As noted earlier, Europe has been so obviously crippled by years of brutal austerity (which, as we pointed out before never actually happened), that it has had to experience the supreme indignity - a miserable two years of plunging flat GDP growth. Because under the old normal, it appears that unless one is issuing massive debt, pardon "growing", society grinds to a halt. Well, it appears that France has finally had enough, and as of today, "the French government approved a measure Wednesday that will lower the retirement age to 60 from 62 for a narrow group of workers, partly reversing unpopular pension reforms made by former President Nicolas Sarkozy as he sought to improve France's public finances." Obviously, this means that more welfare funding will have to be sourced as all else equal, this means less money will be produced by the country's workforce, and more money will be consumed by its retirees. Who will do it? Why German of course. Because after Merkel caved first on Greece, and then on Spain, it is now game over for German "prudence" and everyone will line up at the trough. Congrats Berlin: we can only hope you have discovered those magical money-growing trees. You will need them.
Here we go again. Back in July 2011 we wrote an article entitled "The Real Banking Crisis" where we discussed the increasing instability of the Eurozone banks suffering from depositor bank runs. Since that time (and two LTRO infusions and numerous bailouts later), Eurozone banks, as represented by the Euro Stoxx Banks Index, have fallen more than 50% from their July 2011 levels and are now in the midst of yet another breakdown led by the abysmal situation currently unfolding in Greece and Spain.... Although the last eight months have not played out the way we would have expected for gold, they have played out the way we envisioned for the banks. The question now is how long this can go on for, and how long gold can remain under pressure in a banking crisis that has the potential to spread beyond Greece and Spain? So much now rests on the policy responses fashioned by the US Fed and ECB, and just as much also rests on what's left of European citizens' confidence in their local banking institutions. Neither of these things can be precisely measured or predicted, but we continue to firmly believe that depositors in Greece and Spain will choose gold over drachmas or pesetas if they have the foresight and are given the freedom to act accordingly. The number one reason we have always believed gold should be owned, and why we believe it will go higher, is people's growing distrust of the banking system - and we are now there. We will wait and see how the summer develops, and keep our attention firmly focused of the second phase of the bank run now spreading across southern Europe.
The story of Facebook’s disappointing IPO is a gripping tale, and it holds some valuable lessons. But it concerns an event that has already happened. Forget Facebook — there are far more interesting events in play and that will affect you, if only at the margins. They haven’t happened yet, and they may not happen at all. But if they do, you’d sure as hell better have a plan.
The situation in Europe is bad... How BAD? Well, France, Spain, and Germany have ALL implemented border controls. That's not a typo. Spain, France, and Germany can each close their borders for up to 30 days at any point if they so choose. Why are they doing this? Because they know that when the stuff hits the fan and the EU collapses (which it will in the next few months) people are going to attempt to flee with their money... so they have made it so that no one can get it... and no one can get out.
“Public debt is an enemy for the country”
Merkel is putting on lipstick for her dinner with Hollande....
By mainstream media accounts, the presidential election in France and parliamentary elections in Greece on May 6 were overwhelming verdicts against “austerity” measures being implemented in Europe. There is only one problem. It is a lie. First off, austerity was never really tried. Not really. In France for example, according to Eurostat, annual expenditures have actually increased from €1.095 trillion to €1.118 trillion in 2011. In fact spending has increased every single year for the past decade. The debt there increased too from €1.932 trillion €1.987 trillion last year, just as it did every year before. Real “austere”. The French spent more, and they borrowed more. The deficit in France did decrease by about €34 billion in 2011, but that was largely because of a €56.6 billion surge in tax revenues. Again, there were no spending cuts. Zero. Yet incoming socialist president François Hollande claimed after his victory over Nicolas Sarkozy that he would bring an end to this mythical austerity: “We will bring back Europe on a track for jobs, growth and the future… We’re no longer doomed to austerity.” This is just a willful, purposeful distortion. What the heck is he talking about? Certainly not France.
All you need to read and some more.
Preaching from the pulpit of the fiscally most undisciplined country in the world
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.