Quantum Pranx

ECONOMICS AND ESOTERICA FOR A NEW PARADIGM

Posts Tagged ‘sovereign default

Europe Doesn’t Get It

with one comment

by Peter Tchir
of TF Market Advisors
Posted December 7, 2011 

I STILL THINK THE MOST LIKELY SCENARIO IS THAT SOME AGREEMENT TO AGREE IS MADE AT THE SUMMIT, which is then followed up by increased printing from the ECB, coupled with new Fed policies and fresh IMF money.  Although that still seems the most likely, I am getting concerned that Europe is once again missing the point.

Many EU leaders seem to actually believe that the Treaty changes are important.  The reality is the market could care less about treaty changes.  The market cares about only one thing, that the ECB will announce new, bigger, more aggressive sovereign purchases.  That’s all the market cares about.  The market believes that the treaty changes provide an excuse for the ECB and IMF to ramp up their efforts.  The EU can do all the treaty changes it wants, but if it is not followed up with aggressive new printing policies, the markets will sell-off.

Not only are politicians acting as though the treaty changes mean much, there is even talk about being able to implement changes without national votes. That idea horrifies me on a personal level as it is yet again trashing any sense of democracy, but it is bad for the markets.  I have been assuming that the meeting will result in another agreement to agree. That is relatively easy to pull together. Since it doesn’t really mean much, any countries that aren’t really on board, can be cajoled into holding hands for the photo op and pretending they agree long enough for the ECB and IMF to throw more money at the problem.

Agreement is far less likely if real permanent changes are being implemented. It is one thing to agree to the plan on the condition that you have to go back and get approval. It is much more risky for someone to agree to permanent changes implemented using some backdoor legal technique. Talk of actually implementing policy action this week is actually a negative as it makes it less likely that they can announce a “successful” summit.

On a side note, my favorite part of the proposal is the fines for going over the approved limits. So countries that have the biggest deficits will be fined, adding to those deficits? Debtor’s prison never worked very well, so why this would accomplish much is beyond me and would likely be waived any time it could be used. But no one on Wall Street has bothered to read the treaty proposals because no one cares, all anyone cares about is that the ECB uses it as an excuse to print.

Yesterday’s FT rumor of ESM and EFSF working together was yet another reason to be afraid that Europe doesn’t get it. Not only would implementing both at the same time place the AAA rated countries at greater risk of downgrade, it ignores the fact that EFSF has been a total failure. I thought Europe had moved beyond floating yet another iteration of something that hasn’t worked. The fact that they haven’t is a potential indication that the printing presses aren’t going to be turned on as soon as the market would like.

Finally, there is more and more talk about what the national central banks can do. People are acting as though they were cleaning the living room, and found some money when they lifted up the cushions on the couch.  This is not “found” money. Participants and lenders are well aware of these reserves.  They can be used for example to fund loans to the IMF to lend back to some countries, though I don’t fully understand why they can’t just lend to the countries directly, but I assume there is some law that lending to the IMF lets them circumvent. But there will be a cost to these actions. There will be a consequence, and although it will later be viewed as “unintended” the consequences are actually foreseeable. The countries with large reserves at the national central bank level have a reduced cost of funds because of those reserves. Lenders are not always totally stupid. There is value that is being realized from having those reserves. Using them to create loans for the IMF will impact that country’s ability to borrow. Plain and simple.

The fact that many pundits are treating this as newfound money that can be used any which way, without consequences is absurd and is yet another example of why so many ideas have failed. Any plan that raids the national central banks for money for the PIIGS needs to be thought through more carefully and the potential costs need to be addressed. The cost/benefit analysis may be worth the risk, but I suspect serious analysis would show that it is a bad idea. The cost/benefit should be about zero since it is just shifting money from one place to another. There really is no obvious reason to believe that this is a net positive. In the real world it is likely negative because as we have seen time and again, these changes break the existing model and that causes confusion which more than offsets any potential benefit (not triggering CDS is a shining example).

So while we limp along towards the most likely outcome, the risk of disappointment or even outright failure continues to grow. The inability to hold yesterday’s rumor rally is a signal that the market has moved well past the short squeeze phase and is now trading long.

German Pope, Italian Central Banker

leave a comment »

by Gary North
Posted November 24, 2011 

CONCLUSION: EUROPE IS IN BAD SHAPE. This is hedge fund manager Kyle Bass’s assessment of the situation in Europe. He stated this in a rousing interview on the BBC’s TV network. Here is the segment:

He made two crucial points – points that stock market investors are ignoring. First, over the last nine years, there has been an increase of world debt from $80 trillion to $210 trillion. These numbers are staggering. Global debt over the last nine years has grown at 12% per year, while GDP has grown at 4% per year.

While he did not verbally spell out the conclusion for the interviewer, it is this: when credit must grow by 12% per year in order to produce 4% GDP growth, at some point there will not be enough GDP to supply sufficient credit. It is time once again to quote economist Herb Stein: “When something cannot go on forever, it has a tendency to stop.”

Bass had a great metaphor: the PIIGS have “sailed into a zone of insolvency.” Second, he explained, the sovereign debts in Europe will be written down. There is no other solution. The airhead interviewer with the Oxbridge accent seemed to be doing a college-skit imitation of Emma Thompson. She challenged him. What about Germany? Can’t Germany continue to fund Europe’s “southern neighbors”? Germany has “the earning power.” (Note: this means German taxpayers.)

Bass responded instantly. First, the German court has determined that any further bailouts are unconstitutional. Second, Greece – and, by implication, the other “southern neighbors” – will spend every euro it borrows from Germany and then come back for more, threatening a default if its demands are not met – exactly what it has done so far. This goes on until the write-down takes place, which it will.

There are two ways of looking at this: the Bass way and the Bass-ackwards way. The airhead chose the latter.

He draws conclusions from the numbers. No one in the mainstream media and mainstream investment fund world seems to be willing to do this. They talk and invest as if the process can go on forever. Debts need not be repaid. This is ancient Keynesian dogma that goes back to the New Deal. “We owe it to ourselves.” On the contrary, specific borrowers owe it to specific creditors. At some point, the specific borrowers are going to default, leaving specific creditors with huge losses. How huge?

THREE TRILLION EUROS!

Charles Hugh Smith agrees with Bass. He says that there will have to be a write-down. By “write-down” he means write-off. He estimates the losses at three trillion euros. Someone will have to take the hit. The great political debate in Europe today is over who will take this hit, and how soon.

It will be investors. But, to forestall the day of reckoning, Europe’s politicians pretend that taxpayers’ credit lines can be used by superficially solvent Northern European governments in order to borrow more money from creditors in order to lend to the PIIGS’s governments, so that the PIIGS’s governments can continue to (1) delay real austerity measures, i.e., massive layoffs of government workers and massive cuts in welfare payments, and (2) make payments on what they owe to investors, mainly banks.

Smith admits that three trillion euros is a guess. Nobody knows how much bad sovereign debt there is, so we must start somewhere. In a world of $210 trillion worth of debt, his estimate seems reasonable to me.

