Friday, June 4, 2010

Economics 04/06/2010: Bond markets are still jittery

For all the EU efforts:
  • Throwing hundreds of billions into the markets in bonds supports;
  • Banning 'speculative' transactions;
  • Talking tough on reforms;
  • Bashing rating agencies into a quasi-submission; and
  • Proposing a 'markets calming' [more like 'markets killing'] financial transactions taxes
There has been preciously little change in the way the bond markets are pricing sovereign debt of the PIIGS. More ominously, the crisis is not only far from containment, it is spreading. Following PIIGS, the attention is now shifting onto BAN countries - Belgium, Austria and Netherlands. And in the case of Austria, the unhappy return of the Eastern European woes is now seemingly on the cards.

How so? Look no further than Hungary. The country had taken IMF bailout money, promising to deliver severe austerity measures. It now faces a new round of pressures due to once again accelerating deficits. It looks like the cuts enacted were not structural in nature, amounting to chopping capital expenditure programmes rather than current spending... Sounds familiar? so here we go again (courtesy of Calculated Risk blog): spreads are rising (Ireland's position as the second sickest country by this metric remains unchallenged) and CDS rates are rising as well (Ireland's still in number 3 spot).
As Calculated Risk points: "After declining early last week, sovereign debt spreads have begun widening for peripheral euro area countries. As of June 1, the 10-year bond spread stands at 503 basis points (bps) for Greece, 219 bps for Ireland, 195 bps for Portugal, and 162 bps for Spain."

Let's get back to Hungary, though: yesterday, Hungarian officials said that instead of 3.8% of GDP deficit target, 2010 is likely to see the deficit widening to 7-7.5% of GDP. Who's to blame? Well, per Reuters report: '"fiscal skeletons" left by the previous Socialist administration'.

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