Guest Post: How Monetization Happens: Being at the Helm When the Ship Goes Down

Tyler Durden's picture

Via Lew Spellman of the Spellman Report

How Monetization Happens: Being at the Helm When the Ship Goes Down

The consequences of excess debt are now facing the leaders of Europe head on, and a monumental decision must be made whether explicitly or implicitly. Excess debt leads to a long chain of D words: Deleveraging in an attempt to retire debt results in a depressed economy and declining asset prices. The depressed economy breeds private debt defaults that in turn produce distressed banks. The chain then runs through depositor flight from the banks, producing a financial crisis and in turn a devaluation of the currency as capital flees. When foreign goods become more expensive there is a declining standard of living as import prices rise faster than wages. Then in an effort to stop the government debt trap, there is a default on promised entitlements under an austerity program leading to the swift defeat of the political leaders. But ultimately there is a sovereign restructuring or a default of the government debt. Most, if not all, the D words are visiting Europe at the moment and its leaders are falling by the wayside.

There is not a precise science that tells us when the debt trap begins the downward spiral that takes the ship down, but there are some rough guidelines. Reinhart and Rogoff (This Time is Different) have found to the extent one can generalize when a country’s debt-to-income ratio reaches the 90 percent level the ship of state begins to list and currently the OECD aggregate of 30-country gross debt-to-income ratio is 105 percent.

The sustainability of a country’s stock of debt is assessed by the market relative to the income flows that will be taxed in order to support the overhead cost of interest, even assuming an endless capability to rollover principal. The unraveling occurs when the financial markets lose confidence that the debt problem will be resolved successfully through income growth, austerity, or both and the refinanced debt carries the new higher market yield.

At that point, the overhead cost of the debt load is ever more depleting of the income stream that must be taxed to pay the higher interest carry. Now on a daily basis, there is a market panic attack if the market yield on Italian sovereigns rises above 7 percent. (Note the yield was close to 5 percent earlier this year so sovereign default is indeed being priced.)

After holders of Greek debt “voluntarily” accepted an arm-twisted 50-percent haircut, the market now believes that a sovereign default by a Western democracy is no longer a fairy tale. Furthermore, the default can’t be reliably hedged by CDS contracts, which proved to be voidable at the whim of the government, thus converting hedged risks into naked risks for the holders of distressed government debt. To make matters even dicier, the BIS regulators are backing away from continuing to award capital shields to the holders of sovereign debt, as explained in my last blog (The Dumpster for Toxic Euro Sovereign Debt). Also, the market has come to believe the world is without remaining Rich Uncles willing to rescue the Poor Uncles of Europe. All these factors cause investors to revert back to pricing sovereign debt based on risk fundamentals rather than government pledges of invincibility or confidence in financial insurance.

At this point, the remaining options to avoid reaching the tipping point to the D chain explained above are few, and the decisions to be made are momentous. The options are: submit to what the market is doing to you; take the lead and offer a debt restructure at a fractional payout; or run the printing presses to purchase enough sovereign debt necessary to contain the market yields. Halfway measures such as strengthening the EFSF no longer buys even a day’s worth of market forbearance.

It certainly must be crossing the minds of the Euro leaders that there are consequences for being at the helm when the ship goes down. The alternative is to orchestrate your own departure, which was cleverly done by Papandreou in Greece by calling for an austerity referendum. In Italy, Silvio Berlusconi’s departure was orchestrated quite literally, as reported by Reuters:

“Italians sang, danced and drank champagne in the streets to celebrate the resignation of scandal-plagued billionaire Silvio Berlusconi, and an impromptu orchestra near the presidential palace played the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah”.

Not even in my most Machiavellian thoughts had I conceived of the possible value of being “scandal-plagued” as a means to a back-door retreat from an uncomfortable situation. Given its frequency among politicians it seems to be an undervalued asset in politics. But the strategy doesn’t seem to fit Ms. Merkel, so she is stuck at the helm of the ship of state and is looking for a life raft.

And the consequence of being at the helm when all the D words cascade is more chilling when one witnesses what has happened to the Icelandic captain when his country’s ship went down. Iceland’s ex-premier is facing a formal indictment charging him with criminal violations against the laws of ministerial responsibility and “serious malfeasance of his duties as prime minister in the face of major danger looming over Icelandic financial institutions and the state treasury.” (See: Ex-Premier Charged)

We have reached the point where government bluff, bluster and promises no longer control the markets, and criminal indictments for those at the helm are threatening. If it is not possible to orchestrate an early exit, it would seem the only remaining life raft is the printing press — but that would not be easy for a German government to do out in the open, given their Weimar inflation history, as shown in the chart to the right.

