successive military regimes - is viewed as "bad behaviour" because it resulted in a massive debt - a debt incurred through the bond market - a market that has an unparalleled influence over policy and lives. Now that Greece and other countries which exploited the same financial means as the US and the UK are forced into becoming dependents and second class members of the EU. However, if we wish to fault and moralize regarding sovereign decisions and activities in countries, might I suggest we focus on the US which has an unprecedented debt - one that cannot be paid back (unlike the Greek debt that is so tiny in comparison ) whose laissez faire attitude to the subprime fiasco which was motored solely by recklessness and greed which in turn precipitated the recession worldwide. Here we see time and time again "bad behaviour". One that has contributed to an unhealthy balance of payments. Such profligate behaviour on the back of a debt of 50- 200 trillion dollar debt is unconscionable. Yet, the US enjoys the right to castigate and pronounce upon the financial behaviour of countries that had only the well-being of its people at heart. The melt-down which is forecast for the EU is a fiction. Place all the debt on the table and the US is beholden to the EU and China. The bond trading and the credit rating agencies have acted in self interest, earning commission and wealth for those mainly domiciled in the US - that was the criticism of the former Italian prime minister, and out of all the things he had said, it was probably the only truth. We have seen a US bond trader literally dictate to Angela Merkel the terms for continuance of buying EU bonds. Suppose we were to turn round and ask the US to pay its debts? Would it or could it? Oh no. It will print more dollars. Moreover as a role model the US has driven many economies into a ridiculous service to industry ratio that has led to greater trade imbalances. Here I can see that the Greek economy could with much less effort than the US improve the ratio by expanding its agriculture sector as a transition to improving its industrial output. It can be achieved. But the problem is that the bond traders will peck away at any efforts - and refuse Greece the right to become financially independent. With regard to Germany an export led economy with prudent fiscal policies, to be lauded, there is a danger that it could use its power to influence - in the sense that the lender to borrower relationship which should be grounded in a fiduciary relationship in which the lender concerns itself with the interest of the borrower... is absent.

  10. CommentedPaul A. Myers

    Let's discuss points in order and make some implementing suggestions. Whining without a stick gets you no where.

    1. The rules failed because there was no market feedback into national economic policy making. Almost all governments will excessively borrow if allowed to. The rules need to be changed, radically or otherwise, to send economic market signals back into national political institutions.

    2. The current status quo is unworkable primarily because it is excessively rigid.

    3. The way for new rules to deal with inherent financial market instability is to make them flexible so that there is continuous adjustment of key variables. And probably some big shock absorbers.

    4. An enlarged centrally financed development bank must respond to market signals and match central funds with local government funds.

    5. If you are going to have a centralized bond issuing institution, it must be matched with a centralized revenue raising function.

    6. More voter participation in selecting political leadership at the top of the European Union. Otherwise you're going to have some sort of Paris-Berlin political duopoly with lots of jostling and not much progress.

  11. CommentedZsolt Hermann

    What seems to be clear from this overview article is that there is no financial solution for the Eurocrisis.
    So far whatever they tried made things worse, and mostly all they did was to print virtual money and cover the gaping holes, but the rotten structure continued to rot.
    Mr. Soros's 3 observations do not give us much to grab hold of.
    From the title of the article I expected a deeper meaning for "remationalization", but it remained on the superficial financial, banking level.
    But in truth the only true solution is stopping "renationalization", and continuing, or finishing the building of a totally integrated supra-national structure for Europe.
    Only a fully integrated structure can sustain economical, financial unity, economics are simply the external expression of the deeper human relationships.
    The just question is why should the Europeans choose total integration, losing some of their individualism instead of breaking up and remain as separate countries as it happened before the European Union?
    Because we live in a different world today. Not only Europe, but the whole world has evolved into this global, integral network, where we overlap on multiple levels, and we depend on each other even for our necessities.
    Today no individual or nation can sustain itself alone, or through small scale associations.
    Due to this interdependent and interconnected structure any attempt of a breakup would make people's lives even more miserable, allowing far right or far left populists to gain control, leading us to very unpredictable scenarios.
    The key is the understanding the nature of our integral system and the natural laws governing it.
    After the understanding of the system we could easily work out the actual structures we need to build based on human ingenuity and adaptability.

Featured