The unemployment rate in the eurozone is higher than it has ever been before. This week we learned that eurozone unemployment came in at an all-time high of 12.2 percent for September. Back in January 2012, it was sitting at just 10.4 percent. So anyone that believes that “things are getting better” in Europe is just being delusional. In fact, the economic depression in Europe just keeps getting deeper. The funny thing is that the mainstream media will barely call what is going on in Europe a “recession” even though the unemployment rates in both Spain and Greece are now much higher than anything that the United States ever experienced during the “Great Depression” of the 1930s. There haven’t been as many headlines about the financial crisis in Europe lately because the ECB has been papering over the debt problems of the periphery (at least for the moment), but the economic conditions on the ground for average Europeans just continue to get even worse. Later on in this article, you will read about a 25-year-old Spanish man with three college degrees that moved to London in a desperate search for a job who is now cleaning up poop for a living. The economic collapse of Europe continues to march on, and there is no end in sight.
All you have to do is look at the latest unemployment numbers to realize that things are getting worse in Europe.
In Italy, the unemployment rate is up to 12.5 percent.
In January 2012, less than two years ago, it was sitting at just 8.9 percent.
In Greece, the unemployment rate is up to an astounding 27.6 percent.
In January 2012, it was sitting at just 21.4 percent.
In Spain, the unemployment rate is up to 26.6 percent.
In January 2012, it was sitting at just 22.8 percent, and all the way back in January 2008 it was just 8.6 percent.
The youth unemployment statistics in the eurozone are even more horrifying…
Unemployment among the under-25s rose by 22,000 in September to 3,548,000 – nudging up youth jobless rate to 24.1%. In France, the youth jobless rate jumped from 25.6% to 26.1%, while in Italy it increased from 40.2% to 40.4%.
But as bad as those numbers are, they are nothing compared to what is going on in Spain and Greece. In Spain, the youth unemployment rate is up to 56.5 percent, and in Greece the youth unemployment rate is up to 57.3 percent.
And of course unemployment is not the only problem that the European economy is dealing with right now. The following are some more facts about the European economy that show that the economic depression in Europe just keeps getting deeper…
-European car sales are on pace to hit a 23 year low in 2013.
-The percentage of “bad loans” in Spain has soared to a new all-time record high.
-The number of mortgage applications in Spain has fallen 90 percent since the peak of the market.
-Citigroup is projecting that the unemployment rate in Greece will reach 32 percent in 2015.
-Over the last several years, Italy has experienced the biggest collapse in GDP growth that it has ever seen. Overall, the GDP of Italy has contracted by about 8 percent since 2008.
-The number of unemployed workers in Cyprus is now five times higher than it was before the financial crisis of 2008.
-It is being projected that Spain’s debt to GDP ratio will rise to nearly 100 percent by the end of next year.
-The debt to GDP ratio of Portugal is already up to 123 percent.
-The debt to GDP ratio of Italy is already up to 127 percent.
-Even though Greece has implemented a whole host of “austerity measures”, the debt to GDP ratio of Greece is now up to 156 percent.
But what these numbers cannot really communicate is the tremendous amount of pain and despair that millions upon millions of Europeans are experiencing right now.
For example, consider the story of Benjamin Serra Bosch, a 25-year-old Spanish man that moved to London in a desperate search for a job. He has three college degrees, including a Master’s Degree from the IEBS Business School in Barcelona. The following is a rough translation of a message that he recently posted on Facebook…
My name is Benjamín Serra, I have two bachelor degrees and a master’s degree, and I clean toilets.
No, it is not a joke. I do it to pay the rent for my room in London.
I’ve been working in a famous chain of cafes in the United Kingdom since May, and for the first time today, after 5 months working there, I see it clearly. I have been cleaning toilets. My thought was: “I received distinction in my two degrees and I clean other peoples’ poop in a country that isn’t my own.” Well, I also make coffee, clean the tables and wash cups.
And I am not ashamed to do so. Cleaning is a very decent job. What embarrasses me is having to do so because no one has given me an opportunity in Spain. Like me, there are many Spaniards, especially in London. “You are a plague,” I was told once here. And let’s not kid ourselves. We are not young people on an adventure to learn the language and have new experiences. We are immigrants.
I’ve always been very proud, I am not going to deny. Those who know me, you know. And I have to bust out a smile at customers who look over my shoulder as I am simply a “barista” (as they call it here). Some are so outrageous that it makes me want to pull out my University and master degrees and put them in their face. But it would not really do anything. It appears that those titles now only serve to clean the poop that I clean from the toilets in the cafe. A pity.
I thought that it deserved something better after putting so much effort in my academic life. It seems that I was wrong.
As economic conditions continue to decline all over Europe, anger and frustration with the “European experiment” continue to grow. UKIP’s Nigel Farage expressed these sentiments very eloquently during a speech on the 23rd of October when he stated that “what we are saying, large numbers of us from every single EU member state is: we don’t want that flag, we don’t want the anthem that you all stood so ram-rod straight for yesterday, we don’t want EU passports, we don’t want political union.”
Unfortunately, the elite of Europe are so obsessed with their little experiment that the only “solutions” to these economic problems that they are even willing to consider involve even more European integration.
And Americans certainly should not be looking down their noses at what is happening in Europe.
What is going on in Italy, France, Spain and Greece will be coming here soon enough. In fact, even during the midst of this so-called “economic recovery”, poverty continues to absolutely explode in the United States.
Economic conditions in both the United States and Europe have never even gotten close to where they were prior to 2008, and now the next major wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching.
This is just the beginning. Things are going to get much worse in the years ahead.
