Europe Tries To Kick The Can Down The Road But It Will Only Lead To Financial Disaster

Have you heard the good news?  Financial armageddon has been averted.  The economic collapse in Europe has been cancelled.  Everything is going to be okay.  Well, actually none of those statements is true, but news of the “debt deal” in Europe has set off a frenzy of irrational exuberance throughout the financial world anyway.  Newspapers all over the globe are declaring that the financial crisis in Europe is over.  Stock markets all over the world are soaring.  The Dow was up nearly 3 percent today, and this recent surge is helping the S&P 500 to have its best month since 1974.  Global financial markets are experiencing an explosion of optimism right now.  Yes, European leaders have been able to kick the can down the road for a few months and a total Greek default is not going to happen right now.  However, as you will see below, the core elements of this “debt deal” actually make a financial disaster in Europe even more likely in the future.

The two most important parts of the plan are a 50% “haircut” on Greek debt held by private investors and highly leveraging the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) to give it much more “firepower”.

Both of these elements are likely to cause significant problems down the road.  But most investors do not seem to have figured this out yet.  In fact, most investors seem to be buying into the hype that Europe’s problems have been solved.

There is a tremendous lack of critical thinking in the financial community today.  Just because politicians in Europe say that the crisis has been solved does not mean that the crisis has been solved.  But all over the world there are bold declarations that a great “breakthrough” has been achieved.  An article posted on USA Today is an example of this irrational exuberance….

Investors — at least for now — don’t have to worry about a financial collapse like the one in 2008, after Wall Street investment bank Lehman Bros. filed for bankruptcy, sparking a global financial crisis.

“Financial Armageddon seems to have been taken off the table,” says Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.

Wow, doesn’t that sound great?

But now let’s look at the facts.

You can’t solve a debt problem with even more debt.  But that is what this debt deal is trying to do.

The politicians in Europe did not want to raise more money for the EFSF the “hard way”.  Voters in Germany (and other European nations) are overwhelmingly against contributing even more cash to a fund that many see as a financial black hole.

So what do you do when more money is needed but nobody wants to contribute?

You borrow it.

Essentially, this debt deal calls for the EFSF to become four or five times larger by “leveraging” the existing funds in the EFSF.

But isn’t that risky?

Of course it is.

There are some leaders in Europe that recognize this.  For example, an article in The Telegraph notes the reservations that the president of the Bundesbank has about this plan….

Jens Weidmann, the president of the Bundesbank and a member of the European Central Bank, sounded the alarm over the plan to “leverage” the fund by a factor of four to five times without putting any new money into the pot.

He warned that the scheme could be hit by market turbulence with taxpayers left holding the bill for risky investments in Italian and Spanish bonds.

So who is going to fund all of this new debt?

Well, it turns out that the Europeans are counting on the same folks that the U.S. government is constantly borrowing money from.

The Chinese.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has already spoken directly with Chinese President Hu Jintao about funding this new bailout effort.

So is borrowing money from the Chinese to fund bailouts for Greece and other weak sisters in Europe sound policy?

Of course not.

And the sad thing is that this expanded EFSF is still not going to be enough to solve the financial problems in Europe.

According to an article in The Telegraph, a recent survey of economists found that most of them do not believe that this new plan is going to raise enough money….

The plan to increase the European Financial and Stability Facility to €1  trillion on paper was attacked by economists as not enough to “stave off” worsening debt problems in Italy and Spain.

In a survey of economists, 26 of 48 thought the firepower was not enough.

But the worst part of this new plan is the 50 percent “haircut” that private investors are being forced to take.

This is essentially a partial default by the Greek government.  A lot of folks are going to get hit really hard by losses from this.  Instead of making financial institutions in Europe stronger, these losses are going to make a lot of them even weaker.

Normally, in the event of a default, credit default swap contracts would be triggered.  But apparently because this was considered to be a “voluntary” haircut, that is not going to happen in this instance.

A Bloomberg article explained this in greater detail.  The following is a brief excerpt….

The EU agreement with investors for a voluntary 50 percent writedown on their Greek bond holdings means $3.7 billion of debt-insurance contracts won’t be triggered, according to the International Swaps & Derivatives Association’s rules.

That means that investors and financial institutions all over the world are just going to have to eat these losses.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is already acknowledging that a number of Greek banks will have to be nationalized because of the severity of this “haircut”.  A recent CNBC article detailed this….

The haircut is expected to impose big losses on the country’s banks and state-run pension funds, which are up their necks in toxic Greek government bonds of about 100 billion euros.

The government will replenish pension funds’ capital, but banks may face temporary nationalisation, Papandreou said.

“It is very likely that a large part of the banks’ shares will pass into state ownership,” Papandreou said. He pledged, however, that these stakes will be sold back to private investors after the banks’ restructuring.

So where will the Greek government get the funds to “replenish” the capital of those banks?

That is a very good question.

But we haven’t even discussed the worst part of this “debt deal” yet.

If you don’t remember any other part of this article, please remember this.

The debt deal in Europe sends a very frightening message to the market.

The truth is that Europe could have totally bailed out Greece without any sort of a “haircut” taking place.

But they didn’t.

So now investors all over the globe have got to be thinking that if they are holding Portuguese bonds, Italian bonds or Spanish bonds there is a really good chance that they will be forced to take a massive “haircut” at some point as well.

At this time last year, the yield on two year Italian bonds was about 2.5 percent.  Now it is about 4.5 percent.  As investors begin to price in the probability of having to take a future “haircut” on Italian debt, those bond yields are going to go much, much higher.

