Friday, January 30, 2015

Brazil's Economy Is On The Verge Of Total Collapse

by Tyler Durden

Back when the BRICs were the source of marginal global growth, the punditry couldn't stop praising them. However, in the past year, now that China's housing bubble has burst and its shadow banking system has imploded, those who remember what BRIC actually stood for are about as rare as those who recall what it means for the Fed to hike rates. Which is precisely why nobody in the mainstream financial media has commented on the absolutely abysmal economic update reported earlier today out Brazil.

We are happy to do so because today's data follows up quite well to our article from a month ago "Brazil's Economy Just Imploded" and as the earlier article on the crashing Brazilian Real hinted, things for the Brazilian economy how gone from imploding to, well, worse because not only did the twin fiscal and current account deficits rise even more, hitting a whopping 11% of GDP - the worst since August 1999, but its government debt soared to 63.4% in 2014, up from 56.7% a year ago, and the highest since at least 2006. In short - the entire economy is now on the verge of total collapse.

This is what happened in a few bullet points:

  • The fiscal picture has deteriorated very sharply since 2011 at both the flow (fiscal deficit) and stock (gross public debt) levels. The primary and overall nominal fiscal surpluses at year-end 2014 were at levels last seen in the late 1990s.
  • The steady decline of the public sector savings rate is leading to a wider current account deficit despite weaker growth and low investment. In fact, the twin fiscal and current account deficits are now tracking at a combined, very troublesome 10.9% of GDP, the worst picture in 15 years (since August 1999). Repairing the severely unbalanced macro picture would require a deep, structural and permanent fiscal and quasi-fiscal adjustment and a significantly weaker BRL.
  • The new economic team faces, among other things, the very significant challenge of repairing the severely deteriorated fiscal picture.
  • The steady erosion of the fiscal stance pushed net and gross public debt up. Furthermore, fiscal and quasi-fiscal activism undermined the effectiveness of monetary policy, contributed to keep inflation very high and drove the current account deficit to a very high level despite weak growth.

More details from Goldman:

The overall public sector fiscal deficit widened to a very high 6.7% of GDP (from 3.25% of GDP in 2013 and the highest fiscal deficit since August 1999) given the very high 6.1% of GDP net interest bill and steady erosion of the primary fiscal surplus. Given the BRL depreciation during the month, the interest on the stock of Dollar swaps issued by the central bank reached R$17.0bn (adding to the R$8.7bn accrued in November).

Gross general government debt rose to 63.4% of GDP in 2014, up from 56.7% of GDP in 2013 and 53.4% of GDP in 2010 (the highest level since at least 2006).

The consolidated public sector posted a very large and worse-than-expected R$12.9bn deficit in December, driven by the unexpectedly large R$11.3bn deficit recorded by the States and Municipalities. The state-owned enterprises also posted a large deficit in December: R$2.3bn surplus.

Overall, the consolidated public sector posted a 0.63% of GDP primary deficit in 2014, down from surpluses of 1.9% of GDP in 2013, and 2.4% of GDP in 2012. This is the worst fiscal outturn in 16 years (since November 1998) and very significantly below the 1.9% of GDP primary surplus promised by former Finance Minister Mantega. The erosion of the primary surplus in recent years was driven chiefly by the weak fiscal numbers of the Central Government, whose primary balance declined from 1.55% of GDP in 2013, to a deficit of 0.40% of GDP in 2014.

However, the primary surplus of subnational government (States and Municipalities) has also been eroding, a reflection of the authorizations given by the Treasury since 2011 for increased borrowing by the States. For instance, the States and Municipalities posted a 0.15% of GDP deficit in 2014, down from 0.80% of GDP surplus in 2011.

