Thursday, October 25, 2012

Europe risks Japan-style slump

The Telegraph's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reports that Europe risks Japan-style slump as key measures of the European money supply and private credit are shrinking at an accelerating pace.

Regular readers are not surprised by this as it is the natural result of the European policy makers and financial regulators on-going choice to pursue the Japanese Model for handling a bank solvency led financial crisis.

Until the issue of excess debt in the financial system is addressed, the best Europe, the UK and the US can hope for is a Japan-style slump with frequent rounds of fiscal and monetary stimulus.

It is a testament to the political strength of the banks that policy makers continue to put protecting bank book capital and banker bonuses ahead of society.

Just like Iceland, Europe, the UK and the US can quickly end the Japan-style slump by adopting the Swedish Model and requiring the banks to recognize upfront the losses on all the excess debt in the financial system that they would realize if the debt works its way through the long process of default and foreclosure.

My question is when are our policy makers going to put society ahead of banker cash bonuses?

The disappointing data came as the International Monetary Fund said Portugal faces "increasingly difficult" choices and may have to push through another round of austerity cuts. 
The IMF approved the next €1.5bn (£1.2bn) tranche of rescue loans for Portugal but warned that "adjustment fatigue" had become a serious problem. "Risks to the attainment of the programme's objectives have increased markedly. Social and political resistance to adjustment has heightened," it said.
No kidding.  Who would want austerity adopted when it is totally unnecessary?
The European Central Bank's data for September confirm fears that the tentative rebound in the money supply is stalling. The broad M3 gauge – watched by experts as an early warning signal for the economy one year ahead – shrank by €30bn and is now down by €143bn since April. This is highly unusual. 
"The message is clear," said Lars Christensen from Danske Bank. "The ECB needs to do real quantitative easing if it wants to stop the eurozone going the way of Japan." 
More QE will only accelerate the pace at which the eurozone goes the way of Japan.

The only way to stop going the way of Japan is to adopt the Swedish Model and deal with the excess debt in the financial system.
Loans to firms and households fell 1.3pc as banks continue to shrink their balance sheet to meet tougher rules.
Your humble blogger predicted that these tougher rules would exacerbate the difficulty in getting a loan by triggering a credit crunch.  In fact, the credit crunch has occurred.
The ECB's €1 trillion lending blitz to banks has not filtered through into private lending.
Nor will it ever.  The money was used to replace the deposits that are fleeing the eurozone banks where the deposits were at risk of being re-denominated into a less valuable currency.

Please keep in mind, the excess debt problem and the Japan-style slump could be addressed today simply by adopting the Swedish Model.

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