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The Ebola Epidemic Silver-Lining: IMF Bailouts For Everyone

Never waste a good crisis. While we already knew a major reason for The West chasing into Africa was to leverage its relatively low credit levels as the last bastion of Keynesian-stimulus-hope in the world (estimated at between $5 and $10 trillion in secured debt, using its extensive untapped resources as first-lien collateral). And so it is little surprise that, as The WSJ reports, The International Monetary Fund on Thursday warned the West African Ebola epidemic requires a "large scale" global intervention to control a crisis that is ravaging economies in the region. All three major Ebola-suffering countries were already in bailout programs ($200mm loan in 2012 for Guinea, $100mm loan for Sierra Leone, and $80mm credit facility for Liberia) but with the "world community taking forever to respond," The IMF is happy to step in and secure some assets / lend over $100mm more to each nation to fill financing gaps.

 

As The Wall Street Journal reports,

The International Monetary Fund on Thursday warned the West African Ebola epidemic requires a "large scale" global intervention to control a crisis that is ravaging economies in the region.

 

The IMF, the world's emergency lender, said it is in talks to boost bailouts for Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia as the disaster slams economic output and overwhelms government financing.

 

"Beyond the human toll that this outbreak is exacting, the Ebola outbreak looks set to cause significant harm to the economies of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone," IMF spokesman William Murray said in a news conference Thursday.

Of course, we noted previously the economic collapse this epidemic was having

This year was supposed to be a bright one for the three deeply poor governments bearing the brunt of West Africa's Ebola problem. After 50 unbroken years of dictatorial misrule, Guinea—a democracy since 2010—had planned to auction off a multibillion iron-ore concession. Liberia, scene of a horrific 14-year-long civil war, had begun auctioning off offshore oil blocks. Sierra Leone was set to be Africa's fastest-growing economy for the second time in three years, the IMF had projected.

 

But now the fund estimates the epidemic will cut growth in Sierra Leone to 8% this year from a previous rate of 11.3%. Liberia's growth will more than halve to 2.5%. Guinea will see its prospects fall to 2.4% from a previously expected rate of 3.5%, the fund said.

So The IMF will lend them even more money, putting them in even more debt...

All three countries were already in bailout programs. The IMF approved a $200 million loan in 2012 for Guinea, a $100 million loan for Sierra Leone late last year and signed an $80 million credit facility for Liberia two years ago.

 

The World Bank has also boosted its financing to the region, mobilizing a $230 million package for the three worst-hit countries, including $105 million in emergency grants.

 

Each of the three countries faces a financing gap of between $100 million and $130 million due to the havoc hitting agriculture, trade and other commerce, the fund said.

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Finally, as we noted before, this move by The IMF appears to be exactly what they hoped for...

While those in the power and money echelons of the "developed" world scramble day after day to hold the pieces of the collapsing tower of cards in place (and manipulating public perception that all is well), knowing full well what the final outcome eventually will be, those who still have the capacity to look, and invest, in the future, are looking neither toward the US, nor Asia, and certainly not Europe, for one simple reason: there is no more incremental debt capacity at any level: sovereign, household, financial or corporate. Because without the ability to create debt out of thin air, be it on a secured or unsecured basis, the ability to "create" growth, at least in the current Keynesian paradigm, goes away with it.

 

Yet there is one place where there is untapped credit creation potential, if not on an unsecured (i.e., future cash flow discounting), then certainly on a secured (hard asset collateral) basis. The place is Africa, and according to some estimates the continent, Africa can create between $5 and $10 trillion in secured debt, using its extensive untapped resources as first-lien collateral.