Europe is on the verge of a horrifying financial meltdown, and there are only a few short weeks left to avert total disaster. On Monday, talks that were supposed to bring about yet another temporary “resolution” to the Greek debt crisis completely fell apart. The new Greek government has entirely rejected the idea of a six month extension of the current bailout. The Greeks want a new deal which would enable them to implement the promises that have been made to the voters. But that is not going to fly with the Germans, among others. They expect the Greeks to fulfill the obligations that were agreed to previously. The two sides are not even in the same ballpark at this point, and things are starting to get very personal. It is no secret that the new Greek government does not like the Germans, and the Germans are not particularly fond of the Greeks at this point. But unless they can find a way to work out a deal, things could get quite messy very rapidly. The Greek government has about three weeks of cash left, and any changes to the current bailout arrangement would have to be approved by parliaments all over Europe by March 1st. And the stakes are incredibly high. If there is no deal, we could see a Greek debt default, Greece could be forced to leave the eurozone and go back to the drachma, the euro could collapse to all time lows, all the banks all over Europe that are exposed to Greek government debt could be faced with absolutely massive losses, and the 26 trillion dollars in derivatives that are directly tied to the value of the euro could start to unravel. In essence, if things go badly this could be enough to push us into a global financial crisis.
On Monday, eurozone officials tried to get the Greeks to extend the current bailout package for six months with the current austerity provisions in place. Greek government officials responded by saying that “those who bring this back are wasting their time” and that those negotiating on behalf of the eurozone are being “unreasonable”…
A Greek government official said that a draft text presented to eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday spoke of Greece extending its current bailout package and as such was “unreasonable” and would not be accepted.
Without specifying who put forward the text to the meeting chaired by Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the official said: “Some people’s insistence on the Greek government implementing the bailout is unreasonable and cannot be accepted.”
Most observers have speculated that the new Greek government would give in to the demands of the rest of the eurozone when push came to shove.
But these new Greek politicians are a different breed. They are not establishment lackeys. Rather, they are very principled radicals, and they are not about to be pushed around. I certainly do not agree with their politics, but I admire the fact that they are willing to stand up for what they believe. That is a very rare thing these days.
On Monday, Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis shared the following in the New York Times…
I am often asked: What if the only way you can secure funding is to cross your red lines and accept measures that you consider to be part of the problem, rather than of its solution? Faithful to the principle that I have no right to bluff, my answer is: The lines that we have presented as red will not be crossed.
Does that sound like a man that is going to back down to you?
Meanwhile, the other side continues to dig in as well.
Just consider the words of the German finance minister…
Wolfgang Schaeuble, the German finance minister, accused the Greek government of “behaving irresponsibly” by threatening to tear up agreements made with the eurozone in return for access to the loans which are all that stand between Greece and financial collapse.
“It seems like we have no results so far. I’m quite skeptical. The Greek government has not moved, apparently,” he said.
“As long as the Greek government doesn’t want a program, I don’t have to think about options.”
Global financial markets are still acting as if they fully expect a deal to get done eventually.
I am not so sure.
And without a doubt, time is running short. As I mentioned above, something has got to be finalized by March 1st. The following comes from the Wall Street Journal…
Any changes to the content or expiration date of Greece’s existing €240 billion ($273 billion) bailout have to be decided by Friday, to give national parliaments in Germany, Finland and the Netherlands enough time to approve them before the end of the month. Without such a deal, Greece will be on its own on March 1, cut loose from the rescue loans from the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund that have sustained it for almost five years.
So what happens if there is no deal and Greece is forced to leave the eurozone?
Below, I have shared an excerpt from an article that details what Capital Economics believes would happen in the event of a “Grexit”…
- The drachma would be back. The euro would be effectively abandoned, and Greece would return to the drachma, its previous currency (it might take a new name). The drachma would likely tumble in value against the euro as soon as it was issued, and how much the government could print quickly would be a big issue.
- It would have to be fast, with capital controls. There would be people trying to pull their money out of Greece’s banks en masse. The Greek government would have to make that illegal pretty quickly. The European Central Bank drew up Grexit plans in 2012, and might be dusting them off now.
- European life support for Greek banks would be withdrawn. Greek banks can currently access emergency liquidity assistance from the ECB, which would be removed if Greece left the euro.
- Likely unrest and disorder. Barclays expects that this sudden economic collapse would “aggravate social unrest”, and notes that historically similar moves have caused a 45-85% devaluation of the currency. Capital Economics suggests that the drop could be more mild, closer to 20%, and Oxford Economics says 30%.
- Greece would resume economic policymaking. Greece’s central bank would probably start doing its own QE programme, and the government would likely return to running deficits, no longer restrained by bailout rules (though investors would probably want large returns, given the risk of another default).
