Thursday, March 18, 2010

Italy Or Spain Race To The Bottom?

Columbia Prof Who Called Argentina Crisis: "Corruption Is The Reason Italy Will Be Next"
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/09/2010 18:41 -0500

Columbia's Charles Calomiris, who predicted the Argentina sovereign debt crisis (not sure which one: do people actually keep count?) was on Bloomberg TV spreading some more logic, first as pertains to those satanic monsters better known as CDS traders with the following piece of brilliance - "the CDS market always requires two parties in any transaction." This is something that everyone tends to forget. Unlike stocks or cash bonds, where the whole concept of Zero Sum is somewhat murky (especially in naked shorting) in derivatives it is precisely that - one man's loss is another man's gain - no exceptions. Why is nobody scapegoating those traders who enable the speculators to exist? If you raise the CDS offer high enough nobody will buy - we could just as easily blame the CDS sellers for their stupidity and willingness to take on capital losses. But as the whole topic of CDS speculators is pretty much a dead horse at this point. Calomiris also points out another obvious feature of the Greek speculator raid: "the spreads that we saw in Greece at their worst in the CDS market were about 4%. Based on what we know from the history of sovereign crises given the current fundamentals in Greece if anything that is a very muted response in the market. I would have expected a much greater response and I think we will see a much greater response..." Second, Calomiris says that the next country to fall after Greece will be not Spain, but Italy - the reason: massive governmental corruption.
And here is what is the real problem - someone please notify Papandreou.
"This is just a case of shoot the messenger. I think we need to focus on the unsustainable situation that Greece has gotten itself into, with the highest consumption to GDP ration in Europe, one of the lowest labor force participation rates in Europe, one of the highest government social protection rates in Europe, and deficits that have been outsized for several years during the boom, and the of course the fraudulent accounting. I should also note that within the Eurozone, Greece has the worst corruption score according to Transparency International which is a problem because it is telling you is that the institutional quality of the Greek government for reforming itself is very low."
Not surprisingly the next casualty of the rolling crisis (because, to quote Dubya, make no mistake, the crisis will be back very soon) will be not Spain or Portugal, but Italy - another nation using swap gimmickry to enter the Eurozone back in the day.
"The real concern right now should be on Italy. Italy is the country that is most like Greece in this current situation. Highest Debt to GDP ratio, not as high deficits so with smaller changes they can stop the problem. They also, however are very corrupt. They are second to Greece in the level of corruption within the Eurozone."
As a reminder, Italy CDS trade in the low 90s. Evil, hideous speculators - dig in.

No comments: