Thursday, December 6, 2012

6/12/2012: 2008 and the Confidence Fairy

An interesting paper on euro area levels of financial stress arising from household debt (here). Do note that data on which this is based refers to 2008 survey, so is pretty dated by all possible means.

Recall that back in 2008 no one in the Official Ireland was even slightly concerned with household debt levels. I recall AIB senior banking team making rounds through the brokerage houses in late 2008 blabbing out mythological stuff like: "Irish people do not default on mortgages" and "Not a single cent from the State".

Yet, the data in the link above clearly shows that Ireland was already building up some serious payments problems:

Figure 1: Proportion of the population in a critical situation with respect to arrears and outstanding amounts by poverty status, 2008 (% of specified population) - Source: Eurostat 2008 ad-hoc module 'Over-indebtedness and financial exclusion'
Note that for the vulnerable population group, Ireland sports the 5th highest rate of stress in the EU.

But the really interesting chart is the following one:

Figure 6: Expectation for the financial situation for the forthcoming 12 months, 2008 (%) (NB: Households could also answer ‘to stay about the same’ or ‘don’t know’)
The above shows the following interesting fact: in 2008, Irish people had a pretty reasonably average ratio of optimism to pessimism. This ratio is roughly consistent with that in France, Belgium, Slovenia and the Netherlands. Our optimism for 12 months ahead was higher than the EU27 average and our pessimism levels were below those for any other bailout country. In other words, that confidence fairy was working our way... and the outcome of that was...

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