Category Archives: Euro

16/10/19: Ireland and the Global Trade Wars


My first column for The Currency covering "Ireland, global trade wars and economic growth: Why Ireland’s economic future needs to be re-imagined": https://www.thecurrency.news/articles/1151/ireland-global-trade-wars-and-economic-growth-why-irelands-economic-future-needs-to-be-re-imagined.


Synopsis: “Trade conflicts sweeping across the globe today are making these types of narrower bilateral agreements the new reality for our producers and policymakers.”


20/8/19: Public Spending in the Euro Area: Post-Crisis Austerity?


Given the never-ending repetition of the 'austerity narrative' in European economic analysis, it is virtually impossible to conclusively address the issue of changes in public spending during the crisis and the post-crisis periods and the relationship between fiscal policies and economic growth. Thew reason for this is the lack of singular set metrics that can capture these dimensions of the debate.

However, this lack should not be a reason for not trying.

Here is an interesting chart (based on the IMF WEO data and 2019 forecasts), plotting average Government expenditure as a share of GDP for two periods for euro area economies. The two periods under consideration are: 2000-2007 and 2013-2019. I am also showing two metrics for Ireland: the GDP (a measure of economic activity that vastly overstates the true extent of national economic activity) and GNI* (an official Irish Government metric of national economic activity). Note: using 2014-2019 average paint effectively the same picture.


The picture is worrying. Thirteen out of nineteen euro area economies have witnessed a rise in Government spending as a share of GDP in post-crisis period compared to pre-crisis period, two experienced virtually no change, and four experienced declines. In other words, based on the ratio of Government spending to economic activity, only four states exhibit a clear case of 'austerity'.

Ireland is an interesting outlier to the picture (hence, reporting of GNI* metric): based on GDP measure, Ireland's Government spending as a share of GDP averaged 32.85 percent per annum in 2000-2007, and this fell to 30.32 percent in 2013-2019 - an austerity gap of 2.53 percentage points per annum. But based on GNI* measure, Ireland's Government spending rose from 38.69 percent in pre-crisis years to 45.51 percent in post-crisis period - an expansion gap of 6.82 percentage points.

Overall, using the above metric, top austerity countries in the euro area are:

  • Malta (gap of -4.86 percent)
  • Ireland (GDP gap of -2.53 percent)
  • Germany (gap of -2.227 percent)
  • Austria (gap of -1.311 percent)
Top fiscal expansion countries are:
  • Finland (7.514 percent)
  • Ireland (GNI* gap of 6.822 percent)
  • Spain (4.3 percent)
  • Estonia (4.26 percent)


16/7/19: Corporate Yields are Heading South in the Euro Land


Some of the euro area's junk-rated corporate debt is now trading at negative yields, and over 15% of near-junk debt is also charging the lenders to provide cash to financially weaker companies:

Source: WSJ

While the overall stock of negative yielding debt (sovereign and corporate) is now nearing $13.5 trillion worldwide:
Source: Bloomberg

All in 51 percent of all European Government bonds are trading at negative yields, and just over 30 percent of all investment grade corporate bond issued in Euro.

The percentage of negative yielding debt amongst junk-rated corporates is small. Bank of America ML estimated that the percentage of BB-rated European corporate bonds with negative yield rose from 0.225% at the end of May to 1.5% at the end of June. Back then, 14 companies had junk-rated bonds rated BB or lower with negative yields, with total market value of $3 billion.

The chart below plots corporate junk-rated bond yields index for the euro issuers:


Meanwhile, Greek Government bonds auction this week went into a massive demand overdrive. Greece sold more than EUR13 billion worth of 7-year bonds, almost EUR11 billion more than it planned originally, at the yields of 1.9 percent, or 2.4 percentage points above the Eurozone benchmark average. The spread to Eurozone benchmark has now fallen from 3.73 percent in March sale. In fact, U.S. 7 year bonds are selling at a yield of 1.97 percent, implying lower yields for Greek debt than the U.S. debt.

Here is the chart plotting Euro area sovereign yield curves for AAA-rated and for all bonds:


The yields on AAA-rated debt are negative out to 13 years maturity, and for all bonds to 8 years maturity. 

12/6/19: All’s Well in the Euro Paradise


All is well in the Euro [economy] Paradise...


Via @FT, Germany's latest 10 year bunds auction got off a great start as "the country auctioned 10-year Bunds at a yield of minus 0.24 per cent, according to Germany’s finance agency. The yield was well below the minus 0.07 per cent at the previous 10-year auction in late May. The previous trough of minus 0.11 per cent was recorded in 2016. Notably, demand in Wednesday’s auction was the weakest since late January, with investors placing bids for 1.6-times more than the €22bn that was issued."

Because while the "Euro is forever", economic growth (and the possibility of monetary normalisation) is for never...