European Credit Crunch Hits Broad Economy As M3, Private Loans Collapse
The primarily sovereign credit crunch in Europe, which has resulted in part due to the ECB's disastrous, and since reversed decision just like in 2008, to hike rates early in the year, only to go ahead and not only cut but expand its balance sheet by a record EUR 800 billion in the past six months, has finally started trickling down to the corporate, and more importantly financial levels, where as was just reported today, the broadest monetary aggregate, the M3, rose by a only 2.0% in November, dropping by a whopping 60 bps from October (keep in mind this is a huge amount on a number that is in the tens of trillions), which happened to be the biggest annualized contraction change since 2009. What is worse, and what confirms that the daily "near default" state Europe finds itself in every single day has sent shockwaves of uncertainty around the continent, is that the loans to private businesses grew at just a 1.7% rate in November, a plunge from October's 2.7% and missing expectations of 2.6% by a wide margin. Said otherwise, corporate credit (far more important than its sovereign equivalent) is being turned off. And as has been widely discussed without credit flowing, there is not only no growth, but the threat of imminent economic depression. Lastly, that this has happened even as the ECB's balance sheet has risen from EUR 1.9 trillion to $2.7 trillion in 6 months is truly humiliating from Trichet as none of the money he injected into the banks has made it to the broader public, and instead all has been used to prop up Europe's failing banks, something we know all too well here in the US.
A chart showing European M3, and the all too obvious downward inflection point:
And here is Reuters on the issue of why Europe is likely to not only lower rates to under 1.00% but also print, without sterilizing, thereby really dragging out the ghost of Weimar future out of the wheelbarrow boneyard.
Loans to private sector firms in the euro zone fell in November while growth in lending to households slowed, European Central Bank data showed on Thursday, adding to the case for an interest rate cut. The drop in funding to companies increased fears that the region faces a looming credit crunch, an issue of growing concern for the ECB as the worsening sovereign crisis makes firms and households increasingly wary about taking on debt, weighing on the economic outlook.
In an attempt to kick-start loan activity, the 17-country bloc's central bank conducted last week its first-ever three-year funding operation, which saw banks take up almost half a trillion euros.
In November, loans to the private sector grew at a rate of 1.7 percent year on year, Thursday's data showed, coming in well below analysts' expectations of 2.6 percent and the 2.7 percent growth seen in October.
"They are a very soft set of numbers, Societe Generale economist James Nixon said. "If banks were to start to seriously shrink their balance sheets, that would be quite a significant negative for economic activity. The good news is we don't see that - yet."
The flow of loans to firms dropped by 7 billion euros after growing by a similar amount in October. The flow of mortgage loans rose by 8 billion euros after an 18 billion drop in October. The annual growth rate of mortgage loans remained at 3.0 percent.
Euro zone M3 money supply -- a more general measure of cash in the economy -- grew at an annual 2.0 percent in November, down from 2.6 in October and below expectations of 2.5 percent. Decreasing to 2.5 percent, the three-month moving average of M3 growth remains well below the ECB's reference rate of 4.5 percent, above which the bank sees dangers to medium-term price stability. Economists said the figures made it more likely the ECB would look to offer the struggling economy more support by cutting interest rates further from their current record low of 1.0 percent.
"The sharp slowdown in euro zone money supply growth in November reinforces belief that underlying euro zone inflationary pressures are easing and that the ECB has ample scope to cut interest rates again in the early months of 2012," IHS Global Insight economist Howard Archer said in a note to investors.
Of course, for anyone who thinks that Bernanke will let the ECB print alone, and send the EUR to parity with the USD, we have a CDO cubed collateralized by the Maginot line to sell them.