That means that it is going to become much more expensive for the Italian government to borrow money and that also means that it is going to become much more difficult for the Italians to get their financial house in order.

In essence, the haircut on Greek debt is a signal to investors that they should require a much higher rate of return on the debt of all of the PIIGS.  This is going to make the financial collapse of all of the PIIGS much more likely.

Remember, about this time last year the yield on two year Greek bonds was about 10 percent.  Today, it is over 70 percent.

As I wrote about in a previous article, the western world is in debt up to its eyeballs right now and trying to kick the can down the road is not going to solve anything.

Our leaders may succeed in delaying the pain for a while, but it most definitely is coming.

Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Italy all have debt to GDP ratios that are well over 100% right now.  Spain is in a huge amount of trouble as well.

When you add up all the debt, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain owe the rest of the world about 3 trillion euros combined.

If Italy or Spain goes down, the rest of Europe is going to be helpless to stop it.  There simply is not going to be enough money to bail either one of them out.

That is why this “debt deal” is so alarming.  All investors in Italian or Spanish debt will now have to factor in the probability that they will be required to accept a 50 percent haircut at some point in the future.

If the markets behave rationally (and if the ECB does not manipulate them too much), it appears inevitable that bond yields over in Europe are going to rise substantially, and that will put tremendous additional financial strain on governments all over Europe.

Basically, we have got a huge mess on our hands, and this debt deal just made it a lot worse.

Yes, a financial collapse has been averted in Greece for the moment, but the truth is that there is no real reason to be celebrating this deal.

A massive financial storm is coming to Europe, and this “debt deal” has made that all the more certain.

Once again, politicians in Europe have tried to kick the can down the road, but in the end their efforts are only going to lead to complete and total financial disaster.

LOL – This Stock Market Rally Is For Suckers

Hey, have you heard?  The stock market is absolutely soaring right now.  The Dow was up 330 points on Monday, and overall the Dow has risen by more than 10 percent since October 3rd.  So should we all be throwing our money into the stock market in order to take advantage of this tremendous rally?  Well, if you actually believe that the sovereign debt crisis has passed and that we are no longer on the verge of a massive worldwide financial crisis then I have a bridge that I would like to sell you.  The stock market may be soaring, but absolutely nothing has been solved.  The truth is that this stock market rally is for suckers.  The primary reason why stocks rose today was because German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy promised that they would reveal a “comprehensive response” to the European debt crisis by the end of this month.  When pressed for specifics, Sarkozy stated that “now is not the moment to go into the details.”  So do global financial markets really have a legitimate reason to be giddy about the super secret plan cooked up by Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, or are Merkel and Sarkozy just blowing a bunch of smoke?

Merkel and Sarkozy have made bold promises in the past, but nothing ever got fixed.

So why should we believe them this time?

If they have real solutions, why don’t they just reveal them now?

Why keep us in suspense?

By making these vague promises, Merkel and Sarkozy certainly did give a boost to global financial markets, but they also seriously raised expectations.

Now many in the financial world are expecting something truly significant from Merkel and Sarkozy.  For example, CNN has quoted economist Scott Brown as saying the following about the announcement by Merkel and Sarkozy….

“The Europe debt crisis cloud has been hanging over the market for a year-and-a-half now,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James. “The risks and worries have been intensifying over the last couple of weeks, but after this weekend, the market is expecting something big and concrete that will put the crisis behind us.”

So can Merkel and Sarkozy deliver something big?

Of course not.

Merkel has already gotten all of the bailout money that she is going to get out of the Germans.  The political will for more bailouts is totally gone in Germany, and many of Germany’s top leaders have expressed this in no uncertain terms.

For example, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is publicly admitting that Germany will not be able to contribute any more money to the European bailout fund.

Also, the leader of Bavaria’s Social Christians, Horst Seehofer, said after the recent vote on the Greek bailout package that his party would go “this far, and no further“.

Recent opinion polls in Germany make it abundantly clear that the German people are overwhelmingly opposed to more bailouts.  Squeezing more money out of Germany simply is not going to happen, and that means that squeezing more money out of the rest of Europe is simply not going to happen.

In a recent editorial, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard described the current political situation in Europe in this manner….

Repeat after me:

THERE WILL BE NO FISCAL UNION.

THERE WILL BE NO EUROBONDS.

THERE WILL BE NO DEBT POOL.

THERE WILL BE NO EU TREASURY.

THERE WILL BE NO FISCAL TRANSFERS IN PERPETUITY.

THERE WILL BE A STABILITY UNION – OR NO MONETARY UNION.

Get used to it. This is the political reality of Europe, since nothing of importance can be done without Germany. All else is wishful thinking, clutching at straws, and evasion. If this means the euro will shed some members or blow apart – as it almost certainly does – then the rest of the world must prepare for the day.

So exactly what “big” solution do Merkel and Sarkozy have up their sleeves that does not involve more money?

Can they really produce the goods or are they just blowing smoke?

Perhaps global financial markets should be focusing on what we can see rather than on what we cannot see.

For example, the first major bank bailout in Europe has now happened.  Dexia is being bailed out, and it is going to cost more than 100 billion dollars.

The funny thing is that Dexia actually passed the banking stress test that was conducted a few months ago.

What does that say about all of the major European banks that did not pass the stress test?

Also, perhaps global financial markets should focus on all of the credit ratings that are being downgraded all over Europe.

Lately, we have seen a cascade of credit rating downgrades.

