Friday, August 1, 2014
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7

Il Grande Alleggerimento

BRUXELLES – A più di tre anni dalla crisi finanziaria scoppiata nel 2008, chi fa di più per realizzare la ripresa economica, l’Europa o gli Stati Uniti? La Federal Reserve ha completato il secondo giro del cosiddetto “quantitative easing”, ossia l’alleggerimento quantitativo, mentre la Banca Centrale europea ha sparato due colpi dalla sua grande pistola, la cosiddetta operazione di rifinanziamento a lungo termine (ORLT), fornendo più di mille miliardi di euro (1.3 mila miliardi di dollari) di finanziamento a basso costo per tre anni alle banche della zona euro.

Per qualche tempo, si è sostenuto che la Fed si stesse dando più da fare per stimolare l’economia, perché, utilizzando il 2007 come punto di riferimento, ha ampliato il suo bilancio proporzionalmente più di quanto fatto dalla BCE. Ma la BCE ora ha recuperato. Il suo bilancio ammonta a circa 2.8 mila miliardi, vicino al 30% del PIL della zona euro, rispetto al bilancio della Fed di circa il 20% del PIL statunitense.

Tuttavia tra i due c’è una differenza qualitativa che è più importante della taglia dei rispettivi bilanci: la Fed compra quasi esclusivamente titoli privi di rischio (come le obbligazioni del governo americano), mentre la BCE ha acquistato (quantità molto minori di) titoli rischiosi, a causa dei quali il mercato si stava prosciugando. Inoltre la Fed concede pochissimi prestiti alle banche, laddove la BCE ha fatto prestiti di quantità enormi alle banche deboli (che non avrebbero potuto ottenere finanziamenti dal mercato). In breve, l’alleggerimento quantitativo non è la stessa cosa dalla facilitazione del credito, il cosiddetto “credit easing”.

La teoria alla base del “quantitative easing” è che la banca centrale può abbassare i tassi di interesse a lungo termine se acquista grandi quantità di obbligazioni a lungo termine del governo con i depositi che riceve dalle banche. Al contrario, la facilitazione del credito della BCE è motivata da un interesse pratico: le banche di alcune aree della zona euro –vale a dire, quelle dei paesi in difficoltà alla sua periferia- sono state effettivamente tagliate fuori dal mercato interbancario.

Un modo semplice per valutare le differenze tra gli approcci delle due banche centrali più grandi del mondo consiste nella valutazione dei rischi che ciascuna di esse si assume.

Quando la Fed compra titoli di stato statunitensi, non corre alcun rischio legato al credito, ma si assume il rischio del tasso d’interesse. La Fed si comporta come una tipica banca poiché mette in atto ciò che si chiama la “trasformazione delle scadenze”: usa depositi a breve termine per finanziare la acquisizione di titoli a lungo termine. Con i tassi sui depositi a breve termine vicini allo zero, ed i tassi a lungo termine a circa il 2% la Fed ci guadagna abbastanza sul costo di finanziamento, circa il 2% annuo sugli acquisti obbligazionari per un totale di circa 1.5 mila miliardi di dollari su tutto l’arco del suo quantitative easing, cioé circa 30 miliardi di dollari.

Ogni banca commerciale che contempla una simile operazione dovrebbe tenere in conto il rischio che il costo dei capitali presi a prestito superi il 2% che guadagna su i suoi titoli. La Fed può determinare il proprio costo dei fondi, perché può decidere i tassi di interesse a breve termine. Ma il fatto che infliggerebbe a se stessa delle perdite con l’incremento dei tassi è probabile che riduca la sua libertà di manovra. Il recente annuncio che continuerà a mantenere gli interessi bassi per un lungo periodo quindi potrebbe essere stato motivato da più che una preoccupazione per una ripresa modesta.

Al contrario, la BCE non si assume nessun rischio legato alla maturità dei titoli con il suo ORLT, perché ha esplicitamente dichiarato che farà pagare alle banche un interesse pari alla media dei tassi di interesse che si concretizzeranno nei prossimi tre anni. Comunque, di sicuro assume il rischio di credito, perché concede prestiti a banche che non possono ottenere finanziamenti altrove.