In charts:

And the key numbers:

  1. The Consolidated Public Sector (CPS) posted a significantly worse-than-expected R$12.9bn primary deficit in December, driven by local governments and state-owned enterprises. The Central Government posted a R$755mn surplus but the States and Municipalities recorded a very large R$11.3bn deficit and the state-owned companies an also large R$2.3bn deficit.
  2. Overall, the primary balance of the CPS worsened to a 0.63% of GDP deficit in 2014 from a 1.9% of GDP surplus in 2012 and 2.4% of GDP surplus in 2012.
  3. The overall fiscal deficit (primary surplus minus interest payments) deteriorated further: to a very high 6.7% of GDP given the large 6.1% of GDP net interest bill. This is the largest overall fiscal deficit since August 1999.
  4. Net public debt worsened to 36.7% of GDP in 2014, up from 33.6% in 2013. Gross general government debt rose to a high 63.4% of GDP in December, up from 56.7% of GDP in 2013.
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A Greek Burial for German Austerity

by Joschka Fischer

BERLIN – Not long ago, German politicians and journalists confidently declared that the euro crisis was over; Germany and the European Union, they believed, had weathered the storm. Today, we know that this was just another mistake in an ongoing crisis that has been full of them. The latest error, as with most of the earlier ones, stemmed from wishful thinking – and, once again, it is Greece that has broken the reverie.

Even before the leftist Syriza party’s overwhelming victory in Greece’s recent general election, it was obvious that, far from being over, the crisis was threatening to worsen. Austerity – the policy of saving your way out of a demand shortfall – simply does not work. In a shrinking economy, a country’s debt-to-GDP ratio rises rather than falls, and Europe’s recession-ridden crisis countries have now saved themselves into a depression, resulting in mass unemployment, alarming levels of poverty, and scant hope.

Warnings of a severe political backlash went unheeded. Shadowed by Germany’s deep-seated inflation taboo, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government stubbornly insisted that the pain of austerity was essential to economic recovery; the EU had little choice but to go along. Now, with Greece’s voters having driven out their country’s exhausted and corrupt elite in favor of a party that has vowed to end austerity, the backlash has arrived.

But, though Syriza’s victory may mark the start of the next chapter in the euro crisis, the political – and possibly existential – danger that Europe faces runs deeper. The Swiss National Bank’s unexpected abandonment of the franc’s euro peg on January 15, though posing no immediate financial threat, was an enormous psychological blow, one that reflected and reinforced a massive loss of confidence. The euro, as the SNB’s move implied, remains as fragile as ever. And the subsequent decision by the European Central Bank to purchase more than €1 trillion ($1.14 trillion) in eurozone governments’ bonds, though correct and necessary, has dimmed confidence further.

The Greek election outcome was foreseeable for more than a year. If negotiations between the “troika” (the European Commission, the ECB, and the International Monetary Fund) and the new Greek government succeed, the result will be a face-saving compromise for both sides; if no agreement is reached, Greece will default.

Though no one can say what a Greek default would mean for the euro, it would certainly entail risks to the currency’s continued existence. Just as surely, the mega-disaster that might result from a eurozone breakup would not spare Germany.

A compromise would de facto result in a loosening of austerity, which entails significant domestic risks for Merkel (though less than a failure of the euro would). But, in view of her immense popularity at home, including within her own party, Merkel is underestimating the options at her disposal. She could do much more, if only she trusted herself.

In the end, she may have no choice. Given the impact of the Greek election outcome on political developments in Spain, Italy, and France, where anti-austerity sentiment is similarly running high, political pressure on the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers – from both the right and the left – will increase significantly. It does not take a prophet to predict that the latest chapter of the euro crisis will leave Germany’s austerity policy in tatters – unless Merkel really wants to take the enormous risk of letting the euro fail.

There is no indication that she does. So, regardless of which side – the troika or the new Greek government – moves first in the coming negotiations, Greece’s election has already produced an unambiguous defeat for Merkel and her austerity-based strategy for sustaining the euro. Simultaneous debt reduction and structural reforms, we now know, will overextend any democratically elected government because they overtax its voters. And, without growth, there will be no structural reforms, either, however necessary they may be.

That is Greece’s lesson for Europe. The question now is not whether the German government will accept it, but when. Will it take a similar debacle for Spain’s conservatives in that country’s coming election to force Merkel to come to terms with reality?

