Rule #1 that is cast in stone is "Preservation of Capital." There is certainly a place for some speculation at the edges but you do not, ever, put the core of your capital at risk. You may believe what you like about Europe. You may be wildly optimistic or incredibly pessimistic but what cannot be denied is that tremendous risk is currently present and that things could go wildly erratic in one direction or another. Economics, outside of the classroom, never exists without its cousin politics but the political considerations are now so huge and the money at stake is now so large that the sheer size of the capital on the table should and ultimately will give everyone pause. We are about to arrive at moments where the notion of "muddling through" will no longer be possible.
Buy everything I say without limit. Leverage each purchase to the maximum allowed under the law. The markets will only go up and not down and 100,000 is the next stop for the S&P. It is to be Dow without Jones, assets without liabilities and wealth without poverty. The Middle Class has been evacuated and everyone is wealthy beyond belief. It is just there, of course, that the truth lies in this merry old land, “beyond belief.”
"I like fantasy---it wakes up the brain cells.”
- Dr. Seuss
“Breakup of the Eurozone”: a concept that is taking on a life of its own
The Organization of Petroleum Economies, in its August report, said Iranian crude oil production in part led to a decline in overall output from the Vienna-based cartel. OPEC said crude oil production for its members, not including Iraq, was reported at 28.1 million barrels per day in July, a decline of 270,000 bpd compared with the previous month. The decline in OPEC oil production in part was led by Iran, which saw its export options curtailed by sanctions imposed by the U.S. and European governments. Tehran announced it still had a viable consumer base in China, however, which received about 12 percent of its oil needs from Iran. The Indian government, meanwhile, said it would circumvent EU sanctions by extending government-backed insurance to tankers carrying Iranian crude because of the "definite need" for oil.
While not advocating the break-up of the Euro-zone, Finland's foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja told the Daily Telegraph this evening that "it is only a matter of time". In a somewhat stunning show of truthiness, perhaps the first cracks in Europe's Nash Equilibrium are starting to show through following Monti's 'threats', Draghi's 'promises', and Merkel's 'well, nothings'. The Finn continues, via Reuters, "Either the south or the north will break away because this currency strait-jacket is causing misery for millions and destroying Europe's future." Finland, which has a veto that could be used to block any new bailout measures, has already stirred the pot unilaterally by demanding collateral from Greece and Spain, is quite clear in its view that Europe "is a total catastrophe" but adds that no-one wants to be first to get out of the Euro and take all the blame. Insisting that the break-up of the Euro does not mean the end of the European Union, Tuomioja believes "it could make the EU function better," but comments that he is deeply suspicious of the 'gang of four' - which includes Draghi - with regard his promises (especially ESM seniority) adding that he "does not trust these people."
One of the reasons that Europe is so difficult to assess is the tremendous amount of jargon and hype that comes pouring out from all across the Continent. Each separate nation sends out stuff and then Brussels sends out their fluff and then the ECB makes proclamations and there is no harmonization as each group has its own distinct platform. We are bombarded daily with national interests, Federal interests and finally an ECB that supposedly is beholden to no one but is, in fact, beholden to everyone and especially Germany as the paymaster. Almost every day there is a new bandwagon to jump on and a new disappointment to be found some days later as one plan after another does not come to fruition. So to make sense of it all you have to stop, come to a full halt and give due consideration to the totality of what is happening in Europe.
Mark Grant stated yesterday on CNBC that Europe will have a “Lehman Moment” and likely a number of them. The construct is a failing enterprise as the available European capital cannot support the combined debts and as real money investors pull their capital and stop lending because of the continuing deceit. You may be able to “fool some of the people some of the time” as Abraham Lincoln so succinctly put it but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time as he humbly nod to his sage wisdom.
