Crise Global 45

Europa, sem direcção económica
Sócrates abandona finalmente a tagarelice em volta das Grandes Obras Públicas

Depois de ouvir hoje Durão Barroso, Joaquín Almunía e Angela Merkel fiquei com uma certeza: a Europa anda à deriva e não sabe o que fazer perante a tempestade que não amaina e ameaça lançar dezenas de países na bancarrota, elevando para níveis altíssimos a probabilidade de ocorrência de golpes de Estado, guerras civis e revoluções, e não apenas fora da Europa.

Enquanto o Reino Unido decide baixar o IVA para os 15% (menos do que é imposto aos açorianos e madeirenses), permitindo-se ao mesmo tempo elevar o défice orçamental para 8% (o da Irlanda chegará aos 6,8% em 2009), no resto da União a receita é basicamente esta: que cada um faça o que entender! Bruxelas será tolerante na questão dos procedimentos por défice excessivo e, por outro lado, disponibilizará uns míseros 30 mil milhões de euros para mitigar a grande seca monetária que persiste.

O pacote imaginário é de 200 mil milhões, mas compete aos membros da União buscarem a maioria da massa: 170 mil milhões de euros! Como? Aumentando o sobre-endividamento de países como Portugal, Reino Unido, Alemanha, França, Holanda, Irlanda, Bélgica, Espanha, Itália, Áustria, Suécia, Dinamarca, Noruega (ver ranking)? De que maneira? Emitindo Obrigações e Certificados de Aforro a torto e a direito? Ou pondo as rotativas do Euro a espirrar óleo pelos tambores, como fizeram americanos e japoneses, com os lindos resultados conhecidos? Ou ambos?! Aumentar as dívidas públicas da Europa para salvar bancos e fortunas temerárias não conduzirá a nada se não à salvação de alguns ricos e piratas. O colapso da economia real já começou e é este que tem que ser estancado em primeiro lugar!

A queda do Baltic Dry Index (94% desde o princípio de 2008) é provavelmente o mais recente e sério indicador da gravidade da actual crise de crédito mundial. A maioria do comércio internacional faz-se por barco. E para exportar/importar mercadorias, há séculos que se utilizam cartas de crédito. Os intermediários destas cartas de garantia são os bancos. No entanto, face à escalada da actual crise de liquidez, os bancos deixaram de emitir este tipo de documentos, ou emitem-nos a conta gotas. Resultado: o comércio mundial está literalmente a parar, como se fosse uma corrente sanguínea obstruída por uma válvula presa. As matérias primas e os alimentos-base deixam de circular, o aço escasseia, as fábricas de automóveis e têxteis param, o trigo com que se faz o pão chega cada vez mais devagar, ou deixa de chegar. Como consequência deste nó górdio, por exemplo, a construção de navios está a diminuir drasticamente na China e na Índia, fechando estaleiros e lançando milhares de operários no desemprego. A recente baixa das taxas de juro decretada pelas autoridades chinesas, como medida para estimular o consumo interno, é toda uma lição amarga sobre a dimensão da primeira crise económica global.

Criar mais dívida e alimentar a ilusão de que o desenvolvimento poderá continuar a depender do crescimento desmiolado do consumo é o caminho mais directo para o abismo. Socorrer apenas os banqueiros e os especuladores, como se daí viesse algo de bom, é acreditar que os cérebros do desastre em que nos encontramos (que deveriam ir direitinhos para a prisão sem passar pela casa de partida) podem salvar o que quer que seja. Claro que os bancos são necessários, mas é urgente proceder a uma grande vassourada. Sem uma desratização prévia, nenhum plano de salvamento terá efeitos práticos.

Falta obviamente discutir qual possa ser a melhor solução, visto e revisto o fracasso incluso no pacote de boas intenções hoje anunciado pelos burocratas de Bruxelas. A sugestão de Ann Pettifor (autora do célebre The Coming First World Debt Crisis, publicado em 2006) merece seguramente reflexão.

