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?
Now that the possibility of a Greek exit from the euro is back to being topic #1 of discussion, just as it was back in the summer of 2012 and the fall of 2011, and investors are propagandized by groundless speculation posited by journalists who have never used excel in their lives and are merely paid mouthpieces of bigger bank interests, it is time to rewind to a step by step analysis of precisely what will happen in the moments before Greece announces the EMU exit, how the transition from pre- to post- occurs, and the aftermath of what said transition would entail, courtesy of one of the smarter minds out there at the time (before his transition to a more status quo supportive tone), Citi's Willem Buiter, who pontificated precisely on this topic previously. Three words: "not unequivocally good."
One of the bigger problems facing the new, upstart Greek government, which has set before itself the lofty goal of overturning 6 years of oppressive European policies and countless generations of Greek cronyism, corruption and tax-evasion is not so much the concern about deposit outflows and bank runs - even though it most certainly will be in the next few days unless the Tsipras government finds some resolution to the dramatic standoff with Merkel and the ECB - but something far more trivial: running out of money.
Well the day has finally arrived that after two years of promises, jawboning and hope - the European Central Bank finally announced they will take the plunge into the Quantitative Easing (QE) pool. Whether or not the ECB's QE program has the desired effect or not will not be realized for a while. However, this week's reading list is a variety of opinions and initial takes on the "ABC's of the ECB's QE."
There is no reason to assume that this time will be different. These boom-bust sequences will continue until the economy is structurally undermined to such an extent that monetary intervention cannot even create the illusory prosperity of a capital-consuming boom anymore. The bankers applauding Draghi’s actions today will come to rue them tomorrow.
Just 2 short months ago we warned of the rising voice among the cognoscenti tilting their windmills towards the concept of "helicopter money," as Deutsche bank noted, "perhaps there's an increasing weariness that more QE globally whilst inevitable, is a blunt growth tool and that stopping it will be extremely difficult (let alone reversing it) without a positive growth shock." Committing what Commerzbank calls "the ultimate sin" is now reaching the mainstream as Germany's Der Spiegel notes it is becoming increasingly clear that Draghi and his fellow central bank leaders have exhausted all traditional means for combatting deflation; and many economists are demanding that the European Central Bank hand out money to consumers to stimulate the economy.
Say what you want about the gold price languishing below $1200 (or not, as the case may be, after this week), and say what you want about the technical picture or the “6,000-year bubble,” as Citi’s Willem Buiter recently termed it; but know this: gold is an insurance policy — not a trading vehicle — and the time to assess gold is when people have a sudden need for insurance. When that day comes - and believe me, it’s coming - the price will be the very last thing that matters. It will be purely and simply a matter of securing possession - bubble or not - and at any price. That price will NOT be $1200. A “run” on the gold “bank” would undoubtedly lead to one of those Warren Buffett moments when a bunch of people are left standing naked on the shore. It is also a phenomenon which will begin quietly before suddenly exploding into life. If you listen very carefully, you can hear something happening...
Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."
"Distinguished Economist Willem Buiter Joins CFR as Senior Fellow
Willem H. Buiter, a renowned macroeconomist and global chief economist at Citigroup, has joined the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) as an adjunct senior fellow. His work will focus on geoeconomics, deglobalization, international financial institutions, and global economic governance. “We are thrilled to have someone of Willem Buiter’s experience and reputation joining CFR,” said CFR President Richard N. Haass. “His presence will make an already strong economics program that much stronger.” Buiter is the newest addition to CFR’s Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, which provides analysis on how economic and geopolitical forces interact to influence world affairs."
Germans can’t get their gold reserves. Do how did the Dutch get their 122 tonnes of gold?
Is Germany being prevented from holding gold to prevent independent foreign policy action?
Citi claims gold is a 6000-year-old bubble, perhaps Mr. Buiter has not seen this chart?
“... I am a hard working taxpayer who is getting pretty fed up with having my savings earning no interest and possibly being devalued (see Japan) and of not being able to find any sensible place to invest my hard earned due to central bank policies making it impossible to make any return anywhere without taking crazy risks.”
"When a social construct (gold as money) survives for 6,000 years I would expect curious people to inquire as to whether it is tied to some immutable underlying law... [instead], our court economists prefer to write this off as a 6,000 year old delusion. That says a lot about the sorry state of the economics discipline today.”
"Gold Is A 6,000 Year Old Bubble" - Citi's Dutch Strategist Throws Up All Over Gold, Days After Dutch Gold RepatriationSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/27/2014 18:40 -0400
"Gold is the world’s most persistent bubble: 6,000 years old and going strong" - Citigroup's Willem Buiter.
Dear Willem, thank you for that valiant effort. After reading a few thousands words of shallow propaganda we understand your "confusion": our advice, if you want to understand what gold really is, read the following from Kyle Bass: "Buying gold is just buying a put against the idiocy of the political cycle. It's That Simple." Because if there is a bubble that is even bigger and longer than the "6000-year-old gold bubble" it is that of human corruption, greed, and idiocy. And that doesn't even include the stupidity of those who don't grasp this simple truth.
And now for something completely different. Citi's Willem Buiter is best known for his exhaustive, often times fatalistic outlook on Europe (he will ultimately be right about the Grexit, and Spexit, and ultimately Dexit, the only problem is so will Meredith Whitney about the state of the US municipals - eventually). It appears there may have been a reason for his dour outlook on life: a sexy stalker as it turns out. A sexy, but very demented stalker.
We would assume that tomorrow's ECB meeting will be the usual smug gloating by Draghi of how the market has turned around so exuberantly and implicitly that means all is well. While Willem Buiter just took that complacent perspective to task, we thought the following six simple charts of Good (well not terrible), Bad, and Ugly macro-economic data would simplify reality...