This is no time to be complacent. Massive economic problems are erupting all over the globe, but most people seem to believe that everything is going to be just fine. In fact, a whole bunch of recent polls and surveys show that the American people are starting to feel much better about how the U.S. economy is performing. Unfortunately, the false prosperity that we are currently enjoying is not going to last much longer. Just look at what is happening in Europe. The eurozone is now in the midst of the longest recession that it has ever experienced. Just look at what is happening over in Asia. Economic growth in India is the lowest that it has been in a decade and the Japanese financial system is beginning to spin wildly out of control. One of the only places on the entire planet where serious economic problems have not already erupted is in the United States, and that is only because we have “kicked the can down the road” by recklessly printing money and by borrowing money at an unprecedented rate. Unfortunately, the “sugar high” produced by those foolish measures is starting to wear off. We are going to experience a massive amount of economic pain along with the rest of the world – it is just a matter of time.
But for the moment, there are a lot of skeptics out there.
For the moment, there are a lot of people that are declaring that the problems of the past have been fixed and that we are heading for incredibly bright economic times ahead.
Unfortunately, those people appear to be purposely ignoring the economic horror that is breaking out all over the globe.
The following are 18 signs that massive economic problems are erupting all over the planet…
#1 The eurozone is now in the midst of its longest recession ever. Economic activity in the eurozone has declined for six quarters in a row.
#2 Italy’s economy has now been contracting for seven quarters in a row.
#3 Industrial production in Italy has fallen for 15 months in a row. It has now fallen to its lowest level in about 25 years.
#4 The number of people that are considered to be “seriously deprived” in Italy has doubled over the past two years.
#5 Consumer confidence in France has just hit a new all-time low.
#6 The number of unemployed workers seeking a job in France has hit a brand new all-time record high. Many unemployed workers in France are utterly frustrated at this point…
“I’ve sent CVs everywhere, I come to the unemployment agency every day, for 3 or 4 hours to look for work as a truck driver and there’s never anything,” said 42-year old Djamel Sami, who has been unemployed for a year, leaving a job agency in Paris.
#7 Unemployment in the eurozone as a whole has just hit a brand new all-time record high of 12.2 percent.
#8 Youth unemployment continues to soar to unprecedented heights in Europe. The following is from an article that was recently posted on the website of the Guardian that detailed how bad things are getting in some of the worst countries…
In Greece, 62.5% of young people are out of work, in Spain it’s 56.4%, then Portugal with 42.5%, and then Italy with 40.5%.
#9 Youth unemployment is being partially blamed for the worst rioting that Sweden has seen in many years. The following is how the Daily Mail described the riots…
Sweden is reeling after a third night of rioting in largely run-down immigrant areas of the capital Stockholm.
In the last 48 hours violence has spread to at least ten suburbs with mobs of youths torching hundreds of cars and clashing with police.
It is Sweden’s worst disorder in years and has shocked the country and provoked a debate on how Sweden is coping with youth unemployment and an influx of immigrants.
#10 An astounding 10 percent of all banking deposits were pulled out of banks in Cyprus during the month of April alone.
#11 Economic growth in India is the slowest that it has been in an entire decade.
#12 Suddenly Australia is experiencing some tremendous economic challenges. The following quotes are from a recent Zero Hedge article…
-“We’re seeing a much sharper contraction in the Australian economy than we’d anticipated four or five months ago”. Coffey MD, John Douglas. The engineering group has seen its shares, which traded above $4 in 2007, hit 10c last week.
-“By 10am, the Fitness First gym in the city is packed full of brokers who’ve had a gutful of sitting at their desk doing nothing – salary cuts are starting and next it will be jobs” Perth broker
-“Oh mate, the funding market is dead. You are now seeing a few deeply discounted rights issues for those that are reaching desperate levels ….. liquidity has completely disappeared” Perth broker
#13 The financial system in Japan is beginning to spin wildly out of control. The Japanese stock market has now declined about 15 percent from the peak, and many believe that the yen will continue to get weaker and that interest rates in Japan will start to rise significantly.
#14 Global cash flow is declining at a rate not seen since the last recession. This indicates that we could be headed for a global credit crunch.
#15 Real wages continue to decline in the United States. Even though we are being told that the U.S. is experiencing an “economy recovery”, real weekly earnings have declined from $297.79 in 2010 to $295.49 in 2011 to $294.83 in 2012. (The preceding calculation is based on 1982-1984 dollars)
#16 Wall Street is buzzing about the fact that “the Hindenburg Omen” appeared at the end of last week. So exactly what is “the Hindenburg Omen”? The following are the criteria that are used to determine whether it has appeared or not…
1. The daily number of NYSE new 52 Week Highs and the daily number of new 52 Week Lows must both be greater than 2.2 percent of total NYSE issues traded that day.
2. The smaller of these numbers is greater than or equal to 69 (68.772 is 2.2% of 3126). This is not a rule but more like a checksum. This condition is a function of the 2.2% of the total issues.
3. That the NYSE 10 Week moving average is rising.
4. That the McClellan Oscillator ( a market breadth indicator used to evaluate the rate of money entering or leaving the market and interpretively indicate overbought or oversold conditions of the market)is negative on that same day.
5. That new 52 Week Highs cannot be more than twice the new 52 Week Lows (however it is fine for new 52 Week Lows to be more than double new 52 Week Highs).
When the Hindenburg Omen makes an appearance, it supposedly means that the U.S. stock market is likely to experience a serious decline within the next 40 days.
#17 As I wrote about the other day, the SentimenTrader Smart/Dumb Money Index is now the lowest that it has been in more than two years. That means that lots of “smart money” has been getting out of the market and lots of “dumb money” has been pouring in.
