From Mark Grant, author of Out Of The Box, a follow up to our "A Few Quick Reminders Why NOTHING Has Been Fixed In Europe (And Why LTRO 3 Is Not Coming)" from March 2012.
What is Killing Europe
The bigger the real-life problems, the greater the tendency for people to retreat into a reassuring fantasy-land of abstract theory and technical manipulation.
Many people have little or no understanding of what is presently taking place in Europe. This is because it is reported nowhere, discussed in public by no one and carefully hidden in the data supplied by the European Central Bank.
What I will discuss today is the prime mover, in my opinion, of the destabilization of the European economies and yet, like the debt to GDP ratios on the Continent; just because it isn’t counted does not mean that it does not exist. I will endeavor to explain it as simply as possible.
A bank in some European country such as Spain lends money but the collateral, Real Estate or commercial loans, are going bad. The bank then securitizes a large pool of this collateral and pledges it at the ECB to receive cash. In many cases to take the pool the country has to guarantee the debt. So Spain, in my example, guarantees the loan package which is then pledged at the ECB and is a contingent liability and which is not reported in the debt to GDP ratio of the country but nowhere else that you will find either. “Hidden” would be the appropriate word.
Then as time passes the loans get even worse so that the ECB demands cash or more collateral because they will not be taking the hit; thank you very much. The bank cannot afford to post more collateral so that the country, Spain, must post the collateral and add an additional guarantee for the new loan or they must post cash which is oftentimes the case.
Consequently as time passes and more cash has been spent the country, Spain, begins to run out of capital and the 10.6% deficit figure, that Spain announced recently, is not anywhere close to the actual reality so that they will get forced to officially borrow more money from the ESM as the sovereign guarantee of bank debt becomes unsustainable.
What is happening is then becoming clearer as the nations of Europe are running out of capital as they endeavor to support their banking institutions. The breadth and depth of this problem is nowhere to be found but the effect is unmistakable. The European nations are going bankrupt.
The problem is that Europe pretends to be asleep. The difficulty then is that you cannot wake them up.
The longer that time passes; the worse the situation. The countries cannot afford to pay their known bills. The banking crisis worsens. The debt at the ECB must get paid which worsens the finances of the sovereigns. It is a death spiral unless the economies pick-up and experience real growth which is just not happening. Soon the problems will become bad enough that they will hit the fan once again and this time; there will be real Hell to pay.
You can expect this for Spain, Greece, Portugal, Cyprus, Slovenia, Ireland et al and in short order. I have used Spain as the example today because their stated 10.6% economic decline is only a fraction of their real issue. Again, what is not counted or what is not stated does not ease the burden of what must be paid. They may proclaim fantasy but they are living in reality. The famous windmills are becoming unhinged.
I have no issue with myths. I just have difficulty when governments fly them as banners of truth