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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Speed isn't everything except when you need to print papers


A)rescue Cyprus model

Depositors and bank shareholders who are in financial difficulties, should in future help to pay for a bailout. That the German Finance Minister Schäuble said.
In an interview with the magazine Wirtschaftswoche Schäuble said that the rescue of Cyprus, last month, was a model. Then had to help pay depositors with a balance of more than 100,000 euro grant to the rescue of two major banks.


Dijsselbloem President of the Eurogroup left immediately after the adoption of the Cypriot bailout appears that now more banks and investors will be addressed. That came to his face, a lot of criticism because it would undermine confidence.'s Financial sector Schäuble find that criticism is unwarranted. According to him, a risk to savers the only way to prevent banks from taking risks on the backs of the taxpayers.
Schäuble also said that Cyprus does not have to count on. More money from the Eurogroup The island received 10 billion euro emergency aid and would itself 6 to 7 billion, but possibly not enough.
Schäuble thinks Cyprus higher debt can not wear. He therefore refused to provide more money to be made ​​available. 
SOURCE  http://algemeeneconoom.nl

B)Most EU bank union work can be done without law change: Eurogroup head
(Reuters) - The euro zone's top project to boost economic growth - banking union - will not be delayed for now by a row over whether it needs EU law changed because most of the work can be done before this is settled, a senior euro zone  official said on Saturday.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who chairs the monthly meetings of his euro zone colleagues, said the dispute on the legal requirements of the banking union can go in parallel with more technical work on how it would function.

"I am, in a sense, relaxed about it, because I know that we can push forward at least 80-90 pct of the project," Dijsselbloem told a news conference on the sidelines of the spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund.

The EU has already made the first step - it agreed the European Central Bank would take over the supervision of all banks in the euro zone from July 2014 in what is called the Single Supervisory Mechanism.

Dijsselbloem said the 17 countries using the euro can also move ahead with further harmonizing deposit guarantee programs, and creating rules on when the euro zone bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, or ESM, can buy a stake in a euro zone bank to boost its capital when no-one else can or wants to.

The euro zone will also create a network of national authorities responsible for closing down failing banks that will operate under the same rules.

It is the next step that becomes difficult.

The euro zone wants to transform the network of national resolution authorities into a single European institution that would decide which euro zone banks will be closed.

It would also have the ESM fund to pay for the process, until enough fees from banks accrue to cover any potential expense. The ambitious plan was for such a single resolution mechanism to be in place in 2014.

However, Germany, the euro zone's biggest economy, faces elections in September. It believes that to create such an authority, which could order the closure of a German bank, or use German taxpayers' money to pay for the closure of a bank elsewhere in the euro zone, EU laws have to be changed.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, says existing law provides sufficient basis.

"The crucial point is: can we have a single resolution authority - this is where the Germans feel a treaty change is needed to have a stronger legal basis," Dijsselbloem said.

A change of European Union treaties would substantially delay the launch of the banking union because apart from the time needed to negotiate the amendments it would also require time for parliaments of the 27 EU countries to ratify it.

There would also be a risk that the ratification fails in one or more countries and that some EU governments would use the opportunity to trade their support for concessions in other areas, opening the door to long and difficult negotiations.

But Dijsselbloem said the problem could be solved later.

"90 percent of the project can be pushed forward and there is a lot of work to be done there, so as far as I am concerned there is not going to be any delay," he said.

"We are going to work on these elements and in parallel have this debate if we need treaty change, what do we need to fix in this treaty change. We can do that in parallel while putting all the building blocks in place. So we might not lose any time."

(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Neil Stempleman)

C)IMF Reiterates Austerity Warning

The International Monetary Fund on Wednesday issued a warning against excessive austerity, singling out the United States and the United Kingdom as countries who can afford to slow the pace of what it described as “overly strong” belt tightening. According to the Fund, fiscal adjustment needs to proceed gradually, building on measures that limit damage to the economy in the short term.