#18 Margin debt on the New York Stock Exchange has set a new all-time high. The following is from a recent Market Oracle article…
Margin debt—that’s the amount of money borrowed to purchase stocks—on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) reached its all-time high in April. Margin debt on the NYSE registered at $384.3 billion as the key stock indices hit new record-highs. (Source: New York Stock Exchange web site, last accessed May 29, 2013.) The highest margin debt ever reached prior to this was in July of 2007, when it stood just above $381.0 billion. At that time, just like today, the key stock indices were near their peaks and “buy now before it’s too late” was the prominent theme of the day
Whenever margin debt spikes like this, a stock market crash almost always follows. If you doubt this, just check out the chart in this article.
Wall Street has had a good couple of years, but it has been a “false prosperity” that has been pumped up by reckless money printing by the Federal Reserve. Just like all of the other stock market bubbles that we have seen in recent years, this one is going to burst too. And as Marc Faber recently pointed out, this bubble has been particularly beneficial to the wealthy…
The Fed has been flooding the system with money. The problem is the money doesn’t flow into the system evenly. It doesn’t increase economic activity and asset prices in concert. Instead, it creates dangerous excesses in countries and asset classes. Money-printing fueled the colossal stock-market bubble of 1999-2000, when the Nasdaq more than doubled, becoming disconnected from economic reality. It fueled the housing bubble, which burst in 2008, and the commodities bubble. Now money is flowing into the high-end asset market – things like stocks, bonds, art, wine, jewelry, and luxury real estate.
Money-printing boosts the economy of the people closest to the money flow. But it doesn’t help the worker in Detroit, or the vast majority of the middle class. It leads to a widening wealth gap. The majority loses, and the minority wins.
The fact that the U.S. stock market has set new all-time record high after new all-time record high in recent months means very little. At this point, the stock market has become completely divorced from economic reality. When this current bubble bursts, the adjustment is going to be very painful. Wall Street will likely whine and complain and ask for more bailouts, but they may find that authorities are not nearly as sympathetic this time.
Much of the rest of the world is already experiencing the next major wave of the economic collapse. Reckless money printing by the Fed and reckless borrowing and spending by the federal government may have delayed the inevitable in the United States for a little while, but those measures have also made our long-term problems even worse.
There was one piece of advice that Ben Bernanke included in his commencement speech to students at Princeton recently that I thought was particularly ironic…
“Don’t be afraid to let the drama play out.”
Will he take his own advice when the next great financial crisis strikes the United States?
That seems very unlikely.
Unfortunately, things are not going to be so easy to fix this next time.
What happened back in 2008 was just a preview.
What is coming next is going to absolutely shock the world.
Cyprus is a beta test. The banksters are trying to commit bank robbery in broad daylight, and they are eager to see if the rest of the world will let them get away with it. Cyprus was probably chosen because it is very small (therefore nobody will care too much about it) and because there is a lot of foreign (i.e. Russian) money parked there. The IMF and the EU could have easily bailed out Cyprus without any trouble whatsoever, but they purposely decided not to do that. Instead, they decided that this would be a great time to test the idea of a “wealth tax”. The government of Cyprus was given two options by the IMF and the EU – either they could confiscate money from private bank accounts or they could leave the eurozone. Apparently this was presented as a “take it or leave it” proposition, and many are using the world “blackmail” to describe what has happened. Sadly, this decision is going to set a very ominous precedent for the future and it is going to have ripple effects far beyond Cyprus. After the banksters steal money from bank accounts in Cyprus they will start doing it everywhere. If this “bank robbery” goes well, it will only be a matter of time before depositors in nations such as Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal are asked to take “haircuts” as well. And what will happen one day when the U.S. financial system collapses? Will U.S. bank accounts also be hit with a “one time” wealth tax? That is very frightening to think about.
Cyprus is a very small nation, so it is not the amount of money involved that is such a big deal. Rather, the reason why this is all so troubling is that this “wealth tax” is shattering confidence in the European banking system. Never before have the banksters come directly after bank accounts.
If everything goes according to plan, every bank account in Cyprus will be hit with a “one time fee” this week. Accounts with less than 100,000 euros will be hit with a 6.75% tax, and accounts with more than 100,000 euros will be hit with a 9.9% tax.
How would you feel if something like this happened where you live?
How would you feel if the banksters suddenly demanded that you hand over 10 percent of all the money that you had in the bank?
And why would anyone want to still put money into the bank in nations such as Greece, Italy, Spain or Portugal after all of this?
One writer for Forbes has called this “probably the single most inexplicably irresponsible decision in banking supervision in the advanced world since the 1930s.” And I would agree with that statement. I certainly did not expect to see anything like this in Europe. This is going to cause people to pull money out of banks all over the continent. If I was living in Europe (and especially if I was living in one of the more financially-troubled countries) that is exactly what I would be doing.
The bank runs that we witnessed in Cyprus over the weekend may just be a preview of what is coming. When this “wealth tax” was announced, it triggered a run on the ATMs and many of them ran out of cash very rapidly. A bank holiday was declared for Monday, and all electronic transfers of money were banned.
Needless to say, the people of Cyprus were not too pleased about all of this. In fact, one very angry man actually parked his bulldozer outside of one bank branch and threatened to physically bulldoze his way inside.
But this robbery by the banksters has not been completed yet. First, the Cypriot Parliament must approve the new law authorizing this wealth confiscation on Monday. If it is approved, then the actually wealth confiscation will take place on Tuesday morning.
According to Reuters, the new president of Cyprus is warning that if the bank account tax is not approved the two largest banks in Cyprus will collapse and there will be complete and total financial chaos in his country…
President Nicos Anastasiades, elected three weeks ago with a pledge to negotiate a swift bailout, said refusal to agree to terms would have led to the collapse of the two largest banks.
“On Tuesday … We would either choose the catastrophic scenario of disorderly bankruptcy or the scenario of a painful but controlled management of the crisis,” Anastasiades said in written statement.
In several statements since his election, he had previously categorically ruled out a deposit haircut.
