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.
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
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.
America's #1 landlord may be private equity giant Blackstone, but closing in rapidly is none other than America's very own arch nemesis and ascendent superpower, China. But while until recently China's grand ambitions on US multi-family housing had largely flown under the radar, the recent sale of the Waldorf Astoria to a Chinese company has finally put the US on "China is coming" alert... and reincarnated a lot of the same jokes that swept the country by storm in the mid-80s when it appeared Japan, itself nursing a massive asset bubble, would run over Manhattan (everyone knows how that ended).
Sellers were going to make an appearance at some point and today was the day they paid a visit. Whether a larger pullback emerges will depend on events over the coming days, but today's selling did emerge at some natural attack points for shorts.
The S&P finished with a 'bearish cloud cover,' but it did manage to hold declining resistance turned support, and the 20-day MA has entered the fray as an area for bears to work. But this wasn't the most bearish of the indices, and today's finish actually gives bulls a long play tomorrow (for a bounce off support). Technicals also suggest a bounce.
While the S&P may give bulls something tomorrow, th...
There is lots of action in Southwest Airlines Co. November expiry call options today ahead of the air carrier’s third-quarter earnings report prior to the opening bell on Thursday. Among the large block trades initiated throughout the trading session, there appears to be at least one options market participant establishing a call spread in far out of the money options. It looks like the trader purchased a 4,000-lot Nov 37/39 call spread at a net premium of $0.40 apiece. The trade makes money if shares in Southwest rally 9.0% over the current price of $34.32 to exceed the effective breakeven point at $37.40, with maximum potential profits of $1.60 per contract available in the event that shares jump more than 13% to $39.00 by expiration. In September, the stock tou...
When forecasting investment returns, many individuals make the mistake of simply extrapolating recent returns into the future. Bull markets lead investors to expect higher future returns, and bear markets lead them to expected lower future returns. But the price you pay for an asset also has a great impact on future returns. Consider the following evidence:
The average historical P/E ratio for the market has been around 15. A study covering the period from 1926 through the second quarter of 1999 found that an investor buying stocks when the market traded at P/E ratios of between 14 and 16 e...
Last week brought even more stock market weakness and volatility as the selloff became self-perpetuating, with nobody mid-day on Wednesday wanting to be the last guy left holding equities. Hedge funds and other weak holders exacerbated the situation. But the extreme volatility and panic selling finally led some bulls (along with many corporate insiders) to summon a little backbone and buy into weakness, and the market finished the week on a high note, with continued momentum likely into the first part of this week.
Despite concerns about global economic growth and a persistent lack of inflation, especially given all the global quantitative easing, fundamentals for U.S. stocks still look good, and I believe this overdue correction ultimately will shape up to be a great buying opportunity -- i.e., th...
Now that bitcoin has subsided from speculative bubble to functioning currency (see the price chart below), it’s safe for non-speculators to explore the whole “cryptocurrency” thing. So…is bitcoin or one of its growing list of competitors a useful addition to the average person’s array of bank accounts and credit cards — or is it a replacement for most of those things? And how does one make this transition?
With his usual excellent timing, London-based financial writer/actor/stand-up comic Dominic Frisby has just released Bitcoin: The Future of Money? in which he explains all this in terms most readers will have no tr...
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What do falling energy prices mean for the US consumer? Sober Look writes a brief yet thorough overview of the consequences of the correction in the price of crude oil. There are good aspects, particularly for the consumer, bad aspects, and out-right ugly possibilities. For more on this subject, read James Hamilton's How will Saudi Arabia respond to lower oil prices? In previous eras, Saudi Arabia would tighten the supply to help increase prices, but in this "game of chicken," the rules m...
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Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely. From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so desired....buy a small amount.
First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices. Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment. Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer. For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...
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