For example, Moody’s slashed Italy’s credit rating by three levels last Tuesday, and the other day S&P slashed the credit ratings of seven different major Italian banks.

The problems in Europe continue to grow worse, and yet the stock market is soaring.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?

If Greece defaults, it is going to be a major disaster.

If Italy or Spain defaults, it is going to be financial armageddon.

The world truly is on the verge of a massive financial crisis.  If you don’t want to believe me, perhaps you might believe some of the top financial officials in the world….

*Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn King: “This is the most serious financial crisis we’ve seen at least since the 1930s, if not ever”

*U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner recently stated that if something is not done quickly, Europe faces “cascading default, bank runs and catastrophic risk.”

*IMF advisor Robert Shapiro: “If they can not address [the financial crisis] in a credible way I believe within perhaps 2 to 3 weeks we will have a meltdown in sovereign debt which will produce a meltdown across the European banking system. We are not just talking about a relatively small Belgian bank, we are talking about the largest banks in the world, the largest banks in Germany, the largest banks in France, that will spread to the United Kingdom, it will spread everywhere because the global financial system is so interconnected.”

For many more shocking quotes about how bad things have gotten in Europe, just check out this article.

Merkel and Sarkozy are holding really weak cards but they have chosen to raise the stakes anyway.

Their bluff may calm financial markets for a month or two, but in the end they will not be able to stop what is coming.

A great financial collapse is coming to Europe.

Try to get out of the way of the coming avalanche while you still can.

And So It Begins – The First Major European Bank Has Been Bailed Out And More Bailouts Are Coming

And so it begins.  The first major European bank bailout of 2011 has now happened.  French/Belgian banking giant Dexia has failed and both governments have pledged to participate in a rescue plan.  But Dexia will not be the last major European bank to fail.  Even now, governments all over Europe are feverishly developing plans to bail out major national banks in the event that the current financial crisis goes from bad to worse.  Instead of learning the lessons of 2008, most major European banks have continued to pile up huge mountains of debt, leverage and risk.  Now the bill for that stupidity is about to be passed on to the taxpayers of those nations.  But with most nations in Europe already drowning in debt, are bank bailouts really the right course of action?  What is it going to happen to Europe if dozens of major banks start failing and trillions of euros are needed to bail them all out?

Dexia is the first victim of the new credit crunch.  It got to the point where Dexia simply could not get access to the funding that it needed in the credit markets.

We are starting to see this all over Europe.  Nobody wants to loan much money to European banks right now because it is unclear what is going to happen next in Europe and it is uncertain which banks are stable and which are on the verge of collapse.

This is so similar to what happened back in 2008.

But Dexia is not going to be “the next Lehman Brothers” because the governments of France and Belgium are stepping in to save Dexia from collapse.

A recent article in the Financial Post described how the rescue of Dexia is likely to proceed….

Dexia will effectively be broken up, with the sale of healthier operations while toxic assets, including Greek and other peripheral euro zone government bonds, will be placed in a state-supported “bad bank.”

The details of the plan will be negotiated over the coming days, but authorities are making it clear that Dexia is not going to be allowed to collapse.  Bank of France Governor Christian Noyer is assuring everyone that Dexia is going to have access to plenty of liquidity….

“We will loan Dexia as much as it needs”

It appears that the “too big to fail” doctrine is alive and well in Europe.

Sadly, this is not the first time that Dexia has been bailed out.  France and Belgium also bailed out Dexia back in 2008.

But this was not supposed to happen.

Just three months ago, Dexia received “a clean bill of health” from regulators during European Union bank stress testing.

It just shows how credible those “stress tests” really are.

So are more European bank bailouts coming?

It certainly looks that way.

An article in the Financial Post on Tuesday stated the following….

European finance ministers agreed on Tuesday to prepare action to safeguard their banks as doubts grew about whether a planned second bailout package for debt-laden Greece would go ahead.

Of course when they talk about the need “to safeguard their banks” they are talking about those that are deemed “too big to fail”.  Just like in the United States, banks that are “too small” don’t get bailed out at all.

But western governments are very protective of the big banks.  The big banks are allowed to take gigantic risks, and if they succeed they make tons of money and if they fail then the taxpayers bail them out.

With big trouble on the horizon in Europe, authorities are already getting ready to bail out the major banks.  A Bloomberg article from last month acknowledged that the German government has been very busy getting ready to bail out their major banks in the event that a Greek default becomes a reality….

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is preparing plans to shore up German banks in the event that Greece fails to meet the terms of its aid package and defaults, three coalition officials said.

As you read this, there are already signs of trouble at major German banks.  For example, Deutsche Bank has just announced that it is eliminating 500 more jobs.

The fundamental problems that Europe is facing are not being solved and the financial crisis is getting progressively worse.  With each passing day, more bad financial news comes pouring in.

For example, Moody’s slashed Italy’s bond ratings by three levels on Tuesday.

A reduction of just one level is very serious business.  For Moody’s to hit Italy that hard is a really big deal.

Italian banks have also been targeted by the credit rating agencies.  The other day, S&P slashed the credit ratings of seven different Italian banks.

If Italy goes down, it is going to be an absolute nightmare.  The Italian economy absolutely dwarfs the Greek economy.  The EU has been really struggling to bail out Greece, and there is no way in the world that they would be able to bail out Italy.

So if nations such as Italy or Spain start collapsing, will the U.S. Federal Reserve step in to help bail them out?

You never know.

The sad truth is that the Federal Reserve can do pretty much whatever it wants and nobody can stop them.

