If you have a bank account anywhere in Europe, you need to read this article. On January 1st, 2016, a new bail-in system will go into effect for all European banks. This new system is based on the Cyprus bank bail-ins that we witnessed a few years ago. If you will remember, money was grabbed from anyone that had more than 100,000 euros in their bank accounts in order to bail out the banks. Now the exact same principles that were used in Cyprus are going to apply to all of Europe. And with the entire global financial system teetering on the brink of chaos, that is not good news for those that have large amounts of money stashed in shaky European banks.
Below, I have shared part of an announcement about this new bail-in system that comes directly from the official website of the European Parliament. I want you to notice that they explicitly say that “unsecured depositors would be affected last”. What they really mean is that any time a bank in Europe fails, they are going to come after private bank accounts once the shareholders and bond holders have been wiped out. So if you have more than 100,000 euros in a European bank right now, you are potentially on the hook when that bank goes under…
The directive establishes a bail-in system which will ensure that taxpayers will be last in the line to the pay the bills of a struggling bank. In a bail-in, creditors, according to a pre-defined hierarchy, forfeit some or all of their holdings to keep the bank alive. The bail-in system will apply from 1 January 2016.
The bail-in tool set out in the directive would require shareholders and bond holders to take the first big hits. Unsecured depositors (over €100,000) would be affected last, in many cases even after the bank-financed resolution fund and the national deposit guarantee fund in the country where it is located have stepped in to help stabilise the bank. Smaller depositors would in any case be explicitly excluded from any bail-in.
And as we have seen in the past, these rules can change overnight in the midst of a major crisis.
So they may be promising that those with under 100,000 euros will be safe right now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be true.
It is also important to note that there has been a really big hurry to get all of this in place by January 1. In fact, at the end of October the European Commission actually sued six nations that had not yet passed legislation adopting the new bail-in rules…
The European Commission is taking legal action against member states including the Netherlands and Luxembourg, after they failed to implement rules protecting European taxpayers from funding billions in bank rescues.
Six countries will be referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for their continued failure to transpose the EU’s “bail-in” laws into national legislation, the European Commission said on Thursday.
So why was the European Commission in such a rush?
Is there some particular reason why January 1 is so important?
This is something that I will be watching.
Meanwhile, there have been major changes in the U.S. as well. The Federal Reserve recently adopted a new rule that limits what it can do to bail out the “too big to fail” banks. The following comes from CNN…
The Federal Reserve is cutting its lifeline to big banks in financial trouble.
The Fed officially adopted a new rule Monday that limits its ability to lend emergency money to banks.
In theory, the new rule should quash the notion that Wall Street banks are “too big to fail.”
If this new rule had been in effect during the last financial crisis, the Federal Reserve would not have been able to bail out AIG or Bear Stearns. As a result, the final outcome of the last crisis may have been far different. Here is more from CNN…
Under the new rule, banks that are going bankrupt — or appear to be going bankrupt — can no longer receive emergency funds from the Fed under any circumstances.
If the rule had been in place during the financial crisis, it would have prevented the Fed from lending to insurance giant AIG (AIG) and Bear Stearns, Fed chair Janet Yellen points out.
So if the Federal Reserve does not bail out these big financial institutions during the next crisis, what is going to happen?
Will we see European-style “bail-ins” when large banks start failing?
And exactly what would such a “bail-in” look like?
Essentially, what happens is that wealth is transferred from the “stakeholders” in the bank to the bank itself in order to keep it solvent. That means that creditors and shareholders could potentially lose everything if a major bank in Europe fails. And if their “contributions” are not enough to save the bank, those holding private bank accounts will have to take “haircuts” just like we saw in Cyprus. In fact, the travesty that we witnessed in Cyprus is being used as a “template” for much of the new legislation that is being enacted all over Europe.
Many Americans assume that when they put money in the bank that they have a right to go back and get “their money” whenever they want. But if we all went to the bank at the same time, there wouldn’t be nearly enough money for all of us. The reason for this is that the banks only keep a small fraction of our money on hand to satisfy the demands of those that conduct withdrawals on a day to day basis. The banks take the rest of the money that we have deposited and use it however they think is best.
If you have money at a bank that goes under, that bank will still be obligated to pay you back, but it may not be able to do so. This is where the FDIC comes in. The FDIC supposedly guarantees the safety of deposits in member banks, but at any given time it only has a very, very small amount of money on hand.
If some major crisis comes along that causes banks all over the United States to start falling like dominoes, the FDIC will be in panic mode. During such a scenario, the FDIC would be forced to ask Congress for a massive amount of money, and since we already run a giant deficit every year the government would have to borrow whatever funds would be required.
Personally, I find it very interesting that we have seen major rule changes in Europe and at the Federal Reserve just as we are entering a new global financial crisis.
Do they know something that the rest of us do not?
Be very careful with your money, because I am convinced that “bank bail-ins” will soon be making front page headlines all over the world.
As we move toward the second half of 2015, signs of financial turmoil are appearing all over the globe. In Greece, a full blown bank run is happening right now. Approximately 2 billion euros were pulled out of Greek banks in just the past three days, Barclays says that capital controls are “imminent” unless a debt deal is struck, and there are reports that preparations are being made for a “bank holiday” in Greece. Meanwhile, Chinese stocks are absolutely crashing. The Shanghai Composite Index was down more than 13 percent this week alone. That was the largest one week decline since the collapse of Lehman Brothers. In the U.S., stocks aren’t crashing yet, but we just witnessed one of the largest one week outflows of capital from the bond markets that we have ever witnessed. Slowly but surely, we are starting to see the smart money head for the exits. As one Swedish fund manager put it recently, everyone wants “to avoid being caught on the wrong side of markets once the herd realizes stocks are over-valued“.
I don’t think that most people understand how serious things have gotten already. In Greece, so much money has been pulled out of the banks that the European Central Bank admits that Greek banks may not be able to open on Monday…
The European Central Bank told a meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Thursday that it was not sure if Greek banks, which have been suffering large daily deposit outflows, would be able to open on Monday, officials with knowledge of the talks said.
Greek savers have withdrawn about 2 billion euros from banks over the past three days, with outflows accelerating rapidly since talks between the government and its creditors collapsed at the weekend, banking sources told Reuters.
