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Организа́ция экономи́ческого сотру́дничества и разви́тия (сокр. ОЭСР, англ. Organisation for Economic Co-operation |&| Development, OECD) — международная экономическая организация развитых стран, признающих принципы представительной демократии и свободной рыночной экономики. Создана в 1948 под назва ...
Организа́ция экономи́ческого сотру́дничества и разви́тия (сокр. ОЭСР, англ. Organisation for Economic Co-operation |&| Development, OECD) — международная экономическая организация развитых стран, признающих принципы представительной демократии и свободной рыночной экономики. Создана в 1948 под названием Организа́ция европе́йского экономи́ческого сотру́дничества (англ. Organisation for European Economic Co-operation, OEEC) для координации проектов экономической реконструкции Европы в рамках плана Маршалла. Штаб-квартира ОЭСР. Шато де ла Мюетт, Париж. Штаб-квартира организации располагается в Шато де ла Мюетт (фр. Château de la Muette) в Париже. Генеральный секретарь (с 2006) — Хосе Анхель Гурриа Тревиньо (Мексика). Руководящим органом ОЭСР является совет представителей стран — членов организации. Все решения в нём принимаются на основе консенсуса.
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20 августа, 05:29

Gavekal On The Coming Clash Of Empires: Russia's Role As A Global Game-Changer

Submitted by Charles and Louis-Vincent Gave of Gavekal Research Carthago Est Delenda “Carthage must be destroyed”. Cato the elder would conclude his speeches in the Roman Senate with the admonition that salt should be spread on the ruins of Rome’s rival. Listening to the US media over these summer holidays from Grand Lake, Oklahoma, it is hard to escape the conclusion that most of the American media, and US congress, feels the same way about Russia. Which is odd given that the Cold War supposedly ended almost 30 years ago. But then again, a quick study of history shows that clashes between land and sea-based empires have been a fairly steady constant of Western civilization. Think of Athens versus Sparta, Greece versus Persia, Rome versus Carthage, England versus Napoleon, and more recently the US versus Germany and Japan (when World War II saw the US transform itself from a land-based empire to a sea-based empire in order to defeat Germany and Japan), and of course the more recent contest between the US and the Soviet Union. The maritime advantage Such fights have been staples of history books, from Plutarch to Toynbee. Victory has mostly belonged to the maritime empires as they tend to depend more on trade and typically promote more de-centralized structures; land-based empires by contrast usually repress individual freedoms and centralize power. Of course the maritime power does not always win; Cato the elder did after all get his wish posthumously. With this in mind, consider a mental map of the productive land masses in the world today. Very roughly put, the world currently has three important zones of production, with each accounting for about a third of world GDP. North and South America: This is a sort of island and is not reachable by land from the rest of the world. It constitutes the heart of what could be called the current “maritime” empire. Europe ex-Russia: This is an economic and technological power as large as the US but a military minnow. Its last two wars have been fought between the then dominant maritime power (the US), first against Germany, then the Soviet Union to gain the control of the so called “old continent”. A resurgent Asia: Here China is playing the role of the “land-based challenger” to the “maritime hegemon”. A visiting Martian who knew little about our global geopolitical make-up, except for the above history books, would likely conclude that a new version of the age-old drama is being set up. This time, however the contest would be between a China-dominated “land-based empire” and a US controlled “maritime power”, with Europe (and to a lesser extent Africa) as the likely “prize.” To have a chance in the fight, the continental empire would have to “keep” a massive land mass under its control. This would require building extensive lines of communication (rail, roads, telecoms, satellites…), linking its own land-mass to the other “productive” land masses, avoiding as much as possible the use of sea links to communicate with other nations. The land empire would need to develop an economy which would not need to trade through the seas. This is what is happening today and why we gave carte blanche to Tom Miller, leaving him free to roam through Central Asia and Eastern Europe over a couple of years and report on the capital that China was pouring to build such links (readers who have not done so should pick up a copy of Tom’s book, China’s Asian Dream, available at all good bookstores and of course, through our website). Now for China’s “dream of empire” to work, China would need to convince two important countries, and maybe three, to at least become “neutral”, instead of quasi-hostile, for these new communications lines to work. Those two countries are Russia and Germany. The 3rd is Saudi Arabia, which has an interesting hand to play. 1. Russia Russia is the main land bridge between China and Europe. So logic says that the US should be very nice to Russia and seek to establish some kind of military alliance, if only to control the movement of people and goods between China and Europe, and from Europe to China. However, in its immense wisdom, the US Senate and the entire US diplomatic corps have decided that America’s interests are best served by imposing sanctions on Russia for crimes—not even proven at the time of writing—that the Central Intelligence Agency routinely commits inside countries that are nominally allies of the US! It seems that US policymakers have forgotten Lord Palmerston’s dictum that nations don’t have friends, just permanent interests. And instead of following policies to maximize its national interest, the US would rather cut off its nose to spite its face. The end result is that the US seems to be  working as hard as possible to make Russia join forces with China. But why would the US so consciously make an enemy out of Russia? A starting point is that it is a little odd that a country that cannot conceivably be invaded spends more on defense then the next ten nations combined (see chart overleaf). It is also odd that the US has been involved in wars, somewhere around the globe, with very few interruptions, ever since President Dwight Eisenhower warned his countrymen about the growing clout of the “US military industrial complex”. Of course, we fully realize that even mentioning the “US military industrial complex’ makes one sound like some kind of tin-potted, conspiracy-theorist prone loon. This is not our intention. But we do want to  highlight that, in order to justify a budget of US$622bn, soon heading to US$800bn, the US military industrial complex needs a bogey-man. Now the natural bogey-man should logically be China. After all, China is now sporting the second biggest military budget in the world (US$192bn in 2016), is rapidly expanding its global presence (Belt and Road, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Silk Road Fund) and increasingly treats the South China Sea as a mare nostrum. Still, the past few months of broad US hysteria toward Russia make it fairly clear that US military interests would rather pick on Russia then China. Why so? The first, and most obvious explanation, is simply institutional inertia. After all, Russia was the main enemy between 1945 and 1991 and entire institutions were built (NATO, OECD, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank) with either the stated, or unstated, goal of containing Russia’s influence. Such government-led institutions usually turn around as easily as a cruise ship captained by Francesco Schettino. Predictable France There are historical precedents for this. Take France as an example: from Cardinal Richelieu onward, the sole purpose of French diplomacy was to destroy the Austro-Hungarian empire. This left successive French rulers blind to the rise of Prussia; at least until 1870 and the pummeling of Paris. Still, even after losing Alsace and Lorraine, France continued its anti-Habsburg crusade until 1919, and the final destruction of the Austrian empire with the 1919 Versailles treaty. This treaty left France vulnerable should the Russians and Germans ever ally (a key policy goal of the Habsburgs was to prevent such an alliance) or the Brits decide that they’d rather head home (which duly occurred in 1940 at Dunkirk and is perhaps happening again today). The bottom line is that the sheer force of institutional inertia means the “smartest people” are often incapable of adjusting to new realities. It happened in France, and it could easily be happening in the US today. A second explanation is that there exists tremendous resistance within the broader US community to making China a scapegoat. US corporations have huge interests in China and relatively limited exposure to Russia. Thus attempts to cast China in too bad a light are habitually met with concerted lobbying efforts (Lenin did say that the “Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them”). As no-one in the US business community cares deeply about Russia, Moscow makes for a good, “compromise bogey man”? A third explanation is tied to a theme we have discussed in the past (see The Consequences of Trump’s Syrian Strike), namely the unfolding civil war in the Middle-East between Sunnis and Shias. On the Sunni side of the war sits Saudi Arabia. On the Shia side of the war is Iran. And behind Iran stands Russia, who would like nothing more than to see the Saudi regime implode. Indeed, a collapse of the House of Saud would be an immense boon for Russia. The price of oil would likely surge (which would be great for non-Arab producers like Russia) and Europe would find itself wholly dependent on Russia for its energy supplies, thereby giving Moscow more geopolitical clout than it has enjoyed in decades. At the same time, a collapse of the House of Saud would be terrible news for US, French and British arms suppliers (for whom the Middle-Eastern monarchies are big clients) and for all big oil companies which have huge contracts in Saudi Arabia and across the Middle-East to protect. This brings us to the current make-up of the US administration which, to say the least, is somewhat skewed towards military officers (military men and the merchants of death tend to get along) and oil-men. Is it too much of a stretch to think that an administration loaded with oil and military men would, almost by default, fight Saudi Arabia’s corner? Now this may be unfair. After all, it’s not as if the first trip of the current US president was to Saudi Arabia, or as if that trip yielded many lucrative deals for US weapons manufacturers, US oil companies, and US financiers, was it? Russia as a game-changer Whatever the reason for the current anti-Russia hysteria in the US, it is now clearly in Russia’s interest for it to play a very active role in the coming Chinese efforts to reduce the power of the dominant “maritime empire”. This means that Chinese and European products will be able to travel through Russia for the foreseeable future, so avoiding possible threats created by the US navy should Washington ever act to disrupt trade between the two economic centers. The reason that the US’s approach to Russia is so short-sighted is that Russia’s role in the coming clash between the two empires may go far beyond it facilitating communication and transport across its territory. Indeed, Russia (along with Qatar and Iran) could already be helping China break the monopoly that the US has on the payment of energy all over the world through the US dollar (see The Most Important Change  And Its Natural Hedge). For the past 100 years, the US dollar has been the world’s major reserve and trading currency. Needless to say, having the ability to settle one’s (rather large) trade and budget deficits in one’s own currency is a competitive advantage of huge proportions. Greater than its edge in finance, tertiary education, technology, biotech, weapons manufacturing and agricultural productivity, this “exorbitant privilege” may be the US’s single biggest comparative advantage. Now our starting point when looking at China is that the guys who run the show in Beijing are basically control freaks. After all, what else do you expect from career technocrats steeped in Marxist theory? So with that in mind, the question every investor should ask themselves is: why would control freaks yield control of their country’s exchange rate and interest rate structure? Why liberalize the bond and currency markets? For let’s face it, there are few prices as important to an economy as the exchange rate and the interest rate. So if the politburo is willing to gradually lose control over them, it must be because it hopes to gain something better on the other side. And the something better is to transform the renminbi into Asia’s deutschemark; the “natural” trading (and eventually reserve) currency for Asia and even wider emerging markets. In fact, internationalizing the renminbi is the lynchpin on which the whole “Belt and Road” empire rollout rests. If this part fails, then China’s imperial ambitions will most likely crumble over time (for one cannot have an empire on somebody else’s dime). The rise of the renminbi Which brings us to a key change in our global monetary system that has received scant attention, namely, the recent announcement by the Hong Kong exchange that investors will soon be able to buy and settle gold contracts in renminbi (see release). This initiative has the potential to be a game-changer for the architecture of our global monetary system. Imagine being Russia, Iran, Qatar, Venezuela, Sudan, Uzbekistan or any other country liable to fall foul of US foreign policy, and thus susceptible to having Washington use the dollar as a “soft weapon” (see BNP, Big Brother And The US Dollar). Then China comes along and says: “Rather than trading in dollars, which leaves us both exposed to US sanctions, and US banks’ willingness to fund our trade, let’s deal in renminbi. I can guarantee that ICBC will never pull the rug from under your feet”. If you are Russia, or Qatar (which have already signed renminbi deals for oil and natural gas), this may be an interesting proposition. However, the  question will quickly arise: “What will I do with my renminbi? Sure, I can buy goods in China, but I only need so much cheap clothing, tennis shoes, and plastic junk. What do I do with what is left over?”. And the answer to that question is that the US dollar remains the world’s reserve currency since the US offers the deepest and most liquid asset markets. From real estate (as shown by the Russia-Trump investigation), to equities, to bonds, there is no shortage of US assets that Americans will sell foreigners so that foreigners can park their hard earned dollars back into the US. This brings us back to China and the main constraint to the renminbi’s rise as a reserve currency. Simply put, foreign investors do not trust the Chinese government enough to park their excess reserves in Chinese assets. This lack of trust was crystallized by the decision in the summer of 2015 to “shut down” the equity markets for a while and stop trading in any stock that looked like it was heading south. That decision confirmed foreign investors’ apprehension about China and in their eyes set back renminbi internationalization by several years, if not decades. Until now, that is. For by creating a gold contract settled in renminbi, Russia may now sell oil to China for renminbi (already signed), then take whatever excess currency it earns to buy gold in Hong Kong. As a result, Russia does not have to buy Chinese assets or switch the proceeds into dollars (and so potentially fall under the thumb of the US Treasury). This new arrangement is good news for Russia, good news for China, good news for gold and horrible news for Saudi Arabia as it leaves the Middle-Eastern kingdom in between a rock and a hard place. 