- Inflation would spike immediately, but both Capital Economics and Oxford Economics say that should be temporary. It might look a bit like Russia this year — with the new currency in freefall until it finds its level against the euro, prices inside Greece would rise at dramatic speed. The inflation might be temporary, however, because with unemployment above 20%, Greece has plenty of spare labour slack to produce more.
That certainly does not sound good.
And once Greece leaves, everyone would be wondering who is next, because there are quite a few other deeply financially troubled nations in the eurozone.
David Stockman believes that Spain is a prime candidate…
In spite of the “recovery” in Spain, close to 24% are still unemployed. That statistic explains Pessimism in the Streets.
The crisis is here to stay according to significant majority of Spaniards. The general perception is that the current situation in which the country is negative and far from getting better, can only stay stagnant or even worse.
A Metroscopia poll published in El País makes it clear that the Spanish are unhappy with the current state of the country. Five out of six (83%) see the economic situation as “bad”, while more than half of the remaining perceive “regular”.
Right now, Europe is already teetering on the brink of an economic depression.
If this Greek debt crisis is not resolved, it could set in motion a chain of events which could start collapsing financial institutions all over Europe.
Yes, we have been here before and a deal has always emerged in the end.
But this time is different. This time very idealistic radicals are running things in Greece, and the “old guard” in Europe has no intention of giving in to them.
So let’s watch and see how this game of “chicken” plays out.
I have a feeling that it is not going to end well.
This is just the beginning of the oil crisis. Over the past couple of weeks, the price of U.S. oil has rallied back above 50 dollars a barrel. In fact, as I write this, it is sitting at $52.93. But this rally will not last. In fact, analysts at the big banks are warning that we could soon see U.S. oil hit the $20 mark. The reason for this is that the production of oil globally is still way above the current level of demand. Things have gotten so bad that millions of barrels of oil are being stored at sea as companies wait for the price of oil to go back up. But the price is not going to go back up any time soon. Even though rigs are being shut down in the United States at the fastest pace since the last financial crisis, oil production continues to go up. In fact, last week more oil was produced in the U.S. than at any time since the 1970s. This is really bad news for the economy, because the price of oil is already at a catastrophically low level for the global financial system. If the price of oil stays at this level for the rest of the year, we are going to see a whole bunch of energy companies fail, billions of dollars of debt issued by energy companies could go bad, and trillions of dollars of derivatives related to the energy industry could implode. In other words, this is a recipe for a financial meltdown, and the longer the price of oil stays at this level (or lower), the more damage it is going to do.
The way things stand, there is simply just way too much oil sitting out there. And anyone that has taken Economics 101 knows that when supply far exceeds demand, prices go down…
Oil prices have gotten crushed for the last six months. The extent to which that was caused by an excess of supply or by a slowdown in demand has big implications for where prices will head next. People wishing for a big rebound may not want to read farther.
Goldman Sachs released an intriguing analysis on Wednesday that shows what many already suspected: The big culprit in the oil crash has been an abundance of oil flooding the market. A massive supply shock in the second half of last year accounted for most of the decline. In December and January, slowing demand contributed to the continued sell-off.
At this point so much oil has already been stored up that companies are running out of places to put in all. Just consider the words of Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn…
“I think the oil market is trying to figure out an equilibrium price. The danger here, as we try and find an equilibrium price, at some point we may end up in a situation where storage capacity gets very, very limited. We may have too much physical oil for the available storage in certain locations. And it may be a locational issue.”
“And you may just see lots of oil in certain locations around the world where oil will have to price to such a cheap discount vis-a-vis the forward price that you make second tier, and third tier and fourth tier storage available.”
[…] “You could see the price fall relatively quickly to make that storage work in the market.”
The market for oil has fundamentally changed, and that means that the price of oil is not going to go back to where it used to be. In fact, Goldman Sachs economist Sven Jari Stehn says that we are probably heading for permanently lower prices…
The big take-away: “[T]he decline in oil has been driven by an oversupplied global oil market,” wrote Goldman economist Sven Jari Stehn. As a result, “the new equilibrium price of oil will likely be much lower than over the past decade.”
So how low could prices ultimately go?
As I mentioned above, some analysts are throwing around $20 as a target number…
The recent surge in oil prices is just a “head-fake,” and oil as cheap as $20 a barrel may soon be on the way, Citigroup said in a report on Monday as it lowered its forecast for crude.
