Paralelno plačilno sredstvo “t.i. mini obveznice” (“mini-BOTs”), kot ga uvaja italijanska vlada (gre za državne obveznice, ki ne prinašajo obresti, denominirane v majhnih enotah (med 5 in 500 evri), in ki jih je mogoče uporabiti za plačilo davkov ipd., kar je ekvivalentno denarju; glejte tudi simbolno sliko spodaj), seveda pomeni resen korak v smeri priprave na morebiten izstop Italije iz evro območja (“Italeave“). Večina komentatorjev morebitni italijanski izstop iz evra ocenjuje kot katastrofo, čeprav kljub recesiji Italija ni v hudo slabem položaju (ima soliden presežek v zunanji trgovini in primarni presežek v proračunu, pri čemer okrog dve tretjini obresti plačuje domačim subjektom).
Glavno nevarnost večina komentatorjev vidi v dejstvu, da italijanske banke po izstopu ne bi več imele dostopa do likvidnosti, zaradi česar ne bi mogle kreditirati domačega gospodarstva. Ta trditev je sicer malce pretirana, saj bi v primeru izstopa iz evra vlogo “posojilodajalca v skrajni sili” prevzela italijanska centralna banka, ki ima v lasti precejšen del italijanskih državnih obveznic (kupljenih v programu kvantitatvnega sproščanja), tako da obresti za dolg ena enota vlade plačuje drugi enoti iste vlade. Centralna banka bi pač zagotavljala likvidnost svojim bankam, kot pač to počnejo vse centralne banke. Glede na to, da se italijanska vlada dvetretjinsko zadolžuje na domačem trgu, je tudi osamitev iz mednarodnih finančnih trgov ne bi tako strašansko prizadela. Tuid nevarnost bega kapitala ni tako resna grožnja, saj lahko italijanska centralna banka pač začasno (za nekaj tednov, mesecev ali dlje) omeji mednarodne tokove kapitala, kot sta to naredili Ciper in Grčija. Bi pa seveda tak korak pomenil povečanje finančne nestabilnosti, začasen dvig cene zadolževanja, depreciacijo nove italijanske valute, in s tem tudi višjo inflacijo.
Torej, “Italeave” bi pomenil povečano turbulentnost, ne pa nujno tudi eksistencialne katastrofe za Italijo. Morebiti bi Italeave povzročil več nevšečnosti ostalim evrskim državam (klirinški sistem Target 2, omejeni trgovinski in kapitalski tokovi, povečane špekulacije glede razpada evra nasploh in špekulativni napadi na obveznice šibkejših držav itd.). Spodaj je dober komentar, ki sicer niza negativne argumente glede Italeave, splača se ga prebrati.
In the March 2018 general election, two Italian political parties (the League and the Five Star Movement) that eventually formed the current government campaigned against many of the structures that are the foundation of the European Union. One part of their agreed policy program, a proposal that resurfaced in the past week, concerns the possibility of issuing mini-BOTs (which stands for Buoni del Tesoro). These would be small denomination “bonds”—non-interest-bearing, tradeable securities—issued by the Italian government to pay debts and usable to pay taxes or purchase goods and services provided by the state. Printed in the size and shape of currency notes, recipients could view them as a new means of exchange (see the sample image below).
In this post, we discuss the possibility of Italy leaving the European Monetary Union, and why there is an increased incentive for the government to plan for an abrupt and unanticipated exit. The strategic analogy is to the appearance of a first-strike capacity that undermines nuclear peace. In our view, however, that appearance is misleading: any attempt to exit would not only be a disaster for Italy, as we explained in our post from a year ago, it would be what Barry Eichengreen aptly called the “the mother of all financial crises.”
However much domestic politicians may wish otherwise, should an Italian exit become a real possibility, we would expect to see an immediate run out of Italian banks and Italian assets. As we described a year ago, anyone who could would move their holdings of euro-denominated assets into those parts of the euro area perceived to be safe (in the past, this meant Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Finland). In this sense, the attack on Italy would resemble what happens in emerging markets: currency depreciation (albeit of the parallel mini-BOTs), capital flight, and a collapse of the domestic financial system. In the presence of a parallel currency, people would also come to doubt the continued willingness of the others in the Eurosystem to support Italian banks’ need to replace the funds that flee.
Should Italy actually leave, things would turn from bad to worse inside the country. We expect that Italian firms would not be able to obtain credit, so trade would require cash payment. Related to this, international authorities likely would disconnect Italian banks from parts of the cross-border payments system. While they might maintain access to SWIFT, they would surely not be able to continue to send payments through the Target2 system.
Despite the public debate in some countries (notably Germany), we do not view a sudden Italian exit at this stage as a severe threat to the Target2 system. (For the mechanics of this system, see here.) While the buildup of Target2 balances in 2012 signaled the fragmentation of the euro area financial system, the more recent gradual increase since 2015 is a direct result of the asset purchase program associated with the ECB’s monetary policy operations. As a result, the Bank of Italy has securities that it could use to pay the bulk of its Target2 liabilities. Furthermore, as President Draghi wrote several years ago in a letter to the European Parliament: “If a country were to leave the Eurosystem, its national central bank’s claims on or liabilities to the ECB would need to be settled in full.” But, even if they are not, we would expect that any remaining losses would be to the Eurosystem as a whole, so they would be shared.
Our bottom line is simple: while a shortsighted Italian government may believe it is possible to escape EU budget rules through the issuance of a parallel currency—a view that ought to concern investors—the reality is quite different. Any increase in the threat to print mini-BOTs for the payment of the existing Italian government obligations would almost surely lead to a wider risk premium in form of higher Italian sovereign bond yields. Eventually, this would prompt an unsustainable increase in debt. Should investors perceive the threat to leave as credible, the result would be a run on the Italian financial system. And, should Italy actually leave the euro, not only would the country pay a very high price, but so would everyone else.
Vir: Money & Banking