Earlier this year, I noted that the European debt crisis was mimicking the US’s 2008 banking crisis almost to a T. Greece was the “Bear Stearns” issue: a minor player that was swallowed up in the drive to maintain the appearance of stability.
Then came the $1 trillion bailout, the equivalent of the Fannie/ Freddie “blank check”: a massive sum of money thrown at a problem meant to convey the illusion that the powers that be have everything under control and that systemic risk is non-existent.
As the idiot market relishes in yet another day of foolish self-delusion that the most globalized market in history can simply decouple between the two largest economies in the world (Europe as a whole is far larger than China), things are starting to stir beneath the surface in Europe. While it is now given that no state will be allowed to default, no market will be allowed to trade down, and no bank will ever be impaired as long until the current flawed economic fundamentalist religion is violently overthrown, the question now becomes (just like it did in the America in late 2008) how far down the foodchain with the global Bernanke put stretch? Case in point: Italian insurance company Assicurazioni Generali (CDS ticker: ASSGEN). The proximal reason - today the company's CDS spread has gone vertical, wider by 34 bps on the day, or about 20%, to 184 bps. Why is this happening? Simple: ASSGEN has total assets of €423 billion, and more worrisome, a fixed income portfolio of €262 billion, of which 93% is European-bond based (Italy 28%, France 22%, Germany 25%). We all know what has happened to Italian bond prices in the past weeks: as of today, Bund spreads have just hit a fresh all time high. But all this is irrelevant since the bank must have a capital buffer to accommodate the losses. After all, what idiot would run a company with almost €300 billion in Euro-facing bond exposure and not factor for deterioration in risk after the events of May... Well the ASSGEN CEO may be just such an idiot. The company's balance sheet as of 9/30 discloses that the firm had a mere €10 billion in tangible capital (excluding €10.7 billion in intangible assets). So let's recap: €262 billion in Euro bonds on.... €10 billion in tangible equity! A 26x leverage on what is promptly becoming the most impaired asset class in the world. We are amazed that it has taken the market so long to realize that European insurers are the next shoe to drop, and doubly amaze that instead of trading points up, ASSGEN is only 184 bps. We give it a week.
If you thought Olli Rehn's "intervention" in Ireland's "democratic" process would end with his yesterday involvement in the voting process, you may be surprised to learn that diktat #2 is coming up. As we speculated last week, the first casualty of the Irish loss of sovereignty will be the country's lowest among the DM countries corporate tax rate. Today we read in the RTE that we are one step closer to being proven right: "A row has broken out in the European Parliament over Ireland's 12.5% corporate tax rate. It has emerged that eight, mostly French and German, MEPs have issued a declaration attacking Ireland's corporate tax rate and calling for a minimum EU wide corporate tax rate of 25%." Furthermore, these are not just any MEPs: "What has heightened the dispute is the fact that the eight MEPs are all co-ordinators for the different political groupings in the parliament and are, as such, representatives for those groupings on an influential parliamentary committee." While it is not a done deal yet, the days of the Irish tax haven may be numbered: "The declaration invites signatures from other MEPs and if it can gather the support of 350 MEPs it then becomes the position of the European Parliament." And here is how the new diktatura will spin its control over the Irish state...
I go where the mainstream media fears to tread, presenting analytical proof that Ireland will have to default with debt to GDP passing the 160% level. Yes, that's post IMF/EU/Bilateral state banks leveraged too much into Ireland loan/Pension fund raiding bailout! In essence, Germany has admitted what the numbers scream - Ireland is already in default, and it has been staggered out into the future via this bailout. 2013 is the magic number, right Ms. Merkel?
David Rosenberg summarizes his latest views on Europe, the EURUSD, risk, volatility, bond curves, gold, geopolitics, oil, a subsidized shopping season courtesy of no mortgage payments, and two years of home inventories.
With all the debate over which European country will default first, many are reminded that precious yellow metals, especially in physical form (and perhaps due to their inedibility), never default. This morning Europeans once again are reminded that the best performing asset in 2010, on an absolute and relative basis, continues to be gold, as EUR-denominated gold passes its all time high yet again. Luckily some of them have taken our advice over the past 2 years to move away from paper assets and into something tangible. For everyone else, may we suggest some ketchup with that semi-illegal €500 euro bill. Next up: look for a run at all European precious metal retailers and distributors just like in May and June, and more positive pricing feedback loops now that a defeated Blythe Masters is expecting her pink slip to arrive any minute.
I’m at the Omni Shoreham on business the next few days, and all I’m hearing about is salary freezes here, and bank debt conditionality programs in Europe. “Austerity” seems to be all the rage. Problem is we don’t even know the meaning of the word. Let’s face it: most of us are pretty coddled when it comes to belt tightening. So I found some data long forgotten and collecting dust to shed some light on the subject. The data comes from a survey of 2,910 households, randomly chosen in clusters of 30 households, stratified across 32 of the 39 provinces in 1964. The only region of this country not included in the survey was the Central Highlands, because the surveyors would surely have been killed as soon as night fell. Half of the hamlets surveyed were “secure”, meaning that it was reasonably safe to travel there in daylight hours. Whether or not the hamlets surveyed were under tight Viet Cong control is unknown, but they averaged around 16 miles from the nearest provincial town. It covered all rice growing areas and most areas of commercial activity. The country was South Vietnam.
