Iceland PM Warns Nation's FX Shortfall "Is Matter Of Huge Concern"

Just a few weeks ago, the Icelandic government started threatening to use the European 'template' of removing guarantees on large deposits (though maintaining its capital controls) indirectly pressuring the wealthy to spend (for fear of haircuts). However, the capital controls have backfired as Bloomberg notes, Iceland’s private sector is running out of cash to repay its foreign currency debt, according to the nation’s central bank. The Prime Minister has said that the FX shortfall - exacerbated by his own policy restricting the selling of Krona - is "a matter of huge concern." The government’s biggest challenge is to allow capital to flow freely without triggering a krona sell-off that would cause Iceland’s foreign debt to spike and undermine the nation’s economic recovery.

 

The yield on Iceland’s 5.875 percent dollar $1 billion bond due May 2022 has soared this year to as high as 5.71 percent last month from a low in May of 3.81 percent. Its spread to the U.S. Treasury curve widened to around 280 basis points yesterday from a May 28 low of around 180 basis points.



Via Bloomberg,

Iceland’s private sector is running out of cash to repay its foreign currency debt, according to the nation’s central bank.

 

Non-krona debt owed by entities besides the Treasury and the central bank due through 2018 totals about 700 billion kronur ($5.8 billion), the bank said yesterday. The projected current account surpluses over the next five years aren’t estimated to reach even half of that and will equal a shortfall of about 20 percent of gross domestic product.

 

The nation faces a “repayment risk of foreign debt by private entities in the economy, who don’t have access to foreign financial markets,” Sigridur Benediktsdottir, head of financial stability at the Reykjavik-based central bank, said yesterday in an interview. “We view this as being exacerbated or made worse by the fact that our current account is actually declining.”

 

Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson has said Iceland’s foreign exchange shortfall is “a matter of huge concern” as he tries to scale back currency controls in place since 2008. The government’s biggest challenge is to allow capital to flow freely without triggering a krona sell-off that would cause Iceland’s foreign debt to spike and undermine the nation’s economic recovery.

 

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“Repayment of this debt is currently under capital controls,” said Benediktsdottir. “So we can use the capital controls to actually manage the outflow of those repayments. By doing so, we can keep both financial and currency stability.”

 

 

Whocouldanode that Capital Controls and the restriction of free markets would have unintended consequences?