Despite global declines in spending that have driven up oil prices in recent weeks, oil production in the U.S. is still rising, wrote Edward Morse, Citigroup’s global head of commodity research. Brazil and Russia are pumping oil at record levels, and Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran have been fighting to maintain their market share by cutting prices to Asia. The market is oversupplied, and storage tanks are topping out.
A pullback in production isn’t likely until the third quarter, Morse said. In the meantime, West Texas Intermediate Crude, which currently trades at around $52 a barrel, could fall to the $20 range “for a while,” according to the report.
Keep in mind that the price of oil is already low enough to be a total nightmare for the global financial system if it stays here for the rest of 2015.
If we go down to $20 and stay there, a global financial meltdown is virtually guaranteed.
Meanwhile, the “fracking boom” in the United States that generated so many jobs, so much investment and so much economic activity is now turning into a “fracking bust”…
The fracking-for-oil boom started in 2005, collapsed by 60% during the Financial Crisis when money ran out, but got going in earnest after the Fed had begun spreading its newly created money around the land. From the trough in May 2009 to its peak in October 2014, rigs drilling for oil soared from 180 to 1,609: multiplied by a factor of 9 in five years! And oil production soared, to reach 9.2 million barrels a day in January.
It was a great run, but now it is over.
In the months ahead, the trickle of good paying oil industry jobs that are being lost right now is going to turn into a flood.
And this boom was funded with lots and lots of really cheap money from Wall Street. I like how Wolf Richter described this in a recent article…
That’s what real booms look like. They’re fed by limitless low-cost money – exuberant investors that buy the riskiest IPOs, junk bonds, leveraged loans, and CLOs usually indirectly without knowing it via their bond funds, stock funds, leveraged-loan funds, by being part of a public pension system that invests in private equity firms that invest in the boom…. You get the idea.
As all of this bad paper unwinds, a lot of people are going to lose an extraordinary amount of money.
Don’t get caught with your pants down. You will want your money to be well away from the energy industry long before this thing collapses.
And of course in so many ways what we are facing right now if very reminiscent of 2008. So many of the same patterns that have played out just prior to previous financial crashes are happening once again. Right now, oil rigs are shutting down at a pace that is almost unprecedented. The only time in recent memory that we have seen anything like this was just before the financial crisis in the fall of 2008. Here is more from Wolf Richter…
In the latest reporting week, drillers idled another 84 rigs, the second biggest weekly cut ever, after idling 83 and 94 rigs in the two prior weeks. Only 1056 rigs are still drilling for oil, down 443 for the seven reporting weeks so far this year and down 553 – or 34%! – from the peak in October.
Never before has the rig count plunged this fast this far:
What if the fracking bust, on a percentage basis, does what it did during the Financial Crisis when the oil rig count collapsed by 60% from peak to trough? It would take the rig count down to 642!
But even though rigs are shutting down like crazy, U.S. production of oil has continued to rise…
Rig counts have long been used to help predict future oil and gas production. In the past week drillers idled 98 rigs, marking the 10th consecutive decline. The total U.S. rig count is down 30 percent since October, an unprecedented retreat. The theory goes that when oil rigs decline, fewer wells are drilled, less new oil is discovered, and oil production slows.
But production isn’t slowing yet. In fact, last week the U.S. pumped more crude than at any time since the 1970s. “The headline U.S. oil rig count offers little insight into the outlook for U.S. oil production growth,” Goldman Sachs analyst Damien Courvalin wrote in a Feb. 10 report.
Look, it should be obvious to anyone with even a basic knowledge of economics that the stage is being set for a massive financial meltdown.
This is just the kind of thing that can plunge us into a deflationary depression. And when you combine this with the ongoing problems in Europe and in Asia, it is easy to see that a “perfect storm” is brewing on the horizon.
Sadly, a lot of people out there will choose not to believe until the day the crisis arrives.
By then, it will be too late to do anything about it.
The price of oil collapsed by more than 8 percent on Wednesday, and a decision by the European Central Bank has Greece at the precipice of a complete and total financial meltdown. What a difference 24 hours can make. On Tuesday, things really seemed like they were actually starting to get better. The price of oil had rallied by more than 20 percent since last Thursday, things in Europe seemed like they were settling down, and there appeared to be a good deal of optimism about how global financial markets would perform this month. But now fear is back in a big way. Of course nobody should get too caught up in how the markets behave on any single day. The key is to take a longer term point of view. And the fact that the markets have been on such a roller coaster ride over the past few months is a really, really bad sign. When things are calm, markets tend to steadily go up. But when the waters start really getting choppy, that is usually a sign that a big move down in on the horizon. So the huge ups and the huge downs that we have witnessed in recent days are likely an indicator that rough seas are ahead.
