BNR: Romania has to increase internal savings as soon as possible

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Romania has to increase its internal savings as soon as possible, senior economist of the National Bank of Romania (BNR) Valentin Lazea told a symposium on Wednesday at the headquarters of the BNR in Bucharest.

Lazea said that a combination of three groups of factors explains why internal savings did not increase over the past years and does not give signs of increasing very soon.

A first group consists of macroeconomic factors. ‘When inflation goes down, when the local currency appreciates against the single European currency and the US dollar, you do not feel like saving. Macroeconomic factors have been at play and will be in the long run to the detriment of saving,’ Lazea explained.

A second group of factors consists of institutional ones. ‘When you are getting integrated with a European world, where competition is stronger, where there are many banks and the capital flows get liberalised, you also do not have any incentive to economise,’ said Lazea.

As for the group of factors, the behavioural ones, Lazea pointed to China. He said that China, no matter how much communist it is, does not have a public pension system.
‘The reason why Chinese are saving is because they have to take care of tomorrow, the day when they retire,’ said Lazea.

‘The biggest mistake the Romanian Government can make, and has already made, is to promise retirees that everything will be nice and cozy, as happened last year, when it was said that it does not matter that the pension system was no longer self-financing, but we will borrow to sustain it, forgetting about lesson number one in any economics textbook: you cannot finance permanent spending with temporary revenues,’ said Lazea.

The BNR senior economist also said that because the macroeconomic and the institutional factors robs the economy of any stimulus, the only thing that can be done is not giving hopes to pensioners, because, he argued, they are not the poorest social category in Romania.

‘Others are the poorest: the unemployed and the single-parent households. Pensioners have been proved to economise, so they have what to save.
The only thing the Government can do to boost savings is not to give carte blanche assurances, but, on the contrary, to keep things at an as small level of incertitude as possible,’ Lazea concluded.

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