As reveladoras previsões para 2009, do legendário Financial Times, com exclusividade (será?) para o amigo do Blog do Crédito

Abaixo, eu listo, em português, os temas e a noção geral da previsão – atenção: não há opinião deste blogueiro. Espero que curtam. Abraços, FB

  1. A recessão terminará em 2009? Não para U.S. e U.K., entre outros menos cotados. Possivelmente sim para Japão e outras economias européias. Seja lá o que acontecer, 2009 será desagradável. (por Chris Gilles)
  2. A China corrigirá [desvalorizará] a sua moeda? o renminb se valorizará um pouco contra o dólar, mas o dólar perderá muito valor frente a outras moedas, i.e. a moeda chinesa ficará ainda mais desvalorizada contra o resto do mundo, prejudicando as exportações alheias para a China. Conclusão: guerra [protecionismo] no comércio internacional. (por Martin Wolf)
  3. Até onde os Bancos Centrais chegarão? todos [dos países desenvolvidos] irão a fundo na luta contra a deflação. Além do óbvio, i.e. juros convergindo para zero, todos (talvez menos o BC Europeu) emitirão moeda para empréstimos emergenciais e compras de títulos. (por Krishna Guha)
  4. Os Estados controlarão os bancos privados? – grandes bancos, como o Citi, nos EUA, e o RBofScotland, em UK, já são controlados pelos governos, que insistem em dizer que isto será temporário. Dependendo do nível de capital dos demais bancos, os Estados voltarão a capitalizar bancos para que estes voltem a níveis mínimos de capital, podendo voltar a emprestar. Se o contribuinte de fato for o controlador dos bancos,  irá demandar mudanças na forma que tais bancos são administrados. (Peter Thal Larsen)
  5. E o mercado de ações? os preços não se recuperarão de forma relevante até que o mercado de crédito se restabeleça. As empresas mostrarão números péssimos e nem todos os problemas já teriam sido precificados pelo mercado. Aguardemos os pacotes de estímulos governamentais fazerem efeito, mas que não se espere um “bull market”. ( Chris Brown-Humes)
  6. O preço do petróleo ficará em USD 40/barril? – se por um lado a demanda despenca nesses dias de recessão, a oferta cairá tanto quanto. Apesar de muitas unidades de produção ficarem inviáveis com preços abaixo de USD 30 ou 40/barril, a aposta é que caia mais do que suba. (por Ed Crooks)
  7. O Plano de Obama funcionará? – sim, na medida que utilizar os prometidos USD 800 bi (ou mais) para reativar a economia. Mas que não se espere por um “New Deal”, a la Frank Delano Roosevelt, nos anos 30, pois Obama não irá tão longe, reinventando as instituições. (por Clive Crook)
  8. Londres permanecerá um centro financeiro global? – [esta só interessa para ingleses…] – todos os grandes centros sairão machucados da crise, com suas fraquezas expostas. Os emergentes, como Mumbai e Dubai, começam a demonstrar suas fragilidades. Sim, Londres manter-se-á na vanguarda global. (por John Willman)
  9. Haverá uma nova eleição geral em UK em 2009? – [isto está ficando muito provinciano] – não, porque Gordon Brown, O Salvador da Banca Global, ganhou musculatura para chegar ao final do mandato, em 2010. (por Philip Stephens)
  10. Outras previsões: paro por aqui, pois as demais são pouco relevantes para um blog que se auto-denomina “…do Crédito”. Se você tem interesse em questões como “Paz entre Israel e Palestinos”, “Coréia do Norte e sua bomba atômica”, “O Irã e sua bomba atômica”, “O futuro de Robert Mugabe, genocida do Zimbabwe” e “Vida artificial”, continue lendo, mas em inglês.

Recession, recovery, trade war and artificial life – welcome to 2009

By Chris Brown-Humes, Chris Cook, Clive Cookson, Clive Crook, Ed Crooks, Financial Times writers, Chris Giles, Krishna Guha, Roula Khalaf, David Pilling, Gideon Rachman, Philip Stephens, Peter Thal Larsen, William Wallis, John Willman and Martin Wolf.