Il forte aumento nel bilancio della BCE ha portato alla preoccupazione che la sua ORLT potrebbe alimentare l’inflazione. Ma questo non è il caso: la BCE non ha ampliato il proprio indebitamento netto verso il sistema bancario della zona euro, perché i depositi che riceve dalle banche (circa mille miliardi di euro) ammontano quasi quanto gli importi che presta (1.5 mila miliardi di euro). Questo implica che non vi è un pericolo inflazionistico, poiché la BCE non sta creando alcun sostanziale nuovo potere di acquisto per il sistema bancario nel suo complesso.

Le banche che hanno in deposito i loro soldi presso la BCE (ricevendo soltanto l’interesse dello 0.25%) chiaramente non sono le stesse che stanno assumendo prestiti all’1% su tre anni. I depositi provengono in gran parte dalle banche europee del nord (principalmente da quelle tedesche e olandesi), e i prestiti da ORLT vanno in gran misura alle banche dell’Europa meridionale (principalmente a Italia e Spagna). In altre parole, la BCE& è diventata la controparte centrale per un sistema bancario che de facto è segmentato lungo linee nazionali.

Il vero problema per la BCE è che non è adeguatamente assicurata contro il rischio di credito che si sta assumendo. Il differenziale di 0.75% tra i tassi di deposito e prestito (producendo 7.5 miliardi di euro) non fornisce un grande ammortizzatore contro le perdite che si profilano in Grecia, dove la BCE ha 130 miliardi in gioco.

La BCE ha dovuto intervenire quando il sistema finanziario della zona euro era vicino al collasso, alla fine dello scorso anno. Ma il suo margine di manovra è ancora più ristretto di quello della Fed. Il suo bilancio è ora gravato da enormi rischi di credito sui quali ha ben poco controllo. Si può solo sperare che i politici portino nell’Europa meridionale gli adeguamenti che consentano alle banche beneficiarie dell’ORLT di sopravvivere.


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  1. CommentedThomas Lesinski

    The best insurance against this risk would be for the ECB to provide enough monetary stimulus that economic and credit conditions across the eurozone improve enough to prop up asset markets, restore full employment, and increase the tax base that serves as the basis for sovereign debt repayment, so as to calm the general fear. Go explain them that.

  2. CommentedProcyon Mukherjee

    The Fed over-drive in QE 1 & 2 (and who knows may be 3 in the making) has a risk profile that is more than what has been portrayed in the buying of the relatively risk-free U.S. government bonds or Treasury bonds (the other name of printing dollars). By keeping the marginal interest rates near zero the financial intermediaries and commercial banks with the investment banks leading the pack have amassed huge balances that has not gone in investments into the economy but in bartering of financial products that have helped to create a price run that is resembling a bubble. While wage and prices in the general economy have troughed, the stocks and bonds by virtue of trade have been on a run for the crest.

    The European Central bank on the other hand is dealing with the credit worthiness of banks in the Southern countries to whom no one would lend and thus taking on the risk of soverign defaults for the longer term as these banks invariably move the funds to buy its government bonds. By increasing the moral hazard of these banks, ECB is drawing itself into another crisis.

    Procyon Mukherjee

  3. CommentedDahai Chong

    So if those deposits flow out of ECB when possible, when economic outlook is better, will there be danger of inflation?

  4. CommentedDahai Chong

    Some analysts said that reason why US treasury bond is more stable than eurozone sovereign debt despite a higher debt ratio and deficit ratio is that: balance sheet of US corporate and household is better repaired than those of eurozone, and extent of deleveraging process of the US is deeper than eurozone.

  5. CommentedMATTHEW M

    The German banks took their southern indulgent children to the county fair many times over the last decade. They filled them up on cotton candy, hot dogs, and ice cream. All items lacking in any nutritional value (think debt incurred for solid investment say in infrastructure, emerging technologies.)

    And this was good for Germany: its banks lent to Southern EU partners who in turn bought lots of German goods.

    Now, that the kids are saddled with sick birthday party stomach, there is no laxative or Mylanta forthcoming from Germany.

    Instead, austerity ie starvation is preached as the panacea. From bloated over eating sore tummies to empty ones that ache with austerity pain. Killing growth and any ability to pay down debt for generations.

    The German dominance over Europe who knew would have been orchestrated through the tentacles of modern finance. Hitler must be smiling in his grave.

    The southern countries are going to soon realize they have only one option. Default and leave the EU.

    And the sooner the better. The entire world refuses to participate in orderly debt de leveraging. Therefore, bring on the chaos.

