Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Latvian mess

I have posted on how Latvia runs a massive current account deficit - which is unsustainable and unable to be repaid.

It is funded on Swedbank's tab - and as a result I believe Swedbank is near insolvent.

Anyway - lets just put the current account deficit figures for Latvia up on public display. I got these from Swedbank's own second quarter factsheet.

Over the forcast period Latvia looks to be borrowing nearly a year's GDP! That is in a country which is clearly in some economic difficulty right now!

These current account deficit figures (which are insanely large) come from Swedbank itself.

And Swedbank funds it.

Good luck.


PS. To all the new readers - welcome.


Anonymous said...

hi, totally off topic here, but do you have any views on this article?

Anonymous said...

Certainly a nice read assuming I'm of the same opinion about what's happening / gonna happen / must happen. Keep them coming.

John Hempton said...

On the business spectator article I have views - but no considered opinions.

I am happy to speculate on this blog - and I am happy enough to be wrong and admit it. But I want to have an honest go at being right first.

So - if you contact me - I will share the "views". But until they are "considered opinions" I won't publish them. And even when I publish them they may be wrong!

I do have considered opinions on the difference between mark-to-market losses and end losses. I think it highly unlikely that all but a few pools of whole mortgages will have 45% end losses. But there are plenty of pools that are priced as if that is the end outcome.

These views are all the way through this blog.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:54pm

That article you posted is rubbish. The author clearly does not understand the complicated structure of the US mortgage mess (just like most mainstream journalists). The marks that NAB took, as well as the sales by Merrill Lynch (a non-recourse financed 22% - effectively 5.5%) are for highly levered CDOs (keep in mind that Merril was the largest US issuer of CDOs). Many of the tranches in this toxic paper would have been completely wiped out with real losses of only 10%. Funny enough, MOST of this paper was sold to European/Asian/Australian banks. Of course Citigroup will have some large write-downs due to the NAB/Merrill actions, but it won't affect many US banks too severely. In my opinon, the realized losses on both whole loan pools and RMBS should not be any more than 20-25% in general (obviously, as Mr. Hempton points out, there will probably be a few outliers with huge losses).

Anonymous said...

Hi, again from Latvia! Did someone mentioned that many people from Latvia go to shopping to Lithuania, Finland, Poland, and Berlin (DE), because it is cheaper to buy food in Lithuania, and other goods like clothing in other contries? Do you think it is for long?

John Hempton said...

I was aware that people from Latvia went shopping for food internationally.

The exchange rate in Latvia is particularly loopy. Much more loopy than the other baltic states.

And no - it cannot go on that a country is funded so aggressively by a foreign bank and can't produce simple services domestically at a competitive rate.


SG said...


I'd be most appreciative if you would speculate on whether the eventual collapse of Swedbank and it's wholesale Euro obligations might be large enough to send a ripple through the SEK/EUR cross.

My personal economy interest is actually in the USD/SEK rate, but I'll take your thoughts on any version of this you care to offer.

John Hempton said...

In answer to Steve - the problem for Swedbank and to a lesser extent SEB is unlikely to be much more than 15 billion dollars.

I haven't looked up the numbers but Swedens GDP is closer to 500 billion than 100 billion.

15 billion disappears.

It will not be a driver of cross rates except maybe for a few days.

Trends in currency markets that last a few days are beyond any ability of mine to make predictions.

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