As I wrote about the other day, the Federal Reserve has agreed to join with other major central banks to lend hundreds of billions of dollars to major European banks in October, November and December.

As the past few years have shown, wherever big, global banks are in trouble, the Federal Reserve is sure to step in and help.

And many big banks in Europe are definitely headed for trouble.  Right now, European banks are holding more than $4 trillion in European sovereign debt.

A lot of that debt is bad debt.  Today, troubled European nations Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain owe the rest of the world about 3 trillion euros combined.

That is a whole lot of debt out there, and many big banks are so leveraged that just a 5 percent reduction in the value of their holdings could wipe them out.

Hold on to your hats folks.

So what should we be watching next?

Well, Greece continues to be a huge problem.

The IMF, the European Central Bank and the European Union are very frustrated with Greece right now.

On Monday, it was revealed that Greece is not going to hit the deficit reduction targets set for it by the “troika” either this year or next year.

European officials have been particularly displeased that Greece has been getting all of this aid money and yet has not been strictly adhering to the austerity measures that they agreed to.

However, the reality is that the austerity measures that Greece has actually bothered to implement have hit the Greek economy really hard.  The more Greece reduces government spending the more the Greek economy seems to slow down.

Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos recently announced that the Greek economy is projected to shrink by 5.3% in 2011, and Greek debt continues to spiral out of control.

Meanwhile, severe economic pain continues to spark huge protests all over Greece.  Scenes of riot police firing tear gas and protesters throwing stones at police have become so common in Greece that most of us don’t even pay much attention anymore.

But all of us should pay attention to what is happening in Greece.

Eventually these kinds of economic riots will spread throughout the rest of the western world as well.

And every day Greece just seems to get closer and closer to default.

At this point, global financial markets seem to consider a Greek default to be inevitable.  The yield on 2 year Greek bonds is now over 65 percent.  The yield on 1 year Greek bonds is now over 135 percent.

Greece is toast without more bailout money.

But now major politicians all over Germany are declaring that Germany is done contributing money to the European bailout fund.

And without Germany, the rest of the eurozone is not going to be able to continue the bailouts.

So the clock is ticking.

Once the current bailout fund has dried up, the bailout game will be over.

What will happen then?

Will that be what sets off a massive financial collapse in Europe?

Could we actually see the end of the euro?

For a long time there was speculation that it would be weak nations such as Greece that would leave the euro.

But now it appears increasingly likely that if someone is going to leave the euro it might be Germany.

Most German citizens would be in favor of such a move.  One recent poll conducted for Stern magazine actually found that 54 percent of all Germans would favor leaving the euro.

But if Germany left the euro it would absolutely implode.  German economic strength is the primary thing holding the euro up at this point.

In any event, it is going to be very interesting to watch what will happen to Europe over the coming months.

Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain are all steadily marching toward collapse.

Germany says that it is done bailing out other members of the eurozone.

Dozens of major European banks are teetering on the brink of disaster.

People get ready – a storm is coming.

Time is running out for Europe and there is no help in sight.

Prophets Of Doom: 12 Shocking Quotes From Insiders About The Horrific Economic Crisis That Is Almost Here

We are getting so close to a financial collapse in Europe that you can almost hear the debt bubbles popping.  All across the western world, governments and major banks are rapidly becoming insolvent.  So far, the powers that be are keeping all of the balls in the air by throwing around lots of bailout money.  But now the political will for more bailouts is drying up and the number of troubled entities seems to grow by the day.  Right now the western world is facing a debt crisis that is absolutely unprecedented in world history.  Europe has had a tremendously difficult time just trying to keep Greece afloat, and several much larger European countries are now on the verge of a major financial crisis.  In addition, there is a growing number of very large financial institutions all over the western world that are also rapidly approaching a day of reckoning.  The global financial system is a sea or red ink, and when we get to the point where there are hundreds of ships going under how is it going to be possible to bail all of them out?  The quotes that you are about to read show that quite a few top financial and political insiders know that things cannot hold together much longer and that a horrific economic crisis is coming.  We built the global financial system on a foundation of debt, leverage and risk and now this house of cards that we have created is about to come tumbling down.

A lot of people in politics and in the financial world know what is about to happen.  Once in a while they will even be quite candid about it with the media.

As I have written about previously, Europe is on the verge of a financial collapse.  If things go really badly, things could totally fall apart in a few weeks.  But more likely it will be a few more months until the juggling act ends.

Right now, the banking system in Europe is coming apart at the seams.  Because the global financial system is so interconnected today, when major European banks start to fail it is going to have a cascading effect across the United States and Asia as well.

The financial crisis of 2008 plunged us into the deepest recession since the Great Depression.

The next financial crisis could potentially hit the world even harder.

The following are 12 shocking quotes from insiders that are warning about the horrific economic crisis that is almost here….

#1 George Soros: “Financial markets are driving the world towards another Great Depression with incalculable political consequences. The authorities, particularly in Europe, have lost control of the situation.”

#2 PIMCO CEO Mohammed El-Erian: “These are all signs of an institutional run on French banks. If it persists, the banks would have no choice but to delever their balance sheets in a very drastic and disorderly fashion. Retail depositors would get edgy and be tempted to follow trading and institutional clients through the exit doors. Europe would thus be thrown into a full-blown banking crisis that aggravates the sovereign debt trap, renders certain another economic recession, and significantly worsens the outlook for the global economy.”

