Sunday, May 22, 2016


The ECB Grants Debt Relief To All Eurozone Nations Except Greece

Paul De Grawe proporciona una información muy relevante sobre el momento europeo:

As part of its new policy of ‘quantitative easing’ (QE), the ECB has been buying government bonds of the Eurozone countries since March 2015. Since the start of this new policy, the ECB has bought about €645 billion in government bonds. And it has announced that it will continue to do so, at an accelerated monthly rate, until at least March 2017 (Draghi and Constâncio 2015). By then, it will have bought an estimated €1,500 billion of government bonds. The ECB’s intention is to pump money in the economy. In so doing, it hopes to lift the Eurozone economy out of stagnation.

I have no problems with this. On the contrary, I have been an advocate of such a policy (De Grauwe and Ji 2015). What I do have problems with is the fact that Greece is excluded from this QE programme. The ECB does not buy Greek government bonds. As a result, the ECB excludes Greece from the debt relief that it grants to the other countries of the Eurozone.

How is this possible? When the ECB buys government bonds from a Eurozone country, it is as if these bonds cease to exist. Although the bonds remain on the balance sheet of the ECB (in fact, most of these are recorded on the balance sheets of the national central banks), they have no economic significance anymore. Each national treasury will pay interest on these bonds, but the central banks will refund these interest payments at the end of the year to the same national treasuries. This means that as long as the government bonds remain on the balance sheets of the national central banks, the national governments do not pay interest anymore on the part of its debt held on the books of the central bank. All these governments enjoy debt relief.

How large is the debt relief enjoyed by the governments of the Eurozone? Table 1 gives the answer. It shows the cumulative purchases of government bonds by the ECB since March 2015 until the end of April 2016. As long as these bonds are held on the balance sheets of the ECB or the national central banks, governments do not have to pay interest on these bonds. The ECB has announced that when these bonds come to maturity, it will buy an equivalent amount of bonds in the secondary market. We observe that the total debt relief granted by the ECB until now (April 2016) to the Eurozone countries amounts to €645 billion. We also note the absence of Greece and the fact that the greatest adversary of debt relief for Greece, Germany, enjoys the largest debt relief from the ECB.

The announcement of the ECB that it will continue its QE programme until at least March 2017 and that it will accelerate its monthly purchases (from €60 billion to €80 billion a month) implies that the debt relief that will have been granted in March 2017 will have more than doubled compared to the figures in Table 1. For many countries, this will amount to debt relief of more than 10% of GDP.

Table 1 Cumulative purchases of government bonds (end of April 2016)
(million euros)

link al artículo completo

link al artículo de de Jorg Bibow: El caso para el abandono del euro por Alemania#Gexit 
#Gexit, the departure of the strong, would be less disruptive for the Eurozone as a whole. Germany could declare next Sunday that it re-introduces the deutschmark converting all domestic euro contracts and prices at a 1:1 rate. (Perhaps the Dutch and Austrians might consider going along with it, but I leave that possibility aside here.) On Monday morning the Bundesbank would stand by and cheer the new deutschmark surge on the exchanges. It would follow the advice of Deutsche Bank and raise German interest rates to make sure savers get their well-deserved rewards.

The German government would proudly announce to its citizens that they will no longer have to bail out any lazy Europeans but will from now on enjoy the real fruits of their hard-won übercompetitiveness. And so all Germans would live happily ever after. Tranquilized by their stability-oriented ideology they would ignore any discomfort coming along with the chosen deflationary adjustment; just as they have ignored the agonies experienced elsewhere in the Eurozone since 2009. And they would be troubled even less by any surges in indebtedness (and resulting bankruptcies), private and public, coming along with such a deflationary adjustment; just as they saw no reason to concern themselves with these kind of side effects elsewhere in the Eurozone since 2009 either.

Essentially, the current Eurozone has Germany’s euro partners serving as the economic wasteland that is keeping the euro low so that German exports have it easier globally. By contrast, the new Eurozone (ex Germany) would see its external competitiveness restored instantly, especially vis-à-vis Germany itself; while, internally, any remaining competitiveness imbalances would be minor compared to a status quo that includes Germany. Unshackled from German idiosyncrasies in all matters of macroeconomics, the Eurozone would follow through with my Euro Treasury plan and henceforth smartly invest in their joint future – a future of prosperity rather than impoverishment. Unhindered by German pressures and supported by constructive rather than destructive fiscal policy the ECB would continue its current course and re-establish price stability in a couple of years. If they preferred to return to their national currencies, that would be the other avenue to climb out of their euro trap. I personally think that, if the Euro Treasury were established, the members of the Eurozone (ex Germany) would be better off with the euro. But that is their choice to make.
Meanwhile, Europe is far too important to be left to the Germans.

Jörg Bibow

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