If Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain can do it, why not everyone? Heck, why pay for anything, instead of just ramping up debts, until the consolidated debt load is so high the Fed has no choice but to bail everyone out? Of course, this is purely a thought experiment (for now... there are still 5 months in the presidential race). Still, we were curious to see if there is validation of this meme "out there" - and to do this we of course went straight to the source - Google's most recent addition in tracking public queries, Insights for Search, and looked up the term "bailout." We were not at all surprised to find the English-speaking world's curiosity in this particular synonym for a 'free lunch' (with other people's money) has exploded in the last few weeks.
The upcoming bailout in Cyprus has warts, and spies.
What are capital controls? Simply, capital controls are policies which restrict the free flow of capital into, out of, through, and within a nation’s borders. They can take a variety of forms, including:
- Setting a fixed amount for bank withdrawals, or suspending them altogether
- Forcing citizens or banks to hold government debt
- Curtailing or suspending international bank transfers
- Curtailing or suspending foreign exchange transactions
- Criminalizing the purchase and ownership of precious metals
- Fixing an official exchange rate and criminalizing market-based transactions
Establishing capital controls is one of the worst forms of theft that a government can impose. It traps people’s hard earned savings and their future income within a nation’s borders. This trapped pool of capital allows the government to transfer wealth from the people to their own coffers through excessive taxation or rampant inflation… both of which soon follow.
...and after all of those fancy acronoyms (ECB, EFSF, EU, ESM, ASS, BS, etc.), Italy is essentially just one big Greece. No, I'm not oversimplifying, just look at the bank bailout bailing out the insolvent country circular arguments!
The ongoing drama and chaos across Europe has seen the rise and spread of a number of 'extremist' anti-EMU and anti-bailout parties. As JPMorgan notes, the political consequences of reform fatigue are high. Many countries have seen the emergence of nationalist parties but only France, Italy, and Greece have parties advocating EMU withdrawal (for now). This is exactly what we discussed as likely to occur and was quantified here (and here) as inevitably leading to chaos, judged empirically, when austerity has been imposed.
Five days ahead of the Greek parliamentary re-vote, the media propaganda machine has gone mute due to the moratorium on the RAND() known as popular polling: forgotten are the days when Syriza' popularity rating would swing from -100 to +100 in the span of hours, Diebold notwithstanding. Which leaves the media machine just one tactic: updates on the economic collapse as a tacit suggestion of what may happen if situation is not fixed. And while at this point it is nearly impossible to distinguish propaganda from fact, the latest numbers out of Kathimerini are just stunning. As Bloomberg's Marcus Bensasson reports, citing Kathimerini, the Greek banking system has continued to hemorrhage deposits this month, amid uncertainty over the outcome of elections on June 17. "Many people are putting money in shares of mutual funds denominated in dollars because of the bureaucratic difficulty of taking money out of Greece, or are keeping cash at home, the newspaper said." How much? "Deposits are leaving the banking system at a rate of 100 million to 500 million euros ($125 million to $625 million) a day, Kathimerini said, without specifying over how long a period that rate of outflow has continued."
With the Italian 10 year at a 6.15% and the Spanish 10 year at a 6.60% this morning; pause. My recommendation is to be out of all European sovereign and bank debt but if you have to own some because of your mandate or because you are attached to some Index then it is time to stop, look and listen. The Red Queen (Angela Merkel) and her minions are playing “off with their head” games and the situation is not a joke. The EFSF loans are going to be replaced by ESM money when the fund comes into existence and this means that your position as a senior bond holder will be subordinated to the IMF and/or the ESM. Any country including the existing troubled nations (Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and shortly Cyprus) are going to have their debt replaced by the capital of the ESM so if you own any of these sovereign credits or any of their banks then you are going to be placed in a junior position by fiat. Then we have just seen what happens with “local law” bonds as demonstrated by Greece so that you need to swap out of any “local law” bonds ASAP and only own bonds governed by American, British or Swiss law. This would be for any and all nations on the Continent without exception. When it comes to bond holders versus taxpayers the taxpayer will always win so you must protect yourselves now rather than having your head handed to you later. There is no joy in finding your head on some silver platter I assure you and you must make the changes now and not later. I cannot stress this enough and I hope you are paying attention!
