The first piece of red herring news out of Europe is already on the tape, after Reuters reports that 15 out of 91 banks are expected to fail the second round of stress tests: "Up to one in six European banks is set to fail an EU-wide financial health check, according to euro zone sources close to the stress-testing, as officials scramble to set up backstops for those at risk. Euro zone sources said the European Banking Authority is set to announce within weeks that between 10 and 15 of the 91 banks being tested had failed the tests, with casualties expected in Greece, Germany, Portugal and Spain. In the drive to ensure the credibility of the bank assessments, the European Banking Authority (EBA), which runs the tests and the European Central Bank, which sets the macroeconomic scenarios, are pushing for a higher number of banks to fail than last year's seven. "How many do we expect to fail? I would say 10 to 15," said one senior euro zone central banking source." Of course, the reason why this is total non-news is that while the EBA will huff and puff, the end result, just like last year, will be absolutely no failures, as Europe has no failsafe mechanisms to deal with the aftereffects of a bank failure chain reaction. Expect futures, which dipped briefly on this news to more than rebound, as this merely confirms that the ECB will inject even more money to keep the SS Ponzi afloat for a few more months.
The EBA wants the number of banks that do not pass the tests to be around that level to show the examinations are serious, said a second source, adding that the authority did not want to push for more, for fear it could spark panic and intensify the euro zone's debt crisis.
"In order to demonstrate that it is credible, the EBA would need to show that the number of bank failures is significant, without being substantial," said the source. "A number in the teens is about right."
In the meantime, according to a draft French proposal, there are currently two Greek debt "restructuring" proposal options:
- First option is 30-year financing to Greece with principal guaranteed by Special Purpose Vehicle, according to draft French proposal
- Second option is for 5-year Greek government bonds with interest rate of 5.5%, according to draft French proposal
Or, in other words, an MLEC resurrection (as discussed yesterday), or a rollover with haircut. The problem is that according to the rating agencies, both are events of default, which is game over for the ECB.