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Morgan Stanley: Government Defaults Inevitable

Morgan Stanley: Government Defaults Inevitable 

Courtesy of JESSE’S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN

Person's hands along side a turned out pocket

In addition to "It’s different this time" and "Self sufficiency is an out-moded concept" one of the deadliest assumptions is "That can never happen here."

Morgan Stanley says what we have all known for some time. There will be government defaults of various types on debts which have become unmanageable.

As we see in a UK Telegraph story today, a report claims the Tories are placing the greatest pain in managing their budget gaps on the backs of the less well to do, presumably protecting their more well to do constituency. No surprise to anyone if it is true. And yet this may not be enough unless the economy recovers and the great mass of the public can regain some reasonable level of organic economic activity.

In the States, the uber wealthy will be spending large sums to lobby against new taxes, and even removing tax cuts that were known to be untenable, and based on false economic assumptions, at the time they were passed under Bush. Instead they will point to more broadly public and regressive taxes such as VATs, and seek to curtail public programs like Medicare and Social Security, while leaving their own subsidies and welfare, such as those in the financial sector and corporate and dividend tax breaks, sacrosanct.

In the US the broad mass of consumer have been the economy’s golden goose, and after decades of median wage stagnation, neo-liberal economic policies, and overseas military expansions and expeditions, that goose looks cooked.

But at the end of the day this soft class warfare, despite its vicious hypocrisy and pettiness, is all intramurals, as the real defaults and debt reconciliation will most likely be in the form of artificially low bond rates accompanied by devaluations in the Western fiat currencies. I have been trying to figure out a way that a selective default could be accomplished, but have not quite muddled through that yet.

The limit of the Fed’s and Treasury’s ability to monetize the debt, which is a form of default through a true monetary inflation, is the value of the dollar and the bond. People who have never lived through it will begin to finally understand this in the days to come.

Bloomberg 
Morgan Stanley Says Government Defaults Inevitable

By Matthew Brown
Aug 25, 2010 11:44 AM ET

Investors will face defaults on government bonds given the burden of aging populations and the difficulty of securing more tax revenue, according to Morgan Stanley.

Governments will impose a loss on some of their stakeholders,” Arnaud Mares, an executive director at Morgan Stanley in London, wrote in a research report today. “The question is not whether they will renege on their promises, but rather upon which of their promises they will renege, and what form this default will take.” The sovereign-debt crisis is global “and it is not over,” the report said.

Borrowing costs for so-called peripheral euro-region nations such as Greece and Ireland surged today, resuming their ascent on concern that governments won’t be able to narrow their budget deficits. Standard & Poor’s downgraded Ireland’s credit rating yesterday on concern about the rising costs to support nationalized banks.

Mares said debt as a percentage of gross domestic product is a false indicator of an economy’s health given it doesn’t reflect governments’ available revenue and is “backward- looking.” While the U.S. government’s debt is 53 percent of GDP, one of the lowest ratios among developed nations, its debt as a percentage of revenue is 358 percent, one of the highest, the report said. Conversely, Italy has one of the highest debt- to-GDP ratios, at 116 percent, yet has a debt-to-revenue ratio of 188, Mares said.

Double Dip

“Outright sovereign default in large advanced economies remains an extremely unlikely outcome, in our view,” the report said. “But current yields and break-even inflation rates provide very little protection against the credible threat of financial oppression in any form it might take.”

Mares once worked at the U.K.’s Debt Management Office and is a former senior vice-president at credit-rating company Moody’s Investors Service.

“Note that a double-dip recession would not invalidate this conclusion,” Mares’ report said. “It would cause yet further damage to the governments’ power to tax, pushing them further in negative equity and therefore increasing the risks that debt holders suffer a larger loss eventually.”

Investors’ concern that the U.S. may fall back into recession has grown in recent weeks as U.S. economic data missed economists’ estimates. A Citigroup Inc. index of U.S. economic data surprises fell to minus 59 last week, the least since January 2009…

“The conflict that opposes bondholders to other government stakeholders is more intense than ever, and their interests are no longer sufficiently well-aligned with those of influential political constituencies,” such as elderly voters and their claims on pensions and health insurance, Mares wrote.


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