"Millions of people in ex-Communist Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Serbia and Romania have deposits in banks owned by Greek lenders, putting this corner of south-eastern Europe in the frontline if there is contagion from the Greek crisis."
Late Friday night a solid blow was struck for sound money, free markets and limited government by a most unlikely force. Namely, the hard core statist and crypto-Marxist prime minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras. He has now set in motion a cascade of disruption that will shake the corrupt status quo to its very foundations.
Risk-taking in financial markets has gone on for too long. And the illusion that markets will remain liquid under stress has been too pervasive. But the likelihood of turbulence will increase further if current extraordinary conditions are spun out. The more one stretches an elastic band, the more violently it snaps back. Restoring more normal conditions will also be essential for facing the next recession, which will no doubt materialise at some point. Of what use is a gun with no bullets left?
Because nothing of import happened this weekend. And if it did, the central banks "got it covered."
At the open, Europe looked in the abyss, and with no help coming from China, it did not like what it saw: And then the answer came from the Swiss National Bank, which stepped in to prevent the collapse just as Europe was opening. Because seemingly out of nowhere, a tremendous bid came in to life the EURCHF, buying Euros (against the CHF and the USD) and selling Europe's last left safety currency. We now know that it was the SNB, the same central bank which is the proud owner of well over $1 billion in Apple stock.
All banks and the Greek stock exchange are closed today. Greek citizens cued in long lines at ATMs or cash machines over the weekend and a run on the banks left most ATMs empty. There is a €60 limit on withdrawals from cash machines under strict capital controls.
While things have normalized since the open thanks entirely to the SNB's aggressive EUR-buying, CHF-selling intervention (good to see that central banks have read the BIS' report and have learned from their prior intervention mistakes), earlier this morning we got a snapshot of what happens if and when the SNB, and then the ECB itself, finally lose control when as a result of the Greek crisis the contagion promptly spread a few hundred kilometers west to Italy where as the WSJ reported, "several Italian banks failed to start trading on Monday as fears over a Greek debt default induced many investors to shed peripheral stocks, including Italian, with banks suffering the most."
- China’s Stocks Enter Bear Market as Rate Cut Fails to Stop Rout (BBG)
- Stocks Tumble Around the World on Greek Crisis (WSJ)
- Some say back to the drachma for a Greek reboot (Reuters)
- Greece Imposes Capital Controls as Fears of Grexit Grow (BBG)
- Panic Sets in Among Hardy Hedge Fund Investors Remaining in Greece (NYT)
- Euro off Greece-driven lows after SNB intervenes (Reuters)
- Western Union to close in Greece for rest of week (Reuters)
- European banks, bonds shaken by Greek turmoil (Reuters)
"The positive wealth effect of the equity market on consumption or aggregate demand is limited in China, but an equity market collapse would hurt millions of mid-class households and pose great danger to the economy and social stability."
As we previously noted, liquidity is there when you don't need it, and it promptly disappears once it is in demand. Consider it "cocktease capitalism." If liquidity lasts longer than 4 hours, call the CFTC because you may be experiencing a spoof. Right now, the ultimate spoof is setting up as the credit default swap market collapses, and a global bond market margin call is just around the corner.
Reasoned market analysis will have to allow for stop losses getting off-side -- or panic-struck or trying to be prudent -- traders back to neutral, the potential consequences of the markets desks of every major central bank being on high alert and prepared to act (“plunge protection teams,” to use the vernacular of the financial crisis), as well as the frustrating reality of it being Sunday evening, which means markets will open ad seriatim and only slowly.
Over the last few months the financial media has not only turned deaf ears to the drama, (out of boredom) they have also blindly discounted any contagion effects as “isolated” at best – relative periphery contagion at worst. In other words: Any and all problems can be contained, mitigated, or solved by none other than your friendly neighborhood Central Bank. After all, if you listen to the so-called “smart crowd” these bankers have powers even Zeus would envy. So why worry about a little turmoil at the foot of Olympus? In any hero-worship endeavor one thing must remain constant or it all falls apart. Those that worship can never witness any event regardless of how minor: that the gods are not all that they portend to be. In other words: Allow just one moment of truth to be witnessed showing frailty instead of omnipotence – and the whole ruse falls regardless of the size and strength of the monuments and temples built to honor. For they will be abandoned: sometimes slowly, at others - all at once.
"The growing size of the asset management industry may have increased the risk of liquidity illusion: market liquidity seems to be ample in normal times, but vanishes quickly during market stress. This liquidity may be artificial and less robust in the event of market turbulence." So what's the solution? Unfortunately there isn't one. Instead, fund managers are simply resorting to emergency liquidity lines with banks which is just another manifestation of using cheap cash to delay the Schumpeterian endgame scenario which, if ever allowed to play out, will finally purge capital markets, reset the system, and free the world from the nefarious clutches of central bankers gone mad with delusions of Keynesian grandeur.
As we have asserted since 2012, the template for dealing with Crises has been laid out in Europe, particularly in the countries of Spain and Cyprus.
Yes, the clock’s ticking louder, louder, warns the Economist, “only a matter of time before the next recession strikes.” Unfortunately, the “rich world is not ready.” America’s not prepared. You are not ready.