The fact that the new president had previously ruled out any kind of a wealth tax has a lot of people very, very upset. They feel like they were flat out lied to…
“I’m furious,” said Chris Drake, a former Middle East correspondent for the BBC who lives in Cyprus. “There were plenty of opportunities to take our money out; we didn’t because we were promised it was a red line which would not be crossed.”
But apparently the wealth confiscation could actually have been far worse. According to one report, the IMF and the EU were originally demanding a 40% wealth tax on bank account holders in Cyprus…
As the President of Cyprus proclaims to his people that “we’ should all take responsibility as his historic decision will “lead to the permanent rescue of the economy,” it appears that the settled-upon 9.9% haircut is a ‘good deal’ compared to the stunning 40% of total deposits that Germany’s FinMin Schaeuble and the IMF demanded.
Could you imagine?
How would you feel if you woke up someday and 40% of all your money had been taken out of your bank accounts?
At this point, there is still some doubt about whether this plan will actually be adopted or not.
Right now the new president of Cyprus does not have the votes that he needs, but you can be sure that there is some high level arm twisting going on.
Originally the vote was supposed to happen on Sunday, but it was delayed until Monday to allow for some extra “persuading” to be done.
And of course the people of Cyprus are overwhelmingly against this wealth tax. In fact, one poll found that 71 percent of the entire population of Cyprus wants this plan to be voted down.
The funny thing is that Cyprus is not even in that bad of shape.
The unemployment rate is around 12 percent, but in other European nations such as Greece and Spain the unemployment rate is more than double that.
Cyprus has a debt to GDP ratio of about 87 percent, but the United States has a debt to GDP ratio of well over 100 percent.
So if they will go directly after bank accounts in Cyprus, what will stop them from going after bank accounts in larger nations when the time comes?
In the final analysis, this is a game changer. No longer will any bank account in the western world be considered to be 100 percent safe.
Trust is a funny thing. It takes a long time to build, but it can be destroyed in a single moment.
Trust in European banks has now been severely damaged, and that damage is not going to be undone any time soon.
A recent blog post by the CEO of Saxo Bank, Lars Christensen, did a great job of explaining how incredibly damaging this move by the IMF and the EU truly is…
This is a breach of fundamental property rights, dictated to a small country by foreign powers and it must make every bank depositor in Europe shiver. Although the representatives at the bailout press conference tried to present this as a one-off, they were not willing to rule out similar measures elsewhere – not that it would have mattered much as the trust is gone anyway. It is now difficult to expect any kind of limitation to what measures the Troika and EU might take when the crisis really starts to bite.
if you can do this once, you can do it again. if you can confiscate 10 percent of a bank customer’s money, you can confiscate 25, 50 or even 100 percent. I now believe we will see worse as the panic increases, with politicians desperately trying to keep the EUR alive.
Depositors in other prospective bailout countries must be running scared – is it safe to keep money in an Italian, Spanish or Greek bank any more? I dont know, must be the answer. Is it prudent to take the risk? You decide. I fear this will lead to massive capital outflows from weak Eurozone countries, just about the last thing they need right now.
This is the biggest moment that we have witnessed since the beginning of the European financial crisis.
Financial authorities in Europe could try to calm nerves by at least pretending that this will never happen again in any other country, but so far they are refusing to do that…
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, president of the group of euro-area ministers, on Saturday declined to rule out taxes on depositors in countries beyond Cyprus, although he said such a measure was not currently being considered.
Such a measure is “not currently being considered” for other members of the eurozone?
Yeah, that sure is going to make people feel a lot more confident in what is coming next.
I have insisted over and over that the next wave of the economic collapse would originate in Europe, and we may have just witnessed the decision that will cause the dominoes to start to fall.
The banksters have sent a very clear message. When the chips are down, they are going to come after YOUR money.
So what do you think about the bank robbery that is taking place in Cyprus? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…
Is the financial system of Europe on the verge of a meltdown? I have always maintained that the next wave of the economic crisis would begin in Europe, and right now the situation in Europe is unraveling at a frightening pace. On Monday, European stocks had their worst day in over six months, and over the past four days we have seen the EUR/USD decline by the most that it has in nearly seven months. Meanwhile, scandals are erupting all over the continent. A political scandal in Spain, a derivatives scandal in Italy and banking scandals all over the eurozone are seriously shaking confidence in the system. If things move much farther in a negative direction, we could be facing a full-blown financial crisis in Europe very rapidly. So watch the financial markets in Europe very carefully. Yes, most Americans tend to ignore Europe because they are convinced that the U.S. is “the center of the universe”, but the truth is that Europe actually has a bigger population than we do, they have a bigger economy then we do, and they have a much larger banking system than we do. The global financial system is more integrated today than it ever has been before, and if there is a major stock market crash in Europe it is going to deeply affect the United States and the rest of the globe as well. So pay close attention to what is going on in Europe, because events over there could spark a chain reaction that would have very serious implications for every man, woman and child on the planet.
As I noted above, European markets started off the week very badly and things have certainly not improved since then. The following is how Zero Hedge summarized what happened on Thursday…
EuroStoxx (Europe’s Dow) closed today -1% for 2013. France, Germany, and Spain are all lower on the year now. Italy, following ENI’s CEO fraud, collapsed almost 3% from the US day-session open, leaving it up less than 1% for the year. Just as we argued, credit markets have been warning that all is not well and today’s afternoon free-fall begins the catch-down.
In addition, the euro has been dropping like a rock all of a sudden. Just check out this chart which shows what happened to the euro on Thursday. It is very rare to see the euro move that dramatically.
So what is causing all of this?
Well, we already know that the economic fundamentals in Europe are absolutely horrible. Unemployment in the eurozone is at a record high, and the unemployment rates in both Greece and Spain are over 26 percent. Those are depression-level numbers.
