Economics 03/08/2009: Lessons from Roubini for NAMA, Euro area GDP, Wages Falling in Ireland

NAMA has dominated newsflow in this country and on this blog. But the world around us still evolves to the laws that ignore the existence of the Senile Trio of Brian+Brian+Mary. So to recognize this – few housekeeping items that built up over the week.

First, the Eurocoin is out and it is time to update my Euroarea GDP projections. Chart below summarizes.Main features to note:

  • Eurocoin improved in July, for the 5th month in a row;
  • My forecast for Eurocoin to move in August and September marginally down from its current -0.42 position to -0.44-0.45 and stay there through September/October, awaiting a decisive move (either up or down – a 50:50 chance from this point in time) for either an W-shaped recession or something with a single (albeir of unknown duration) bottom;
  • My forecast for June and July Euro coin came in relatively well -0.52 as opposed to Eurocoin measured -0.61 to -0.42. Bang-on in the middle.

Nouriel Roubini’s RGE Monitor also expects “the cyclical recovery in the eurozone [to be led by Germany and France and] to lag recovery in the US, the BRICs and non-Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) emerging markets”. This is relatively consistent with my expectation for Eurozne to bottom out in the sub0cycle around November-December 2009. Assuming there is no double dip. “Among the main factors muting Europe’s recovery in 2010 are a permanent decline in potential output; unwinding pressures of large internal imbalances leading to deflationary pressures; a more restricted monetary and fiscal policy response compared to the U.S. and especially to China; a leveraged financial sector with too-big-to-fail institutions and too-big-to-save features; and a strong reliance on bank funding by the corporate sector subject to a larger financing gap than that seen in the US.”

There are interesting NAMA-related bits in Roubini’s forecasts: “In order not to impair the banking sector’s lending ability permanently, a quick disposal of bad assets is warranted. Lending to the private sector is slowing quickly, and for small and medium sized enterprises with no access to capital markets, bank credit lines represent the only recourse for liquidity. Based on IMF and ECB estimates, total bank losses in the eurozone will amount to between $650 billion and $900 billion, implying substantial additional recapitalization costs.” So two things jump out:

  1. NAMA is going to draw down ca €90bn of taxpayers funds to repair, hmmm €90bn in banks bad debts. Across the entire Eurozone, a 7% Tier 1 capital requirement against the backdrop of $650-900bn in total banks losses expected by Roubini will require (RWA inclusive) around €52-73bn in recapitalization costs – €37-51bn. The idiocy of NAMA is that we will spend more in recapitalizing our puny banking system than would be required to support the entire Eurzone! This shows why the IMF (see here) thinks that direct equity take over by injecting capital into the banks works more efficiently than what NAMA is proposing to do.
  2. The second point of relevance to NAMA is that of speed of repairs. Roubini is clear that time is of essence. Of course, our Brian+Brian+Mary squad has sat on their hands for over a year now, doing preciously little other than panic-driven measures (blanket guarantees, rash recpaitalizations without proper equity transfers, nationalization of the dodgiest bank possible, followed by another rash recapitalization round, NAMA announcement, the extension of the guarantees…) But even more interesting is the fact that even if everything goes as planned by our Triumvirate, NAMA repairs will not bite in until January 2010 – 29 months after the crisis in the global financial markets started to unfold and 17 months after this Government bothered to recognize the reality of the challenges we face. If that is ‘a quick disposal of bad assets’ that ‘is warranted’ per Roubini, God help us.

In the mean time, ISME survey (2,000 firms participating) last week showed new rounds of wage cuts unfolding in Irish SMEs. main highlights are:

  • 94% of SMEs have introduced pay cuts / freeze since the start of the year, 45% have introduced a pay cut, with 49% implementing pay freezes. Only 6% paid some wage increases;
  • 50% of the companies cut working hours;
  • Average pay cut was so far 13%;
  • 26% of companies are still planning fresh redundancies in the next 3 months (August-October).

Summary tables (both courtesy of ISME):
Jack O’Connor of SIPTU was not available for a comment on these.