All over social media, people are sharing photos of long lines at Greek ATMs as ordinary citizens rush to get their cash out of the troubled banks. Here is one example…
And if there is no debt deal by the end of this month, the Greek debt crisis is going to totally spin out of control and financial chaos will begin to erupt all over Europe. But instead of trying to be reasonable, EU president Donald Tusk “has delivered an ultimatum to Greece”, and it almost appears as if EU officials are more concerned about winning a power struggle than they are about averting financial catastrophe…
EU president Donald Tusk has delivered an ultimatum to Greece, claiming the country must ‘accept an offer or default’ at an emergency summit set for Monday – in a last-ditch effort to stop the debt-stricken nation crashing out of the euro.
‘We are close to the point where the Greek government will have to choose between accepting what I believe is a good offer of continued support or to head towards default,’ Mr Tusk said today.
His comments come as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras warned that his country’s exit from the eurozone would trigger the collapse of the single currency.
‘The famous Grexit cannot be an option either for the Greeks or the European Union,’ he said in an Austrian newspaper interview.
‘This would be an irreversible step, it would be the beginning of the end of the eurozone.’
While all of this has been going on, the obscene stock market bubble in China has started to implode. Just check out the following numbers from Zero Hedge…
As the carnage began last night in China we noted the extreme levels of volatility the major indices had experienced in recent weeks. By the close, things were ugly with the broad Shanghai Composite down a stunning 13.3% on the week – the most since Lehman in 2008 (with Shenzhen slightly better at down 12.8% and CHINEXT down a record-breaking 14.99%).
Under normal circumstances, numbers like these would be reason for a full-blown financial panic over in Asia. But these are not normal times. Even with these losses, stock prices in China are still massively overinflated. For example, USA Today is reporting that the median stock over in China is “trading at 95 times earnings”…
Margin debt in China has soared to a record $363 billion, according to Bloomberg, and the median stock in mainland China is now trading at 95 times earnings, which even tops the price-to-earnings multiple of 68 back at the 2007 peak.
That is absolutely ridiculous. When a stock is trading at 25 or 30 times earnings it is overpriced. So these numbers that are coming out of China are beyond crazy, and what this means is that Chinese stocks have much, much farther to fall before they get back to any semblance of reality.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. money is flowing out of bonds at a staggering pace. The following quote originally comes from Bank of America…
“High grade credit funds suffered their biggest outflow this year, and double the previous week (and also the biggest since June 2013). High yield outflows also jumped to $1.1bn, the biggest since the start of the year. However, government bond funds suffered the most amid the recent spike in volatility, with outflows surging to the highest weekly number on record ($2.7bn). This brings the total outflow from fixed income funds to almost $6bn over the last week, the highest since the Taper Tantrum and the third highest outflow ever.”
Yesterday during an interview on MSNBC, presidential candidate Donald Trump said he has some big names in mind for the Treasury secretary if he wins the White House. “I’d like guys like Jack Welch. I like guys like Henry Kravis. I’d love to bring my friend Carl Icahn.” He also opined on the economy and the stock market, admitting that the Fed has benefited people like him but that the economy and is in a “big fat economic and financial bubble like you’ve never seen before.“
Ron Paul also believes that this financial bubble is going to end very badly. Just check out what he told CNBC earlier this week…
Despite record highs in the market, former Rep. Ron Paul says the Fed’s easy money policies have left stocks and bonds are on the verge of a massive collapse.
“I am utterly amazed at how the Federal Reserve can play havoc with the market,” Paul said on CNBC’s “Futures Now” referring to Thursday’s surge in stocks. The S&P 500 closed less than 1 percent off its all-time high. “I look at it as being very unstable.”
In Paul’s eyes, “the fallacy of economic planning” has created such a “horrendous bubble” in the bond market that it’s only a matter of time before the bottom falls out. And when it does, it will lead to “stock market chaos.”
Yes, this financial bubble has persisted far longer than many believed possible, but all irrational bubbles eventually burst.
And you know what they say – the bigger they come the harder they fall.
When this gigantic financial bubble finally implodes, it is going to be absolutely horrifying, and the entire planet is going to be shocked by the carnage.
Are we on the verge of an unprecedented global currency crisis? On Tuesday, the euro briefly fell below $1.07 for the first time in almost a dozen years. And the U.S. dollar continues to surge against almost every other major global currency. The U.S. dollar index has now risen an astounding 23 percent in just the last eight months. That is the fastest pace that the U.S. dollar has risen since 1981. You might be tempted to think that a stronger U.S. dollar is good news, but it isn’t. A strong U.S. dollar hurts U.S. exports, thus harming our economy. In addition, a weak U.S. dollar has fueled tremendous expansion in emerging markets around the planet over the past decade or so. When the dollar becomes a lot stronger, it becomes much more difficult for those countries to borrow more money and repay old debts. In other words, the emerging market “boom” is about to become a bust. Not only that, it is important to keep in mind that global financial institutions bet a tremendous amount of money on currency movements. According to the Bank for International Settlements, 74 trillion dollars in derivatives are tied to the value of the U.S. dollar, the value of the euro and the value of other global currencies. When currency rates start flying around all over the place, you can rest assured that someone out there is losing an enormous amount of money. If this derivatives bubble ends up imploding, there won’t be enough money in the entire world to bail everyone out.
Do you remember what happened the last time the U.S. dollar went on a great run like this?
As you can see from the chart below, it was in mid-2008, and what followed was the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression…
A rapidly rising U.S. dollar is extremely deflationary for the overall global economy.
This is a huge red flag, and yet hardly anyone is talking about it.
Meanwhile, the euro continues to spiral into oblivion…
How many times have I said it? The euro is heading to all-time lows. It is going to go to parity with the U.S. dollar, and then it is eventually going to go below parity.
This is going to cause massive headaches in the financial world.
The Europeans are attempting to cure their economic problems by creating tremendous amounts of new money. It is the European version of quantitative easing, but it is having some very nasty side effects.
