Post Tagged with: "Europe"

When do we decide that Europe must restructure much of its debt?

When do we decide that Europe must restructure much of its debt?

By Michael Pettis It is hard to watch the Greek drama unfold without a sense of foreboding. If it is possible for the Greek economy partially to revive in spite of its tremendous debt burden, with a lot of hard work and even more good luck we can posit scenarios that don’t involve a painful social and political breakdown, but […]

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How to look at the Greece bailout deal

Yesterday, Greece received an agreement in principal to extend its existing bailout program for another four months from the institutions administering that program. I believe this deal is a good basis for further work down the line. But Greece has a lot of work ahead of it, if it is to move to a new program. Moreover, Syriza will have to sell this deal as a bridge to the sustainable economic outcome it sold to its electorate in the January elections. At the same time, the Germans and the Finns at a minimum will have to sell this deal to their parliaments for it to work. Some thoughts below

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Negotiating strategies and political constraints regarding Greece

I am going to leave my market-based analysis and enter the murky waters of the political economy. I don’t like the uncertainty of the political economy, given how it is based on the quixotic and unpredictable actions of individuals. But the political economy is important in crisis situations and one cannot analyze an outcome properly without taking the politics into consideration. I was a diplomat at one point in time and hope that experience will aid me here. I have been good at understanding some of the political constraints in Europe so far and intend to discuss them here.

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A decision-tree framework for thinking about the Greek – Troika negotiations

This is a short post to update you on Greece. I continue to believe a deal can get done. Recent events demonstrate this is so. Nevertheless, the potential for policy error remains high. Brief thoughts below using a decision tree model framework

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Tax Anticipation Notes: A Timely Alternative Financing Instrument for Greece

Tax Anticipation Notes: A Timely Alternative Financing Instrument for Greece

The recent election of an explicitly anti-austerity party in Greece has upset the prevailing policy consensus in the eurozone, and raised a number of issues that have remained ignored or suppressed in policy circles. Expansionary fiscal consolidations have proven largely elusive. The difficulty of achieving GDP growth while reaching primary fiscal surplus targets is very evident in Greece. Avoiding rapidly escalating government debt to GDP ratios has consequently proven very challenging. Even if the arithmetic of avoiding a debt trap can be made to work, the rise of opposition parties in the eurozone suggests there are indeed political limits to fiscal consolidation. The Ponzi like nature of requesting new loans in order to service prior debt obligations, especially while nominal incomes are falling, is a third issue that Syriza has raised, and it is one that informed their opening position of rejecting any extension of the current bailout program.

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Syriza and the French indemnity of 1871-73

Syriza and the French indemnity of 1871-73

The euro crisis is a crisis of Europe, not of European countries. It is not a conflict between Germany and Spain (and I use these two countries to represent every European country on one side or the other of the boom) about who should be deemed irresponsible, and so should absorb the enormous costs of nearly a decade of mismanagement. There was plenty of irresponsible behavior in every country, and it is absurd to think that if German and Spanish banks were pouring nearly unlimited amounts of money into countries at extremely low or even negative real interest rates, especially once these initial inflows had set off stock market and real estate booms, that there was any chance that these countries would not respond in the way every country in history, including Germany in the 1870s and in the 1920s, had responded under similar conditions.

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Yanis Varoufakis on fiscal waterboarding and Ponzi austerity

Yanis Varoufakis had a long interview on RT’s Boom Bust yesterday going into detail behind his political candidacy and what he expects SYRIZA to do regarding the unsustainable debt burden that the Greek government now has. Overall, despite his problems with the eurozone’s institutional structure, Yanis believes Greece leaving the eurozone would be a catastrophe for the simple fact that it does not have a currency and any attempt to leave would be seen as a prelude to a massive devaluation, inviting capital flight on a grand scale. This would be a catastrophe for the Greek banking system and wider economy.

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Central banks, inflation, currency wars and the Japanese experiment

Central banks, inflation, currency wars and the Japanese experiment

This is going to be a relatively short note focused on what is going on in Japan because of the news that Japan has ramped up its program of quantitative easing to new heights. Coming on the heels of the US Federal Reserve’s announcement that it would stop expanding its balance sheet with large scale asset purchases, the Bank of Japan’s announcement was music to the ears of Japanese equities investors. And shares in Japan promptly rose 4.8% on the news. The larger question, however, is whether QE is effective either at shaping future inflation or inflation expectations or at increasing nominal and real GDP. The evidence is equivocal. And so Japan presents a unique opportunity to see the limits of monetary policy tested.

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Banks, Japanese trade, the currency wars and deflation

Banks, Japanese trade, the currency wars and deflation

There are no big themes dominating the news today. So it is a perfect time to hit a couple of themes with an economic and market theme approach. Let’s talk banks, Japanese trade, the currency wars and deflation.

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China, Europe, and optimal currency zones

China, Europe, and optimal currency zones

Although I think China is clearly much more integrated as an optimal currency zone than Europe is today, it is probably less integrated than the US (I will use the US and Europe as the two extreme cases between which China falls). China of course does not have the problems of multiple sovereignty and taxation that Europe does, but there are still important frictional costs among provinces and regions that exceed those among US states and regions and that may make an adjustment to slower growth bumpier than expected.

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QE will end, GDP growth expected at 3.0%, deflator at 1.4%

- This will be a busy week between stress tests and data releases, which markets have taken as positively
– Market expectations have settled down, and the Fed is widely expected to announce the finish of QE
– Economic news for Europe has been mixed so far, with M3 improving by German IFO disappointing
– The initial impact of the Ukrainian and Brazilian elections will be local

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Are we in a global financial crisis?

With financial markets tanking across the board, there is a whiff of panic and some people might be thinking that the next global financial crisis is already upon us. I don’t think this is the case. Certainly, the European sovereign debt crisis has entered round two but this can easily be overcome. Turbulence and a simmering crisis in Europe, yes. An acute crisis, no.

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