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Spain: Shall Bitterly Begin His Fearful Date

The data out from Spain this morning should be one serious wake-up call for anyone exposed to Europe. The fourth largest economy in the Eurozone is getting hammered and for anyone that has doubted that they will need a full scale bailout; think again. The numbers are a disaster. One year ago the Central Bank of Spain was borrowing $71.53 billion from the European Central Bank. In the last figures available, July, the Central Bank of Spain was borrowing $530.8 billion (an increase of 86.5%) from the ECB either directly or through the Target2 funding which impacts the Bundesbank and Germany quite directly. In other words Germany is now at a huge risk which is not just their 22% ownership of the ECB but a direct and full risk of impairment or default by Spain in the Target2 funding provided by the Bundesbank.

Why The ECB's Rate Band/Target Is Not The Answer

Speculation that the ECB might, as part of its proposed bond-buying programme, announce an interest rate target (or band) for short-dated peripheral government bonds has sparked a further rally in Spanish and Italian bonds in the past week. Such an 'unlimited' move is a complete volte face from past policy, but Daiwa's research team believes hopes that the announcement of an interest rate or spread target would spare the ECB the pain of having to intervene in the markets at all are flawed in our view. For the ECB to credibly communicate an interest rate or spread target requires it to quantify the excess risk premia. Given the inherent inaccuracy (or falsehoods) of the forecasts underlying these estimates, the ECB would risk having to review these targets regularly, leaving markets uncertain about their permanence. The success and the sustainability of any future ECB interventions will ultimately depend on the peripheral governments’ ability to meet the conditionality required - and we know how that has ended up - always and every time.

Phoenix Capital Research's picture

 

For several months now, I’ve been stating that the world’s central banks are in a bind. That bind is that their monetary policies are becoming less and less effective at placating the markets while the consequences of said policies (higher costs of living, the targeting of troubled banks in the credit market, etc.) are increasing.

 

Guest Post: Trading on Yesterday's News – What Does the Stock Market Really 'Know'?

We have critically examined the question of whether the stock market 'discounts' anything on several previous occasions. The question was for instance raised in the context of what happened in the second half of 2007. Surely by October 2007 it must have been crystal clear even to people with the intellectual capacity of a lamp post and the attention span of a fly that something was greatly amiss in the mortgage credit market. Then, just as now, both the ECB and the Fed had begun to take emergency measures to keep the banking system from keeling over in August. This brings to mind the 'potent directors fallacy' which is the belief held by investors that someone – either the monetary authority, the treasury department, or a consortium of bankers, or nowadays e.g. the government of China – will come to their rescue when the market begins to fall. 'They' won't allow the market to decline!' 'They' won't allow a recession to occur!' 'They can't let the market go down in an election year!' All of these are often heard phrases. This brings us to today's markets. Nowadays, traders are not only not attempting to 'discount' anything, they are investing with their eyes firmly fixed on the rear-view mirror – they effectively trade on yesterday's news.

drhousingbubble's picture

Another thesis regarding the housing market’s future path is that of a bounce and slog market. The theory focuses on the negative equity home owners and also the low inventory on the current market. This view point actually holds some solid ground. As of last count, there are over 11 million negative equity home owners in the US. This data is usually put out quarterly but with the stronger home price movement this summer, many will move out of the negative equity position. The theory proposes that many are not selling today simply because they cannot without bringing cash to the table. Out of the 11 million underwater home owners, how many would like to sell but simply do not because they would actually lose money on their sale? This is an interesting perspective on the underwater segment of the market. Yet the outcome is probably not as clean cut as one would expect.

Phoenix Capital Research's picture

 

I have to admit, I am pretty sick of writing about Europe, particularly since nothing has changed over there in the last month.

Instead what’s happened is that Mario Draghi issued a borderline ridiculous statement that he somehow will be able to fix the EU’s solvency Crisis.

The actual speech started with a philosophical inquiry comparing the Euro to a bumblebee. I kid you not:

Eric Sprott: The Financial System’s Death Knell?

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Under widespread NIRP, pensions, annuities, insurers, banks and ultimately all savers will suffer a slow but steady decline in real wealth over time. Just as ZIRP has stuck around since the early 2000’s, NIRP may be here to stay for many years to come. Looking back at how much widespread damage ZIRP has caused since its introduction back in 2002, it’s hard not to expect that negative interest rates will cause even more harm, and at a faster clip. In our view, NIRP represents the death knell for the financial system as we know it today. There are simply too many working parts of the financial industry that are directly impacted by negative rates, and as long as NIRP persists, they will be helplessly stuck suffering from its ill-effects.

Guest Post: Greeks Want To Stay In The Euro? Why Don’t They Move To Germany?

The fact that labour mobility is low in Europe is indicative of a fundamental problem. In any currency union or integrated economy it is necessary that there is enough mobility that people can emigrate from places where there is excess labour (the periphery) to places where labour is in short supply. Now, there is free movement in Europe, which is an essential prerequisite to a currency union. But the people themselves don’t seem to care for utilising it. Why? I can theorise a few potential reasons people wouldn’t want to move — displacement from friends and family, moving costs, local attachment.  Yet none of those reasons are inapplicable to the United States. However there are two reasons which do not apply in the United States — language barriers and national loyalty. It is those reasons, I would suggest, that are preventing Europe from really functioning as a single economy with a higher rate of labour mobility. The people who built the Euro realised that such problems existed, but decided to adopt a cross-that-bridge-when-we-come-to-it approach. But long-term and deep-seated issues like language barriers and nationalistic sentiment cannot simply be eroded away in a day with an economic policy instrument. No bond-buying bazooka can smooth the underlying reality that Europe — unlike the United States — is not a single country.

What Happened After Europe's Last Three Currency "Unions" Collapsed

It may come as a surprise to some of our younger readers, that the Eurozone, and its associated currency, is merely the latest in a long series of failed attempts to create a European currency union and a common currency. Three of the most notable predecessors to the EUR include the Hapsburg Empire, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia. Obviously, these no longer exist. Just as obvious, all of these unions, having spent time, energy, money, and effort to change the culture and traditions of member countries and to perpetuate said unions, had no desire, just like Brussels nowadays, to see these unions implode. The question then is: what happened after these multi-nation currency unions fails. VOX kindly answers: "they all ended with disastrous hyperinflation."