In its latest report, the biannual World Economic Outlook, the Washington-based organisation said advanced economy policymakers have successfully defused two of the biggest short-term threats to the global recovery – the threat of a eurozone breakup and a sharp U.S. contraction because of the “fiscal cliff –, but warned that economic growth will be compromised because of excessive fiscal adjustments in the middle of an already sluggish global recovery.
While it said there was no “silver bullet” that could simultaneously solve problems of deficient demand and high public debt in any country, it singled out the United States and the United Kingdom as countries that need to ease off austerity.
On the U.S. economy, it said “there should be both less and better fiscal consolidation now and a commitment to more fiscal consolidation in the future.”
Related: Sequester Puts US Growth at Risk: IMF
On Europe, it called on countries with “sufficient fiscal space” – such as Germany – to ease further, while urging the United Kingdom to consider greater flexibility in its fiscal adjustment path in the light of lacklustre private sector demand.
It suggested the Chancellor, George Osborne, should consider reining back his austerity plan as the economy is dangerously close to a “triple-dip” recession.
The criticism is significant as the IMF had previously "stopped short of telling Osborne to change course", said the Guardian. "The tougher line now being adopted presents a political headache for the chancellor, who until now has been able to rely on international support for his policies."
Related: UK Economy to Face Decade of Austerity: CEBR Report
The IMF's latest report shows how much its policy prescriptions have shifted in recent years. The organisation came under heavy criticism during financial crises in Asia and Latin America for insisting on painful fiscal adjustment programmes as the solution to debt problems, which critics said made sick economies even worse.
Now, IMF officials say they underestimated the effect that government spending has on growth, particularly during a crisis.
The shift in official stance is even more pronounced after Harvard professors Carmen Reinhard and Kenneth Rogoff were accused by fellow members of the intellectual fraternity of shoddy research and selective data reporting in their widely influential 2010 pro-austerity paper.
Related: IMF Chief Economist Admits To Austerity Mistake
Related: Influential Harvard Paper on Debt and Growth Riddled With Critical Flaws
Underlining the growth worries, the IMF cut its economic forecasts for virtually every major region in 2013. It sees the eurozone economy contracting by 0.3 percent in 2013, slightly more than it did in January.
Japan was the only developed economy to come out with a good prognosis from the IMF.
The IMF said that the country, which has been mired in recession for much of the last 20 years, would see growth both this year and next, of 1.4 percent and 1.6 percent respectively.
It also said consumer prices would notch up 0.1 percent this year and hit a rare high of 3 percent in 2014, thanks to the Bank of Japan's new bout of monetary easing announced earlier this month.
SOURCE  http://www.economywatch.com

D)The Netherlands Falls Prey to Economic Crisis

The Netherlands, Berlin's most important ally in pushing for greater budgetary discipline in Europe, has fallen into an economic crisis itself. The once exemplary economy is suffering from huge debts and a burst real estate bubble, which has stalled growth and endangered jobs.

Michel Scheepens is familiar with risk. The 41-year-old oversees the energy market for the Dutch bank ING, and it's his job to determine whether his employer should finance such projects as a wind farm in Cyprus or a gas-fired power plant in Turkey. Until now, it was always other people's money that was involved.