The markets are starting to realize that if the value of the U.S. dollar continues to surge, it is ultimately going to be very bad for stocks. In fact, the strength of the U.S. dollar is being cited as the primary reason for the Dow’s 332 point decline on Tuesday…
The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 300 points to below the index’s 50-day moving average, wiping out gains for the year. The S&P 500 also closed in the red for the year and breached its 50-day moving average, which is an indicator of the market trend. Only the Nasdaq held onto gains of 2.61 percent for the year.
There’s “concern that energy and the strength in the dollar will somehow be negative for the equities,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities. He noted that the speed of the dollar’s surge was the greatest market driver, amid mixed economic data and concerns about the Federal Reserve raising interest rates.
And as I noted above, when the U.S. dollar rises the things that we export to other nations become more expensive and that hurts our businesses.
Despite reassurance from The Fed that a strengthening dollar is positive for US jobs, The White House has now issued a statement that a “strengthening USD is a headwind for US growth.”
But even more important, a surging U.S. dollar makes it more difficult for emerging markets all over the world to borrow new money and to repay old debts. This is especially true for nations that heavily rely on exporting commodities…
It becomes especially ugly for emerging market economies that produce commodities. Many emerging market countries rely on their natural resources for growth and haven’t yet developed more advanced industries. As the products of their principal industries decline in value, foreign investors remove available credit while their currency is declining against the U.S. dollar. They don’t just find it difficult to pay their debt – it is impossible.
But now the process that created the emerging markets “boom” is starting to go into reverse.
The global economy is fueled by cheap dollars. So if the U.S. dollar continues to rise, that is not going to be good news for anyone.
And of course the biggest potential threat of all is the 74 trillion dollar currency derivatives bubble which could end up bursting at any time.
The sophisticated computer algorithms that financial institutions use to trade currency derivatives are ultimately based on human assumptions. When currencies move very little and the waters are calm in global financial markets, those algorithms tend to work really, really well.
But when the unexpected happens, some of the largest financial firms in the world can implode seemingly overnight.
Just remember what happened to Lehman Brothers back in 2008. Unexpected events can cripple financial giants in just a matter of hours.
Today, there are five U.S. banks that each have more than 40 trillion dollars of total exposure to derivatives of all types. Those five banks are JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citibank and Morgan Stanley.
By transforming Wall Street into a gigantic casino, those banks have been able to make enormous amounts of money.
But they are constantly performing a high wire act. One of these days, their reckless gambling is going to come back to haunt them, and the entire global financial system is going to be severely harmed as a result.
As I have said so many times before, derivatives are going to be at the heart of the next great global financial crisis.
And thanks to the wild movement of global currencies in recent months, there are now more than 74 trillion dollars in currency derivatives at risk.
Anyone that cannot see trouble on the horizon at this point is being willingly blind.
The long-anticipated collapse of the euro is here. When European Central Bank president Mario Draghi unveiled an open-ended quantitative easing program worth at least 60 billion euros a month on Thursday, stocks soared but the euro plummeted like a rock. It hit an 11 year low of $1.13, and many analysts believe that it is going much, much lower than this. The speed at which the euro has been falling in recent months has been absolutely stunning. Less than a year ago it was hovering near $1.40. But since that time the crippling economic problems in southern Europe have gone from bad to worse, and no amount of money printing is going to avert the financial nightmare that is slowly unfolding right before our eyes. Yes, there may be some temporary euphoria for a few days, but it is important to remember that reckless money printing worked for the Weimar Republic for a little while too before it turned into an utter disaster. Now that the ECB has decided to go this route, it is essentially out of ammunition. The only thing that it could potentially do beyond this is to print even larger quantities of money. As the global financial crisis begins to unfold over the next couple of years, the ECB is pretty much going to be powerless to do anything about it. Over the next couple of months, we can expect the euro to continue to head toward parity with the U.S. dollar, and eventually it is going to go to all-time lows. Meanwhile, the future of the eurozone itself is very much in doubt. If it does break up, the elite of Europe will probably try to put it back together in some sort of new configuration, but the damage will already have been done.
Over the next 18 months, the European Central bank will create more than a trillion euros out of thin air and will use that money to buy debt. The following is how this new QE program for Europe was described by the Telegraph…
“The combined monthly purchases of public and private sector securities will amount to €60bn euros,” said Mr Draghi at a press conference following a meeting of the ECB’s governing council.
“They are intended to be carried out until end-September 2016 and will in any case be conducted until we see a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation,” he added, meaning the package will amount to at least €1.1 trillion.
Mr Draghi’s package of asset purchases, including bonds issued by national governments and EU institutions such as the European Commission, is intended to boost the eurozone’s flagging economy and to ward off the spectre of deflation.
When you print more money, you drive down the value of your currency. And the euro has already been crashing for months as you can see from the chart below…
As I write this, the euro is down to $1.13. And most analysts seem to agree that it is likely heading even lower.
How low could it ultimately go?
One prominent currency strategist recently told CNBC that he believes that it is actually heading beneath parity with the U.S. dollar…
The euro plunged to an 11-year low on Thursday, after the European Central Bank announced that it would begin a 60-euro monthly asset purchasing program. But it could still have a ways to fall.
Brown Brothers Harriman global head of currency strategy Marc Chandler predicts that the euro, which fell as low as 1.1362 on Thursday after trading near 1.4000 in May, is heading below 1.0. That widely watched level is the point at which it will just take a single U.S. dollar to purchase a euro, a condition known in the currency markets as “parity.”
I totally agree with Chandler.
In fact, I believe that the euro is ultimately going to break the all-time record low against the dollar.
I also believe that the current configuration of the eurozone is eventually going to fall to pieces. The euro may survive as a currency, but Europe is ultimately going to look a whole lot different than it does right now.
In fact, we could see things start to come apart for the eurozone as soon as Sunday. If Syriza wins a decisive victory in the upcoming Greek elections, it could create all sorts of chaos…
The polls put Alexis Tsipras and Syriza ahead of the ruling New Democracy party of Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
Tsipras has vowed to convince the ECB and euro zone to write down the value of their Greek debt holdings to allow him to increase public spending and stimulate job growth.
“There is a good chance they could win, and if they begin moving away from fiscal austerity, other members of the EU are going to say: ‘No more lending, no more life support.’ On Monday morning you’ll know,” De Clue said.
But of course Europe is far from alone. Financial problems are erupting all over the planet, and central banks are getting desperate.
