by ilene - December 7th, 2010 1:48 pm
Courtesy of John Mauldin, Outside the Box
I am back from the Forbes cruise to Mexico and starting to deal with a thousand things, but first on the list is making sure you get this week’s Outside the Box. And a good one it is. In fact, it is two short pieces coming to us from friends based in London over the pond.
Both of them have to deal with the unfolding crisis that is Europe, which is going to unfold for several years as they lurch from solution to solution. The first is from Dylan Grice of Societe Generale and reminds us why we should put no stock in what leaders say about a crisis. He has lined up the statements of leaders from one crisis after another. He finds a simple, repeating pattern. And shows where we are now.
The second is from hedge fund manager Omar Sayed, who I met last time I was sin London. A very bright chap and good guy. He offers us very succinctly four paths that Europe can take. Some of them are not pretty. It all makes for a very interesting OTB. I trust your week will go well.
Your over-dosed on guacamole (and it was worth it) analyst,
John Mauldin, Editor
Outside the Box
Flashback to Crises Past: Three Stages of Delusion
By Dylan Grice
The recent sequence of reassurances from various eurozone policymakers suggests we are in the early, not latter, stages of the euro crisis. Only an Anglo-Saxon style QE will prevent dissolution of the euro. Such a radically un-German solution will only be taken with a full acceptance of how serious the euro’s problems are. But denial persists.
The dawning of reality hurts. Prodded and bullied along a tortuous emotional path by events unforeseen and beyond our control, we descend through three phases: the first is denial that there is a problem; the second is denial that there is a big problem; the third is denial that the problem was anything to do with us.
US policymakers’ three steps during the housing crash fit the template well. Asked in 2005 about the danger posed to the economy by the housing bubble, Bernanke responded: “I guess I don’t buy your premise. It’s a pretty unlikely possibility. We’ve never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis.” Here was the…
by ilene - November 17th, 2010 2:43 pm
Courtesy of Gonzalo Lira
The sky is black with PIIGS coming home to roost: I was going to write my customary long and boring think piece—but the simmering crisis in the Eurozone just got the heat turned up: Things are boiling over there!
|“Euro Dead” by Ryca.|
So let’s take a break from our regularly scheduled programming, and give you a run-down of this late-breaking news:
The bond markets have no faith in Ireland—Greece has been shown up as having liedagain about its atrocious fiscal situation—and now Portugal is teetering—
—in other words, the PIIGS are screwed. I would venture to guess that we are about to see this slow-boiling European crisis bubble over into a full blown meltdown over the next few days—and it’s going to get messy.
So to keep everything straight, let’s recap:
The spreads on Irish sovereign debt widened, and the Germans are pressing them to accept a bailout—despite the fact that the Irish government is fully funded until the middle of 2011. But it’s not the Irish fiscal situation that the bond markets or the Germans are worried about—it’s the Irish banking sector that is freaking everyone out.
After all, the Irish government fully—and very foolishly—backed the insolvent Irish banks back in 2008. And for unexplained reasons, the Irish government is committed to honoring Irish bank bonds fully—which the country simply cannot afford. However, German banks are heavily exposed to Irish banks, which explains why Berlin is so eager to have Ireland accept a bailout.
Right now, European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank officials are meeting with Irish representatives, putting together a bail-out package. The reason the Irish are so leery, of course, is that any bail-out would be accompanied by very severe austerity measures: In other words, the Irish people would suffer the consequences of shoring up the Irish banks—which is the same as saying the Irish people would suffer austerity measures in order to keep German banks from suffering losses. Also, the EU/IMF/ECB bail-out would probably also cost the Irish their precious 12.5% corporate tax rate—a key magnet for bringing capital to the Emerald Isle.
Add to the Irish worry, Greece is once again wearing a bright red conical dunce cap: They’ve been shown up to have lied again about their fiscal situation. Three guesses what they lied about: If you guessed Greek deficit, you win—yesterday, the Greek government officially revised…
by ilene - November 13th, 2010 1:02 pm
Tidal forces are pulling the European Union apart. On one end, European governments have taken on debt and liabilities—both public and private—which they cannot possibly meet, rendering many of the smaller European states insolvent. On the other end, Europe is unwilling to carry out sovereign default and restructuring of debt of any one of its member nations. So as Europe gets closer and closer to the Global Depression, we are seeing as these two opposing forces—insurmountable debt vs. unwillingness to default and restructure—pull the continent apart as surely and relentlessly as tidal forces. — Gonzalo Lira
Courtesy of Gonzalo Lira
In July of 1994, a comet named Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter—it was quite a sight.