For some time, however, Scheepens has been experiencing what a poor investment feels like on a personal level. Six years ago, the father of three bought half of a duplex for his family in the commuter town of Nieuw-Vennep, near the North Sea coast. The red brick building cost €430,000 ($552,000), but the bank generously offered him a loan of €500,000, so that there was enough money left over for renovations, along with notary and community fees. Scheepens had intended to resell the house after a few years, as is common in the Netherlands. But then prices tumbled following the Lehman bankruptcy. If the family were to sell the house today, it would have to pay the lender €60,000. His house is "onder water," as Scheepens says.
"Underwater" is a good description of the crisis in a country where large parts of the territory are below sea level. Ironically, the Netherlands, widely viewed as a model economy, is facing the kind of real estate crisis that has only affected the United States and Spain until now. Banks in the Netherlands have also pumped billions upon billions in loans into the private and commercial real estate market since the 1990s, without ensuring that borrowers had sufficient collateral.
Private homebuyers, for example, could easily find banks to finance more than 100 percent of a property's price. "You could readily obtain a loan for five times your annual salary," says Scheepens, "and all that without a cent of equity." This was only possible because property owners were able to fully deduct mortgage interest from their taxes.
Instead of paying off the loans, borrowers normally put some of the money into an investment fund, month after month, hoping for a profit. The money was to be used eventually to pay off the loan, at least in part. But it quickly became customary to expect the value of a given property to increase substantially. Many Dutch savers expected that the resale of their homes would generate enough money to pay off the loans, along with a healthy profit.
An Economy on the Brink
More than a decade ago, the Dutch central bank recognized the dangers of this euphoria, but its warnings went unheeded. Only last year did the new government, under conservative-liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte, amend the generous tax loopholes, which gradually began to expire in January. But now it's almost too late. No nation in the euro zone is as deeply in debt as the Netherlands, where banks have a total of about €650 billion in mortgage loans on their books.
Consumer debt amounts to about 250 percent of available income. By comparison, in 2011 even the Spaniards only reached a debt ratio of 125 percent.
The Netherlands is still one of the most competitive countries in the European Union, but now that the real estate bubble has burst, it threatens to take down the entire economy with it. Unemployment is on the rise, consumption is down and growth has come to a standstill. Despite tough austerity measures, this year the government in The Hague will violate the EU deficit criterion, which forbid new borrowing of more than 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
It's a heavy burden, especially for Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is also the new head of the Euro Group, and now finds himself in the unexpected role of being both a watchdog for the monetary union and a crisis candidate.
Even €46 billion in austerity measures are apparently not enough to remain within the EU debt limit. Although Dijsselbloem has announced another €4.3 billion in cuts in public service and healthcare, they will only take effect in 2014.
"Sticking the knife in even more deeply" would be "very, very unreasonable," Social Democrat Dijsselbloem told German dailyFrankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in an attempt to justify the delay. It's the kind of rhetoric normally heard from Europe's stricken southern countries. The adverse effects of living beyond one's means have become apparent since the financial crisis began. Many of the tightly calculated financing models are no longer working out, and citizens can hardly pay their debts anymore. The prices of commercial and private real estate, which were absurdly high for a time, are sinking dramatically. The once-booming economy is stalling.
Unemployment on the Rise
"A vicious cycle develops in such situations," says Jörg Rocholl, president of the European School of Management and Technology in Berlin and a member of the council of academic advisors to the German Finance Ministry. "Customers have too much debt and cannot service their loans. This causes problems for the banks, which are no longer supplying enough money to the economy. This leads to an economic downturn and high unemployment, which makes loan repayment even more difficult."
The official unemployment rate has already climbed to 7.7 percent. In reality, it is probably much higher, but that has been masked until now by a demographic group called the ZZP. The "Zelfstandigen zonder personeel" ("Self-employed without employees") are remotely related to the German model of the "Ich-AG" ("Me, Inc."). About 800,000 ZZPers currently work in the Netherlands.
One of them is Rob Huisman. The 47-year-old lives with his wife and son in Santpoort, near Haarlem. In 2006 Huisman, an IT specialist, left his position with a large consulting firm to start his own business. It went well at first, with Huisman earning €100 an hour. But over time many customers, both governmental and private, slashed the fees they were willing to pay. Sometimes jobs were simply deleted altogether. "For companies it's worthwhile to let their permanent employees go and then take on temporary work contracts," says the IT expert. "It saves them the social security costs."
There is cutthroat competition among the self-employed, who are undercutting each other to secure occasional jobs. "If you don't accept a job, someone else will snap it up," says Huisman. In addition, he is unable to pay contributions to his retirement fund at the moment. "We are living largely on our savings," he says.
No End in Sight
The Dutch have long been among Europe's most diligent savers, and in the crisis many are holding onto their money even more tightly, which is also toxic to the economy. "One of the main problems is declining consumption," says Johannes Hers of the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB) in The Hague, the council of experts at the Economics Ministry.
His office expects a 0.5-percent decline in growth for 2013. Some 755 companies declared bankruptcy in February, the highest number since records began in 1981. The banking sector is also laying off thousands of employees at the moment.
Because of the many mortgage loans on the books, the financial industry is extremely inflated, so much so that the total assets of all banks are four-and-a-half times the size of economic output.