Over the past week, seven major central banks have made moves to fight deflation. But the more that they cut interest rates and print money, the less effect that it has. And eventually, the people of the world are going to seriously lose confidence in these central banks as they realize what a sham the system really is.
“My belief is that the big surprise this year is that investor confidence in central banks collapses. And when that happens — I can’t short central banks, although I’d really like to, and the only way to short them is to go long gold, silver and platinum,” he said. “That’s the only way. That’s something I will do.”
So what do you think?
Do you agree with Marc Faber?
And what do you think is next for the euro?
Do you agree with me that it is going to record lows?
Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
Central banks lie. That is what they do. Not too long ago, the Swiss National Bank promised that it would defend the euro/Swiss franc currency peg with the “utmost determination”. But on Thursday, the central bank shocked the financial world by abruptly abandoning it. More than three years ago, the Swiss National Bank announced that it would not allow the Swiss franc to fall below 1.20 to the euro, and it has spent a mountain of money defending that peg. But now that it looks like the EU is going to launch a very robust quantitative easing program, the Swiss National Bank has thrown in the towel. It was simply going to cost way too much to continue to defend the currency floor. So now there is panic all over Europe. On Thursday, the Swiss franc rose a staggering 30 percent against the euro, and the Swiss stock market plunged by 10 percent. And all over the world, investors, hedge funds and central banks either lost or made gigantic piles of money as currency rates shifted at an unprecedented rate. It is going to take months to really measure the damage that has been done. Meanwhile, the euro is in greater danger than ever. The euro has been declining for months, and now the number one buyer of euros (the Swiss National Bank) has been removed from the equation. As things in Europe continue to get even worse, expect the euro to go to all-time record lows. In addition, it is important to remember that the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s began when Thailand abandoned its currency peg. With this move by Switzerland set off a European financial crisis?
Of course this is hardly the first time that we have seen central banks lie. In the United States, the Federal Reserve does it all the time. The funny thing is that most people still seem to trust what central banks have to say. But at some point they are going to start to lose all credibility.
Financial markets like predictability. And gigantic amounts of money had been invested based on the repeated promises of the Swiss National Bank to use “unlimited amounts” of money to defend the currency floor. Needless to say, there are a lot of people in the financial world that feel totally betrayed by the Swiss National Bank today. The following comes from an analysis of the situation by Bruce Krasting…
Thomas Jordan, the head of the SNB has repeated said that the Franc peg would last forever, and that he would be willing to intervene in “Unlimited Amounts” in support of the peg. Jordan has folded on his promise like a cheap suit in the rain. When push came to shove, Jordan failed to deliver.
The Swiss economy will rapidly fall into recession as a result of the SNB move. The Swiss stock market has been blasted, the currency is now nearly 20% higher than it was a day before. Someone will have to fall on the sword, the arrows are pointing at Jordan.
The dust has not settled on this development as of this morning. I will stick my neck out and say that the failure to hold the minimum rate will result in a one time loss for the SNB of close to $100B. That’s a huge amount of money. It comes to 20% of the Swiss GDP!
Most experts are calling this an extremely bad move by the Swiss National Bank.
But in the end, they may have had little choice.
The euro is falling apart, and the Swiss did not want to be married to it any longer. Unfortunately, when any marriage ends the pain can be enormous. The following comes from CNBC…
How do you know you’re looking at a bad marriage?
Well if one or both of the spouses can’t wait to get out as soon as the smallest crack in the door opens, you have a pretty good clue.
Something like that just happened in Europe as we learned the real reason why so many traders were still invested in the euro: They had nowhere else to go.
As the Swiss National Bank unlocked the doors on its cap on trading euros for Swiss francs, the rush to exit the euro was faster than one of those French bullet trains.
But this move has not been bad for everyone. In fact, for many of those that live in Switzerland but work in neighboring countries what happened on Thursday was very fortuitous…
“I heard the news this morning. I’m so happy!” Vanessa, who refused to give her last name, told AFP outside of one of many mobbed exchange offices in Geneva.
She has reason to be extatic: she is one of some 280,000 people working in Switzerland but living and paying bills in eurozone countries France, Germany or Italy.
These so-called “frontaliers”, or border-crossers, are the biggest winners in Thursday’s Swiss franc surge, seeing their incomes jump 30 percent in the blink of an eye.
In normal times, things like this very rarely happen.
This move by the Swiss National Bank is just the beginning. Expect more desperate moves on the global economic chessboard in the days ahead. But in the end, none of those moves is going to prevent what is coming.
And one of these days, another extremely important currency peg is going to end. Right now, the Chinese have tied their currency very tightly to the U.S. dollar. This has helped to artificially inflate the value of the dollar. Unfortunately, as Robert Wenzel has noted, someday the Chinese could suddenly pull the rug out from under our currency, and that would be really bad news for us…
In other words, the SNB is no People’s Bank of China type patsy, where the PBOC has taken on massive amounts of dollar reserves to prop up the dollar.
Will the PBOC learn anything from SNB? If so, this will not be good for the US dollar.
So keep a close eye on what happens in Europe next.
It is going to be a preview of what is eventually coming to America.
The Russians are actually making a move against the petrodollar. It appears that they are quite serious about their de-dollarization strategy. The largest natural gas producer on the planet, Gazprom, has signed agreements with some of their biggest customers to switch payments for natural gas from U.S. dollars to euros. And Gazprom would have never done this without the full approval of the Russian government, because the Russian government holds a majority stake in Gazprom. There hasn’t been a word about this from the big mainstream news networks in the United States, but this is huge. When you are talking about Gazprom, you are talking about a company that is absolutely massive. It is one of the largest companies in the entire world and it makes up 8 percent of Russian GDP all by itself. It holds 18 percent of the natural gas reserves of the entire planet, and it is also a very large oil producer. So for Gazprom to make a move like this is extremely significant.
When Barack Obama decided to slap some meaningless economic sanctions on Russia a while back, he probably figured that the world would forget about them after a few news cycles.
But the Russians do not forget, and they certainly do not forgive.
At this point the Russians are turning their back on the United States, and that includes the U.S. dollar.
