Greece

PIIGS In America: Is Illinois Preparing To Request A Federal Bailout?

Moments ago we saw the following amusing headline crossing the BBG:

ILLINOIS TEACHERS' PENSION FUND CUTS RATE OF RETURN TO 8% FROM 8.5%

It's amusing because these are the same teachers who were demanding, and received, higher pay - 17% higher over four years in fact - following a several day strike. It is even more amusing considering that in a fiscal year in which we saw QE2, Operation Twist 1 and 2, and LTRO 1 and 2, the nation's largest pension fund, Calpers, managed to eek out a measly 1% gain (and this is including the end of June surge following the then announced European bailout which turned out to be yet another dud). It is, however sadly, most amusing, because it may be a harbinger of something truly sad: the advent of the "PIIG bailout" to America, when a US state demands a Federal bailout. We have seen how eager Europe has been to bailout its insolvent nations. We are next about to see just how "united" the US is when its own solidarity is tested as state after state repeat the European bailout experience. But hey: at least we have the dollar so all should be well.

AVFMS's picture

So after 2 hell of positive weeks with fairy dust sprinkled by the CBU (Central Banks United), things seem a little out of breath here.

Post-Central Bank intervention depression, so to speak, as the question on everyone’s mind is “What’s next?

Add to that soured geopolitics that stirred spirits in Asia, MENA and to some extend in regional Spain.

Europe Finally Comes Out: Obama's Reelection "Uber Alles" Determines Europe's Future

For those to whom this comes as a surprise, following the periodic jaunts of Tim Geithner to Europe explaining just what is truly important in life, not to mention Obama's daily phone calls to Mario Monti, we feel truly sorry:

  • "Obama doesn't want anything on a macroeconomic scale that is going to rock the global economy before Nov. 6," a senior EU official told
  • "As far as European leaders are concerned, they don't want Romney, so they're probably willing to do anything to help Obama's chances," said the source, an EU official involved in finding solutions to the debt crisis.

One kinda wonders: just what has Obama promised a broke Europe in return? Don't answer: it's rhetorical. It's also "fair."

First Spanish Bailouts Conditions Revealed: Pension Freeze, Retirement Age Hike

As we reported first thing this morning, Spain, while happy to receive the effect of plunging bond yields, most certainly does not want the cause - requesting the inevitable sovereign bailout. To paraphrase Italy's undersecretary of finance, Gianfranco Polillo: "There won’t be any nation that voluntarily, with a preemptive move, even if rationally justified, would go to an international body and say -- ‘I give up my national sovereignty." He is spot on. However, the one thing that will force countries to request a bailout is the inevitable outcome of soaring budget deficits: i.e., running out of cash (as calculated here previously, an event Spain has to certainly look forward to all else equal). Which simply means that sooner or later Mariano Rajoy will have to throw in the towel and push the red button, knowing full well it most certainly means the end of his administration, and very likely substantial social and political unrest for a country which already has 25% unemployment, all just to preserve the ability to fund its deficits, instead of biting the bullet and slashing public spending (and funding needs), which too would cause social unrest - hence no way out. But why would a bailout request result in unrest? Reuters finally brings us the details of what the Spanish bailout would entail, and they are not pretty: "Spain is considering freezing pensions and speeding up a planned rise in the retirement age as it races to cut spending and meet conditions of an expected international sovereign aid package, sources with knowledge of the matter said...The accelerated raising of the retirement age to 67 from 65, currently scheduled to take place over 15 years, is a done deal, the sources said. The elimination of an inflation-linked annual pension hike is still being considered."

Guest Post: European Car Engine Sputtering

According to data released by ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association) new passenger car registrations fell 8.9% in August after a decline of 7.8% in July. In 2011, Germany produced 5.8 million passenger cars, of which 77% (4.5m) were exported, making cars and parts the most valuable export good (EUR 185bn). A heavily export-dependent German automotive industry looks vulnerable to setbacks in important markets.

Spanish Bad Loans Soar By Most Ever In Past Quarter To All-Time Highs

A month ago we warned that loan delinquencies in Spain were bad and getting worse at a concerning rate. The most recent data update, which revised that 'bad' print to absolutely dismal, has broken records for just how ugly things are for Rajoy and his fellow countrymen. Spanish bank loan delinquencies rose to an all-time (50-year) record 9.86% with the last four months seeing simply unprecedented acceleration in the rate of bad loans. Numerically, this means that an absolutely whopping €172 billion of the €1.7 trillion in Spanish financial assets is now money bad, and will no longer  generate cash flows. This amounts to about 17% of total Spanish GDP. In GDP-equivalent terms, this would be equivalent to $2.5 trillion in US bank loans being "bad." Which, when one cuts all the prevarication and lies, is probably what the true status of the US financial system is. Add to this the now relentless deposit flight which is depleting Spanish bank coffers and one can see why the European credit death spiral is very aptly named.