In February, the government was forced to nationalize SNS Bank, the country's fourth-largest bank, because it had a large portfolio of bad loans for commercial real estate. The remaining banks only want to securitize a portion of their giant loan portfolios and resell the securities through a special mortgage bank -- primarily to the country's pension funds, where the Dutch have put away large sums for retirement.
Young families like the Scheepens, who have bought a home in recent years, are now hoping that they can at least keep their jobs. Although their duplex has lost value, they can still make the monthly payments.
But the cuts are getting closer. A neighbor recently lost his job, and well-educated people can no longer find jobs. "There is no end to the crisis in sight," says Scheepens.

By Christoph Schult and Anne Seith

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

E)Quantitative and Qualitative Monetary Easing  

Peter Schiff: Japan Steps into the Void

By Peter Schiff

In the years following the global financial crisis, economists and investors have gotten very comfortable with very high, and seemingly persistent, government debt. The nonchalance may be underpinned by the assumption that globally significant countries that can print their own currencies can't get trapped in a sovereign debt crisis. However, it now appears that Japan is preparing to put this confidence to the ultimate stress test.

For the better part of 20 years, successive Japanese governments and central bankers have been trying, unsuccessfully, to use quantitative easing strategies to pump up a deflated asset bubble. The economy has by and large not responded. The sustained and impressive growth that Japan delivered during the 45 years following the Second World War (which had made the country one of the most successful economic stories in world history), has never returned.  For the last 20 years Japan has offered a "zombie" economy characterized by low growth, stagnation, and exploding government debt. The Japanese government now owes approximately $12 trillion, a figure representing more than 200% of GDP. The IMF expects that this figure will reach 245% by the end of this year. This gives Japan the unenviable title of having the world's highest government debt-to-GDP ratio. But Shinzo Abe, the newly elected Prime Minister of Japan, and Haruhiko Kuroda, his newly-appointed Governor of the Bank of Japan, feel much, much more debt needs to be issued to turn the economy around.

The hope that Abe would be a new kind of prime minister with a bold economic formula helped revive the long dead Japanese stock market. Between May and November of 2012, the Nikkei traded within a range of 8200-9400. As Abe's victory began to be expected, the Nikkei started moving up, reaching 10,000 by the time he was sworn in on December 26 of last year. The euphoria continued throughout the spring and by April 2 the Nikkei stood at 12,003 points. Then on April 4, BOJ Governor Kuroda made good on Abe's dovish rhetoric and announced a plan to end years of mildly declining prices by doing whatever necessary to create 2% inflation (in reality these price declines have  been one of the few consolations to Japanese consumers). To achieve its goals, the government is prepared to double the amount of Yen in circulation. Stocks immediately rallied, and in less than a week the Nikkei had breached 13,000 points, taking the index to a 4 1/2-year high. It is rare that any major stock market can achieve a 50% rally in less than a year. But the rally will be costly.

The Japanese government already spends 25% of tax revenue to service outstanding debt (compared to 6% in the US). These costs become even more astonishing when one considers the extremely low rates Japan pays. Ten-year Japanese government bonds now pay less than 0.6%, and five-year yields are now a little more than 0.20%. How much will debt service costs increase if Abe succeeds in pushing inflation to 2.0%? Two percent rates would triple long term borrowing costs. Given the size of its debts, increases of such magnitude could hit Japan with the force of 10 Godzillas.