But up until now there had still been a tremendous amount of confidence in the European financial system. But now that confidence is being shaken by a whole host of scandals.
In recent days, a number of major banking scandals have begun to emerge all over Europe. Just check out this article which summarizes many of them.
One of the worst banking scandals is in Italy. A horrible derivatives scandal has pushed the third largest bank in Italy to the verge of collapse…
Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS.MI), Italy’s third biggest lender, said on Wednesday losses linked to three problematic derivative trades totaled 730 million euros ($988.3 million) as it sought to draw a line under a scandal over risky financial transactions.
There is that word “derivative” that I keep telling people to watch for. Of course this is not the big “derivatives panic” that I have been talking about, but it is an example of how these toxic financial instruments can bring down even the biggest banks. Monte dei Paschi is the oldest bank in the world, and now the only way it is able to survive is with government bailouts.
Another big scandal that is shaking up Europe right now is happening over in Spain. It is being alleged that Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and other members of his party have been receiving illegal cash payments. The following summary of the scandal comes from a recent Bloomberg article…
On Jan. 31, the Spanish newspaper El Pais published copies of what it said were ledgers from secret accounts held by Luis Barcenas, the former treasurer of the ruling People’s Party, which revealed the existence of a party slush fund. The newspaper said 7.5 million euros in corporate donations were channeled into the fund and allegedly doled out from 1997 to 2009 to senior party members, including Rajoy.
That doesn’t sound good at all.
So what is the truth?
Could Rajoy actually be innocent?
Well, at this point most of the population of Spain does not believe that is the case. Just check out the following poll numbers from the Bloomberg article quoted above…
According to the Metroscopia poll, 76 percent of Spaniards don’t believe the People’s Party’s denials of the slush-fund allegations. Even more damning, 58 percent of the party’s supporters think it’s lying. All of the Spanish businessmen with whom I discussed the latest scandal expect it to get worse before it gets better. Their assumption that there are more skeletons in the government’s closet indicates what little trust they have in their leaders.
Meanwhile, the underlying economic fundamentals in Europe just continue to get worse. One of the biggest concerns right now is France. Just check out this excerpt from a recent report by Phoenix Capital Research…
The house of cards that is Europe is close to collapsing as those widely held responsible for solving the Crisis (Prime Ministers, Treasurers and ECB head Mario Draghi) have all been recently implicated in corruption scandals.
Those EU leaders who have yet to be implicated in scandals are not faring much better than their more corrupt counterparts. In France, socialist Prime Minister Francois Hollande, has proven yet again that socialism doesn’t work by chasing after the wealthy and trying to grow France’s public sector… when the public sector already accounts for 56% of French employment.
France was already suffering from a lack of competitiveness. Now that wealthy businesspeople are fleeing the country (meaning investment will dry up), the economy has begun to positively implode.
As the report goes on to mention, over the past few months the economic numbers coming out of France have been absolutely frightful…
Auto sales for 2012 fell 13% from those of 2011. Sales of existing homes outside of Paris fell 20% year over year for the third quarter of 2012. New home sales fell 25%. Even the high-end real estate markets are collapsing with sales for apartments in Paris that cost over €2 million collapsing an incredible 42% in 2012.
Today, the jobless rate in France is at a 15-year high, and industrial production is headed into the toilet. The wealthy are fleeing France in droves because of the recent tax increases, and the nation is absolutely drowning in debt. Even the French jobs minister recently admitted that France is essentially “bankrupt” at this point…
France’s government was plunged into an embarrassing row yesterday after a minister said the country was ‘totally bankrupt’.
Employment secretary Michel Sapin said cuts were needed to put the damaged economy back on track.
‘There is a state but it is a totally bankrupt state,’ he said.
So what does all of this mean?
It means that the crisis in Europe is just beginning. Things are going to be getting a lot worse.
Perhaps that is one reason why corporate insiders are dumping so much stock right now as I noted in my article yesterday entitled “Do Wall Street Insiders Expect Something Really BIG To Happen Very Soon?” There are a whole host of signs that both the United States and Europe are heading for recession, and a lot of financial experts are warning that stocks are way overdue for a “correction”.
For example, Blackstone’s Byron Wien told CNBC the other day that he expects the S&P 500 to drop by 200 points during the first half of 2013.
Seabreeze Partners portfolio manager Doug Kass recently told CNBC that what is happening right now in the financial markets very much reminds him of the stock market crash of 1987…
“I’m getting the ‘summer of 1987 feeling’ in the U.S. equity market,” Kass told CNBC, “which means we’re headed for a sharp fall.”
Toward the end of 2012 and at the very beginning of 2013 we saw markets both in the U.S. and in Europe move up steadily even though the underlying economic fundamentals did not justify such a move.
In many ways, that move up reminded me of the “head fakes” that we have seen prior to many of the largest “market corrections” of the past. Often financial markets are at their most “euphoric” just before a crash hits.
So get ready.
Even if you don’t have a penny in the financial markets, now is the time to prepare for what is ahead.
We all need to learn from what Europe is going through right now. In Greece, formerly middle class citizens are now trampling one another for food. We all need to prepare financially, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically so that we can weather the economic storm that is coming.
Most Americans are accustomed to living paycheck to paycheck and being constantly up to their eyeballs in debt, but that is incredibly foolish. Even in the animal kingdom, animals work hard during the warm months to prepare for the winter months. Even so, we should all be working very hard to prepare during prosperous times so that we will have something stored up for the lean years that are coming.
Unfortunately, if events in Europe are any indication, we may be rapidly running out of time.