2. Saudi Arabia The fact that China wants to buy oil with its own currency will increasingly present Saudi Arabia with a dilemma. It could acknowledge that China is now the world’s largest oil importer, and only major growth market, and accept renminbi payments for its oil. However, this would go down like a lead balloon in Washington where the US Treasury would (rightly) see this as a threat to the dollar’s hegemony. In such a  scenario, it is unlikely that the US would continue to approve modern weapon sales to Saudi and the embedded “protection” of the House of Saud that comes with them. And without this US protection, who knows  which way the Sunni-Shia civil war may tip (most likely in favor of the Iran-Russia axis). Unfortunately for Saudi Arabia, the alternative is hardly attractive. Getting boxed out of the Chinese market will increasingly mean having to dump excess oil inventories on the global stage, thereby ensuring a sustained low price for oil. But with its budget deficit stuck at about 16% of GDP, with half its population below 27 and needing jobs, and with reserves shrinking by around US$10bn a month, just maintaining the current status quo is not a long-term viable option. So which way will Saudi turn? Will Riyadh accept low oil prices forever and the associated costs on Saudi society? Or will it change horse and move to accept renminbi in order to ensure more access to the world’s largest oil importer, even at the risk of triggering Washington’s wrath? Investors who like to bet on form may wish to consider the second option. Indeed, King Ibn Saud (the current King Salman's father) was once a loyal British client as the Brits had helped suppress the Wahhabi brotherhood, so cementing his power. Yet in 1936, Ibn Saud's adviser Abdullah Philby (father of British traitor Kim Philby), persuaded the king to  switch his allegiance to the US, by offering Saudis exclusive oil concession to Chevron/Texaco rather than BP. This is why the Saudi oil company is called Aramco (the Arab-American oil company) rather than Arbroco. Could the House of Saud pull off the same stunt again? One indication may be who lines up as cornerstone investors in the coming Aramco IPO. If those end up as China Investment Corporation, Petrochina and the PRC’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange, than perhaps Aramco will be on its way to becoming Archoco. And with that, the pricing of Saudi oil could shift from US dollars to renminbi. Incidentally, such a move would likely solve Saudi’s biggest macro hurdle; specifically, the defense of the Saudi Riyal peg to the US dollar. Indeed, with reserves shrinking so rapidly, the arrangement looks to be on a slow-moving death watch (admittedly, at the current pace of reserve depletion, Riyadh could hold out three years and possibly five). But should Saudi announce that Aramco (or Archoco!) will now accept renminbi for oil payments, the dollar would likely tank while oil prices would shoot up (as Saudi would have a willing buyer for its oil in China). A lower US dollar/ higher oil combination would, needless to say, make the Saudi peg that much easier to sustain. Lastly, if you were King Salman and thought that the long-term sustainability of the House of Saud depended on dumping the US and engaging China, what would you be doing right now? Would you be buying as many top-end US weapons as you possibly could, knowing that, in the future, such purchases may no longer be as easy as they are today? But let us now move to the third major player in this many-part drama, namely Germany, where the situation is even more complex. 3. Germany Unencumbered by its own “heavy” history, Germany— being at heart a “continental” nation—would probably have joined the “continental alliance” and left the maritime alliance (which may explain why the “maritime alliance” tapped Angela Merkel’s phone; arguably a greater intrusion then anything the US has accused Russia of). After all, consider the advantages for Germany of joining the “land-based empire”: Politically, Germany could finally develop its own diplomacy and stop taking orders from Washington. Economically, German industry would have unlimited access to develop not only Russia but also all the populations north of the Himalayas set to join the modern world through the creation of the “New Silk Road”. Geopolitically, let us first state the obvious: a Middle-East ruled by the Sunnis under the control of the US diplomacy has not been a resounding success. Worse yet, the incredible mistakes made by the last two US administrations across the Middle-East have led to a very old religious war (Sunnis vs. Shiites) again erupting. As we write, it seems that the Russians and Iranian allies are gradually succeeding in taking the control of the Middle East. Now the return to some form of peace (under a Russia/Iranian yoke) would offer new markets for German industry, provided Germany immediately allied itself with Russia and broke away from the American sanctions imposed by the US Senate. Failing that, Germany could lose a Middle-Eastern market which has historically been important for its exporters. Domestically: A German-Russian alliance would crimp Turkey’s resurgence as Ankara would find itself isolated due to Iran and China being on its eastern borders and Russia on its northern frontiers. As a result, Turkey would most likely stop rattling Europe’s cage, which would be a boon for Merkel as Recep Tayyip Erdo?an has been a significant thorn in her side. In other words, Merkel would outsource her “Turkey problem” to Russia. Energetically, a Russian-dominated Middle East would still provide gas from Russia and oil from the Middle-East. The implication is that Germany would no longer need to have its energy imports “protected” by the maritime empire’s fleet (Merkel’s short-sightedness on the energy front, from the end of coal, to the banning of nuclear power, has fitted in the category of being “worse than a crime, it is a mistake”). Many people in Germany—business people and public servants such as ex -chancellor Gerhard Schroeder—understand the above and have lobbied for such an outcome. The recent trend of US prosecutors trying to export the supremacy of the US legal system over local ones, and imposing egregious fines on all and sundry (Deutsche Bank, Volkswagen) can only push German business leaders further down that path. Of course, as Frenchmen, we know that nothing good comes of: Germany and Russia getting along like a house on fire. Britain retreating back to its island. And we would suggest that President Emmanuel Macron is also keenly aware of this. Which explains he is so far the only Western leader to have gone out of his way to be nice to President Trump; aside from the Polish President of course (more on that later). Macron has bent over to accommodate Merkel. And let’s face it, his task is not easy. For as good as our president may be with the older ladies, he needs to convince Merkel to walk away from the above win-win and keep Germany committed to the greater European integration exercise, and Germany wedded to its role inside the broader “maritime empire”. Germany as the sole paymaster Now, to be fair, the German population has enthusiastically supported the European integration project, partly out of historical guilt (now abating as the share of the population alive in World War II fast shrinks) and partly because it has been a boon to German exporters. However, recent years have highlighted that the low hanging fruit of European integration has been harvested. And to stay afloat, the European project now needs Berlin to transfer 2%-6% of GDP to poorer, less productive, European Union countries (especially as the UK will soon stop paying into EU coffers). This is a hard sell, even for a politician as gifted as Macron. Soon, Germany may be the only meaningful contributor to French agricultural subsidies; and that is unlikely to go down well with the average Bavarian housewife. Which brings us to the only other Western leader who has publicly embraced the current incumbent of the White House, namely Polish president, Andreszj Duda. After all, History suggests that France should not be the only country worried about a German rapprochement with the new “land-based empire”. Most Eastern European countries, in particular Poland, have similar reactions to such a hook-up. In fact, threat of a German-Russian rapprochement may already be creating the birth of a new, Austro-Hungarian empire, aka the Visegrad Group alliance of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Historically, the role of the Austrian empire was to protect Europe from the Turks and also to stop an alliance between Prussia and Russia. For the time being the Visegrad group is negotiating (rather unsuccessfully) with Berlin about how to handle thousands of “Turks” (at least migrants entering Europe through Turkey, whether those migrants come from North Africa, the Middle-East, Afghanistan, Bangladesh or elsewhere is almost irrelevant). This Eastern grouping may have to address, sooner than they think, a German-Russian rapprochement. Just as importantly, the re-emergence of the Austrian empire is incompatible with the “Europe as a Nation” project. In the world we are describing Poland, followed by Hungary and the Czech Republic, may be the next countries to leave the EU. Although in so doing, the Visegrad Group would almost guarantee the feared rapprochement between  Germany and Russia. Of course the Eastern European nations would only make such a move if they were militarily guaranteed by the US. And, by an amazing coincidence, this is exactly the promise that President Trump just delivered in Warsaw! For the “maritime empire”, a loss of Germany would have to be rapidly compensated by an increased presence in Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Lithuania and almost every country East of Berlin and West of Moscow. Of course, this is what France and England (the “maritime empires of the day”) did in the 1930s— with limited success. Conclusion History shows that maritime powers almost always have the upper hand in any clash; if only because moving goods by sea is cheaper, more efficient, easier to control, and often faster, than moving them by land. So there is little doubt that the US continues to have the advantage. Simple logic, suggests that goods should continue to be moved from Shanghai to Rotterdam by ship, rather than by rail. Unless, of course, a rising continental power wants to avoid the sea lanes controlled by its rival. Such a rival would have little choice but developing land routes; which of course is what China is doing. The fact that these land routes may not be as efficient as the US controlled sealanes is almost as irrelevant as the constant cost over-run of any major US defense projects. Both are necessary to achieve imperial status. As British historian Cyril Northcote Parkinson highlighted in his mustread East And West, empires tend to expand naturally, not out of megalomania, but simple commercial interest: “The true explanation lies in the very nature of the trade route. Having gone to all expenses involved… the rule cannot be expected to leave the far terminus in the hands of another power.” And indeed, the power that controls the end points on the trading road, and the power that controls the road, is the power that makes the money. Clearly, this is what China is trying to achieve, but trying to do so without entering into open conflict with the United States; perhaps because China knows the poor track record of continental empires picking fights with the maritime power. Still, by focusing almost myopically on Russia, the US risks having its current massive head-start gradually eroded. And obvious signs of this erosion may occur in the coming years if and when the following happens: Saudi Arabia adopts the renminbi for oil payments Germany changes its stripes and cozies up to Russia and pretty much gives up on the whole European integration charade in order to follow its own naked self-interest. The latter two events may, of course, not happen. Still, a few years ago, we would have dismissed such talk as not even worthy of the craziest of conspiracy theories. Today, however, we are a lot less sure. And our concern is that either of the above events could end up having a dramatic impact on a number of asset classes and portfolios. And the possible catalyst for these changes is China’s effort to create a renminbi-based gold market in Hong Kong. For while the key change to our global financial infrastructure (namely oil payments occurring in renminbi) has yet to fully arrive, the ability to transform renminbi into gold, without having to bring the currency back into China (assuming Hong Kong is not “really” part of China as it has its own supreme court and independent justice system… just about!) is a likely game-changer. Clearly, China is erecting the financial architecture for the above to occur. This does not mean the initiative will be a success. China could easily be sitting on a dud. But still, we should give credit to Beijing’s policymakers for their sense of timing for has there ever been a better time to promote an alternative to the US dollar? If you are sitting in Russia, Qatar, Iran, or Venezuela and listening to the rhetoric coming out of Washington, would you feel that comfortable keeping your assets, and denominating your trade, in dollars? Or would you perhaps be looking for alternatives? This is what makes today’s US policy hard to understand. Just when China is starting to offer an alternative—an alternative that the US should be trying to bury—the US is moving to “weaponize” the dollar and pound other nations—even those as geo-strategically vital as Russia—for simple domestic political reasons. It all seems so short-sighted. * * * And so, if any of the above sounds even remotely plausible, then some investments may be today grotesquely mispriced, including: SELL US, British and French defense stocks: we may be reaching peak “military industrial complex”. In the coming years, the main foreign clients of Western weapons, namely Middle-Eastern monarchies may either (i) implode or (ii) take their business to China/ Russia. Meanwhile, Western defense stocks are priced for an ever growing order book. SELL French bonds and (non-Russian) Eastern European bonds: There is little value in these bond markets and should Germany ever decide to rotate away from further European integration, they would crash. At this point, these bond markets represent “return-free risk”. BUY Russian bonds: Russian bonds may well be among the world’s cheapest, yielding almost 8% for a real yield of above 4%. This for a country with almost no external debt to speak of, huge amounts of (Chinese) capital about to pour in, and a by-now established position as the first supplier into the world’s fastest growing market for oil imports. BUY Russian energy stocks: One of two things will happen. If Saudi Arabia continues to refuse renminbi payments, Russian energy companies will end up owning the Chinese market. Alternatively, if Saudi starts to accept renminbi payments for its oil, the US dollar will take another leg-down and energy prices will rebound (ensuring a rebound in oil stocks everywhere). BUY Renminbi bonds: As China moves to create both oil and gold contracts denominated in renminbi, and as more Asian and global trade starts to be denominated in renminbi, it is hard to think that total returns on renminbi bonds will not surpass those of most Western currencies. The returns may come from falling interest rates (as a growing number of market participants are forced to keep renminbi deposits to fund trade), or rising exchange rates. Or, most likely, a combination of both. But today, very few investors, and even fewer large institutions own any renminbi bonds. In five years’ time, the situation may be very different and it may make sense to buy renminbi bonds before Saudi Arabia confirms the currency shift as by that point a lot of the gains will likely have been harvested. BUY Gold and precious metal miners: In an initial phase, most countries and market participants will likely stay skeptical of China. As such, the demand for gold, as settlement for renminbi trade, will likely pick-up. At the very least, at current valuations, gold miners can be considered an option on market participants doing more in renminbi (to please China), yet exchanging their renminbi for gold (out of a lack of trust for the new continental empire).

