Monday, August 6, 2012

Draghi and friends just want your money

by Bill Gross

Financial Times

August 6, 2012

Psst! Investors – do you wanna know a secret? Do you wanna know what Angela Merkel, François Hollande, Christine Lagarde and Mario Draghi all share in common? They want your money!

They’ve wanted it for years now but you are resisting by holding on to it or investing it at negative interest rates in Switzerland, Germany and a growing number of other countries considered to be European Union havens. They want you to be less frugal and more risk-seeking. They want your money as a substitute for theirs in Spain, Italy and, of course, Greece, but they don’t mention that any more. The example would be too off-putting. “Investors,” they plead, “show us your money!”

The ultimate goal of monetary and fiscal policy in the EU is to re-engage the private sector. The EU needs the private sector as a willing (but not necessarily equal) partner in funding its economy. This often gets lost in the noisy details of all too frequent promises such as the one to defend the euro made by Mr Draghi, European Central Bank president.

Investors get distracted by the hundreds of billions of euros in sovereign policy checks, promises and IOUs that make for media headlines but forget it’s their trillions that are the real objective. Even Mr Hollande in left-leaning France recognises that the private sector is critical for future growth in the EU. He knows that, without its partnership, a one-sided funding via state-controlled banks and central banks will inevitably lead to high debt-to-GDP ratios, rating service downgrades and a downhill vicious cycle of recession.


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