We very much enjoy the view of Michael Cembalest (CIO, JPM Private Bank) when it comes to the sensitive topic of geopolitics, as it tends to provide that incremental perspective over and above what otherwise his and other banks would skirt around due to conflicts of interest (after all they are banks). Today, in his Eye on the Market report, Cembalest looks again at the Irish bailout. And while his summary of the 4 key dynamics (in his opinion) is certainly spot on, it is his footnote that caught our attention, as it carries in it the most pertinent information: namely, that since its bankruptcy and currency devaluation, Iceland's economy and stock market have surged, unbound by the shackles of a zombie monetary system and exponentially growing debt. Ireland, to the contrary, can only hope for at best a gradual decline in its economic output instead of an outright collapse now that European Commission council is the country's new politburo. It can also, at best, hope that its pension fund will have a few penny farthings left for the aging population once it is done rescuing Europe's banks. It is precisely this option that a formerly democratic country refused to offer its citizens, and is the reason why its entire government should be tried for treason: instead of using empirical evidence that default and devaluation is the best outcome, Ireland crumbled to the interests of a few parasite plutocrats, which have just their own interests in mind, and never those of the host nation (which ends up being abused and discarded like a used condom off the side of the road).
Ireland’s Bailout Is Finalized, The Indebted Gets More Debt As A Solution But The Fine Print Is Glossed Over – Caveat Emptor!Submitted by Reggie Middleton on 11/29/2010 13:48 -0400
The bailout of Ireland is destined to for failure, or it fails to solve the issues that have brought it about. The amount of debt in comparison to likely future GDP Ireland is mired in is literally staggering, and that's without the little secret slipped passed some in whispers and fine print in regards to the so called bailout.
I honestly cannot tell you who is the more vile, despicable villain in this debacle. Is it the banks, who started this mess with their idiotic lending practices? Is it the lobbyists and lawmakers, who turned Ireland into a tax haven for EU Corporations and destroyed the economy by funneling tax breaks to the wealthy? Is it the Irish Government,... Is it the bondholders,...
- Insider Case Has Soft-Dollar Focus (WSJ)
- Treasury 30-Year Returns as Market Bellwether as Fed Policy Propels Trade (Bloomberg)
- Portugal, Spain in crosshairs as Ireland bailed out (Reuters)
- Wall Street Shrinks From Credit Default Swaps Before Rules Hit (Bloomberg)
- Lee Says North Korea Must Pay for Attack; China Urges Talks (Bloomberg)
- Don’t Just Tell Us. Show Us That You Can Foreclose (NYT)
- Democrats Gird for Tax-Relief Battle (WSJ)
- What the UK is Contributing to Ireland (BBC)
The increasingly fragile American Empire has been built on a foundation of lies. Lies we tell ourselves and Big lies spread by our government. The shit is so deep you can stir it with a stick. As we enter another holiday season the mainstream corporate mass media will relegate you to the status of consumer. This is a disgusting term that dehumanizes all Americans. You are nothing but a blot to corporations and advertisers selling you electronic doohickeys that they convince you that you must have. Propaganda about consumer spending being essential to an economic recovery is spewed from 52 inch HDTVs across the land, 24 hours per day, by CNBC, Fox, CBS and the other corporate owned media that generate billions in profits from selling advertising to corporations schilling material goods to thoughtless American consumers.
The alternative title for today entry is: Ireland, please drive a stake through the heart of the vampire banks which have the world by the throat. The entire controlled demolition of the Eurozone's finances can be summed up in one phrase: privatize leverage and profits, socialize losses and risk. The basic deal is this: protect the bank's managers, shareholders and bondholders from any losses, while heaping the socialized losses and risks on the taxpayers and citizens. While there are murmurings of "forcing bondholders to share the pain," any future haircut will undoubtedly be just for show, while the Irish pension funds are gutted to bail out the banks.
Today the myth of a popular, democratic government in Ireland collapsed for good. After an impromptu poll of 500 people nationwide found that a "substantial majority" of the people, or 57%, wants the State to default on debts to bondholder, what it ended up getting was precisely the opposite. Why? "Last night that the Irish delegation
negotiating with the EU-IMF last week raised the issue of default. "The Europeans went completely mad," a senior government source said." Of course, this is a reason for the Europeans not to want an Irish default, not for the Irish. And last time we checked, the Irish government represented its people, not the interests of Brussels. As America showed all too well, we expect every banker in the world to threaten perpetual damnation for Ireland should they decide on doing what is right for its people (and so very wrong for another year of record banker bonuses). Then again, with elections in Ireland imminent, it is almost certain that there will be a massive popular overhaul of the government, and all bets at that point will be off whether the ECB can dictate terms to a brand new, and far more loyal, government. To quote to Independent: "In Dublin, there is barely concealed outrage at the interventions of Ms Merkel
and at the position adopted recently by the European Central Bank, which
precipitated the arrival of the EU-IMF team in Ireland."The ECB f**ked us," one government official in Dublin was reported
yesterday to have said." We wonder how soon before rhetoric finally shifts to action.
It's Not Just the "Peripheral" European Countries ... Financial Contagion Could Spread to "Core" Eurozone Countries and the U.S.Submitted by George Washington on 11/28/2010 15:59 -0400