Yep. Now it's official.
There are some people who also believe that the private Federal Reserve with the Treasury in tow has the ability to prolong the worst symptoms of the collapse indefinitely, or at least, until they have long since kicked the bucket and don’t have to worry about it anymore (the ‘pay-it forward to our grandkids’ crowd) . I can say with 100% certainty that most of us will live to see the climax of the breakdown, and that this breakdown is about to enter a more precarious state before the end of this year. You can only stretch a sun-boiled rubber band so far before it snaps completely, and America’s financial elasticity has long been melted away. A pummeling hailstorm of news items and international developments have made the first half of 2012 almost impossible to track and analyze. The frequency at which negative information has surfaced is almost dizzying. However, a pattern and a recognizable motion are beginning to take shape, and, I believe, a loose timeline is beginning to form.
European cash equities opened sharply lower this morning following electoral uncertainties arising from various corners of Europe, notably Greece and France. Volumes also remain light as the market closure across the UK reduces the number of participants today. The mainstream political parties from Greece, PASOK and the New Democracy, failed to establish a majority this weekend as voters firmly expressed their discontent with the political establishment, evident in the rise of fringe parties. As such, the leaders of New Democracy and PASOK will now attempt to establish a coalition party with the splinter group Independent Greeks (a party notable for its anti-EU/IMF stance), due to begin as soon as today. The uncertainty in Greece’s future has taken its toll across the markets today, with EUR/USD beginning the session sub-1.3000 and all European equities trading markedly lower throughout most of the morning session. Elsewhere on the political front, Francois Hollande has won the French Presidency and is to be inaugurated on May 15th, as such; participants now look out for any comments regarding the relationship between the new French leader and German Chancellor Merkel. The Spanish government are set to make an announcement on Friday concerning the continuing troubles over the Spanish banking sector, with a government source commenting that the plans will include the creation of a 10- and 15-year ‘bad bank’. Recent trade has seen a recovery across forex and stocks as EUR/USD grinds higher and stock futures move closer to unchanged. Strong German factory orders data has helped the moves off the lowest levels, as demand from outside the Eurozone helps lift the figure above expectations of +0.5% to +2.2% for March.
By the look of things, French youth are celebrating Hollande’s victory by picking up all of their friends and then driving up and down the streets honking their horns incessantly. Most cars were packed to the brim with passengers hanging out of every window and even the sunroof waving French flags, singing, or simply yelling pro-Hollande slogans.
Courtesy of Bloomberg, below is a compilation of the key dates to know for the first French socialist president since Francois Mitterand.
And so one more tumbles to the popular wave of anger and discontent.
Francois Hollande wins 51.9% of the vote according to exit polls
The 57-year-old Hollande got about 52 percent against about 48 percent for Sarkozy, according to estimates by pollsters CSA and Harris Interactive
Nicholas Sarzkoy concedes defeat in presidential election to Francois Hollande
While most will be following what appears to be an almost certain Hollande victory in the French presidential runoff elections tomorrow (InTrade odds around 10%), it is very likely that the Greek election will have a greater acute impact on the political and financial facade of Europe, especially in the short term. As we noted in what we dubbed our first (of many) Greek election previews, the biggest problem facing the new political regime will be its near certain inability to form a coalition government (with just 32.6% of the vote going to PASOK and New Democracy) that does not undo most of what has been achieved through popular sweat and tears over the past 2 years to assist Europe's bankers in transferring what little Greek wealth remains to fund the insolvent European bank balance sheets. This in turn could begin the latest cascading contagion waterfall, which coupled with an anti-austerity drive emanating from a newly socialist France will threaten to topple Angela Merkel's carefully constructed European hegemony.
If history has taught one certain lesson, it is that the less fettered an economy, the better humankind is able to do what it does best: run from trouble and run toward opportunity. In this way mistakes are quickly resolved and progress assured. Conversely, the deeper the muck of regulation, mandates, taxes, subsidies and other bureaucratic meddling, the slower we humans are in following our natural instincts until the point that progress is slowed or even stopped. It is said that history doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes. In the current circumstances, it appears that enough time has passed that current generations have completely forgotten the critical connection between the ability of humans to freely pursue their aspirations and economic progress. You can see this ignorance in the popular demand for even more, not less, meddling in the affairs of humankind. Should this trend continue – and for reasons I will touch on momentarily, I firmly believe it will – then the aspirations of the productive minority will soon be dampened by ever higher taxes and other attempts to "level the playing field" and the global economy, already in tatters, will fall off the edge. There is no more timely nor acute example of this growing trend than what is currently going on in France. I refer, of course, to the first round of the presidential election process, scheduled for this weekend.
All you need to read and some more.
As the runoff round of the French presidential election approaches, the only hope for Sarkozy who was trailing Hollande by a 9-10 point margin was that right winger Marine Le Pen would endorse his candidacy. If at all, she was expected to do so this morning. She did not. Instead, she told her followers to cast a blank vote, in essence cementing the fate of Sarkozy, and setting France and Germany on a big showdown over the fate of the fiscal union, and Europe's austerity. Of course, this is for the cameras. What happens behind is quite different, and usually coincides with the wishes of he, or in this case she, who pays the bills. Yet it was her assessment of the "choice" presented to the French people that was very much dead on: "Who out of Nicolas Sarkozy or Francois Hollande will be most subservient when carrying out austerity politics? Who will obey to the letter the orders of the troika: the IMF, ECB, European Commission?" It is he who shall be elected.
On that note, I fully believe the EU in its current form is in its final chapters. Whether it’s through Spain imploding or Germany ultimately pulling out of the Euro, we’ve now reached the point of no return: the problems facing the EU (Spain and Italy) are too large to be bailed out. There simply aren’t any funds or entities large enough to handle these issues.