Let’s start with the most basic fact about all this uncollectible, impaired, bad debt: every euro of debt is somebody else’s asset. Wipe out the debt and you wipe out the asset. That’s why there’s no willingness to accept the writedown of debt: somebody somewhere has to suck up 3 trillion euros of loss.

This is the source of Europe’s present policy of “kick the can,” or more accurately, “kick the can with press releases and summits.” If there were a pain-free solution, it would have been implemented long ago. There is no way Europe is going to “grow its way out of this debt.” How much of the eurozone’s “growth” was the result of rampant malinvestment and risky borrowing? More than anyone dares admit. It won’t take austerity to crash the euroland economy, all it will take is turning off the debt spigot.

Europe is facing the problem that Bass raised when he spoke of 12% per year increases of credit and 4% increases per year of GDP. There is no way to grow your way out of this. This is not just Europe’s problem. It is the world’s problem. But Europe is facing it now because the debts are coming due now. They must be rolled over. Creditors must agree to re-lend. But why should they?

The Establishment world of crony capitalism speaks of “re-structuring” the debt. What does this mean? Smith does not pull any punches.

“Restructuring” is a code word for writeoffs. Here, let me “restructure” the euro bond you bought at a 4% coupon yield. Now you’re going to get 2%, and you’re going to like it. Bang, your bond just lost half its market value, but everyone gets to keep it on the books at full value. Nice, until you have to sell it to raise cash. Oops, the euro has slipped in value so you lost more than 50%.

The banks keep the assets on the books at face value. The underlying value is down by at least 50% for Greek bonds. The European experts admit this. (Why the debt is worth that high a percentage is beyond me.) The Greeks are going to default, one way or another.

Who will take the hit? Smith writes: “There’s a fundamental truth that everyone has to understand: what the government spends, the public will pay for sooner or later, whether in taxes or inflation or having their debt defaulted on.” This is reality. But it’s not precise enough.

WHO IS THE PUBLIC?

If there is hyperinflation – price inflation above 30% per year for a decade or more – the public that takes the hit will be almost everyone inside the eurocurrency zone. There will be almost universal hardship.

On the other hand, if monetary inflation ceases for more than a few months, there will be a depression. Big banks will fail. Their depositors will lose everything. The money supply will shrink. It will be 1930-38 all over again.

Central bankers do not allow such things. The European Central Bank will try to walk the tightrope, just as the national central banks in Europe did after World War II. The ECB will pursue boom-bust policies, refusing to capitulate either to a Great Depression or hyperinflation.

But how can it walk this tightrope? The losses will be huge for large banks. The politicians will try to transfer the cost of bailing out Europe’s banks to Germany. But the debts are too large.

Read the rest of this entry »

Three Card Monti

with one comment

by Mike Krieger
Posted November 17, 2011

We are grateful to the Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But the world is now more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries. – David Rockefeller

The interests behind the Bush Administration, such as the CFR, The Trilateral  Commission – founded by Brzezinski for David Rockefeller – and the  Bilderberg Group, have prepared for and are now moving to implement open world dictatorship within the next five years. They are not fighting against terrorists. They are fighting against citizens. – Dr. Johannes B. Koeppl

Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germany is ready to cede some sovereignty to strengthen the euro area and restore confidence in the common currency… “Germany sees the need in this context to show the markets and the world public that the euro will remain together, that the euro must be defended, but also that we are prepared to give up a little bit of national sovereignty,” Merkel said. Germany wants a strong EU and a euro “of 17 member states that is just as strong and inspires confidence on international markets.” – Bloomberg article, Nov 16, 2011

Three Card Monti

JUST LIKE THE CON (confidence) GAME THREE CARD MONTE, through which people have been swindled out of their hard earned money in alleyways and street corners all over the world for half a millennium, the previously sovereign nations of Greece and Italy have now officially been placed into the receivership of “technocratic governments” and are now in the final phase of their looting.  It truly is sad to watch these proud nations whose histories form the very core of Western civilization be taken down one by one but what is even more nauseating is watching the corporate media pundits, Wall Street analysts and financial experts cheer the news because it is ostensibly “good for markets.”

First of all, it doesn’t take a genius to see that the people that screw up the most get promoted and advanced in the Western world’s current political/economic structure. The primary reason for this is that there is a very serious agenda of TPTB and that consists on using a crisis to consolidate power in a one-world government, headed by a global central bank that issues a global fiat currency. People have been saying this on the fringe for decades and have been called conspiracy theorists the whole time but if you look at how things are progressing today you’d have to be asleep to not notice that the guys in charge are completely and totally determined to bring this sick, twisted dream into place. That is why the agenda moves forward despite the repeated, desperate cries of the citizenry for them to stop.

Let’s take a look at Mario Monti, the “soft” dictator that has been thrust upon the people of Italy by TPTB.  He is a member of the Bilderberg Group, he is the European Chairman of the Trilateral Commission (a think tank founded by David Rockefeller in 1973, see quote at the top) and is international advisor to none other than Goldman Sachs. This guy was put into place by design. Anyone in Italy who thinks they achieved a victory by ridding themselves of Berlusconi, think again. You just got the biggest insider, crony financial terrorist around put in charge of your country without having a say in it. Even for someone like me that expects these things, I am amazed by how badly Italy was just screwed.  Speaking of the unreported coup that just happened in Italy I will let my friend Jared Dillian of the Daily Dirtnap add his two cents.  From his piece today:

So I read recently that Italy wasn’t going to have elections because of “market crisis” or something like that, and I am the last guy who should be writing about this, since I know very little about political systems in any European country, for example, how can you just announce or not announce an election? Aren’t these things on a schedule? So already I don’t know what I am talking about. But I am worried about Greece and Italy that have chosen not to have elections to choose their leaders, I am actually quite concerned about that. You can’t use “market crisis” as an excuse to not hold elections. Even if elections take time and are messy and (most importantly) don’t produce the desired result, it is a part of gosh darn democracy, and if they are going to suspend elections for this, then they can suspend elections for anything. Like, say, pretend Mario Monti is a closet dictator and they just put a guy in there who is never going to hold another election again.

So this is a bad precedent.  

This is way worse than a bad precedent but well said, my friend. Oh, and another thing. If you are looking at the gold market and wondering why it is so weak stop wondering. In my opinion, all you have to look at is Mario “three card” Monti (credit to Gerald Celente for that name).  If I were anyone in Italy that cared I would be checking the gold in the vault every single day. I have zero doubt that Monti is letting the country’s treasure out the back door by the ton in the name of “global stability” and ECB bond purchases.  The backroom deals that are happening right now at the expense of the people of Italy have got to be completely off the charts. As I have said many times before, the reason Europe doesn’t announce a solution is because there is no solution. They also know that the minute they announce massive monetization gold and silver will go no offer and the gig will be up. This is also why the Fed hasn’t announced QE3 despite their desire to do so.

So the strategy is to announce nothing, sell sovereign gold behind the scenes and perform all sorts of market manipulations behind closed doors.  While the sheep in most nations will be completely unaware until way after the looting is over and then they are left with chaos and then a real dictator, the leaders of nations of China, Russia and others know exactly what is happening and will happily take Italy’s gold (and whatever Greece hasn’t already sold without telling anyone). I love how leaders keep coming out with stuff like “we need to stop freedom of speech and we need to manipulate markets and we need to take your sovereignty away to create confidence.”  The worst part is people actually fall for this crap!  On what planet does robbing someone, taking their freedom away and saying you and your children will be slaves forever inspire confidence?

