Saturday, October 25, 2008

Current financial crisis: A preliminary approach (II)

The current financial unstable situation will last some time , as its effects on the real economy will become evident in the months ahead. However, much of the discussion about its long lasting impact has already begun. On this regards, there are some key important issues which might be important to keep in mind:
a.. This crisis is not the first ,and it will not be the last one ,following the capitalism rules.. In fact, crisis are at the core of trail and error characteristics of markets forces. Since 1970 up to 2007 there has been 124 banking crisis (IMF WP 08/224. Systemic Banking crisis: A new database. Laeven and Valencia 2008),almost 40% of them concentrated between 1991 and 1995..There has been 208 currency crisis, spread out in different periods ,although 58% of them concentrated in the nineties decade (1990-1999). Therefore ,while the economy becomes more globally interconnected, crisis represent a sort of adjustment (trial and error) to the new global economy framework, whose main characteristic seems to be more risk averse.-
b.- Despite the Asian economies crisis of 1997, there has not been a clear understanding about the way global economy works. In the past, domestic economic unbalances in industrial economies , mattered only for internal design of their policy stabilization . Its international effects, were restricted to the ability of the coordination efforts of few countries whether it was needed . From now on ,and specially in the bigger economies, domestic unbalances matter for the global economy more than it was expected , thus each economy must consider its own means as the primary source of expenditures, specially because the stabilization effort framework, must consider global coordinated efforts ,which impose additional transaction costs to the necessary adjustment .
c.- Deregulation works better with oversight policies. There is an optimal level of regulation, beyond which economic growth become slower and at some point it start to decrease. It follows, that there is a decreasing relationships between regulations and economic growth. However, deregulation by itself is not enough to improve growth expectations. In those nations with important economic power , it requires better supervision policies to cope with global systemic risk . This time , the IMF (heavily criticized during the Asian economies crisis), passed the test, so it is properly qualified for a broader role on the global economy. However, a key point is that when the IMF speak, the world economies should listen.
d.- Capitalism as such is far from being responsible for this crisis. Based on its instinct for risk, it depends on the risk filter of those entities aimed at improving the information flow for better price signals and a more efficient decision making . Those entities, should improve their management standard otherwise they will not get back market confidence. On the other side ,it is a fact that market fails, but those fails are related to weak institutional framework. In this case, it is required a better global financial framework .The global economy ,can not depend either on one economist or one institution, to anticipate crisis ,it seems necessary to have a more often and transparent analysis of global economy condition .-
e.- Government has the right to intervene as the lender of last resort. In other words, it must face its failures. It can not run away from them. Socialism instead, is based upon restricting people freedom in exchange for expected fairness, which means that the State is in charge of everything , most of the time without excuses .Thus, the real issue is that Government as well as markets fails. Both failures can not be corrected without Government action.-

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Current financial crisis:a preliminary approach (II)

Since mid September, the financial markets has been under severe stress , due to the uncertainty arising about the lasting impact of the mortgage sub prime markets default in the US..
Although expected for some , and unexpected for others (unfortunately the most), this crisis ( the most severe since the last depression (1929), will teach quite a lot of lessons concerning key variables concerning global economy equilibriums.
Economic History is already rolling on , and the analysis about the implications and consequences of this default, crisis has already begun. Thus ,it is important to review the underlying causes of this situation ,as a first step before going into deeper implications. Causing factors, can be traced back to both macroeconomics and microeconomics.
Macroeconomics factors :
a.- Liquidity surplus in the banking system due to lower interest rates starting in 2001, fuelled later into this decade by “oil dollars” ,which Banks (investment and commercial ones), had to recycle into the markets, which allowed a massive allocation of mortgage loans ,to those considered by traditional financial standard , risky customers, the so called NINJA segment (No income, no jobs, no assets).
b.- Twin deficits: current account and fiscal deficit, which implied sooner or later an adjustment either by dollar depreciation , or expenditures reductions throughout interest rates increases. This unbalances ,were considered since the mid of this decade , for many organisms ( ) ,and economists ( ),to be a source of risk for global economy.
This initial condition(a) , created the first round of effects on the demand side, specially housing markets and other goods as well. As demand for houses went up, so it did its prices, which reinforce the second round effect, because this higher prices (between the year 2000 and 2006, houses prices doubled), backed higher demand for loans and credits, to increase consumption expenditures.
Microeconomics factors:
a.- Deregulations in the Banking industry ,which did not take properly into account the systemic risk , as a prudential restriction.
b.- Financial Management models, based on short run profit, therefore high risk portfolios .
c.- Lack of scrutiny, on the side of those organism aimed and acting as a risk filter for the whole system to be accountable.
d.-Speed of financial innovation which left the existing regulations outdated.-
This microeconomics factors , were the incentives for the creation of new financial instrument backed by those Ninja mortgage assets(collateral), which were rated as a secures ones, such that investment banks trade them all over its world branches and commercial partners. Along the way, financial gains artificially increased, and paper made wealth , looked as a substitute of real wealth, therefore the bubble was on .
As it is well known among economists ,macroeconomics has its microeconomics foundations .In this case, it meant both conditions matched to one another, to amplify the magnitude of the impact on aggregate demand. Thus ,It was a matter of time, for this bubble to burst .