Economy
Italy is mathematically beyond point of no return, says Barclays

For the Italian economy, growth and austerity are not enough to offset cost of debt.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has pledged to resign in the wake of a crisis in the Italian economy. But analysts from Barclays say that the economy is mathematically beyond point of return. The danger lies in the fact that high rates reinforce stability concerns, leading to higher rates leading to a deeper conviction of a self sustaining credit event and eventual default. Time has run out for the economy and policy reforms are not sufficient to break negative market dynamics. Domestic investors do not have the patience to wait for austerity and growth to work. The rate of change in negative factors is not enough to offset the slow drip of positive factors.

Barclays reasons that ECB (Eurpean Central Bank) needs to step up to the plate, print and buy bonds. At the moment, ECB is unwilling to be the lender of last resort on the scale needed. But this will be a compulsion forced by the market given massive systemic risk. Yields on bonds above 5.5% lead to an inflection point, after which only the ECB has control. Imminent bankruptcy of his country is what is forcing the hand of the prime minister to pledge to step down.

Italy’s bond yields have risen dramatically in the last month — yields on 10-year bonds have shot up from 5.6% to 6.7%. The main hope of the markets now appears to be that a technocratic government will come in to push through the kind of hard structural reforms that Italy needs. “Italy faces a liquidity crisis, not a solvency crisis” is what patriotic Italians say but it is insufficient to go forward on this simple analysis.

According to MarketWatch, Italian government debt has been relatively stable since it joined the euro, although at a very high level. Its total stock of outstanding government debt is 129% of gross domestic product today, compared with 126% back in 2000. Government spending has been fairly disciplined since it joined the euro. This year, the budget deficit is forecast to come in at only around 3.6% of GDP, which is modest by current global standards. The forecast is for a surplus by 2014. The soaring cost of Italy’s debts might derail those projections. The silver lining is in the fact that much of the north of Italy is as rich as anywhere in Europe — the North-West and North-East regions are at 126% and 124% of EU’s (European Union) average GDP per capita, for example, which makes both of them richer than France or Germany as a whole, and richer than countries we think of as fairly successful, such as Denmark.

Further, Italy has stopped growing. It has been through four recessions since it joined the euro in 1999. GDP will actually contract over the the next 10 years. This is going to make it a lot harder to pay off all the debt. It is not solvent with 1.9 trillion euros of debt outstanding.

Financial markets in Europe were closed when Berlusconi said he intended to quit, but on Wall Street shares rose after the announcement. Earlier, the interest rate on 10-year Italian bonds had edged closer to the danger level of 7% as uncertainty about Berlusconi's political future rattled investors. In Tuesday's vote to approve last year's public accounts, Berlusconi's rightwing coalition won the support of only 308 of the 630 members of the chamber. He will be hoping to persuade the president to call new elections in which Berlusconi could again play a role.

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Decision on motor insurance pool after discussions: IRDA

Private sector insurance players have been demanding abolition of the third party insurance pool, saying that the arrangement for sharing claims was denting their profits. Since the four public sector companies dominate the motor insurance market, private players lose out and at many times have to settle claims on their own

Hyderabad: The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) on Tuesday said it will take a view on scrapping the third party motor insurance pool, used to settle claims of accident victims, after completing discussions with stakeholders, reports PTI.

“Considerable amount of interactions or discussion are to take place. Consultations have to take place. No time frame for that (scrapping third-party motor insurance pool),” IRDA chairman J Hari Narayan told reporters here.

Private sector insurance players have been demanding abolition of the third party insurance pool, saying that the arrangement for sharing claims was denting their profits.

Claims from the third party (TP) pool are settled according to the ratio of market share of an insurer. Since the four public sector companies dominate the motor insurance market, private players lose out and at many times have to settle claims on their own.

The general insurance industry is expected to incur losses to the tune of Rs3,500 crore on account of motor insurance claims in the current fiscal.

Mr Hari Narayan said the pool was created to strike balance between supply and demand when the motor insurance market was imbalanced.

“So the question now is whether going forward should we be recognising the fact that demand and supply are in balance or we should change the architecture for the betterment of the policy holders,” he added.

IRDA has been asking insurance companies to manage their claim settlement process judiciously to avoid losses.

Third-party insurance cover protects the vehicle owner from any financial liability in case of damage to life or property of a third person.

This insurance is mandatory and no vehicle can be taken out from a showroom without the third party insurance.

Replying to a query on IPO norms for insurance companies, Mr Hari Narayan said the IRDA has already received suggestions from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and could announce the guidelines anytime.

On concerns that ‘single premium products’ could harm the industry in the long run, he said the product has both advantages and disadvantages.

“As long as the balance between the single premium product and multi-pay products are maintained they should be no concerns,” he said, adding the IRDA does not have any plans to restrict the product.

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Cos raised Rs3,029 crore in September via IPOs, rights & debt issues

“During September 2011, Rs3,029.1 crore was mobilised in the primary market through 12 issues as compared to Rs3,865.7 crore mobilised through 11 issues in August 2011, a decrease of 21.6% over the month,” according to the latest ‘Capital Market Review’ by market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India

Mumbai: The quantum of funds raised by India Inc through initial public offers and rights issues fell to Rs3,029.1 crore in September this year, a 21.6% decline in comparison to the month of August, reports PTI.

“During September 2011, Rs3,029.1 crore was mobilised in the primary market through 12 issues as compared to Rs3,865.7 crore mobilised through 11 issues in August 2011, showing a decrease of 21.6% over the month,” according to the latest ‘Capital Market Review’ by market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

Of the 12 issues in September, nine were initial public offerings (IPOs), one was public debt issue and two were rights issues.

Corporates raised a total of Rs3,865.7 crore through four debt public issues, four IPOs and three rights issues in August 2011.

SEBI also said no Qualified Institutional Placement (QIPs) took place in September.

In the previous month, there was a single QIP which raised Rs8 crore.

Preferential allotments also witnessed a decline in September 2011, with 25 such allotments raising a total of Rs499 crore. In comparison, 29 preferential allotments were executed in the primary market in August, which raised a total of Rs688 crore.

After a period of volatility, the stock market witnessed an upswing in September, with the benchmark Sensex gaining 8.9% during the month.

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