Gold & Whirlwind Crisis

with one comment

by Jim Willie CB
Posted Thursday, 17 November 2011

WHAT AN INCREDIBLE WHIRLWIND OF CRISIS from seven foul winds around the globe. Most emanate from Europe, which is far from its climax in crisis. Three steps will lead to full blown eruption, the first Italy with rising bond yields and a bank run, the second Spain with rising bond yields and admission that banks are far more insolvent than recognized, and third the failure of all three largest French banks as the principal swine creditor. In fact, a great split has occurred, as France has been cut off from the future world by Germany, which looks East to Russia and China. The Berlin leaders will not be needing French squires to carry their bags, but instead will watch as Paris becomes the appointed leader of the PIIGS. As the most exposed banks to Southern European sovereign debt, pig slop of immeasurable weight is tied around the laced Parisian necks. The common link across the Atlantic pond is derivative corruption.

The Europeans are doing their best to force feed a convenient but cockeyed definition of a debt default event. The Americans resort to old fashioned theft, calling it missing funds, blaming the crisis, while breaching the sacred segregated client fund directive. The crisis struck the US shores with the hidden JPMorgan chamber implosion and urgently needed theft, whose visible face is the MF Global heist and failure. My belief is that JPMorgan used its MFG patsy to anchor derivative trades, that just happened to be long sovereign debt in Europe. Nobody in his right mind, even a Corzine of GSax pedigree would place such large wrong trades unless obligated as a syndicate cog in the machinery. The big US banks will sit on the bankruptcy boards and decide the fate of victim accounts without client representation in a full scale insider exercise that makes a mockery of justice. That has been the American norm.

Witness the middle stage of the collapse of the COMEX, which has lost all trust as segregated client cash accounts vanished in a vast ongoing commingling campaign. One must conclude that JPMorgan must have really needed the money. The thought of a Madoff Redux comes to mind to the alert but weary. The MF Global vanished funds will eventually be measured over $3 billion. The actual Madoff pilfered funds totaled $150 billion, triple the more palatable figure often quoted. The locations of the missing funds have commonality, the ruling untouchable syndicate. Gold smells the destruction of the monetary and banking systems, aggravated by Western recession. Gold smells new application of debt to repair old failed debt structures, where central bankers chase their tails. Gold smells the vast reconstruction project for the giant Western banks, not too big to die of internal rot, only too big to let fail by a gavel.

The twisted bizarre attempt to control commodity prices by presiding over a series of negligent policies is coming to an end. The Western recession is too much for the insolvent banks to bear. The US banks have real estate debt rot, but the European banks have both real estate debt rot and PIIGS debt rot. In truth, the US banks share great risk from across the pond. The thrust of the French-based central bank over the pen of swine cannot be far from a formal announcement. Not quite what the highbrow French had in mind for leadership. Better to rule in clubmed pig slop than serve as lackey in the teutonic core.

GREAT CREDIT SWINDLE

The death of the monetary system has its main motive in the refusal of governments either to manage finances responsibly or to repay debt in the usual manner. They accumulate larger debts and plan the swindle of inflation in return. Their only viable approach, hardly a solution, is to inflate debt and thus to reduce its burden. Creditors feel betrayed, seek defensive measures, like to cut off credit and loan up quietly on gold, while lying about reserves. The creditors are not involved in the important decisions to debase the currency. Those decisions are made unilaterally by the debtors. A run on the US Treasury Bonds is occurring by angry foreign creditors. The USDollar is kept afloat by some secret corners. The pages of history are littered with examples of government debt default, but more often with the public paying for debt reduction in basic price inflation. The debts accumulated by many governments large and small cannot be repaid. History shows that tangible assets like Gold & Silver protect from the worst economic consequences. For the current financial crisis, only one pathway seems likely, although painful. The system cannot be remedied, only patched over. Vast inflation is the only politically viable method of repudiating these unmanageable obligations. Of key importance is the velocity of money in determining whether or not inflation turns into hyper-inflation, which requires final demand not to falter badly. Hyper-inflation requires sustained activity like an engine, which cannot stall. Higher price inflation is coming like night follows day, but probably not an extreme case. It will be painful though, since the cost structure will be the primary damage center. The US Consumer Price Inflation runs at 11.1% in the honest broker Shadow Govt Statistics calculation, which is painful enough.

The retreat is well along, the isolation to the hyper inflation machinery well along, the sovereign bond ruin well along. The Fed was hit with withdrawals of $83.3 billion on November 2nd, the largest withdrawals coming from its deposit accounts. This single day removal was the largest since February 2009, and not associated with quarterly tax payments. The withdrawals are being demanded by countries angered by USGovt policies, like China, Russia, Latin American, and other Asian players. It is only the beginning of a bloodletting. A run on USTBonds is in progress, covered up by Quantitative Easing and Operation Twist, programs given innocuous names but integral to the grand debasement process underway. The bond exodus is complemented nicely to significant removal of depository funds from the major banks in the ‘Move Your Money’ movement. Despite pleading by the big US banks for customers not to extract their money, impressively 650 thousand customers moved a total $4.5 billion dollars out of the big banks. The damage done is 10x to 20x, due to fractional banking practices. The funds went into smaller banks and credit unions in October.

TOO BIG TO FAIL: ASSURED FAILURE

The entire concept of Too Big to Fail is a hangman’s noose around the US banks and the banking system. The debate over cause or effect is curious. The related propaganda is obscene, if not comical. The smear campaign against gold will turn absurd, before the USDollar breaks permanently on the world stage, in the form of rejection in international commerce. It is called the Dollar Kill Switch, and it will be applied to the crude oil market. Conformity with the Too Big To Fail doctrine is synonymous with the path to systemic failure. Charles Hugh Smith sees the destructive force clearly. The absent liquidity of the biggest Western banks assures the systemic failure itself. Smith wrote, “The irony is that the propping up of a deeply intrinsically pathological and destructive financial system is not saving the economy, rather it is the reason the economy is imploding. The Big Lie technique of propaganda is to reverse the polarity of reality: we are told up is down until we believe it. We are told that liquidating the overhang of bad debt, leverage, and hedges would destroy the world as we know it. The truth is that keeping the zombie system from expiring and covering up the corruption with propaganda is actually destroying the world as we know it. Thus the collapse of the current financial system of central banks, pathological Wall Street, and insolvent banks would be the greatest possible good and the greatest possible positive for the global economy and its participants.”

