In late 2008, financial stress became widespread and perceptions of risk hit new highs. Concerns related to contagion among countries also had an increasing effect on premiums and increased the financing cost for many economies. The response to this problem was austerity – to stress the importance of getting the fiscal situation, and thereby the levels of debt of those countries with this problem, under control.
The returns to that effort, however, remain obscure. For example, some countries with increasingly large debt-to-GDP ratios benefit from historically low risk premiums, while several countries that applied radical measures to reduce their public debt still have to finance their debt at very high interest rates. France, for example, has a public-debt-to-GDP ratio that is expected to reach 91.8% in 2014. In July 2014, the country raised nearly €3.4 billion in ten-year bonds at the historically low rate of 1.77%.
Structural reform lowers country risk
Real gross domestic product increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.2% in the second quarter, the BEA published this morning. This was the second estimate for Q2, the initial estimate had been a growth rate of 4.0%.
In Q1, GDP decreased at a rate of 2.1%.
GDP measures the new products or services provided in a specific window of time (e.g. the 3rd quarter of 2014, or all of 2013). If all the effort in producing a new product comes in development, but it is then copied for free, this means that there is a one-time contribution to GDP in the year it was developed, and then nothing afterwards.
Things like refrigerators, Diet Coke, and cars contribute to GDP every period because we have to make new versions of them over and over again. But in one sense that is a bug, not a feature. Imagine if, having invented Diet Coke, you could make copies for free. That would lower GDP, as Coca-Cola would drop to essentially zero revenue from here forward. But it’s demonstrably better, right? Free Diet Coke? Where do I put in the IV line?
Dietz Vollrath, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Houston
The federal government ran a budget deficit of $94.6 billion during the month of July. This compares with a $97.6 billion deficit in July of 2013.
Receipts for the month totaled $210.6 billion, up from $200.0 billion a year earlier. Total outlays were $305.2 billion from $297.6 billion a year earlier.
The rolling 12-month U.S. government budget deficit through July was $534.3 billion, an improvement from $537.3 billion in June. The rolling 12-month budget balance as a percentage of gross domestic product is -3.09%.
With a nominal gross domestic product of nearly $17 trillion, the U.S. is easily the world’s largest economy. Naturally, a small change in U.S. GDP can have a lasting impact on the economies of less developed countries.
An analysis conducted by Credit Suisse shows the degree to which an increase in U.S. GDP causes GDP shifts in select emerging nations. For instance, a 1% increase in U.S. GDP leads to around a 1% increase in Russia’s GDP after one quarter and around a 3% increase after four quarters.
This suggests that Brazil, Mexico, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Turkey are all heavily reliant on a stable U.S. economy. Nations like China, India, Poland, and Indonesia, while still quite benefited by a healthy U.S., are less dependent.
Some interesting visualizations have been published by Standard Chartered in the new report Local Markets Compendium.
This large tree map shows the size of total government debt outstanding across 161 countries worldwide. Each rectangle shows the size of each bond market, and the color of each square shows the debt-to-GDP ratio for that country.
In 2002, the world government bond market was $22.98 trillion in size. As of the end of 2012, it had reached $57.90 trillion.
This map shows what portion of each government’s debt is held by foreign investors.
And this map shows government debt as a percentage of GDP.
Public sector debt in Japan has reached unmanageable levels, as shown in the below chart from SocGen. Japan’s maturing debt and budget deficit combine for 58.4% of GDP in 2013, a figure that is a multiple of other developed nations.
Japan has received a great deal of both criticism and praise for its monetary policy choices, but given the situation it has gotten itself into, what choice does it have but to amp up the printing press?