Benn Steil

Geo-Graphics

A graphical take on geoeconomic issues, with links to the news and expert commentary.

The BRIC Twist Didn’t Work

by the Center for Geoeconomic Studies Monday, October 31, 2011

China, Russia, and Brazil Bond Buying, 2009-11

On September 21st the Fed announced that it would be selling $400 billion in short-term Treasurys and buying $400 billion in longer-term Treasurys to replace them – a maneuver titled “Operation Twist.” Atlanta Fed president Dennis Lockhart explained what it would mean for the economy: “It means lower interest rates – a lower cost of borrowing – across a whole spectrum of loan maturities.” Is he right? Well, China, Russia, and Brazil have conducted their own version of Operation Twist over the past several years, replacing roughly $330 billion in short-term Treasurys with long-term ones. The 10-year Treasury rate went sideways over that period, as shown in the figure above. Whereas the BRIC* Twist may have put some modest downward pressure on longer-term rates, other factors overwhelmed it. Don’t expect much from the Fed’s similar-sized version.

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Eurozone Bank Deposits Are Fleeing for Germany

by the Center for Geoeconomic Studies Thursday, October 13, 2011

PIGS vs. German Bank Deposits

The eurozone leadership is finally coming around to accepting that a major continent-wide bank recapitalization program is necessary.  Germany wants each country to take care of its own banks.  This approach could buy time, but it won’t work for long.  National bank backstops are untenable in a common currency area, as each sovereign has its own credit risk profile.  Depositors will simply flee toward the better backstops.  This can already be seen in the correlation between bank deposits in Germany and the PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain).  Before the financial crisis, those deposits were tightly correlated, as shown in the graphic above, but over the past two years the correlation has flipped – deposits are fleeing the PIGS and flying into Germany.  A stable eurozone banking system will require a unified regulatory, resolution, and rescue regime. Read more »