Europe's "Great Deleveraging" Has Only Just Begun

While Europe's financial services sector equity prices have retraced almost half of their May11 to Oct11 losses as we are told incessantly not to underestimate the impact of the LTRO, Morgan Stanley points out the other side of the balance sheet will continue to sag. While short-term liquidity (at least EUR-based liquidity as USD FX Swap lines are back at record highs this week) may have seen some of its risk culled, the real tail risk of the 'Great Deleveraging' has only just begun. As MS notes, we may have avoided a credit crunch but European banks could delever between EUR1.5 and EUR2 Trillion over the next 18 months as the unwind is far from over. History suggests that over a longer time-frame, around five to six years - the deleveraging could reach EUR4.5 Trillion assuming zero deposit growth and the LTRO will slow but not stop the process. As we discussed last night, this deleveraging will inevitably lead to continued contraction in European lending to the real economy (no matter how much liquidity is force-fed to the banking system) which will most explicitly impact Southern and Peripheral Europe and the Emerging Markets of Central and Eastern Europe.


Deleveraging has indeed a long way to go if history is any guide.Morgan Stanley sees four broad buckets of bank deleveraging likely:


In the meantime, we assume the Central Banks of the world will do the only thing they know, print and funnel liquidity to these increasingly zombified financial institutions; and while Dicky Fisher was calming us all down this evening on our QE3 expectations (given Gold and Silver's recent price action), it seems perhaps even the Fed is getting nervous at just how little surprise factor they have left given such a ravenously hungry deleveraging and insatiable need to maintain the market/economy's nominally positive appearances.