According to astronomers, Shoemaker-Levy was a comet that was captured by Jupiter’s gravity twenty or thirty years before it was discovered. As the comet circled Jupiter, at one point it passed the Roche limit—the line around a large mass where its gravity will rip apart a smaller mass by way of tidal forces.
after Jupiter’s tidal forces
ripped it apart.
By the time Shoemaker-Levy crashed into Jupiter, tidal forces had had their way with the comet. As the picture shows, it was no longer a single comet—it was a string of small lumps of rock and ice
Tidal forces are pulling the European Union apart.
On one end, European governments have taken on debt and liabilities—both public and private—which they cannot possibly meet. These debts and liabilities are near-term enough that there is only one way to characterize many of the smaller European states: They are insolvent.
On the other end, Europe is unwilling to carry out sovereign default of any one of its member nations. Indeed, there is a sense that—constant drumbeat of the Germans aside—Brussels is unwilling to evencontemplate the very notion of sovereign default and debt restructuring. Brussels and the European Central Bank believes in bailouts, not default, because they believe that the entire European project rests on the non-default status of all the EU members. They believe that all EU debt is backed by the entire EU, no matter how irresponsible the EU country that issued the EU debt.
IMF Eliminates Borrowing Cap On Rescue Facility In Anticipation Of Europe Crisis 2.0; US Prepares To Print Fresh Trillions In “Rescue” Linen
by ilene - August 30th, 2010 11:28 pm
IMF Eliminates Borrowing Cap On Rescue Facility In Anticipation Of Europe Crisis 2.0; US Prepares To Print Fresh Trillions In "Rescue" Linen
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
Back in April, when we discussed the inception of the IMF’s then brand new New Arrangement to Borrow (NAB) $500 billion credit facility, we asked rhetorically, "If the IMF believes that over half a trillion in short-term funding is needed imminently, is all hell about to break loose." A month later the question was answered, as Greece lay smoldering in the ashes of insolvency, and the developed world was on the hook for almost a trillion bucks to make sure the tattered eurozone remained in one piece (leading to such grotesque abortions as Ireland, whose cost of debt is approaching 6%, funding Greek debt at 5%).
Well, if that was the proverbial canary in the coalmine, today the entire flock just keeled over and died: today the IMF announced it "expanded and enhanced its lending tools to help contain the occurrence of financial crises." As a result, the IMF has as of today extended the duration of its existing Flexible Credit Line (FCL) to two years, concurrently removing the borrowing cap on this facility, which previously stood at 1000 percent of a member’s IMF quota, in essence making the FCL a limitless credit facility, to be used to rescue whomever, at the sole discretion of the IMF’s overlords. Additionally, as the FCL has some make believe acceptance criteria (and with countries such as Poland, Columbia, and Mexico having had access to it, these must certainly be sky high), the IMF is introducing a brand new credit facility, the Precautionary Credit Line (PCL), which will be geared for members with "sound policies [which just happen to need an unlimited source of rescue funding] who nevertheless may not meet the FCL’s high qualification requirements." In other words everyone. In yet other words, the IMF as of today, has a limitless facility to bail out anyone in the world, without a maximum bound in how much is lendable. One wonders who would be stupid enough to take advantage of the gullibility of IMF’s biggest backers (the US), to borrow an infinite amount of money for any reason whatsoever… And just what all this means for the imminent explosion of the amount of money in circulation…Not to mention the brand new Ben Bernanke smokescreen of…
by ilene - July 29th, 2010 12:51 pm
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
The Rally Is Ending
July 29, 2010
By John R. Taylor, Jr., Chief Investment Officer
For FX Concepts, this is a big day and a very scary one as well. Because our market view is now very precise, but at odds with the accepted wisdom, we are putting ourselves out on a limb. The euro is going to be hit again and commodity currencies will come under increasing pressure. Our cyclical analysis argues that the currency markets are making a major reversal right now, today, and that this will be at least a medium term reversal in equities and credit as well. Although it is more likely that the equity and credit markets will not begin their major decline until the last week of August, the odds favor an unimpressive month ahead which means that we are at the end of the exciting part of the rally of the past two months. By the end of next month, equities will be headed lower, credit spreads will widen sharply, and government bonds will begin a rally to new all time highs. Our completely technical cyclical work implies that there will be a return to dark times in September and October, with a sharp decline driven by liquidity and solvency issues likely to set the world back on a recessionary course.