A stunning decision that the European Central Bank has just made has set the stage for a major showdown in Europe. The ECB has decided that it will no longer accept Greek government bonds as collateral from Greek banks. This gives the European Union a tremendous amount of leverage in negotiations with the new Greek government. But in the short-term, this could mean some significant pain for the Greek financial system. The following is how a CNBC article described what just happened…
“The European Central Bank is telling the Greek banking system that it will no longer accept Greek bonds as collateral for any repurchase agreement the Greek banks want to conduct,” said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group, said in a note.
“This is because the ECB only accepts investment grade paper and up until today gave Greece a waiver to this clause. That waiver has now been taken away and Greek banks now have to go to the Greek Central Bank and tap their Emergency Liquidity Assistance facility for funding,” he said.
And it certainly didn’t take long for global financial markets to respond to this news…
The Greek stock market closed hours ago, but the exchange-traded fund that tracks Greek stocks, GREK, crashed during the final minutes of trading in the US markets.
The euro is also getting walloped, falling 1.3% against the US dollar.
The EUR/USD, which had recovered to almost 1.15, fell to nearly 1.13 on news of the action taken by the ECB.
But this is just the beginning.
In coming months, I fully expect the euro to head toward parity with the U.S. dollar.
And if the new Greek government will not submit to the demands of the EU, and Greece ultimately ends up leaving the common currency, it could potentially mean the end of the eurozone in the configuration that we see it today.
Meanwhile, the oil crash has taken a dangerous new turn.
Over the past week, we have seen the price of oil go from $43.58 to $54.24 to less than 48 dollars before rebounding just a bit at the end of the day on Wednesday.
This kind of erratic behavior is the exact opposite of what a healthy market would look like.
What we really need is a slow, steady climb which would take the price of oil back to at least the $80 level. In the current range in which it has been fluctuating, the price of oil is going to be absolutely catastrophic for the global economy, and the longer it stays in this current range the more damage that it is going to do.
But of course the problems that we are facing are not just limited to the oil price crash and the crisis in Greece. The truth is that there are birth pangs of the next great financial collapse all over the place. We just have to be honest with ourselves and realize what all of these signs are telling us.
And it isn’t just in the western world where people are sounding the alarm. All over the world, highly educated professionals are warning that a great storm is on the horizon. The other day, I had an economist in Germany write to me with his concerns. And in China, the head of the Dagong Rating Agency is declaring that we are going to have to face “a new world financial crisis in the next few years”…
The world economy may slip into a new global financial crisis in the next few years, China’s Dagong Rating Agency Head Guan Jianzhong said in an interview with TASS news agency on Wednesday.
“I believe we’ll have to face a new world financial crisis in the next few years. It is difficult to give the exact time but all the signs are present, such as the growing volume of debts and the unsteady development of the economies of the US, the EU, China and some other developing countries,” he said, adding the situation is even worse than ahead of 2008.
For a long time, I have been pointing at the year 2015. But this year is not going to be the end of anything. Rather, it is just going to be the beginning of the end.
During the past few years, we have experienced a temporary bubble of false stability fueled by reckless money printing and an unprecedented accumulation of debt. But instead of fixing anything, those measures have just made the eventual crash even worse.
Now a day of reckoning is fast approaching.
Life as we know it is about to change dramatically, and most people are completely and totally unprepared for it.
If you want to figure out what is going to happen next in the financial markets, carefully watch what the insiders are doing. Those that are “connected” have access to far better sources of information than the rest of us have, and if they hear that something big is coming up they will often make very significant moves with their money in anticipation of what is about to happen. Right now, Wall Street insiders and central banks all around the globe are making some very unusual moves. In fact, they appear to be rapidly preparing for something really big. So exactly what are they up to? In a previous article entitled “Are The Government And The Big Banks Quietly Preparing For An Imminent Financial Collapse?“, I speculated that they may be preparing for a financial meltdown of some sort. As I noted in that article, more than 600 banking executives have resigned from their positions over the past 12 months, and I have been personally told that a substantial number of Wall Street bankers have been shopping for “prepper properties” this summer. But now even more evidence has emerged that quiet preparations are being made for an imminent financial collapse. That doesn’t guarantee that something will happen or won’t happen. Like any good detective, we are gathering clues and trying to figure out what the evidence is telling us.
Why Is George Soros Selling So Much Stock And Buying So Much Gold?
I am certainly not a fan of George Soros. He has funneled millions upon millions of dollars into organizations that are trying to take America in the exact wrong direction.
However, I do recognize that he is extremely well connected in the financial world. Soros is almost always ahead of the curve on financial matters, and if something big is going to go down George Soros is probably going to know about it ahead of time.
