The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has recently published a record profit of staggering 54 bn. Franken or €46 bn. The central bank´s profit is equivalent to 6,600 Franken for every Swiss citizen. In a market economy, profits are the sign of successful economic action. Does this mean that the Swiss (...)
WP 2017-05. Executive summary.
Discussions on the optimal level of government intervention in the economy have become very intense in recent years, especially following the 2008 financial and economic crisis. The hardships produced by this temporal economic downturn have led to some very (...)
Ten years on from the late summer collapse of first Paribas’ money market funds and then the failure of the UK’s Northern Rock bank, the media have published a raft of reviews reflecting on the past decade of banking reforms.
Central bankers were quick to use the anniversary to make grand (...)
Since the introduction of the Euro in 1999 the European Central Bank sets the main refinancing rate for the whole Eurozone and therefore decides at which conditions banks can take out loans from it. As banks pass through the conditions they face to their customers, the ECB influences the extent (...)
Greece is in dire need of structural reforms, both in terms of public finances and real economy. Privatizations, especially if accompanied by appropriate liberalization policies, can improve the efficiency and profitability of a sector and can contribute to the economic success of a country. It (...)
A deteriorated banking sector in a worn-out economy At the beginning of 2016, in the context of the new EU legislation on “bail in”, Italy found itself unprepared to face the emerging crisis of its credit system, mainly caused by two correlated elements: 1. a banking sector weakened by a large (...)
A successful integration of asylum migrants arriving in Europe will largely depend on their success on the European labour arket. In a new Policy Paper we investigate the labour market barriers faced by asylum migrants in Germany, France and the UK. We recommend a full elimination of barriers (...)
The European Union has experienced an increase in asylum applications for several
years, with 2014 seeing 570,800 applications, an increase of 47% compared to 2013.
The year-to-year increase in applications will be even more pronounced in 2015.
Germany, Austria, Hungary, Sweden, the Netherlands (...)
A new study from a German economics institute claims that the German state has already made €100bn from the Greek crisis as lenders flee from Greece into the safe haven of German government bonds, reducing their interest rate and saving the German government money on debt interest payments. (...)
Greece failed to pay a 1.5 billion installment by the end of June. The rhetoric has long portrayed the lenders as fat cats living off Greece’s misery. Varoufakis had his sight on 1.9 billion which he called “ECB’s profiteering on poor Greeks” and should be “returned” to the Greeks to cover the IMF (...)
Bank for International Settlements has labelled the impact of recent European quantitative easing as “unprecedented”. Worrying effects are not only the negative interest rates, but also very high price volatilities of asset. This development may soon hit not only economic, but also legal and even (...)
Negative interest rates here, there, everywhere. What used to be taught as "impossible" in textbook is now a reality throughout the EU. And for the first time it even affects corporate bonds, not just "safe" sovereign ones. Why would anyone lend more than they receive, when they can just hang (...)
Is the standoff between the ECB and Greece in any sense subtle, or simply a car crash waiting to happen? We explain why being the first to defect may in fact
benefit Greece. With low sympathy for formal (fiscal) debt forgiveness, we expect pressure to increase further on the ECB.
WP 2015-03. Executive Summary
During the past five years, emerging markets have experienced a significant rise in the credit to the private sector. In the countries that have recently joined the European Union, however, borrowers have been suffering from a rather severe credit crunch. This (...)
Greece is said to be suffering under crippling burden of debt servicing. However, the official debt servicing is already lower than in other EU countries with much smaller debts. Furthermore, the actual interest payments payable by Greece are close to those that Germany is having to make on its (...)
The Greeks have voted and the left-wing Syriza emerged as the clear winner. There will now follow intensive discussions about Greek reforms and the relationship between Greece and the rest of the world. The labour market is one of the core battlegrounds in Greece. It is very difficult for the (...)
WP 2015-02. Executive Summary
Western central banks have been pursuing unconventional monetary since at least 2008. Is there a way of ending them?
The authors identify the winners and losers of these policies, compared a world without them. How much are the relevant parties better/worse (...)
For several weeks Greece has been, once again, at the centre of European economic policy. Grexit, Greece’s withdrawal from the Eurozone, is being debated again, in light of the forthcoming Greek election of 25 January. Proponents point to the opportunity after such withdrawal for a massive (...)
Despite the attention offered by the media to Russian banking and foreign exchange markets, tensions are growing in the ECB. Some ECB Board members are unconvinced of the stance the ECB President is taking, doubting that the introduced policy would be effective, let alone constitutional. We (...)
