In all of the polls for the last six months the socialist, Francois Hollande, is ahead in the run-off election between 6 and 16 points. The first bout is April 22 and the Concours d’Elegance is May 6. Now no one that is not French can understand the French well. The psychology of this nation is singular. What Mr. Hollande’s win will mean for France is something to be carefully considered. A tax rate on the wealthy at 75%, renegotiate the EU fiscal pact, raise the minimum wage, impose more governmental spending, a decrease in the retirement age and a hostility directed at the banks and other financial institutions that may be described as combative or perhaps virulent and a complete change in attitude and direction from Napoleon’s strutting reincarnation also known as Sarkozy. Furthermore, no one is paying particular attention to the announcement of an upcoming EU meeting to propose reintroduction of border controls between France and Germany but it is a clear sign of Federalism on the wane and of Nationalism coming to the fore.
Back in July of last year, before it was even remotely acknowledged (and in fact it was roundly denied) that Greece would set a debt haircut precedent, which despite all the rhetoric has merely given all the other PIIGS ideas about debt haircuts of their own (and how to achieve these as fast as possible), Zero Hedge was the first media outlet to cut to the truth, with "The Fatal Flaw In Europe's Second "Bazooka" Bailout: 82 Million Soon To Be Very Angry Germans, Or How Euro Bailout #2 Could Cost Up To 56% Of German GDP." Note we said "soon to be" because it was obvious that the modestly complicated math of Germany bearing the cost of keeping the Eurozone alive would take quite a while to trickle down to the common German man. We did, however, underestimate the Bundesbank's mathematically helping hand in the form of one chart, most recently observed here, which makes the math far clearer than anything we could ever do to explain: namely the exponentially grown Bundesbank TARGET 2 balance, which is essentially Germany's way to fund, via the ECB, account imbalances across the Eurozone (explained in gory detail here), and put the national economy on the hook in ever greater amounts to a sudden and disastrous collapse of the Eurozone, because should a fat tail even occur, a solid 25% of German GDP would be Corzined. Today, The Telegraph's AEP does a bring down on the current status of this one biggest wildcard for Europe's future: namely, German anger, or as he puts it "tempers" which it appears have finally begun to boil.
While Germans work longer hours and retire later....
In simple terms, Spain is like Greece, only bigger and worse. According to the Bank of International Settlements worldwide exposure to Spain is north of $1 TRILLION with Great Britain on the hook for $51 billion, the US on the hook for $187 billion, France on the hook for $224 billion and Germany on the hook for a whopping $244 billion.
Perfidy—as Target 2 balances balloon and risks spiral out of control
The Centre for European Policy Studies published their own findings this week and they estimate that the Real Estate accumulated overhang is actually almost $500 billion which equates to 59% of the IMF revised projections for Spain’s GDP. The EU and the ECB may not mandate that the Spanish banks have to mark-to-market in the normal fashion but a quick calculation indicates that the equity of the major Spanish banks is well into the red and past the blood line of any sustainable position. In my opinion, I would state, that the Spanish banks are in fact bankrupt and are only still alive given the financial shenanigans of how Europe allows the numbers to be calculated. I am well aware that many in Europe do not like to be confronted with the truth and that the stock market in the United States is so myopic that they wish to ignore the truth but the numbers are right in front of your nose if you care to look and reality has a funny way of catching up with the markets and reminding them one still equals one in the end. I am an adherent of the Greater Fool Theory and the trick is to let the other guy be the Greater Fool and not one of us. The “when” is unknowable but the “if” is behind us now and I suggest great caution.
As Europe approaches the halfway point of the week, equities are suffering losses on the day as North America comes to market, with underperformance observed in the CAC and peripheral bourses. Markets have been weighed down upon from the open with commentary from the Portuguese PM garnering attention in the press, saying that there are ‘no guarantees’ that Portugal will return to the financial markets as planned. A Bank of Spain release has shown the bad loan ratio for the country’s banks has increased to 8.16%, further weighing on sentiment. There was also market talk of stop-loss buying of German Bunds at the cash open, the security had sold off since then but safe haven flows have kept the Bund in positive territory.
Investing in an uncompetitive company in the ugly EU auto market to bail out its own failing subsidiary.
First we got Italy telling the world quietly it would not meet its deficit target for 2013, and will in fact experience debt/GDP growth in all outer years, and now we get the Bank of Spain, also taking advantage of today's market rally to dump its own set of bad news, namely that Spanish banks will need to provision another €29.1 billion, and will have higher core capital requirements of €15.6 billion (this is fresh capital). 90 banks have already complied with the capital plan, 45 have yet to find the needed cash. Putting this into perspective, the amount already written-down is €9.2 billion. So, just a little more. And this assumes there are no capital shortfalls associated with any impairment from the YPF -> Repsol follow through, which as Zero Hedge already showed, would leave various Spanish banks exposed. In other news, there is one more hour of trading: we suggest every insolvent entity in the world to quickly take advantage of the interim euphoria, as tomorrow may not be so lucky. Of course, in the worst case, Japan will just bail everybody out.
As clearly indicated well over 2 yrs ago, Italy will first default on its over optimistic promises (check), then look to actually default on (restructure) its debt (next).
The Bonds in Spain will drain without restrain showing utter disdain for the Euro domain. Research that Rhymes!!!
Each day then that passes, as the cash river runs dry, will change the dynamics of the investment world. The biggest change that I see forthcoming on the landscape, beyond those which I have noted, I believe will take place in Germany. China is heading towards some sort of landing and most of Europe is now officially in a recession. The bite of the austerity measures will deepen the process and between the two I think we will begin to see a decline in the finances of Germany which will bring all manner of howls and screams. Germany cannot keep heading in one direction while the rest of its partners founder all around them. The demands of Berlin are self-defeating eventually as demand falls off and I think we are just at the cusp of deterioration in Germany. The problem, all along, has been that Eurobonds or other measures representing a transfer union will cause the averaging of all of the economies in Europe so that the periphery countries benefit with a higher standard of living while the wealthier nations have standards of living that decline as the result of accumulated debts for the troubled nations. This will bring out nationalism again in force as the grand dream succumbs to the grim reality of the costs for nations that have lived beyond their means. The Pied Piper always gets paid and Hamelin still rests upon German soil.
This one is actually quite funny, although we feel that the MMTers, the Neo-Keynesians, the Econ 101 textbook fanatics, and the government apparatchiks out there will fail to appreciate the humor. However, we are a little concerned how many of those in charge read into this a little too much, and decide to make this official policy...
Volatility is back. The S&P moved more than 1% on 4 of the 5 days, had the biggest down day of the year, and even the least volatile day was a 0.7% move.