That is why it is very alarming that he has dumped all of his banking stocks and that he is massively hoarding gold. The following is from shtfplan.com….
In a harbinger of what may be coming our way in the Fall of 2012, billionaire financier George Soros has sold all of his equity positions in major financial stocks according to a 13-F report filed with the SEC for the quarter ending June 30, 2012.
Soros, who manages funds through various accounts in the US and the Cayman Islands, has reportedly unloaded over one million shares of stock in financial companies and banks that include Citigroup (420,000 shares), JP Morgan (701,400 shares) and Goldman Sachs (120,000 shares). The total value of the stock sales amounts to nearly $50 million.
What’s equally as interesting as his sale of major financials is where Soros has shifted his money. At the same time he was selling bank stocks, he was acquiring some 884,000 shares (approx. $130 million) of Gold via the SPDR Gold Trust.
Why would you dump over a million shares of stock in major banks and purchase more than 100 million dollars worth of gold?
Well, it would make perfect sense if you believed that a collapse of the financial system was about to happen.
Earlier this year, George Soros told the following to Newsweek….
“I am not here to cheer you up. The situation is about as serious and difficult as I’ve experienced in my career,” Soros tells Newsweek. “We are facing an extremely difficult time, comparable in many ways to the 1930s, the Great Depression. We are facing now a general retrenchment in the developed world, which threatens to put us in a decade of more stagnation, or worse. The best-case scenario is a deflationary environment. The worst-case scenario is a collapse of the financial system.”
It looks like he is putting his money where his mouth is.
Perhaps even more disturbing is what he believes is coming after the financial collapse….
As anger rises, riots on the streets of American cities are inevitable. “Yes, yes, yes,” he says, almost gleefully. The response to the unrest could be more damaging than the violence itself. “It will be an excuse for cracking down and using strong-arm tactics to maintain law and order, which, carried to an extreme, could bring about a repressive political system, a society where individual liberty is much more constrained, which would be a break with the tradition of the United States.”
That doesn’t sound good.
George Soros has told us what he believes is going to happen, and now he is making moves with his money that indicate that he is convinced that it is actually about to start happening.
But he is not the only one that has been busy accumulating gold.
Billionaire John Paulson (the one that made 20 billion dollars on the subprime mortgage meltdown) has been buying gold like crazy and his company now “has 44 percent of its $24 billion fund exposed to bullion.”
So why are Soros and Paulson buying up so much gold?
Central Banks Are Also Hoarding Gold
According to the World Gold Council, the amount of gold bought by the central banks of the world absolutely soared during the second quarter of 2012. The 157.5 metric tons of gold bought by the central banks of the world last quarter was an increase of 62.9 percent from the first quarter of 2012 and a 137.9 percent increase from the second quarter of 2011.
Prior to 2009, the central banks of the world had been net sellers of gold for about two decades. But now that has totally changed, and last quarter central banks stocked up on gold in quantities that we have not seen before….
At 157.5 metric tons, gold buying among central banks came in at its highest quarterly level since the sector became a net buyer of the precious metal in the second quarter of 2009, data in the organization’s quarterly Gold Demand Trends report show.
So why have the central banks of the world become such gold bugs?
Is there something they aren’t telling us?
Rampant Insider Selling
Wall Street insiders have been dumping a whole lot of stock this year.
In my previous article, I linked to a CNN article from back in April….
First quarter earnings have been decent, if not spectacular. And many corporate executives are issuing cautiously optimistic guidance for the rest of the year.
But while insiders’ lips are saying one thing, their wallets are saying another. The level of insider selling among S&P 500 (SPX) companies is the highest in nearly 10 years. That is not good.
A lot of insiders appear to be getting out at the top of the market while the getting is still good.
Other insiders appear to be bailing out before the bottom falls out from beneath them.
Just check out what has been happening to Facebook stock. It hit another new record low on Thursday as insiders dumped stock. The following is from a CNN article….
Facebook’s life as a public company has been a nightmare from day one, and the pain continued on Thursday as some company insiders got their first chance to dump shares.
Facebook stock hit a new intra-day low of $19.69 Thursday morning, and ended the day 6.3% lower at $19.87.
Sadly, Facebook has now lost close to half of its value since the IPO.
Will Facebook end up being the poster child for the irrational stock market bubble that we have seen over the past couple of years?
Overall, retail investors have been very busy pulling money out of stocks in recent weeks.
The following are the net inflows to equity funds over the past five weeks (in millions of dollars) according to ICI….
According to the figures above, more than 10 billion dollars has been pulled out of equity funds over the past two weeks alone.
So does this mean anything?
But it is very interesting and it bears watching.
Why Does The U.S. Government Need So Much Ammunition?
