The Rout In Spain

From Mark Grant, author of Out Of The Box

There Are Those Weeks

The Rout in Spain
Overnight the shares of Bankia plunged 51.4%. This, by any definition, is a rout. The citizens of Spain had bought preferred shares, hybrid bonds on the basis of an "implied guarantee" from the sovereign. No such luck. It had been a tout sold by the bank and guaranteed by no one. Now the owners are suffering the disastrous consequences.
Many European analysts had suggested that the swap out of these instruments into equity would drop the price of the stock to about 1.35 Euros but reality emerged today as the equity price plunged to 0.68 Euros. The shares traded today were forty-two times the normal average trading volume and indicated the size of the problem. The stock has lost 90% of its value since May 6.
In the meantime the central bank of Spain has said that the Spanish banks might have to reserve 5-10 billion Euros in more provisioning. This number is a joke and one more IMF/EU/ECB projection with all of the merits of two sparrows lifting a 747 for take-off. The number is more like 50 billion Euros and possibly twice that much the way things are going in Spain.
Spain has already gone bankrupt. It is not spoken of in this fashion, no one mentions it in public but that is the truth of it. The money, some $172 billion, was funneled to the banks and not to the sovereign in one more European ruse to distract everyone but the results are the same. Now it is becoming apparent that even this amount of money was not enough so more will have to be given. The money will go to the Spanish banks, the debt will be guaranteed by Spain, the contingent liability will not be counted as part of Spain's debt to GDP ratio but we will know the truth of it. Whatever direct money from Spain that goes into their banks will be called an "investment" and put on the left side of their balance sheet as an asset and the mockery will continue but I can still read a ledger; thank you very much.
This path then leads to our own Federal Reserve Bank. They have lent more than one trillion dollars now to foreign banks. Now many people nod and go to sleep as this number floats past. "Not so fast," I say, "Not so fast."
The Fed is lending about $700 billion to American banks and $1.03 trillion to foreign banks. Two issues are raised here in my opinion. Why is America lending all of this money to foreign institutions and I would hope that Congress will begin an inquiry into this question. The second issue is that since we are engaged in this lending why is it? One assumes that it is not for nothing and so it raises the question of the health of the European banks that must be so serious that the Fed is forced to come to their rescue. I repeat, the financial health of the European banks must be so impaired that the Fed has been forced to lend them ever increasing amounts of money.
Our world is like a Dali painting; distorted, out of balance and disjointed. The central banks pump in the money, the governments distort the data and lie, the markets head every higher and Puff the Magic Dragon flies on unencumbered.
In fact, according to the most recent data, the Fed now owns 30.32% of all ten year equivalent government debt. At the current trajectory the Fed will own all of the government's debt by 2018. The value of the Dollar may be three Nigerian bananas by then but not to worry because the Euro will only fetch two bananas and the Yen only one. It is indeed hard to see where we are going here. Deception and monetary creation have gotten us where we are but how long until someone actually climbs up Mt. Olympus and discovers that there are no gods is anyone's guess.

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

                     -Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Watch out for those weeks!


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