Showing posts with label deficit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label deficit. Show all posts

May 15, 2011

Actuarial Proverbs: Will Europe Survive?

According to Eurostat, Europe - especially the Euro (€) 'Coin' Countries that put all their Euro eggs in one basket -  face a difficult time. In a world where money seems to grow on trees, it's hard to take the right measures to prevent Greece from a financial meltdown with unknown consequences.

Even for actuaries it's hard to understand what's happening and what makes sense or not, It's over our 'actuarial' head....

  • Should 'Europe donor countries' support Greece fore more than the '110 billion Euro rescue' in 2010?

  • Is Greece’s 10-year bond rate of 15% an adequate risk premium?

  • Will restructuring Greece's debt solve anything, devaluate the Euro,  or pose other  incalculable risks to the overall Euro zone?

Difficult questions that are hard too answer....

Debt-Deficit Comparison
Let's take an actuarial look at the facts by comparing 2010 Government Debt with Deficit (all in % GDP):

From this chart it's clear that not only Greece is in the danger zone, but also Ireland and the US as well... Moreover, the UK is not free from worries, to put it mildly...

The blind are leading...

Another chart-conclusion might be that the blind are leading the blind'. Relative strong less-weaker countries like Germany and France,  have to carry the financial consequences of cheating and not-performing countries. Above all, we all know: one rotten apple spoils the barrel!!

In fact to save or revive 'Financial Europe' it would take some countries with no debt and a strong positive surplus (= negative deficit) instead of a deficit.

It seems neither sensible nor logical  to restructure another  country's debt if the outlook of the governments debt and deficit of the' helping country' is (slightly less) negative as well. But as we know: only fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

Trying to help other countries that fail to restructure themselves is like banging your head against a brick wall...  No risk premium on government bonds can compensate that...

Countries with a strong relative debt and a deficit should restructure their own country and financial situation at once, before asking ore receiving any outside help.

Growth: The Solution?
Some argue that debt and deficits are not so bad as long as countries are growing. Let's dive into this argument with the next chart (data source: Eurostat):

Indeed, from this 'Growth-Believe' we can now understand why (only) Greece is seen as such a major problem.

From this chart it's also clear that if Ireland and Spain are not going to grow one way or the other, they will become the next big problem. These countries have to take the bull by its horns, before it's too late.

It's throwing caution to the wind when 'debt and deficit countries' with a positive 'Real GDP Growth Rate' try to save sicker country-brothers by lending them money.

Moreover, it's lending money you don't really possess or own, it's like robbing Peter (yourself) to pay Paul....

Combining the two Eurostat charts it becomes clear that that not all 'Garlic Countries' (Mediterranean countries:Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy) can be lumped together.

Greece is indeed the greatest risk , secondly a non-garlic country: Ireland...
Spain, Portugal and Italy are relatively at arm’s length and could perhaps keep their head above water if they take the right measures in time.

U.S.' Fiscal Gap
Finally, don't forget about the U.S., as the U.S. Real GDP Growth Rate is already declining to 2.3% in Q1 2011.

According to Boston University economist Kotlikoff, the U.S. is broke.  Kotlikoff doesn’t trust government accounting. He uses “Fiscal Gap,” not the accumulation of deficits, to define public debt. This "Fiscal Gap" is the difference between a government’s projected revenue  and its projected spending .

By this measure, the U.S. government debt is $200-trillion – 840 percent of current GDP. 

From all this it's clear Europe is stuck between a rock and a hard place...
Although ECB President Mr. Trichet thinks different, it looks like €-Europe has to choose between two blind goats (Irish saying):

(1) A complete Financial Europe Meltdown in case of endless financing default countries like Greece or

(2) Letting individual default countries go bankrupt, with unsure (systemic) consequences for local banks and other financial institutions that financed or invested in default countries.

How to decide? Guideline:  Of two evils, always choose the less....
As option (1) is clearly putting the cart before the horse, and surely leads to a meltdown, only option 2 is left: QUIT!

Sources and related links:
- Spreadsheet: Used Data, Tables for this blog (xls)
- US Real GDP Growth Rate
- Government Debt and Optimal Monetary and Fiscal Policy (2010)
- English proverbs and sayings (!)
- English deficit (including time table)
- Shadowstats (for the real stats!)
- The U.S. is broke?
- Eurostat: Euro area government deficit at 6.0% GDP (2011) 
- BILD: Interview with Jean-Claude Trichet, President ECB, 15 January 2011

Dec 11, 2008

European Mortality

Go to HomeThe Groupe Consultatif Actuariel Europeen published end 2005 a study, which for the first time compares how companies in different European countries measure life expectancy for their pension schemes. It reveals vast differences in mortality assumptions and indicates that practice across the EU varies widely when assessing company pension liabilities.

As you may see from some examples to the left, a wide area of classic mortality formulae in the different European countries passes by.

It's clear that that mortality assumptions in company pension schemes vary from
country to country, due to variations in underlying population mortality as well as in
variations of the profile of typical membership of a company pension scheme. However, the
variations in mortality assumptions are much greater than would be justified by these
factors alone.

Some of the variation is due to the fact that some countries incorporate an allowance
for expected future improvements in mortality, while others use tables that relate to mortality observed over a period in the past, without allowing for the fact that life expectancy continues to increase.

The total actuarial deficit with regard to (future) longevity in company pension schemes is substantial.

As a 'Survey of Actuarial Education in Europe' showed, not only mortality rates differ, but also the the education of different European actuarial professionals.

In short, work enough for actuaries.

More information: