Friday, May 14, 2010

Economics 14/05/2010: IMF on fiscal stability I

So the IMF analysis of changes in global fiscal positions is out today and makes an interesting reading. Here are some high level observations, pertaining to Ireland.

In relation to the EU and Irish Government consistent attacks on so called ‘bond speculators’, IMF states: “Net CDS positions amount to only about 5 percent of outstanding government debt in Portugal (the country with the highest share), 4 percent in Ireland, and 2 percent in Greece and Spain. In other countries, including Italy, the ratio is even lower, and it is extremely small for Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.”

In other words, CDS markets are shallow and cannot be expected to have a significant effect on sovereign bond spreads or yields.

However, per IMF: “The analysis uses 5-year CDS and 10-year bonds, as they are the most liquid maturities. Granger causality tests over the period January 2008–April 2010 show that the CDS spreads anticipated bond spreads (measured by the Relative Asset Swap spreads), while the reverse is not true.” In other words, as I’ve stated on many occasions before – CDS markets are a good predictor of sovereign yields.

Another interesting analysis from the IMF. I am adding to it adjustment for Ireland to GNP figures, per usual argument that GDP is largely irrelevant for our country real income metrics. I also added rankings columns for two main parameters of fiscal sustainability.
One should be concerned with the figures provided above. While international comparisons call for GDP as a benchmark for national income, in Irish case, this metric is best captured by GNP. And of course, GDP/GNP gap is growing rather dramatically...

I will be posting more on IMF analysis over the next couple of days, so stay tuned.

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