The Financial Times team of crack pundits is back, once again, to risk its professional reputation on bold predictions of some known unknowns.

Will the recession end in 2009?

No, as far as the US, the UK, Spain and Ireland are concerned; possibly Yes for other European economies and Japan. Whatever happens, 2009 will not be pleasant. For all the cuts in interest rates and taxes, higher unemployment will be the dominant issue of the first half of the year, outweighing gains to real incomes from these policies and lower commodity prices.

Uncertainty will be the watchword for the year, making any prediction precarious, but there is still a good chance that rising incomes will become powerful forces in the continental European and Japanese economies later in the year.

For those economies that need much bigger rises in household savings rates to adjust for the recession, recoveries will be delayed. There is also a good chance the world will enter a debtdeflation trap, although I hope the authorities will do everything to avoid this. But even if we experience genuine green shoots of recovery, as I expect, 2009 will be a year to forget. Chris Giles

Will China revalue its currency?

Between July 2005 and the summer of 2008, the renminbi appreciated by 21.5 per cent against the US dollar. Over the same period, the trade-weighted real exchange rate (calculated by JPMorgan) appreciated by only 13 per cent. After July 2008, however, the dollar rose sharply, in real terms. So the real exchange rate for the renminbi rose by another 9 per cent between July and November, even though its nominal rate against the dollar remained roughly constant. Thus, the outcome may be different from China’s intentions.

The government is caught between a desire to maintain export competitiveness and external pressure to let its exchange rate appreciate. On balance, I expect the outcome to be a modest appreciation against the dollar. Meanwhile, the real value of the dollar should decline over the next 12 months. If so, the overall real exchange rate of the renminbi is likely to depreciate. That may well lead to global trade war in 2010. Martin Wolf

How far will central banks go?

Central banks will go all out in 2009 to fight the crisis. Interest rates will converge towards zero in all the major industrialised economies and a number of central banks – including the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan, though possibly not the European Central bank – will follow the Federal Reserve in pushing deep into unconventional policy territory. In most cases this will mean committing to keep rates near zero for a long time and printing money to make loans and buy assets (possibly other currencies, in the case of Japan).

Radical measures should ensure most large economies – including the US – avoid sustained deflation, though inflation will still fall to uncomfortably low levels over the next year or two, before quite possibly taking off again as the world economy gathers strength with lots of reserves in the system. Even extraordinary central bank support may not be enough to bring a swift and strong recovery, though. Krishna Guha

Will the banks be taken over by the state?

It depends how severe the recession is. State-backed recapitalisation in the US and Europe has already in effect nationalised some banks. The US Treasury’s $50bn (€36bn, £34bn) of preferred stock in Citigroup exceeds its market value. The British government owns 58 per cent of Royal Bank of Scotland. If bad debts prove to be more severe than expected, more banks will need another dose of capital, with governments the only providers. But extra capital will not, in itself, stimulate lending unless governments simultaneously take steps to restart the wholesale lending markets.

For now, governments insist state ownership will be temporary, and that banks will be managed at arm’s length until they can be returned to the private sector. Unless politicians want to force banks to extend credit to un-worthy borrowers, that will probably remain the case. But the crisis has revealed the extent to which taxpayers are the guarantors of the financial system. In future, they will demand a greater say in how their banks are run. Peter Thal Larsen

What will equities do?

Equities will struggle to make headway in 2009 and there will not be a strong recovery until credit market conditions show real signs of improvement and forced selling abates. It is going to be a year of deep recession when earnings and dividends are falling, and not all the likely disappointments are currently factored in.

