The Great Debate UK
–Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School . The opinions expressed are his own–
The title says it all: “This Time is Different” by Reinhart and Rogoff tells how, for centuries, monarchs and, later, nation states have persuaded lenders to forget their chequered credit record and trust them yet again with loans on relatively easy terms. Although, by the nineteenth century, Western European countries had mostly reached a stage where their reputation seemed worth preserving at some cost, more or less from the moment they achieved their independence the South American countries established a tradition of default which they have guarded jealously to the present day, and as Reinhart and Rogoff make clear, Greece has defaulted at regular intervals ever since it became an independent nation in 1832.
Yet the tale they tell flies in the face of common sense, as well as running counter to the faith in the rationality of capital markets which used to be widespread but is now confined to a diminishing band of true believers. After all, with such spotty credit records, you would expect sovereign borrowers to be able to raise loans only by paying prohibitively high interest rates. Yet however much attention they may pay to credit history in their consumer lending division, when it comes to sovereign borrowers, bankers seem to believe with Henry Ford that history is bunk, or as the CEO of the world’s then-biggest bank put it in the 1970’s: “Countries don’t go bust”.
Sure enough, this year, lenders have finally come to their senses with respect to the euro zone countries, but not before our bankers – yes, the ones whose skills are as rare as those of a Lionel Messi and need to be rewarded accordingly – had lent them vast sums at interest rates that took no account whatever of their respective creditworthiness, and indeed they are still doing the same with their lending to Britain and America.
– John Keilthy is Managing Partner of ReputationInc Ireland and is a former business journalist and director and chief operating officer of NCB Group. Andrew Hammond is a Director in ReputationInc’s London office and was formerly a UK Government Special Adviser. The opinions expressed are their own. –
In recent weeks, the focus for Ireland and indeed the world’s financial markets has been on devising a plan to remedy the country’s precarious banking and fiscal affairs.
Ireland's fall from grace has been rapid and far worse than that of its counterparts, even Greece. But life in the euro zone has still been one of profound growth, as it has for most of the other peripheral economies.
Take a look first at the progress of PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain) GDP since 2007 when the global financial crisis took hold. In straight comparisons (ie, rebased to the same point) Ireland is far and away the biggest loser. Portugal is basically where it was.
–Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School. The opinions expressed are his own.–
If the economics profession has sunk in public estimation in the last two or three years, it would hardly be surprising. Our failure to predict the crisis is something which cannot be simply brushed aside lightly, as some of my colleagues would love to do.
from Felix Salmon:
Back in April, I noted with respect to Greece that "the bear case is terrifying, and the bull case is very hard to articulate". So it's extremely useful to have a clearly-articulated paper from the IMF, entitled "Default in Today’s Advanced Economies: Unnecessary, Undesirable, and Unlikely", which puts the bull case much more vividly than I've seen it before.
At its heart is this table:
The idea here is that whether or not you default, you're going to have to embark upon a large fiscal adjustment in order to get back into sustainable territory. And even if you default with a massive 50% haircut, the size of that fiscal adjustment doesn't change all that much:
-Laurence Copeland is professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School. The opinions expressed are his own.-
Back in the 1950’s, when most women stayed at home while their menfolk went out to work, a favourite trick of life insurance salesmen was to walk into the prospect’s home at dinner time and ask the wife:
It is fairly commonplace at the moment for U.S. and UK financial analysts -- what continental Europeans call the Anglo-Saxons -- to predict the collapse of the euro zone, a project they were mostly sceptical about in the first place. MacroScope touched on this on two occasions in March.
The latest foray into this area comes from Alan Brown, global chief investment officer at the large UK fund firm Schroders. But he does it with twist, blaming what he sees as the eventual collapse of the euro zone not on the structure itself nor on the profligacy of peripheral economies, but on Germany's response to the crisis.
Central banks in debt-strapped countries have a golden opportunity ahead of them, if you will excuse the pun, to help their countries' finances by selling their yellow metal holdings.
At least, that is the message that Royal Bank of Scotland's commodities chief Nick Moore has been giving in recent presentations -- and he thinks it might happen. The gist is that gold is now at a record price but banks have not come close to meeting their sales allowance for the year.
-Jane Foley is research director at Forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own.-
If a gauge is needed to measure how concerned investors are at about sovereign default risk, we need look no further than the price of gold which has made fresh all time highs this week.
-David Kuo is director at the financial website The Motley Fool. The opinions expressed are his own.-
You could not make this up if you tried.
Britain gets its knickers in a twist over a hung parliament, Europe has been unceremoniously skewered by a Greek debt crisis, and if that wasn’t bad enough, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee sits idly by as the rate of inflation climbs.