The economic implosion of Europe is accelerating. Even while the mainstream media continues to proclaim that the financial crisis in Europe has been “averted”, the economic statistics that are coming out of Europe just continue to get worse. Manufacturing activity in Europe has been contracting month after month, the unemployment rate in the eurozone has hit yet another brand new record high, and the official unemployment rates in both Greece and Spain are now much higher than the peak unemployment rate in the United States during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The economic situation in Europe is far worse than it was a year ago, and it is going to continue to get worse as austerity continues to take a huge toll on the economies of the eurozone. It would be hard to understate how bad things have gotten – particularly in southern Europe. The truth is that most of southern Europe is experiencing a full-blown economic depression right now. Sadly, most Americans are paying very little attention to what is going on across the Atlantic. But they should be watching, because this is what happens when nations accumulate too much debt. The United States has the biggest debt burden of all, and eventually what is happening over in Spain, France, Italy, Portugal and Greece is going to happen over here as well.
The following are 20 facts about the collapse of Europe that everyone should know…
#1 10 Months: Manufacturing activity in both France and Germany has contracted for 10 months in a row.
#2 11.8 Percent: The unemployment rate in the eurozone has now risen to 11.8 percent – a brand new all-time high.
#3 17 Months: In November, Italy experienced the sharpest decline in retail sales that it had experienced in 17 months.
#4 20 Months: Manufacturing activity in Spain has contracted for 20 months in a row.
#5 20 Percent: It is estimated that bad loans now make up approximately 20 percent of all domestic loans in the Greek banking system at this point.
#6 22 Percent: A whopping 22 percent of the entire population of Ireland lives in jobless households.
#7 26 Percent: The unemployment rate in Greece is now 26 percent. A year ago it was only 18.9 percent.
#8 26.6 Percent: The unemployment rate in Spain has risen to an astounding 26.6 percent.
#9 27.0 Percent: The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 in Cyprus. Back in 2008, this number was well below 10 percent.
#10 28 Percent: Sales of French-made vehicles in November were down 28 percent compared to a year earlier.
#11 36 Percent: Today, the poverty rate in Greece is 36 percent. Back in 2009 it was only about 20 percent.
#12 37.1 Percent: The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 in Italy – a brand new all-time high.
#13 44 Percent: An astounding 44 percent of the entire population of Bulgaria is facing “severe material deprivation”.
#14 56.5 Percent: The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 in Spain – a brand new all-time high.
#15 57.6 Percent: The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 in Greece – a brand new all-time high.
#16 60 Percent: Citigroup is projecting that there is a 60 percent probability that Greece will leave the eurozone within the next 12 to 18 months.
#17 70 Percent: It has been reported that some homes in Spain are being sold at a 70% discount from where they were at during the peak of the housing bubble back in 2006. At this point there are approximately 2 million unsold homes in Spain.
#18 200 Percent: The debt to GDP ratio in Greece is rapidly approaching 200 percent.
#19 1997: According to the Committee of French Automobile Producers, 2012 was the worst year for the French automobile industry since 1997.
#20 2 Million: Back in 2005, the French auto industry produced about 3.5 million vehicles. In 2012, that number dropped to about 2 million vehicles.
One thing that these shocking numbers cannot convey is the tremendous amount of pain that many average Europeans are living through on a daily basis at this point. To get a peek into what life is like in Greece these days, check out this short excerpt from a recent Bloomberg article…
Anastasia Karagaitanaki, 57, is a former model and cafe owner in Thessaloniki, Greece. After losing her business to the financial crisis, she now sleeps on a daybed next to the refrigerator in her mother’s kitchen and depends on charity for food and insulin for her diabetes.
“I feel like my life has slipped through my hands,” said Karagaitanaki, whose brother also shares the one-bedroom apartment. “I feel like I’m dead.”
For thousands of Greeks like Karagaitanaki, the fabric of middle-class life is unraveling. Teachers, salaries slashed by a third, are stealing electricity. Families in once-stable neighborhoods are afraid to leave their homes because of rising street crime.
All over Europe, people that have lost all hope are actually setting themselves on fire in a desperate attempt to draw attention. Millions of formerly middle class Europeans have lost everything and are becoming increasingly desperate. Suicide and crime are skyrocketing all over southern Europe and massive street riots are erupting on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. Things are going to get even worse for Europe.
Meanwhile, those of us living in the United States smugly look down our noses at Europe because we are still living in a false bubble of debt-fueled prosperity.
But eventually we will feel the sting of austerity as well. The recent fiscal cliff deal was an indication of that. Taxes are going up and government spending is at least going to slow down. It won’t be too long before the effects of that are felt in the economy.
And of course the reality of the situation is that the U.S. economy really did not perform very well at all during 2012 when you take a look at the numbers. The cold, hard truth is that the U.S. economy has been declining for a very long time, and there are a whole bunch of reasons to expect that our decline will accelerate even further in 2013.
So if you are an American, don’t laugh at what is happening over in Europe at the moment. We are headed down the exact same path that they have gone, and we are going to experience the same kind of suffering that they are going through right now.
Use these last few “bubble months” to prepare for what is ahead. At some point this “hope bubble” will disappear and then the time for preparation will be over.
What was considered unthinkable a few months ago has now become probable. All over the globe there are headlines proclaiming that a Greek exit from the euro is now a real possibility. In fact, some of those headlines make it sound like it is practically inevitable. For example, Der Spiegel ran a front page story the other day with the following startling headline: “Acropolis, Adieu! Why Greece must leave the euro”. Many are saying that the euro will be stronger without Greece. They are saying things such as “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” and they are claiming that financial markets are now far more prepared for a “Grexit” than they would have been two years ago. But the truth is that it really is naive to think that a Greek exit from the euro can be “managed” and that business will go on as usual afterwards. If Greece leaves the euro it will set a very dangerous precedent. The moment Greece exits the euro, investors all over the globe will be asking the following question: “Who is next?” Portugal, Italy and Spain would all see bond yields soar and they would all likely experience runs on their banks. It would only be a matter of time before more eurozone members would leave. In the end, the whole monetary union experiment would crumble.