Nothing but growth will decide the future of the euro. Even Germany, the EU’s biggest economy, faces an enormous need for infrastructure investment. If its government stopped seeing “zero new debt” as the Holy Grail, and instead invested in modernizing the country’s transport, municipal infrastructure, and digitization of households and industry, the euro – and Europe – would receive a mighty boost. Moreover, a massive public-investment program could be financed at exceptionally low (and, for Germany, conceivably even negative) interest rates.

The eurozone’s cohesion and the success of its necessary structural reforms – and thus its very survival – now depend on whether it can overcome its growth deficit. Germany has room for fiscal maneuver. The message from Greece’s election is that Merkel should use it, before it is too late.

See the original article >>

Dow could peak right here, says Joe Friday!

by Chris Kimble



This chart is the Dow "Quarterly" dating back to 1965. I applied Fibonacci to the Dow's 2000 high and 2002 quarterly lows and then applied Fibonacci extension levels.

The Dow stopped on a dime in 2007, as it hit the 161% Fibonacci extension level at (1).

Now the Dow is hitting the Fibonacci 261% Fibonacci extension level at (2). While at this level, a long-term resistance line comes into play that ties in the 1987 highs and the 2002 lows.

Joe Friday, just the facts....This is not your typical resistance level and the Dow could put in a peak at this combo!

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60% Of Retail Sales Growth In Hong Kong Was Due To The iPhone 6

by Tyler Durden

The impact of the Apple juggernaut on earnings is already well known: as Reuters previously calculated, following the announcement of Apple's results earlier this week, S&P 500 Q4 revenue growth tripled to 1.4% from 0.5% the day before; while if one excludes AAPL S&P500 revenue growth falls to 0.8%.

But what about the impact of Apple on macroeconomics? For a good example we look at Hong Kong Q4 retail sales. As a reminder, in Q4, the Hong Kong economy was substantially impacted due to the Occupy Central movement peaking (and then suffering the same fate as its US peer, when it faded into obscurity), and many predicted the domestic economy would tumble if only until the impact of the city stoppage washed away.

As it turns out, most of those predictions were correct, however one place where pessimism was unfounded was in retail sales. The reason: the Apple iPhone 6.

UBS explains:

The launch of the popular iPhone 6 by Apple in September 2014 was the biggest, and perhaps the only, positive driver for Hong Kong's retail sector during late 2014. Thanks largely to Apple, retail sales grew better than expected at 3.5%y/y in value terms during September and November 2014, despite the temporary disruption from the 'Occupy Central' demonstration. The sales of iPhone, which are captured in other consumer durable sales, grew on average 60%y/y since September, propelled predominately by the launch of new product.

Excluding iPhones, retail sales value would have contracted almost 1%y/y in October, at the peak of the 'Occupy' movement, and expanded a more subdued 1.3%y/y during Sep-Nov 14 (see figure 1). In other words, over 60% of retail sales growth was attributable to iPhone in late 2014.

The strong demand for iPhone has mostly come from the Chinese tourists. The iPhone 6 was launched about a month earlier in Hong Kong (19 September versus 17 October in China). And the selling prices of which are also lower here, making the arbitrage trade profitable (buys in HK; sells in China). Those who live in Hong Kong will be very familiar with the long queues snapping up the phone as well as the big crowds outside the Apple stores trying to make a quick profitable trade.

This explained why tourist arrivals (over 80% of them Chinese) accelerated to 13%y/y during Sep-Nov 14, bucking the 'Occupy Central' disruption, as the timing of which happened to coincide with the iPhone euphoria. The incentives to buy the gadget before the Chinese launch or to gain from arbitrage trade have attracted many Chinese tourists since September. Most of them are day trippers. This is reflected in the average 18%y/y expansion in same-day visitor arrivals since September, which is up from 13.6%y/y in the three months before the iPhone launch. Overnight visitors, however, continued to ease and expand at mid-single digit pace (see figure 2). In particular, non-Mainland Chinese tourist, mostly overnight visitors, contracted in 4Q14. Both the share and, more recently, the absolute level of non-Chinese arrivals have been shrinking. As far as tourism is concerned, Hong Kong can hardly claim to be Asia's world city anymore.

