You know I saw this one coming 3 years ago, didn't you??? This ain't the end of the story either. You heard it hear first, again!
Three weeks ago we discussed the ultimate-doomsday presentation of the state of Spain which best summarized the macro-concerns facing the nation and its banks. Since then the market, and now the ratings agencies, have fully digested that meal of dysphoric data and pushed Spanish sovereign and bank bond spreads back to levels seen before the LTRO's short-lived (though self-defeating) munificence transfixed global investors. However, the world moves on and while most are focused directly on yields, spreads, unemployment rates, and loan-delinquency levels, there are two critical new numbers to pay attention to immediately - that we are sure the market will soon learn to appreciate. The first is 5%. This is the haircut increase that ECB collateral will require once all ratings agencies shift to BBB+ or below (meaning massive margin calls and cash needs for the exact banks that are the most exposed and least capable of achieving said liquidity). The second is 10%. This is the level of funded (bank) assets that are financed by the Central Bank and as UBS notes, this is the tipping point beyond which banks are treated differently by the market and have historically required significant equity issuance to return to regular private market funding. With S&P having made the move to BBB+ this week (and Italy already there), and Spain's banking system having reached 11% as of the last ECB announcement (and Italy 7.7%), it would appear we are set for more heat in the European kitchen - especially since Nomura adds that they do not expect any meaningful response from the ECB until things get a lot worse. The world is waking up to the realization that de-linking sovereigns and banks (as opposed to concentrating that systemic risk) is key to stabilizing markets.
The European Central Bank prints money and hands it to the banks in undiminished size and at an interest rate which compels massive carry trades. The European banks buy sovereign debt that helps to lower the price of the sovereign’s funding costs, the banks use some of the money to increase their own capital and lend some of the money to individuals and corporations in the nations where they are domiciled. The money gets used and eventually dries up and a some of the capital is used to come into compliance with Basel III. The yields of the periphery nations fall but then begin to rise again. Germany, using Target-2, keeps lending money to the other central banks which use part of the money to support their currency, the Euro. The circle is then completed and the equity markets, notably in America, trade off of the strength of the Euro and some days at almost a point by point movement. Never before in the history of the world has such a grand scheme been implemented and in such an all-encompassing fashion. The unlimited amount of money that is available, because they can print all the money they want, has allowed Europe to game the world’s financial system while no one looked or caught on to the scheme. The world’s fiscal system has been rigged by Europe.
Get those rotten tomatos ready
Americans have been listening to the mainstream financial media’s song and dance for around four years now. Every year, the song tells a comforting tale of good ol’ fashioned down home economic recovery with biscuits and gravy. And, every year, more people are left to wonder where this fantastic smorgasbord turnaround is taking place? Two blocks down? The next city over? Or perhaps only the neighborhoods surrounding the offices of CNN, MSNBC, and FOX? Certainly, it’s not spreading like wildfire in our own neck of the woods…Many in the general public are at the very least asking “where is the root of the recovery?” However, what they should really be asking is “where is the trigger for collapse?” Since 2007/2008, I and many other independent economic analysts have outlined numerous possible fiscal weaknesses and warning signs that could bring disaster if allowed to fully develop. What we find to our dismay here in 2012, however, is not one or two of these triggers coming to fruition, but nearly EVERY SINGLE conceivable Achilles’ heel within the foundation of our system raw and ready to snap at a moment’s notice. We are trapped on a river rapid leading to multiple economic disasters, and the only thing left for any sincere analyst to do is to carefully anticipate where the first hits will come from. Four years seems like a long time for global banks and government entities to subdue or postpone a financial breakdown, and an overly optimistic person might suggest that there may never be a sharp downturn in the markets. Couldn’t we simply roll with the tide forever, buoyed by intermittent fiat injections, treasury swaps, and policy shifts? The answer……is no.
Bob Janjuah, who has been quiet lately (recall his last piece in which he quite honestly told everyone that "Markets Are So Rigged By Policy Makers That I Have No Meaningful Insights To Offer"), is out with his latest, in which he gives us not only his long-term preview, "ultimately I still fear and expect the S&P500 – as the global risk-on/risk-off proxy – to trade at 800, and the Dow/Gold ratio to hit parity (currently at 8, down from an all-time high of 45 in late 1999) before we can begin the next multi-decade bull cycle", but also his checklist of 8 things to look forward to in the short-term centrally-planned future.
Let us take another step down the Holmesian path. As the economies in Italy and Spain deteriorate who will be seriously affected: Germany. Two of their largest buyers of their goods and services will radically cut back on their purchases and the German economy, for the first time in this cycle, will suffer as buyers are no longer able to afford various services. The circle always completes and the consequences will not be pleasant; this circle, in fact, will resemble a noose that is pulled tighter and tighter with each passing quarter and the pay master for the European Union will shrink as their economy, currently at the $3.2 trillion mark, sinks back towards $2.5 trillion during the next year. There will be screams of anguish aplenty and you might begin now to make the necessary adjustments to this coming reality. Then as Italy and Spain soon line up at the till you will see the Real Hurt being on which is why Europe is begging the IMF, the G-20, China and Japan for funds because they now have the burning smell in their nostrils of damaged flesh that has been singed and is about to be cooked and served up fresh in the begging bowls of those urchins turned out into the street.
