European Central Bank
As southern Europe buckles under the weight of unserviceable debt and 60%+ youth unemployment rates, Germany is coasting along with an almost historically low unemployment rate; the disparity between Germany and its southern neighbors could not be more obvious. So it is ironic that Angela Merkel is leading the public pledge to ‘tackle’ the continent’s job crisis. Of course, European policy to deal with the jobs crisis is quite simple: print more money. Their latest initiative, a few billion more to fight the youth unemployment rate, was mercilessly eviscerated yesterday in the European Parliament by Nigel Farage... one of the few voices of reason left on the continent.
And just like that things are going bump in the night once more. First, as previously reported, the $100+ WTI surge continues on fears over how the Egyptian coup will unfold, now that Mursi has a few short hours left until his army-given ultimatum runs out. But it is Europe where things are crashing fast and furious, with the EURUSD tumbling to under 1.2925 overnight and stocks sliding on renewed political risk, with particular underperformance observed over in Portugal, closely followed by its Iberian neighbor Spain, amid concerns that developments in Portugal, where according to some media reports all CDS-PP ministers will resign forcing early elections, will undermine country's ability to continue implementing the agreed bailout measures. As a result, Portuguese bond yields have spiked higher and the 10y bond yield spread are wider by over a whopping 100bps as austerity's "poster child" has rapidly become Europe's forgotten "dunce." The portu-litical crisis has finally arrived.
Yesterday it was the Egyptian military giving president Morsi a two day ultimatum before things "deteriorate", now it is the Eurozone giving Greece a three day ultimatum to "deliver on the conditions attached to its international bailout in order to receive the next tranche of aid" or else. This links back to the FT report from June 20 that the IMF told Greece it has until the end of July to plug its budget holes, or else. In other words, simple escalation. Of course, maybe it should have been made apparent to Greece back in May 2010 at the time of the first (of many) bailouts that all those tens of billions in sunk costs are actually supposed to lead to economic reforms instead of perpetuating a broken and corrupt political system in which all in efficiencies and failures are blamed on evil (f)austerity.
Here's my take on the key events for investors in the week ahead, with an attempt to place them in a somewhat larger context.
The Financial Times has revealed that Italy is facing losses of €8 billion due to derivative contracts that were taken out in the 1990s and that were restructured during the Eurozone crisis.
It was roughly four years ago when details surrounding such Goldman SPV deals as Titlos first emerged, that it became clear how for over a decade, using deliberately masking transactions such as currency swaps, Greece had managed to fool the Eurozone into believing its economy was doing far better, and its debt load was far lower than it actually was in order to comply with the Masstricht treaty's entrance requirements. As for the Pandora's Box that was opened following the disclosure of just how ugly the unvarnished truth in Europe is, following the Greek disclosure, leading to the general realization that the European experiment has failed and it is now only a matter of time before its final unwind, any comment here is unnecessary - ths has been widely discussed here and elsewhere over the past several years. Now it is Italy's turn. Overnight, the FT reported that "Italy risks potential losses of billions of euros on derivatives contracts it restructured at the height of the eurozone crisis."
Jean-Claude Trichet, the former head of the European Central Bank, in an interview with CNBC stated that there was only so much that central banks could do to save the economic situation at the present time.
Everyone knows Europe is insolvent; the only question is "when" will Europe be forced to finally admit this truism. The long overdue house of cards may start toppling in as little as 6 months, as The Telegraph reports, Mediobanca's 'index of solvency risk' suggests "time is running out fast" for Italy. With the breakdown in Eurozone talks on a banking union and the Fed's shift in policy, Europe "has become a dangerous place," warns RBS. Unless Italy can count on low borrowing costs and a broad recovery, it will "inevitably end up in an EU bailout." The current situation is as bad as when the country was blown out of the ERM in 1992 as "the Italian macro situation has not improved...rather the contrary; with 160 large corporates in Italy now in special crisis administration." If the ECB doesn’t act, one analyst warns (pleads) it could see all the gains of the past nine months vanish in two weeks. Mediobanca said the trigger for a blow-up in Italy could be a bail-out crisis for Slovenia or an ugly turn of events in Argentina, which has close links to Italian business. "Argentina in particular worries us, as a new default seems likely."