As I have written about previously, New York Times economist Paul Krugman is wrong about a whole lot of things, but in a blog post the other day he absolutely nailed what is likely to soon unfold in Greece….
1. Greek euro exit, very possibly next month.
2. Huge withdrawals from Spanish and Italian banks, as depositors try to move their money to Germany.
3a. Maybe, just possibly, de facto controls, with banks forbidden to transfer deposits out of country and limits on cash withdrawals.
3b. Alternatively, or maybe in tandem, huge draws on ECB credit to keep the banks from collapsing.
4a. Germany has a choice. Accept huge indirect public claims on Italy and Spain, plus a drastic revision of strategy — basically, to give Spain in particular any hope you need both guarantees on its debt to hold borrowing costs down and a higher eurozone inflation target to make relative price adjustment possible; or:
4b. End of the euro.
By itself, Greece cannot crash the eurozone. But the precedent that Greece is about to set could set forth a chain of events that may very well bring about the end of the eurozone.
If one country is allowed to leave the euro, that means that other countries will be allowed to leave the euro as well. This is the kind of uncertainty that drives financial markets crazy.
When the euro was initially created, monetary union was intended to be irreversible. There are no provisions for what happens if a member nation wants to leave the euro. It simply was not even conceived of at the time.
So we are really moving into uncharted territory. A recent Bloomberg article attempted to set forth some of the things that might happen if a Greek exit from the euro becomes a reality….
A Greek departure from the euro could trigger a default-inducing surge in bond yields, capital flight that might spread to other indebted states and a resultant series of bank runs. Although Greece accounts for 2 percent of the euro-area’s economic output, its exit would fragment a system of monetary union designed to be irreversible and might cause investors to raise the threat of withdrawal by other states.
In fact, yields on Spanish debt and Italian debt are already rising rapidly thanks to the bad news out of Greece in recent days.
What makes things worse is that a new government has still not formed in Greece. It looks like new elections may have to be held in June.
Meanwhile, the Greek government is rapidly running out of money. The following is from a Bank of America report that was released a few days ago….
“If no government is in place before June when the next installment (of loan money) from the European Union and International Monetary Fund is due, we estimate that Greece will run out of money sometime between the end of June and beginning of July, at which point a return to the drachma would seem inevitable”
In the recent Greek elections, parties that opposed the bailout agreements picked up huge gains. And opinion polls suggest that they will make even larger gains if another round of elections is held.
The Coalition of the Radical Left, also known as Syriza, surprised everyone by coming in second in the recent elections. Current polling shows that Syriza is likely to come in first if new elections are held.
The leader of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, is passionately against the bailout agreements. He says that Greece can reject austerity because the rest of Europe will never kick Greece out of the eurozone. Tsipras believes that the rest of Europe must bail out Greece because the consequences of allowing Greece to go bankrupt and fall out of the eurozone would be far too high for the rest of Europe.
A spokesman for Syriza, Yiannis Bournos, recently told the Telegraph the following….
“Mr Schaeuble [Germany’s finance minister] is pretending to be the fearless cowboy on the radio, saying the euro is secure [against a Greek exit]. But there’s no way they will kick us out”
So Greece and Germany are playing a game of chicken.
Who will blink first?
Will either of them blink first?
Syriza is trying to convince the Greek people that they can reject austerity and stay in the euro. Syriza insists that the rest of Europe will provide the money that they need to pay their bills.
And most Greeks do actually want to stay in the euro. One recent poll found that 78.1 percent of all Greeks want Greece to remain in the eurozone.
But a majority of Greeks also do not want anymore austerity.
Unfortunately, it is not realistic for them to assume that they can have their cake and eat it too. If Greece does not continue to move toward a balanced budget, they will lose their aid money.
And if Greece loses that aid money, the consequences will be dramatic.
Outgoing deputy prime minister of Greece Theodoros Pangalos recently had the following to say about what would happen if Greece doesn’t get the bailout money that it needs….
“We will be in wild bankruptcy, out-of-control bankruptcy. The state will not be able to pay salaries and pensions. This is not recognised by the citizens. We have got until June before we run out of money.”
If Greece gets cut off and runs out of money, it will almost certainly be forced to go back to using the drachma. If that happens there will likely be a “bank holiday”, the borders will be secured to limit capital flight and new currency will be rapidly printed up. It would be a giant mess.
In fact, there are rumblings that the European financial system is already making preparations for all this. For example, a recent Reuters article had the following shock headline: “Banks prepare for the return of the drachma”
But a new drachma would almost certainly crash in value almost immediately as a recent article in the Telegraph described….
Most economists think that a new, free-floating drachma would immediately crash by up to 50 percent against the euro and other currencies, effectively halving the value of everyone’s savings and spelling catastrophe for those on fixed incomes, like pensioners.
A Greek economy that is already experiencing a depression would get even worse. The Greek economy has contracted by 8.5 percent over the past 12 months and the unemployment rate in Greece is up to 21.8 percent. It is hard to imagine what Greece is going to look like if things continue to fall apart.
But the consequences for the rest of Europe (and for the rest of the globe) would be dramatic as well. A Greek exit from the euro could be the next “Lehman Brothers moment” and could plunge the entire global financial system into another major crisis.
Unfortunately, at this point it is hard to imagine a scenario in which the eventual break up of the euro can be avoided.
Germany would have to become willing to bail out the rest of the eurozone indefinitely, and that simply is not going to happen.
So there is a lot of pessimism in the financial world right now. Nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next and the number of short positions is steadily rising as a recent CNN article detailed….
After staying quiet at the start of the year, the bears have come roaring back with a vengeance.