  6. CommentedJonathan Lam

    gamesmith94134: The big Easing

    Daniel Gomes,

    You masy not beliwve your eye, if you know one from IMF and one from Brussel can do in printing money.


    Gamesmith94134: Golden Rules for the Eurozone

    After reading the issue on regulating European insurers, I was dumbfounded for the attitude for which how Brussels see solvency works with the currency exchange. I apologize in resurfacing the old records that are relevant to the issue on the golden rules and insurers. I lost my appetite to write for days after the fall of 3% China Stock and DJ.

    Regulating European insurers---from Economists
    From Brussels, with shove
    “Solvency 2” will transform not just insurance but capital markets, too
    http://www.economist.com/node/21552224

    Just before we can see the foundation of the currencies exchanges rate in Libor and ECB’s large-scale long-term refinancing operation (LTRO) has been that Italian banks are once again buying Italian government bonds, and Spanish banks are buying Spanish bonds with its lower rates. But, we must realistically decide the two speeds economies in the EU system will not be integrated even Brussels cannot control or agree on many issues. Consequently, we must talk of the reality of growth that is not coming in the next years. It is not liquidity of Bank or solvency of the debts, but the basis of exchange and balance of trade is due to a correction.

    I only hope writer remember the consequences of the Lloyd of Landon (97) and AIG (2008), just before he suggested his golden rules for Euro Zone, and he may regret it; if his golden rules would ever polarize the developed nations and emerging market nations with more argument of the currency exchange rate or bagger thy neighbors could be eminent for the coming WTO meetings. Personally, I think EU or Euros will not last if its financial system is not complying with fairer trade on the foundation of good will.

    May the Buddha bless you?



    Gamesmith94134: Striking Euro Gold (and Silver) 11032011

    “Milton Friedman’s bimetallic standard inherently more stable than a monometallic (gold-based) regime.”

    When you recieve two bids of Euros, in from Germany and the other from Greece; you would take the bid from Germany over Greece. Would you discount the euros of Greece with 15% just for sake of the confidence vote? Why should you discriminate one over the other as in Euros? It was the deficiency of credit that Greece may bear or the contagion as you may believe. If it is the investment consisted of US dollar and Euro in the open market trading, you would have no choice on the bids. Reluctently, you may have to accept the higher bid, even though you realized that you are under the attack by a raider or hedge fund manager. Suddenly, you may lost your company with the lesser of 51% of the control of it. It is how hedge fund managers or raiders use monetarism to undermine the weaker ones with weak currencies even for sovereignty nations; since the open market system does not provide a gatekeeper to stop the manipulation. Since the investments from aboard may not create growth or productivity if there is not sufficient time to grow in completion of the business cycle or create productivity on the invested with no innovation or products. It is merely exchange of hands for such transaction. It is how the sovereignty debts are created under the influence of the activity of hedging with the cost of living rises; and loss of credit as the pooling of its fund weakens. Therefore, it is advisable to revive the bimetallic standard to create the gatekeeper on the handicaps of the domestic currencies and international currencies; whenever investments are made by the foreign communities or sovereignty debts.

    If the bussiness transaction happens in a community only like London, people buy, people sell within a single circuitry of currency that share the same standard of credits, commodities and culture; such transaction do not affect the value of the its currency or increase on productivity. If a foreign investment is involved; the circuitry expands or contracts for its excesses or shortages in the pooling of its currencies, or commodities. Subsequently, it would create a shortfall or surge in value of the exchange that is not a bottomline to the business cycle or productivity.

    When there is a 3% interest credit charge on the market, I would gain 2% with my 1% interest credit charge even I have my US dollars exchanged to British Pounds, since there is no handicaps on the exchange. It is why many complain on the fiat money and the liquidity traps when the foreign investments are often being manipulated the currency rate changes for a stronger currency to weaken its own that caused inflation of the weaker currency; or withdrew at great mass that cause the shortage of cashflow or credit.

    In term of redistribution of wealth, the middle class of earnings did not match the growth after inflation; because the investment was dislocated while business cycle was not completed; or the productivity was not sufficient for a pay raise in matching the profit growth. Perhaps, we can blame on the competitions, but there is no comparison if there is no foreign investment or import of goods; and if it were a enclosed environment that no export is made. But, if we are taking advanage of the foreign investment or imported goods or resources to create productivities, sovereignty nations must restore the soveignty currencies to safeguard its citizenry from the invasion of currencies or resources that creates hardship for its people and allot resources for the exchange of goods and services from the foreigners. Then, the citizen must not pay for what the banker did; and stop telling me to pay tax my million dollar house that I did not earn. Parhaps, the line is drawn that the politicians must realize they must pay their bills too; instead of raisng our tax for their mishaps.