As Many Have Predicted for Years
Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg may be cautious on the outlook for risk assets and cyclical securities over the near- and intermediate-term, but, he notes, change is always at the margin, and it usually starts in the political sphere. Austerity is not some dirty nine-letter word as the socialists in Europe would have you believe. It is all about living within your means and living up to your commitments. There is some good news in the United States with respect to this topic, but the uncertainty over the extent of next year's tax bite is likely to cause households and businesses to pull spending back and raise cash, at the margin, which means the economy won't turn around in time for Mr. Obama. As was the case with Ronald Reagan, just having a clear and coherent fiscal plan will part the clouds of uncertainty and encourage capital to be put at risk rather than sit as idle unproductive cash on corporate balance sheets. In a somewhat stunning sentence from the no-longer-a-permabear, he notes that "The future is brighter than you think", but just in case you are backing up the truck, he adds "this does not mean we will not have another recession, by the way — as we suffer through a deflationary debt deleveraging. I'm noticing a certain degree of despair these days, just as I am getting enthusiastic about the future. Much depends on what happens on November 6th and between now and then we still have the European mess, China hard landing risks and the U.S. debt ceiling issue to confront. Be that as it may, those with some dry powder on hand will be in a solid position to take advantage of whatever forced "panic" selling takes place."
Credit Suisse Explains "The Real Issue", And Why There Is Two Months Tops Until France Is In The Bulls EyeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/11/2012 18:12 -0500
"It’s all about Spain”, so now we are cutting to the chase. Recapitalization of the banks versus funding the sovereign is of course a semantic issue given the nature of the interplay. But it enables the attempted finesse we describe below. Given the market’s adaptive learning behaviour, we suspect that this finesse might last two [months]. The eventual denouement should be flagged by symptoms of the failure of the credit of EFSF/ESM and/or France."
The bailout bullishness half-life is shrinking - dramatically - as it appears traders have become more aware of reality (and unreality). As we have noted again and again, the self-referencing, self-aggrandizing, self-pleasuring European government and banking systems are becoming more and more symbiotically linked. As JPM CIO Cembalest notes for Spain, Plan A was the 2010 announcement of government austerity targets. Plan B was the 2011/2012 ECB lending program to Spanish banks - to the point where Spanish banks now own around 50% of Spanish government debt. Neither plan worked and so on to Plan C - recap Spanish banks to cover the expected losses forthcoming. Recapitalization of the banks versus funding the sovereign is of course a semantic issue given the nature of the interplay. As Credit Suisse noted this weekend... "Portugal cannot rescue Greece, Spain cannot rescue Portugal, Italy cannot rescue Spain (as is surely about to become all too abundantly clear), France cannot rescue Italy, but Germany can rescue France.” Or, the credit of the EFSF/ESM, if called upon to provide funds in large size, either calls upon the credit of Germany, or fails; i.e., it probably cannot fund, to the extent needed to save the credit of one (and probably imminently two) countries that had hitherto been considered 'too big so save', without joint and several guarantees."
Where does the money for the bailouts come from? All the governments in Europe including Greece, Italy, and Spain.
And who is allowed to receive money from it? All the governments in Europe including Greece, Italy, and Spain.
How can that possibly work? It can't, but Europeans like bad ideas that sound nice!
European Insurer Needs Insurance As $6B Of Its Bonds Are Instantly Subordinated Due To "Spain's Pain"Submitted by Reggie Middleton on 06/11/2012 10:36 -0500
One minute you have it, the next minute you don't. Nowadays you never know if the money you have in Europe is really yours or not. From instantaneous debt subordination to capital (flight) controls, things are starting to look ugly!
Here we go:
- EU SOURCES HAVE DISCUSSED IMPOSING CAPITAL CONTROLS AS WORST CASE SCENARIO IF GREECE LEAVES EUROZONE - RTRS
- IMPOSING BORDER CHECKS, LIMITING ATM WITHDRAWALS ALSO PART OF WORST-CASE SCENARIO PLANNING - EU SOURCES - RTRS
- SUSPENSION OF SCHENGEN ALSO DISCUSSED
In other words, that money you thought you had... You don't really have it. We can only hope this message was not meant to restore confidence and prevent future bank runs. Because if Europe wanted a continental bank run, it may have just gotten one.
This is getting scary very fast.