G-20 SUGGESTION LEGITIMIZES GOLD

The G-20 group actually suggested that Germany donate a block of gold reserves for European banking system stability, as in to fortify the stability fund. Obviously the Germans told them to get lost and mind their own business. The German nation has been the ox & yoke to pull the Southern European cart for a decade. They have had their fill of seeing savings drained! The emerging nations showed a mix of chuptzpah and ignorance. Look for the PIIGS nations instead to forfeit their central bank gold in the next several months, part of the Chinese discounted purchase of sovereign bonds. The Chinese are not stupid, careful to put hooks in the deal. In a bold stroke, the G-20 finance ministers actually demanded that German Gold reserves be used to backstop the EFSFund for bank bailouts. The backward irony of the story is that Germany will in no way whatsoever hand over Gold bullion to stabilize a system it finds revolting on a beneficial one-way street. In doing so, the G-20 Ministers actually legitimized Gold as the premier asset. The fund seeks EUR 1 trillion but in reality needs EUR 3 trillion, possibly supplied via leverage. Much confusion has circulated around the story, not fully confirmed. But Reuters cited that, “The Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reported that Bundesbank reserves, including foreign currency and Gold, would be used to increase Germany’s contribution to the crisis fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) by more than 15 billion Euros ($20 bn).”

The recipient of the alleged transfer would be the most insolvent of global hedge funds, the European Central Bank. One must suspect that no pledge was made, and a trial balloon was floated. It was promptly shot down. Germany has lost its appetite to make huge annual donations to support an unjustified standard of living for Southern Europe, which grossly lacks industry, a strong work ethic, and ability to collect taxes. Those nations abused the low Germanic interest rate, built housing bubbles, perpetuated young pension benefits, permit tax evasion, and face ruin. Germany will no longer sacrifice Euros at the foot of any PIIGS altar, plainly stated. Conclude that the EuroZone, the Euro Central Bank, and the European Financial Stability Facility are all dead broke and insolvent, and worse, have zero credibility in the capital markets. The real ugly controversy comes soon when collateral placed in return for grandiose aid will be lost, including some central bank gold bullion. The European Commission has no voice either, having pandered to the bankers.

GOLD PROPAGANDA & REALITY

The CME has advised that 1.42 million ounces of registered COMEX silver inventory is unavailable for delivery due to MF Global bankruptcy, as well as 16,645 registered ounces of gold also unavailable for delivery. That is a lot of bullion in breach of contract. The lawyers will be lined up very quickly to carve the metals exchanges into pieces. The COMEX is totally broken, unable to honor basic contracts, unable to deliver from committed legal contracts, unable to even protect client funds from commingling grabs. But during a period when investors cannot protect themselves, an ambush could easily come in the next week to push down the Gold price in the usual manner, via naked shorting. As the grandiose destinations become clear for vast new monetary creation, the Gold & Silver prices will run higher. The big immediate questions center on how much dithering the banker elite that run our governments will permit with malignant motive before the decisions are made, and how much economic deterioration will be permitted to contain commodity prices before the decisions are made. The destinations are bank bailouts for toxic sovereign bonds, recapitalization of the big Western banks, coverage of new USGovt debt, and economic stimulus. A few $trillion will be needed, as estimates by well-informed veterans mount like a stack of white papers. The economic damage is being done, even though the crude oil price has finally zipped above the $100 mark.

Ironically, as the orchestrated Libyan liberation war finished, the crude oil price has moved from $77 in early October to $102 today. Demand is not coming from economic growth, but from hedging against the ruined major currencies, all of them. Global QE is alive! With the gold market in turmoil from grand Asian raids, from absent COMEX inventory, from snatches of GLD inventory, from pilfered COMEX fringe accounts, from continued naked shorting, the safer bet with quicker payoff has been crude oil hedges. But Gold will have its day, and Silver will scoot through the opened phalanx as usual. The delay in reckoning is laden with frustration, but the day of $2000 is coming. It is something the bankers cannot stop. They are so busy kicking cans down the road, they do not see the Rotweillers and Dobermans sniffing their trails.

ITALY IS KAPUT, CONTAGION WILD

The biggest and most important danger signal for complete eruption of the Eropean financial crisis is the Italian sovereign bond. Their yield surpassed the 7% mark to sound great alarms, completing a Jackass forecast over the last several months. This level is the recognized crisis signal, the call to arms, the call to remove deposits, the call to demand collateralized loans. Their sovereign bond yield has zoomed upward in response to higher margin requirements. Italy is the next Greece, which was a crisis prelude. Italy scares the American and European central bankers witless. The Italian Govt Bond yield remained for 40 days above the 5% mark before it hit 6% two weeks ago. Its rise has accelerated, as the panic widens. The Italian yield suddenly surged past 7% with haste last week, reaching 7.5%, setting off shrill alarms. The Italian leadership is in question, its Prime Minister to be a victim. The 10-year yield went below 7% only because of heavy emergency buying by the Euro Central Bank, against their stated wishes. The Italian banks are far weaker than they reveal. The next PIIGS domino is soon to fall, for certain to take down Spanish Govt Bonds also. The new head of the EuroCB, the resplendent GSax pedigreed Mario Draghi, must cover the debt or watch the European Monetary Union crumble in a sea of fire. The central bank must make overt commitments of magnitude. If the crumble happens upon inaction, expect 20 Lehman events with numerous bank failures, starting with France. The conflagration would extend to London and New York.

The market is stating that Italian Govt repayment of rollover debt is in crisis mode, highly unlikely. Italy must roll over more than EUR 360 billion (=US$490 bn) of debt before end 2012. The borrowing costs for Italy have become highly burdensome, if not crippling and destructive. The debt rollover in upcoming auctions stands as the immediate event to watch. Lenders do not wish to hand money to Italy for servicing past debt interest, good money after bad. Even if budget reforms succeed, the austerity measures will constitute more poison pills that assure a faster economic recession from cut projects, more unemployment, and hostile response by the public, like worker strikes. Recall Jackass comments made a year ago. The prevailing opinion was that Italy had favorable debt ratios, like cumulative debt to GDP, like annual deficit to total budget. My objection was that ratios mattered little, when the required debt volume to finance was too large in a crisis filled bond market. My forecast was for Italy to erupt along with Spain eventually. That viewpoint has turned out to be correct.

Barclays has declared that Italy is finished kaput. The next Greek ruin on the plaza square is happening in Rome. The bond market is rejecting Italy loudly. Italy has dragged its feet for two months, rejecting warnings, refusing budget cuts, while its prime minister has given defiant messages loaded with denial. He even accused financial journalists of causing a run on their bonds. Time has run out on Italy. Watch for France to catch the viral contagion, being a major creditor. The Euro Central Bank is the only buyer of Italian Govt Bonds. They are the focus for action. When Italy erupts, it will spread to Spain first, and then quickly to France as its primary creditor. The nation of Spain is not in the news much at all, but it will be next year, just like Italy with the same type of problems, but compounded by a bigger housing bust. The research staff at Barclays in London has declared that Italy is formally finished and cooked, as they put it “Italy is now mathematically beyond the point of no return.” The Greek tragedy has finally struck Italy. Expect violence on the streets of Rome and other cities, an Italian tradition where innocuous brands of communism have splintered roots.

