Thursday, February 12, 2015

Why is a forced debt reduction considered a “haircut”, while having to pay more taxes, accept inflation or negative interests is not?

Intro: If I am a European and have invested my savings in a bond issued by my sovereign, and then my sovereign cannot repay me without increasing the taxes on me, or printing the money that by means of inflation allows it to repay me with money worth less… is that not a slighted disguised but yet a very real haircut? 

Current bank regulators require banks to have much less equity when lending to the government than when lending to a small businesses or an entrepreneur. 

And we must presume that means regulators feel it is less risky to us citizens when banks lend to the government, and the use of that money is decided by bureaucrats, than when the spending of the money they are responsible for is decided by small businesses or entrepreneurs. 

I don’t get it. Do you?

Might that be because governments are less risky because they have the power to tax or to print money?

If so, why do regulators not explain to us how repaying by having to collect more taxes, or repaying through inflation, is de facto not quite similar to any regular “haircut”.

Really? Is a sovereign less risky because if it cannot repay its debt it can always tax some debt holders and other innocent bystanders more?

Really? Is a sovereign less risky because if it cannot repay its debt it can always print more money and repay you with money worth less?

Friends, are these bank regulators truly working for us citizens, or are they only working for government bureaucrats? Or is it only all about ideology?

PS. When credit rating agencies rate sovereigns, should they not realize that increased taxes and printing money inflation are de facto haircuts?

PS. If I purchase a 10-year US government bond paying 1.97%, and the Fed tells me it is pursuing a 2% inflation… is this a prepaid haircut?

PS. Should banks, insurance companies or pension funds be allowed to invest in bonds with negative interest.... meaning pre-announced prepaid minimum haircuts?

PS. Can somebody please raise some prices, so to make central bankers happy and get deflation out of their heads, and so that they allow us being paid at least some interest on our savings, when we , almost widows and orphans, save in something that is supposed to be safe?  

PS. And the above does not even touch on the haircuts provided by devaluations.