What you are about to read is absolutely stunning, and yet you have not heard about it from any major U.S. news source. But what Gazprom is now doing has the potential to really shake up the global financial landscape. The following is an excerpt from a news report by the ITAR-TASS news agency…
Gazprom Neft had signed additional agreements with consumers on a possible switch from dollars to euros for payments under contracts, the oil company’s head Alexander Dyukov told a press conference.
“Additional agreements of Gazprom Neft on the possibility to switch contracts from dollars to euros are signed. With Belarus, payments in roubles are agreed on,” he said.
Dyukov said nine of ten consumers had agreed to switch to euros.
And Gazprom is not the only big company in Russia that is moving away from the U.S. dollar.
According to RT, other large Russian corporations are moving to other currencies as well…
Russia will start settling more contracts in Asian currencies, especially the yuan, in order to lessen its dependence on the dollar market, and because of Western-led sanctions that could freeze funds at any moment.
“Over the last few weeks there has been a significant interest in the market from large Russian corporations to start using various products in renminbi and other Asian currencies, and to set up accounts in Asian locations,” Pavel Teplukhin, head of Deutsche Bank in Russia, told the Financial Times, which was published in an article on Sunday.
Diversifying trade accounts from dollars to the Chinese yuan and other Asian currencies such as the Hong Kong dollar and Singapore dollar has been a part of Russia’s pivot towards Asian as tension with Europe and the US remain strained over Russia’s action in Ukraine.
And according to Zero Hedge, “expanding the use of non-dollar currencies” is one of the main things that major Russian banks are working on right now…
Andrei Kostin, chief executive of state bank VTB, said that expanding the use of non-dollar currencies was one of the bank’s “main tasks”. “Given the extent of our bilateral trade with China, developing the use of settlements in roubles and yuan [renminbi] is a priority on the agenda, and so we are working on it now,” he told Russia’s President Vladimir Putin during a briefing. “Since May, we have been carrying out this work.”
“There is nothing wrong with Russia trying to reduce its dependency on the dollar, actually it is an entirely reasonable thing to do,” said the Russia head of another large European bank. He added that Russia’s large exposure to the dollar subjects it to more market volatility in times of crisis. “There is no reason why you have to settle trade you do with Japan in dollars,” he said.
The entire country is undergoing a major financial conversion.
So in March, without waiting for the sanction spiral to kick in, Russians yanked their moolah out of US banks. Deposits by Russians in US banks suddenly plunged from $21.6 billion to $8.4 billion. They yanked out 61% of their deposits in just one month! They’d learned their lesson in Cyprus the hard way: get your money out while you still can before it gets confiscated.
Because nearly everyone else around the rest of the planet uses our currency to trade with one another, that keeps the value of the U.S. dollar artificially high and it keeps our borrowing costs artificially low.
As Russia abandons the U.S. dollar that will hurt, but if other nations start following suit that could eventually cause a financial avalanche.
What we are witnessing right now is just a turning point.
The effects won’t be felt right away. So don’t expect this to cause financial disaster next week or next month.
But this is definitely another element in the “perfect storm” that is starting to brew for the U.S. economy.
Yes, we have been living in a temporary bubble of false stability for a few years. However, the long-term outlook has not gotten any better. In fact, the long-term trends that are destroying our economic and financial foundations just continue to get even worse.
With each passing day, the banking crisis in Europe escalates. European banks are having their credit ratings downgraded in waves, bond yields are soaring and billions of euros are being pulled out of banks all across the eurozone. The situation in Europe is rapidly going from bad to worse. It is almost like watching air being let out of a balloon. The key to any financial system is confidence, and right now confidence in banks in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal is declining at an alarming rate. When things hit the fan in Europe, it is going to be much safer to have your money in Swiss banks or German banks than in Greek banks, Spanish banks or Italian banks. Millions of people in Europe are starting to realize that a “euro” is not necessarily always going to be a “euro” and they are starting to panic. The Greek banking system is already on the verge of total collapse, and at this rate it is only a matter of time before we see some major Spanish and Italian banks start to fail. In fact it has already been announced that the fourth largest bank in Spain, Bankia, will be getting bailed out by the Spanish government. It is only a matter of time before we hear more announcements like this. Right now, events are moving so quickly in Europe that it is hard to keep up with them all. But this is what usually happens in the financial world. When things go well, it tends to happen over an extended period of time. When things fall apart, it tends to happen very rapidly.
And at the moment, things across the pond are moving at a pace that is absolutely breathtaking.
The following are 18 signs that the banking crisis in Europe has just gone from bad to worse….
#1 Moody’s has announced that it has downgraded the credit ratings of 16 Spanish banks. Included was Banco Santander, the largest bank in the eurozone.
#2 Shares of the fourth largest bank in Spain, Bankia, dropped 14 percent on Thursday.
#3 Overall, shares of Bankia have declined by 61 percent since last July.
#4 Shares of the largest bank in Italy, Unicredit, dropped by about 6 percent on Thursday.
#5 According to CNBC, a Spanish bond auction on Thursday went very poorly….
The Spanish Treasury had to pay around 5 percent to attract buyers of three- and four-year bonds. The longer-dated paper sold with a yield of 5.106 percent, way above the 3.374 percent the last time it was auctioned.
#13 The Spanish government is becoming increasingly concerned about the bad loans that are mounting at major Spanish banks. The following is from a recent Bloomberg article….
The government has asked lenders to increase provisions for bad debt by 54 billion euros ($70 billion) to 166 billion euros. That’s enough to cover losses of about 50 percent on loans to property developers and construction firms, according to the Bank of Spain. There wouldn’t be anything left for defaults on more than 1.4 trillion euros of home loans and corporate debt.
Taking those into account, banks would need to increase provisions by as much as five times what the government says, or 270 billion euros, according to estimates by the Centre for European Policy Studies, a Brussels-based research group. Plugging that hole would increase Spain’s public debt by almost 50 percent or force it to seek a bailout, following in the footsteps of Ireland, Greece and Portugal.
#14 Civil unrest is rising to dangerous levels in Italy. The Italian government has assigned bodyguards to 550 individuals and has increased security at about 14,000 locations in response to recent violence related to the economic crisis.
#15 Governments all over Europe are rapidly making preparations for a Greek exit from the euro. The following is from a recent article in the Guardian….