As Simon Hobbs noted this morning, Olli Rehn confirmed ahh that err "both the European Union and the ECB are ready to take action" but only conditional upon requests for aid. What is perhaps missed by most observers is what Rick Santelli and Mark Grant discuss in more detail in the short clip below. Greece managed to sell EUR4 billion short-dated bills this morning at remarkably low yields - not exactly the kind of thing that incentivizes political leaders to request aid - but how did they do it? Who bought it? Well, we suspect you know the answer but Mark Grant's clarifying response to Santelli's question concluded simply that the ECB-to-Greek-Banks-to-The-Bank-Of Greece-to-ECB circle-jerk is "in a sense, a kind of Ponzi scheme." Santelli's response that "it really is a rigged game" and that our reflexive response to the signaling of bond yields is remarkable given the manipulation; Grant agrees adding that "the real money guys are either out of Europe, getting out of Europe, or have cut back as much as they can" since simple math shows you that at some point Europe will have it's 'moment'.
As was seen in Iraq, it is the people who suffer most from sanctions and economic and civil war and the Syrian people are indeed facing increasing hardships. Hunger is a problem that is growing more acute by the day. As the prices of what little food is available soar, there are increasing signs of desperation among parents seeking to feed families. Prices of fuel and medicine have also soared amid shortages compounding the misery of Syrians and leading to another humanitarian crisis. Professor Nouriel Roubini and other financial experts have pointed out that “you cannot eat gold.” However, people in nations suffering from currency and economic wars can testify as to how they can use gold in order to buy food, fuel and medicine for their families in difficult times. To wit, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad announced measures facilitating imports of gold bullion coins and bars. Gold bullion imports no longer require a special permit and travellers are allowed to bring gold bullion coins and bars with them into the country, the decree said. Gold is, as it has done throughout history, protecting them and their families from the ravages of currency devaluation and economic collapse.
Can anyone seriously claim the European Union, the European Central Bank and its alphabet-soup programs still retain a shred of credibility? Every EU/ECB "save" is fictitious, every "fix" expedient, every promise empty, every face-saving summit a living lie. Ultimately, all the posturing, promises and saves come down to an impossibility: "rescuing" phantom assets purchased with astounding levels of debt by issuing even more astounding levels of debt. Does anyone truly believe this absurdity is anything more than a transparent fraud designed to extend the life of a failed, corrupt system constructed on fantasies and lies? Those with assets are fleeing for less fantastic and dangerous climes. The handful of French millionaires who are supposed to magically bail out a failed-state that absorbs 55% of GDP are busy transferring their assets out of France, a mass exodus of capital that is also playing out in China, where those who embraced the slogan "to get rich is glorious" are transferring their wealth, ill-gotten or well-earned, overseas. So vast is this outflow of wealth that for the first time the outflow of capital from China exceeds the inflow of investment capital. The smart money is exiting, and the last batch of credulous "China story" rubes are dumping their capital down a rathole.
While still of the belief that a wholesale disintegration of the European Monetary Union remains a distinct tail-risk event, Citigroup's chief economist Willem Buiter succinctly summarizes his core view as "the euro-area will stumble and bumble towards an eventual resolution." However, that 'final' solution does not look like your grandma's European Union as he expects nothing more than a "continued Monetary Union, probably without Greece, having undergone both major sovereign debt restructurings in the periphery and financial debt restructurings for banks in the periphery and core." Transcribed from a three-minute clip, Buiter eloquently answers three key questions: How is the Euro crisis (and its consequent solution) shaping up? Does Germany have the upper-hand? and What sort of moral hazard issues might we see in the near future? He concludes "we won't have a smooth solution to this crisis."
And suspicions arose immediately that the Troika was laying the publicity groundwork for something that bailout-leery Germans would oppose.
Will Germany leave the Euro? I believe so. The country is already bordering on insolvency due to nearly €1 trillion in backdoor EU bailouts (pushing Germany’s Debt to GDP to 90%). Over 69% of Germans are worried about inflation. Angela Merkel is up for re-election next year (and has gained political points anytime she played hardball with Europe) and Germany has implemented steps to place a firewall around its financial system and passed legislation allowing it to leave the Euro if need be.
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.