Current account surplus is a key determinant to bonds market turnaround italy's case


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Current accounts are key in determining when an over-indebted country will see it financial situation turning around allowing it to go back to the bond markets under "normal conditions". On this criteria, the discrepancy between Italy and France is startling and not justified by fundamentals: France will be punished by bonds market if nos dramatic action is impletmented by the French Government.

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Current account surplus is a key determinant to bonds market turnaround italy's case

  1. 1. Current account surplus is a key determinant to bonds market turnaround: Italy’s caseI am reproducing in extenso a market view published bay Horseman Capital which dealswith the importance of current account in assessing the ability of a country to return togood fortune, i.e. when the bond market is turning around. In a previous review publishedin October 2011, Rusell Clark made a good case that returning to a current account surplusis key to the turning point in bond markets.This espouses my views about France being the real sick man of Europe asexemplified by the graphs below (and see 1
  2. 2.’s now read what Russell Clark has to tell us about current accounts, Italy and the bondmarket.“Sovereign Debt – ItalyIn my last note on Sovereign debt – sent out in October 2011 – I noted that in all the debtcrises that I have looked at, the turning point occurs when the troubled country can turnits current account deficit into surplus. I noted that of the distressed peripheral countriesin Europe only Ireland had achieved current account surplus, and hence we were buyers ofIrish bonds. 2
  3. 3. then Irish bonds have recovered most of their losses of 2011, and the Irishgovernment has been able to return to the bond market. This is during a period ofsustained instability in the far bigger bond markets of Spain and Italy.ItalyItaly has one of the biggest bond markets in the world, and financial commentators quiterightly point out that its size means that it would be difficult if not impossible toimplement the same programs that have been used by the European authorities inPortugal, Ireland and Greece. Hence, in my view the future of the Italian bond market isprobably a key determinant of the survival of the Euro in its current form.Like the other troubled nations of Europe, Italy has been running a current account deficitfor a prolonged period of time. There have been recent signs of improvement, but notenough to move Italy to a current account surplus. The Economist estimates that Italy willrun a 2.4% current account deficit for 2012.However, beneath the slowly improving current account numbers, Italy’s bilateral tradenumbers are showing signs of big improvements. Italy has shown a dramatic improvementin its trade deficit with China, the EU and the US. 3
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  5. 5. Italy has improved the trade positions with three biggest economic regions of the world,why have we not seen better improvement in the Italian current account? The answer isapparent when we look at the break down of Italian trade by category. As can be seenbelow, Italy has improved its manufacturing trade balance significantly, but all the gains inthis area have been lost due to increasing commodity (mainly energy) trade deficit.Should we see lower energy costs, I believe we would see a significant fall in the Italiancurrent account, potentially pushing Italy to a current account surplus. For investors 5
  6. 6. to play lower commodity prices via a long position in fixed income, Italian bondslook attractive in my view.Almost all of Italy’s energy needs are priced off the Brent oil price. In 2008, all energysources were comparably priced, but since then we have seen large divergences, whichhave put Italy at a disadvantage. Should we see a convergence in energy prices, Italyshould be a relative winner, and Italian bonds should also prove to be relative winners.”Source:Horseman Capital: Russell Clark – Market Views August 2012www.horsemancapital.comTrading Economicshttp://www.tradingeconomics.comMarkets & Beyond: Who should be single A rated: Italy or France? 6