Two months ago, in the aftermath of the "surprising victory" for the Italian PM from the June 29 European summit, which the media mistakenly interpreted as successful for Monti and Rajoy, whose hijacking tactics merely led to even more European animosity and instability in a system that is beyond fragile (i.e., Europe), we proposed an entirely different explanation, namely that "Merkel's Surprising "Defeat" was Merely A Gambit For A German Referendum?" To wit: "it appears that events over the past week may have been merely a gambit for something that Schauble and Weidmann have already hinted at: a popular referendum that decides the fate of Europe once and for all, washing Merkel's hands and letting the people decide if they want the European experiment to continue or not." Turns out we were right.
Lost in the complete and utter lack of newsflow yesterday (no pun intended) were some comments from Otmar Issing, former chief economist of the ECB. Also a German. Also an advisor for Goldman Sachs. In the absence of Angela Merkel and Schauble, both of whom are still conducting privatization due diligence on Santorini, he decided to present the German view to all the recent bluster and posturing by Europe choosing beggars. What he so conveniently explained is just why "European Union" is the biggest oxymoron imaginable, and why Germany will hardly smile quietly as the rest of the continent uses history as its only leverage to shame Germany into funding the bailout of its broke neighbors. In fact, what Issing confirms, is why any hope that a Federalist union in a continent in which deep seated hatred runs deep, and will promptly overtake any of the happiness associated with the recent 30 years of fake prosperity, is doomed. Art Cashin explains.
Ten days ago, when predicting what may and likely will be the outcome of the August ECB announcement, we said that it is virtually certain that it will follow in the trailblazing footsteps of what Mario Monti did at the June 29th meeting. To wit: "The bottom line here is that Draghi most likely pulled a Mario Monti (and his hanger on Mariano Rajoy), and spoke up before pre-clearing with Buba's Weidmann. Draghi thinks that, like Monti with Merkel at the June 29 summit, he can bluff the Bundesbank into submission, and Germany will agree to monetization, especially if markets have risen enough where nothing out of the ECB next week leads to a market plunge. The problem is that as we patiently explained, Monti got absolutely no concessions our of Merkel, as was seen in the bond yields of Spain after the June 29 summit." Sure enough, the market soared in the days after June 29 as well, giddy with optimism that Germany would never settle for being bullied publicly and had implicitly agreed with the Monti and Rajoy. Euphoria promptly turned to despair as it became quickly clear that Monti had bluffed without preclearing with Merkel and Buba. Fast forward one month, and what we expected to happen is precisely what did happen.
Europe's Question Of Today: “If They Will Fund And How?”; The Question Of Tomorrow “Can They Afford It?”Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/06/2012 07:56 -0400
Never forget; there are two sides to the European fiscal proposition. There are the funding nations and the borrowing nations and I suggest that the focus of the markets will soon turn to the funding countries and their capacity to provide capital without endangering themselves. I think the attention of the markets is about to turn to Germany and France, the largest components of the European Union, and with GDP’s of $3.2 trillion and $2.77 trillion respectively the question is going to come around to just how much these two countries can support without sending themselves into a serious economic quagmire. The EU officially recognized sovereign debt of Greece is now 22.33% of the GDP of Germany and 25.80% of the GDP of France. The banks in Europe dwarf the sovereigns with balance sheets three times larger than of all of the EU nations and with Spain having now fallen and Italy about to go; just how much that can be afforded is quickly coming into the focus of many money managers.
The very vocal head of the world's largest bond fund has long been critical of the global ponzi system better known as the "capital markets." Now, finally, he shifts his attention to Europe, where the interests of his parent - Europe's largest insurance company Allianz are near and dear to the heart, and deconstructs not only the biggest challenge facing Europe: getting access to your money, but also the fatal flaws that will make achieving this now impossible. To wit: "Psst! Investors – do you wanna know a secret? Do you wanna know what Angela Merkel, François Hollande, Christine Lagarde and Mario Draghi all share in common? They want your money!" .... but... "private investors are balking – and for what it seems are good reasons – because policy makers’ efforts have been, until now, a day late and a euro short, or more accurately, years late and a trillion euros short." And so they will continue failing ever upward, as permissive monetary policy which allows failed fiscal policy to be perpetuated, will do nothing about fixing the underlying problems facing the insolvent continent. Then one day, the ECB, whose credibility was already massively shaken last week, will be exposed for the naked emperor it is. Only then will Europe's politicians finally sit down and begin doing the right thing. It will be too late.
