Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Against EFSF? Really?

Estonia's parliament will vote on expanding the powers of EFSF tomorrow together with Germany. As always media and politics have managed to develop a circus out of the discussion preceeding the vote. Polls show that Estonian people are mostly against expanding EFSF (also those supporting our current right-liberal government). Some of the people shout out arguments like "Greece should go bankrupt" or "Why do we have to feed banks". This was followed by a statement from our centre (populist) opposition party that they also don't support joining the EFSF probably hoping to get some votes. Since people are getting very emotional on this subject I will lay out some most important facts about EFSF. (Check these out yourself HERE)

1) First and foremost - EFSF was created with an intention to preserve financial stability in the eurozone by providing temporary financial assistance to governments or banks in difficulty. In other words it is supposed to AVOID crises like we are in now.
2) EFSF finances itself by issuing bonds that are guaranteed by all 17 eurozone countries up to 440 billion euros. Countries participating in EFSF do not pay any additional funds to EFSF, it is backed by guarantees.
3) EFSF is only a temporary measure to handle the current crisis and its permanent follower will be ESM or European Stabilisation Mechanism.

Q: What happens if a country doesn't participate in the EFSF?
A: There's a risk that other countries don't want to particpate as well, who will finance the EFSF then?

Q: Why do we need EFSF at all?
A: To avoid uncontrolled bankruptcies of banks and countries

Q: Why do we need to avoid their bankruptcies if they have overspent?
A: Since if we don't borrowing costs for countries like Italy, Spain, France, Belgium etc will rise significantly leading to other bankruptcies. Banking system as we know it might fall because of the losses that these banks will have (the banks are holding the bonds that are worthless after a bankruptcy of a country). There will be no more euro.

Q: What happens if euro goes?
A: Countries like Germany, Estonia, Finland, Netherlands etc that are financially sound will get currencies that will rise significantly in value causing our exports to fall greatly (it is then more expensive for other countries to buy our products). This will bring massive unemployment and loss in economic welfare. It has been estimated that the effects of such an event would lead to 20-40% fall in GDP in first year. For countries like Spain, Italy and Greece this might even leed to civil war since their currency would devalue so greatly that the people of these countries are unable to pay off their loans. There would be massive unemployment since there is no funding for investments (who would borrow to a bankrupt country in civil war?). GDP of these countries could even fall 50% or more. (Analysis is done by UBS).

The total loss of these events will surpass trillions of euros (if you look at European GDP of about 12 trillion EUR). The countries going through tough austerity measures including budget cuts and reforms will hopefully turn to growth in a couple of years. It is not like regular people of these countries aren't suffering enough already. Hasn't Europe learned anything from its history just 70 years ago? It's not like we are not on the edge of a cliff..

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