The British government is making urgent preparations to cope with the fallout of a possible Greek exit from the single currency, after the governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King, warned that Europe was “tearing itself apart”.
#16 According to CNBC, the banking crisis in Europe is beginning to affect global trade….
The euro zone debt crisis is affecting trade as companies shy away from dealing with firms and banks in countries deemed at risk of contagion, a senior banker said on Thursday.
Money is being pulled out of Greek banks at an alarming rate, and if something dramatic is not done quickly Greek banks are going to start dropping like flies. As I detailed yesterday, people do not want to be stuck with euros in Greek banks when Greece leaves the euro and converts back to the drachma. The fear is that all existing euros in Greek banks would be converted over to drachmas which would then rapidly lose value after the transition. So right now euros are being pulled out of Greek banks at a staggering pace. According to MSNBC, Greeks withdrew $894 million from Greek banks on Monday alone and a similar amount was withdrawn on Tuesday. But this is just an acceleration of a trend that has been going on for a couple of years. It has been reported that approximately a third of all Greek bank deposits were withdrawn between January 2010 and March 2012. So where has all of the cash for these withdrawals been coming from? Well, the European Central Bank has been providing liquidity for Greek banks, but now it has been reported that the ECB is going to stop providing liquidity to some Greek banks. It was not announced which Greek banks are being cut off. For now, the Greek Central Bank will continue to provide euros to those banks, but the Greek Central Bank will not be able to funnel euros into insolvent banks indefinitely.
This is a major move by the European Central Bank, and it is going to shake confidence in the Greek banking system even more.
There are already rumors that the Greek government is considering placing limits on bank withdrawals, and many Greeks will be tempted to go grab their money while they still can.
Once strict currency controls are put in place, the population is likely to respond very angrily. If people can’t get their money there is no telling what they might do.
We are reaching a critical moment. Many fear that a full-blown “bank panic” could happen at any time. The following is from a recent Forbes article….
The pressing problem isn’t a splintered legislature that may balk at delivering the reforms that the IMF and European Community are demanding in exchange for the next tranche of bailout money. It’s a disastrous, old-fashioned run-on-the bank. “For a year, Greeks have been sending their savings from Greek banks to foreign banks,” says Robert Aliber, retired professor of international economics from the University of Chicago. “Now, the flood has reached a crescendo.” Indeed on Monday alone, outflows from the Greek banks reached almost $900 million.
These banks would have collapsed already if not for the support of the European Central Bank and the Greek Central Bank. This was described in a recent blog post by Paul Krugman of the New York Times….
But where are the euros coming from? Basically, banks are borrowing them from the Greek central bank, which in turn must borrow them from the European Central Bank. The question then becomes how far the ECB is willing to go here; is it willing, in effect, to lend enough money to buy up the entire balance sheet of the Greek banking sector, given the likelihood that this sector will be left insolvent by Greek default?
Yet if the ECB says no more, Greek banks stop operating — and it’s hard to see how they can be restored to operation except by ditching the euro and using something else.
That is why the announcement that the ECB is cutting off funding was so dramatic. The ECB is starting to pull back and that is a very bad sign for the Greek banking system.
For the moment, the Greek Central Bank is continuing to support the Greek banks that the European Central Bank is no longer providing liquidity for. A Reuters article explained how this works….
The ECB only conducts its refinancing operations with solvent banks. Banks which fail to meet strict ECB rules but are deemed solvent by the national central bank (NCB) concerned can nonetheless go to their NCB for emergency liquidity assistance (ELA).
The ECB’s emergency-lending facility isn’t intended as a long-term fix. National central banks must get approval each month that they want to let their banks access the facility from the ECB’s governing council, which can veto use of the program.
If Greece installs an antibailout government that reneges on its austerity promises, it would almost certainly be cut off from ECB funding.
The truth is that we are heading for a financial tragedy in Greece. If the flow of money out of Greek banks intensifies, the Greek banking system might not even be able to make it to the next election in June. This point was underscored in an article that was authored by renowned financial journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard….
Steen Jakobsen from Danske Bank said outflows are becoming unstoppable, not helped by open talk in EU circles of `technical’ plans for Greek withdrawal.
“This has a self-fulfilling prophecy built into it and I don’t think we can get to June. The fuse is burning and the only two options now are a controlled explosion where Germany steps in to ensure an orderly exit, or an uncontrolled explosion,” he said.
So what should we expect to see next?
Well, James Carney of CNBC says that he believes that it is inevitable that Greece is going to have to implement currency controls in order to slow the bleeding….
It looks increasingly likely that Greece will have to implement controls to prevent capital flight and a banking collapse. To my mind, the only real question is when this will occur.
The widespread talk about Greece possibly leaving the euro zone is likely to trigger withdrawal of bank deposits and other financial assets, by those who fear they might be redenominated into a drachma that would be worth far less than the euro.
The Greek government may soon announce a limit on the amount of money that can be withdrawn on a single day.
The Greek government may also soon announce a limit on the amount of money that can be moved out of the country.
Those would be dramatic steps to take, but if nothing is done we are likely to watch the Greek banking system die right in front of our eyes.
A Greek exit from the euro seems more likely with each passing day. Such an exit would have a devastating impact on the Greek economy, but it would also dramatically affect the rest of the globe as well. The following is from a recent article by Louise Armitstead….
The Institute of International Finance has estimated that the global cost of a Greek exit could hit €1trillion. When Argentina defaulted in 2001, foreign debtors lost around 70pc of their investments.
That is a big hit for such a little country.
So what would it cost the globe if Spain or Italy left the eurozone?
That is something to think about.
Meanwhile, the United States continues to steamroll down the same road that Greece has gone. According to the Republican Senate Budget Committee, the U.S. government is currently spending more money per person than Greece, Portugal, Italy or Spain does.
