Much hollow rhetoric has been uttered about the vast existential threat presented by Greek CDS. As we have reported, Greek CDS is the least of Europe's problems. When it comes to the stability of the European dominoes, it is and has always been about Italy, which is not only the second worst country in Europe after Greece on a debt/GDP basis, and also the country with the largest amount of nominal debt, but more importantly has the largest amount of net CDS outstanding. All this is summarized on the Bloomberg chart below.
What the market is most confused by is that Spain, which everyone thought would be the next to fall after Portugal, yet which in the Cajas has the same GSE-type structure that provides a natural buffer to a housing system that is getting destroyed by its own Option ARM implosion (unlike the US' Liebor, Euribor is at 1.593% and making adjustable mortgages quite painful), the bond vigilantes decided to go straight to the gateway to Europe's core. Italy. So ignore whatever the PBoC is doing with the EURUSD, and Brian Sack is telegraphing with his ES ramp into the close: the truth is Italy is on the verge, and with all communicating vessels, the pain is only just beginning as Europe will find out very soon: as the chart below shows, there is a doozy of Treasury issuance about to be unleashed by the Italian Treasury.
Bottom line: the Italian CDS is not so much an aggregator of risk, as a beacon of where investors think risk will emanate from next. Although, to be fully objective, the biggest surge in recent months in net notional has not been at Italy, nor Spain, nor any of the other PIIGS, but.. France.
There is, however, one country that is missing from the Y/Y surge comparison. The United States of America.