Odziv Sveta EU na korona krizo: kot običajno – pozno, mlačno, neučinkovito

Ponavlja se nam leto 2008. 15. septembra 2008 je kolapsnila banka Lehman Brothers, kar je finančne trge pahnilo v paniko in vsesplošno razprodajo. Še bolj pomembno pa je, da so v trenutku zamrznili medbančni trgi, kar je onemogočilo refinanciranje finančnim institucijam, posledično pa tudi bančnim strankam, kar je izzvalo največji kreditni krč in dolžniško krizo sodobnoega časa v razvitih državah.

Panika je bila vsesplošna. Razen v ZDA, kjer je FED pod vodstvom Bena Bernankeja bliskovito zagotovil bankam praktično neomejeno likvidnost po zelo nizki obrestni meri, odhajajoča Busheva administracija pa je že oktobra pripravila načrt za rešitev bank in zavaroalnic (bail-out) in ga tudi izvedla s hitrim podržavljanjem.

Le EU je mencala. Takrat, oktobra 2008, sem v Ljubljano povabil tedanjega prvega ekonomista Evropske komisije (EK) Vitorja Gasparja (kasneje je bil portugalski finančni minister, danes pa je na IMF), da predstavi ukrepe EK in EU kot celote proti veliki recesiji, ki se je obetala. Decembra 2008, ko je prišel, sem ga najprej peljal k tedanjemu finančnemu ministru Franciju Križaniču, nato pa smo na Ekonomski fakulteti imeli velik javni dogodek, kjer je Gaspar govoril o ukrepih EK, na okrogli mizi pa so naši visoki predstavniki diskutirali o potrebnih ukrepih za zajezitev krize. Vendar Gaspar ni povedal ničesar pomembnega. Ker ni imel ničesar za povedati. Razen uradnega odziva EK, kot ga povzemam spodaj:

  • 25. november 2008, EK: European Economic Recovery Plan
  • formalni okvir, ki dovoljuje članicam, da s proračunskimi stimulacijami spodbujajo podjetniško aktivnost in povpraševanje
  • Prvi steber: finančna injekcija gospodarstvu za povečanje kupne moči, spodbujanje povpraševanja in zaupanja v višini 200 milijard € oz. 1,5 % BDP EU
  • od tega 170 milijard članice, 30 milijard pa EIB.
  • Drugi steber temelji na akcijskem načrtu »pametnih« naložb, ki bi naj spodbudile dolgoročno konkurenčnost EU gospodarstva.

Preprosto rečeno, na krizo, ki je bila povpraševalne narave, se je EK odzvala mlačno in na ponudbeni strani. EK je dovolila zgolj razrahljanje fiskalnih omejitev posameznim članicam (v skupnem znesku do 170 milijard evrov), da lahko države, ki želijo, omogočijo stimuliranje domačega gospodarstva. Na drugi strani pa je, ko je kronično manjkalo finančne likvidnosti in povpraševanja, želela stimulirati podjetja, da vlagajo v nove tehnologije in zeleno energetiko. Nemčija je svoj del izkoristila in v dveh paketih namenila 62 miljard evrov za spodbujanje gospodarstva.

Vendar ni bilo strani EK inicirane nobene koordinirane in proaktivne protirecesijske politike. EK je zgolj pustila članicam, da same odreagirajo na krizo, kakor želijo, in povedala, da jim ne bo težila, če dober odstotek BDP namenijo za ukrepe, ki jih pač želijo.

In danes sta taista Evropska komisija in Svet EU, čeprav v drugačni postavi, vendar oboroženi z dobrim desetlejem izkušenj z vsemi storjenimi napakami v preteklem desetletju, debatirali o izbruhu koronske krize, ki bo vodila v recesijo, in nista bili sposobni sprejeti nobenih resnih sklepov. Nista se mogli sporazumeti niti o skupnem pristopu k omejevanju širitve virusa, niti o sprostitvi medsebojnih blokad glede pomoči v medicinski opremi (nekatere članice so blokirale izvoz te opreme v druge članice), kaj šele da bi se dogovorili glede koordiniranega fiskalnega stimulusa. In to kljub vključitvi v nočni klic Christine Lagarde, predsednice ECB, ki je povedala, da ukrepi monetarne politike ne bodo dovolj, da Evropa potrebuje koordiniran pristop fiskalne in monetarne politike. V tem primeru bo korona kriza kratkoživa, v primeru neusklajenega in neustreznega pristopa pa zna kriza biti zelo resna.