In other words, if anything were to ever happen to the Apple "magic", not only does the S&P get it, but the macroeconomic ripple across the entire world will likely lead to a mini-recession all of its own.

See the original article >>

Wall Street for President?

by Simon Johnson

WASHINGTON, DC – America’s presidential election is still nearly two years away, and few candidates have formally thrown their hats into the ring. But both Democrats and Republicans are hard at work figuring out what will appeal to voters in their parties’ respective primary elections – and thinking about what will play well to the electorate as a whole in November 2016.

The contrast between the parties at this stage is striking. Potential Republican presidential candidates are arguing among themselves about almost everything, from economics to social issues; it is hard to say which ideas and arguments will end up on top. The Democrats, by contrast, are in agreement on most issues, with one major exception: financial reform and the power of very large banks.

The Democrats’ internal disagreement on this issue is apparent when one compares three major proposals to address income inequality that the party and its allies have presented in recent weeks. There are only small differences between President Barack Obama’s proposals (in his budget and State of the Union address), those made in a high-profile report from the Center for American Progress, and ideas advanced by Chris Van Hollen, an influential member of Congress. (For example, Van Hollen recommends more redistribution from higher-income people to offset a larger tax cut for middle-income groups.)

Against this backdrop of programmatic unity, the difference of opinion among leading Democrats concerning Wall Street – both the specifics of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reforms and more broadly – stands out in bold relief.

On Dodd-Frank, Democrats – including Obama – are apparently of two minds on the extent to which they should stick up for their own reforms. In December, the White House agreed to a Republican proposal to repeal a provision of Dodd-Frank that would have limited the risk-taking of the country’s largest banks (in fact, the proposal’s language was drafted by Citigroup).

More recently, however, Obama has threatened to veto any further attempts to roll back financial reform. And now he is proposing to impose a small tax on the largest banks’ liabilities, which he hopes will encourage “them to make decisions more consistent with the economy-wide effects of their actions, which would in turn help reduce the probability of major defaults that can have widespread economic costs.”

In contrast, the Center for American Progress report devoted very little space to financial-sector reform – in the authors’ view, such issues hardly seem to be a high priority. Van Hollen does have some concerns – and proposes a financial transaction tax to reduce speculative activities.

But a serious challenge to all of these views has now emerged, in proposals by Senator Elizabeth Warren, a rising Democratic star who has become increasingly prominent at the national level. In her view, the authorities need to confront head-on the outsize influence and dangerous structure of America’s largest banks.

Warren’s opponents like to suggest that her ideas are somehow outside the mainstream; in fact, she draws support from across the political spectrum. In last month’s fight against Citigroup’s successful effort to roll back Dodd-Frank, for example, Warren’s allies included the House Democratic leadership, the Independent Community Bankers of America, Republican Senator David Vitter, and Thomas Hoenig (a Republican-appointed vice chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation).

Warren’s message is simple: remove the implicit government subsidies that support the too-big-to-fail banks. That single move would go a long way toward reducing, if not eliminating, crony capitalism and strengthening market competition in the financial sector. This is a message that plays well across the political spectrum. And growing support for Warren’s ideas helps the Federal Reserve and other responsible regulators in their efforts to prevent big banks from taking on dangerous levels of risk.

The big Wall Street banks have enormous influence in Washington, DC, in large part because of their campaign contributions. They also support – directly and indirectly – a vast influence industry, comprising people who pose as independent or moderate commentators, edit the financial press, or produce bespoke “research” at think tanks.

These megabanks are making a determined attempt to repeal as much of Dodd-Frank as possible, and the House Republicans seem keen to help them. This is not an issue that will fade away.

The Democrats need to figure out their policy on Wall Street. In the past, they have simply gone for the campaign contributions, doling out access and influence in exchange. It is now obvious that this is not consistent with defending what remains of Dodd-Frank.