The monetization of government debt is undoubtedly being conceived of as only a bridge to buy time to form a tighter Euro fiscal union with strict budget discipline. Indeed, this is being counseled by Joseph Ackermann, who seems to be the influential behind-the-scenes advisor.

But to keep things together until then, the ECB is no doubt on the job, if not directly purchasing Italian and other sovereigns, but lending to others who will purchase the same. But running the printing press does not stop with the ECB. Once QEs start for whatever reason and a number of countries are engaged, the very act of one major central bank printing to save a government drives capital offshore to perceived safer ports from inflation and a declining economy. This in turn sets up another dynamic that is well underway as other countries are driven to become sellers of their own currency in order to prevent its appreciation and maintain export market share. Thus, using the printing press to save the Euro debt leads to a global money race of competitive devaluations.

Now there is a confrontation of expectations in the markets, a bi-modal distribution if you will, of those believing the deflationary forces of the D chain above will dominate and those believing, now with greater justification, that the monetary produced inflationary route will be the Euro outcome.

Expect some inconsistent pricing in the market by those being moved to bet on inflation hedges side by side with those willing to bet on deflation hedges. What must be most maddening to a deflation hawk is the asset of choice in that circumstance, long-term government bonds, are at the very heart of the credit problem and are not the solution to protecting one’s portfolio. Nor is it the solution to the inflation hawks either. So the questionable sovereigns go begging among private investors with only the central bank as a friend.

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Careless Whisper's picture

The Careless Whisper Saturday Update & Threadjacking



PIC OF THE DAY: Resisting Arrest At University Of California, Davis

VIDEO OF THE DAY: OWS Displays Hi-Tech "Bat Signal" On Verizon HQ In Manhattan

David Tepper Becomes Mutha Fucka Global Shareholder To Taunt Corzine; Bought Corzine's Old House As A Tear-Down

State (NJ) Takes Newborn Because It Doesn't Like Baby's Name

Cantor Analyst Fired For Telling Truth; Called Unprofessional

Miami "Doctor" Has "Pumping Parties"; Injects Cement In Womens' Butts

China Obeys Big Pharma Pfizer; Death Penalty For Counterfeit Viagra

Miami Grand Jury Indicts Police Captain Alleging Ties To Drug Cartel

Gallup Poll; No Surprise, US Trusts Auto Mechanics Three Times More Than Members Of Congress 

VIDEO: Commercial Of The Day; Nasty Pig. Dominant Jeans. 

VIDEO: "Raw Dog" Rant - Bankers Have Raped You and Your Family

Ahmeexnal's picture

First link is great. Didn't know napalm came in those small cannisters.

Well, who would have thunk you can actually buy it:

Theta_Burn's picture

I clicked first link as well, i commend these protesters for showing restraint, and this is exactly why I can't join them as i would immediatley be arrested for atrocious assault on a police officer.

On that nazi losing custody of his children, thank god for the intervention by the state in this case...

Funny I'm in Jersey and didn't see this anywhere. where do you dig this shit up?


a growing concern's picture

Seriously. How the fuck can you pepper spray someone who's just sitting there?

AUD's picture

Same way the French army used to routinely murder people for just walking down the street in Algeria.

Careless Whisper's picture

Makes you wonder, at what point do those stupid college kids defend themselves against an unprovoked assault?


trav7777's picture

after being conditioned for 20+ years that "violence is never the answer"?

LOL.  How about in the year 20-never?

AldousHuxley's picture

The OWS kids need to go beg on the free way ramp to gather up $20 and buy one of these police riot helmets with protector screen


Or if use some ClingWrap and cover your face up:


For anti-tazer clothing...

boiltherich's picture

If they are getting sprayed in the face for just sitting at rest can you imagine what the cops would do if they actually in any way looked like they were going to resist? 

That nasty pig jeans ad was just sad on so many levels.  I know people have the freedom to choose to wreck their own bodies but it should be illegal to deface a human body of a minor that way.  When they actually grow up and find out what consequences come with their acts it will be too late.  Makes you wonder why a whole generation just universally decided they could not stand having white skin doesn't it? 