Free movement of people, capital, goods and services across national borders. Those are, allegedly, the pillars of European integration. One of them, the free movement of capital, crossed swords twice this week with EU policy makers convened at the regular meeting of financial ministers. It (...)
According to several reports, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is planning to introduce a 300 billion-euro investment package this Wednesday (November 26th). The idea is to establish a European fund that will assume liability risks on behalf of private investors. Only profitable (...)
The Asset Quality Review (Stress Test) results confirm system wide solvency. Yet, regulators announce the rewriting of bank risk models and the ECB plans large scale asset purchases.
Although Scotland voted in September to remain in the United Kingdom, both sides hailed the high voter turnout as recognition of democratic engagement and growing European dissatisfaction with over-centralised, bureaucratic, seemingly unaccountable government. The effect has been to raise (...)
Low interest rates contribute to weak labour markets
A new measure of Unemployment and Labour Market Conditions gains support at the Annual Jackson Hole Conference. Doubts continue about European QE as near-zero interest rates may actually be preventing employment from picking up.
BIS has doubts about monetary policy in the Euro area
Latest BIS Report says that present monetary policies risk permanently destabilizing the global economy. It calls for A New Policy Compass, focussing on the ‘Financial Cycle’, not the Business Cycle.
Banks remain fragile and imbalances (...)
Confidence in the ECB wobbles as commentators on all sides question the effectiveness of supposedly growth stimulating new policies.
Markets and Investment
At least two big takeover deals are being negotiated in Europe now, both with heavy government involvement. The strategies (...)
Cypriot government has unilaterally “redefined” one of the conditions of its 10bn bailout package and lifted a ban on government officials traveling business class. Is this an exercise in customary opulent luxury or is it actually a hidden subsidy? And aren’t all governments (...)
The latest Scorsese blockbuster is still making the headlines for its novel artistic work with timelines. Does the Wolf, however, have anything whatsoever to say about Wall Street? Very little, and it may actually work to strengthen and entrench any bad practices that remain in the financial (...)
Recovery has started, according to some data. Is it sustainable? Or is it based on asset prices inflated by easy monetary policies? Inside this newsletter:
* Bond markets and the real economy * Central Banking – The Illusion of Tapering * The Return of (...)
European nations’ fiscal authorities must be doing an excellent job if people are willing to pay hundreds of thousands of euros for the privilege to pay taxes to them… Or is there something else behind the new market for EU citizenship?
Government’s mortgage interest subsidy, besides creating a lot of social costs, benefits almost solely the rich, yet it’s precisely the rich who boldly claim to want to scrap the programme. What’s going on?
Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome to the stage Dutch Disease, 2nd edition. This time it’s not natural wealth that makes you poor, it’s a natural consequence of a poor policy.
According to the latest statistics, the economic growth in the United Kingdom has reached 3% (annual rate) in the last quarter of 2013. This is the highest rate since 2007. For comparison, the French growth was 0.3% yoy (2013).
The quality of the recovery remains questionable. In the meanwhile, banks must deal with new regulation and investors look for higher yields.
European growth stutters along as fear of deflation exerts pressure on the ECB to loosen monetary policy further.
The statistics tell us that recession is over. Yet, while this has triggered tapering in the USA, it has also prompted a new of ECB promises to keep interest rates low. In the meantime, EU authorities do not seem how to deal with the world of banking, which is far weaker than meets the (...)
More taxation, more banking supervision, more bail-in than bail-out, more banking malpractice... This month newsletter summarizes the trends that are leading the banking world.
According to the Harris Interactive poll for Le Figaro daily and LCP television, French President Hollande would not be reelected in 2017. His fiscal policies are highly criticized and would cost him his reelection. It seems that Holland is discovering this principle : the more taxes, the less (...)
Something is rotten in the European Union! It looks like a hide and seek game, where countries and banks are playing a very dangerous game for the citizens’ future. Thus, between political instabilities, stealthy defaults, unhealthy and reckless banks and a real estate market that is (...)
Reforming is a path for reelection: German Chancellor Angela Merkel privatized, deregulated, capitalized. She did not reflate nor accepted deficits : she reduced taxes. For sure, there are some lessons to learn for France.
In the two months since we last reported, the media has focussed on the rebound in the EU area, where in the second quarter GDP grew at an annualised rate of 1.1%. The atmosphere has been optimistic, so optimistic, that even the Aug 20 confirmation by Germany’s Finance Minister Schaueble that (...)