Short interest — a bet on stocks turning lower — topped 13 billion shares on the New York Stock Exchange at the end of last month. That’s up 4% from March and marks the highest level of the year.
If the eurozone is going to survive, Greece must stay a part of it.
Instead of removing the weakest link from the chain, the reality is that a Greek exit from the euro would end up shattering the chain.
Confidence is a funny thing. It can take decades to build but it can be lost in a single moment.
If Greece leaves the euro, investor confidence in the eurozone will be permanently damaged. And when investors get spooked they don’t behave rationally.
A common currency in Europe is not dead by any means, but this current manifestation is now operating on borrowed time.
As the eurozone crumbles, it is likely that Germany will simply pull the plug at some point and decide to start over.
So what do you think?
Do you think that I am right or do you think that I am wrong?
Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….
The unemployment rate in the eurozone is now 10.7 percent. That is the highest the unemployment rate has been since the introduction of the euro. The unemployment rate in the eurozone never got any higher than 10.2 percent during the last recession. This is very troubling news. It was just recently announced that the eurozone has entered another recession, and already the unemployment rate is hitting new record highs. So how bad are things going to get in the months to come? The truth is that the problems for Europe are just starting. The European sovereign debt crisis continues to get worse, and another major global financial crisis is going to be here way too soon. The EU as a whole has a larger population, a larger banking system and more Fortune 500 companies than the United States does. When the financial system of Europe crashes, the entire world is going to feel it.
Some of the unemployment numbers coming out of Europe are absolutely staggering.
Unemployment in Spain is 19.9 percent.
Unemployment in Greece is 23.3 percent.
And when you look at youth unemployment the numbers are far worse.
The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 is 48.1 percent in Greece and 49.9 percent in Spain.
If you look carefully at the photos of the austerity riots happening in Spain and in Greece you will notice that the vast majority of the protesters are young people.
Instead of getting better, the unemployment numbers in Europe just keep getting worse. Many analysts were shocked by these new numbers. The following is from a CNN article….
“This is appalling,” said Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics, highlighting that the unemployment rate following the collapse of Lehman Brothers peaked at 10.2%.
The frightening thing is that we haven’t even had a major financial crisis in Europe yet. So far, the powers that be have been able to keep Greece from defaulting and have been able to keep major banks all over Europe from collapsing.
But there are quite a few signs that the “moment of reckoning” for Europe is rapidly approaching….
-The European Central Bank announced on Tuesday that it would no longer take Greek bonds as collateral from European banks. That is a really bad sign.
-Major European banks are revealing unexpectedly huge losses on Greek debt. The following is from a Reuters article….
The scars of Greece’s debt crisis were laid bare in heavy losses from a string of European banks on Thursday, and bosses warned the region’s precarious finances would continue to threaten economic growth and earnings.
From France to Germany, Britain to Belgium, four of the region’s biggest banks lined up to reveal they lost more than 8 billion euros (6.8 million pounds) last year from their Greek bonds holdings.
“We are in the worst economic crisis since 1929,” Credit Agricole chief executive Jean-Paul Chifflet said.
-The International Swaps and Derivatives Association has ruled that the Greek debt deal will not trigger payouts on credit default swaps. This is going to make it less likely that private bondholders will voluntarily agree to the debt deal.
This ruling is also seriously shaking confidence in credit default swaps. After all, they are supposed to be “insurance” in case something happens. But if they aren’t going to pay out when you need them, what good are they?
-Voters in Germany are sick and tired of pouring money into a black hole. One recent opinion poll in Germany showed that Germans are overwhelmingly against more bailouts for Greece.
Some German politicians are becoming very open about their feelings for Greece. For example, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said the following in a recent interview with Der Spiegel….
“Greece’s chances to regenerate itself and become competitive are surely greater outside the monetary union than if it remains in the euro area.” He added that he did not support a forced exit. “I’m not talking about throwing Greece out, but rather about creating incentives for an exit that they can’t pass up.”
-In Greece, news publications are openly portraying German Chancellor Angela Merkel as Hitler. Far left political parties that oppose the bailouts are surging in the polls and anger and frustration are reaching unprecedented levels.
The following is from a recent article in The Guardian….
There is a growing animosity towards Germany on the streets of Athens. Angela Merkel bears most of the hostility with one of Greece’s newspapers last week mocking the chancellor up as a Nazi on its front page.
Niki Fidaki, 40, says Greeks are angry at Germany and the troika’s demands for higher taxes and public services cuts. “People can’t afford to pay the tax. My pay has gone down, but my taxes have gone up. But, I’m a lucky one – half of my friends don’t have jobs. Greeks hate that they are asking us to pay all the time when we don’t have the money. Families have no work, they have kids to look after but no money to pay for anything.”
As I have written about before, Greece is already going through a devastating economic depression. The people of Greece are not in the mood to be pushed much further.
The eurozone is a powder keg that could explode at any time.
So why is the U.S. economy doing so much better than the European economy right now?
Well, a big reason is because we haven’t seen any austerity in the United States yet.
Barack Obama is funding our false prosperity by borrowing 150 million dollars an hour from our children and our grandchildren.
Of course all of this reckless borrowing is going to make the eventual collapse of our financial system far worse, but right now Americans don’t seem to care. The only thing the mainstream media seems to care about is that some of our economic numbers are getting slightly better.
The sad thing is that our government is spending a lot of this money on some of the most stupid things that you could possibly imagine.
Did you know that the Obama administration just spent $750,000 on a brand new soccer field for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay?
I wish I had a $750,000 soccer field to play on.
I would love that.
Look, when the federal government quits stealing more than a trillion dollars a year from future generations things are going to look a whole lot different in this country.
So pay attention to what is going on in Europe.
That is where we are headed eventually.