But at some point, shares will start anticipating economic recovery as the government stimulus packages and central bank rate-cutting start to have an impact. Given that 2008 was the worst year for equities since the Great Depression – worse even than 1974 when heavy falls were followed by a strong rally in 1975 – there is scope for a rebound. Just do not expect a sustained bull market. Chris Brown-Humes

Will oil end the year above $40 a barrel?

Demand for oil is falling. The drop in crude below $35 a barrel has made gas-guzzlers seem rather more appealing than they were at $147, but a deep global recession will mean that the demand for oil for all uses, from plastics to air travel, will continue to decline. The comforting idea put about by the oil bulls that Chinese demand could withstand any shock was shattered by a steep fall in consumption in the second half of 2008. But supply will be falling, too. The Organisation of Oil Producing Countries, the oil cartel, has announced the biggest output cut in its history. High-cost oil projects around the world are being cancelled or delayed.

But the floor under the oil price in a falling market is set by the level at which significant volumes of production become uneconomic. Today that level is about $30-$40, which is roughly the price that existing projects in Canada’s oil sands need to cover their operating costs, or that developments in the North Sea need for investment to sustain production. As the industry cools and production costs decline, however, that level will fall, meaning that oil could go even lower. The oil market is inherently volatile, and has made fools out of forecasters many times in the past 12 months. But my best guess is that oil is more likely to end the year below $40 than above it. Ed Crooks

Will Obama’s New Deal work?

Yes, if “work” means arrest the recession and hasten an economic recovery. The chief requirement for success, thus defined, is scale. The new administration is preparing a fiscal stimulus of $800bn or more, an enormous sum. As long as the larger part goes to programmes that deliver fast-acting increases in aggregate demand – help for the unemployed, relief for state budgets, infrastructure spending – a stimulus of this size can hardly fail to have an impact.

However, the term “New Deal” implies larger ambitions. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal was fiscally timid, and not that successful in ending the Depression – but it built new institutions, permanently altered the demands citizens make on the state, and quite transformed US society.

Will Barack Obama’s New Deal be seen as a turning point in that wider sense? Unlikely, but it stands a chance if universal healthcare is folded in. Without an innovation of that sort to rank alongside the creation of the Social Security system, history will not see a temporary stimulus, however large, as a New Deal to compare with FDR’s. Clive Crook

Will London remain a leading global financial centre?

The City’s reputation has been damaged by the turmoil in the financial markets, starting with last year’s run on Northern Rock, which revealed weaknesses in the UK’s light-touch regulatory system. This year’s Budget included harsher taxation of nondomiciled residents and a higher capital gains tax rate that have made Britain a less attractive place to do business. More recently, the collapse of Lehman Brothers revealed shortcomings in the UK’s insolvency regime.

But few financial centres have emerged from the credit crunch unscathed and distant challengers such as Dubai and Mumbai are grappling with their own challenges. London continues to host a range of financial activities and institutions that mean it will remain a global leader for some time to come – especially as the rent is getting a lot cheaper. John Willman

Will there be a UK general election in 2009?

No. Gordon Brown’s handling of the economic crisis has seen a recovery in his ratings. Cabinet colleagues who a few months ago were plotting to oust the prime minister now expect him to lead the Labour party in its bid to win an unprecedented fourth term. But only the most excitable believe that the election will take place before the last possible date in 2010. A dash for the polls in 2009 has its attractions – ask the voters for a fresh mandate before they have experienced the full force of a recession that could yet turn into a slump. But opinion surveys show David Cameron’s Conservatives remain the election favourites – and prime ministers rarely risk losing office until they absolutely have to.

A caveat: if anyone had suggested at the beginning of 2008 that Peter Mandelson would return from Brussels to serve as Mr Brown’s chief consigliere , I would have laughed aloud. Funny things happen in politics as well as economics. Philip Stephens

Will Israel and Palestine make peace?

Peace in the Middle East will have to wait, yet again. It is true the new US administration may show more interest in resolving the conflict early on. That should give impetus for a continuation of talks between Israelis and Palestinians but it is unlikely to produce the kind of pressure on Israel that a settlement requires.