Warren offers a plausible, moderate alternative approach to financial-sector policy that would play well in the primaries and attract a great deal of support in the general election. Will the Democrats seize the opportunity?

See the original article >>

Two-Thirds chance NYSE topping pattern in play

by Chris Kimble



Is the NYSE creating a "Giant Topping" pattern? Rising wedge patterns lead to lower prices around two-thirds of the time. At this moment, a top is not proven! For sure I do respect the potential that a rising wedge pattern could have some impact in the near future on this key broad market.

The upper left chart line (1) is based upon monthly closing prices starting with the 1987 lows. Notice that several key lows took place along this line and 2011's highs touched this line as well.

The apex of the rising wedge is narrowing, meaning this pattern should end fairly soon. The NYSE is a fraction below this line as of last night close, as the index has traded sideways for the past 6 months.

Last month SPY may have created a Doji Star topping pattern (lower right chart) at the 161% Fibonacci extension level based upon the monthly closing high in 2007 and monthly closing low in 2009. This "Doji Star" at this time has NOT proven that it is a topping pattern. Should the broad markets grow weak from here, the odds do shift higher that last months SPY pattern becomes more important.

CNBC Pro covered the potential Doji Star topping pattern earlier this month (see here)

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Apple $150 upside target still in play

by Chris Kimble



Apple had positive earning news come out last night and pre-market pricing shows it up.

Wanted to take a 30,000 foot, 30-year look at Apple's prices. As you can see, Apple has stayed inside of rising channel (1) for the past 35-years. Apple last hit channel line (1) back in 2012. After it hit this line, it proceed to lose about a third of its value in the next 9 months.

If one takes the monthly low during the financial crisis and the highs back in 2012 and applies Fibonacci levels to it, the 161% extension level comes into play around the $150 zone.

I find it interesting that channel line (1) and the Fib 161% level both meet around $150 and rising support line (2) gets closer and closer to current pricing.

$150 looks to be an important price point for Apple in the future and this price remains possible.

Apple bulls want/need the stock to remain above line (2)!

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Gold facing most important test in years and years right now!

by Chris Kimble



Gold is now testing the underside of an old 10-year support line, now as resistance. This line is also being joined by another resistance line, at current price levels.

The "X" marks the spot that looks to be VERY important for the future of long-term gold prices.

Keep a close eye on what happens here because it could determine if Gold gets out of its three year downward funk or its gets a breath of fresh air on a breakout.

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Two Ships Pass in the Night

by Marketanthropology

Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence. - Longfellow

For just the fourth time in the last fifty years, the S&P 500 yields more than 10-year Treasuries. If one was to mine the data, in the three previous occasions where this had occurred, equities rallied sharply over the short-term and strongly performed over the next year - quickly closing the aberration that represented a particular extreme between these two markets.

  • June 1962: +14% 06/27/62 - 08/22/62 (1-year performance + 32%)
  • November 2008: +24% 11/20/08 - 01/06/09 (1-year performance +35%)
  • August 2011: +9% 08/09/11 - 08/31/11 52 (1-year performance  +25%)

That said, we would strongly caution anyone looking for similar returns or bolstering their respective equity biases with this fourth occurrence. From our perspective, the fourth time may be the charm as these two massive trends pass quietly in the night, ending an epoch that first set sail in 1959 as Treasury yields began their long and steep journey to a secular peak in 1981.  

While the Trend-Trading-To-Win and passive investor zen masters might view current market conditions as testament to equity strategies that should continue to outperform, you only need to look at a long-term chart of both metrics to realize, the times they are a changin' - or historically speaking, perhaps sliding back to a market relationship that stood for nearly a century before 1959. To boot, when one considers the equity market drawdowns of the previous three occasions that elicited such condition, the current "downturn" appears more coincidental of juxtaposition - than actionable of signaling a market extreme in equities.

