As everyone knows, the only reason to become a banker, and be subject to constant derision, abuse, scorn and hatred by the "99%", and potentially to a fate comparable to that of the aristocracy in France circa 1789, is a simple one: money. Specifically, get as much of in as short a time period as possible, be rewarded with a taxpayer bailout or two when massive bets go epically wrong, then convert all your cash into "hard assets" and escape to a non-extradition country before the latest credit bubble pops. In other words, a simple opportunity cost analysis. Which then begs the question: why are there bankers in the following European countries: Slovenia, Romania, Malta, Lithuania, Estonia, Czech Republic and Bulgaria. The one thing in common these countries have is that according to a just released European Banking Authority study, in the year ended 2011 not a single domiciled banker made over €1 million! In other words: bankers working for feudal peasant salaries. What a scam.
Following on from our annual update on the wealth (re)distribution of nations, we thought it important to look at the other side of the household balance sheet - that of 'debt' to see just how much 'progress' has been made in the world. In the aftermath of the credit crisis (and the ongoing crisis in Europe), government debt levels continue to rise but combining trends in household debt highlights countries that have sustainable (and unsustainable) overall debt levels - and thus the greatest sovereign debt problems. Whether the 'number' is from Reinhart & Rogoff or not, the reality is that moar debt is not better and the nations with the highest debt-per-capita may surprise many. Critically, despite the rise in 'wealth' from 2000-2008, the ratio of debt-to-net-worth rose on average by about 50% (and in many nations continues to rise). The bottom line - in almost all countries, government liabilities exceeded government financial assets in 2011, leaving the government a net debtor.
Back in 2010 we started an annual series looking at the (re)distribution in the wealth of nations and social classes. What we found then (and what the media keeps rediscovering year after year to its great surprise) is that as a result of global central bank policy, the rich got richer, and the poor kept on getting poorer, even though as we predicted the global political powers would, at least superficially, seek to enforce policies that aimed to reverse this wealth redistribution from the poor to the rich (a doomed policy as the world's legislative powers are largely in the lobby pocket of the world's wealthiest who needless to say are less then willing to enact laws that reduce their wealth and leverage). Now that the topic of wealth distribution (or rather concentration) is once again in vogue, below we present the latest such update looking at a global portrait of household wealth. The bottom line: 29 million, or 0.6% of those with any actual assets under their name, own $87.4 trillion, or 39.3% of all global assets.
“It’s counterproductive to fight against windmills,” it explained
While the U.S. student loan debt “crisis” might be the primary concern associated with the youth population here, this morning's dreadful European data confirms that 15-24 year olds around the world are struggling with a more widespread and pressing issue: high unemployment. In 2012, the youth unemployment rate was 12.4%, projected to grow to 12.6% in 2013 – nearly 3 times the rate of adult unemployment, which stood at 4.5% in 2012. Developed economies, along with the Middle East and North Africa, have some of the worst youth unemployment rates in the world: the US’s unemployment rate for 15-24 year olds in 2012 was 15.4%, according to the Current Population Survey, more than 3 percentage points above the world average. ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes there is one exception to the U.S.’s high rates, though: for all the talk about how student loan debt has crippled young adults in the U.S., we actually have one of the lower unemployment rates for young adults with a tertiary (college) education – better, even, than many countries with free or low-cost universities (though the 'type' of jobs may be questionable).
EU Extends Deficit Deadlines For Most European Countries, Admits Structural Adjustment Failure, Kills AusteritySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/29/2013 07:22 -0500
Moments ago, the following European Commission website hit the interwebs, which can be summarized as follows:
- EU EXTENDS DEFICIT DEADLINE FOR PORTUGAL TO 2015
- EU EXTENDS DEFICIT DEADLINE FOR NETHERLANDS TO 2014
- EU EXTENDS DEFICIT DEADLINE FOR SPAIN UNTIL 2016
- EU RECOMMENDS LIFTING EXCESSIVE-DEFICIT REGIME FOR ITALY
- EU SAYS 20 STATES CURRENTLY UNDER EXCESSIVE-DEFICIT PROCEDURES
Translation: the theatrical spectacle of Europe's austerity, which never really took place, is finally over. Going forward political incompetence will henceforth be known as just that: incompetence, and elected rulers will not be able to pass the buck to evil, evil, "austerity." More importantly, Europe has also proven without a doubt, that any "structural adjustments" on the continent are impossible, and that governments are locked in a spend till you drop mode.
Inflation slowed in 24 (of 27) EU nations in April to leave the average EU rate at 1.4% (versus 1.9% in March). Greece entered deflation in March for the first time in 45 years and Latvia consumer prices fell 0.4% in April (versus +2.8% a year ago). This notable plunge, while 'helpful' for the average spender in the short-term, is a problem, as Bloomberg's Niraj Shah notes, sustained falling prices will increase the nation's debt burden. At the other end of the spectrum, Romania and Estonia both have inflation running above 4% and 3% respectively. Of course, none of this serial 'depression' matters, since Draghi has your back and Hollande says "the crisis is over."
