The Great Debate UK
It used to be Greece that was the canary in the coal mine, these days it’s Hungary. The new year got off to a bad start for the Eastern European nation after it experienced a failed bond auction, causing its bond yields to surge.
This caused major jitters across global financial markets and once again a small, relatively unknown economy is dominating the headlines and causing a massive headache for the European authorities.
But while there are many similarities, the reasons for the panic in Hungary’s debt markets are different from Greece’s problems. Athens borrowed too much and public spending spiralled out of control. However, Hungary’s problems were not based on the size of its budget deficit, which was a fairly manageable 4.2 percent of GDP at the end of 2010, but the amount of debt in its public and private sector that was denominated in foreign-currency.
While the post-Communist era in Hungary helped to modernise the state, its capital markets did not keep up to date. Borrowing costs were lower in the euro zone and other parts of Europe where banks were willing to lend relatively cheaply across the Eastern European bloc, especially to Hungary. While the Hungarian forint was strong it was fine to have liabilities in euro and Swiss franc, however, since the start of 2011 the forint has deteriorated at a rapid pace. Since August alone the forint has lost more than 17 percent of its value against the euro.
from James Saft:
From Dublin to Paris to Budapest to inside those brown UPS trucks delivering holiday packages, it has been a tough few weeks for savers and retirees.
Moves by the Irish, French and Hungarian governments, and by the famous delivery company, showed that in the post-crisis world retirees, present and future, will be paying much of the price and taking on more of the risk.