While Ireland may exit its bailout program at the end of this year, Greece is far from getting out of it. Around 10 to 11 billion euros ($13.1-14.4 billion) from the second half of 2014 will be needed to keep it going next year and in 2015. This will be the Third Act of the economic tragedy (...)
"There will have to be another program in Greece," German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said bluntly on August 20th. The two previous bail-outs amounted to about 240 billion euros but that was not enough. According to the International Monetary Fund, one the Troika member, the estimated (...)
Leaders, institutions and markets are all looking for guidance to get out of the present crisis. Government confidence is at stake, institutions’ credibility is jeopardized and banking is close to fraud and collusion.
European Union finance ministers failed to reach a deal last week on this controversial issue. Germany and France are at odds about costs distribution. The Banking Union is at stake since this law on rescuing and closing banks in the EU is a key point. The problem is to know who is going to (...)
The IREF with "Contribuables Associés", the largest French taxpayers association, published a study showing how fiscal pressure destroys employment. The main figures of the study reveal the Government lethal action on companies and jobs:
> 12.2 bn € of new corporate taxes
> Tax burden making a (...)
Competitiveness is embedded in the private sector. Employment is created only the private sector. Wealth increases through the private sector. No public intervention can manage to replace the private sector, no Government know how to make business and money. As a consequence, the real economy (...)
Since events related to financial, banking, and debt crises regularly make it into the news, a term that seemingly originated from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in the late 1970s has become more popular: macroprudential supervision. Whereas microprudential supervision relates to (...)
The May Newsletter explains the austerity concerns heralded during April, the European Banking Union issue, the coming implementation of the Tobin Tax and the fact that there was no major banking fatalities during the month.
“A recession can be a good time to grow a business”. Thus is the opinion of Lord Young, a British cabinet minister under late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and still having his own office in Downing Street. Lord Young’s comments are stated in a report to be published this week and addressed to (...)
The European Commission’s forecasts are gloomy: a 0.1% decrease of European GDP in 2013 as a 0.4% decrease for the Eurozone. It seems that, one after the other, all the member states are collapsing and get trapped into economical disarray. The European Commission gives more time for France and (...)
Bumpy springtime for the ECB: no recovery, another major blunder and more regulation. Times ahead are becoming increasingly hard as more EU countries are in trouble, new regulations are being introduced and banking and sovereign borrowing are (...)
This is an unexpected outcome of the Cypriot “bail out – bail in”. The fact that the Cypriot Government is now able to control money transfers and cash withdrawals is a threat for the European market. Can it still be called a free market if restrictions are applied on the ability to move money? (...)
The Cypriot crisis has enthroned Germany has the leading European country. European economics are likely to be German driven from now on. Thus, fiscal profligacy or faulty business models are considered to have caused the recent crisis and the German cure to this is clear: austerity and (...)
Jean-Philippe Delsol pointed out on a recent article the problem of democracy in Europe. Instead of having Nanny-States trying to control its people, let the people speak its own mind.The Swiss referendum on executives’ high wages is the perfect example of a people using Democracy as it should (...)
This 3rd newsletter, written by Kevin Dowd and Gordon Kerr with Enrico Colombatto, is pointing out the auterity consensus tested as the Irish liquidation of Irish Bank Resolution Company, anayzing also further Collapses, Poor Results and Regulatory Arbitrage in (...)
If an agreement could not be found with the previous Cyprus communist-led government, negotiations resumed intensively between the Troika of European Union, International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank and the newly elected President Nicos Anastasiades. The Euro zone is again at (...)
The European Union is about to bail out Cyprus but no details on how it could be done are released yet. Joerg Asmussen, ECB board member, announced that “the troika of European Union, International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank would send a mission of experts to Cyprus on Tuesday (...)
Prof. Enrico Colombatto (Turin), IREF scientific director, has provided his update on EU policies. This month, he describes sovereign bailouts, the probable change of monetary policies, and the repayment of ECB loans.
Domestic. How are the high profile struggling countries faring – Greece, (...)
IREF has asked its scientific director, prof. Enrico Colombatto (Turin) to provide a periodic update on EU regulations. Policies adopted by Brussels in 2012 did not help to surmount the crisis: what will happen in 2013?
Despite being bombed by information, it seems we have forgotten the roots of the debt crisis. Instead we play a martingale game, where the only precaution after losing a round is to double the bet for the next one. The solution is not called EFSM, EFSF, ESM, SMP, OMT or banking union. These are (...)
