In what could be the most important news of the day, German Die Zeit reports that, in a stunning move, the EU has ordered Germany to count the holdings of WestLB and Hypo Real Estate (the latter of which failed the stress farce from last month which nobody cares about or remembers anymore) as government debt! As Bloomberg notes, "That could raise Germany’s debt to 90 percent of gross domestic product, Die Zeit said." Of course the implications of this decision are massive, as it takes out all the guess work of whether insolvent institutions are or are not on the government's balance sheet. The net result, for Germany alone, is that just the addition of Hypo's debt would push German debt/GDP from 79% to 90%, both of which are well above the Maastricht limit of 60% (not like anyone cares that is - everyone is now aware the EU is a failed experiment). The next question: what happens to nationalized RBS and it $168 billion in debt? Total UK debt is $1.2 trillion meaning a comparable action in the UK would rise UK debt by 15%! And then there is a whole slew of other banks in the pipeline in Europe that are full of trillions in toxic debt: will the sovereign hosts be able to onboard this debt? Most importantly, what happens to our administration's adamant claims that Fannie and Freddie's $6+ trillion in debt should not be counted as part of total Federal debt. America already has its hand full with $13.3 trillion in debt. What will happen when it moves to $20 trillion (140% of GDP) overnight. We are confident that unless this decision by the EU's statistics office is overturned, it will likely set off the next leg in the sovereign debt crisis as suddenly European Debt to GDP ratios will increase by about 15-20%.
More from the WSJ:
The bailout of Germany's banking sector may swell the country's public debt rate to 90% of gross domestic product, Die Zeit weekly newspaper reports Wednesday.
The weekly based this estimate on a recent decision by Eurostat requiring Germany to include the balance sheets of public-owned bad banks--set up to help financial institutions offload toxic and non-strategic assets--into its overall debt ratio.
State-owned WestLB AG bank has already offloaded EUR77 billion into such a rescue bank. Going by the Eurostat decision, EUR54 billion of WestLB's toxic assets transferred to the bad bank must be included in Germany's overall debt level.
Finance ministry spokeswoman, Jeanette Schwamberger, said the "winding-down entity of WestLB has already been included in the government's recently published calculations of the debt level."
In July, it forecast Germany's debt level will rise from 73.1% in 2009 to 79% of GDP in 2010, 80% in 2011, to 80.5% respectively in 2012 and 2013 before easing to 80% in 2014.
Die Zeit said that if nationalized mortgage lender Hypo Real Estate is added to the equation, Germany's debt level could widen to 90%.
However, the impact from Hypo Real Estate is yet unclear because a rescue bank hasn't been set up and it's unknown how big the volume will be, according to Schwamberger.
Hypo Real Estate has said it plans to offload EUR210 billion into such a bad bank, but has already added that it might need less fresh capital than previously said. A consolidation of assets might reduce the widening of Germany's debt.
A debt ratio of 90% of GDP would be much higher than the 60% threshold set under the European Union's Maastricht Treaty.