A few days ago we wrote that "Greece Runs Out Of Money. Again" because it did. The country, which is permanently locked out of the bond markets, would be down to a negative cash balance as soon as its August bond payment to the ECB was made. The reason is that the Troika continues to delay its decision. whether or not to hand over Greece its next monthly allowance. So with the country threatening to once again be on the front page as math rears its ugly head, the ECB has decided to take the bold step and admit that in lieu of even remotely credible collateral pledged and repledged in the ponzi repo system, the ECB has no choice but to expand the universe of eligible "collateral" against which it will provide cash. From Reuters: "The ECB's Governing Council agreed at its meeting on Thursday to increase the upper limit for the amount of Greek short-term loans the Bank of Greece can accept in exchange for emergency loans, the newspaper said in an advance copy of the article due to appear in its Saturday edition."
Today there will be no discussion of the weather. Today platitudes, arcane phrases, vague promises couched in banalities will no longer do. Mr. Draghi has laid down the gauntlet of actually providing a solution for Europe by having the ECB act as Superman, Batman and the Avengers and show up and make the last minute rescue and I fear that anything short of this will now send the markets into a tailspin. Expectations run high, Mr. Draghi may well have over-promised and any sort of under delivery will not be taken well. Today may be the most critical meeting, ever, of the European Central Bank and it is Mr. Draghi’s reputation, the ECB’s reputation that has been put on the line by Mr. Draghi’s bold comments.
For months the European Union, the IMF and the European Central Bank focused all of their attention on the giant firewall that was supposed to protect the core countries of Europe. It was all a diversion and one that, once again, did not work. I think the real problem is that the European Union has come to believe their own concocted nonsense. I think they honestly believe that it is some band of speculators, some Jesse James type of gang riding out of the American West that is trying to drive up European interest rates and destroy their beloved construct. The bonds of Germany, France, the Netherlands et al now trade at negative levels in the short end; this is not that the credits are so great it is that a lot of European money is mandated to stay in Europe so that the money has been put in the safest places available within the mandate and hence negative yields. Germany is becoming troubled economically and will be in a recession along with the rest of Europe by the fourth quarter of this year. We suspect both the ECB and Fed will disappoint as the expectations, especially for the ECB, to provide some kind of miracle will not be the manifest destiny hoped for by many.
The Moody’s outlook change on Germany lets us know that this time around the debate is more than political posturing. If Germany loses its AAA status, then it’s GAME OVER for the EU: the German population, already outraged by the EU bailouts, and now facing a recession will NOT tolerate a credit rating downgrade.
As I’ve stated many times, Germany is THE REAL backstop of the EU. And it’s comprised its own solvency as a result: the country is only €328 billion away from reaching an official Debt to GDP of 90%, the level at which national solvency is called into question. Moreover, that €328 billion has already been spent via various EU props. Indeed, when we account for all the backdoor schemes Germany has engaged in to prop up the EU, Germany's REAL Debt to GDP is closer to 300%.
As I’ve outlined in earlier articles, Spain will be the straw that breaks the EU’s back. The country’s private Debt to GDP is above 300%. Spanish banks are loaded with toxic debts courtesy of a housing bubble that makes the US’s look like a small bump in comparison. And the Spanish government is bankrupt as well.
Pushing them to build up more debt to push additional debt on over-indebted nations who clearly can't pay back their current debt is quite foolish. Recession and depression looms everywhere.
The insolvent banana continent is back. Recall back in May 2011:
“When it becomes serious, you have to lie." -Jean Claude Juncker
Ergo, things in Europe are very serious again because the Eurogroup's head, who until recently promised he was quitting his post because "he had gotten tired of the Franco-German interference in managing the region's debt crisis", only to spoil the fun and say he was lying about that too, is back to doing what he does best - lying. To wit: "the euro countries are preparing together with the bailout fund EFSF and the European Central Bank to buy government bonds if necessary clip euro countries." And now cue Schauble: "Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has rejected speculation about impending purchases of government bonds by Spanish EFSF and ECB."
"September will undoubtedly be the crunch time," one senior euro zone policymaker said. "In nearly 20 years of dealing with EU issues, I've never known a state of affairs like we are in now," one euro zone diplomat said this week. "It really is a very, very difficult fix and it's far from certain that we'll be able to find the right way out of it."
When day after day, for three days in a row last week, the ECB spread rumors that it would commence buying Spanish debt in what was in retrospect nothing but a massive bluff (just as we suggested yesterday), what passes for a market postulated that since there was no official German denial, and with Merkel on vacation that would mean a statement from her finance minister sidekick Wolfgang Schauble, that Germany was ok with the reactivation of Spanish bond buying and as a result ramped risk by over 4% in 3 days. All of that is about to wiped out as Schauble has finally spoken. Quote Spiegel: "For days, it is rumored that the ECB will buy Spanish government bonds in a big way. Now Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has rejected such reports - there was "no truth". And scene. Luckily all the momo chasers who bought stocks last week on hopes their prayer-based strategy will finally play out, will be able to sell ahead of all those other momo chasers who bought stocks last week on hope their prayer-based strategy will finally play out. Or maybe not.