- Stocks Fall With China in Bear Market as Bonds Decline (BBG)
- Russia defiant as U.S. raises pressure over Snowden (Reuters) ...
- and sure enough: Kerry Warns Hong Kong and Russia on Snowden (WSJ)
- Slow-Motion U.S. Recovery Searches for Second Gear (WSJ)
- PBOC Sees ‘Reasonable’ Liquidity in China’s Financial System (BBG)
- Italy's Berlusconi faces verdict in underage sex trial (Reuters)
- Fed Monetary Course Difficult for a Bernanke Successor to Alter (BBG)
- Another China central bank worry; companies push into lending (Reuters)
- Gold Miner Writedowns at $17 Billion After Newcrest Fallout (BBG)
- Snowden Faces Often-Posed U.S. Fugitive Question: Where to Run? (BBG)
It's as if we have two economies: the simulacrum one of stocks rising dramatically in a few months, and the real one of household earnings (down) and hours worked (down). It is difficult to justify the feeling that we are living in an extraordinary moment in time, for the fundamental reason that it's impossible to accurately assess the present in a historical context. Extraordinary moments are most easily marked by dramatic events such as declarations of war or election results; lacking such a visible demarcation, what sets this month of 2013 apart from any other month since the Lehman Brothers' collapse in 2008? It seems to me that the ordinariness of June 2013 is masking its true nature as a turning point. Humans soon habituate to whatever conditions they inhabit, and this adaptive trait robs us of the ability to discern just how extraordinary the situation has become.
Europe is a disaster-zone. Here’s the round-up of what’s going wrong right now. The longest day? It would have been a long day, whatever happened, so you might as well enjoy it.
As if the Greeks don’t have enough to deal with right now with their country cut off from the benefits of a national television and radio station. What is it they say in the UK? Something like ‘when it rains it pours’.
As noted yesterday, and perhspa even more prescient now Anastasiades is back with the begging bowl, the debt crisis in Cyprus and the subsequent "bail-in" confiscation of bank depositors' money matter for two reasons: 1. The banking/debt crisis in Cyprus shares many characteristics with other banking/debt crises. 2. The official Eurozone resolution of the crisis may provide a template for future resolutions of other banking/debt crises. It also matters for another reason: not only is the bail-in a direct theft of depositors' money, the entire bailout is essentially a wholesale theft of national assets. This is the inevitable result of political Elites swearing allegiance to the European Monetary Union.
Why do the debt crisis in Cyprus and the subsequent "bail-in" confiscation of bank depositors' money matter? They matter for two reasons: 1. The banking/debt crisis in Cyprus shares many characteristics with other banking/debt crises. 2. The official Eurozone resolution of the crisis--the "bail-in" confiscation of 60% of bank depositors' cash in an involuntary exchange for shares in the bank (which are unlikely to have any future value)--may provide a template for future official resolutions of other banking/debt crises. In other words, since the banking/debt crisis in Cyprus is hardly unique, we can anticipate the resolution (confiscation of deposits) may be applied elsewhere.
The Plight Of Europe's Banking Sector, Its €650 Billion State Guarantee, And The "Urgent Need" To RecapitalizeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/15/2013 12:37 -0400
Since the topic of quantifying how big the sovereign assistance to assorted banks - both in Europe and the US (which Bloomberg calculated at $83 billion per year) - has become a daily talking point, we are happy to read that Harald Benink and Harry Huizinga have reached the same conclusion as us in their VOX analysis, and further have shown that in Europe the implicit banking sector guarantee by the state is a whopping €650 billion. "Europe has postponed the recapitalisation of its banking sector for far too long. And, without such a recapitalisation, the danger is that economic stagnation will continue for a long period, thereby putting Europe on a course towards Japanese-style inertia and the proliferation of zombie banks... Banks are already saddled with ample unrecognised losses on their assets, estimated by many observers to be at least several hundreds of billions of euros and mirrored by low share price valuations, and an additional loss of their present funding advantage will be crippling."