Propõe ela, em conjunto com outros economistas, o seguinte: um abaixamento do custo do dinheiro nos empréstimos de longo prazo, facilitado pela criação de um mercado obrigacionista cujos principais compradores seriam os bancos centrais. O efeito induzido no resto do sistema financeiro seria então a recuperação da confiança e o regresso da liquidez à economia.

Não estou em condições de me pronunciar sobre a receita. Mas sei uma coisa: o Ocidente tem que regressar à economia real e deixar de passar a vida dentro de automóveis, agarrado ao telemóvel.

REFERÊNCIAS

EU Proposes 200 Billion-Euro Stimulus Against Crisis

Nov. 26 (Bloomberg) — The European Union is coordinating a 200 billion-euro ($259 billion) stimulus proposal for the 27- nation economy and said more may be needed to limit the impact of the global financial crisis.

The package, to which individual countries will contribute 170 billion euros, is equivalent to 1.5 percent of the 27-nation EU’s gross domestic product. “We may even need more,” European Commission President Jose Barroso said in unveiling the proposal in Brussels today, adding that the plan was an “exceptional response” to an “exceptional crisis.”

Credit, economic woes push sea freight to 9-year low
Wed Nov 5, 2008 12:59am IST

By Stefano Ambrogi

LONDON (Reuters) – The Baltic Exchange’s dry sea freight index for global resources trade sank to a 9-year low on Tuesday, as fears of global recession and tight lines of credit suffocated trade, industry experts said.

The London-based index, which tracks prices for carrying commodities like iron ore, coal, grains and cement on top export routes, fell 12 points to 815, its lowest level since February 1999.

“Until we get some sanity back in the banking system, financial stability, the inter-bank lending rates narrowing, economic life in the world is going to continue to be stifled,” said Nick Collins a director of dry commodities trade at Clarkson PLC ship consultancy in London.

“Nobody is lending, nobody is buying steel — ArcelorMittal has cut ouput, most of the steel mills in the West are much the same, people arn’t buying cars and that just feeds through,” he said.

Collins said that a lack of trade finance — crucial letters of credit — that grease the wheels of commerce were also adversely affecting trade.

“Credit underpins the whole of the business world. There are even ships hanging outside China full of cargo waiting to get the banks’ approval to discharge it,” Collins said drawing on ancecdotal evidence.

The index, used by economists to help predict global growth cycles, is in sight of an all-time low of 554 points struck in July 1986 when bankruptcies plagued the industry.

Baltic Dry Index

By the end of 2008, shipping times had been already increased by reduced speeds to save fuel consumption, but lack of credit meant the disappearance of letters of credit, historically required to load cargoes for departure at ports. Debt load of future ship construction was also a problem for the companies, with several major bankruptcies and implications for shipyards. This, combined with the collapsing price of raw commodities created a perfect storm for the world’s marine commerce. Cheaper fuel was no longer able to offset this situation and global letters of credit are beyond the powers of the Federal Reserve. — in Wikipedia.

The crisis deepens and politicians still don’t get it

24th November 2008 (Debtonation)

Its extraordinary. The Credit Crunch ‘debtonated’ on 9th August, 2007. Today, fully fifteen months later politicians and policy-makers in both the US, the UK and Euroland are still facing crises at banks – and don’t appear to grasp the real nature of the crisis, addressing symptoms instead of causes.

Some economists treat the property bubble as the cause of the implosion; I disagree. The credit bubble fueled the property bubble, and all other asset bubbles, and it is the bursting of the credit bubble that has led to the bursting of the property bubble – not the other way around.

Governments have helped re-capitalise banks and nationalised a few – but little of this has addressed the cause: the insolvency of individual, household and corporate debtors. The weakness of the finance sector can be explained by the weakness of their debtors – homeowners and employers. Helping the banks, while ignoring homeowners and employers has, not surprisingly, meant no halt to falling house prices and rising job layoffs.

The bail-outs of banks have been costly – pushing up government borrowing. The more that government borrowing rises, the more that yields on long-term government bonds (e.g. US Treasuries) rise. . This rise in the cost of government debt pushes up the cost on long-term corporate debt and mortgages…making re-financing and borrowing for companies very expensive – at the height of the severest debt crisis in our history!

