For Your Wednesday Breakfast Munching – February 18, 2015

Noted for your Wednesday morning reading. Here is what I found interesting around the net. Hope you too will find these interesting.

  1. Indian economist Mody plays on bond writedown stances – The Government’s stance on Greece looks to have been based in large part on the view that Greece is not going to get a significant deal from Europe on its debt. There is still a way to go on this one, but after Monday’s meeting there is no reason to change that view.Two years after rejecting the Irish government, Europe might be prepared to go some way to meet the Greeks, but the middle ground on this one remains far from clear.
  2. Former IMF mission chief says water charges symbolic that financial “burden was borne unequally” – “Ireland fell in with that culture, Ireland had its opportunity to, not just for itself but for Europe, in a way, Ireland in accepting the premise that Brussels and Berlin determine economic policy in every country. Ireland fell in with that premise and therefore perpetuated a culture that this current Greek government is trying to break.”
  3. Centre-right governments have no interest in seeing this new left-wing Greek government succeed – The centre-right governments in charge of most of Europe have no interest in seeing this new left-wing Greek government succeed. These are the politicians typified by Jean-Claude Juncker, currently head of the European Commission, who famously said when commenting on how the current economic crisis could be solved: “We all know what to do, but we don’t know how to get re-elected once we have done it.”
  4. Reforms, bloody reforms – However, this is not as good as it appears. Because stronger countries have learned no lessons, they seem intent on continuing their beggar-my-neighbour policies outside the Eurozone. And their lower GDP growth expectations don’t encourage intra-Eurozone trade to develop. This is not viable. The future of the Eurozone depends on stronger intra-Eurozone trade and a more cooperative approach. The non-reforming countries need to reconsider their position. The enormous trade surpluses of Germany and the Netherlands are nothing to be proud of: the corollary to them is poor domestic investment, as this chart for Germany shows (h/t Schuldensuehner):
  5. Did ending emergency jobless benefits really cause the jobs boom? – Think about the claim: By not spending .001% of GDP, there were 60% more jobs last year than there would have been otherwise. Or to put it another way, had that money been spent — despite an uptick in economic growth — there would have been a million fewer jobs last year than in 2013. What’s more, job growth was twice as fast in 2014’s fourth quarter than in the first quarter. Shouldn’t the job surge have come earlier if linked to the jobless benefits cut?
  6. Shrinking Merkel Down To Size: Berlin Faces Austerity Challenge in Brussels – Merkel’s ascendency to the most powerful woman in Europe is rooted to a large degree in the euro crisis, which shifted the balance of power from the European Commission to the European Council, the body representing the leaders of the 28 member states. As the crisis heated up, leaders gathered regularly to hold crisis summits under the auspices of the European Council in order to save the common currency from collapse. The decisions fell to the European Council because it was European leaders who had to make money available for the bailout packages. Given that Germany had the most money to offer, Merkel quickly became the most important player.
  7. Get Ready for $10 Oil – Furthermore, the price when producers chicken out isn’t necessarily the average cost of production, which for 80 percent of new U.S. shale oil production this year will be $50 to $69 a barrel, according to Daniel Yergin of energy consultant IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates. Instead, the chicken-out point is the marginal cost of production, or the additional costs after the wells are drilled and the pipes are laid. Another way to think of it: It’s the price at which cash flow for an additional barrel falls to zero.
  8. Greece to request bailout extension – According to officials involved in the discussions, the plan would allow Athens to extend its bailout for four months beyond its expiry date of February 28 in exchange for agreeing to a series of principles. Greece would not roll back economic reforms; it would continue to run a primary budget surplus; it would pledge to pay its creditors in full. In exchange, Athens would be given leeway in deciding which reforms it would agree to.
  9. A Free Lunch for Europe – In 2000 there was a dramatic change in direction – Germany’s export performance greatly improved and the other most her European partners suffered as a result.  Between 1990 and 1999 Germany had a manageable trade surplus of between $15-60bn almost immediately after joining the Euro Germany saw its trade surplus balloon to over $200bn annually.  The detrimental effect this has had on the rest of Europe can be seen in the chart also – France and Italy, who had been running surpluses, went into deficit and for other less well developed economies the effects were much more catastrophic!  The total advantage the Germans have gained from the Euro so far has been about $2.5tn – that’s a lot of zeroes!  Now Greece wants to be cut some slack and Frau Merkel should remember that her economy has been exporting cars, pain and unemployment to the southern members of the EuroZone for the last 14 years and its time she got off the PIIGS back!
  10. The Confidence Fairy – The Coalition policy did at least restore confidence and this was indirectly responsible for recovery as in 2011-12 as the instability in Europe allowed a stable UK to draw in a very large of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) – the main reason for recovery.  So we should be thankful for the “confidence fairy” and broadly ignore the Keynesian revisionist s who, egged on by dubious Greek claims, are so loud in their assertion that austerity failed in the UK and elsewhere.
  11. What Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis used to believe about ‘game theory’ and the ‘incredible threat’ to Europe – The Greek crisis cannot be quarantined. This is the beauty and the horror of a common currency: Without the shock absorbers of some modicum of common debt and surplus recycling, the tragedies of the weak become the calamities of the powerful. Just like the recession in tiny Nevada could not be kept separate from that of the richer and larger states, and would have brought the USA down with it if an attempt was made to subject it to a Greek bailout-like ordeal, so Greece’s debt crisis cannot be decoupled from the unfolding eurozone crisis (which it ignited in the first place). A Greek default will start a mighty bushfire that will rage through the eurozone’s heartland
  12. Argentina’s Lessons for Greece – The second lesson of the Argentine crisis is that a short period of political turmoil can cost surprisingly little compared to a long period of mindless pursuit of misconceived policies. The fact that Greek stocks are tumbling and bond yields are soaring means almost nothing; after seven years of economic contraction and human suffering worse than that during the Great Depression of the 1930s, even a large amount of volatility is no reason to persist with failed policies.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email