BANK RUN NEXT FOR ITALY

An invisible bank run is occurring in Italy. Their banks are trapped, attempting to de-leverage on a perilous tightrope forced by tightened bank reserve requirements. They have developed a big dependence on Euro Central Bank funds. The Credit Default Swap market indicates an expected Italian default. Next the bank deposits will exit. Italian banks have grown overly dependent on the European Central Bank. They borrowed EUR 111.3 billion (=US$152 bn) from the central bank at the end of October, up from EUR 104.7 billion in September and a smaller EUR 41.3 billion in June, as per Bank of Italy data. The five biggest lenders accounted for 61% of the country’s draw on ECB funds in September, double that of January. The banks include UniCredit, Intesa Sanpaolo, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Banco Popolare, and UBI Banca. These distressed banks must reduce their debt load in a highly dangerous bond environment marred by distrust and volatility. The decline in Italian Govt Bonds has rendered great damage to the private banks, reducing their reserve ratios and eroding loan collateral devoted to support regular business credit.

The Italian banks are trapped in the Italian sovereign debt securities. The austerity plans being forced will ensure a recession, thus even more losses for the banks. The run on Italian banks is just beginning, to become more visible in a couple months. The bond market expects some calamities. The debt insurance for individual banks demonstrates the extreme level of distress. European private banks are dumping sovereign bonds, hampering the already strained market. They are forced to comply with tougher newly enforced BIS reserves requirements. They are fighting to survive, but exposing the sovereign bonds as junk, and worse, dragged down by old real estate debts just like in the United States. The entire system is collapsing without potential remedy unless all major banks are liquidated, and that will never happen. They house the political power center, and the bond fraud laboratories. At the heart of the vulnerability is the fractional banking system itself. Insolvency arrives quickly and only worsens until a run occurs. Then comes rampant bank failures.

THE EUROPEAN BANKING SYSTEM IS TOPPLING. IT CANNOT BE STOPPED. GREAT CONTROVERSY WILL RESULT. MOST LARGE BANKS ARE POSTING HUGE LOSSES FROM GREEK EXPOSURE. THE NEXT ROUND OF LOSSES FROM THE OTHER P.I.I.G.S. NATIONS WILL BE AN ORDER OF MAGNITUDE LARGER. THE EXTREME BREAKDOWN WILL OCCUR WHEN THE BIG FRENCH BANKS GO BUST.

Even Citigroup chief economist Willem Buiter recognizes the extreme risk and dire nature of the situation in Europe. He said, “I think we have maybe a few months, it could be weeks, it could be days, before there is a material risk of a fundamentally unnecessary default by a country like Spain or Italy, which would be a financial catastrophe dragging the European banking system and North America with it. So [the central banks] they have to act now.” Look for enormous Dollar Swap Facility usage for covering PIIGS bonds, in particular from Italy and Spain. The French Govt Bonds will be next under attack, like in January. Their yields remain low, but they are rising, and the Bund spread is widening. My guess is that the swap facility is already being tapped in heavy volume, on days the Euro currency rises especially.

COUP DE GRACE IN FRANCE

France introduced budget austerity, a surefire time bomb for the big banks that teeter in Paris. Nothing was learned from Greece, where recession is accelerating from the poison pills. The French banks bear the largest load for Italian Govt debt, more than double the German load and almost half the entire European load. France is tied with the lethal umbilical cord from Italy. The Dexia exposure to Greece and Italy has been detailed. German banks are not immune from big losses, nor immune from the financial crisis. Commerzbank suffered a big loss, typical of the German banking sector. With all the attention last month given to the big French banks, the weak links inside the German banking system are only recently coming to light. They are less but still sizeable. US banks are deeply exposed to European Govt debt default insurance. The risk is not offloaded, but rather shared and joined. The risks are rising astronomically for American banks, while large commitments are made, and partnerships are formed. The US press blithely reports a condition of near immunity of US banks from the financial crisis separated by an ocean. Great controversy lurks on insured debt.

If the regional recession does not pull France down, its banks will. They will succumb to horrendous Italian exposure. Notice the French banks have three times as much debt with Italian companies, versus Italian Govt debt. As the Italian Economy slides rapidly into recession, a considerable portion of the nearly $400 billion in total debt exposure will go rotten. One can see that Italy is Greece times seven. German banks are also on the hook for Italian sour grapes, but less than half the total.

The Spanish Govt Bond is the fuse that lights the Semex behind the French bank failures. Their bond yields surged past 6% as the contagion spreads. The bonds of Spain will endure similar pressures as Italy, deep scrutiny, and relegation to the Euro Central Bank outhouse, the major bagholder. The banking system in Spain operates on fairy tale reserves. The Spanish Economy is weighed down by 23% jobless rate. All PIIGS nations will be crushed by the crisis, no nation spared. Spain has officially entered the red zone as their sovereign bonds have been targeted. They have solved nothing, dealt with nothing, and downgraded no bank assets, preferring to live in a make believe world. While the Italian Govt Bond yield has relaxed toward levels below 7%, the Spanish Govt Bond yield has risen steadily since August from 5% to above 6% in an unrelenting march. It took five weeks to breach the 6% level, once the 5% level was breached. The Euro Central Bank is reported to be actively purchasing sovereign bond from both countries, to stem the crisis. Their efforts are futile, since private bank sales rise to supply the central bank at the window. After the official purchases, the private banks are highly reluctant to purchase anew, since that bond market has been badly tainted.

THE CARDIAC MEASURES

The Italian & Spanish Bovt Bonds are in big trouble, but the sleepy story is how France will soon join the PIIGS as the leader in the toxic sloppy pen where monetary paper feces spews openly. Some heavy damage is being quietly done on French bonds, where the banks hold much of their own national debt and the toxic Italian debt. Some claim it is game over with Italy on the ropes. My view is that the game is almost over, as the Italian debacle has spread quickly to Spain. But the main event in the recognized implosion is the sudden failure of all three of France’s big banks. When Societe Generale, BNP Paribas, and Credit Agricole all go bust in a sudden burst wave of insolvency, illiquidity, and recorded losses to their artificially lifted balance sheets, the game is truly over. Then and only then, the great reconstruction of the European banking system will begin, complete with $3 trillion in freshly printed money. The Gold market comprehends this fact, and anticipates it fully, with patience. The MF Global corrupted chaos has put a new log in the golden road.

REDEFINED DEBT DEFAULT

The bank leaders have attempted to redefine debt default, as part of the bailout fund negotiations. This is the latest deeply corrupt practice, with some objection showed by the major debt rating agencies. Any loss of original debt security terms is a default, whether voluntary or blessed by the elite cartel. Expect court action and lawsuits in response. Another angle is being covered, whereby redenomination of debt in another currency is also declared not a default event. Great lengths are being taken, for a simple reason. A string of Credit Default Swap claims on debt default would expose the entire market as corrupted and under-funded by a wide margin to honor claims. With defaults, all the big banks would die in a flash. This is huge issue not addressed that invalidates an entire shadow-filled market. If sovereign bonds cannot be hedged effectively and predictably, the bond yields will rise fast from lack of demand. Watch out below for Italy. European banks will suffer losses without buffers that were expected to serve as hedges.

FRAUD OR JPMORGAN RUPTURE?