#3 Attila Szalay-Berzeviczy, global head of securities services at UniCredit SpA (Italy’s largest bank): “The only remaining question is how many days the hopeless rearguard action of European governments and the European Central Bank can keep up Greece’s spirits.”

#4 Stefan Homburg, the head of Germany’s Institute for Public Finance: “The euro is nearing its ugly end. A collapse of monetary union now appears unavoidable.”

#5 EU Parliament Member Nigel Farage: “I think the worst in the financial system is yet to come, a possible cataclysm and if that happens the gold price could go (higher) to a number that we simply cannot, at this moment, even imagine.”

#6 Carl Weinberg, the chief economist at High Frequency Economics: “At this point, our base case is that Greece will default within weeks.”

#7 Goldman Sachs strategist Alan Brazil: “Solving a debt problem with more debt has not solved the underlying problem. In the US, Treasury debt growth financed the US consumer but has not had enough of an impact on job growth. Can the US continue to depreciate the world’s base currency?”

#8 International Labour Organization director general Juan Somavia recently stated that total unemployment could “increase by some 20m to a total of 40m in G20 countries” by the end of 2012.

#9 Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackerman: “It is an open secret that numerous European banks would not survive having to revalue sovereign debt held on the banking book at market levels.”

#10 Alastair Newton, a strategist for Nomura Securities in London: “We believe that we are just about to enter a critical period for the eurozone and that the threat of some sort of break-up between now and year-end is greater than it has been at any time since the start of the crisis”

#11 Ann Barnhardt, head of Barnhardt Capital Management, Inc.: “It’s over. There is no coming back from this. The only thing that can happen is a total and complete collapse of EVERYTHING we now know, and humanity starts from scratch. And if you think that this collapse is going to play out without one hell of a big hot war, you are sadly, sadly mistaken.”

#12 Lakshman Achuthan of ECRI: “When I call a recession…that means that process is starting to feed on itself, which means that you can yell and scream and you can write a big check, but it’s not going to stop.”

*****

In my opinion, the epicenter of the “next wave” of the financial collapse is going to be in Europe.  But that does not mean that the United States is going to be okay.  The reality is that the United States never recovered from the last recession and there are already a lot of signs that we are getting ready to enter another major recession.  A major financial collapse in Europe would just accelerate our plunge into a new economic crisis.

If you want to read something that will really freak you out, you should check out what Dr. Philippa Malmgren is saying.  Dr. Philippa Malmgren is the President and founder of Principalis Asset Management.  She is also a former member of the Bush economic team. You can find her bio right here.

Malmgren is claiming that Germany is seriously considering bringing back the Deutschmark.  In fact, she claims that Germany is very busy printing new currency up.  In a list of things that we could see happen over the next few months, she included the following….

“The Germans announce they are re-introducing the Deutschmark. They have already ordered the new currency and asked that the printers hurry up.”

This is quite a claim for someone to be making.  You would think that someone that used to work in the White House would not make such a claim unless it was based on something solid.

If Germany did decide to leave the euro, you would see an implosion of the euro that would be truly historic.

But as I have written about previously, it should not surprise anyone that the end of the euro is being talked about because the euro simply does not work.

The only way that the euro would have had a chance of working is if all of the governments using the euro would have kept debt levels very low.

Unfortunately, the financial systems of the western world are designed to push governments into high levels of debt.

The truth is that the euro was doomed from the very beginning.

Now we are approaching a day of reckoning.  We have been living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world, but the bubble is ending.  There are several ways that the powers that be could handle this, but all of them will lead to greater financial instability.

In the end, we will see that the debt-fueled prosperity that the western world has been enjoying for decades was just an illusion.

Debt is a very cruel master.  It will almost always bring more pain and suffering than you anticipated.

It is easy to get into debt, but it can be very difficult to get out of debt.

There is no way that the western world can unwind this debt spiral easily.

The only way that another massive economic crisis can be put off for even a little while would be for the powers that be to “kick the can down the road” a little farther by creating even more debt.

But in the end, you can never solve a debt problem with more debt.

The next several years are going to be an incredibly clear illustration of why debt is bad.

When the dominoes start to fall, we are going to witness a financial avalanche which is going to destroy the finances of millions of people.

You might want to try to get out of the way while you still can.

Is Financial Instability The New Normal?

The financial world is officially going crazy.  Can you believe what is going on out there right now?  Financial markets have been jumping up and down like crazy for months and this is creating a lot of fear.  Other than during the financial crisis of 2008, in the post-World War II era have we ever experienced as much financial instability as we are seeing right now?  Should we just accept that massive financial instability is going to be part of “the new normal” in the financial world?  The wild swings that we are witnessing in the global financial marketplace are making a whole lot of people very nervous right at the moment.  When markets go up, they tend to do it slowly and steadily.  When markets go down, a lot of times it can happen very rapidly.  Also, as I have mentioned before, more major stock market crashes happen during the fall than during any other time of the year.  The last major financial crisis happened during the fall of 2008, and things are starting to look a little bit more like 2008 with each passing day.  The last thing the global economy needs right now is another major financial meltdown, but that may be exactly what we are about to get.

The Dow got absolutely hammered once again on Thursday.  It was down almost 400 points, and it has lost a total of 674.83 points over the last two days combined.

In case you are wondering, yes, that is a very big deal.

It represents the largest two day decline that we have seen since November 2008, and at this point the Dow is on pace to have its worst week since September 2008.

Over the past two days, more than 900 billion dollars of “paper wealth” has disappeared.

Hopefully you did not share in that pain.

A couple of days ago, I discussed 21 signs that the financial world was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  But I had no idea that things would get so ugly so soon.