Although the cyclical picture gets more uncertain the farther out we go, we believe that there will be a major cyclical low in risk during January and another one, possibly more aggressive in the third quarter of 2011.
Using this cyclical analysis as our base, we can work backward to generate a set of fundamental conditions that would allow a cyclical picture like this to occur. If the S&P 500 is going to challenge its March 2009 lows in the next year, and interest rates are going to drop sharply while credit spreads widen dramatically, what would the US economy have to do and what would the world look like? Clearly the widespread conviction that the 2008 recession is in the rear view mirror and that growth will slowly improve in the years ahead is wrong. All the forecasts of the G-20 governments are completely off base, which means that the politicians are not prepared for another downturn. We wonder what the downturn will…
by ilene - June 30th, 2010 4:05 am
Courtesy of Mish
For just under a year, the ECB has offered €442 billion to encourage lending. Instead, and easily predictable, the program did not increase lending and did nothing more than allow weak banks to roll over debts.
The program is now ending and Spanish banks are screaming about the ECB’s "obligation to supply liquidity".
The Wall Street Journal has part of the story in ECB Walks a Fine Line Siphoning Off Its Liquidity.
The European Central Bank is scrambling to reassure markets that Thursday’s expiration of a €442 billion ($547.46 billion) bank-lending program won’t destabilize the financial system, even as banks across the region remain wary of lending to one another.
The ECB introduced the 12-month lending facility last summer to encourage private-sector lending and ensure adequate liquidity within the 16-member currency bloc. Since then, the program, which represents more than half the ECB’s liquidity operations, has become a lifeline to banks in Greece, Spain and other countries hit by the region’s debt crisis.
The cost of borrowing euros in the interbank market rose to an eight-month high Monday, as banks prepared for the one-year loan’s expiration. The euro slid on worries that repayment will expose Europe’s financial system to new threats. Yields on German bunds, seen as a haven, fell.
Some investors worry that vulnerable euro-area banks, unable to borrow in the interbank market, could have difficulty replacing that funding, despite repeated assurances from the ECB that it will provide funds on similar terms, albeit for only three months, beginning Wednesday.
"We are confident that this very large financial transaction can take place without disruptions," ECB governing council member Ewald Nowotny said Friday.
Spanish Banks Whine About the "Obligation" to Supply Liquidity
The Financial Time reports Spanish banks rage at end of ECB offer.
Spanish banks have been lobbying the European Central Bank to act to ease the systemic fallout from the expiry of a €442bn ($542bn) funding programme this week, accusing the central bank of “absurd” behaviour in not renewing the scheme.
One senior bank executive said: “Any central bank has to have the obligation to supply liquidity. But this is not the policy of the ECB. We are fighting them every day on this. It’s absurd.”
Another top director said: “The ECB’s policy is that they
by ilene - June 20th, 2010 2:25 am
Excellent interview by Guns & Butter with Dr. Michael Hudson on Europe’s Financial Class War Against Labor, Industry and Government. - Ilene
Interview with Dr. Michael Hudson
"Europe’s Financial Class War Against Labor, Industry and Government" with Dr. Michael Hudson. Economic crisis in Europe created by predatory lending; European Central Bank stranglehold on the Eurozone; the Euro; foreign banks decimate Greece’s social structure; Marx’s industrial capital versus fictitious capital; Latvia as a model for the rest of Europe; Hudson’s financial and fiscal plan for Latvia; the Cold War and its ruinous effect on progressive economic thought. Guns & Butter.