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14 августа, 21:40

Let Banks Manage Risks, Not Regulators

Authored by Steve H. Hanke of the Johns Hopkins University. Follow him on Twitter @Steve_Hanke. No one knows yourself better than you do. The same concept applies with financial institutions and the risks they take. An outside entity will never understand the day-to-day operations that occur within the walls of a bank; moreover, the calculated risks that a financial institution takes when investing is best understood by the financial institution itself, not the government or any outside party. Shouldn’t these banks, therefore, determine how to utilize their capital if they are the ones who best understand the risks they take? In the last few years, a consensus for higher bank capital ratios has been established among politicians at the highest levels, in international financial circles, and among many of the respected academics working in this field. For example, in 2013, Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig published a new book, The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do About It. In it, they advocate for substantial increases in capital ratios over and above the figures mandated under Basel III. The book was praised by Nobel laureate, Roger Myerson, who described it as being "worthy of such global attention as Keynes' The General Theory." But, is it necessarily true that banks with more capital are safer and stronger, and hence more resilient in coping with cyclical shocks? Even Lehman Brothers, which was incidentally not a bank, had a capital cushion that comfortably exceeded the regulatory minimum just before it went bankrupt. Unless regulators are so intrusive as to undermine the autonomy of bank management altogether, there is always a risk that banks will acquire assets of such low quality that high capital buffers would fail to protect depositors.  Since 2009, the reaction of most banks to the new regulatory frenzy has been to run scared. They have restricted claims on the private sector and expanded low-risk holdings of cash reserves and government securities. (Under the Basel III rules, cash and government securities require no capital backing as they are deemed to be “risk-free”). The new difficulties that companies face in raising finance from the banking industry may hamper growth and innovation, as even the IMF and the OECD sometimes quietly acknowledge. Since bank credit lines are a key source of working capital for some businesses—notably those which trade products, commodities, and securities—the restriction on credit has acted as a pro-cyclical, supply-side constraint on the economy. For all the talk about the looseness of the Fed’s monetary policy in the QE era, the inconvenient truth is that overall broad money growth in the U.S. has remained rather subdued since 2008.  By enforcing extra bank capital requirements in the middle of an economic downturn (that is, in late 2008 and 2009), central banks and the main regulatory agencies aggravated the cyclical weakness in demand. For a few quarters, the resulting depression in asset prices made some banks even less safe, illustrating the warning by Irving Fisher in his 1933 book, The Debt-Deflation Theory of Great Depressions. As Fisher noted, a paradox might be at work. Borrowers repay bank debt, but in the process they destroy money balances and undermine the value of stocks, houses, and land. That increases the real burden of the remaining debt. In his words, “the mass effort to get out of debt sinks us more deeply into debt.” Sure enough, it has been some years since the worst of the crisis, asset prices have recovered, and American banks have started once more to expand their lending. However, the economy is not firing on all cylinders. Banks today are not providing the same full range of loan facilities as before 2008, while the cost to non-banks of hedging risk (through arranging options and derivatives with banks) is higher than before. Arguably, the increase in capital-asset ratios in the financial sector constitutes a structural impediment to the supply-side of the American economy.  High bank capital ratios have damaged the American economy on both a cyclical and a structural basis. The solution? Every bank shareholder has a strong interest in ensuring that managements do not take on too much risk relative to the capital entrusted to them. It must be emphasized that the stable macroeconomic performance of the Great Moderation (in the 20 or so years prior to 2007) occurred while banks operated with much lower capital-asset ratios than now. The solution is to scale back untimely and excessive bank capital requirements and restore market discipline on banks and other financial businesses. Let banks spend more time managing risks and less time managing regulators and politicians.   This piece was originally published on Forbes.

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09 августа, 20:38

The Rise Of Zombie Companies (And Why It Matters)

Authored by Daniel Lacalle via The Mises Institute, The Bank of International Settlements (BIS) has warned again of the collateral damages of extremely loose monetary policy. One of the biggest threats is the rise of “zombie companies.” Since the “recovery” started, zombie firms have increased from 7.5% to 10.5%. In Europe, BofA estimates that about 9% of the largest companies could be categorized as “walking dead.” What is a zombie company? It is — in the BIS definition — a listed firm, with ten years or more of existence, where the ratio of EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) relative to interest expense is lower than one. In essence, a company that merely survives due to the constant refinancing of its debt and, despite re-structuring and low rates, is still unable to cover its interest expense with operating profits, let alone repay the principal. This share of zombie firms can be perceived by some as “small.” At the end of the day, 10.5% means that 89.5% are not zombies. But that analysis would be too complacent. According to Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s, debt repayment capacity has broadly weakened globally despite ultra-low rates and ample liquidity. Furthermore, the BIS only analyses listed zombie companies, but in the OECD 90% of the companies are SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises), and a large proportion of these smaller non-listed companies, are still loss-making. In the Eurozone, the ECB estimates that around 30% of SMEs are still in the red and the figures are smaller, but not massively dissimilar in the US, estimated at 20%, and the UK, close to 25%. The rise of zombie companies is not a good thing. Some might say that at least these companies are still functioning, and jobs are kept alive, but the reality is that a growingly “zombified” economy is showing to reward the unproductive and tax the productive, creating a perverse incentive and protecting nothing in the long run. Companies that underperform get their debt refinanced over and over again, while growing and high productivity firms struggle to get access to credit. When cheap money ends, the first ones collapse and the second ones have not been allowed to thrive to offset the impact. Low interest rates and high liquidity have not helped deleverage. Global debt has soared to 325% of GDP. Loose monetary policies have not helped clean overcapacity, and as such zombie companies perpetuate the glut in many sectors, driving down the growth in productivity and, despite historic low unemployment rates, we continue to see real wages stagnate. The citizen does not benefit from the zombification of the economy. The citizen pays for it. How? With the destruction of savings through financial repression and the collapse of real wage growth. Savers pay for zombification, under the mirage that it “keeps” jobs. Zombification does not boost job creation or buy time, it is a perverse incentive that delays the recovery. It is a transfer of wealth from savers and healthy companies to inefficient and obsolete businesses. The longer it takes to clean the overcapacity — which stands above 20% in the OECD — and zombification of the economy, the worse the outcome will be. Because, when the placebo effect of monetary policy disappears, the domino of bankruptcies in companies that have been artificially kept alive will not be offset by the improvement in high added-value sectors. Policymakers have decided to penalize the high productivity sectors through taxation and subsidize the low productivity ones through monetary and fiscal policies. This is likely to create a vacuum effect when the bubble bursts. The jobs and companies that they try to protect will disappear, and the impact on banks’ solvency and the real economy will be much worse. Avoiding making hard decisions from a crisis created by excess and overcapacity ends up generating a much more negative effect afterward.

03 августа, 23:25

Is Another Lost Decade Ahead?

Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com, In a recent post by Jeffrey Snider he made an important observation: “In August last year, Dr. Krugman proved how little he has learned since March 2008 in chastising others for lack of growth. Writing as usual in the New York Times on what he called the Folly of Prudence, he said, ‘We’ve been living with low-rate, depression economics for 8 years now — and key players are still acting as if they’ve learned nothing.’   Yep. He thinks ‘austerity’ is holding everything back, when in truth it’s all the stuff he didn’t recognize a decade ago and still doesn’t now.    In very general terms, the monetary system continues on unable to meet the modest demands placed on it by even the most modest of growth trends (forgetting recovery from the immense contraction). It, combined with other hidden monetary elements, qualifies in every way for Milton Friedman’s interest rate fallacy. The consistency of T-bills, bond rates, ‘secular stagnation’, etc., is breathtaking in that despite all that the world economy still lost a decade anyway and remains facing the very real prospects for another one. “ While Jeffrey is focusing on the importance of interest rates as they pertain to economic growth, something I have discussed more than once, there is also the issue of another “lost decade” ahead for investors as well due to this idea of “secular stagnation.”  Research Affiliates has also discussed the importance of “secular stagnation” and a coming decade of low returns. “With slow GDP growth propagating negative or near-zero real interest rates, our message is that expected returns across most asset classes should be lower than their long-term averages. We currently expect about 0.7% average annual real returns over the next decade for both core U.S. bonds and core U.S. equities.” That doesn’t sound good. “But Lance, the markets have returned 10% on average over the last century, so RA is probably going to be wrong.” Before you dismiss RA’s comments, it is important to put them into some context. When low rates of return are discussed, it is not meant that each year will be low but that the return for the entire period will be low. The chart below shows 10-year rolling REAL, inflation-adjusted, returns in the markets. (Important note: Many advisors/analysts often pen that the market has never had a 10 or 20-year negative return. That is only on a nominal basis and should be disregarded as inflation must be included in the debate.) There are two important points to take away from the data. First, is that there are several periods throughout history where market returns were not only low, but negative. Secondly, the periods of low returns follow periods of excessive market valuations. “This time is not different.” There are two main drivers behind the concept of a “decade of low returns” – secular stagnation and valuations. Secular Stagnation While I have written many times in the past about the importance of secular stagnation, RA put a much finer point on the argument. “Equally insidious is secular stagnation’s feeling of permanence; the trends at fault are slow moving and likely to persist well past the standard business-cycle horizon.   Deleveraging from our debt overhang will take decades. The impact of aging demographics across the developed world is only just beginning to slow both labor force growth and productivity, and this trend will only strengthen in the coming years.   Likely, we have entered a period of secular stagnation heavily impacted by lingering debt overhangs, persistent demographic shifts in savings preferences, and increased efficiency of capital…these longer-run trends, which are powerful and long lasting, and will impact our economic outlook for many years to come. Current deeply negative interest rates will likely shift back toward zero, but within our investment horizon are unlikely to return anywhere close to the historical averages. As Michael Corleone discovered, it is not easy to escape genetic or demographic destiny.” The decline of demographics was clearly shown in “The Unavoidable Pension Crisis:” “In 1950, there were 7.2 people aged 20–64 for every person of 65 or over in the OECD countries. By 1980, the support ratio dropped to 5.1 and by 2010 it was 4.1. It is projected to reach just 2.1 by 2050. The table below shows support ratios for selected countries in 1970, 2010, and projected for 2050:” Despite optimistic views that Central Bank interventions can stimulate economic growth and inflation through monetary policies, the reality has been quite the opposite given the massive levels of global debt. For the markets to generate a higher level of return in the future would require substantially higher levels of real growth. This is unlikely given the aging demographic trends, productivity increases which weigh on employment and wage growth, and debt servicing that diverts dollars from productive investments. This is not just a domestic issue, but a global one. It is interesting that even though Central Banks acknowledge that it was the ramp up in debt and leverage that led to our current economic problems, it is somehow believed that it can be resolved by simply shuffling debt from governments to central banks. Eventually, the global debt levels will have to be dealt with. Until then, economic growth, inflationary pressures, and interest rates will remain at historically low levels. Valuation As investors, we are supposed to be investing for the “long term.” Therefore, we should be viewing valuations as a predictor of returns over the next 10, 15 or 20 years which is the typical investment/savings time frames for individuals. David Leonhardt penned a similar view: “The classic 1934 textbook ‘Security Analysis’ – by Benjamin Graham, a mentor to Warren Buffett, and David Dodd – urged investors to compare stock prices to earnings over ‘not less than five years, preferably seven or ten years.’ Ten years is enough time for the economy to go in and out of recession. It’s enough time for faddish theories about new paradigms to come and go.” The chart below shows the long-term history of Shiller’s Cyclically Adjusted P/E Ratio versus forward 2-year total returns. History shows that valuations above 25x earnings have tended to denote secular bull market peaks. Conversely, valuations at 10x earnings, or less, have tended to denote secular bull market starting points. Furthermore, considering the U.S. is now in the 3rd longest economic expansion in history, with the lowest average annual growth rate, one should honestly question the ongoing “bull market” thesis. As I discussed just recently, when using just about any metric currently, the outlook for investment returns is dismally low. We can also prove this mathematically as well as shown. Capital gains from markets are primarily a function of market capitalization, nominal economic growth plus the dividend yield. Using the “Hussman Formula” we can mathematically calculate returns over the next 10-year period as follows: (1+nominal GDP growth)*(normal market cap to GDP ratio / actual market cap to GDP ratio)^(1/10)-1 Therefore, IF we assume that GDP could maintain 4% annualized growth in the future, with no recessions, AND IF current market cap/GDP stays flat at 1.25, AND IF the current dividend yield of roughly 2% remains, we get forward returns of: (1.04)*(.8/1.25)^(1/10)-1+.02 = 1.5% But there’s a “whole lotta ifs” in that assumption. More importantly, if we assume that inflation remains stagnant at 2%, as the Fed hopes, this would mean a real rate of return of -0.5%. This is certainly not what investors are hoping for. Conclusion Markets are not cheap by any measure. If earnings growth continues to wane, or interest rates rise, the bull market thesis will collapse as “expectations” collide with “reality.” This is not a dire prediction of doom and gloom, nor is it a “bearish” forecast. It is just a function of how markets work over time. For investors, understanding potential returns from any given valuation point is crucial when considering putting their “savings” at risk. Risk is an important concept as it is a function of “loss”. The more risk that is taken within a portfolio, the greater the destruction of capital will be when reversions occur. This time is “not different.” The only difference will be what triggers the next valuation reversion when it occurs. If the last two bear markets haven’t taught you this by now, I am not sure what will.  Maybe three times really is a “charm.”