The bank runs that we are watching right now in Greece are shocking, but they are only just the beginning. Since May 6th, nearly one billion dollars has been withdrawn from Greek banks. For a small nation like Greece, that is an absolutely catastrophic number. At this point, the entire Greek banking system is in danger of collapsing. If you had money in a Greek bank, why wouldn’t you pull it out? If Greece leaves the euro, all euros in Greek banks will likely be converted to drachmas, and the value of those drachmas will almost certainly decline dramatically. In fact, it has been estimated that Greek citizens could see the value of their bank accounts decline by up to 50 percent if Greece leaves the euro. So if you had money in a Greek bank, it would only make sense to withdraw it and move it to another country as quickly as possible. And as the eurozone begins to unravel, this is a scenario that we are going to see play out in country after country. As member nations leave the eurozone, you would be a fool to have your euros in Italian banks or Spanish banks when you could have them in German banks instead. So the bank runs that are happening in Greece right now are only a preview of things to come. Before this crisis is over we are going to see bank runs happening all over Europe.
If Greece leaves the euro, the consequences are likely to be quite messy. Those that are promoting the idea that a “Grexit” can be done in an orderly fashion are not being particularly honest. The following is from a recent article in the Independent….
“Whoever tells you a Greek exit would be no big deal is an idiot, lying or disingenuous,” said Sony Kapoor of the European think-tank Re-Define. Economists fear that a disorderly exit would prompt a huge run by investors on Spanish and Italian debt, forcing those countries to seek support from an EU bailout fund, which, with a capacity of just €500bn, is widely regarded as too small to cope with those pressures.
A Greek exit from the euro would not only result in a run on Spanish and Italian bonds, but it would also likely result in a run on Spanish and Italian banks.
If Greece is allowed to leave the euro, that will be a signal that other countries will eventually be allowed to leave as well. Nobody in their right mind would want their euros stuck in Spanish or Italian banks if those countries end up converting back to national currencies.
Fear is a powerful motivator. If Greece converts their euros back to drachmas, that will be a clear signal that all euros are not created equally. The race to move money into German banks will accelerate dramatically.
And a Greek exit from the euro is looking more likely with each passing day. Even the IMF is now admitting that it is a very real possibility….
Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, warned she was “technically prepared for anything” and said the utmost effort must be made to ensure any Greek exit was orderly. The effect was likely to be “quite messy” with risks to growth, trade and financial markets. “It is something that would be extremely expensive and would pose great risks but it is part of options that we must technically consider,” she said.
Meanwhile, banks in other troubled European nations are already on shaky ground. The Spanish banking system is an absolute disaster zone at this point and on Monday night Moody’s downgraded the credit ratings of 26 Italian banks.
The situation in Italy is especially worth keeping a close eye on. As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard recently noted, things are not looking good for Italy at all….
Italy’s former premier Romano Prodi said the EU risks instant contagion to Spain, Italy, and France if Greece leaves. “The whole house of cards will come down”, he said
Angelo Drusiani from Banca Albertini said the only way to avert catstrophe is to convert the European Central Bank into a lender of last resort. Otherwise Italy faces “massive devaluation, three to five years of hyperinflation, and unbearable unemployment.”
So what can be done about any of this?
Well, there is actually a lot that could be done if politicians in Europe were willing to think outside of the established global financial paradigm.
The truth is that Greece could solve their current financial problems in four easy steps. They would have to be willing to stick it to the rest of Europe and to risk being blackballed by the international community, but it could be done.
The following is my prescription for Greece….
1) Default on all debts.
2) Leave the euro.
3) Issue drachmas that are debt-free and that do not come from a central bank. Instead, have the Greek government create them and spend them directly into circulation.
4) Enjoy a return to prosperity.
In such a scenario, the Greek national debt would no longer be a problem, the Greek government would never have to borrow any more money and austerity would no longer be needed.
Yes, inflation would be an issue with the new currency, but a bit of inflation would be a walk in the park compared to the horrible economic depression that Greece is experiencing right now.
And once the Greek economy was growing again, it would certainly be possible for them to make the transition to “hard money” if they wanted to.
It is imperative that we all understand that just because the global financial system works a certain way today does not mean that it must always work that way.
If you have a few minutes, I want you to watch an incredible speech by a 12-year-old Canadian girl named Victoria Grant. In this 6 minute speech, she details how the bankers are defrauding the people of Canada and how the Canadian government does not actually need to borrow a single penny from the bankers….
If a 12-year-old girl can figure this out, then why can’t the rest of us?
Right now, America is going down the same path as Greece, Spain and Italy have gone. Eventually we will hit a wall and our financial system will fall apart.
We need the American people to understand that the Federal Reserve system is a perpetual debt machine. The U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Fed was first created. It is at the very core of our national financial problems.
When will people wake up and realize that central banking is the problem and not the solution?
When will people wake up and realize that national governments do not have to go into debt to anyone if they do not want to?
In our world today, there is far more debt than there is money.
It is a system that will inevitably crash.
But there are other alternatives.
Unfortunately, politicians all over the globe continue to want to be married to our current debt-based financial system.
As a result, we will suffer the consequences of that system.
We are steamrolling toward a massive global debt meltdown, and at this point world leaders seem to be all out of solutions. Over the last 30 years or so, the greatest debt bubble in the history of the planet has produced unprecedented prosperity in the western world. But now that debt bubble is starting to burst and the bills are coming due. Many believe that “ground zero” for the coming global debt meltdown will be in Europe. Unlike the U.S. and Japan, the nations of the EU can’t just print more money to cover their debts. Nations such as Greece, Portugal and Italy must repay their debts in euros, and those nations are rapidly getting to the point where their debts are going to overwhelm them. Unfortunately, major banks all over Europe are very highly leveraged and are also very heavily invested in the sovereign debt of nations such as Greece, Portugal and Italy. If even one EU nation defaults it will start tipping over financial dominoes. If more than one EU nation defaults it could cause a cataclysmic wave of bank failures all over Europe.
But Germany and the other more financially stable countries of the EU cannot bail out nations like Greece, Portugal and Italy indefinitely. Pouring money into Greece is like pouring money into a black hole. When you take money from financially stable countries and pour it into hopeless messes, you may stabilize things for a little while, but you also cause the financial condition of the financially stable nations to start deteriorating.
Right now, the yield on 2 year Greek bonds is up to 44%. Basically, the market is screaming that these are horrible investments and that they will almost certainly default.
Greece cannot fire up the printing presses and print more money, so they are now totally dependent on others to bail them out.