Coverage to the MF Global fraud, theft, and violation of the financial markets is full of intrigue and bold strokes. A sacred pledge has been broken against segregated accounts and their partitioned sanctity. Witness the second stage of the grand American fraud exposure. The first stage was the subprime mortgage fraud, with Lehman Brothers kill, JPMorgan assert grab and reload, followed by the TARP Fund dispersal, and the mortgage contract forgeries. The MF Global theft exposes the lack of integrity in the financial futures markets, and one step closer for the death of JPMorgan, which is plugging holes rather than permitting a COMEX default. Over a thousand gold contracts will not be delivered, a breach. Over ten thousand silver contracts will not be delivered, a breach. The final stage could feature a bank holiday and background heist of personal accounts. Some thought such forecasted warnings to be wild and reckless, but look at the pilfered futures cash accounts. Precedent has been set, warning given. Nothing is safe in the American system. Veteran traders should have known better, like Gerald Celente, whose accounts are locked up, cash and all. What a travesty and blight on the US system! Time is slim to remove money from the US system, whose banner is fraud.

MF Global is a more visible and flagrant breach and desecration than the Madoff Fund fraud and theft. The total missing Madoff funds was reported to be $50 billion, when the actual total was closer to $150 billion. The MF Global missing funds are reported to be $650 million, when in reality the total is closer to $2 to $3 billion. MF Global has located $658.8 million in customer funds in a custodial account at JPMorgan Chase, which contained a total of $2.2 billion as of October 31st, including both the MFG money and customer funds, pure commingling of funds. This is a smoking gun certain to go unpunished.

My belief is that JPMorgan stole the easily accessible funds placed too close to the action. Harbor doubts that CEO John Corzine will be indicted or serve prison time. The FBI is on the case. Their investigation will most likely be as effective as with Madoff, and recall they protected Goldman Sachs three years ago when a Russian man snatched the Unix software used by GSax for insider trading. It viewed incoming orders on the NYSE microseconds before the orders were executed. The FBI arrested the man, the illegal trading trail went cold, and the venerable firm continued doing God’s work. In my view, the MF Global case will render irreparable harm to the US financial system on the commodity side. Countless professional traders and their firms recognize the threat to segregated accounts and their sanctity. Trust is gone, and so is their money. No new money will enter those tables.

Safeguards did not merely fail, they were abused once more in a long list of fraud events. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has failed on the job for the public, while doing an excellent job for the syndicate in power led by JPM and GSax. The next sham charade will be the big US banks serving on the creditor committees to oversee dispersal of funds that they were not able to steal already. JPMorgan is the agent for a $1.2 billion syndicated line of credit to MFG. It was named to the committee despite also having a $300 million secured loan against the MFG brokerage unit, a position pitted against other unsecured creditors in an obvious conflict of interest.

JPMorgan slapped a lien on MF Global assets in an audacious maneuver. A formal dance is in progress, where the public is amateur. Lack of cooperation has been given by MF Global so far. Witness a possible hidden derivatives meltdown, as the European implosion has a conduit to the United States. With inter-bank lending so scarce, many Wall Street banks extended heavy loans to the distressed European banks in the last couple months. The story is not told that way, only as a large financial firm failure run by an ex-Senator and ex-Governor, a fallen pillar in the financial crisis. What has happened could be a critical step toward the ruin of the COMEX itself, and its transition into a Cash & Carry operation for precious metals. The reins holding back Gold are slowly vanishing or being discarded.

EU leaders throw Europe a plutonium life preserver

with one comment

by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds
Posted October 27, 2011

The euro system was doomed from inception for fundamental reasons; trying to conjure up “something for nothing” solutions will fail catastrophically, and soon.

As Europe flails helplessly in the waves of insolvency, its leadership has tossed it a life preserver. Too bad it’s plutonium, and will take Europe straight to the bottom. Plutonium is of course one of the most toxic materials on the planet, and the “rescue” cooked up by the EU leadership is the financial equivalent of plutonium.

Stripped of propaganda and disinformation, the “rescue” boils down to this: something for nothing. Sound familiar? Isn’t “something for nothing” what inflated the bubbles which have popped so violently? The EU “rescue” conjures something for nothing in two ways:

1. The financial alchemist’s favorite magic: leverage. Take a couple hundred billion euros in cash, leverage it up with various magic (unlimited power is now at your fingertips!) and voila, you can suddenly backstop 1 trillion euros of banking-sector losses, all with illusory money. Something for nothing.

2. “Guarantees” to cover the first 20% of loan losses. This is being presented as the equivalent of 100% guarantees, because it is inconceivable that losses could exceed 20%. In other words, the credulous buyer of at-risk Euroland bonds is supposed to be reassured enough to load the wagon because 20% of the bond is backstopped.

This is something for nothing because the EU leadership is explicitly claiming the at-risk portion–80% of every bond–is somehow “safer” because the first 20% will be paid by EU taxpayers.

In essence, the EU is claiming that its illusory “something for nothing” magic will turn lead into gold. Abracadabra….oh well, close; it’s heavy, it’s metallic – oops, it’s plutonium.

The leadership is resorting to Cargo Cult incantations and legerdemain because the alternative is to raise the 1 trillion euros in cold hard cash needed to bail out the first wave of failed banks and underwater bondholders by raising taxes and cutting budgets, i.e. austerity. (Recall that the total bill will be at least 3 trillion euros, so 1 trillion is just a down payment.)

Raising cash the hard way is politically unacceptable in both France and Germany, not to mention every other nation in the EU, so the political lackeys of the banking sector and bondholders are cravenly substituting a “something for nothing” magic show which they hope will fool the global bond market.

Note to EU lackeys: there is no free lunch. Leverage is plutonium, not gold, and guaranteeing the first 20% of bonds that are doomed to lose 40%-75% is not terribly appealing to anyone not influenced by the ECB’s mind tricks. (“These are not the euros you’re looking for; move along.”)

No wonder France was so anxious for the ECB to crank up the euro printing press: they wanted– just like everyone else involved–something for nothing.

The best way to understand the EU’s current situation is to imagine an astoundingly dysfunctional family of deep-in-denial-addicts, screaming co-dependent parents, and grown-up grifters acting like spoiled brats, all trapped in a rat-infested, flooded flat that’s had the gas turned off for lack of payment – and there’s a plutonium life preserver glowing in the knee-high water. Admittedly, this analogy is imperfect, but it does capture the essential psychology of the end-game being played out.

A slightly more formal model for understanding the increasingly unstable dynamics of the EU is the post-colonial “plantation” model I’ve described before. The key characteristics of the Colonial Model of Capitalism are:

1. Low cost labor and low-value materials flow from the periphery (colonies) to the Empire (center), which then ships high-value, high-profit finished goods back to the colonies.

2. The colonies must buy the high-value finished goods on credit that is issued and controlled by the Imperial center.

Hmm – doesn’t this sound like the relationship of Germany to the European periphery? The euro cemented this co-dependency: Germany had the most efficient production, and once the euro raised the cost of production in the periphery nations, then of course nobody could beat Germany’s cost advantages. The euro actually lowered Germany’s cost of production in terms of foreign exchange rates while raising the costs in periphery nations that were previously able to lower their cost of production via currency devaluations.

Having surrendered that mechanism to access the deep credit markets of the center, then they had no choice but to buy the high-margin finished goods from Germany, as nobody else could make the same goods for the low German price.