In response to the financial crisis in the euro zone, the Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LFMI) has worked out and submitted to public institutions a plan which would help countries potentially exiting the euro zone to build stable and sound money. LFMI‘s proposal can be also used by the euro (...)
is the amount needed by Spanish banks to avoid the clash, revealed the Spanish government last week. This is supposed to be good news for European taxpayers who will have to rescue Spain with their tax money. Indeed, the initial estimation was about €100 (...)
WP 2012-03. Executive Summary
Update Jul’14: The paper has been published by Palgrave Macmillan and is available on Amazon.
The European crisis is not behind us and easy solutions do not readily present themselves. Some of the causes of the crisis may be regarded as temporary while others (...)
The French Cour des Comptes (National Audit Office) published this Monday a new report on public finances. Without surprise, the ambition to limit the budget deficit to 4.4% of GDP in 2012 is confirmed to be unrealistic. An extra six to ten billion euro would be necessary in order to meet this (...)
This paper is excerpted from the forthcoming "IREF’s Yearbook on Taxation" 2012
On July 6 the Berlusconi government passed a first package of mandating modest immediate cuts in the expenditure and similarly modest immediate increases in tax revenue to address concerns on the capacity of Italy (...)
This paper is excerpted from the forthcoming "IREF’s Yearbook on Taxation" 2012
In an unprecedented and historical move, the European Union forced the Irish government against its stated wishes to indebt itself in an € 85 billion international bailout comprising of the IMF, EU and bilateral (...)
Portugal is traditionally a leftist country. Since the Carnation Revolution in 1974, in which the Left threw out the fascist government of Marcelo Caetano, it is fashionable in Portugal to be leftist and being labeled socialist. If a proof was needed, in the 2011 elections, all 6 parties in (...)
In an interview with the Guardian, Madam Lagarde says it is time for Greece to pay back and insists on the fairness of it – “Greeks have to pay taxes now and assume their past mistakes,” she says, adding that “As far as Athens is concerned, I also think about all those people who are trying to (...)
This is the expected revenue from the financial transaction tax promoted by the EU. The proposal is expected to come into effect from 1st January 2014 and applies to the transactions carried out by financial institutions (banks, investment firms, insurance undertakings, collective investment (...)
In recent years, the Baltic States have been showcased as an austerity success story. While the whole world has seen countries such as Greece, Spain and Portugal struggling to reduce their public spending, Lithuania has been hailed as an austerity example. Lithuanian success in public spending (...)
If adopted as a new own resource of the EU budget the financial transaction tax (FTT) will significantly reduce the contributions of member states to the EU budget, according to estimates presented yesterday by the European Commission. Member States’ contributions would be slashed by €54bn in (...)
In March 2010, when the Greek debt crisis was heating up, then-ECB president Jean Claude Trichet declared to the EU parliament that the “monetary Union in Europe is far more than a monetary arrangement. It is a union of shared destiny”. Less than two months later the ECB reversed its refusal to (...)
France is famous for its wine, cheese and…unions. It is well established now that any reform considered by any government, left or right, has to be approved by unions (or, at least, not strongly opposed) in order to have a chance to be passed. Strange situation in a country where less than 8% of (...)
Will the European Central Bank turn to Quantitative Easing ? This is the question haunting all analysts and governments and, if one were to make a bet, better put it on the YES answer. Yes, the ECB will most probably end up doing just what the FED has been doing for years. The main reasons put (...)
A widespread understanding of the 2007-2008 crisis places the origins of the crisis in a capture of global economy by the finance industry. The “occupy Wall Street” group would surely agree, as well as most of those who get their economics from the general media. And President Sarkozy in his (...)
According to a recent economic outlook from Standard&Poor’s, high frequency indicators in the past month continue to depict Europe’s “darkening economic landscape”. Apart from being a problem by itself, a recession is going to aggravate the debt crisis. Indeed, most of the EU member states’ (...)
In one of the first studies critically to examine the Basel Accords, Engineering the Financial Crisis reveals the crucial role that bank capital requirements and other government regulations played in the recent financial crisis. Jeffrey Friedman and Wladimir Kraus argue that by encouraging (...)
is the amount of exposition of French banks to European countries’ private and public debt. They own for instance $106 billion of Italian public debt (which is six times higher than the amount held in Greek bonds), while $230 billion are held in Belgian government bonds. France is therefore (...)
Until now, the debt crisis seemed to spare the biggest European economy. But the country everybody is relying on starts to meet difficulties to refund its debt. The sale of German benchmark bonds on Wednesday turned to a disaster and the Bundesbank has been forced to hold on to record amounts (...)