Monday, July 28, 2014

28/7/2014: Of Savings, Cash and Hedge Funds...


The current crisis, on monetary aggregates side, can be characterised by the rising prevalence of cash over savings. In other words: shrinking stock of credit and deposits relative to cash.

The current crisis, on media commentary side, can be characterised by the endless talk about high savings rates in the private sector.

Here is the problem: savings = inflows into stock of savings (aka, deposits) or investment or divestment out of loans (including forced restructurings, bankruptcies, insolvencies and foreclosures). We know that Irish investment is not growing at the rates worth even mentioning. Which means that Either deposits should be growing to reflect 'high savings' or debt should be shrinking.

Take a look at the difference between M3 money supply and M1 money supply.

By definition:

  • "Money Supply (M1) to euro area -M1 is the sum of overnight deposits and currency issued (this comprises the Central Bank's share of euro banknotes issued in the Eurosystem, in proportion to its paid-up shares in the capital of the ECB, plus coin issued by the Bank less holdings of issued euro banknotes and coin by the MFI sector). " 
  • "Money Supply (M2) to the euro area -M2 is the sum of M1 plus deposits (with agreed maturity of up to 2 years; redeemable at notice of up to 3 months and Post Office savings bank deposits)."
  • M3 is M2 plus deposits with maturity over 2 years.
So the gap between M1 and M3 is deposits.


The M3-M1 gap has fallen since the onset of the crisis. It has fallen along the steady trend line, with some volatility around the dates of banks recapitalisations. And it continues to fall. In fact, between December 2013 and May 2014 we have the longest uninterrupted decline in deposits in history of the series. Current level of the gap is sitting only EUR7 billion above the all-time historical record low. In fact, during this 'historically high savings rates' period, Irish monetary system has managed to reduce the stock of deposits, compared to pre-crisis levels, by EUR85.91 billion.

But while savings (deposits) are falling, 'savings' (debt deleveraging) is all the rage:


You can see what has been happening in the Money Supply territory and private credit here:


With all of these 'high savings' promoted by the official statistics and 'new lending' promoted by the Banking Federation, the Central Bank is now officially giving up on getting those 'repaired and recapitlaised banks' to lend into the real economy (something they were supposed to do since early 2009 - based on the promise of the October 2008 Guarantee, then since early 2010 - based on the various Government programmes, then since first half 2011 - based on the banks recaps and PCARs, then since 2012, based on Government programme agreed with the Troika, then since early 2013, based on Government spin of a turnaround in the economy...). Instead of hoping for the Pillar Banking System to miraculously come back to life, the Central Bank is opening up the floodgates for the hedge funds (here courtesy of fire sales of assets by Nama) to lend into economy, despite the fact that such lending is considered to be a high-risk activity. Nothing like selling pennies on the euro and then celebrating euros on pennies debt reload...


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