On an unweighted average basis, European shadow economies are 22.1% of total economic activity or around $3.55 trillion (as large as Germany's whole economy). A report by Tax Research, suggests that Austria and Luxemburg have the smallest shadow economies in the euro area at 9.7% of GDP, while Bulgaria at 35.3% and Romania at 32.6% top the list. Of the major economies, Germany clocks in at 16%, France at 15%, Italy at 27% and Spain 22.5%. Stunningly, in terms of tax revenues lost, the shadow economy translates into an estimated €864bn or just over 7% of euro area GDP and, in context, accounts for 105.8% of the enture healthcare spending of the EU. It appears that more and more Europeans have no choice but to shift to a shadow economy (as taxes rise among other things), and this is the biggest threat to the entire economy. This is likely one reason the 'austerity' actions have not been successful since far less taxes are being paid via the conventional channels.
As the investigation into unusual loan write-downs and the 'premature' movement of capital away from Cyprus by the elites of that nation progresses, Cyprus Mail reports that the investigators - Alvarez and Marsal (A&M) - have found that the information provided by Bank of Cyprus (BoC) was incomplete and data deleting software were found on the computers of two senior executives. "Our computer forensic technologists have found that the computers of two employees, (former CEO) Mr. (Andreas) Eliades and (senior manager group treasury and private banking) Christakis Patsalides, have had wiping software loaded, which is not part of the standard software installations at the BoC." Investigators found no e-mail files, mailboxes or user documents on Eliades’ desktop computer - "we had significant gaps in the e-mail data received from BoC for the period 2007 to 2010, a key period for our scope of investigation," and no email backups were performed. A&M is looking into how BoC accumulated €2.4bn worth of Greek government bonds (GGBs), later suffering huge losses because of that, and into BoC’s expansion to Romania and Russia. We are sure this is all above board and normal IT protocol for the bank... or not.
The Stunning Differences in European Costs of Labor: Or Why “Competitiveness” Is A Beggar-Thy-Neighbor StrategySubmitted by testosteronepit on 03/27/2013 20:20 -0500
So, relocate all manufacturing plants from Sweden to Bulgaria?
The British (and now Europe-wide) scandal of corporations selling horse meat as beef is emblematic of many of the problems with big, unwieldy systems. The similarity between horse meat and subprime have already been noted - just as with subprime, complicated, impersonal systems have bred fraud. Similarly, in an equally sprawling and disconnected system — the global food supply chain — anonymity has bred irresponsibility once again. Retailers claim to have been misled. Meat processors and food manufacturers claim to have been misled too. But somewhere along the line, someone is lying. I am coming to believe very strongly that as this century continues, and as systemic interconnectivity and complexity increases, we will see many more horse meat and subprime style scandals exploiting the anonymity of big systems.
Horsemeat Scandal Goes Global As World's Largest Food Maker Pulls Tainted Pasta From Spain And ItalySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/18/2013 21:44 -0500
First it was Ireland, then the entire UK, then Germany, and gradually it spread to all of Europe (except for France of course, where it was always a delicacy). But it was only once its finally crossed the Alps and made its way to the Swiss factories of Nestle, the world's largest food maker, did the horsemeat scandal truly go global. The FT reports that "the escalating horsemeat scandal has ensnared two of the biggest names in the food industry, Nestlé, the world’s number-one food maker, and JBS, the largest beef producer by sales. Switzerland-based Nestlé on Monday removed pasta meals from shelves in Italy and Spain and suspended deliveries of all processed products containing meat from German supplier, H.J. Schypke, after tests revealed traces of horse DNA above 1 per cent. Nestlé said it had informed the authorities....Nestlé withdrew two chilled pasta products, Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini from sale in Italy and Spain. Lasagnes à la Bolognaise Gourmandes, a frozen meat product for catering businesses produced in France, will also be withdrawn."
Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell are getting an early start on shale exploration campaigns in eastern European countries. With the United States fast emerging as a shale natural gas leader, European economies eager to bolster their own energy independence are working to follow suit. Shell plans to spend more than $400 million to tap into Ukrainian shale, while Chevron has similar ambitions in eastern Romania. While regional shale gas production isn't going to match that seen in the United States, it's expected to eventually weaken the Russian grip on the region's energy sector. The U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration estimates that, together, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania may hold many trillion cubic feet of shale natural gas. That was enough to give U.S. supermajor Chevron the confidence to move ahead with an exploration campaign there. The company began taking on shale concessions in 2010 and has since announced plans to start exploration. If EIA estimates are close to accurate, there may be enough shale gas in Romania to cover its energy needs for the next 40 years.
Because “there’s no difference in the taste”
The chart below, from the Economist, takes a look at how long it would take an individual from any given country to become a millionaire based on "how much the main breadwinner in an average household makes each year (before tax)." No major surprises here: the fastest spawning place for a budding millionaire, a term that has long ago lost its one-time cachet thanks to the world's central banks who have pumped some $14 trillion into the market, is the US, while those hoping to hit the vaunted seven figures in Bulgaria, Mexico and Romania would need to wait about 2-3 average lifetimes before they hit their monetary goal.