In my previous article, I also noted that the U.S. government appears to be very rapidly making preparations for something really big.
This week, it was revealed that the Social Security Administration plans to buy 174,000 hollow point bullets which will be delivered to 41 different locations all over America.
Now why in the world does the Social Security Administration need 174,000 bullets?
And why do they need hollow point bullets? Those bullets are designed to cause as much damage to internal organs as possible.
But of course this is only the latest in a series of very large purchases of ammunition by U.S. government agencies. The following is from a recent article by Paul Joseph Watson….
Back in March, Homeland Security purchased 450 million rounds of .40-caliber hollow point bullets that are designed to expand upon entry and cause maximum organ damage, prompting questions as to why the DHS needed such a large amount of powerful bullets merely for training purposes.
This was followed by another DHS solicitation asking for a further 750 million rounds of assorted bullets, including 357 mag rounds that are able to penetrate walls.
Now why in the world would the government need over a billion rounds of ammunition?
If it was the U.S. military I could understand this. You can burn through a whole lot of ammunition fighting wars.
But this makes no sense – unless they believe that big trouble is coming.
Personally, I wouldn’t blame them for getting prepared. Our economy continues to fall apart and there are signs of social decay everywhere around us.
The American people are more frustrated and more angry than at any other time in modern history. This upcoming election is only going to cause Americans to become even more angry and even more divided.
All it would take is just the right “spark” to cause this country to erupt.
It could be the upcoming election.
It could be the collapse of the financial system.
Or it might be something else.
But the conditions are definitely there for it to happen.
Unfortunately, the American public is never told to prepare because authorities never want “to panic” the general population.
We are always the last to know, and that stinks.
So don’t wait for someone to come on the television and announce that a crisis is happening.
If you wait that long, it will be too late.
Instead, open up your eyes and think for yourself.
We all need to work hard to get prepared for the coming crisis while we still can.
As you can see, Wall Street insiders, the U.S. government and the central banks of the world are busy getting prepared.
Don’t put your head in the sand.
The warning signs are there and time is running out.
Will 2012 be the year that we see an economic collapse in Europe? Before you dismiss the title of this article as “alarmist”, read the facts listed in the rest of this article first. Over the past several months, there has been an astonishing loss of confidence in the European financial system. Right now, virtually nobody wants to loan money to financially troubled nations in the EU and virtually nobody wants to lend money to major European banks. Remember, one of the primary reasons for the financial crisis of 2008 was a major credit crunch that happened here in the United States. This burgeoning credit crunch in Europe is just one element of a “perfect storm” that is rapidly coming together as we get ready to go into 2012. The signs of trouble are everywhere. All over Europe, governments are implementing austerity measures and dramatically cutting back on spending. European banks are substantially cutting back on lending as they seek to meet new capital requirements that are being imposed upon them. Meanwhile, bond yields are going through the roof all over Europe as investors lose confidence and demand much higher returns for investing in European debt. It has become clear that without a miracle happening, quite a few European nations and a significant number of European banks are not going to be able to get the funding that they need from the market in 2012. The only thing that is going to avert a complete and total financial meltdown in Europe is dramatic action, but right now European leaders are so busy squabbling with each other that a bold plan seems out of the question.
The following are 22 reasons why we could see an economic collapse in Europe in 2012….
#1 Germany could rescue the rest of Europe, but that would take an unprecedented financial commitment, and the German people do not have the stomach for that. It has been estimated that it would cost Germany 7 percent of GDP over several years in order to sufficiently bail out the other financially troubled EU nations. Such an amount would far surpass the incredibly oppressive reparations that Germany was forced to pay out in the aftermath of World War I.
A host of recent surveys has shown that the German people are steadfastly against bailing out the rest of Europe. For example, according to one recent poll 57 percent of the German people are against the creation of eurobonds.
At this point, German politicians are firmly opposed to any measure that would place an inordinate burden on German taxpayers, so unless this changes that means that Europe is not going to be saved from within.
#2 The United States could rescue Europe, but the Obama administration knows that it would be really tough to sell that to the American people during an election season. The following is what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today about the potential for a bailout of Europe by the United States….
“This is something they need to solve and they have the capacity to solve, both financial capacity and political will”
Carney also said that the Obama administration does not plan to commit any “additional resources” to rescuing Europe….
“We do not in any way believe that additional resources are required from the United States and from American taxpayers.”
#3 Right now, banks all over Europe are in deleveraging mode as they attempt to meet new capital-adequacy requirements by next June.
According to renowned financial journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, European banks need to reduce the amount of lending on their books by about 7 trillion dollars in order to get down to safe levels….
