Monday, March 23, 2009

Private Sector credit supply is being damaged by this Government

A recent working paper from the European Central Bank, titled "Modelling Loans to Non-Financial Corporations in the Euro Area" (ECB WP No 989/January 2009) provided a benchmark model for assessing the impact of twin shocks of increase in the policy rate (ECB main interest rate) and increase in the banking system risk premium on the supply of credit to non-financial corporations across the Eurozone. The authors, Christoffer Kok Sørensen, David Marqués Ibáñez and Carlotta Rossi showed that a 25bps increase in the headline interest rate "causes a reduction in bank lending of about 1.4%, 5.4% and 6.4% after 2, 5 and 10 years, respectively. A 20bp increase in the risk premium on bank lending rate reduces bank lending to non-financial corporations by about 0.6%, 4.0% and 5.1% after 2, 5 and 10 years, respectively."

Of course, the first experiment coincides fully with the ECB's reckless 25bps hike in rates between June 2007 and October 2008. The second, however, is even more dramatically important from the point of view of private credit availability. Between August 2007 and today, Irish bank's risk premia on lending to the banks has risen by some 300%, implying, under the ECB model, an expected drop in the credit supply to Irish non-financial corporations of ca 9-11% in 2009-2010, rising to a whooping 75-99% between 2009-2018.

Alternatively, between December 2008 and today, the average weekly CDS spreads on Irish Government bonds have risen some 160bps. Given our state's exposure to banks debts, this is a comparatively reasonable measure of the overall increase in the risk premium on banks lending. Thus, within the span of only 3.5 months, our expected credit supply to non-financial corporations has fallen by the estimated 5-6% for the period 2009-2010, 30-35% for the period of 2009-2013 and by 40-47% for the period of 2009-2018.

As I always said, Mr Lenihan should stop blaming the Americans for this crisis. And he should stop saying that there is no cost to the broader economy from his rushed general debt guarantee to the banks. Instead he should look at his Government's fiscal imbalances, wobbling decisions on financial sector rescue, blanket and unsustainable guarantees to the banks, appeasement of trade unions at the expense of the taxpayers, destruction of the private sector via higher taxation and charges, etc - in other words all the policies that undermine international markets' confidence in Ireland Inc. His policies, responsible directly for the rising risk premium on Irish Government debt are also destroying the private credit markets here. Not only today, but well into the future.

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