Frontrunning: September 19

  • Deposit Flight From Europe Banks Eroding Common Currency (Bloomberg)
  • BOJ eases monetary policy as global slowdown bites (Reuters)
  • Stalled Rally Puts Pressure on Spain (WSJ)
  • Missed Chances Stoke Skepticism Over EU’s Crisis Fight (Bloomberg)
  • Germany's big worry: China, not Greece (Reuters)
  • Goldman names new CFO, heralding end of an era (Reuters)
  • Russia Demands U.S. Agency Halt Work (WSJ)
  • Fed’s Dudley Says Easing Vital to Spur Too-Slow Growth (Bloomberg)
  • Romney under fire from all sides (FT)
  • Poland cuts red tape to spur growth (FT)
  • IMF to Put Argentina on Path to Censure Over Inflation Data (Bloomberg)

Bob Janjuah - "Central Banks Are Attempting The Grossest Misallocation And Mispricing Of Capital In The History Of Mankind"

"The bottom line is simple: The Fed and the ECB are directing and attempting to orchestrate the grossest misallocation and mispricing of capital in the history of mankind. Their problem is that their actions have enormous unintended and even (eventually) intended consequences which serve to negate their actions in the shorter run, and which could create even bigger problems than we currently face in the near future. Kicking the can is not a viable policy for us now. The private sector knows all this, consciously and/or sub-consciously, which is why I feel these current policy settings are doomed to fail. Having said all that, the one area which for some reason still holds onto hope that Draghi and Bernanke can still perform feats of "magic" is the financial market, which central bankers assume, rely on and are happy to encourage Pavlovian responses. The reality here though is that even financial markets are, collectively, either sensing or assigning a half-life to the "positives" of central bank debasement policies, which to me means that even markets are only suggesting a short-term benefit from the latest policy actions. This is not what Draghi and Bernanke are hoping for, but in order for them to see the half-life outcome averted they know that we need to see major political and structural real economy reforms which somehow make Western workers competitive and hopeful again. The track record of the last four to five years inspires very little confidence that we will see such great necessary reformist strides taken anytime soon."

Overnight Sentiment: On This Day In Manchurian Invasion History

There was a time when sentiment and newsflow mattered, and then Bernanke took over. If there is anything today's soaked vacuum tubes will focus on is that it is the 81st anniversary of the invasion of Manchuria by Japan, as developments in the East China Sea are starting to get decidedly deja vuish, if somewhat inverted. Also notable is the ever louder chatter that Spain will have to be destroyed (bonds plunge), for it to be saved (Rajoy submits bailout request), as we observed over a month ago. For that to happen, the central planners will need to allow the markets to take a deep breath and actually slide, which in turn may crush confidence in central planners' ability to keep markets rising in perpetuity. What's a central planner to do these days to be appreciated anyway. It also means that the days of innocence, when nothing at all matters on the fundamental side, will, just like in Q1 after the LTRO $1.3 trillion injection, be followed by days when fundamentals matter with a vengeance. Alas, we are not there yet. Instead, the best we can do is wonder just what asset will experience today's flash crash du jour following yesterday's still unexplained 5% plunge in crude in minutes. New Normal indeed.

Bavarian Finance Minister: Everyone Wants Our Money

The European 'Union' continues to be the most amusingly misdefined oxymoron in existence. Today's Exhibit A confirming just that: Spiegel's interview with Bavarian finance minister Markus Söder which can be summarized in the following 4 words: Everyone Wants Our Money.

Overnight Sentiment: Leave It All To The Fed

News may come, and news may go, but the fiscal policy implementation vehicle known as the market, and now controlled by the Political Reserve don't care. For those who do, here is what has happened in the past few hours and what is on deck for the remainder of the week.

Phoenix Capital Research's picture

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.

The Chart Spain's Mariano Rajoy Wishes Could Be Swept Under The Rug

A week ago, after peripheral European bonds soared and yields plunged on more hype and more promises that the ECB may monetize debt on the one condition that insolvent countries hand over sovereignty to the Troika ala Greece, we were not all surprised to learn that "suddenly, nobody in Europe wants the ECB bailout." And why should they? After all, The whole point of the gambit was to lower bond rates, which happened, which would allow insolvent government to stack even more debt courtesy of lower rates on top of record debt, taking the insanity of the old saying "fixing an insolvency problem with liquidity" one step further, and revising it to "fixing an insolvency problem with more insolvency." Furthermore, if the mere threat of the ECB stepping in and crushing any shorts or supporting longs was enough, why even bother with actual intervention. Simple: even infinite monetary dilution has its limits. That limit is and always has been cash flow, because a central bank can only dilute wealth, never create it. And for Spain said limit is approaching fast.