So what comes next?

One of the keys is to watch what the “insiders” are doing.  Often they will say one thing and do another.

At the moment, corporate “insiders” are selling 7 dollars of stock for every 1 dollar of stock that they are buying.

Over the past couple of weeks, “insider” investing behavior has changed dramatically.  The following is from an article that was recently posted on MarketWatch….

The insiders have vanished.

Chief executives. Board members.

The head honchos. The people who know.

Just a few weeks ago, they were out in force, buying up shares in their own companies with both hands.

No longer. They’ve disappeared. Almost overnight.

“They’ve stopped buying,” says Charles Biderman, the chief executive of stock market research firm TrimTabs, which tracks the data.

For some reason, this almost always starts happening before a crash.  So obviously this is not a good sign.

A lot of normal investors have been pulling large amounts of money out of stocks as well.  The following is from a report in the Financial Post….

Investors have pulled more money from U.S. equity funds since the end of April than in the five months after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., adding to the $2.1 trillion rout in American stocks.

About $75 billion was withdrawn from funds that focus on shares during the past four months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from the Investment Company Institute, a Washington-based trade group, and EPFR Global, a research firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Outflows totaled $72.8 billion from October 2008 through February 2009, following Lehman’s bankruptcy, the data show.

Are you starting to get the picture?

Not only that, but a third very troubling sign is that an extraordinary number of bets has been placed against the S&P 500.  As I noted the other day, if there is a stock market crash in the next few weeks, somebody is going to make a ton of money….

We are seeing an amazing number of bets against the S&P 500 right now.  According to CNN, the number of bets against the S&P 500 rose to the highest level in a year last month.  But that was nothing compared to what we are seeing for October.  The number of bets against the S&P 500 for the month of October is absolutely astounding.  Somebody is going to make a monstrous amount of money if there is a stock market crash next month.

It doesn’t take a genius to see all the dark financial clouds that are gathering on the horizon.

And all of the bad news that is constantly coming out of Europe is certainly not helping things.  For example, yesterday S&P slashed the credit ratings of seven different Italian banks.

Credit downgrades have become so frequent that we hardly even notice them anymore.

Pessimism is everywhere right now.  Suddenly it seems like almost everyone is predicting that another “recession” is coming….

*According to a recent Harvard Business Review survey, 70 percent of global business leaders believe that a global recession is “somewhat likely” or “very likely” in the coming months.

*Economist Nouriel Roubini says that we are “already in recession“.

*When asked by CNBC what he thought about the possibility of another recession, George Soros said the following the other day….

“I think we are in it already.”

As fear spreads, it is only going to make global financial instability even worse.  If something doesn’t change, we could soon have a full-blown panic on our hands.

So why should the rest of us care if global financial markets crash and a bunch of bankers lose a whole lot of money?

Well, unfortunately our entire economic system is based on credit.  When the last financial crash happened in 2008, the credit markets got really tight.  Economic activity started to freeze up.  We entered a deep recession and unemployment skyrocketed.

As much as many of you may want to see the house of cards fall down, the reality is that when it does it is going to deeply hurt millions upon millions of innocent people too.

During the last recession (which never really ended), millions of Americans that lost their jobs also lost their homes.

Back in 2006, the home vacancy rate in America was 11.6%.

In 2009, the home vacancy rate was 12.6%.

In 2010, the home vacancy rate was 13.1%.

Just like the number of Americans on food stamps, this is a figure that just keeps going up and up and up.

Could we eventually live in a country where one out of every five homes is standing empty?

The truth is that the U.S. economy is in the middle of a long-term decline.  The economy declined badly while George W. Bush was in office, and the decline has accelerated since Barack Obama entered the White House.

As I wrote about yesterday, the American people are feeling really depressed about the economy and 80 percent of them believe that we are in a recession right now.

So what kind of a mood are they going to be in if there is another major financial crisis and unemployment jumps up by several more percentage points?

We live in unprecedented times.  The financial world has become incredibly unstable, and none of us is really quite sure what “the new normal” is going to look like after all of this is over.

But one thing is for sure – things never stay the same for long.

The way that things have been in the past is not how things are going to be in the future.

A “perfect storm” is coming.

Everything that can be shaken will be shaken.

You better get ready.

20 Quotes From European Leaders That Prove That They Know That The Financial System In Europe Is Doomed

The financial crisis in Europe has become so severe that it has put the future of the euro, and indeed the future of the EU itself, in doubt.  If the financial system in Europe collapses, it is going to plunge the entire globe into chaos.  The EU has a larger economy and a larger population than the United States does.  The EU also has more Fortune 500 companies that the United States does.  If the financial system in Europe breaks down, we are all doomed.  An economic collapse in Europe would unleash a financial tsunami that would sweep across the globe.  As I wrote about yesterday, the nightmarish sovereign debt crisis in Europe could potentially bring about the end of the euro.  The future of the monetary union in Europe is being questioned all over the continent.  Without massive bailouts, there are at least 5 or 6 nations in Europe that will likely soon default.  The political will for continued bailouts is rapidly failing in northern Europe, so something needs to be done quickly to avert disaster.  Unfortunately, as anyone that has ever lived in Europe knows, things tend to move very, very slowly in Europe.

If the bailouts end and Europe is not able to come up with another plan before then, mass chaos is going to unleashed.  Most major European banks are massively exposed to European sovereign debt, and most of them are also very, very highly leveraged.  If we see nations such as Greece, Portugal and Italy start to default, we could have quite a few major European banks go down in rapid succession.  That could be the “tipping point” that sets off mass financial panic around the globe.