31 июля, 03:00

WTI Jumps Above $50 On Report US Prepping Sanctions Against Venezuela Oil Industry

After both Brent and WTI rose above their respective 50DMAs on Friday, capping 2017's best weekly rally for oil, the rising tide is accelerating as the latest CFTC COT data confirmed, when net specs boosted bullish Nymex WTI crude oil bets by 27K net-long positions to 423K, the highest in two months, as producers continued to cover short hedges, sending their net position to the most bullish since the summer of 2015. Meanwhile, oil started the Sunday session jumping out of the gate, with WTI rising above $50 for the first time since May in early Asian trading, following the usual non-material weekend chatter and "noise" out of OPEC (which to exactly nobody's surprise "can't stop pumping"), however what has attracted traders' attention, is a WSJ report that following last week's latest round of sanctions, and after today's vote to overhaul Venezuela's constitution further entrenching Maduro's unpopular regime, US government officials are considering announcing sanctions against Venezuela's oil industry as early as Monday, although as the WSJ notes, a full-blown "embargo against Venezuelan crude oil imports into the U.S. is off the table for now." In its latest escalation, last Wednesday the U.S. government levied additional sanctions on 13 high-ranking Venezuelan officials for alleged corruption, human-rights violations and undermining democracy in the South American country. On Friday Mike Pence vowed “strong and swift economic actions” if the vote goes ahead. While Maduro's government has responded defiantly, "dismissing sanctions and warnings from Washington", with Maduro insisting the government would notch a triumph in Sunday’s vote, the potential collapse in oil trade between Venezuela could crippled the country even more, while sending the price of oil sharply higher. In fact, in a note from last week posted here, Barclays Warren Russell explains just what will happen should Trump expand Venezuela's sanctions to impact its oil sector: "a sharper and longer disruption (eg, exceeding three months) could raise oil prices at least $5-7/b and flatten the curve structure despite an assumed return of some OPEC supply, a more robust US shale response, and weaker demand. It may be just the opportunity OPEC needs to exit its current strategy. US producer hedging activity would pick up if WTI moves to $50-55, limiting price upside potential." Furthermore, among the downstream consequences, is that refining margins should deteriorate if Venezuelan crude oil supply is curtailed. US refiners will be negatively affected by any sanctions related to trade constraints. On the other hand, China and India could benefit if Venezuelan oil is offered at a discount to comparable grades, Barclays suggests. Finally, looking at Venezuela from a longer-term perspective, this is how Barclays estimates the local investment climate: It is too early to assess the investment appetite in Venezuela in a post-Maduro environment. Though Venezuela’s assets are large, they are not short-cycle. Companies with deep connections to the country are likely to maintain a presence, but wait for the political landscape to stabilize before making incremental investments. Either way, it looks like Venezuela’s production trend is down over the near term. Of course, the higher the price of oil goes, the more profitable shale will be, the more oil it will produce and so on, in the diabolic feedback loop that will assure oil does not go too far above $50 for the foreseeable future, as Goldman explained efficiently in just three bullet points last Thursday: Oil prices have rebounded over the past month on large inventory draws, a declining US rig count and strong demand data, suggesting that the rebalancing is accelerating. We remain, however, cautiously optimistic on prices from the current level with the recent improvements in fundamentals needing to be sustained for oil prices to rally meaningfully further. In fact, too large a price recovery now would only increase the downside risks to our year-end $55/bbl WTI price forecast given the fast velocity of shale’s supply response. At which point it's back to square one. For now, however, the bulls get to enjoy the next few days until the momentum reverses once again. * * * For those who are eager for more reasons to buy oil, there are more details in the full Barclays excerpt below and posted here first last week: Looming risk of sanctions against Venezuela The Trump administration is considering a wide variety of sanctions against the Venezuelan regime, which could range from sanctions on several senior government officials to targeting PDVSA’s ability to transact in US dollars, according to Reuters. This would not be the first time the Trump administration has taken action against Venezuela. The US already imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s vice president (February 2017), eight members of the Supreme Court (May 2017), and other military and government officials. The most recent Supreme Court sanctions were in response to the court’s decision to disband the democratically elected congress. The administration’s recent discussion of potential new sanctions would aim to keep elections “free and fair” and prevent President Maduro from being able to establish a dictatorship, which could occur as early as July 30. The Trump administration is likely to proceed cautiously and incrementally with any sanctions. In contrast to the energy-related sanctions imposed on Russia and Iran, the more entrenched connections between US companies and consumers and the Venezuelan oil industry lead us to believe that the US administration will take a cautious approach. Venezuela produces around 2.2 mb/d of oil and NGLs, which represents roughly 2% of the global petroleum market. Its Orinoco heavy oil plays a critical role as a feedstock for complex refineries around the world, particularly along the US Gulf Coast. Close to half of its 1.8 mb/d of oil exports go to OECD countries, with Asia consuming most of the remainder. Venezuela is the third largest exporter of oil to the US (?750 kb/d), behind Canada (3.2 mb/d) and Saudi Arabia (1.1 mb/d). As a guide to potential outcomes, we examine US sanctions on Iran and Russia and their impact on the oil market. We find that the sanctions on Russia have not had a noticeable effect on its production or the oil market, while sanctions against Iran lowered its production and exports and supported oil prices. For more on sanctions on Russia and Iran, see the Appendix of this report. We see several important differences between the situation in Venezuela and those in Iran and Russia. Unlike Russia and Iran, Venezuela is at significant risk of political and economic collapse. Low oil prices have greatly reduced the government’s ability to pay its outstanding debts while funding imports of basic goods. As a result, President Maduro has taken decisions that have resulted in a deteriorating quality of life for Venezuelans in recent years. Amid the current instability, even limited sanctions are likely to have an outsized effect on the oil market. A collapse in Venezuela could turn it into a regional crisis. More than 1.5mn Venezuelans have already fled the country because of the current crisis, this number could increase exponentially, affecting neighboring countries, particularly Colombia. The international community will need to support the region in a refugee crisis. In the case of Colombia, the situation could have additional implications because there are nearly 2mn Colombian and Colombian descendants living in Venezuela. Those people would likely be the first to cross the border and the Colombian government cannot deny them their rights as Colombian citizens. This could become significant fiscal burden for the Colombian government.Venezuela needs to import oil and refined products to produce oil. Roughly 50% of Venezuelan production is heavy oil, which is typically blended with diluent for transportation purposes. Without access to diluent imports from the US and elsewhere, certain Orinoco projects may be at risk of being shut-in. A trade embargo, sanctions that affect PDVSA, or a sovereign default could be catalysts for heavy oil shut-ins in the Orinoco. We estimated earlier this year that a default could take around 300 kb/d of heavy oil production offline (Commodities special report: The black swans of 2017, January 2017). The current state of Venezuela’s refinery sector necessitates fuel imports, which have been met in part by imports from the US. Plagued by underinvestment, Venezuela’s refineries have been running well below nameplate capacity, with Bloomberg recently reporting that the Puerto La Cruz refinery is running at 15% utilization. Restricting fuel shipments to Venezuela would result in increased dependency on the PDVSA’s dilapidated plants and imports from other origins to prevent the country coming to a standstill. Venezuela’s oil sector is much more intricately connected to the North American energy system, due to CITGO’s presence in the US and the dependence of other US refineries on Venezuelan feedstock. This interdependency with the US and the lesser connection with other OECD countries, mean Venezuela’s position in the international energy system is quite different to that of Russia or Iran. If the US does impose further sanctions on Venezuela, it would likely take into account these differences. The use and timing of various sanctions will likely depend on how much the conflict escalates in the coming days and whether other factors (such as the potential for default on sovereign debt payments due in October and November), might be a catalyst for political change in the near future. In our view, if the Trump administration decides to issue sanctions, it would proceed conservatively and become increasingly restrictive only if its goals are not being achieved. One of the stated goals of the Trump administration is for Venezuela to hold “free and fair elections,” according to the White House press statement on July 17, 2017. Before implementing more aggressive sanctions, the administration is likely to seek multilateral support from other nations. The EU recently expressed a willingness to impose sanctions on Venezuela as well. We believe sanctions could turn out to be a double-edged sword. Multilateral sanctions implemented after having exhausted negotiations are most likely to be successful. Nonetheless, history shows that sanctions alone are not enough to trigger political change, eg, Cuba, North Korea, and Syria. This finally depends on the level of internal pressure, which in Venezuela seems high. Sanctions against individuals Additional US-imposed sanctions against government officials may be the next step. Such sanctions are likely to cause some inconvenience but probably would have only a limited impact on Venezuela’s oil industry, in our view. Sanctions on Venezuela’s energy sector Sanctions could take several forms, ranging from sanctions similar to those imposed on Russia to more disruptive ones that could completely halt existing operations. Sanctions that prohibit or limit investment in new exploration and production activity would not likely have an immediate direct impact on Venezuelan production. Many of the companies with equity stakes in Venezuela’s new greenfield developments are headquartered in non-OECD countries. Furthermore, due to the current upstream investment environment and the increasing political risk within Venezuela, we believe upstream spending on greenfield projects is limited, with many projects shelved for future reconsideration. Sanctions prohibiting businesses from operating in Venezuela would be much more disruptive to Venezuela’s current contribution to the oil market. A policy that would limit US producer and service company operations and further investment in Venezuela, would require PDVSA and other international companies to step in to maintain operations. This scenario is likely to exacerbate Venezuela’s declining production profile. Sanctions against PDVSA The US could take an even more drastic approach by issuing direct sanctions against PDVSA. In an extreme scenario, if the NOC is banned from banking activity in the US and from trading with US entities, the impact would likely be swift and very damaging to Venezuelan oil production. Directly targeting PDVSA will also likely lead to a sovereign debt default in 2017. This action would affect Venezuela’s petroleum imports and exports. PDVSA would have to find new destinations for nearly half of its oil exports, assuming production does not collapse. Currently, Venezuela ships more than 700 kb/d of oil to the US and nearly 100 kb/d to the EU. China and India would likely be alternative destinations for some of this crude. PDVSA would also need to find a new source for some of its diluent needs. Algerian and Nigerian crude and condensates were previously used for diluent purposes and could substitute for shipments of US crude and products used in the transport of heavy oil. PDVSA could ask it JV partners to import diluent, but the capacity to do this would depend on the extent of sanctions and other countries’ participation. Even if possible, this could also increase the production cost of these fields to levels that are not financially viable, which could ultimately result in shut-ins. We believe the US would implement such measures only as a last resort. In addition, the US would likely seek multilateral support from other nations before taking this route. Such an action is likely to be severely disruptive to Venezuela as well as the oil market and its participants. Sanctions against PDVSA would likely also mean that US producers and service companies conducting business in Venezuela would have to cease operations, which would have an outsized effect on oil production compared to the effect of the US-imposed sanctions on Russia. Compared with Russia, Venezuela is much more reliant on foreign oilfield service companies for oil extraction. Discussions of broader sanctions likely limits Venezuela’s access to capital Regardless of whether new sanctions are imposed, discussion of broader sanctions could limit the Venezuelan government’s ability to raise financing and to make debt payments coming due in October and November. Moreover, it could change the government’s willingness to pay. If the current government wants to remain in control and not negotiate, it may be unwilling to use the few assets left to service its debt. As mentioned above, default alone would have a significant impact on oil production and the domestic economy. The US could sell oil from the SPR to steady the market We believe the US would consider the sale of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve (SPR) in order to smooth any price volatility that may result from a disruption to supply from Venezuela. The previous US administration was willing to tap the SPR to steady markets after the Libyan supply disruption, and we believe the current administration would consider this option as well. The US did not sell oil from the SPR during the 2002-03 Venezuelan supply disruption and prices rose by more than 40% during that period, although other factors also contributed. We doubt a disruption will result in a 40% price increase in the event of a supply disruption, but we think prices will rise nonetheless. For this reason, we think the US government would consider using the SPR as a backstop. At present, we believe the price response to a disruption would be more muted than previous disruptions due to the apparent increased willingness of the US to use its SPR, the fact that OPEC could raise quotas, and US producers would begin to respond to sustained higher prices.

