The EU banking system is in big trouble. That’s why European Central Bank (ECB) head Jean-Claude Trichet continues to purchase government bonds and provide "unlimited funds" for underwater banks. It’s an effort to prevent a financial system meltdown that could wipe out bondholders and plunge the economy back into recession.
"We have the best track record on price stability over 11 1/2 years in Europe and among the legacy currencies,” Trichet recently boasted. “What we have done and what we do with the same purpose is to help restore an appropriate functioning of the monetary-policy transmission mechanism.”
Nonsense. EU banks and other financial institutions are presently holding more than 2 trillion euros of public and private debt from Greece, Spain and Portugal. All three countries are in deep distress and face sharp downgrades on their sovereign debt. The potential losses put large parts of the EU banking system at risk. Trichet knows this, which is why he continues to support the teetering system with "unlimited funds". It has nothing to do with restoring the "functioning of the monetary-policy transmission mechanism". That’s deliberately misleading. It is a straightforward bailout of the banks.
Imagine that you are deeply in debt, but the bank offers to lend you as much money as you need to keep you from bankruptcy. To help maintain appearances, the bank agrees to accept the worthless junk you’ve collected in your attic in exchange for multi-million dollar loans. Does the bank’s participation in this charade mean that you are not really broke after all? Does it increase the value of the garbage collateral you’ve exchanged for cash?
The ECB is providing billions of euros per week to maintain the illusion that the market is wrong about the true value of the bonds. But the market is not wrong, the ECB is wrong. The value of Greek bonds (for example) has dropped precipitously. They are worth less, which means the banks need to take a haircut and write down the losses. More liquidity merely hides the problem.
This is from Reuters:
"Despite the open-arms approach, outstanding ECB lending has fallen more than a third since the start of July to 592 billion euros…. Liquidity remains abundant though. Over 120 billion euros was deposited back at the ECB overnight, the latest figures show."
Seven of Europe’s 91 largest banks would struggle to survive an unexpected decline in economic growth or a sharp deterioration in the value of European government bonds, and will need to raise more capital, regulators said Friday in releasing results of closely watched bank stress tests.
Banks to flunk were Hypo Real Estate, a bank based in Munich that is already government-owned after a bailout, ATEBank of Greece and five Spanish savings banks.
Several other banks passed the test, but narrowly enough that they may also face market pressure to increase their reserves. That group included Postbank, one of Germany’s biggest publicly traded banks, which is 25 percent owned by Deutsche Bank.
Like our own stress tests last year, European regulators came up with a few different scenarios, one of which was supposed to mirror sovereign default. The problem being it doesn’t exactly do that.
In the last scenario, banks will publish their estimated losses on sovereign debt held in their trading book as well as “additional impairment losses on the banking book” that they may suffer after a sovereign debt crisis, according to the document dated July 15.
Under accounting rules, banks have to adjust the value of sovereign bonds held in the trading book according to changes in market prices, said Konrad Becker, a financial analyst at Merck Finck & Co. in Munich. For government debt held in the banking book, lenders must write down their value only if there is serious doubt about a state’s ability to repay its debt in full or make interest payments, he said.
The sovereign-shock scenario doesn’t assume a European nation will default, said a person with knowledge of the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information is private. Instead, it will assume that rising government-bond yields will push up borrowing costs, spurring defaults in the private sector that would lead to losses in lenders’ banking books, said the person.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard already called the tests toothless over at the Telegraph. I say that’s being kind.
Again, when we did the whole stress test thing last year the numbers were strange and scenarios incredibly optimistic. Since Treasury had to act sketchy about what they were up to,…
European banks need to roll over €1 trillion (£877bn) of debt over the next two years at a much higher cost and in direct competition with hungry sovereign states, according to a report by Morgan Stanley.
The bank has advised clients to prepare for chillier times as monetary tightening begins in the US and China, causing major spill-over effects in Europe.
Roughly €560bn of EU bank debt matures in 2010 and €540bn in 2011. The banks will have to roll over loans at a time when unprecedented bond issuance by governments worldwide risks saturating the debt markets. European states alone must raise €1.6 trillion this year.
While markets partially bounced back from the shock lows of the London morning, Citi's Matt King is not convinced this is appropriate.
A rising tide of populism - The most obvious concern is that the vote fuels secessionist and protectionist tendencies outside the UK. This indeed seems quite likely – if nevertheless the sort of tail risk markets find it hard to price in advance.
Beware the message from rates - More troubling and imminent is the rally in rates. This looks to us the most durable of today’s moves. Now that it is inflation brea...
By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.
In this discussion, students from the University of Nebraska got to ask Bill Gates and Warren Buffett questions of their choosing. The questions vary widely and can be found below. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are two of the richest people in the world and their answers and advice are invaluable to anyone looking for success.
Date: September 2005
Location: University of Nebraska
We continue to receive requests for updates to the "Best Stock Market Indicator", which used to be a regular guest post from John Carlucci. Here is an update of the "Carlucci" indicator along with a summary of John's explanation on how he uses it.
As John described it: "The $OEXA200R (the percentage of S&P 100 stocks above their 200 DMA) is a technical indicator available on StockCharts.com used to find the "sweet spot" time period in the market when you have the best chance of making money."
I have mixed feelings about Brexit today. Clearly the European institution need reforming. The addition of so many countries in the last 20 years has created a top heavy administration. The Euro adds more complexities to the equation as the ECB policies cannot fit every country's problem. On the other hand, a unified Europe has advantages as well – some countries have benefited from the integration.
For Britain, it's hard to say what the final price will be. My guess is that Scotland might now vote for independence as they supported staying in Europe overwhelmingly. Northern Ireland might be tempted to leave as well so possibly RIP UK in the long run. I was talking to some French people and they were saying that now there might be no incentive for France to stop immigrants from crossing over to the UK like they do now and simply allow for travel there and let the UK deal with them. The end game is not clear to anyone at the moment....
One week ago, when bitcoin first crossed above $700 on the seemingly insatiable Chinese buying which we forecast last September (when bitcoin was trading at $230) would take place as a result of China's capital controls (to much pushback by the "mainstream" financial media), we tried to predict what may happen next. We said that "it could go much higher. That said, anyone who bought last September when the digital currency was trading at $230 may be advised to take some profits, and at least make...
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After a three-year bull run that more than quadrupled its value by its peak last July, IBD’s Medical-Biomed/Biotech Industry Group plunged 50% by early February, hurt by backlashes against high drug prices and mergers that seek to lower corporate taxes.
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Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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