    As we learn from the recent soveriegnty debt crisis an financial disaster, we are clear at principle of the fiscal and monetary system must sustain both of balance and growth. Free Trade must free of mainpulation of the resources or invasion of others by using currencies or political powers; and each sovereignty nations are entitled to feed its people with domestic currency and trade it goods with the common currency availbale to obtain a better bargain for imported or exported. In addition, I prefer Zones in continents in protection of the weaker sovereignty nations with its neighbors nations to fend off the unwelcomed transaction that would be considered as hostile; because some investments are not solely privatized as it claimed; and free trade must be invited and not broken in or out at free will. If we all play the same rule, the world would be better for the citizens and governments too.

    May the Buddha bless you?

  7. CommentedDaniel Gomes

    Are these articles even screened before published?

    The author is so misinformed and biased that is sickening.

    For starters, according to different publications such as the Financial Times, most of the banks which bid for cheap money from the ECB were German banks!
    More than half according to reports, including bizarre entities like the Financing branch of Volkswagen!

    So not only the ECB was giving cheap money to German banks for them to buy German bonds but was also subsidizing German industry and exports!

    Furthermore, despite all the spins by arrogant German authors like this one, it was not the peripheral banks which got cut off from the credit markets due to their irresponsible behavior in the first place!

    Peripheral countries' banks did not over leverage themselves like so many of the German banks! Quite the opposite!

    Has everyone forgot of Commerzbank / Hyppo/ regional German banks over-leveraging?

    Has everyone forgot of that the ECB went immediately to the rescue of these bankrupt banks with their overnight cash facilities and most important by taking all kinds of junk toxic assets as collateral from this banks?

    It is also a known fact that Germany was after the UK the country which required more assistance to its corrupt banking sector!

    In 2008 the ECB even took toxic assets used as collateral from these people meaning that all countries in the euro are taking a very big potential loss of their ECB capital just because we ALL HAS TO HELP GERMAN BANKS and to a lesser extent , Belgium, Netherlands like Dexia and ABN AMRO etc

    Nevertheless the profits this banks reaped off during the run to this crisis have been taxed in their home countries like Germany!!

    Quite interesting that now Germany and Netherlands are the virgin prostitutes of financial discipline!

    On the other hand the banks from peripheral countries did not over leverage themselves multiple times! Quite the opposite!

    They only got cut off from the markets because their host countries got cut off from the markets because due to the irresponsibility of the Anglo-saxon, German, Netherlands banking sector, the credit confidence collapsed in Europe!

    It's absolutely unbelievable that Germany made the ECB the lender of last resort (with loads of free/cheap money) to German bankrupt banks twice and now refuses to allow the ECB from lending to periphery countries even at reasonable rates!

    So after Europe had socialised German banks losses in 2008, now in 2011/12 we had to help them offload the Greek bonds they happily purchased for the pas decade thus removing the link between risk and profit and sending Greek bonds rates into an endless upwards spiral and pushing Greece into the abyss! But thank God we saved German banks!

    Again...at the same time they prevent the ECB from lending one dime at reasonable rates to any periphery country!

    What is this??

    And still, like this author, they behave like virgin prostitutes carrying a burden!

    So Europeans must foot the losses of German financial sector from their own irresponsibility so that they can subsequently buy German bonds in order for the fuhrer to recycle that into loans (at loan shark rates) to peripheral countries which did not cause the crisis in the first place ???


    Why not take the money offered by the ECB to Volkswagen and lend it to Peripheral countries at the same rates while the so called markets refuse to lend to peripheral countries?
    Could it be that Germany is simply interested in prolonging the crisis to its own benefit? I sure think so.

    Finally in case the author needs a lesson in economy, lending money at 1% when inflation is way higher and when the market rate is also way way higher is nothing short of giving money, most of which finds its way into Germany.

    Is there any honest humble German left who can produce an analysis of the nett inflow (ECB cash from 2008 to 2012) and outflow of money (EFSF) in reference to Germany???

    Germans are once again building on superiority myths .. i wonder where will this end up!

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