Wednesday, January 5, 2011

05/01/2011: Exchequer returns - part 1

So the Exchequer returns are out and I will blog on these in detail over the next couple of days with in-depth annual data analysis. In the mean time, let's take a quick look at the official statement. Couple of things - other than headline figures - come to the forefront:
1) Minister Lenihan statement, and
2) Nama news

First, Minister statement (emphasis and commentary are mine):
"On the spending side, overall net voted expenditure at €46.4 billion was over €700 million below the level recorded in 2009, reflecting the ongoing tight control of public spending. While day-to-day spending was marginally ahead of target in the year, this is due to a shortfall in Departmental receipts rather than overruns in spending.

[In fact, DofF data shows that overall spending savings this year relative to 2009 were €729mln, consisting of a cut of €990mln on capital spending side and an overspend of €261mln on current spending side. This, by any possible means, does not constitute any real 'tight control' over public spending. In fact, the net savings achieved in 2010 on 2009 amount to 0.463% of GDP. Given the Government is aiming to cut some 7% off 2014 GDP in deficit reductions through 2014, this means that at the pace of 2010 'tight control' savings, Minister Lenihan's budgetary measures can be expected to deliver 3% deficit in 20.1 years or by 2031, not by 2014.

Or let my suggest the following arithmetic Minister Lenihan should have engaged in in judging his own performance (remember, 'tight control' is something he was supposed to deliver over the last 3 years and 4 Budgets): if we take an increase from the average bond yields of 2009 to the average bond yields of 2010,
  • In the course of 2010, the interest cost of financing our 2010 deficit, rose by ca €750mln;
  • In the course of 2010, Minister Lenihan achieved net savings of €729mln
  • Conclusion: Minister Lenihan's 'tight control' doesn't even cover the rising interest rate bill on our deficits, let alone our debt!]

... The Government has consistently identified export-led growth as the strategy that will return this economy to growth and generate jobs. This strategy is working thanks to the improvement of competitiveness, and the flexibility and adaptability of the Irish economy. Exports in 2010 were at an all time high and represented growth of 6.2% on 2009. This strong performance was particularly positive in the manufacturing and agri-food sectors.

[So Minister Lenihan has 'identified' export-led growth as the strategy to deliver on 2014 fiscal targets. This is true. Achieving 3% deficit in 2014, per Government own white paper for 2011-2014 (I refuse to call this fiction a National Recovery Plan), will require creation of 300,000 exporting jobs. Now, using past historical data, creation of 300,000 exporting jobs in 4 years will require a 50% increase in overall exports, implying an annual average growth rate in exports of ca 10.8%. Every year, folks. Not 6.2% achieved in 2010 that delivered historically high levels of exports of €161 billion, but 10.8%. You be the judge how realistic Government's fiction is.]

Now on to Nama-related news.

Cornerturned blog has posted on the change in Nama ownership from 49% State-owned to only around 33% State-owned. This constitutes a public asset give away to private shareholders in Nama SPV - aka 3 Irish banks. Nama is now maximising returns rather than repairing the banking system, this implies that the latest change of ownership structure is indeed a transfer of an asset.

However, even more revealing is the charade that this latest twist in Nama situation reveals. Per latest change, Nama is now owned (67%) by banks, of which one is outright owned by the taxpayer, another has significant taxpayer stake and the third - well, the third will probably also require taxpayer equity injections at certain point in time. Two of these banks have received state aid which was also used to 'invest' in Nama SPV. Hence we have:
  1. Taxpayers pay banks to 'invest' in Nama SPV and 'invest' in the SPV directly as well via Exchequer 49% stake;
  2. Nama uses taxpayers money to 'repair' the banks;
  3. Taxpayers write off part of their share in favor of banks which are themselves on life support courtesy of taxpayers funds;
  4. Banks - not taxpayers - will reap any potential upside from the SPV.
Which means, really, that in Nama SPV we have an Enron-ized Parmalat - dodgy accounting tricks used to conceal the real nature of ownership leading to a reverse commissariamento disclosed today... Well done, lads.
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