These booming high-profit German exports of finished goods to the European periphery generated vast surpluses of capital that were then loaned to the periphery to enable their further purchases of German goods. Why risk the heavy investment costs of production in the periphery when Germany had the lowest costs of production and was willing to loan the buyers the cash needed to keep buying?

It’s the classic mercantilist-consumer co-dependency on a gigantic scale, with low-cost credit fueling both increased consumption and production. As long as the credit flowed in vast torrents of low-cost, easy to borrow money, the co-dependency looked like a “virtuous cycle.” Debt junkies eventually have to start servicing their debts, of course, and that’s when the ugly realities of colonial dominance become visible.

Germany casts itself in this melodrama as the wronged party, the industrious craftsfolk churning out high-quality goods who have somehow been lured into pouring hard-earned cash down various ratholes to save nefarious EU banks – including their own.

But setting aside the melodrama for a moment, let’s ask: how many German goods would have been imported by the EU periphery if those nations had been forced to pay cash for everything from the start? Precious little is the answer; the cash – in the form of actual surpluses available to spend on imports – would have run out immediately after the euro was launched.

In other words, the debt orgy enabled not just carefree consumption, it also enabled vast German exports to the Eurozone. Now we start seeing how the once-mutually beneficial co-dependency has become toxic: now that the periphery’s debtors have become debt-serfs, German exports to the periphery are contracting.

This helps explain why even the supposedly prudent Germans are seeking something for nothing as the painless answer to an intrinsically unstable and self-destructive system. When it all implodes, German exports to the periphery will be a shadow of their past glory, and the surpluses which enabled the leveraged orgy of credit will dwindle. (Germany’s other big export markets, China and the U.S., are also contracting.)

Sovereign currencies are the only mechanism for discounting differences in credit worthiness and production costs. The euro was established as the currency equivalent of gold, holding the same value in every member country. But the mercantilist/quasi-colonial model requires credit to flow from the center to the periphery, and that is precisely what has happened in the EU.

In the colonial model, the colonists are indebted and poor. The net value of their labor flows to the Imperial center as interest payments, and the banks at the center set the cost of money and the terms – naturally.

This co-dependency based on credit flowing from the mercantilist center to the periphery is both exploitative and systemically unstable. Now that the ontological instability of the euro is being revealed, the dysfunctional family members are blaming each other and desperately trying to conjure up something for nothing to bail themselves out of a system which was doomed to implode from its very inception.

All the complexity and confusion distills down to this: the EU leadership needs something for nothing to save the EU, but there is no free lunch. There is only one solution to the exploitation, the illusory leverage, the crushing debts: massive write-offs of all the bad debt everywhere in the EU. And since debt is someone else’s asset, then that means writing down the assets, too. The only way to clear the insolvency is to write off 3 trillion euros of debt-based assets and re-enable sovereign currencies. Anything else is simply more tiresome melodrama.

Things that make you go hmmm…

leave a comment »

by Grant Williams
25 October 2011
With deference to European readers, I have removed (most of) the original baseball references. Please forgive, Grant!! – Aurick

“Everyone needs the ECB to step up to the plate. The ECB has no excuse not to act. In trying to keep its monetary virginity intact, the bank threatens to destroy the Euro Zone. If that happens, nobody will be able to profit from its virginity.”
– Paul de Grauwe

“Simple Math:

The total overall cap [of the ESM] is 500 billion Euros

160 billion Euros has been spent

340 billion Euros remains

340 billion Euros + zero Euros = 940 billion Euros“

– Mike Shedlock, on the latest European ‘Masterplan’ to merge the EFSF + ESM

“The trouble with quotes on the internet is that it’s difficult to determine whether or not they are genuine”
– Abraham Lincoln

Right now, the team comprising the ECB, EU and the various parliaments that make up that fractured and faltering alliance are sending, in baseball parlance, pitcher after pitcher to the mound (sometimes in groups of two or three) trying to combine for the perfect game that they NEED in order to escape the debt trap they have backed themselves into.

Being in a situation where you lose unless you can pull something off against odds of multiple-thousands to one and pitch a ‘perfect game’ is a ridiculous spot in which to find yourself, but as this month has rolled by, it has become ever-more apparent that that is precisely where the Brussels Eurocrats now find themselves. It appears as though, as the pressure has ratcheted up this week, we are now in the ninth inning.

Personally, my own belief (as regular readers are by now well aware) is that the very best the Eurocrats can hope for is to extend the game by an inning or two, but their arms are tired, their bullpen is empty and, at some point, we are going to see an absolute avalanche of runs scored against them as the whole thing finally topples under its own weight.

This past week has been nothing short of farcical as the tension has built towards a crescendo that seemed at first to be willfully engendered in order to generate just enough sense of impending crisis to enable a resolution to be forced through in a similar fashion to that which preceded Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke’s now-infamous closed-doors fright-fest (hyphenation alert!) that led to the passing of the TARP in late 2008.

Obviously, any and all capitulation towards outright bailouts (or ‘QEU’) must at least be seen to be against the will of the Germans and that proviso goes a long way towards explaining the raft of headlines that have flooded the Reuters and Bloomberg screens of investors all around the world this week. We have seen misdirection, scaremongering, u-turns and abject incompetence as well as the kinds of ‘leaks’ that are, frankly, laughable – the prime example being the ‘leaked’ draft copy of the Euro Summit statement which was printed, in its entirety, in the Daily Telegraph on Thursday – coincidentally at the precise moment when things were starting to come unglued as it became clear that this Sunday’s Summit would NOT produce the magic bullet required.

The statement itself is priceless. It begins with a bit of back-slapping for the passing of the EFSF (after no less than six months of wrangling and an eleventh-hour drama in Slovakia):

The strategy we have put into place encompasses determined efforts to ensure fiscal consolidation as well as growth, support to countries in difficulty, and a strengthening of euro area governance. At our 21 July meeting we took a set of major decisions. The ratification by all 17 Member States of the euro area of the measures related to the EFSF significantly strengthen our capacity to react to the crisis.

The agreement on a strong legislative package within the EU structures on better economic governance represents another major achievement. The euro continues to rest on solid fundamentals

It then moves on to more familiar ground; an agreement to display their strong determination to fix things. Nothing concrete, of course, but they sure as hell are determined:

The crisis is, however, far from over, as shown by the volatility of sovereign and corporate debt markets. Further action is needed to restore confidence. That is why today we agree on additional measures reflecting our strong determination to do whatever is required to overcome the present difficulties.

The rest of the text, should you want to read it, is here, but allow me to summarise it through a few select phrases that will save you the trouble of doing so:

“blah, blah, blah… All Member States are determined, blah, blah, blah… We want to reiterate our determination, blah, blah, blah… We reaffirm clearly our unequivocal commitment that, blah, blah, blah… All other euro area Member States solemnly reaffirm their inflexible determination, blah, blah, blah… The euro area Heads of State or Government fully support this determination, blah, blah, blah… All tools available will be used in an effective way to ensure financial stability in the euro area, blah, blah, blah… We fully support the ECB, blah, blah, blah… “

See. I told you they were determined.