31 июля, 00:21

Кимоно и тулуп // Японских женщин ограничивает высокая эффективность труда в стране

Несмотря на значительное сокращение «гендерного разрыва» в оплате труда в Японии в последние 25 лет, женщины по-прежнему проигрывают из-за принятой модели управления персоналом и культуры, основанной на вознаграждении за сверхурочную работу, говорится в исследовании Хары Хироми для Исследовательского института экономики, торговли и промышленности (RIETI). Хотя с 1990 по 2016 год индекс гендерного разрыва сократился с 40 до 27,8 пункта, разница в уровне оплаты труда между мужчинами и женщинами в Японии остается одной из самых высоких в ОЭСР (хуже ситуация лишь в Южной Корее и Эстонии). Сокращение происходило преимущественно за счет сглаживания неравенства в области человеческого капитала (например, в области образования), полагает исследовательница. В то же время в одной из самых развитых мировых экономик мира японки продолжают сталкиваться со «стеклянным потолком» и «липким полом»: карьерные высоты для них сильно ограничены, а их занятость на непрестижных и низкооплачиваемых работах непропорционально велика.

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30 июля, 19:54

Zombie Corporations Litter Europe, Kept Alive By ECB

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com, Bank of America says 9% of European firms have subpar interest coverage. Bloomberg covers the story in its report Zombie Companies Littering Europe May Tie the ECB’s Hands for Years. Watch out for the zombies.   The plethora of companies propped up by the European Central Bank will limit policy makers’ ability to withdraw monetary stimulus that’s been supporting the continent’s bond market since the financial crisis, according to strategists at Bank of America Corp. About 9 percent of Europe’s biggest companies could be classified as the walking dead, companies that risk collapse if the support dries up, according to the analysts.   “Monetary support in Europe over the last five years has allowed companies with weak profitability to continue to refinance their debt and stave off defaults,” analysts led by Barnaby Martin wrote in a note Monday. “This supports the point that our economists have been making: that the ECB will likely be very slow and patient in removing their extraordinary stimulus over the next year and a half.”   The strategists classify zombies as non-financial companies in the Euro Stoxx 600 with interest-coverage ratios — earnings relative to interest expenses — at 1 or less. The thinking goes that companies in this category are particularly vulnerable to rising interest rates.   The ECB’s dovish tone last week — pushing back the timing for a decision on the future of its bond-buying program until possibly October — confirms it will embark on a gradual pace of tightening in order to juice the economic recovery, according to Bank of America. It reckons the ECB’s taper will start in January 2018, with the first increase to the deposit rate projected in the spring of 2019, compared with consensus expectations for a hike in October 2018, according to overnight index swap contracts compiled by Bloomberg.   Similar studies confirm zombie firms litter the landscape across developed markets, and place the blame squarely on loose monetary policy. Last month, the Bank for International Settlements calculated businesses more than 10 years old whose earnings don’t cover interest expenses represent almost 10.5 percent of publicly listed companies across 13 advanced economies, compared with less than 6 percent pre-crisis. Negative Progress Right before the collapse of Lehman, about 6 percent of European companies had a coverage ratio of less than 1. Last month, the Bank for International Settlements calculated businesses more than 10 years old whose earnings don’t cover interest expenses represent almost 10.5 percent of publicly listed companies across 13 advanced economies, compared with less than 6 percent pre-crisis. Why Zombies Matter Daniel Lacalle explains Why Zombies Matter Low interest rates and high liquidity have not helped deleverage. Global debt has soared to 325% of GDP. Loose monetary policies have not helped clean overcapacity, and as such zombie companies perpetuate the glut in many sectors, driving down the growth in productivity and, despite historic low unemployment rates, we continue to see real wages stagnate.   The citizen does not benefit from the zombification of the economy. The citizen pays for it. How? With the destruction of savings through financial repression and the collapse of real wage growth. Savers pay for zombification, under the mirage that it “keeps” jobs.   Zombification does not boost job creation or buy time, it is a perverse incentive that delays the recovery. It is a transfer of wealth from savers and healthy companies to inefficient and obsolete businesses.   The longer it takes to clean the overcapacity -whcih stands above 20% in the OECD- and zombification of the economy, the worse the outcome will be. Because, when the placebo effect of monetary policy disappears, the domino of bankruptcies in companies that have been artificially kept alive will not be offset by the improvement in high added-value sectors. Policy makers have decided to penalize the high productivity sectors through taxation and subsidize the low productivity ones through monetary and fiscal policies. This is likely to create a vacuum effect when the bubble bursts. Damned Either Way? Bank of America provided the kicker: The ECB risks a big backlash if it were to tighten policy prematurely. Allowing a “credit tantrum to take hold would only pressure corporate interest costs again, and risk a rise of the zombie.” Thank you not, central banks!

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30 июля, 19:05

A Stronger Euro Will Ruin The QE Taper Plans

Just like any good (or mediocre) telenovela, the plot twists at the central banks all over the world aren’t only very predictable, it’s also laughable how the presidents and chairman of the respective banks try to ‘guide’ the market by using specific words. In just the past few months alone, we have seen several central banks making bold statements only trying to walk them back a few weeks later. An example? The Fed which was expected to hike the benchmark interest rates once again in September and to reduce the size of its balance sheet by winding down the trillions of ‘investments’ in securities. The ECB followed suit, and Mario Draghi sounded extremely ambitious as he was already hinting at ‘normalizing the interest rates’ and to reduce the buyback rate of the securities. However, the recent ‘crash’ of the US Dollar versus the Euro might have some serious consequences for the Eurozone, and more specifically for the ECB. Source: stockcharts.com In 2010, the OECD published a report discussing the impact of several economic (mini-) shocks on the GDP levels of several first-tier economic countries and areas. Based on the evidence from the next three charts, we would argue the ECB is still lightyears away from hiking the benchmark interest rate to a ‘normalized’ level. Argument 1: the stronger Euro. In its 36-pager, the OECD has investigated the impact of a 10% depreciation of the US Dollar. According to its calculations, the recent 10% depreciation would have an impact of 0.1% on the inflation rate in the first year, increasing to 0.3% from Y3 on. Source: OECD Argument 2: A sustained increase of 1% of the US benchmark interest rate (which has almost been reached) would only have a minimal impact on the inflation rate in the Eurozone. Whilst a negative impact of 0.1% might indeed seem to be negligible, but a 0.2% reduction of the Eurozone’s GDP is nothing to sneeze at either. Source: OECD Argument 3: an increase of the Eurozone’s interest rates would only make things worse. The impact on the Eurozone GDP would be -0.7% from year five on, and the inflation in the Eurozone would actually DECREASE, as more people will want to save cash to take advantage of the higher interest rates. In fact, we would think this effect might even be underestimated because then the OECD made its calculations, it didn’t take into consideration consumers would be coming out of a prolonged period of NIRP and ZIRP policies. This could result in consumers being relieved to receive ‘anything’ on their savings accounts, further building up their equity to get a decent interest income. Source: OECD So, taking all these parameters into account, there’s only one parameter the ECB has an influence on and that’s its own benchmark interest rate. It won’t really be able to actively steer the Euro-Dollar ratio (not unless it pumps more cash in the system) and it definitely won’t be able to do or say anything to rewind the rate hikes of the Federal Reserve. The three parameters currently on the table would reduce the inflation rate by 0.6%, and have a negative impact on the GDP of approximately 1.6%. This could be dramatic as it’s could reduce the GDP growth rate of the Eurozone to zero. >>> Click HERE to read our Guide to Gold 

29 июля, 03:35

Demographic Dysphoria Looms As Doctors Discover Sperm Counts In Western Men Plummeted Nearly 60%

Population growth is responsible for the majority of GDP growth...so a downturn in population growth matters...particularly when population growth shifts from wealthy or developing nations to the poorest.  I'm not describing something that may happen in the future...I'm describing what has already happened that is continuing to send progressively larger tsunamis swamping the world economy and has the central bankers doing everything and anything to try to sustain the unsustainable. Which means, as Econimica's Chris Hamilton recently noted, the next business cycle recession will be unending and is very likely to run years into decades and perhaps a century or more.  A declining population already indebted with record debt and zero interest rates will consume less...meaning overcapacity and excess inventories will never be fully cleared before the next downturn...and on and on and on. But the absence of a growing consumer base isn't just a US issue...this is a global problem.  The annual growth of the 0-64yr/old population of the combined OECD nations (most the EU, US, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Japan, S. Korea, Australia / New Zealand) plus China, Brazil, and Russia show the growth that has driven nearly all economic growth has come to an end...and begins declining from here on.  And when importers are shrinking, exporters have no one to export to...and on and on and on.  The depopulation we are now facing is not simply a demographic issue that so many believe; the end of growth is the start of the SHTF scenario in which we now find ourselves.  While this situation offers short term nirvana to investors, the economic repercussions are ultimately disastrous. And it may be about to get even worse. As TheAntiMedia.org reports, According to a new analysis published Tuesday, sperm counts in Western men have plummeted nearly 60 percent over the last four decades. Though researchers say the specific drivers behind the trend will require further scientific investigation, current data suggest a link between the sharp decline and living in the industrialized world. “The results are quite shocking,” Hagai Levine, an epidemiologist from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told The Guardian. Levine led the international team of researchers, who examined 185 individual studies conducted between 1973 and 2011. The analysis, published in the medical journal Human Reproduction Update, additionally revealed that on average, Western men’s sperm concentration — the number of sperm within a semen ejaculate — is falling 1.4 percent a year. Added up, that calculates to an overall drop of more than 50 percent since the early 1970s. “This is a classic under the radar huge public health problem that is really neglected,” said Levine. The team notes in its report that recent studies have shown an association between poor sperm counts and overall morbidity and mortality. Unlike with Western nations, the team found no similar trend among the male populations of less-developed countries, such as those in Africa and South America. “Therefore,” the team writes, “sperm count may sensitively reflect the impacts of the modern environment on male health throughout the life course.” Researchers acknowledge, however, that far fewer studies have been conducted in those nations and that more data needs to be compiled before a final conclusion can be drawn. While the scientific community seems to agree that the Western trend is likely being driven by a confluence of factors, one member of the team, Professor Shanna Swan of the Ichan School of Medicine in New York, told the Independent that the lack of declining sperm counts in less-industrialized nations is something that can’t be ignored. “The fact that the decline is seen in Western countries strongly suggests that chemicals in commerce are playing a causal role in this trend,” she said. Just as startling as the trend, says Professor Richard Sharpe of Edinburgh University, is the fact that it shows no sign of slowing down. Speaking to The Independent, Sharpe, who was not involved with the research, said: “As the authors point out, the continuous nature of the decline is of as much concern as the decline itself, given that we still do not know what lifestyle, dietary or chemical exposures might have caused this decrease.” Calling the trend “real beyond any reasonable doubt,” Sharpe says that with more and more women wanting to have babies later in life when conception is considerably more difficult, there now exists a “double whammy for couple fertility” in Western societies. “Therefore, looking ahead,” he said, “I can only conclude that couple infertility is set to increase. Hopefully, this new study will serve as a wake-up call for health and research authorities as well as for the public, and for young people in particular.”

