sábado, 13 de febrero de 2010

Banana Republic


Las nuevas repúblicas bananeras, así denominan en la página de Nouriel Roubini a unos cuantos países occidentales por la irresponsabilidad de sus gobiernos en la gestión de la economía. Si en su tiempo fueron los países Latinoamericanos con Brasil y Argentina a la cabeza los que abusaron del endeudamiento exterior, de un excesivo e ineficiente gasto público, ahora son 20 países los que según este prestigioso gabinete de estudios se han comportado como repúblicas bananeras: Islandia, Grecia, Portugal, España, Letonia, Irlands, Ucrania, Rumanía, Lituania, Turquía, Bulgaria, EE.UU. (sí, EE.UU), Australia, Japón (sí, Japón), Reino Unido (sí, el RU), Sudáfrica, Francia (sí, Francia), Rusia, Nueva Zelanda e Italia.

They have either current account balance-of-payments deficits greater than 4% of GDP (Greece has 12%) or Government deficits greater than 4% of GDP (Spain has 12%) - or both (the so-called "twin deficits").

This explains basically why many of these countries are facing major increases in terms of country risk. In particular, Greece and Spain are major concerns now, as far as sovereign risk is concerned – and, additionally, Iceland, Portugal, Latvia, Lithuania.

Many years ago, one Finance Minister of Australia said he was worried about Australia becoming a "banana republic", with 4% "twin deficits". It seems that Australia hás been able to learn to live for many years with huge twin déficits, because - just like Brazil - it is a commodity-based country. But Iceland, Greece, Spain and Portugal are facing serious troubles.

One major aspect of course is that some of these new "banana republics" have "eternally" fixed exchange rates against strong countries such as Germany, because of the euro. It is clear that the euro as a single currency is now a major problem, given the major differences in the European countries in their fiscal positions and balance-of-payments positions. Some economists are discussing new exchange rate arrangements within Europe and this might very well happen in the next few days.