Eally Ucked's picture

Just imagine situation when somebody finds the way to their minds that peaceful is not the way and guerillas war is the most of the fun and excitement? New game police vs youth, and there won't be big, fat policeman spraying them with that shit without reaction, for now they're just kids with high ideals and if gamers join them to have real life thrill the fun will start.

Careless Whisper's picture

The model isn't a minor. He's 20 years old. As for the tattoos, you make some good points. But to each his own as they say. 

The model is from Arizona and was working in a warehouse before becoming a model;


boiltherich's picture
CW:  Thanks for the link and info, it does not matter that he is now 20 the point is the same, he did not get those tats overnight and I have seen children as young as 12 here with significant visible tattoos, I repeat it should be illegal to do this to a minor.  In reality that "jeans" company was advertising to minors, that much is obvious, skateboard?  Texting in ghettoese, and promoting tats over half his once perfect body now defaced like it was a rail car on a siding covered with some mindless taggers graffiti, it is sad.  Nothing says substance abuse and mental problems like such self scarification, and these young people are doing this for a variety of reason none of which are acceptable.  Some do it as a fad and rebellion just as we once sported long hair and blue jeans as our only sartorial choice, but Levis you can take off and a suit put on, a haircut  could be had for a few bucks, and while some rebellion is a necessary feature of the maturation process it needs to be done in a way that does not mean permanent marking of the body which later will cause real mental anguish when they are denied jobs and scare off people they otherwise would like to have been friends with.  In short, as an adult he has the right to fuck his life and body up as he deems fit, in a warehouse who would complain?  But to hold him up as an example to youth is really not a lot different from advertising cigarettes to children. 
trav7777's picture

dude, ghetto is cool, aintcha heard?  Black culture is leading, because the powers that control media ADORE blacks.

And self-destruction is at the heart of their culture and always has been.

I've met girls as young as 26 trying to get this ink burnt off...good luck with that, morons.

trav7777's picture

white skin?  Because there is an entire propaganda machine having conditioned everyone since the year the NAACP was founded that whiteness is equivalent to evil.

The tribe hammers that meme NONSTOP.  To those who say oh that shit is rayciss or antisemitic, look up who runs/funds the SPLC and NAACP.  Look at who coined the term "racism."

Thank goodness for the slavs; they don't give a fuck about any of this crap.


Makes me wonder when will they get a fucking clue and realize that nothing is free and you have to earn your way through life

Work through necessity. It gives you 20/20

No sympathies for these 60's timewarp idiots





Transformer's picture

You're the one that's a fucking idiot.  Protests become incredibly effective when the protesters do not respond back, for the very reason that most of us feel strong emotions when we see that picture.  The point of the protest is to show the cruelty and true nature of the rulers.  This picture shows that, unequivically.  Non violence shows the oppressors for who they are.  That said, I'm always amazed that someone just doesn't pull a gun out and shoot the cop.  You have to understand though, that is exactly what TPTB wants to happen. The protestors know this, and they are constantly coached to not respond, that there is much more power in taking the abuse.

The pen (or in this case, picture/video) is mightier than the sword.


trav7777's picture

you're a fucking moron.

nonviolent protests are USELESS.  If nonviolence works, why the HELL did we bomb Libya?

AldousHuxley's picture

nature says fight or flee.

nature doesn't give you wins for putting up with it.

Michael's picture

I just thank God every day for the complete and total worldwide economic collapse. The collapse solves everything and gets the banksters and their lobbyists out of all our lives for good. Don't feel sorry for the oligarch and aristocrat families. They can ride the subway and eat tuna fish sandwiches or be dead.? It's their time to go bye bye.

Kiwi Pete's picture

Yeah but Ghandi won. And so did Mandela. And so did M L King. and so did the Egyptians. 

boiltherich's picture

And the Boston Massacre was the one event that most galvanized the colonies into real sustained resistance to the crown. 

trav7777's picture

Gandhi didn't win; the English withdrew.

Most the other colonies got independence in 47, some without even doing jack for it.

Mandela didn't win, the powers in the major States like the US and UK, with their race hustling machines gave the nation over to Mandela's people to destroy. 

The Egyptians fought back.

Nevermind the 100s of protests, like in Iran, which were totally and brutally CRUSHED.  50 years of Iron Curtain, but I guess you forgot that

trav7777's picture

morons like you are the problem who think the ends justify the means.

You empower a state to take someone else's kids, wait until they hear that YOU are teaching them all this seditious shit about the Federal Reserve and threatening assault on holy figures like the police.

Theta_Burn's picture

Directed at me?

WTF are you talking about?

You really think that these kids were taken because of names? sure. wish there were more info regarding these wonderful parents. In Jersey police need to come to the home 3 times before a case worker is assigned.

I'm sure thier rap sheet speaks for itself

Another totally out of context link, but you knew that right? just nothing else to add but asshat commentary?

Again looking at the pic of the dad with the nazi flag in the backround I'll say it again good for the kids somebody stepped in to give them 1/2 a chance at life.

Stear clear of generalisms, you seem smarter than that and if not fuck off




trav7777's picture

you just said you can't join the protest because you would commit deadly assault against the holy police.

you are also on a website that preaches sedition about the government, its institutions, and the Federal Reserve.

Fuck the State taking children.  I would much rather have people sterilized so that there is no needless suffering of the children of idiots.

Theta_Burn's picture

If assualted BY the police for peaceful, lawful protest...then fuck yes

Sterilization to prevent suffering, I'll agree with you there...would that be state sanctioned sterilization?

Children of idiots..see I knew you would see the light.

I'm aware of what ZH represents. but in THIS case I'll side with the state


boiltherich's picture

A lot of this is pure judgment calling, like the SCOTUS ruled re obscenity, we might not be able to define what is obscene but we know it when we see it.  I for one like to know where the boundaries are spelled out in black and white lest the government use ambiguous or spurious interpretations of laws to effectively arrest anyone for any reason.  They may find a definition hard to craft but they must craft it anyway.  When cops can do as depicted in the videos then we have already lost any pretense to rights, they have become a goon squad that exists only to protect the property rights of the 1% just like all the other levers of our government.

masterinchancery's picture

Are you seriously saying that parents can't name their children what they want? Are you aware of the consequences of moving children into foster care?

Theta_Burn's picture

Dude, for sure there is WAY more to the story

Chuck Walla's picture

Aen't cops part of the 99%? They eat their own?

Fred Hayek's picture

According to Palahniuk, in Fight Club, it's actually pretty easy to make.

americanspirit's picture

Excess debt leads to a long string of 'D' words, all of which can be summarized in a single 'D' word - Duh.

Corn1945's picture

It's impossible to print your way to prosperity. Printing does not create wealth.

The Euro zone has failed. There is no way to get all these different cultures into a tighter union. The first attempt to do that failed.

Prininting money will lead to hyper-inflation because the PIIGS will never fix the budget problems if they know the ECB will monetize every time they get into trouble.

Develop plans to go back to the original currencies. Accept the economic contraction and allow the system to clear itself.

The alternative is hyper-inflation, the total destruction of the European economies, and war. 


The Euro has failed. Stop with the bullshit now. 

trav7777's picture

again, it's not about that.

The creditmoney system is fatal...the math inherent in it makes it INEVITABLE that it will collapse just as soon as sufficient new borrowing does not meet the exponential growth needs built into ANY system of compound growth.

They CAN print their way out of massive default, sure...on a balance sheet.  But, the notion of replacing what money really IS or was for the past 400 years since the inception of the BOE and its pattern of sovereign lending and issuance of credit in lieu of money...that will be one HELL of an adjustment.

Given a backdrop of aggregate CONTRACTION due to peak oil, what the fk is a promise of principal plus interest in the future worth?  Even if we reduce this to a trivial case, in a zero coupon, when you have contraction, how can anyone expect the maturity to be worth what you think it is?

Bonds see this type of action all the time; when a company borrows X and says we will repay X+Y in the future, and suddenly their prospects of growing enough to do that become obviously junked, the bonds reprice to a market value commensurate with what they actually WILL be able to repay.

Debtmoney is in the throes of such an existential struggle.  Even IF this paper money shit continues indefinitely, the value of any promise to pay is worth a lot less now than it was before growth ceased.  This is how deflation in credit will accompany inflation in pure currency value and stock prices based upon presumptions of sustained worldwide growth at today's nominal currency values must go down.

Or, gas, oil, food, etc., real things, go up in ratio to the SP500 or the debtmoney denominators.

Manthong's picture

"Furthermore, the default can’t be reliably hedged by CDS contracts, which proved to be voidable at the whim of the government."

Not just insurance contracts that are arbitrary anymore..

GM and Chrysler "bonds" come to mind.

masterinchancery's picture

Another example of the basic fact that all government bonds are Ponzi schemes.

earleflorida's picture

yep,... just superimpose their follishness [?] to our printing 'your way' to prosperity here in the u.s. as to the Nth degree in magnitude - the u.s. has failed miserably, period!

i'd rather stay abroad in europe than face the 'Real Carnage' that will soon fall upon america's leaders in calling the kettle-black

AUD's picture

The sustainability of a country’s stock of debt is assessed by the market relative to the income flows that will be taxed in order to support the overhead cost of interest, even assuming an endless capability to rollover principal.

This explanation doesn't take into consideration a credit bubble, take the UST for example.....

topcallingtroll's picture

American exceptionalism.

We own all your punk asses.

AUD's picture

Yes, yes, I know, it's different this time.

trav7777's picture

sure it does...the idea is you just tax to pay the coupon.  that's what austerity IS in its purest form.  Keep motherfuckers paying you the interest forever, then their children, then their grandchildren.

The BOE invented this racket 400 years ago.  These financiers have financed the overthrow even of Kings in the past, instituted colonial wars to seize collateral, and on and on.  They busted out Argentina and Colombia even in the past 10 years.  Foreign interests used debt spun from thin air as claims against entire nations.  Now, those foreign interests have title to real land and real assets in S. America and they rent entire countries to the citizens there.

AUD's picture

What income flows? In the case of UST's (& I'll include Gilts, Bunds etc) nobody gives a shit about income flows. What they give a shit about is profit in the form of rising bond prices - capital appreciation. Bond prices have been rising since 1980 & at the long end at least have a ways to go yet. Remember, for every halving of yields, bond prices double. Central banks ensure bond prices rise & will continue to do this until the day they can't, just like a credit bubble.

Just like a relentlessly rising stockmarket or HY or IG market, no one gives a fuck if the companies that issue these 'securities' produce anything. When the market is rising, they can roll their debt anyhow.

trav7777's picture

bond prices against what?  Oil?  Gold?  LOL.  Same as the SP500's imaginary price appreciation.

Sure the numbers are higher but so are the pricetags when I go to Safeway

AUD's picture

Against dollars, or Pounds, Euro's, Yen etc.

Of course it doesn't make sense, that's what I'm saying, it's a credit bubble!

The 'profits' (take note of the quotation marks) have been so vast for 40 years that the game has continued, kind of like a Ponzi scheme.

BidnessMan's picture

True until Argentina, Iceland, Ecuador et al say No Mas and declare Odius Debt.

Ecuador is a canary in the coal mine.  Did an interesting Odius Debt analysis a couple of years ago and declared some billions of debt wracked up by former Ecuadorian governments as rebuked.  Correa told the squid and the rest of the banking cabal to go jump in a lake.  Have not seen any US or European gunboats invading in the past couple of years.  Ecuador was temporarily shut out of international borrowing, but hey it just meant they had to live within their means.  What a concept.  The Chinese have been happy to step in and lend billions to Ecuador for hydro-electric infrastructure in exchange for oil export rights.  Several Latin American and African countries have figured out that China can be a perfectly acceptable alternative for infrastructure funding.  Ecuador and other oil exporters can sit and wait - the value of their oil in the ground is only going up.  And Ecuador bought 30 tons of gold for the national treasury with the interest payments they did not make.  

And Argentina has shown that after about five years bankers start showing up again to lend more money.  A new cast of banking newbies wanting to close a sale - selling money is what they do.  IMF leverage to enforce austerity is dwindling with the Chinese as an alternative borrowing source.  And once more countries internalize what Ecuador did, Odius Debt will become more commonly applied.  Sorry chumps - was not a good idea to lend money to the last crowd who stole most of it and sent it offshore to numbered Swiss bank accounts.  We are not paying.  

Ecuador President Correa has a PhD in Economics from the University of Illinois, so not a tinpot crackpot.  I am not an Ecuadorean, but I have purchased some property there to get some of my assets outside of the US.  Gas is $1.60 a gallon, and Ecuador exports good quality seafood, coffee and cocoa.  Gas, coffee, chocolate - what more do I need?