Japan has an aging demographic and as more time goes by, the pool of potential bond buyers continues to shrink. Unlike the United States, where individual savers are mostly irrelevant in the sovereign debt market, Japanese investors have largely set the market in their own country. There is evidence to suggest that Japanese savers are increasingly considering overseas sources of yield for protection from the inflation that Abe is so determined to create.

As the Nikkei has moved upward, the Japanese Yen has taken the opposite trajectory, falling more than 20% against the U.S. Dollar since the beginning of 2012, and nearly 12% since the beginning of this year (the decline has been even greater in terms of several other currencies). This steep drop, which has taken a huge bite out of the nominal gains in Japanese stocks is unusual in the foreign exchange markets, and has threatened to destabilize an already weak global financial system.

Earlier this year the falling yen issue sparked a full-fledged headline war. On February 16th, participating members of the G20 issued a statement, clearly aimed at Japan, warning against competitive devaluations and currency wars. A day later, Japan's Finance Minister stated flatly that Japan was not attempting to manipulate its currency. After some hesitation, the G20 seemed to accept this statement. For now it seems the international powers have fallen in behind Japan. Both IMF Chief Christine Lagarde and Ben Bernanke have praised Abe's policies. The prevailing opinion seems to be that weakening a currency should not be considered manipulation as long as it's done to revive a domestic economy, not specifically to harm competitors. Such an opinion qualifies as a great moment in rhetorical shamelessness.

In addition to his plans for inflationary monetary policy, Abe is also attempting to wage war from the fiscal side as well. His Liberal Democratic Party has called for over $2.4 trillion USD worth of public works stimulus over the next 10 years. This spending represents approximately 40% of Japan's current GDP and, adjusted for population, would be the equivalent of nearly $600 billion USD annually in the United States.

It should be obvious to anyone with even half a brain that Japan's prior experiments with ever larger doses of quantitative easing have failed. Leaders in both Japan and the United States, however, are following this path with reckless abandon. According to Abe, the entirety of Japan's economic problems can be blamed on the fact that consumer prices have been declining by one tenth of one percent per year. If only Japanese consumers were forced to pay two percent more per year for the things they need or desire, all would be well.

Abe's wish may already be coming true. McDonald's announced this morning that, for the first time in 5 years, the price of hamburgers and cheeseburgers in Japan will be rising by 20% and 25% respectively. No doubt the Japanese will be so excited by this development that they'll rush to the stores to consume all the burgers they were planning on eating in 2014 before prices go up again. Of course there is no official concern that low-income Japanese will now have to pay more for low cost food.

The idea that informs Abe's plan, that rising prices entice consumers to buy before the prices go up, is clearly suspect as economic law dictates that demand increases when prices fall. Any store owner will tell you that cutting prices is the best way to move merchandise. Apart from this problem, how does Abe expect consumers to buy more when their currency is losing purchasing power and more of their incomes will be needed to pay interest on the national debt?

The boldness of Abe's plans should provide the rest of the world with a crash course in the ability of debt accumulation to jumpstart an economy. The good news is that the effects should not take too long to be seen. I believe that we will be treated with a stark lesson on the limitations of inflation as an economic panacea.

Hopefully, failure of this latest Japanese experiment will help convince leaders in the U.S. and Japan that the only true path to prosperity is free market capitalism. Rather than trying to reflate busted bubbles and micro-manage Keynesian style recoveries, politicians and central bankers should recognize their respective roles in creating the problems and get out of the way.

Peter Schiff is the CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital, best-selling author and host of syndicated Peter Schiff Show.


PHOTO SOURCE http://www.amazon.fr/After-The-Cold-War-ebook/dp/B005UA424K