Past May Be Prologue, But I Just Warned Of A Central European Depression 2 Years Ago

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Exactly two years ago, I penned a piece called The Depression is Already Here for Some Members of Europe, and It Just Might Be Contagious! I excerpt it as follows...

Austria, Belgium and Sweden, while apparently healthy from a cursory perspective, have between one quarter to one half of their GDPs exposed to central and eastern European countries facing a full blown Depression! These exposed countries are surrounded by much larger (GDP-wise and geo-politically) countries who have severe structural fiscal deficiencies and excessive debt as a proportion to their GDPs, not to mention being highly "OVERBANKED" (a term that I have coined).

So as to quiet those pundits who feel I am being sensationalist, let's take this step by step....

I strongly suggest those interested in this topic to peruse the whole article for it explicitly warns of what is about to happen any minute now, but first lets see what's popping in world news today, as Bloomberg reports the IMF, EU May Need to Give E. Europe More Help:

The International Monetary Fund and other lenders, who spent $42 billion to stem an eastern European banking crisis after 2009, may be forced to commit more aid to the region to cushion the effects of banks cutting assets. The IMF, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, theWorld Bank and the European Investment Bank should “stand ready to provide external assistance and financial support to banks” in eastern Europe, the Vienna Initiative group of regulators and policy makers said in a statement after a meeting in the Austrian capital yesterday. “There is a very strong impact of this -- a potentially strong impact,” Erik Berglof, the EBRD’s chief economist, said in an interview today in Vienna. “You have the headquarters making decisions on assets that are very small when you look at the total balance sheet, but when you look at the subsidiaries in eastern Europe they are systemic in the countries where they operate.”

Regulators and policy makers are trying to shield economic growth in eastern Europe as western lenders must meet higher capital requirements to withstand the euro area’s deepening debt crisis.

This makes very little sense since the bulk of growth in the CEE states stems from trade with the EU. If the EU catches a cold, the CEE states contract chronic pneumonia!

About three-quarters of the banking market in eastern Europe is controlled by western European banks including UniCredit SpA (UCG)Erste Group Bank AG (EBS) and Raiffeisen Bank International AG (RBI), the biggest of which are raising capital and shedding assets, causing concerns that credit may become scarce.

As explicitly detailed to my subscribers two years ago, (subscribers, see File Icon Banks exposed to Central and Eastern Europe)

The Vienna group urged western European regulators and policy makers to work together to recapitalize banks and consider the effects on subsidiaries in other countries. Financial regulators need to step up coordination to reduce the risk of “disorderly deleveraging”...

Otherwise known as reality, a properly functioning market and transparent price discovery!!!

... in eastern Europe, Serbian central bank Vice Governor Bojan Markovic said at a Euromoney conference in Vienna today. By the end of June, European banks must have core capital reserves of 9 percent after writing down their holdings of sovereign debt, European Union leaders decided in October. That may require an additional 106 billion euros ($149 billion) of capital, a according to the European Banking Authority.

The 9 percent requirement “is not a very fortunate” plan given the current economic environment, European Central Bank Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny said at a Vienna conference today. “Regulatory requirements shouldn’t have a restrictive impact on the real economy,” Nowotny said.

Heh, let a banker tell the story and look what comes out! Appropriate regulatory requirements will have a restrictive impact on the economy if the prebious regulations were lax enough to allow abusive practives to juice the economy to unsustainable heights!!!

Deleveraging shouldn’t take place in countries that are growing and making structural changes to their economies, Albanian central bank Governor Ardian Fullani said today at the same conference.

Really? Suppose they aren't growing at the same rate that debt service emanating from piled derivative experiments are growing, and the structural changes being made are inadequate or fail to address the pertinent issues? I'm just saying... 

The message to foreign banks is “don’t put everyone in the same pot,” Fullani said. “Give stimulus to the right countries.”

Hey, that's novel and new! I've never heard the cry for stimulus before... Like a junkie creeping for another hit...

Banks may reduce funding by as much as 30 billion euros this year, according to estimates by Raiffeisen, board member Patrick Butler said at the Vienna conference. “Compare that to the growth that we saw in 2006 or 2007 of 200 billion euros a year -- it’s minimal,” Butler said. “It is not a credit crunch.”

 

...“It is important that home country authorities internalize the cross-border effects on EU and non-EU countries in formulating their measures,” the Vienna Initiative said in its statement. “In particular, the recapitalization plans of international banks submitted to the EBA should be scrutinized” for their “systemic impact on host economies.”

Yeah, BoomBustBlog covered this in detail... Two years ago - Introducing The BoomBustBlog Sovereign Contagion Model: Thus far, it has been right on the money for 5 months straight!

The BoomBustBlog Sovereign Contagion Model

Nearly every MSM analysts roundup attempts to speculate on who may be next in the contagion. We believe we can provide the road map, and to date we have been quite accurate. Most analysis looks at gross claims between countries, which of course can be very illuminating, but also tends to leave out many salient points and important risks/exposures.

foreign claims of PIIGS

In order to derive more meaningful conclusions about the risk emanating from the cross border exposures, it is essential to closely scrutinize the geographical break down of the total exposure as well as the level of risk surrounding each component. We have therefore developed a Sovereign Contagion model which aims to quantify the amount of risk weighted foreign claims and contingent exposure for major developed countries including major European countries, the US, Japan and Asia major.

I.          Summary of the methodology

    • We have followed a bottom-up approach wherein we have first identified the countries/regions with high financial risk either owing to rising sovereign risk (ballooning government debt and fiscal deficit) or structural issues including remnants from the asset bubble collapse, declining GDP, rising unemployment, current account deficits, etc. For the purpose of our analysis, we have selected PIIGS, CEE, Middle East (UAE and Kuwait), China and closely related countries (Korea and Malaysia), the US and UK as the trigger points of the financial risk dissemination across the analysed developed countries.
    • In order to quantify the financial risk emanating in the selected regions (trigger points), we looked into the probability of the risk event happening due to three factors - a) government default b) private sector default c) social unrest. The probabilities for each factor were arrived on the basis of a number of variables determining the relative weakness of the country. The aggregate risk event probability for each country (trigger point) is the average of the risk event probability due to the three factors.
    • Foreign claims of the developed countries against the trigger point countries were taken as the relevant exposure. The exposures of each developed country were expressed as % of its respective GDP in order to build a relative scale for inter-country comparison.
    • The risk event probability of the trigger point countries was multiplied by the respective exposure of the developed countries to arrive at the total risk weighted exposure of each developed country.
  • File Icon Sovereign Contagion Model - Retail- contains introduction, methodology summary, and findings