Overall, we view binary "signals" such as this as representative of market conditions that should not be compared to contemporary parallels for insights, such as Fed tightening cycles or recession and equity market impressions from an inverted yield curve. What they all have in common is probabilities and expectations entrenched over the past fifty years where yields were not exceptionally low and the Fed was not enacting or normalizing unconventional and extraordinary policy.
From a historical perspective of the equity and Treasury markets, we still view the closest parallel as the trough of the long-term yield cycle in the 1940's, where the Fed began to normalize policy after extraordinary support was extended to the markets with significant Treasury purchases by the Fed between 1942 and 1946. Our expectations remain that the U.S. equity markets will continue to come under pressure and normalize with policy (QE free), which should recalibrate risk and valuations as the Fed evaluates market conditions in its wake. Moreover, for those looking for guideposts in the road with the Fed allowing or telegraphing when their balance sheet will passively runoff, you'll notice that in the mid 1940's the equity markets revalued swiftly shortly after the Fed's balance sheet peaked - but before it started to decline. We suspect a similar dynamic this time around, which would likely further push back even a ceremonial rate hike by the Fed that some see occurring this year.

While 10-year yields have made their way back to where we expected they would last January - and we suspect they are currently completing the end of that move; from a relative performance perspective we would still favor long-term Treasuries relative to the S&P 500 this year, as these two ships pass, signaling one last time in the darkness.

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Lezione da Atene: questa Europa è troppo fragile

by Pietro Reichlin

Con la vittoria di Syriza alle elezioni, la rinegoziazione del memorandum è ormai inevitabile. Si tratta di un notizia, che evidenzia le molte fragilità del sistema federale europeo. Ma non è il rigore il vero problema dell’economia greca.


Con la vittoria di Syriza si è aperto il fronte della rinegoziazione degli accordi stipulati con la Troika a seguito del fallimento della Grecia del 2010. Molti opinionisti e politici italiani (sia di destra che di sinistra) simpatizzano con Tsipras e ritengono che la sua vittoria possa portare buoni frutti anche per noi. Si tratta, tuttavia, di una strategia piena di rischi. In realtà la vittoria di Syriza è, piuttosto, una cattiva notizia, che fornisce un’ulteriore prova della fragilità del sistema federale europeo. Provo ad argomentare questa tesi nei seguenti quattro punti.