Israel is facing an election this year and even its most dovish politicians have been reluctant to pay the minimum price that the Palestinians require, on borders and Arab East Jerusalem. The Palestinians too are in a mess, with Fatah, Israel’s interlocutor, in control of only the West Bank, while Hamas rules in the Gaza Strip – so Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president (and he too faces an election next year) lacks the legitimacy to make the necessary concessions on Palestinian refugees. All sides, though, will have an interest in keeping some form of peace talks going. Once again, expect a peace process in 2009, but no peace. Roula Khalaf

Will Mugabe go in 2009?

“Only God who appointed me will remove me.” Thus spoke Robert Mugabe after refusing to bow to the ballot box earlier this year. Tragically, there is no reason yet to think he is wrong.

No amount of huffing and puffing in London and Washington will bring about regime change. Nor will southern Africa take decisive action, although images of starving Zimbabweans stumbling across the border will force Pretoria to toughen up its talk.

Starving people, though, make poor revolutionaries and Mr Mugabe still exercises a mesmerising authority over the better fed members of his own coterie, which militates against a palace coup. Low as it is already, Zim-babwe can fall much lower in 2009. Only natural or divine causes will remove the man so determinedly taking it down. William Wallis

Will Kim Jong-il keep hold of the reins of power?

The question rather assumes North Korea’s Dear Leader holds those reins today. Since his apparent stroke in August, unverified accounts seeping from the secretive communist state suggest his brother-in-law may be running things. One academic insists Mr Kim has been dead for years, with doubles filling the gap. Recent photographs, purportedly showing Mr Kim at a football match, revealed a dangling left arm. The suggestion he is too frail to be fully in charge tallies with a change of tone in nuclear disarmament talks, but then Pyongyang’s diplomacy has been consistently erratic.

Only Mr Kim’s doctors can sensibly predict whether 2009 is likely to be his last. A stroke on its own does not warrant dusting off the obituaries. So, if pressed you would bet he will see the year out. But even if Mr Kim does fade or die in 2009, it is far from clear whether the outside world will immediately know about it. David Pilling

Will Israel or the US bomb Iran?

This question seems to be asked every year. Every year the answer is No – and 2009 will be no exception. That said, it may be a closer call next year than for some time. The Iranian nuclear programme appears to be making rapid progress, which is alarming Israel. A coalition led by the rightwing Likud party is likely to win the Israeli election in February and Benjamin Netanyahu, Likud’s leader, has often described the Iranian nuclear programme as an existential threat to Israel.

The new Israeli government would almost certainly like to see a preemptive strike carried out on Iran’s nuclear facilities. But it will run into opposition from the Obama administration. With the US already embroiled in two wars – in Iraq and Afghanistan – the American government will be extremely reluctant to open a third-front with Iran. The US will also want to hold off, at least until Iran has held its presidential elections in June.

More generally, Barack Obama made it clear during the election campaign that he favours negotiations with Iran. Faced with opposition from the US, Israel is unlikely to act unilaterally. Gideon Rachman

Will scientists create artificial life?

If Craig Venter, the great showman of molecular biology, has his way, in 2009 we will see the first creation of a living cell from laboratory chemicals. Early this year his US-based research team succeeded in synthesising the entire genome of a microbe – all the DNA it needs to live and reproduce – in the lab. The next step will be to insert this artificial genome into an empty cell and “boot it up”, creating the world’s first fully synthetic organism. Beware the hype if Mr Venter succeeds – as seems likely, given his amazing record in science.

Some will worry about the ethics of scientists playing God, others about the risks of conjuring up dangerous new life forms. In reality, the researchers will just have assembled an existing microbe from its chemical ingredients. It will take many more years to create truly novel organisms, unlike anything that occurs naturally. Mr Venter’s main motivation for doing so is to solve the world’s environmental problems, for example by generating hydrogen or converting carbon dioxide into petrochemicals. Clive Cookson