Evo, še svež komentar in poziv Maria Draghija v Financial Timesu k takojšnji mobilizaciji vseh sredstev v vojni proti koronavirusu. Draghi pozdravlja takojšnje ukrepe držav, da prek subvencij podjetjem ohranijo delovna mesta in da prek odloga plačil davkov obdržijo pri življenju podjetja in samozaposlene. Nato pa dodaja še svoj specifičen nasvet: vlade morajo mobilizirati celoten finančni sistem, da takoj zagotovi neomejene količine likvidnosti podjetjem. In še naprej, banke morajo odobravati kredite podjetjem po ničelni obrestni meri in ne glede na boniteto podjetij, države pa garantirajo za obveznosti podjetij do bank, pri čemer morajo biti garancije zastonj. Draghi pravi, da regulatorne zahteve in zahteve glede zavarovanja kreditov tokrat ne smejo biti ovira pri oblikovanju potrebnega prostora v bilancah bank za ta namen.
Ta del ukrepov v Smernicah za pripravo ukrepov slovenske vlade zaenkrat manjka. Govora je le o tem, da se “vzpostavi garancijska shema (t.i. “finančni top”) in omogoči odkup terjatev do slovenskih podjetij. Država zagotovi dovolj sredstev z dokapitalizacijo oziroma poroštvom za izvedbo.” Ni jasno, katera inštitucija bi odkupovala te terjatve. Smiseln bi bil dogovor vlade z največjimi ponudniki denimo vode, plina in električne energije, da država od njih odkupi terjatve iz tega naslova do podjetij, ki zaradi krize ne delujejo, za čas trajanja ukrepov. Hkrati pa je treba garancijsko shemo za podjetja uskladiti z bankami, da bo delovala v skladu z Draghijevimi priporočili.
The key question is not whether but how the state should put its balance sheet to good use. The priority must not only be providing basic income for those who lose their jobs. We must protect people from losing their jobs in the first place. If we do not, we will emerge from this crisis with permanently lower employment and capacity, as families and companies struggle to repair their balance sheets and rebuild net assets.
Employment and unemployment subsidies and the postponement of taxes are important steps that have already been introduced by many governments. But protecting employment and productive capacity at a time of dramatic income loss requires immediate liquidity support. This is essential for all businesses to cover their operating expenses during the crisis, be they large corporations or even more so small and medium-sized enterprises and self-employed entrepreneurs. Several governments have already introduced welcome measures to channel liquidity to struggling businesses. But a more comprehensive approach is needed.
While different European countries have varying financial and industrial structures, the only effective way to reach immediately into every crack of the economy is to fully mobilise their entire financial systems: bond markets, mostly for large corporates, banking systems and in some countries even the postal system for everybody else. And it has to be done immediately, avoiding bureaucratic delays. Banks in particular extend across the entire economy and can create money instantly by allowing overdrafts or opening credit facilities.
Banks must rapidly lend funds at zero cost to companies prepared to save jobs. Since in this way they are becoming a vehicle for public policy, the capital they need to perform this task must be provided by the government in the form of state guarantees on all additional overdrafts or loans. Neither regulation nor collateral rules should stand in the way of creating all the space needed in bank balance sheets for this purpose. Furthermore, the cost of these guarantees should not be based on the credit risk of the company that receives them, but should be zero regardless of the cost of funding of the government that issues them.
Companies, however, will not draw on liquidity support simply because credit is cheap. In some cases, for example businesses with an order backlog, their losses may be recoverable and then they will repay debt. In other sectors, this will probably not be the case.
Such companies may still be able to absorb this crisis for a short period of time and raise debt to keep their staff in work. But their accumulated losses risk impairing their ability to invest afterwards. And, were the virus outbreak and associated lockdowns to last, they could realistically remain in business only if the debt raised to keep people employed during that time were eventually cancelled.
Either governments compensate borrowers for their expenses, or those borrowers will fail and the guarantee will be made good by the government. If moral hazard can be contained, the former is better for the economy. The second route is likely to be less costly for the budget. Both cases will lead to governments absorbing a large share of the income loss caused by the shutdown, if jobs and capacity are to be protected.
Public debt levels will have increased. But the alternative — a permanent destruction of productive capacity and therefore of the fiscal base — would be much more damaging to the economy and eventually to government credit. We must also remember that given the present and probable future levels of interest rates, such an increase in government debt will not add to its servicing costs.
In some respects, Europe is well equipped to deal with this extraordinary shock. It has a granular financial structure able to channel funds to every part of the economy that needs it. It has a strong public sector able to co-ordinate a rapid policy response. Speed is absolutely essential for effectiveness.
Faced with unforeseen circumstances, a change of mindset is as necessary in this crisis as it would be in times of war. The shock we are facing is not cyclical. The loss of income is not the fault of any of those who suffer from it. The cost of hesitation may be irreversible. The memory of the sufferings of Europeans in the 1920s is enough of a cautionary tale.
The speed of the deterioration of private balance sheets — caused by an economic shutdown that is both inevitable and desirable — must be met by equal speed in deploying government balance sheets, mobilising banks and, as Europeans, supporting each other in the pursuit of what is evidently a common cause.
Vir: Mario Draghi , Financial Times