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.
Market Turbulence As Global Economies Falter: The European debt-crisis, the derailing of Chinese economic growth and an underemployed United States all point toward a “global crunch”.
The headlines are rolling in. From Bloomberg:
- ECB SEES 2012 INFLATION AT 2.3% TO 2.5% VS PREV 2.1% TO 2.7%. - so... counterdisinflation
That's the kicker: ECB sees inflation. Deus Ex Off - forget more easing at this point. Everything else is just filler.
Three months ago, just when things looked like they were about to turn south, the Fed's trusty mouthpiece, Jon Hilsenrath, made it clear that the market can stop falling as the Fed was "considering" sterilized QE, or more Twist, something we explained later would be impossible in the current format as the Fed would run out of sub 3 Year paper by the end of August. It did however halt the drop in stocks for a month or two until Europe became permanently unfixed. Hilsenrath then cralwed back into his WSJ cubicle. Until today: two weeks before the all critical June 20 FOMC meeting, the faithful Fed scribe has been charged with his latest leak commission: "Fed Considers More Action Amid New Recovery Doubts." And as it has been leaked (now that people have actually done the appropriate math), so it shall be.
First Moody's cut the most prominent Austrian banks, and now it is Germany's turn, if not that of the most undercapitalized German bank yet: "The ongoing rating review for Deutsche Bank AG and its subsidiaries will be concluded together with the reviews for other global firms with large capital markets operations." Punchline: "Frankfurt am Main, June 06, 2012 -- Moody's Investors Service has today taken various rating actions on seven German banks and their subsidiaries, as well as one German subsidiary of a foreign group. As a result, the long-term debt and deposit ratings for six groups and one German subsidiary of a foreign group have declined by one notch, while the ratings for one group were confirmed. Moody's also downgraded the long-term debt and deposit ratings for several subsidiaries of these groups, by up to three notches. At the same time, the short-term ratings for three groups as well as one German subsidiary of a foreign group have been downgraded by one notch, triggered by the long-term rating downgrades."
All you need to read and some more.
We will get a test once again as to the effectiveness of the central bank/MoT confidence game.
The employment numbers that came out Friday were very bad and caught most economists and analysts by surprise. Nothing the Fed has done has worked. Once again the ranks of the unemployed grow, wages flatten out, manufacturing weakens, GDP declines, and savings are spent to maintain lifestyles. The U.S. and much of the rest of the world is heading toward stagnation, if not recession. Yet, despite the failures of central bank policies, they will persist in doing the same wrong thing again. Here we review the data and explain why things are heading south.
It's one thing for liberals to demand one group of Americans pay for another group of Americans, with a third group's money of course (until it runs out), but when a progressive think tank actually has the temerity to tell Bernanke that Europe is not socialist enough, and thus needs liberal US support, that's when things just get plain old silly. Which incidentally, is precisely what the progressive brains of Mark Weisbrot and Dean Baker, co-directors of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research, have done. Naturally, we are all for a humanistic effort; we also believe in leading by example. If Messrs. Weisbrot and Baker would first be kind enough to divest themselves of all their earthly possessions and bank account contents, which should be Fedexed and wired in the direction of Spain post haste, it would make their transparently theatrical pursuit of pseudo-noble causes just that more palatable to the masses who already are on the verge of poverty, and are now being asked to bail out other countries.
We have recently witnessed a boom-and-bust cycle in Real Estate in Europe that overcame the banks of several nations including Ireland and Portugal. Now Spain is about to show up to be counted in my view. The issue all across Europe is that the sovereign does not have enough assets or capital to bailout their banks and many European banks are impaired; make no mistake. The first move was to lay off a lot of non-performing assets in securitizations at the ECB but the price always gets paid which will either be severe losses at the ECB requiring re-capitalization or the ECB handing back the collateral to the various banks which would probably bankrupt some of them especially in Spain, France and Italy. The ECB maneuver brought early success but now, as loans become due and as non-performance builds and losses must be recognized; the real truth forces itself upon balance sheets. There is a day when the auditors say, “Show me the money” and when it isn’t there the infamous “Oh My God” moment begins. Now Bubba, when you use the screwdriver and release the air from the tires it causes all of those little lights on the dashboard to begin to flash and then if you try to drive the car it goes “bump-bump” down the road. No Bubba, get off of your knees and get your mouth off of the thingy; you cannot blow air back into the tires that way.
We all know that things are bad and getting worse. Goldman's Jan Hatzius take this opportunity to summarize all the various ways in which the global economy is floundering and once again floats the Goldman solution to everything: More QE, this time with a Bill Gross twist, pun and all, where the Fed again pulls a 2009 and goes for MBS: "Our confidence that the FOMC will ease policy once more at the June 19-20 meeting has also grown... Our baseline remains that Fed officials will purchase a mixture of mortgages and long-term Treasuries, financed via balance sheet expansion and possibly coupled with an extension of the forward guidance into 2015. This would be considerably more powerful than an extension of Operation Twist or other ways of changing the composition of the balance sheet, which are possible alternatives but are limited by the relatively modest amount ($200bn) of short-term paper that is still available for sale on the Fed's balance sheet." Well, if anything, global or Fed-based easing will most likely not come before the Greek June 17 elections - after all Greek confidence has to be crushed heading into the Euro referendum, and the only way to do this is by facilitating collapsing markets. So those hoping for a groundbreaking ECB announcement on June 6 will be disappointed. But June 20? That is fair game. We look forward to seeing PIMCO MBS holdings rise to a new all time high when the monthly TRF update is posted in a few days. Also look for something like this in the EURUSD if and when Bernanke surprises few at 2:15 pm on June 20.
And Greece is the model for Spain and Italy.
In the aftermath of the recent spike in Zombie Apocalypse outlier (soon to be inlier) events, which correlate nearly perfectly with the soaring expiration of unemployment extended benefits (recall: "Your EBT Card Has Been Denied": 700,000 Are About To Lose Their Extended Jobless Claims Benefits" - after all people's got to eat), it was only a matter of time before we went from a real-time zombie incidence tracker, to the "ZOMBIE ATTACK: Disaster Preparedness Simulation Exercise #5 (DR5)" Courtesy of the University of Florda.
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