29 июля, 01:08

Эксперт ОЭСР: "Минимальный оклад поможет малоимущим сориентироваться"

В гостях у ведущей программы Insiders Софи Клоде - эксперт ОЭСР "Моника Кейссер. Софи Клоде: "Моника, давайте продолжим разговор. Германия сделала ставку на гибкость на своем рынке труда. Где еще в Европе работают подобные модели?" Моника Кейссер, ОЭСР: "Вы правы, реформы рынков труда, законодательства в этой сфере проводят стразу несколько стран ЕС. И все они ставят во главу угла гибкость. Италия, к примеру, приняла закон, упрощающий доступ к рабочим местам для так называемых аутсайдер… ЧИТАТЬ ДАЛЕЕ: http://ru.euronews.com/2017/07/28/europe-s-working-poor-is-flexibility-the-answer euronews: самый популярный новостной канал в Европе. Подписывайтесь! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=euronewsru euronews доступен на 13 языках: https://www.youtube.com/user/euronewsnetwork/channels На русском: Сайт: http://ru.euronews.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/euronews Twitter: http://twitter.com/euronewsru Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/101036888397116664208/100240575545901894719/posts?pageId=101036888397116664208 VKontakte: http://vk.com/ru.euronews

29 июля, 00:53

Эксперт ОЭСР: "Помощь нужна не только пенсионерам, но и малоимущим молодым"

В гостях у ведущей программы Insiders Софи Клоде - эксперт ОЭСР "Моника Кейссер. Софи Клоде: "Моника, спасибо, что нашли время для интервью. Мы видели, как высок показатель бедности среди детского населения в Испании. Дети часто недоедают. Что еще там происходит?" Моника Кейссер, ОЭСР: "Когда говорят о детской бедности, имеют в виду прежде всего малоимущие семьи с детьми. То есть бороться с этим явлением следует, предоставляя помощь взрослым: как только родители устроятся на достойную раб… ЧИТАТЬ ДАЛЕЕ: http://ru.euronews.com/2017/07/28/the-poverty-cycle euronews: самый популярный новостной канал в Европе. Подписывайтесь! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=euronewsru euronews доступен на 13 языках: https://www.youtube.com/user/euronewsnetwork/channels На русском: Сайт: http://ru.euronews.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/euronews Twitter: http://twitter.com/euronewsru Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/101036888397116664208/100240575545901894719/posts?pageId=101036888397116664208 VKontakte: http://vk.com/ru.euronews

28 июля, 17:42

Без заголовка

**Should-Read: Simon Wren-Lewis**: UK slowdown is a result of Brexit and austerity: "Those who argued that Brexit would bring a short term slowdown have been proved right: they just got their timing slightly wrong... >...Have all those who earlier lambasted forecasts of a short term Brexit slowdown offered their apologies? Pigs will fly. Yet in his press release when the figures were announced, Labour’s Chancellor in waiting John McDonnell mentioned the government’s austerity policy but not Brexit. This is surprising.... Both are to blame. >After a pause, fiscal policy (to judge from the OECD’s estimate of the underlying primary balance) started taking demand out of the economy in 2015 and particularly 2016. That will have been an important factor behind the slow growth in both years. However the additional slowdown in the first half of 2017 is likely to be a Brexit phenomenon.... The Brexit depreciation immediately after the vote has led to a fall in real incomes, meaning less consumption. It has not led to any compensating increase in exports because firms are not going to expand markets that might soon disappear because of leaving the Single Market or customs union. The Brexit depreciation has brought forward some of...

28 июля, 12:00

Глава Минфина Литвы определил для среднего класса зарплату от 383 евро

На сегодняшний день средним классом в Литве власти считают людей с заработной платой до вычета налогов от 450 до 1200 евро в месяц, заявил министр финансов страны Вилюс Шапока.

28 июля, 11:46

Инвестпортфель российских НПФ вырос на 6,9%

Совокупный объем инвестиционного портфеля российских НПФ увеличился за I квартал на 6,9% (+224,6 млрд руб.) до 3484,9 млрд руб., а отношение этих средств к ВВП – на 0,2 п. п. до 4%, сообщается в обзоре ЦБ.

28 июля, 11:46

Инвестпортфель российских НПФ вырос 6,9%

Совокупный объем инвестиционного портфеля российских НПФ увеличился за первый квартал на 6,9% (+224,6 млрд рублей), до 3484,9 млрд рублей, а отношение этих средств к ВВП – на 0,2 п.п., до 4%, сообщается в обзоре ЦБ.

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28 июля, 10:09

Эксперт ОЭСР: "Помощь нужна не только пенсионерам, но и малоимущим молодым"

В гостях у ведущей программы Insiders Софи Клоде – эксперт ОЭСР “Моника Кейссер.

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28 июля, 09:10

Эксперт ОЭСР: "Минимальный оклад поможет малоимущим сориентироваться"

В гостях у ведущей программы Insiders Софи Клоде – эксперт ОЭСР “Моника Кейссер.

27 июля, 22:22

Китай готов пожертвовать ростом для управления системными рисками - высокопоставленный чиновник

Высокопоставленный китайский чиновник в четверг заявил, что политики будут готовы пожертвовать краткосрочным экономическим ростом, чтобы справиться с системными рисками. Пекин пытается сдержать рост долга и "обезвредить" пузыри на рынке недвижимости на фоне опасений, что такие риски могут подорвать восстановление второй по величине экономики в мире, если не будут хорошо проработаны. Однако, политики будут действовать осторожно перед ключевой партийной встречей в конце этого года. "Китай не может оставлять без внимания меньшие риски, поскольку в конечном итоге это приведет к большим системным рискам, которые нанесут серьезный ущерб экономике Китая, - сказал журналистам Янг Виамин, вице-министр центральной ведущей группы по финансовым и экономическим вопросам. "Мы предпочли бы пожертвовать в некоторых других областях, но также иметь дело с балансом между стабильным ростом и предотвращением рисков", - сказал Ян. Но Янг также сказал, что Китай может достичь обеих целей - поддержания устойчивого роста и сдерживания уровня задолженности. По данным Организации экономического сотрудничества и развития (ОЭСР), общий частный и государственный долг Китая уже превысил 250% от ВВП по сравнению с 150% до мирового финансового кризиса. Китайские регуляторы уже начали борьбу с более рискованными видами финансирования, но такие меры подтолкнули вверх краткосрочные затраты по займам. По словам Янга, усилия правительства по снижению уровня задолженности в экономике будут долгосрочным процессом, и ключевым моментом этого является стремление государственных компаний к сокращению задолженности. - Мы не можем допустить, чтобы коэффициент левереджа продолжал расти, чтобы обеспечить экономический рост", - сказал он. Янг также заявил, что экономические перспективы Китая яркие, и страна не попадет в ловушку среднего дохода. "Китай будет тонко настраивать денежно-кредитную политику, чтобы компенсировать влияние изменений рыночных процентных ставок", - сказал Ван Чжицзюнь, другой партийный чиновник. Информационно-аналитический отдел TeleTradeИсточник: FxTeam

27 июля, 19:01

China willing to give up growth in short-term

A senior Chinese economic official yesterday indicated that policymakers would be willing to sacrifice some short-term economic growth in order to deal with systemic risks. China is trying to contain

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27 июля, 18:06

Argentina: Further reforms are needed to boost sustainable and inclusive growth

Argentina is making progress in its path to advance its growth agenda. The first OECD Multi-dimensional Economic Survey of Argentina underlines the achievements to date of the government’s recent and comprehensive programme of macroeconomic and structural reforms.

18 августа 2016, 07:00

Презентация к BP statistical review of world energy 2016

- - -Расхождения между ростом ВВП и ростом энергии наиболее длительные с 1990 по 2003 гг.Рост ВВП за счет "мирного дивиденда"- - -2015 г. смена тренда: в Китае падение потребления энергии, в ОЭСР рост впервые за 10-летие Парадокс роста: 2014 не росло мировое потребление угля (самого дешевого топлива), а в 2015 даже спад потребления угля. Переход от инвестиционной к потребительской активности :)- - -За 50 лет рост неуклонный рост доли потребления газа.ВИЭ пока еще меньше атомной энергетики и в 2 раза меньше гидроэнергетикиСнижение цен 2014-2015 в наименьшей степени затронуло уголь как самый дешевый источник энергии. Но для него снижение самое болезненное, происходят банкротства угольных компаний в США и уменьшение добычи угля в Китае.- - -2015 дал аномальный рост потребления у импортеров нефти2014 дал аномальный рост добычи вне ОПЕК, в 2015 г. ситуация по добыче приходит к новой норме- - -Рост добычи вне ОПЕК в 2015 - это только США, Россия дала прирост всего на 6.5. млн.т. - - -Страны ОЭСР восполняли запасы нефти, уменьшившиеся в период высоких цен- - -Текущее падение цен на нефть более затяжное, чем предыдущее, что дает надежды на отскок. Но поскольку выборка статистически не представительная, то надежды могут не оправдаться.- - -Вторая картинка об одном из секретов выживания ВИНК - это рост доходности нефтпереработки- - -Brent-WTI возвращаются к норме: минимальные случайные различия- - -Наиболее интересен рост потребления газа на Ближнем Востоке, там газ используют для выплавки алюминия :)- - -Картина по газу в США: с 2010 г. падение цен на газ, резкий рост потребления газа в электроэнергетике. Но все это происходило на фоне высоких цен на нефть, было перекрестное субсидирование. В условиях падения добычи нефти в США будет как-то иначе.- - -Мировая картина по газу дана очень локальная, для периода кратковременного оживления экономики 2010-2015 гг.- - -Одна из самих важных картинок: уголь - это основа взлета Китая. В 2015 г. только самые "отмороженные" страны наращивали добычу угля- - -ВИЭ растут, но доля их в мировой энергетике мала. Хотя уже локально может попртить настроение экспортерам ископаемого топлива.- - -Еще одна из самых важных картинок: Китай по энергопотреблению на единицу ВВП вошел в диапазон стран ОЭСР. Но масштаб экономики Китая будет требовать роста импорта энергоресурсов при падении добычи угля.- - -ВИЭ по росту своей доли сейчас как атомная энергетика. Экстраполяцию остановим на совести авторов презентацииhttp://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy.htmlhttp://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp/pdf/energy-economics/statistical-review-2016/bp-statistical-review-of-world-energy-2016-spencer-dale-presentation.pdf