But, buried deep in the draft are (amazingly enough) some specific measures that will surely help solve the crisis:

• There will be regular Euro Summit meetings bringing together the Heads of State or govern­ment (HoSG) of the euro area and the President of the Commission. These meetings will take place at least twice a year

• The President of the Euro Summit will be designated by the HoSG of the euro area at the same time the European Council elects its President

• The President of the Euro summit will keep the non euro area Member States closely informed of the preparation and outcome of the Summits

• As is presently the case, the Eurogroup will ensure ever closer coordination of the economic policies and promoting financial stability.

• The President of the Euro Summit will be consulted on the Eurogroup work plan and may invite the President of the Eurogroup to convene a meeting of the Eurogroup, notably to prepare Euro Summits or to follow up on its orientations

• Work at the preparatory level will continue to be carried out by the Eurogroup Working Group (EWG)

• The EWG will be chaired by a full-time Brussels-based President. He/she should preferably also chair the Economic and Financial Committee

…and my personal favourite:

• Clear rules and mechanisms will be set up to improve communication and ensure more con­sistent messages.

It’s at this point that the non-Europeans amongst you are possibly finally beginning to get the joke that anybody caught in the tractor beam of ineptitude that is ‘Europe’ (and by ‘Europe’ I mean the bureaucratic construct rather than the land mass) has understood for years.

THIS IS HOW EUROPEAN BUREAUCRACY WORKS, PEOPLE!!!!

Millions of Euros spent on days of‘talks’ to come up with solutions that fail to address any REAL problems.

Don’t believe me?

Article 47 of the Common Fisheries Policy will ensure that every fish caught by an angler is notified to Brussels so that it can be counted against that countries quota. If you go out for a day’s fishing and catch a couple of cod or mackerel you will now be required to notify the authorities or face a heavy fine.

There are EU regulations on the greenness of the person on the pedestrian crossing lights.

There are 3 separate EU directives on the loudness of lawnmowers.

Regulation (EC) 2257/94 – a great read, by the way – stated that bananas must be ‘free from malformation or abnormal curvature of the fingers’. It also contained stipulations about ‘the grade, i.e. the measurement, in millimetres, of the thickness of a transverse section of the fruit between the lateral faces and the middle, perpendicularly to the longitudinal axis’ …

And then there are cucumbers:

Under regulation (EEC) No 1677/88 cucumbers are only allowed a bend of 10mm for every 10cm of length.

Do you think any of those were drawn up in ten minutes on a single piece of paper?

No. (Actually, in fairness to Europe, they don’t have a monopoly on silly legislation: there IS a law in Alaska that makes it illegal to push a moose out of a moving aircraft.)

The Brussels bureaucracy has always been something of a laughing stock amongst the people of Europe – since long before the final creation of the EU, in fact. Way back in 1955, with a European union freshly on the drawing board ten years after the end of WWII, Russell Bretherton, an English Civil Servant was dispatched to Brussels to inform European ministers what Britain thought of plans for an ambitious new European treaty. Upon arrival, he had these words of wisdom for those assembled:

“Gentlemen, you’re trying to negotiate something you will never be able to negotiate. If negotiated, it will not be ratified. And if ratified, it will not work”

Three years later, the Treaty of Rome was signed, establishing the European Economic Community and from that day to this, the degree of meddling, interference and sheer bureaucracy has increased year after year until we find ourselves here.

Europe is broken and the people charged with trying to fix it are clearly not up to the job. There are way too many vested interests, too many national peccadillos and way too many good, old-fashioned egos in play for it to come down to anything but a last-ditch solution when they are forced into it – and that solution WILL be the printing of money in some shape or form which will help to magically inflate the debt away. The other alternatives are either just too painful (default/ forgiveness) or plain unworkable (growth).

A look at a selection of newsflashes that hit screens this week shows just how ridiculous things have become as everybody involved in trying to sort out the mess that is Europe attempts to get themselves in front of a microphone in order to let the world know just how important they are. Some of these appearances, it would seem, are stage-managed for maximum effect on markets – others are simply self-important politicians who just can’t bring themselves to utter the words “no comment”:

Read the rest of this entry »

The Endgame: Europe is finished

with one comment

by Tyler Durden
Posted Zero Hedge on September 14, 2011

THE MOST SCATHING REPORT DESCRIBING IN EXQUISITE DETAIL the coming financial apocalypse in Europe comes not from some fringe blogger or soundbite striving politician, but from perpetual bulge bracket wannabe, Jefferies, and specifically its chief market strategist David Zervos. “The bottom line is that it looks like a Lehman like event is about to be unleashed on Europe WITHOUT an effective TARP like structure fully in place.

Now maybe, just maybe, they can do what the US did and build one on the fly – wiping out a few institutions and then using an expanded EFSF/Eurobond structure to prevent systemic collapse. But politically that is increasingly feeling like a long shot. Rather it looks like we will get 17 TARPs – one for each country. That is going to require a US style socialization of each banking system – with many WAMUs, Wachovias, AIGs and IndyMacs along the way.

The road map for Europe is still 2008 in the US, with the end game a country by country socialization of their commercial banks. The fact is that the Germans are NOT going to pay for pan European structure to recap French and Italian banks – even though it is probably a more cost effective solution for both the German banks and taxpayers….Expect a massive policy response in Europe and a move towards financial market nationlaization that will make the US experience look like a walk in the park. ” Must read for anyone who wants a glimpse of the endgame. Oh, good luck China. You’ll need it.

Full Report:

In most ways the excess borrowing by, and lending to, European sovereign nations was no different than it was to US subprime households. In both cases loans were made to folks that never had the means to pay them back. And these loans were made in the first place because regulatory arbitrage allowed stealth leverage of the lending on the balance sheets of financial institutions for many years. This levered lending generated short term spikes in both bank profits and most importantly executive compensation – however, the days of excess spread collection and big commercial bank bonuses are now long gone.

We are only left with the long term social costs associated with this malevolent behavior. While there are obvious similarities in the two debtors, there is one VERY important difference – that is concentration. What do I mean by that? Well specifically, there are only a handful of insolvent sovereign European borrowers, while there are millions of bankrupt subprime households. This has been THE key factor in understanding how the differing policy responses to the two debt crisis have evolved.

In the case of US mortgage borrowers, there was no easy way to construct a government bailout for millions of individual households – there was too much dispersion and heterogeneity. Instead the defaults ran quickly through the system in 2008 – forcing insolvency, deleveraging and eventually a systemic shutdown of the financial system. As the regulators FINALLY woke up to the gravity of the situation in October, they reacted with a wholesale socialization of the commercial banking system – TLGP wrapped bank debt and TARP injected equity capital. From then on it has been a long hard road to recovery, and the scars from this excessive lending are still firmly entrenched in both household and banking sector balance sheets.

Even three years later, we are trying to construct some form of household debt service burden relief (ie refi.gov) in order to find a way to put the economy on a sustainable track to recovery. And of course Dodd-Frank and the FHFA are trying to make sure the money center commercial banks both pay for their past sins and are never allowed to sin this way again! More on that below, but first let’s contrast this with the European debt crisis evolution.

Read the rest of this entry »