Europe’s banks face a $7 trillion lending contraction to bring their balance sheets in line with the US and Japan, threatening to trap the region in a credit crunch and chronic depression for a decade.
So what does that mean?
It means that European banks are going to be getting really, really stingy with loans.
That means that it is going to become really hard to buy a home or expand a business in Europe, and that means that the economy of Europe is going to slow down substantially.
#4 European banks are overloaded with “toxic assets” that they are desperate to get rid of. Just like we saw with U.S. banks back in 2008, major European banks are busy trying to unload mountains of worthless assets that have a book value of trillions of euros, but virtually nobody wants to buy them.
#5 Government austerity programs are now being implemented all over Europe. But government austerity programs can have very negative economic effects. For example, we have already seen what government austerity has done to Greece. 100,000 businesses have closed and a third of the population is now living in poverty.
But now governments all over Europe have decided that austerity is the way to go. The following comes from a recent article in the Economist….
France’s budget plans are close to being agreed on; further cuts are likely but will be delayed until after the elections in spring. Italy has yet to vote through a much-revised package of cuts. Spain’s incoming government has promised further spending cuts, especially in regional outlays, in order to meet deficit targets agreed with Brussels.
#6 The amount of debt owed by some of these European nations is so large that it is difficult to comprehend. For example, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain owe the rest of the world about 3 trillion euros combined.
So what will massive government austerity do to troubled nations such as Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy? Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is very concerned about what even more joblessness will mean for many of those countries….
Even today, the jobless rate for youth is near 10pc in Japan. It is already 46pc in Spain, 43pc in Greece, 32pc in Ireland, and 27pc in Italy. We will discover over time what yet more debt deleveraging will do to these societies.
#7 Europe was able to bail out Greece and Ireland, but there is no way that Italy will be able to be rescued if they require a full-blown bailout.
Unfortunately, Italy is in the midst of a massive financial meltdown as you read this. The yield on two year Italian bonds is now about double what it was for most of the summer. There is no way that is sustainable.
It would be hard to overstate how much of a crisis Italy represents. The following is how former hedge fund manager Bruce Krasting recently described the current situation….
At this point there is zero possibility that Italy can refinance any portion of its $300b of 2012 maturing debt. If there is anyone at the table who still thinks that Italy can pull off a miracle, they are wrong. I’m certain that the finance guys at the ECB and Italian CB understand this. I repeat, there is a zero chance for a market solution for Italy.
Krasting believes that either Italy gets a gigantic mountain of cash from somewhere or they will default within six months and that will mean the start of a global depression….
I think the Italian story is make or break. Either this gets fixed or Italy defaults in less than six months. The default option is not really an option that policy makers would consider. If Italy can’t make it, then there will be a very big crashing sound. It would end up taking out most of the global lenders, a fair number of countries would follow into Italy’s vortex. In my opinion a default by Italy is certain to bring a global depression; one that would take many years to crawl out of.
#8 An Italian default may be closer than most people think. As the Telegraph recently reported, just to refinance existing debt, the Italian government must sell more than 30 billion euros worth of new bonds by the end of January….
Italy’s new government will have to sell more than EURO 30 billion of new bonds by the end of January to refinance its debts. Analysts say there is no guarantee that investors will buy all of those bonds, which could force Italy to default.
The Italian government yesterday said that in talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Prime Minister Mario Monti had agreed that an Italian collapse “would inevitably be the end of the euro.”
#9 European nations other than just the “PIIGS” are getting into an increasing amount of trouble. For example, S&P recently slashed the credit rating of Belgium to AA.
#10 Credit downgrades are coming fast and furious all over Europe now. At this point it seems like we see a new downgrade almost every single week. Some nations have been downgraded several times. For instance, Fitch has downgraded the credit rating of Portugal again. At this point it is being projected that Portuguese GDP will shrink by about 3 percent in 2012.
#11 The financial collapse of Hungary didn’t make many headlines in the United States, but it should have. Moody’s has cut the credit rating of Hungarian debt to junk status, and Hungary has now submitted a formal request to the EU and the IMF for a bailout.
#12 Even faith in German debt seems to be wavering. Last week, Germany had “one of its worst bond auctions ever“.
#13 German banks are also starting to show signs of weakness. The other day, Moody’s downgraded the ratings of 10 major German banks.
#14 As the Telegraph recently reported, the British government is now making plans based on the assumption that a collapse of the euro is only “just a matter of time”….
As the Italian government struggled to borrow and Spain considered seeking an international bail-out, British ministers privately warned that the break-up of the euro, once almost unthinkable, is now increasingly plausible.
Diplomats are preparing to help Britons abroad through a banking collapse and even riots arising from the debt crisis.
