The Delays Begin: Italy Pushes Back Balanced Budget Target By One Year
As reported last week, and as shown brilliantly by Artemis Capital, the end of every reliquification phase by the Fed, such as the imminent end of Operation Twist with nothing firmly set to replace it, is always accompanied by a surge in vol, which in turn leads to market days like the past week, when market summaries are simple: either it is all Risk On, or Risk Off. Expect many more of these until Twist finally ends in just over two months at which point much more liquidity will be needed to achieve the same "flow" results. It just so happens that today is a risk On day, driven by previously noted "catalyst." Yet what is great about such days is that they allow all the bad news to be packed into a tidy little package and disseminated without anyone noticing, or pretending to notice. Such as the just announced headline from Reuters, which on any other day would have crippled the mood, that "Italy will delay by a year its current plan to balance its budget in 2013, according to a draft forecasting document to be approved by the cabinet on Wednesday." And while we have seen this over and over in the past 2 years, first with Greece, then with all the other PIIGS, it merely exposes the fact that exuberant optimism never pans out in a world in which the real average debt/GDP is what Reinhart and Rogoff would simply call "unsustainable." And while this news will matter once Germany realizes that its precious fiscal pact is already been soundly rejected, first by Spain and now Italy, for now it is but a footnote in the otherwise lacking newsflow: after all Spain managed to issue €2 billion in Bills, which contrary to yesterday, provides that all is again well in Europe. Until Thursday at least when Spain has to issue 10 year bonds, which just happen to mature outside of the LTRO. The narrative then may be somewhat different.
The draft Economic and Financial document, obtained by Reuters, raises the budget deficit forecasts for 2012-2014 and slashes this year's economic growth outlook.
The 2012 deficit target is increased marginally to 1.7 percent of gross domestic product from 1.6 percent, while the 2013 goal is raised to 0.5 percent from 0.1 percent.
The substantially balanced budget (a 0.1 percent deficit) is now targeted in 2014.
The economy is now forecast to contract by 1.2 percent this year, according to the document, compared with a 0.4 percent decline in GDP projected by Mario Monti's government in December.
The draft DEF forecasts that the public debt will rise this year to 123.4 percent of GDP from 120.1 percent in 2011, and fall in 2013 to 121.6 percent.
To summarize the hockey stick in all its glory: 2012 GDP growth cut by 0.8% in 2012, but offset by even more growth in 2013. When incidentally, total debt to GDP is now expected to grow from 120.1% to 121.6%. How this happens? Don't ask us - one needs a Harvard Econ Ph.D. to reach such improbable conclusions.
As for Italy, here is an artist's rendeing of all current and future projections: