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Phoenix Capital Research's picture

 

According to the IMF’s “official” analysis, EU banks as a whole are leveraged at 26 to 1. I would argue that in reality many of them are well north of 30 to 1 and possibly even up to 50 or 100 to 1. The reason I can claim this with relative certainty is because the EU housing bubbles dwarfed that of the US. In the chart below the US housing bubble is the lowest line. After it comes Britain (blue) and Italy (orange) then Ireland (green) and finally Spain (dark blue).

 

The Issue Of 'Moments'

It was inevitable and despite all of the usual huffing and puffing on the Continent; the moves are correct. First Egan-Jones and then Moodys and Germany is downgraded or threatened with a downgrade and for sound reasons. The German economy is $3.2 trillion and they are trying to support the Eurozone with an economy of $15.3 trillion that is in recession and rapidly falling off the cliff. Each new European enterprise gives the markets a shorter and shorter bounce as we all watch the yields in Europe rise, the stock market’s fall and the Euro in serious decline against both the Dollar and the Yen. There has been no Lehman Moment to date but moment-by-moment the decline in the fortunes of Europe diminishes. There is almost no historical precedent where debt paid by the addition of more and more debt has been a successful operation. There is always the inevitable wall or walls and the concrete slabs of Greece and Spain fast approach.

On 'Silly Season' And The Danger Of European Politicians

The coincidence of comments from Germany - both the Bundestag's Hasselfeldt "If a country is not in a position to fulfill its obligations, or is unwilling to, then it must leave the Euro zone"; and vice-Chancellor Philip Roesler (of the FDP) to the effect that the dangers associated with a Greek exit had faded - and the IMF (which has been suspect for a while in its 'steadfastness' with regard Greece, seem to suggest as UBS notes, that there is notable suspicion of collusion among the politicians to apply pressure to the Hellenic Republic. Against becoming too concerned there is the Realpolitik of the Euro area. Decisions about the direction of the Euro project are taken by a very small coterie of political leaders within the Euro area, and we should be concerned not necessarily because of the specifics of the comment or the associated “hardball” bargaining stance, but because politicians still feel that comments like this can be made at all without fear of repercussions. As silly season is set to begin, we should prepare for the impact of politicians need to hear themselves speak.

All The World's A Stage

The European Union has been, in a very real sense, like a masquerade ball. The intricately painted masks covering manipulated stress tests, hiding inaccurate debt to GDP ratios, falsified accounting practices, glossing over any sort of contingent liabilities as if the scars were not there and double counting assets however, like all extravaganzas of this type, is about to reach a conclusion. The night has been long and the hour is late but one by one the masks are being removed and the characters are seen for what they are; a less than pretty sight. There are negative yields in the short maturities for Germany, France and the Netherlands which might soon be found in the United States. We are not sure what Mr. Bernanke will make of institutions paying him to leave their money with the United States government but it will be a classic example of a point in time where “Return OF Capital” became much more important that “Return ON Capital” but as we have asserted time and time again, given the 36% loss of wealth during the American Financial Crisis, that “Preservation of Capital,” are manifestly the byword of the Faith at present.

Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: July 23

Risk-off trade is firmly dominating price action this morning in Europe, as weekend reports regarding Spanish regions garner focus, shaking investor sentiment towards the Mediterranean. The attitudes towards Spain are reflected in their 10yr government bond yield, printing  Euro-era record highs of 7.565% earlier this morning and, interestingly, Spanish 2yr bill yields are approaching the levels seen in the bailed-out Portuguese equivalent. As such, the peripheral Spanish and Italian bourses are being heavily weighed upon, both lower by around 5% at the North American crossover.

The "Blacklist" - Ten Italian Cities On Verge Of Financial Collapse

Last week when we wrote about the imminent default of Sicily which Mario Monti tried to sweep under the rug by demanding the local governor resign for not masking the situation with lies, and doing all he can to prevent the advent of reality, we noted, rather sarcastically, that the "resignation of Sicily Governor Lombardo will somehow allow all those who care about the fundamentals of Italy to stick their heads in the sand... at least until Sicily is followed by Calabria, Campania, Lazio, Abruzzo, Tuscany, Lombardy, Umbria, Liguria, Veneto and so on. At least the governors of those respective provinces now have an advance warning what the endgame is." Sure enough, now that this particular floodgate has also been opened, it is only fitting that in the aftermath of this weekend's main news that a total of 6 Spanish regions will demand bailouts, that Italy follow suit with its own blacklist, and as La Stampa has reported, there are now ten major Italian cities at risk of an imminent financial collapse, yet another factor pushing Italian yields well on their way to the country's own 7% rubicon, now at 6.34%.

The Russian Default Scenario As Script For Europe's Next Steps

Russia and the southeast Asian countries are analogs for Greece, Spain, and Cyprus, with no particular association between their references within the timeline.  The timeline runs through the Russian pain; things begin to turn around after the timeline ends. This is meant to serve as a reference point: In retrospect it was clear throughout the late-90s that Russia would default on its debt and spark financial pandemonium, yet there were cheers at many of the fake-out "solution" pivot points.  The Russian issues were structural and therefore immune to halfhearted solutions--the Euro Crisis is no different.  This timeline analog serves as a guide to illustrate to what extent world leaders can delay the inevitable and just how significant "black swan event" probabilities are in times of structural crisis.  It seems that the next step in the unfolding Euro Crisis is for sovereigns to begin to default on their loan payments.  To that effect, Greece must pay its next round of bond redemptions on August 20, and over the weekend the IMF stated that they are suspending Greece's future aid tranches due to lack of reform.  August 20 might be the most important day of the entire summer and very well could turn into the credit event that breaks the camel's back.

No More Mr. Nice Guy As IMF Set To Kick Out Greece

It appears that following the resignation letter fiasco from Friday, the venerable IMF is trying to regain some level of credibility in the world. In a note obtained by SPIEGEL, senior IMF officials patience has clearly come to an end and has decided that, with Greece likely to go bust by September, it is no longer willing to provide additional Greek aid (we assume in light of the push-backs on the promised cuts that the aid was based upon). Pointing to this now being a euro-zone problem, their cessation of Greek aid is even more critical since both Holland and Finland pledged support because the IMF was involved. August 20th marks an important short-term hurdle as Greece is required to pay back EUR3.8bn to the ECB - and with collateral being withdrawn, we wonder how long before the ECB pulls the plug entirely - even on Greek T-Bills. Whether this is sabre-rattling before the delayed TROIKA visit or the IMF (and the rest of the TROIKA) indeed deciding enough is enough and realizing finally that more debt (or even maturity extensions) does not solve the problem of too much debt - only default will do that!