Of course the governments of Europe would probably step in to bail out many of those banks, but when the U.S. did something similar back in 2008 that didn’t prevent the world from plunging into a horrible worldwide recession.

Right now, the way that the monetary union is structured in Europe simply does not work.  Countries that are deep in debt have no flexibility in dealing with those debts, and citizens of wealthy countries such as Germany are becoming deeply resentful that they must keep shoveling money into the financial black holes of southern Europe.

These bailouts cannot go on indefinitely.  Political and financial authorities all over Europe know this and they also know that Europe is rapidly heading toward a day of reckoning.

The quotes that you are about to read are absolutely shocking.  In Europe they openly admit that the financial system is dying, that the euro is in danger of not surviving and that the EU does not work in its present form.

The following are 20 quotes from European leaders that prove that they know that the financial system in Europe is doomed….

#1 Polish finance minister Jacek Rostowski: “European elites, including German elites, must decide if they want the euro to survive – even at a high price – or not. If not, we should prepare for a controlled dismantling of the currency zone.”

#2 Stephane Deo, Paul Donovan, and Larry Hatheway of Swiss banking giant UBS:Under the current structure and with the current membership, the euro does not work. Either the current structure will have to change, or the current membership will have to change.”

#3 EU President Herman Van Rompuy: “The euro has never had the infrastructure that it requires.”

#4 German President Christian Wulff: “I regard the huge buy-up of bonds of individual states by the ECB as legally and politically questionable. Article 123 of the Treaty on the EU’s workings prohibits the ECB from directly purchasing debt instruments, in order to safeguard the central bank’s independence”

#5 Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackerman: “It is an open secret that numerous European banks would not survive having to revalue sovereign debt held on the banking book at market levels.”

#6 ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet: “We are experiencing very demanding times”

#7 International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde: “Developments this summer have indicated we are in a dangerous new phase”

#8 Prince Hermann Otto zu Solms-Hohensolms-Lich, the Bundestag’s Deputy President: “We must consider whether it would not be better for the currency union and for Greece itself to go for debt restructuring and an exit from the euro”

#9 Alastair Newton, a strategist for Nomura Securities in London: “We believe that we are just about to enter a critical period for the eurozone and that the threat of some sort of break-up between now and year-end is greater than it has been at any time since the start of the crisis”

#10 Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder: “The current crisis makes it relentlessly clear that we cannot have a common currency zone without a common fiscal, economic and social policy”

#11 Bank of England Governor Mervyn King: “Dealing with a banking crisis was difficult enough, but at least there were public-sector balance sheets on to which the problems could be moved. Once you move into sovereign debt, there is no answer; there’s no backstop.”

#12 George Soros: “We are on the verge of an economic collapse which starts, let’s say, in Greece. The financial system remains extremely vulnerable.”

#13 German Chancellor Angela Merkel: “The current crisis facing the euro is the biggest test Europe has faced for decades, even since the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957.”

#14 Stephane Deo, Paul Donovan, and Larry Hatheway of Swiss banking giant UBS: “Member states would be economically better off if they had never joined. European monetary union was generally mis-sold to the population of the Europe.”

#15 Professor Giacomo Vaciago of Milan’s Catholic University: “It’s clear that the euro has virtually failed over the last ten years, even if you are not supposed to say that.”

#16 EU President Herman Van Rompuy: “We’re in a survival crisis. We all have to work together in order to survive with the euro zone, because if we don’t survive with the euro zone we will not survive with the European Union.”

#17 German Chancellor Angela Merkel: “If the euro fails, then Europe fails.”

#18 Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackerman: “All this reminds one of the autumn of 2008”

#19 International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde: “There has been a clear crisis of confidence that has seriously aggravated the situation. Measures need to be taken to ensure that this vicious circle is broken”

#20 German Chancellor Angela Merkel: “The euro is in danger … If we don’t deal with this danger, then the consequences for us in Europe are incalculable.”

Most of the individuals quoted above desperately want to save the euro.  They are not going to go down without a fight.  The overwhelming consensus among the political and financial elite in Europe is that increased European integration in Europe is the answer.

For example, EU President Herman Van Rompuy is very clear about what he believes the final result of this crisis will be….

“This crisis in the euro zone will strengthen European integration. That is my firm belief.”

Many of the elite in Europe are now openly talking about the need for a “United States of Europe”.  Just consider what former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder recently had to say….

“From the European Commission, we should make a government which would be supervised by the European Parliament. And that means the United States of Europe.”

But as mentioned above, things in Europe tend to move very, very slowly.  The debt crisis in Europe is rapidly coming to a breaking point, and it is very doubtful that Europe will be able to move fast enough to head it off.

What we may actually see is at least a partial collapse of the euro and a massive financial crisis in Europe first, and then much deeper European integration being sold by authorities in Europe as “the solution” to the crisis.

This would be yet another example of the classic problem/reaction/solution paradigm.

The “problem” would be a horrible financial crisis and economic downturn in Europe.

The “reaction” would be a cry from the European public for someone to “fix” things and return things back to “normal”.

The “solution” would be a “United States of Europe” with much deeper economic and political integration which is something that many among the political and financial elite of Europe have wanted for a long, long time.

Right now, the people of Europe are very much opposed to deeper economic and political integration. For example, 76 percent of Germans says that they have little or no faith in the euro and one recent poll found that German voters are against the introduction of “Eurobonds” by about a 5 to 1 margin.