Toda kot lahko vidite spodaj, EU ni sposobna kordinirane akcije. Vsak vleče v svojo smer, kar pomeni, da nas čaka resnejša kriza. Zadnje desetletje kaže, da je EU disfunkcionalna konfederacija, ki ni sposobna koordiniranega pristopa v resnih razmerah. Dejstvo je, da ni samo skupna valuta evro bila narejena zgolj za obdobje lepega vremena, pač pa da je tudi EU sama takšna tvorba, ki se sesuje ob prvih resnejših izzivih. Že benigna begunska kriza, kjer bi blo dovolj zapreti grško mejo s Turčijo in z Erdoganom dogovoriti finančni paket, je bila za EU prevelik zalogaj. Morda bi – namesto NATA – moral Macron EU razglasiti za klinično mrtvo. Pričakujemo lahko nove izhode iz EU.

Poglejte spodnji, zelo dober povzetek dogajanja s strani kolega Shahina Valléeja in mojih dodatkov iz medisjkih zapisov:

The conclusions fail to agree on a common EU line on testing, quarantine, containment and social distancing leaving Italy alone to take the boldest measures when they should be undertaken across the EU.

In line with the Health Ministers meeting on March 6th, HoSG also failed to lift exports bans on medical supplies (mask, respiratory aid kits) displaying no sign of solidarity and resource pooling whatsoever

Coronavirus: EU ministers urge members to share supplies EU health ministers voiced concerns about the possible shortage of protective equipment and medicines in some member states, after Germany, France, and the Czech Republic blocked the export of anti-virus gear.

“We don’t have enough protective masks,” said Czech health minister Adam Vojtech as he joined the extraordinary meeting with EU health ministers held on Friday (6 March).

“The problem is that the demand is much higher than the supply. A third of the world’s production of drugs is located in China and also in India, which as far as I know also has stopped exports of drugs recently,” he added.

On the economic response, the bold call by @Lagarde for a coordinated fiscal action was left unanswered and the Eurogroup (meeting on March 16th) was not given any mandate or guidelines. Financial Times:

Christine Lagarde has called on EU leaders to launch more urgent action to avoid the spread of coronavirus triggering a serious economic slowdown. Speaking on a video call with EU leaders on Tuesday night, the president of the European Central Bank sought to shake them out of what she sees as a complacent attitude to the epidemic, according to a person briefed on her comments.

Forecasters have warned that the spread of the virus could drive the eurozone into a recession but there is growing frustration in some quarters that the ECB is once again being left to do most of the work to shield the bloc from an economic and financial crisis while governments such as Germany’s, which have the capacity to spend more, refuse to do so.

Ms Lagarde’s warning came just hours before Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte announced on Wednesday that he was ramping up the size of a spending package to tackle his nation’s coronavirus outbreak to €25bn, in an effort to lessen the blow of a nationwide lockdown.

On Tuesday’s call Ms Lagarde said a further loosening of monetary policy would only be fully effective if combined with a sufficient fiscal stimulus from EU leaders, according to one person briefed on the discussion. In that scenario, Ms Lagarde said, the shock of coronavirus would be shortlived.

And a group of prominent German economists called on Angela Merkel’s government to abandon its commitment to a balanced budget in the face of the coronavirus epidemic and consider an extensive package of measures to help companies affected.

The group of prominent German economists include Peter Bofinger, a former economic adviser to Ms Merkel’s government; Gabriel Felbermayr, head of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy; Clemens Fuest, head of the Ifo economic think-tank; and Michael Hüther, director of the German Economic Institute.

They said: “If we don’t succeed in containing the spread of the economic shockwaves and we start seeing a big wave of insolvencies, the state should consider as a last resort taking equity in companies.” As an example, they cited the example of bank bailouts following the 2008-09 financial crisis.

The calls for action come as the ECB prepares to meet on Thursday to consider its monetary policy response to the virus.

After Tuesday’s call, the European Commission said it was creating a €25bn investment fund to tackle the epidemic, to be paid for from existing resources. It also promised to loosen state aid and budget rules to allow governments to help struggling businesses and boost public spending.

However leaders did not unite behind a co-ordinated EU-wide fiscal stimulus package, despite requests from France and other states for a “massive” response. One EU diplomat said the debate during the call did not move beyond “southern countries wanting more spending and northern member states being more reluctant”.

 “It is premature to talk of fiscal stimulus in regard to coronavirus,” Tytti Tuppurainen, Finland’s Europe minister, told the FT on Wednesday. “Every measure we take needs to be very well argued and thought through.”

The decision by the @EU_Commission to create a EUR 25bn Corona Response Investment Initiative to support the healthcare sector, SMEs is an order magnitude too small given the extent of the economic shock and it was not even mentioned in the European Council conclusions.

All in all, we are unlikely to have a real coordinated economic response until we have a coordinated health response that acknowledges that Europe is as weak collectively as its weakest link/national health system. This requires coordination and solidarity.

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