08 апреля 2016, 11:40

Утопия "реальных" ВВП и ППС

Сергей Голубицкий рассказывает про основы основ: феномен валового внутреннего продукта (ВВП) и паритета покупательной способности (ППС). Единое гиперинформационное пространство — штука замечательная, однако же чреватая множеством явных и скрытых опасностей. Одни феномены более или менее изучены, например, «пузырь фильтров», который формируется в интернете и искажает пользовательскую картину реальности. Другие явления, вроде коллективных усилий скрытых групп, направленных на релятивизацию самой объективной реальности, хорошо запротоколированы и дожидаются достойного анализа.Существуют, однако, феномены, которые вообще не артикулированы (или крайне недостаточно) и, соответственно, пока даже не воспринимаются как проблема. Один из таких феноменов, который условно можно назвать пассивные профессиональные утечки, я и предлагаю рассмотреть в первом приближении на примере близкой нам экономической тематики.Основная причина возникновения пассивных профессиональных утечек кроется в главном достоинстве мирового гиперинформационного пространства — его полной открытости, отсутствии границ. Речь идёт не столько о границах межгосударственных, сколько об ограничениях на уровне жанра и стиля. Иными словами, профессиональные площадки (порталы, форумы, дискуссионные доски и проч.) никак не отделены в информационном поле от площадок бытовых, на которых курсирует совершенно иное — обывательское — «знание».В результате с профессиональных площадок на территорию мейнстрима, из которого и черпают информацию подавляющее число пользователей интернета, перемещаются узко специализированные термины, гипотезы, идеи и теории, которые получают в обывательской среде «вторую жизнь», как правило, иллюзорную, ложную в своей основе. Это и есть феномен пассивных профессиональных утечек.В контексте озвученной проблемы давайте проанализируем, как используются сегодня в информационном мейнстриме такие специфические понятия экономической науки, как валовой внутренний продукт (ВВП, GDP, Gross Domestic Product), а также его самая популярная (и опасная!) инкарнация — валовой внутренний продукт с учётом паритета покупательной способности (ВВП (ППС), GDP (PPP), Purchasing Power Parity).Опасность данной профессиональной утечки заключается в том, что, будучи вырванной из сугубо теоретического научного контекста, ВВП (ППС) превращается в условиях информационного мейнстрима в эффективное орудие неадекватного анализа и даже прямой дезинформации. С помощью этого макроэкономического показателя мейнстримные «аналитики» и «идеологи» сравнивают национальные экономики, делают ложные выводы, вводя, тем самым, ничего не подозревающую общественность в откровенное заблуждение.В рамках нашего трейдерского и инвесторского ремесла показатель ВВП (ППС) ещё более опасен, поскольку неизбежно подталкивает к ошибочным заключениям, положившись на которые вы рискуете наполнить свой портфель бумагами, заряженными потенциалом тяжёлых финансовых потерь.Начнём разговор с краткого обзора релевантных для конкретной профессиональной утечки понятий: номинального и реального ВВП, дефлятора и ППС.Впервые объём производимых государством продуктов и услуг измерил в начале 30-х годов прошлого века сотрудник Национального бюро экономических исследований (NBER) Саймон Смит (в отрочестве Саймон — статистик Южбюро ВЦСПС города Харькова Шимен Абрамович Кузнец, а в будущем — лауреат Нобелевской премии по экономике).Методика Кузнеца сохранилась почти в первозданном виде во всех современных расчётах ВВП, основанного на «номинальном принципе».В теории концепция ВВП проста: берём всю совокупность произведённых страной за отчётный период (например, за один год) товаров и услуг, суммируем — et voila! — получаем искомую цифру. Проблемы рождаются лишь на практике, когда встают вопросы: «По каким ценам считать?» и «В какой валюте?»Цены на услуги и продукты меняются в зависимости от экономического цикла (инфляция — дефляция), поэтому даже если страна произвела один и тот же объём товаров в два разных года, их совокупная стоимость (а значит и ВВП) будет отличаться с учётом цен на рынке в каждый из отчётных периодов.По этой причине ВВП рассчитывают двумя способами, каждый из которых не обладает приоритетом, выбор диктуется исключительно целями анализа.Если мы хотим отследить реальное положение дел в экономике государства, мы отслеживаем так называемый номинальный ВВП, при вычислении которого товары и услуги учитываются по текущим рыночным ценам.Если мы хотим отследить динамику производства товаров и услуг, мы используем реальный ВВП, в котором данные номинального ВВП корректируются таким образом, чтобы исключить изменение цен.Отношение реального ВВП к номинальному ВВП называется дефлятором (Deflator) и используется для изменения роста или падения объёмов производства товаров и услуг в национальной экономике.Слово реальный, присутствующее в данных определениях, явилось одной из причин совершенно неадекватной интерпретации показателей ВВП после пассивной профессиональной утечки, в результате которой термин перекочевал в бытовое информационное пространство и затем породил буйную мифологию ложных сравнений экономического развития стран.Так, в мейнстримной среде принято считать, что реальный ВВП является более точным, чем номинальный ВВП, отражением подлинного состояния экономики (на то он и «реальный»!), поскольку исключает инфляционные изменения цен и отслеживает непосредственно динамику производства товаров и услуг.Однако подобное утверждение является глубочайшим заблуждением! По той простой причине, что инфляционное изменение цен само по себе является важнейшим показателем реального состоянии экономики страны! Устранив инфляцию из расчёта (и получив «реальный» ВВП), вместо «реальности» мы получаем чисто гипотетическую фикцию, полезную разве что для каких-то статистических выкладок.Проиллюстрирую на примере. В 2014 году некая страна Х произвела 10 тысяч тракторов, цена которых на рынке составляла 10 тысяч тугриков (местная валюта в стране Х). В этом случае в расчёт номинального ВВП пойдёт цифра 10 000 * 10 000 = 100 000 000 тугриков.В следующем году страна Х произвела 12 тысяч тракторов, однако конъюнктура рынка изменилась и цена трактора упала до 8 тысяч тугриков. Соответственно, в номинальном ВВП отразилась цифра 12 000 * 8000 = 96 000 000 тугриков.Из чего можно сделать вывод, что экономическая ситуация ухудшилась, по меньшей мере в «тракторном» аспекте ВВП.Однако если мы исключим из расчёта инфляционное изменение цен на рынке и посчитаем 12 тысяч тракторов, произведённых на следующий год, по ценам первого года, то получим цифру «реального» ВВП: 12 000 * 10 000 = 120 000 000 тугриков. Налицо рост «реального» производства, а значит не ухудшение, а улучшение экономики страны Х!Проблема лишь в том, что данное «реальное» улучшение — иллюзия, ничто кроме «номинального» увеличения числа собранных тракторов нам не говорит о действительном положении экономики! Кого волнует количество железа, если суммарно оно приносит меньше денег, чем годом ранее страна Х заработала на меньшем числе собранных тракторов?Получается, что как раз реальным ВВП является показатель, который называют номинальным ВВП. А вот реальное ВВП, игнорирующее реальное же изменение цен, — это самая что ни на есть номинальная информация.Ещё раз хочу повторить: в рамках экономической теории, внутри профессионального сообщества, никаких противоречий с логикой и путаницы не возникает, потому что номинальное и реальное ВВП используются для узко специализированных статистических расчётов, а не для сравнения состояния государственных экономик, как то происходит в мейнстримном информационном пространстве. Неслучайно ещё сам «отец ВВП» Саймон Смит (Кузнец) энергично указывал на отсутствие корреляции между изменениями показателя ВВП и выводами относительно экономического роста или изменений в благосостоянии нации.Дальше больше. Чтобы привести цифры достижений национальных экономик к общему знаменателю, необходимо избавиться от национальных валют (тех самых тугриков) и пересчитать стоимость произведённых товаров и услуг в едином эквиваленте. В качестве такового по очевидным причинам избрали доллар США.Самый простой способ — перевести ВВП, рассчитанный в национальной валюте по текущим ценам, в доллары по официальному обменному курсу. Такой подход называется номинальным ВВП в долларом выражении (Nominal Official Exchange Rate GDP). Характеристика номинальный в данном термине присутствует потому, что учёт дефлятора не производится.Так же, как и в случае с номинальным и реальным ВВП, показатель номинального ВВП в долларовом выражении гораздо ближе к реальному положению дел в национальной экономике, чем любые другие виды калькуляций ВВП, призванные «улучшить» и «объективизировать» ситуацию.Самую большую путаницу в термин ВВП при его портировании в обывательское информационное пространство привносит так называемый паритет покупательной способности (ППС, Purchasing Power Parity, PPP), который, в силу очень серьёзных концептуальных издержек самой гипотезы, искажает параметр ВВП до полной неузнаваемости. Это тем более прискорбно, что именно ВВП по ППС — валовой внутренний продукт с учётом паритета покупательной способности — является в мейнстримной (особенно в пропагандистской!) прессе излюбленным параметром для межгосударственной фаллометрии.Благое намерение, положенное в основу расчёта ППС, и протоптавшее дорогу в ад деформации реальности, заключено в гипотезе, согласно которой, американский доллар в США не равен американскому доллару в Бразилии, Индии или России. Иными словами, если в Соединённых Штатах на один доллар вы сегодня не купите практически ничего, в Индии на те же деньги вы сможете сытно отобедать.«Раз так, то это обстоятельство нужно непременно учитывать при сравнении ВВП разных стран!» — убеждают мир экономисты, стоящие за теорией ППС (отец теории социальной экономики Карл Густав Кассель, представители Саламанкской школы и проч.)Глобальная иллюзия ППС достаточно обширна, чтобы заведомо не уместиться в рамки нашей статьи. Тем более, перед нами не стоит задача критики этой теории по всем направлениям. Для нас сейчас важно понять суть претензий паритета покупательной способности на состоятельность и практическое применение этой гипотезы к показателю ВВП.Теория ППС исходит из гипотезы существования некоего естественного обменного курса валют, при котором устанавливается паритет покупательной способности. Иными словами: если в Нью-Йорке чашка кофе стоит 5 долларов, а в Москве 200 рублей, то «естественный обменный курс валют» должен быть не 70 рублей за доллар, а 40.Тот факт, что разница цен не в последнюю очередь объясняется ещё и расходами на транспортировку кофе, таможенными пошлинами, налогами и прочими «условностями» живой экономики, теоретиками ППС хоть и осознается, однако на практике не учитывается, поскольку в противном случае модель усложняется до абсолютной практической нереализуемости.Казалось бы, уже одного обстоятельства, что для расчёта «естественного обменного курса» и получения паритета покупательной способности приходится моделировать химерическую картину псевдореальности (без учёта транспортных расходов, налогов, пошлин, госрегулирования), должно быть достаточно для того, чтобы изъять гипотезу ППС из прикладного экономического знания и изолировать в естественной для неё среде — теоретической лаборатории.В экономической науке так, собственно, всё и обстояло до тех пор, пока модель ППС не утекла в мейнстримное информационное пространство, где сегодня заняла доминирующие позиции, по меньшей мере в контексте ВВП. ВВП (ППС) де факто стал стандартом для сравнения производства продуктов и услуг, якобы, на том основании, что лишь учёт паритета покупательной способности позволяет нам оценить «реальную» экономическую картину.Идея ППС в контексте ВВП реализована «от обратного»: вместо выведения гипотетического «естественного обменного курса», при котором один и тот же продукт будет стоить в разных странах одинаково, используется разница реальных цен для получения некоего коэффициента, который затем накладывается на величину номинального ВВП.Существует множество различных форм применения теории ППС к реальной экономике: от классических потребительских корзин до индексов БигМака и айпада, однако все их объединяет принципиальный изъян — после учёта паритета покупательной способности экономическая реальность не просто деформируется, а вообще перестает быть реальностью.Откуда вообще взялась идея сведения экономического многообразия товаров и услуг к ограниченному списку отобранных образцов? Вопрос риторический: без подобного упрощения реальности теорией ППС вообще невозможно было пользоваться на практике.Первый ход мысли. Нужно составить некий список товаров и услуг, который:содержит товары и услуги первой жизненной необходимости;либо является универсальным списком потребительских запросов жителей разных стран;либо пользуется особой популярностью во всём мире;либо повсеместно распространён (а значит — упрощает расчёты).И первый, и второй, и третий, и четвёртый варианты являются поразительной аберрацией, деформирующей реальность до неузнаваемости, однако же все четыре подхода энергично используются на практике в тех или иных вариациях расчёта ППС.Различные по составу и содержанию списки товаров и услуг используются в потребительских корзинах при расчёте американских Consumer Price Index (CPI) и Producer Price Index (PPI), своя собственная корзина есть у Организации экономического сотрудничества и развития (ОЭСР) для расчёта «сравнительных ценовых уровней» (Comparative Price Levels), оригинальные корзины для учёта ВВП (ПСС) используют ЦРУ для своего знаменитого FactBook’a, Международный Валютный Фонд (International Monetary Fund), Всемирный банк (World Bank) и ООН.На принципе повсеместного распространения производит журнал The Economist расчёт своего Big Mac Index — индекса БигМака, сравнивающего стоимость популярного бутерброда в различных странах на том основании, что этой сети общепита удалось открыть свои точки едва ли не во всех уголках планеты.Фетиш глобальной популярности продукции Apple позволяет импровизировать на тему паритета покупательной способности компании CommSec, сравнивающей мировые экономики через iPad Index — индекс айпада, который фиксирует цену планшета в том или ином государстве.Претензий ко всем практическим реализациям теории ППС столь много, что можно утомиться от одного перечисления.Как можно рассчитывать стоимость БигМака для стран вроде Индии, где подавляющее число жителей вегетарианцы?! The Economist нашёл «выход» из положения: вместо мясного бутерброда учитывает для Индии стоимость булки с картофельной котлетой вада пав, которая, якобы, пользуется в стране такой же повсеместной и массовой популярностью, что и БигМак в Америке. Как человек, проводящий последние 8 лет большую часть жизни в этой стране, могу сказать, что это — неправда.Как можно говорить об универсальной потребительской корзине в принципе, если в разных странах в неё входят совершенно отличные продукты, многие из которых вообще отсутствуют на чужих рынках?Как можно деформировать цифру ВВП с помощью ППС, который не берёт во внимание ни государственное регулирование цен, ни субсидии, ни таможенные пошлины, ни акцизы?О какой объективности приведения к общему знаменателю можно говорить, если внутри каждой отдельной страны цены на одни и те же товары и услуги в зависимости от региона могут отличаться в разы?Вовсе не стремлюсь запутать читателя всеми этими тонкостями и нюансами, а лишь пытаюсь вызвать у него скепсис относительно любых попыток деформировать объективную реальность с помощью бесчисленных «улучшайзеров» вроде паритета покупательной способности: ничего кроме путаницы и усложнения сравнения они не привносят.Возвращаясь к нашей теме: лучшим инструментом для более или менее объективного сравнения национальных экономик является параметр, максимально освобождённый от каких бы то ни было модификаций. Таким параметром выступает номинальный валовой внутренний продукт в долларовом выражении (Nominal Official Exchange Rate GDP), поскольку он не только не пытается избавиться, но и напротив — стремится учитывать такие важнейшие аспекты состояния национальной экономики, как реальная инфляция и реальный же обменный курс национальной валюты.Разительное отличие данных по ВВП с учётом ППС и без оного можно продемонстрировать близким и хорошо понятным каждому примером.Вот как выглядит динамика российского ВВП с учётом паритета покупательной способности:2013 год — 3,59 триллиона долларов США;2014 год — 3,612 триллиона долларов США;2015 год — 3,471 триллиона долларов США.Ответьте себе на вопрос: можно по этим цифрам составить хоть какое-то мало-мальски осмысленное представление о том, что творится с РФ и её экономикой? Вы видите здесь хоть какую-то динамику? Следы хоть какого-то кризиса? Падения производства? Массового обнищания населения?Вот та же динамика, но без деформации ППС:2013 год — 2,113 триллиона долларов США;2014 год — 1,857 триллиона долларов США;2015 год — 1,236 триллиона долларов США.Полагаю, всё очень наглядно…

