European Central Bank
ECB Has €444 Billion PIIGS Exposure, A 4.25% Drop In Asset Values Would Bankrupt European Central BankSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/07/2011 07:23 -0400
As if insolvent European private banks were not enough to worry about (and with banking assets of 461 percent of GDP in the UK, 178 percent in Germany, and 820 percent in Switzerland, there is more than enough to worry about), a new study by Open Europe has found that at the heart of the insolvency argument is none other than the only hedge fund that is even worse capitalized than the US Federal Reserve: the European Central Bank. "With Greece forced to seek a second bail-out to avoid bankruptcy, Open Europe has today published a briefing cataloguing how the eurozone crisis could drive the European Central Bank itself into insolvency, with taxpayers likely to pick up a big chunk of the bill. The role of the ECB in the ongoing eurozone and banking crisis has been significantly understated. By propping up struggling eurozone governments and providing cheap credit to ailing banks, the ECB has put billions worth of risky assets on its books. We estimate that the ECB has exposure to struggling eurozone economies (the so-called PIIGS) of around €444bn – an amount roughly equivalent to the GDP of Finland and Austria combined. Of this, around €190bn is exposure to the Greek state and Greek banks. Should the ECB see the value of its assets fall by just 4.25%, which is no longer a remote risk, its entire capital base would be wiped out." It seems that in crafting "prudent" capitalization ratios courtesy of Basel 1 through infinity, the global NWO regulators totally let the ECB slip through the cracks. The finding also confirms what we have been saying all along: there is no way that any form of voluntary or involuntary phase transition that will require the ECB to mark down assets that it has on its books at par (yet are worth 50 cents on the dollar) can ever occur: such an event would result in the immediate insolvency of the European lender of first and last resort, and, in turn, the unravelling of the Eurozone.
As we speculated earlier in the week, the ECB just confirmed it is doubling its reserve capital from a token €5.8 billion to €10.8 billion. The bank cited increased volatility in FX rates, interest rates, gold prices and higher credit risks as the cause for the increase. Of course, even with this hike, the capitalization of the European central bank is still woefully insufficient. As we noted previously: "the ECB has €5.8 billion of capital [now €10.8 billion] on €1.924 trillion of assets: roughly 331x leverage. As a reminder the Fed has $57 billion capital on $2,385 billion in assets, or a 42x leverage ratio. On the other hand, the ECB only holds €72 billion in directly purchased bonds as part of its "assets", whereas the bulk of the Fed's assets are rate-sensitive instruments: roughly $2.1 trillion in "securities held outright."" In other words, the only global hedge fund that has a greater leverage than the Fed, has just cut its gross leverage from a stunning 331 to only 178x.
The long-debated topic of whether the ECB intervenes on behalf of the euro can now be put to rest. 120 pip move in a minute is not a short cover. It is, and always has been, forced central bank intervention. Bernanke is so happy Trichet is doing his work for him for the time being. Be very wary of buying stocks on this intervention, as Central Bank involvement now at best leads to a 12 hour temporary "fix" to the market that Bernanke et al want to sustain.
* Bundesbank President Axel "I'm German, That's All You Need Know" Weber
* Portugal's Central Bank Governor Vitor "Policy Wonk" Constancio
* Italy's Mario "What the Hell Are You Laughing at?" Draghi
* Greece's George "But, I've Been in The Lion's Den" Provopoulos
* There's Going to be a Euro Next Year?