Nestling idyllically between France and Spain in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Andorra - which has enjoyed the benefits of European borders without the restrictions of EU membership - has seen its risk "increase beyond our expectations," according to S&P. As a reminder, when Cyprus was "templated" and depositors awoke with a 47% haircut, its total financial assets to GDP was around 8x, Andorra is now at a stunning 17x. As The Telegrpah explains, in the last three weeks, the state has been gripped by a banking crisis that threatens to take it to the brink; and Andorra, which is not a member of the eurozone but uses the single currency on an informal basis, would have no way of bailing them out (with no central bank or lender of last resort). In short, the country faces a catastrophe if its banks fall apart.
While the euro itself has recovered a bit from its worst levels in recent sessions, euro basis swaps have fallen deeper into negative territory on par with the epic nosedive of 2011. We are not quite sure what the move means this time around, since there is no obvious crisis situation – not yet, anyway. A negative FX basis usually indicates some sort of concern over the banking system’s creditworthiness and has historically been associated with euro area banks experiencing problems in obtaining dollar funding. This time, the move in basis swaps is happening “quietly”, as there are no reports in the media indicating that anything might be amiss. Still, something is apparently amiss...
Did you know that the Russians have a massive underground complex in the Ural mountains that has been estimated to be approximately 400 square miles in size? In other words, it is roughly as big as the area inside the Washington D.C. beltway. Back in the 1990s, the Clinton administration was deeply concerned about the construction of this enormous complex deep inside Yamantau mountain, but they could never seem to get any straight answers from the Russians. The command center for this complex is rumored to be 3,000 feet directly straight down from the summit of this giant rock quartz mountain. And of course U.S. military officials will admit that there are dozens of other similar sites throughout Russia, although most of them are thought to be quite a bit smaller. But that is not all that the Russians have been up to.
Ignoring the considerable risks in the mid 2000s led to the global financial crisis. Irish politicians, bankers and financial experts, like their international counterparts, are slow learners ...
Yesterday, in a vote that largely slid under the radar, the House of Representatives passed a resolution urging Obama to send lethal aid to Ukraine, providing offensive, not just "defensive" weapons to the Ukraine army. The resolution passed with broad bipartisan support by a count of 348 to 48. Russia's response came promptly: Washington's decision to supply Ukraine with ammunition and weapons would “explode the whole situation” in eastern Ukraine and Russia would be forced to respond “appropriately,” Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said at the end of February.“It would be a major blow to the Minsk agreements and would explode the whole situation,”
It’s time for the Japanese to get seriously scared now. Like many other countries, Japan – and its political class – creates a false image of enduring prosperity by letting its central bank increasingly buy up ever more of its sovereign bonds. It’s a total sleight of hand, there is nothing left that’s real. There’s no there there. This is of course the same as what happens in Europe. And it’s precisely because central banks buy up all these bonds, that their yields scrape the gutter. It’s a blueprint for killing off the last bit of actual functionality in an economy.
Krugman wants his US readers to believe that all proper economists now agree that cutting deficits was a bad mistake, and it’s only self-interested finance types and ideologically-motivated politicians and think-tankers that take a different view. But that’s nonsense. Just think about it: “Everyone agrees that austerity was a mistake”… apart from every government in Europe except the Greeks, and the economists and many of the civil servants that advise them. Krugman and his fan-club do not constitute all serious opinion, much as they might like to regard themselves that way. It’s all very nice sitting in a US university office preaching to the Europeans (or, indeed, preaching in the New York Times)
If the Fed indeed raises rates in June, we're likely to begin to see periphery sovereign debt defaults
Between 2000 and today, the global bond market has nearly TRIPLED in size. Today, it’s north of $100 trillion in size. And it’s backstopping over $555 trillion in derivatives trades.
In the aftermath of the ECB's QE announcement one topic has received far less attention than it should: the unexpected collapse of risk-sharing across the Eurosystem as a precursor to QE. This is what prompted "gold-expert" Willem Buiter of Citigroup to pen an analysis titled "The Euro Area: Monetary Union or System of Currency Boards", in which he answers two simple yet suddenly very critical for the Eurozone questions: which "currency boards", aka national central banks, are suddenly most at risk of going insolvent, and should the worst case scenario take place, and one or more NCBs go insolvent what happens then?
These negative rates that we see in Europe are a first glimpse of fiat currency destruction due to imploding economies. And again the negative rates are nominal rates meaning they are negative by way of something beyond inflation. Specifically they are moving to their natural minimum state of valuelessness because the economy is no longer strong enough to provide alternative investments for the fiat currency. Fiat currency is shown then not to be a storage of value whatsoever. But only a representation of strength of its respective economy. As the economy goes to zero so does the value of its currency. This point is exceedingly imperative to understand in our current global environment.
What storm? The stock and bond markets in the US are doing great, the media has sold the strong employment story, and all those nasty wars are far, far away.
This is why the Greek debt crisis continues without end. The minute Greek bondholders have to take a REAL haircut, the wheels come off the EU and the $100 trillion bond bubble finally blows up.
Mr. Ponzi was a charming con-artist who operated about a century ago in the United States and Canada. He enticed investors to contribute new money to his investment scheme (100% return in 90 days), skimmed a portion for his luxurious needs, and used the remaining money to pay off prior investors. The system worked marvelously until it collapsed and people realized that his postal reply coupon investments could not produce the profits that supposedly paid off early investors.
When even JPMorgan strongly implies that the ECB's QE is about to fail, one short week after it started, now may be a time to panic: "In all, we note the above analysis challenges the ability of the Eurosystem to meet its quantitative target without distorting market liquidity and price discovery."