This is why a group of us – including Graham Turner of GFC Economics – argue that government spending alone will not address the crisis faced by homeowners and companies. Indeed too much government borrowing might make things far worse – because of the impact on long term borrowing costs.

The solution? Simple. Lower long-term borrowing costs.

This can be achieved by central banks buying up long-term government bonds and thereby lowering the yield on these bonds. This in turn will lead to a fall in the interest rates on long-term corporate bonds/loans.

Systemic Risk, Contagion and Trade Finance – Back to the Bad Old Days
Friday, 14 November 2008 (London Banker)

We are now starting to see the contagion effects of the current liquidity crisis feed through to the real economy. We are about to go back to the bad old days. Whether the zombie banks are kept on life support by the central banks and taxpayers of the world is highly relevant to whether the zombie bank executives pay themselves outsize bonuses and their zombie shareholders outsize dividends with taxpayer money. It appears sadly irrelevant to whether the banks perform their function of intermediating credit and commercial transactions in the real economy along the supply chain. The bailout cash and executive and shareholder priorities do not seem to reach so far.

The recent 93 percent collapse of the obscure Baltic Dry Index – an index of the cost of chartering bulk cargo vessels for goods like ore, cotton, grain or similar dry tonnage – has caused a bit of a stir among the financial cognoscenti. What is less discussed amidst the alarm is the reason for the collapse of the index – the collapse of trade credit based on the venerable letter of credit.

If cargo trade stops, a whole lot of supply chain disruption starts. If the ore doesn’t go to the refinery, there is no plate steel. If the plate steel doesn’t get shipped, there is nothing to fabricate into components. If there are no components, there is nothing to assemble in the factory. If the factory closes the assembly line, there are no finished goods. If there are no finished goods, there is nothing to restock the shelves of the shops. If there is nothing in the shops, the consumers don’t buy. If the consumers don’t buy, there is no Christmas.

Everyone along the supply chain should worry about their jobs. Many will lose their jobs sooner rather than later.

If cargo trade stops, the wheat doesn’t get exported. If the wheat doesn’t get exported, the mill has nothing to grind into flour. If there is no flour, the bakeries and food processors can’t produce bread and pasta and other foods. If there are no foods shipped from the bakeries and factories, there are no foods in the shops. If there are no foods in the shops, people go hungry. If people go hungry their children go hungry. When children go hungry, people riot and governments fall.

Everyone along the supply chain should worry about their children going hungry.

When that happens, everyone in governments should worry about the riots.

Controlling access to trade finance determines who loses their jobs, whose children go hungry, who riots, which governments fall. Without dedicated focus on the issue of trade finance and liquidity from those in the emerging world most interested in sustaining the growth of recent years, little progress can be expected.Trade finance is rapidly communicating the stress on bank liquidity to the real economy. It presents a systemic risk much more frightening than the collapsing value of bits of paper traded electronically in London and New York. It could collapse the employment, the well being and the political stability of most of the world’s population.

Do our rulers know enough to avoid a 1930s replay?
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

20 Oct 2008 (Telegraph) The commodity and emerging market booms are breaking in unison, leaving no more bubbles left to burst. Almost every corner of the world is now being drawn into the vortex of debt deflation.

The freight rates for Capesize vessels used to ship grains, coal, and iron ore have fallen 95pc to $11,600 since May, hence the bankruptcy of Odessa’s Industrial Carriers last week with a fleet of 52 vessels. Cargo deliveries dropped 15.2pc at the US Port of Long Beach last month, but that is a lagging indicator.

From what I have been able to find out, shipping is slowing as fast as it did in the grim months of late 1931. “The crisis is now in full swing across the entire world,” said Giulio Tremonti, Italy’s finance minister. “It is hitting the real economy, the productive forces of industry. It’s global, it’s total, and it’s everywhere,” he said.

OAM 480 27-11-2008 01:56

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