It looks like it may take a major crisis in order to get the people of Europe to change their minds.

Unfortunately, it looks like that may be exactly what is going to happen.

18 Signs That Global Financial Markets Smell Blood In The Water

Can you smell it?  There is blood in the water.  Global financial markets are in turmoil.  Banking stocks are getting slaughtered right now.  European bond yields are absolutely soaring.  Major corporations are announcing huge layoffs.  The entire global financial system appears to be racing toward another major crisis.  So could we potentially see a repeat of 2008?  Sadly, when the next big financial crisis happens it might be worse than 2008.  Back in the middle of 2008, the U.S. national debt was less than 10 trillion dollars.  Today it is over 14 trillion dollars. Back in 2008, none of the countries in the EU were on the verge of financial collapse.  Today, several of them are.  This time if the global financial system starts falling apart the big governments around the world are not going to be able to do nearly as much to support it.  That is why what is happening right now is so alarming.  As signs of weakness spread, the short sellers and the speculators are starting to circle.  They can smell the money.

Back in 2008, bank stocks led the decline.  Today, that appears to be happening again.  The “too big to fail” banks are getting absolutely pummeled right now.  Most people don’t have much sympathy for the banksters, but if we do see a repeat of 2008 they are going to be cutting off credit and begging for massive bailouts once again, and that would not be good news for the economy.

In Europe, the EU sovereign debt crisis just seems to get worse by the day.  Bond yields for the PIIGS are going haywire.  The higher the yields go, the worse the crisis is going to get.

Meanwhile, as I have written about previously, a bad mood has descended on world financial markets. Pessimism is everywhere and fear is spreading.  The short sellers and the speculators are eager to jump on any sign of weakness.  Investors all over the globe are extremely nervous right now.

So what happens next?

Well, nobody knows for sure.

But things certainly do not look good.

The following are 18 signs that global financial markets smell blood in the water….

#1 Banks stocks are absolutely getting hammered right now.  Bank of America hit a 52 week low on Monday.  Bank of America shares declined 4 percent to $9.61.

#2 So far this year, Bank of America stock is down about 27 percent.

#3 Bloomberg is reporting that Bank of America may be forced to increase its capital cushion by 50 billion dollars.

#4 Shares of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are near two year lows.

#5 Shares in Citigroup fell 2.5 percent on Monday.

#6 Moody’s recently warned that it may be forced to downgrade the debt ratings of Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo.

#7 Barclays Capital, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley are all either considering staff cuts or are already laying workers off.

#8 The deputy European director of the International Monetary Fund says that the Greek debt crisis is “on a knife’s edge“.

#9 Moody’s has slashed Ireland’s bond rating all the way to junk status.

#10 The yield on 2 year Portuguese bonds is now over 20 percent, the yield on 2 year Irish bonds is now over 23 percent and the yield on 2 year Greek bonds is now over 35 percent.

#11 Shares of Italy’s largest bank dropped by a whopping 6.4% on Monday.

#12 On Monday, the yield on 10 year Italian bonds was the highest it has been since the euro was adopted.

#13 On Monday, the yield on 10 year Spanish bonds was also the highest it has been since the euro was adopted.

#14 Shares of Germany’s largest bank fell by a staggering 7% on Monday and are down a total of 22% so far this month.

#15 Citigroup’s chief economist, William Buiter, says that without direct intervention by the ECB there is going to be a wave of sovereign defaults across Europe….

“Nothing stands in the way of multiple sovereign defaults except the ECB: they are the only game in town, there is nothing else”

#16 Cisco has announced plans to axe 16 percent of its workers.

#17 Borders Group has announced that it will be liquidating all remaining assets.  That means that 399 stores will be closed and 10,700 workers will lose their jobs.

#18 During times of great crisis, many investors seek safe havens for their money.  On Monday, the price of gold shot past $1600 an ounce.

These are not normal financial times.  The worldwide debt bubble is starting to burst and nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next.  Certainly we are going to continue to see financial authorities all over the world do their best to keep the system going.  But as we saw in 2008, things can spiral out of control very quickly.

Just remember, back at the beginning of 2008 very few people would have ever imagined that the biggest financial institutions in America would be begging for hundreds of billions of dollars in bailouts by the end of that year.

When confidence disappears, the game can change very quickly.  To the vast majority of economists it would have been unimaginable that the yield on 2 year Greek bonds would be over 35 percent in mid-2011.

But here we are.

The entire global financial system is a house of cards built on a foundation of sand.  It is more vulnerable today than it has been at any other time since World War II.  When a couple of major dominoes fall, it is likely to set off a massive chain reaction.

The global financial system of today was not designed with safety and security in mind.  It was designed for greedy people to be able to make as much money as possible as quickly as possible.  The banksters don’t care about the greater good of mankind.  What they care about is making huge piles of cash.

There is way too much risk, way too much debt and way too much leverage in the global financial marketplace.  You would have thought that 2008 should have been a major wake up call for financial authorities around the world, but very few significant changes have been made since that time.

The financial news is just going to keep getting worse.  This financial system is simply unsustainable.  It is fundamentally unsound.  The reality is that financial bubbles cannot keep expanding forever.  Eventually they must burst.

Over the next few weeks, keep a close eye on banking stocks and keep a close eye on European bond yields.

Hopefully things will stabilize.

Hopefully the next wave of the financial collapse is not about to hit us.

Hopefully the entire global financial system is not on the verge of a major implosion.

But you might want to get prepared just in case.

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