By Bill Buckler of The Privateer
The Greek "Glitch"
Cast your mind back to the first half of 2007. In the US, Fed Chairman Bernanke was telling his colleagues that the sub prime mess was "grave but largely contained". Meanwhile, at the White House, President Bush was echoing his predecessor. When the first signs of the Asian Crisis of the late 1990s began to emerge, President Clinton called it a "glitch in the road". Mr Bush used the same phrase to describe the sub prime situation in 2007. Fast forward to the new potential financial crisis, this time in Europe. As far as the global markets are concerned, this is yet one more in the long line of "glitches".
The Asian crisis was not allowed to derail the global financial system. It was "fixed" by throwing a huge amount of money at it. The result was the "tech wreck" of 2000-2002. The sub prime mess in the US was not allowed to derail the global financial system. It was "fixed" by so much money that it made the Asian crisis bailouts look like a shower of loose change. The result was the global stock market swoon of late 2008 - early 2009. That one was "fixed" by trotting out the financial "nuclear option", the direct monetisation of sovereign debt by central banks which came to be known as "Quantitative Easing" (QE).
The current crisis is a sovereign debt crisis. This one is focussed on Greece and has a publicised deadline of March 20 - just over a month from now. On that date, the Greek government must roll over a "tranche" of debt coming due. The amount of this debt is 14.5 Billion Euros. In the context of the serial reliquification of the global system which has been the recurring theme of the last two decades, this sum is less than a rounding error. It is a sub-atomic particle in the structure of the global system.
That fact, in itself, should be enough to starkly show how fragile the entire system is. When the prospect of a nation being unable to roll over a paltry few Euros of maturing debt is enough to galvanise the entire financial world into monetary excess exceeding anything imaginable as recently as late 2007, one must conclude that the markets are skating on the thinnest ice in their entire existence. But skate they are.