Global Investing

Euro periphery: Lehman-type shock still on cards

The passing of Greek austerity measures is fuelling a rally in peripheral debt today with Italian, Spanish and Portuguese yields falling across the curve.

However, one should not forget that peripheral economies are still under considerable risk of becoming the next Greece — rising debt and weak economic growth pushing the country to seek a bailout — as a result of tighter financial conditions.

Take this warning from JP Morgan:

Financial conditions have deteriorated far more in peripheral Europe than in the core. The drag from this on peripheral GDP is akin to that seen following the Lehman crisis.

JP Morgan uses analysis based on quantifying the impact of financial market developments and monetary policy actions on economic activity. The main variables the analysis uses is: the three-month LIBOR rate, the yield on investment grade corporate bonds, the spread of high yield corporates over that of high grade, real equity returns, the change in the real exchange rate and bank lending standards for businesses as reported in loan officer surveys.

According to JP Morgan’s calculations, the 838 basis-point rise in the peripheral HY spreads implies a drag of -2.2 percent of GDP relative to what it would otherwise have been, had the HY spread unchanged.

Who is in greatest need to reform pension?

This year’s fall in global equities (down nearly 20 percent at one point) and tumbling bond yields, along with the euro zone sovereign debt crisis, are sowing the seeds for a new financial crisis – in the pension funds industry.

But which country is in the greatest need of pension reform?

Everyone, you may say, but a new study from Allianz Global Investors finds that Greece, India, China and Thailand need to reform their pension systems the most.

The study, which charts the relative sustainability of national pension systems in 44 countries, shows that India and China — two of the fastest growing emerging economies — suffer from low pension coverage and lack of adequate measures to improve the situation.