  • Il bail-out della Grecia avvenuto nel 2010 costituisce un precedente fondamentale per capire come funziona il sistema monetario e, più in generale, il nostro modello federale. In un sistema del genere le decisioni fiscali sono decentrate e, quindi, il costo del debito degli stati membri riflette rischi locali. Se le istituzioni centrali dichiarassero che nessuno stato può mai fallire, si determinerebbe un gigantesco problema di rischio morale (assenza di incentivi a controllare i conti pubblici) a cui la federazione non potrebbe sopravvivere. Se, d’altra parte, le garanzie sui debiti statali sono incomplete, si deve accettare che i debiti sovrani non si scambino alla pari, e che gli stati possano fallire. Il sistema monetario europeo si colloca in questo incerto crinale, in cui le garanzie europee esistono ma sono implicite e incomplete. È un problema che interessa molto l’Italia, data la dimensione del nostro debito e l’onere per interessi che grava sulle casse dello stato. Gli investitori vorrebbero capire: l’Europa lascerebbe fallire uno stato? E cosa farebbe in questo caso? In termini generali, un fallimento non è necessariamente un disastro se i costi che ne derivano possono essere contenuti. Gli Stati Uniti sono un esempio ambiguo. Il governo federale americano decise per il bail-out degli stati a fine Settecento ma li lasciò fallire a metà Ottocento senza eccessivi contraccolpi.
  • Il caso della Grecia è il primo esempio di fallimento coordinato nell’Eurozona. Le istituzioni internazionali hanno imposto un haircut del 50 per cento sul debito nei confronti dei privati, un allungamento delle scadenze e l’assorbimento della quasi totalità del debito presso il Fmi e il Fondo salva stati a tassi di estremo favore, condizionatamente all’adozione di misure di consolidamento fiscale. Il successo di questo esperimento dipende da due condizioni: che il governo greco rispetti gli impegni e che il programma di consolidamento non sia talmente oneroso da portare il paese a una nuova bancarotta. Se non si realizza la prima condizione abbiamo la dimostrazione “sul campo” che un bail-out compatibile con l’assenza di un rischio morale eccessivo è impossibile e, quindi, che l’Europa si trova di fronte a un bivio: convivere con il rischio morale o lasciare che gli interessi sui debiti sovrani riflettano interamente i rischi degli stati membri. Nel primo caso avremo, prima o poi, la dissoluzione dell’Unione, e nel secondo caso saremo continuamente soggetti a ondate speculative sui debiti sovrani.
  • Chi simpatizza con il programma di Syriza sostiene che gli accordi con la Troika non siano sostenibili per la Grecia. Il debito greco è, in effetti, molto elevato, ma se i creditori si limitassero ad accettare un contenimento del debito esistente, un’altra ristrutturazione non avrebbe alcuna giustificazione. Non è, infatti, il debito che frena la crescita di quel paese. Il bail-out del 2010 (e 2012) ha posto i titoli pubblici greci al riparo dalla speculazione e ridotto drasticamente il costo degli interessi che, secondo stime recenti, rappresenta un conto meno salato di quello pagato dal governo italiano, spagnolo e portoghese. Un’altra ristrutturazione del debito non equivale ad un classico problema di ridistribuzione delle risorse tra debitori e creditori, come si sente spesso dire in questi giorni. Il conto sarebbe pagato anche da paesi già fortemente indebitati (come l’Italia, la Spagna e il Portogallo) che stanno facendo rilevanti sacrifici per tenere sotto controllo il proprio debito.
  • Se un ulteriore bail-out della Grecia sembra incoerente con la costruzione europea, si può tuttavia porre il problema dei tempi e delle dimensioni del consolidamento fiscale. Questo è il secondo punto del programma di Syriza e raccoglie le simpatie del governo italiano e di altri partner europei. Il rigore fiscale non aiuta a superare le recessioni prolungate, ma questo non significa che la spesa in disavanzo sia sempre e comunque una via per la crescita. Nel caso della Grecia, questa politica creerebbe nuovo debito che il governo dovrebbe collocare sul mercato a tassi ben superiori a quelli che oggi gravano sul debito esistente. È noto che la spesa in disavanzo può essere utile in alcune circostanze e in alcuni paesi. Il problema principale è farlo in modo da non provocare un aumento eccessivo dei tassi d’interesse, che avrebbe l’effetto di spiazzare gli investimenti e quella crescita economica che si vorrebbe generare. I paesi che riescono a indebitarsi a tassi moderati sono quelli che dispongono di una ricchezza privata rilevante e che riescono a costruirsi nel tempo la reputazione di debitori virtuosi, capaci di contenere i disavanzi pubblici quando non fronteggiano una recessione. Inoltre, in assenza di una ripresa degli investimenti privati e della produttività, la maggiore spesa pubblica generata dal governo greco non farebbe che alimentare le importazioni e il disavanzo commerciale, che la Grecia è riuscita a contenere con grande fatica da poco tempo. I sacrifici dei cittadini greci di questi ultimi anni sarebbero completamente vanificati.


Con queste considerazioni non intendo sottovalutare i problemi sociali che derivano dalla crescita della povertà in Grecia, ma sarebbe più corretto e onesto da parte di Tsipras chiedere all’Europa un maggiore e straordinario aiuto per affrontare questo dramma sociale piuttosto che invocare le virtù delle politiche keynesiane. Il malessere sociale dei cittadini greci non deriva principalmente dalle politiche rigoriste imposte dalla Germania, ma dall’incapacità dei governi greci di combattere l’evasione fiscale e utilizzare in modo efficiente le risorse pubbliche. Il Pil della Grecia oggi non è inferiore a quello che essa aveva al momento di entrare nella zona euro e, quindi, alla maggiore povertà di oggi corrisponde la maggiore ricchezza di qualcuno. Siamo sicuri che una parte delle risorse per ridurre le disuguaglianze in Grecia non possano essere trovate anche all’interno del paese?

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