Somehow the investing public managed to convince itself that a massive liquidity flood designed to 'help' banks (implicitly buy sovereign debt) with their government reacharounds actually 'fixed' the European economic imbalance problem because yields fell and reflexively this means all-is-well. Just ask Eastman Kodak shareholders how good it felt to rally over 100% the week before bankruptcy? Morgan Stanley has the mother-of-all-chartdecks on the European situation but 3 charts standout in our view by summarising the problems Europe faces. The last few days have seen Eurosis return - but away from the momentum and liquidity - did it ever really go away? This time is no different except LTRO 3 is becoming harder and harder as quality unencumbered collateralizable assets are few and far between - and with the recent weakness in Spain, how long before ECB margin calls start to ramp up?
European bank assets-to-GDP are out of this world!
If ever there were banks that were truly Too-Big-Too-Fail, Europe has them - is it any wonder the Greek Bailout was so focused on rescuing the bank balance sheets. Swiss banks dominate the worst end of the spectrum along with Dutch banks (huge covered bond markets) but the French, Spanish, and Belgian banks are all around two times their nations GDP! Of course this assumes the asset values are 'correctly priced' and not some non-MtM dream and while they are deleveraging (which itself causes aggregate credit supply issues for the real economy and overhangs for the financial economy), LTRO has done nothing but slow the efforts in a false-sense-of-security way. We could add a bonus chart here on European bank reliance of ECB funding - that shows Italy and Spain nearing Portugal's level of aggregate reliance - not exactly a resounding success.
Interest Payments as a % of GDP high and rising fast
Perhaps the cleanest measure of 'stress' or service-ability for the currency-using sovereigns shows that the amount European sovereigns pay in interest relative to their productive gains as an economy is rising rapidly and forecast to rise even faster. This will obviously get worse as the recession deepens from both rising costs (as post-LTRO rate normalize) and lower GDP (as austerity and balance sheet recession impacts come home to roost).
Gross Government Debt to Government Revenue is over 150% on average, rising fast, and at decade highs
The 'leverage' of the Euro-Area has never been higher. Across every nation, we are at over 20 year highs in terms of this measure of leverage. To impact this via the fiscal compact by raising taxes and deleveraging at the aggregate level can only exaggerate the recessionary pressure Europeans will feel.
While yields have indeed dropped, the reflexive response that ergo - Europe is fixed - is simply nonsense as nothing has changed and in fact the concentration and contagion stress is worse than it ever was. This time may be different as this time, the ECB is really in a box to fix the next risk flare without outright money-printing and Zee Germans vill not like zat!