The ECB Blasts Governmental Fear-Based Racketeering, Questions Keynesianism, Believes The Fed’s Powers Are Overestimated
by ilene - May 29th, 2010 4:58 pm
The ECB Blasts Governmental Fear-Based Racketeering, Questions Keynesianism, Believes The Fed’s Powers Are Overestimated
Courtesy of Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge
In what could one day be seen by historians as a seminal speech presented before the Paul Volcker-chaired Group of Thirty’s 63rd Plenary Session in Rabat, the ECB’s Lorenzo Bini Smaghi had two messages: a prosaic, and very much expected one: of unity and cohesion, if at least in perception if not in deed, as well as an extremely unexpected one, in which the first notable discords at the very peak of the power echelons, are finally starting to leak into the public domain. It is in the latter part that Bini Smaghi takes on a very aggressive stance against not only the so-called "inflation tax", or the purported ability of central bankers to inflate their way out of any problem, but also slams the recently prevalent phenomenon of fear-mongering by the banking and political elite, which has become the goto strategy over the past two years whenever the banking class has needed to pass a policy over popular discontent. The ECB member takes a direct stab at the Fed’s perceived monetary policy inflexibility and US fiscal imprudence, and implicitly observes that while the market is focusing on Europe due to its monetary policy quandary, it should be far more obsessed with the US. Bini Smaghi also fires a warning shot that ongoing divergence between the ECB and Germany will not be tolerated. Most notably, a member of a central bank makes it very clear that he is no longer a devout believer in that fundamental, and false, central banking religion – Keynesianism.
First, a quick read through the "prosaic" sections of Bini Smaghi’s letter.
Bini Smaghi, who is a member of the executive board of the ECB, has a primary obligation to defend the ECB’s public image in this time of weakness and complete lack of credibility. And so he does. When discussing the ECB’s response to the Greek fiasco and contagion, he is steadfast that the response, although delayed and volatile, was the right one. Furthermore, he claims that the hard path Europe has set on is the right one, as it will ultimately right all the fiscal wrongs, even without the benefit of individual monetary intervention. Ultimately, the ECB is convinced that not letting Greece fail, either in the…
by ilene - May 29th, 2010 1:20 pm
Credit market turmoil in the Eurozone has ignited frenzied trading on global markets. On Tuesday, shares tumbled nearly 300 points on the Dow Jones before launching an unconvincing 257-point late-day comeback. Wednesday the mayhem continued; all the major indexes seesawed wildly as positive news on durable goods was nixed by reports on wobbly EU banks. Erratic selling pushed the S&P down to 1,067 while the Dow slipped below 10,000 for the first time since February 7. The rise in Libor (the London Interbank Offered Rate) is increasing volatility, a red flag indicating trouble in interbank lending. Banks are wary of each other’s collateral as Greece and other underwater Club Med members appear to be headed for debt-restructuring. Libor is not yet at pre-Lehman levels, but the rate that banks charge each other for short-term loans has rocketed to a 10-month high. Improving economic data have not eased fears of another meltdown or removed the rot at the heart of the system. The banks are still loaded with loans and assets that are losing value. The credit system is breaking down.
When banks post collateral overnight for short-term loans, the collateral is effectively downgraded, limiting the banks’ access to capital. This is what triggered the financial crisis two years ago, a run on repo. Regulated "depository" institutions now rely on a funding system that operates beyond government oversight, a shadow banking system. The banks exchange collateral, in the form of bundled securities and bonds with institutional investors (aka—"shadow banks"; investment banks, hedge funds, insurers) via repurchase agreements (repo) for short-term loans. The repo market now rivals the traditional banking system in terms of size but lacks the guard rails and stop signs that make the regulated system safe. The system is inherently unstable and crisis-prone as a recently released paper by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) admits. Moody’s rating agency summarized the paper’s findings like this: the tri-party repo market “will remain a major source of systemic risk, especially given the current market volatility and the fact that the Federal Reserve’s primary dealer emergency lending facilities are no longer in place…… the market remains structurally vulnerable to a repo run…… If cash investors pulled away in a stressed environment, the clearing banks would be faced with a choice (as they were several times in 2008)…
by ilene - May 20th, 2010 8:02 pm
Europe remains in chaos, after another day of heavy losses. What was once a crisis of the PIIGS is now felt by Germany and France as both come to grips with the meltdown in the eurozone.
Tomorrow, Germany votes to approve or deny the bailout of Greece. On that vote could hinge the future of the eurozone. It is likely it will pass.
But other problems remain. The risk of contagion from the continent’s debt crisis could soon cripple inter-bank lending, if it hasn’t already.
After announcing a bailout weeks ago, tomorrow is follow through day for the eurozone. Will they need to burn the midnight oil in Brussels yet again on Sunday?