Saturday 2018-11-24

Add this to the list of things to measure:

Additionally, there is a big kerfuffle going on that Italy's central bank owes Germany's a lot of money. Italians see this coming, and there is a lot of capital flight out of Italy. When an Italian writes a check from an Italian bank to buy an apartment in Germany, the money flows from Italian bank to Italian central bank, to German central bank, to German bank. Except the Italian central bank essentially makes a promise to pay rather than actually paying. Italy is basically expanding government debt in this way. I don't totally understand it, nor did most people I talked to about it, and there is a wide disagreement whether this is another debt or just an accounting glitch. Still, that most people at a financial regulation conference know this is a big problem and nobody is quite sure what it means is telling.
-- John Cochrane