Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Going, going ...................... fuck you

I’d be grateful if you would be kind enough to ignore the recent banking reality and concentrate on the theory in the next paragraph.

How much to charge when lending money is relatively straightforward – the greater the credit risk i.e. the risk of the debt not being fully repaid, the higher the interest rate that should be charged. Hence, whereas I’d charge a fine upstanding nun with a million pounds in the bank say 2% to borrow £50 off me for a week, I’d charge an insane heroin addict living on benefits and already owes Big Ian £10,000 say3% or mebbe even 150% to borrow £2,000 off me for 10 years.

Much the same principle applies to government debt. Hence, the successive spikes seen in how much Greece, then Ireland and Portugal and latterly Spain have to pay to borrow money; all these countries are heavily indebted and are suffering the after effects of a mixture of mental public spending, property crashes, making lots of Port etc., So it all seems perfectly fair I guess, in fact the spread that’s emerged between how much Germany pays to borrow and what PIIGS pay could arguably be presented as a good thing; it’s the bond markets (government debt being sold as bonds) inflicting the necessary discipline on otherwise unruly governments, there’s no such things as a free lunch, no pain no gain, etc.,

Except, that argument can go fuck itself up the nose with a shitty, rabid dog cock. For starters all these countries previously paid pretty much the same as Germany, that insane bunch of inflation haters with an incredible manufacturing base/export record. So err yeah, the people currently doing the disciplining where “experts” whose institutionalised methodology could barely tell the difference between Germany and Portugal for fuck sake, the latter being a country whose capital city is absolutely fabulous and totally worth seeing, but from personal memory was backward enough to have street beggars suffering from horrendously advanced elephantitis.

But, setting that general fucking utter and total ineptness to one side, there’s the lovely wee causal chain now in motion that raises a number of questions:

1) Bond investor suddenly gets the willies about country A and herd mentality kicks in big time
2) What country A has to pay for its debt spikes as a result
3) Country A is no longer able to borrow/can’t afford to borrow any more cos of the spike
4) Country A gets a bail out from the ECB, the EU, the IMF, MFI, WTF, etc.,

The thing is though throughout this process Country A makes this simple claim (in amongst a raft of others) – our bondholders will be fully repaid, we will not default on any government debt.

Obviously, given it’s a politician, it’s perhaps wise to take this kind of shit with a grain of salt, but because the Eurocrats don’t want any member state defaulting, there’s a huge fucking in your face dollop of truth in it. Hence when defaulting becomes a real possibility the EU steps in and hey presto the bailout means country A doesn’t.

Now lets get back to banking basics here for a mo, which is the risk should be reflected in the reward. Except, for investors in bonds this simply isn’t the case; they get the rewards, you fucking bet they get the rewards, but when the risk starts to appear and push comes to shove allova sudden a bailout happens and it disappears again because France and Germany have stumped up the readies.

But, hang on in the case of Ireland its up shit creek because the government put the Irish people on the hook for the Irish banks whereas now the day has been saved because Germany (and France) have in turn put themselves on the hook for Ireland, so shouldn’t this same indirect on the hooked-ness now apply to Irish sovereign debt i.e. shouldn’t their cost of borrowing fall back to German levels? Not yet it hasn’t, which leaves me thinking we’re in a heads you lose tails I win situation as far as it goes with investors in government debt because as the cost of government debt increases so the risk of default (due to this forcing a default) recedes.

The one caveat and potential saving grace here is Spain. Ireland and Greece (and Portugal) are all very well, but their actual economies just aren’t that big so as a result can all be readily sacrificed/bailed out to appease the sovereign debt gods. Spain on the other hand is big. In fact in credit crunch banking parlance it’s arguably to big to fail, so as bond investors and speculators start speculating for their own short-term personal gain with this ramping up what the Spanish government has to pay to borrow as a result, one obvious option that emerges is to let the risk-reward aspect of lending reappear. In fact fuck it lets get co-ordinated on their fucking asses and have a pan-European sovereign debt default, which would leave the greedy fuckers looking about for someone else to lend to and then after realising perhaps North Korea isn’t the safest of options at the mo, mebbe a 10% haircut on debt I was already getting 6% or whatever on isn’t so bad after all. Except we won’t because we’re sad cunts.

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