O Constitucional alemão decidiu remeter para o Tribunal de Justiça Europeu (TJE) a sua decisão preliminar sobre a legalidade, à luz do direito europeu, do programa OMT (Outright Monetary Transactions, ou compra direta de dívida dos Estados), do BCE. O tribunal alemão considerou-o, à partida, ilegal, mas pretende que o TJE aprecie o assunto e imponha condições adicionais ao programa para que os juízes alemães possam reconsiderar a sua decisão.
Paul de Grauwe, importante economista belga, escreve hoje no blogue da London School of Economics sobre este assunto (ver aqui o artigo completo) e desmonta a argumentação dos juízes do Tribunal Constitucional alemão.
Primeiro, o resumo da argumentação do TC alemão (destaques meus):
«The main argument used by the German judges, which was very much influenced by the Bundesbank advice on OMT, can be summarized as follows. When the ECB buys government bonds it mixes monetary and fiscal policies. The fiscal component of OMT arises from the fact that the government bonds bought by the ECB can lose value if the governments whose bonds are bought default. If that happens the ECB will incur a loss that can wipe out its equity. As a result, governments of the member countries will have to use taxpayers’ money to recapitalize the ECB. Thus, by buying government bonds the ECB puts future taxpayers at risk. The latter may be forced to pay taxes, without due democratic process. Indeed decisions to tax can only be taken by national parliaments, and not by a politically irresponsible bureaucracy like the ECB.»
Sobre isto diz de Grauwe:
«This sounds like a very weighty argument. If true, there is not much one can put in the way of the judges and one has to conclude that the OMT program undermines the basic democratic principle of “no taxation without representation”. The problem with this argument is that it is wrong.»
E prossegue, explicando porquê. Em resumo, um banco central não pode ir à falência. Não está em momento algum em causa o dinheiro dos contribuintes. Para os detalhes, convém ler a argumentação toda. Um excerto:
«But suppose that for reasons of reputation the member states decide to recapitalize the ECB. Will that not inevitably involve taxpayers in Germany, France, etc? The answer is no. This will just be a bookkeeping operation without involving taxpayers. When national governments decide to recapitalize the ECB to make up for the loss of €1 billion, they transfer bonds to the ECB worth 1 billion, allowing the ECB to increase its equity by €1billion. These transfers occur using the same capital shares. Thus the ECB holds government bonds worth €1 billion. As a result, each government pays interest to the ECB in the same proportion to its capital share. But at the end of the year the ECB transfers these interest revenues back to the same governments using the same capital shares.*
It will be clear that a recapitalization of the ECB would be a pure bookkeeping operation. It would not require Eurozone citizens to pay more taxes. Each government gets back from the ECB exactly what it has put into the ECB. The German and other taxpayers can sleep peacefully. In this whole operation, including the default by the Italian government, taxpayers would not be asked to pay one additional eurocent. The fact that a recapitalization of the ECB can only be a bookkeeping operation should not come as a surprise. A government that can default cannot possibly be a fiscal backup of a central bank that cannot default.»
Mas não há riscos, em circunstância alguma? Há. Estes apenas:
«There are of course risks involved in the use of the OMT program. These risks have to do with potential inflation and with moral hazard. But none of these risks have anything to do with taxpayers that are being forced to pay a tax without a democratic vote in national parliaments. The inflation risk arises from the fact that a government bond purchase leads to a creation of money base. Elsewhere I have argued that this risk is small as the ECB will be called upon to activate the OMT program during moments of financial crisis when economic agents scramble for liquidity. During such moments the greater risk is deflation, not inflation.
The risk of moral hazard is a real one. It arises because the OMT could give incentives to governments to be more relaxed about debts and deficits. In order to deal with this risk a separation principle should be applied. The responsibility of the central bank is to provide liquidity in times of crisis. The European Commission is responsible for containing the moral hazard risk. It has a legal mandate to do so through the Stability and Growth Pact that has been strengthened since the outburst of the sovereign debt crisis.»
Conclusão (riscos incluídos):
«One can conclude that an important argument used by the judges of Karlsruhe to declare the OMT illegal testifies to an appalling lack of understanding of the basics of central banking. The OMT program does not create a risk that Eurozone citizens will have to pay taxes arising from losses of the ECB. It is quite terrifying that such an important judgment that could destroy the ECB’s necessary responsibility of lender of last resort is based on ignorance. One can only hope that the judges of Luxembourg will not show the same degree of ignorance.»