- Greek PM does not rule out new bailout package (Reuters)
- Euro zone agrees temporary boost to rescue capacity (Reuters)
- Madrid Commits to Reforms Despite Strike (FT)
- China PBOC: To Keep Reasonable Social Financing, Prudent Monetary Policy In 2012 (WSJ)
- Germany Launches Strategy to Counter ECB Largesse (Telegraph)
- Iran Sanctions Fuel 'Junk for Oil' Barter With China, India (Bloomberg)
- BRICS Nations Threaten IMF Funding (FT)
- Bernanke Optimistic on Long-Term Economic Growth (AP)
On The Ascendance of Arabian Economic Influence, Contrarian View Of Apple & The Smart Move For Small BusinessesSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 03/29/2012 14:52 -0400
I looks like a few home runs are in the making...
There is noise and fluff and soap bubbles floating in the wind but don’t be distracted. Like so many things connected to the European Union it is just hype. In the first place do you think that any nation in Europe is actually going to put up money for the firewall no matter what size that they claim it will be? Let me give you the answer; it is “NO.” The firewall is just one more contingent liability that is not counted for any country’s financials, one more public statement of guarantee that everyone on the Continent hopes and prays will never be taken too seriously and certainly never used. Any rational person knows that some promise to pay in the future will not solve anything and it certainly won’t create some kind of magic ring fence around any nation. Think it through; what will it do to stop Spain or Italy from knocking at the door of the Continental Bank if they get in trouble and the answer is clearly nothing, not one thing. The firewall is just a distraction to lull all of you back to sleep and all of the headlines and discussion about it makes zero difference to any outcome and so is nothing more than a ruse. “Look this way please, do not look that way, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, put up your money to buy our sovereign debt like a good boy and everything will be just fine.”
The concept of government power is a strange and complex cipher. The existence of governments has always been predicated on assumptions of necessity, but few societies have ever truly considered what those necessities might be. What is government actually good for? What do they do that is so important? And, what happens when a government fails in the roles and duties that a culture deems vital? We tend to view government as an inevitability of life, but the fact is, government is NOT a force of nature, it is a creation of man, and it can be dismantled by men just as easily as it can be established. In America, many people see government as an extension of the Republic, or even the source, and an animal that feeds at the behest of the common citizen. An often heard argument against the idea of drastic change or even rebellion within the establishment system is the assertion that the government “is us”. That it is made of Americans, by Americans, and for Americans. That there is no separation between the public, and the base of power. This is, of course, a childish and fantastical delusion drawn from a complete lack of understanding as to how our system really operates today. How many people out there who make this argument really believe at their very core that they have any legitimate influence over the actions of the state? I wager not many… At bottom, to cling to the lie that the government as it stands is a construct of the people is an act of pure denial designed to help the lost masses cope with underlying feelings of utter powerlessness.
The next country that could follow Greece out of Valhalla and down to meet Poseidon at Hades gates is Portugal. They trod the path once before but look likely to be headed out on a second journey. The country’s private and household debt are approximately 300% of the total GDP of Portugal and their economy is contracting; around 4.00% by some estimates. While the European Commission estimates a debt to GDP ratio of 111% for this year; the actual data tells another story. Further aggravating a future restructuring are the CDS contracts with a net position of $5.2 billion and a gross amount of $67.30 billion which is about twice the amount of the net exposure for Greece.
...We find, in the case of Belgium, a 40% Debt/GDP miss from what is bandied about by the Europeans. Then it should be noted that in the case of Dexia, Fortis et al that the guarantee of contingent liabilities may not be the amount of money that is required and so the situation could still worsen from here. Belgium, in fact, is not much better off than Greece and, as their economy sinks into recession, the numbers and ratios are bound to get worse. Not only do I expect further downgrades for this country by the ratings agencies but I also expect a further rise in yields as the more sophisticated investors grasp the reality of Belgium’s issues and respond accordingly.
Now in the curious world we live in today; this only came out in public as the answer to a question raised in the German Parliament. Some reflection on the nature of these guarantees, that the European Union had decided not to tell us about, causes me to think of them as “Ponzi Bonds.” These are the seeds of a great scheme that has been foisted upon us. Bonds of a feather that have flocked together and arrived with the black swans one quiet Wednesday afternoon. The quoted and much ballyhooed sovereign debt numbers are now known to be no longer accurate and hence the lack of credibility of the debt to GDP data for the European nations. Stated more simply; none of the data that we are given about sovereign debt in the European Union is the truth, none of it. According to Eurostat, as an example, the consolidated Spanish debt raises their debt to GDP by 12.3% as Eurostat also states, and I quote, that guaranteed debt in Europe “DO NOT FORM PART OF GOVERNMENT DEBT, BUT ARE A CONTINGENT LIABILITY.” In other words; not counted and so, my friends, none of the data pushed out by Europe about their sovereign debt or their GDP ratios has one whit of truth resident in the data.