18 июня 2013, 23:55

G8: глобальная налоговая система будет изменена

Лидеры стран "Большой восьмерки" подписали декларацию по улучшению прозрачности глобальной налоговой системы, предложив внести существенные изменения в налоговое законодательство. Главы G8 призвали к кардинальным изменениям в существующих корпоративных налоговых правилах и договорились положить начало систематическому и автоматизированному контролю над тем, где именно транснациональные корпорации получают свои прибыли и где они платят с них налоги. В рамках взаимодействия стран "восьмерки" в борьбе с уклонением от уплаты налогов и налоговыми преступлениями была подписана Лох-Эрнская декларация (ссылка на загружаемый PDF-файл с сайта британского правительства).Декларация состоит из 10 пунктов. LOUGH ERNE DECLARATION 1. Налоговые власти по всему миру должны обеспечить автоматический обмен информацией, чтобы бороться с уклонением от уплаты налогов.2. Страны должны внести изменения в свое налоговое законодательство, в случае если оно позволяет компаниям переводить полученные прибыли через границы для уклонения от уплаты налогов. Транснациональные корпорации должны отчитываться перед налоговыми властями в том, какие именно налоги и с каких прибылей они платят.3. Компании должны обладать информацией о своих владельцах. Налоговые и правоохранительные органы должны обладать свободным доступом к этой информации.4. Развивающиеся страны должны обладать информацией и возможностями, необходимыми для сбора причитающихся им налогов, и другие страны должны помогать им в этом. 5. Ресурсодобывающие компании должны отчитываться о своих налогах перед властями. Власти должны публиковать информацию о доходах от сбора налогов с данных компаний.6. Ресурсы должны добываться законным путем, а не расхищаться со спорных территорий и “горячих точек”.7. Сделки с земельными участками должны быть прозрачными, и при этом должны уважаться права собственности местного населения.8. Власти должны отказаться от протекционистских мер и принять новые торговые обязательства, которые создали бы новые рабочие места и стимулировали рост глобальной экономики.9. Власти должны сократить бюрократический аппарат на своих границах и обеспечить более свободное и быстрое движение товаров между развивающимися странами. 10. Власти должны публиковать информацию по законам, бюджетам, расходам, национальной статистике, о выборах и государственных контрактах таким образом, чтобы эта информация была бы легкодоступной для чтения и повторного использования, с тем чтобы граждане могли призвать их к ответственности. Стоит отметить, что в документе содержится много действительно декларативных заявлений, которые будет крайне непросто реализовать на практике и которые могут натолкнуться на серьезное сопротивление в парламентах отдельных стран.При этом многие страны в том или ином виде продолжают вести протекционистскую политику и вряд ли смогут отказаться от нее в угоду глобальной экономики, в то время когда рабочие места необходимы гражданам внутри страны, а не за ее пределами. Однако при этом у подписанной декларации уже есть и реальные последствия. ОЭСР автоматизирует обмен данными о налогах Это внедрение механизма автоматического обмена данными, предложенного Организацией экономического сотрудничества и развития (ОЭСР). Сам механизм пока еще находится на стадии разработки, однако он основан на уже действующих программах передачи и обмена данных. Лидеры G8 заявили, что внедрение подобной автоматической системы необходимо, чтобы сократить степень офшоризации экономик.

11 апреля 2013, 20:07

Гармонизация, конкуренция и налоговый альтруизм

Президент Олланд не смутился скандальными происшествиями в его правительственной команде и перешел в атаку на офшоры.  По сообщениям СМИ, Олланд только что объявил, что Франция подготовит свой собственный список райских уголков и будет их чернить, стыдить и наказывать. Из солидарности с важной правительственной задачей по сбору налогов самый богатый француз Бернар Арно публично отказался от претензий на гражданство Бельгии. Будет терпеть 75% налог на свои и чужие миллионные доходы. Посмотрим, не уговорят ли Депардье вернуться :) Люксембург и Австрия заявили, что готовы открыть банковские секреты как часть нового этапа сотрудничества в борьбе с уклонением от налогов. Эти события не просто курьезные разбирательства во Франции и ее окрестностях, они отражают изменения в глобальной экономике и имеют отношение ко всем странам.Франция и Германия, похоже, пытаются начать вторую мировую войну против налоговой конкуренции за налоговую гармонизацию.Повышение налогов на богатых можно рассматривать как правильную (справедливую и невредную) коррекцию структуры налогообложения. А можно как результат бессилия правительств расплатиться по своим безответственным обещаниям.Поток новостей из Японии и перечитывание заметки Даниэла Гроса толкнули к мысли о том, что бабушки Японии сейчас тоже пригорюнились и думают, как им поступить. Объясняя, почему во время финансового кризиса еврозоны инвесторы с доверием относились к Бельгии, Грос обратил внимание на разницу между госдолгом резидентам и нерезидентам. С резидента правительство теоретически всегда может собрать налоги. В его условном примере у правительства госдолг (облигации) на 100% ВВП, кредитором является один резидент. Правительство облагает его налогом на богатство в размере 50% и ополовинивает свой госдолг. Это, конечно, конфискация, но проблема большого госдолга решена. Кругман часто говорит, что проблемы и не было, потому что бельгийцы были должны бельгийцам :) С НЕрезидентами правительству так поступить труднее.Простой пример и революция в экономической политике Японии ставят перед "госпожами Ватанабе" вопросы. Проявить ли патриотизм и позволить Банку Японии и правительству перераспределить активы резидентов в пользу дырявого бюджета? Или же попытаться защитить свои активы от обещаной инфляции внутри страны? Или же отправить свои кровные в офшорный райский Сингапур от налогового греха в Японии?Первая мировая война против офшоров прошла в 1990-е годы под эгидой ОЭСР. Она закончилась докладом "Недобросовестная налоговая конкуренция: растущая глобальная проблема" и составлением черного списка стран, отказывавшихся от кооперации (в вики на русском об этом здесь). Была проделана большая работа по зачистке офшоров, и к маю 2009 года в черном списке стран не осталось.Заметим, что итогом первой войны против райских уголков стала не победа над легальной оптимизацией налогов (tax avoidance), а всемирная борьба с преступлениями, включая отмывание денег и, после 11 сентября в США, против финансирования терроризма.  Более свежие инициативы по обмену информацией направлены на борьбу с нелегальным уходом от налогов.  То, что нелегально в одной стране, очень часто не является преступлением с точки зрения других стран.  Выручка от противозаконной экономии на налогах в России, например, часто не будет считаться преступной в других странах. Гармонизация налогов это смелая задача.  Ее сторонники хотели бы, чтобы во всех странах платили похожие налоги или хотя бы не опускались ниже общепринятого высокого минимума. Пока с гармонизацией налогов прогресс был ограничен довольно слабыми решениями внутри Европейского союза.  Как показала ситуация с Кипром, стремление к гармонии живет.Что же делать сейчас заработавшим себе на жизнь тяжелым честным трудом? Сингапур пока еще надежное место, не зря ведь у министра в правительстве Олланда недавно обнаружился тайный счет в этой стране :). В некоторых ситуациях даже убрать свою корзинку подальше от правительства может быть недостаточно. Своих резидентов оно все равно способно обложить налогами, если, конечно, правительство сильное и у него длинные руки, как, например, в США. В таких ситуациях некоторые даже решают поменять гражданство, как это сделал Билл Браудер. Потом создать себе конторку в Гернси и зарабатывать потихоньку, отстаивая права миноритариев. Или поступить, как Эдуардо Саверин, перебравшись в 2011 году в Сингапур.Поскольку Олланд не первый задумался о налоговой конкуренции между странами, он мог бы ознакомиться с обзором обширной экономической литературы по теме.  А потом уже решать, хватит ли у него силенок заставить (или убедить) другие страны в справедливости французских налогов.

11 марта 2013, 08:00

earlywarn: Добыча, потребление и цена нефти

Non-OPEC Liquid Fuel Production Flat in 2011-2012This is based on EIA data for all-liquids through October 2012. OECD Oil ConsumptionOil Supply Flatness ContinuesOil Prices

29 января 2013, 15:40

Long-term growth scenarios

This paper presents the results from a new model for projecting growth of OECD and major non-OECD economies over the next 50 years as well as imbalances that arise.

11 января 2013, 22:22

Банкам еврозоны необходимо €400 млрд нового капитала

Европейские банки по-прежнему обладают недостаточными уровнями собственного капитала. С таким заявлением выступили эксперты Организации экономического сотрудничества и развития (ОЭСР).Аналитики ОЭСР в своем докладе "Focus: Strengthening Euro Banks" отмечают, что наиболее заметно проблема нехватки банковского капитала проявляется не в проблемных странах европейской периферии, а в финансовой системе так называемых “стержневых” стран еврозоны, таких как Германия, Франции и Голландия. Исключением является лишь Греция, где данная проблема стоит еще острее. По оценкам экспертов, совокупный объем дополнительного капитала для банков еврозоны составляет примерно 400 млрд евро, что эквивалентно 4% от годового ВВП еврозоны. Себастьян Барне, старший экономист ОЭСР "В последнее время мы видим определенную стабилизацию в финансовом секторе Европы, что, конечно, является позитивным сигналом как для властей, так и для частного сектора. Однако для дальнейшего улучшения ситуации необходимо продолжение реформ в банковском секторе. Мы не можем просто вернуться к прежним параметрам крайне низкого уровня собственного капитала банков, которые были в докризисный период. Речь не идет о какой-то новой программе спасения банков или европейской периферии. Это проблема нехватки капитала, которую необходимо решать практически во всех европейских странах. Во многих ключевых странах Европы она стоит особенно остро". Цифра в 400 млрд евро взята не с потолка. В ушедшем 2012 г. власти ЕС поставили цель перед финансовыми учреждениями по увеличению минимального объема основного капитала первого уровня до отметки в 9% от объема рискованных активов на их балансах. Однако в ОЭСР отмечают, что подобный шаг не сможет существенно повысить уверенность инвесторов в стабильности финансовой системы Европы. Оценка степени риска тех или иных активов на балансе банка целиком зависит от собственных суждений банка на этот счет. И в частности, одним из примеров спорности таких суждений на сегодняшний день является мнение о том, что гособлигации стран еврозоны не являются рискованными активами. Поэтому в ОЭСР считают, что более реальным критерием, который мог бы обеспечить стабильность европейских банков, было бы повышение объема собственного капитала до уровня в 5% от общего объема активов на балансе банков. Стоит отметить, что это более консервативное предложение, чем текущий план по повышению норм основного капитала первого уровня по отношению к общему объему активов до 3% по правилам соглашения “Базель III” к 2019 г. В ОЭСР признают, что повышение уровня капитала в объеме 400 млрд евро в текущих условиях для многих европейских стран будет крайне непростым решением. По мнению Барне, процесс повышения уровней собственного капитала может быть постепенным, но так или иначе он должен продолжаться, чтобы убедить инвесторов в серьезности намерений властей и частного сектора Европы по обеспечению стабильности финансовой системы Старого Света.