In Greece, government debt now represents almost 160% of GDP and the average yield on Greek debt is around 15%. Thus, if Greece’s debt is rolled over without restructuring, its interest costs alone will amount to approximately 24% of GDP. In other words, if debt pardoning does not occur, nearly a quarter of Greece’s economic output will be gobbled up by interest repayments!
Can you imagine?
No nation on earth can afford to pay out nearly a quarter of GDP just on interest on government debt.
So just how did Greece get into this position? Well, it turns out that big U.S. banks such as Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase played a big role. The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Andrew Gavin Marshall….
In the same way that homeowners take out a second mortgage to pay off their credit card debt, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase and other U.S. banks helped push government debt far into the future through the derivatives market. This was done in Greece, Italy, and likely several other euro-zone countries as well. In several dozen deals in Europe, “banks provided cash upfront in return for government payments in the future, with those liabilities then left off the books.” Because the deals are not listed as loans, they are not listed as debt (liabilities), and so the true debt of Greece and other euro-zone countries was and likely to a large degree remains hidden. Greece effectively mortgaged its airports and highways to the major banks in order to get cash up-front and keep the loans off the books, classifying them as transactions.
All over the world, politicians love to “kick the can down the road”, and big Wall Street banks love to find creative ways to help them do that.
But now Greece is about to collapse, and the people that helped them get into this mess will probably never be held accountable.
If Greece does default, it is going to have dramatic consequences all over Europe. For a chilling look at what could potentially happen when Greece defaults, just check out this article by John Mauldin.
Sadly, Greece is far from the only problem in Europe. Portugal, Ireland and Italy also have debt to GDP ratios that are above 100%.
The biggest potential problem, at least in the near-term, is Italy.
Italy is the fourth largest economy in the EU, and lately the financial problems of the Italian government and Italian banks have been making headlines all over the globe.
Italy is a far, far larger potential problem than Greece is.
The EU can handle bailing out Greece, at least for now.
If Italy gets to the point where it needs large bailouts, that is going to bring down the whole system. The EU simply does not have enough money to perform an extensive financial rescue of Italy.
As you can see from this chart, the exposure that European banks have to Italian debt is absolutely massive. If Italian debt goes bad, it is going to take down a whole bunch of banks.
Not only that, but many believe that the European Central Bank itself is now in some very dangerous territory.
It is estimated that the European Central Bank is now holding somewhere in the neighborhood of 444 billion euros worth of debt from the governments of Greece, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and Spain.
The financial consequences of a default by one or more of those nations could potentially be catastrophic.
If you don’t think that this is a problem, just remember what happened back in 2008.
Back then, Lehman Brothers was leveraged 31 to 1. When things turned bad, Lehman was wiped out very rapidly.
Today, major German banks are leveraged 32 to 1, and those banks are currently holding a massive amount of European sovereign debt.
Yes, things could become really nightmarish if the dominoes start to fall.
Already we are seeing huge signs of trouble at major banks all over Europe.
Major European banks UBS, Barclays, Credit Suisse, RBS, and HSBC have all announced layoffs recently. In fact, when you add them all up, the total number of layoffs announced by these banks just this month is over 40,000. Overall, the grand total of layoffs by European banks so far this year is now up to 67,000.
“It’s a bloodbath, and I expect things to get worse before they get better,” said Jonathan Evans, chairman of executive- search firm Sammons Associates in London. “I cannot see a lot of those who have lost their jobs getting re-employed. Regardless of how good someone is, no one wants to talk about hiring. Life will be very difficult for two or three years.”
Just like back in 2008 with U.S. banks, we are seeing European banks getting absolutely pummeled right now. A recent article in The Sydney Morning Herald documented some of the carnage….
The 46-member Bloomberg Europe Banks and Financial Services Index has fallen 31 per cent this year. RBS tumbled 49 per cent, Barclays 44 per cent and France’s Societe Generale 48 per cent.
Credit Suisse and UBS both reported a 71 per cent drop in investment-banking earnings in the second quarter. Revenue at Edinburgh-based RBS’s securities unit dropped 35 per cent in the period, while London-based Barclays Capital posted a 27 per cent decline in pretax profit.
Things in Europe continue to get worse and worse and worse.
Do not take your eyes off of Europe. This crisis is just getting started.
Not that there aren’t huge debt problems around the rest of the globe as well.
Japan has a national debt that is now over 200 percent of GDP, and they are really struggling to recover from the recent disasters that devastated that nation.
Moody’s has just downgraded Japanese government debt one notch to Aa3, and more downgrades could be coming. For now Japan is still able to borrow huge piles of money very, very cheaply but if that changes Japan could be wiped out very quickly.
Of course the nation with the biggest debt of all is the United States.
Fortunately, the U.S. is also able to borrow massive amounts of money very, very cheaply right now. But when that changes it is going to be absolutely cataclysmic for our economy.
Sadly, our politicians continue to act as if this debt binge can go on forever.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the budget deficit for the federal government will be about 1.28 trillion dollars this year. This will be the third year in a row that we have had a budget deficit of over a trillion dollars.
To put that in perspective, from George Washington to Ronald Reagan the U.S. government racked up a grand total of about one trillion dollars of debt. But this year alone we will go 1.28 trillion dollars more into debt.
At the moment, the U.S. national debt is expanding by about 2 and a half million dollars every single minute. It is hard to put into words how absolutely foolish that is.
As I wrote about yesterday, someone needs to wake up America. Our debt is exploding and our economy is dying.
We haven’t even solved the problems caused by the last financial crisis. The real estate market is still a gigantic mess. Purchases of both new and previously existing homes in the United States continue to fall.
But there will never be a housing recovery until there is a jobs recovery, and our politicians continue to stand by and watch as millions of our jobs are shipped overseas.
Unemployment is rampant, and even many of those that do have jobs are barely able to survive.
Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs. Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.
That is not a good trend.
Sadly, it looks like things are not going to get much better any time soon.
Right now, the Congressional Budget Office is projecting that unemployment in the U.S. will remain above 8% until 2014.
That should really scare you, because government numbers are almost always way too optimistic. The folks in the federal government hardly ever project that unemployment will actually go up.
So if they are saying that unemployment will remain above 8 percent until 2014, the truth is that things will probably be worse than that.
We have entered very frightening times. We are on the verge of a massive global debt meltdown, and nobody is sure what is going to happen next.
Let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.