The Treasury confirmed earlier this month that contingency planning for a collapse is now under way.
A senior minister has now revealed the extent of the Government’s concern, saying that Britain is now planning on the basis that a euro collapse is now just a matter of time.
#15 The EFSF was supposed to help bring some stability to the situation, but the truth is that the EFSF is already a bad joke. It has been reported that the EFSF has already been forced to buy up huge numbers of its own bonds.
#16 Unfortunately, it looks like a run on the banks has already begun in Europe. The following comes from a recent article in The Economist….
“We are starting to witness signs that corporates are withdrawing deposits from banks in Spain, Italy, France and Belgium,” an analyst at Citi Group wrote in a recent report. “This is a worrying development.”
#17 Confidence in European banks has been absolutely shattered and virtually nobody wants to lend them money right now.
The following is a short excerpt from a recent CNBC article….
Money-market funds in the United States have quite dramatically slammed shut their lending windows to European banks. According to the Economist, Fitch estimates U.S. money market funds have withdrawn 42 percent of their money from European banks in general.
And for France that number is even higher — 69 percent. European money-market funds are also getting in on the act.
#18 There are dozens of major European banks that are in danger of failing. The reality is that most major European banks are leveraged to the hilt and are massively exposed to sovereign debt. Before it fell in 2008, Lehman Brothers was leveraged 31 to 1. Today, major German banks are leveraged 32 to 1, and those banks are currently holding a massive amount of European sovereign debt.
#19 According to the New York Times, the economy of the EU is already projected to shrink slightly next year, and this doesn’t even take into account what is going to happen in the event of a total financial collapse.
#20 There are already signs that the European economy is seriously slowing down. Industrial orders in the eurozone declined by 6.4 percent during September. That was the largest decline that we have seen since the midst of the financial crisis in 2008.
#21 Panic and fear are everywhere in Europe right now. The European Commission’s index of consumer confidence has declined for five months in a row.
#22 European leaders are really busy fighting with each other and a true consensus on how to solve the current problems seems way off at the moment. The following is how the Express recently described rising tensions between German and British leaders….
The German Chancellor rejected outright Mr Cameron’s opposition to a new EU-wide financial tax that would have a devastating impact on the City of London.
And she refused to be persuaded by his call for the European Central Bank to support the euro. Money markets took a dip after their failure to agree.
Are you starting to get the picture?
The European financial system is in a massive amount of trouble, and when it melts down the entire globe is going to be shaken.
But it isn’t just me that is saying this. As I mentioned in a previous article, there are huge numbers of respected economists all over the globe that are now saying that Europe is on the verge of collapse.
For example, just check out what Credit Suisse is saying about the situation in Europe….
“We seem to have entered the last days of the euro as we currently know it. That doesn’t make a break-up very likely, but it does mean some extraordinary things will almost certainly need to happen – probably by mid-January – to prevent the progressive closure of all the euro zone sovereign bond markets, potentially accompanied by escalating runs on even the strongest banks.”
Many European leaders are promoting much deeper integration and a “European superstate” as the answer to these problems, but it would take years to implement changes that drastic, and Europe does not have that kind of time.
If Europe experiences a massive economic collapse and a prolonged depression, it may seem like “the end of the world” to some people, but things will eventually stabilize.
A lot of people out there seem to think that the global economy is going to go from its present state to “Mad Max” in a matter of weeks. Well, that is just not going to happen. The coming troubles in Europe will just be another “wave” in the ongoing economic collapse of the western world. There will be other “waves” after that.
Of course this current sovereign debt crisis could be entirely averted if the countries of the western world would just shut down their central banks and start issuing debt-free money.
The truth is that there is no reason why any sovereign nation on earth ever has to go a penny into debt to anyone. If a nation is truly sovereign, then the government has the right to issue all of the debt-free money that it wants. Yes, inflation would always be a potential danger in such a system (just as it is under central banking), but debt-free money would mean that government debt problems would be a thing of the past.
Unfortunately, most of the countries of the world operate under a system where more government debt is created when more currency is created. The inevitable result of such a system is what we are witnessing now. At this point, nearly the entire western world is drowning in debt.
There are alternatives to our current system. But nobody in the mainstream media ever talks about them.
So instead of focusing on truly creative ways to deal with our current problems, we are all going to experience the bitter pain of the coming economic collapse instead.
Things did not have to turn out this way.
Once the euphoria of the initial announcement faded and as people have begun to closely examine the details of the European debt deal, they have started to realize that this “debt deal” is really just a “managed” Greek debt default. Let’s be honest – this deal is not going to solve anything. All it does is buy Greece a few months. Meanwhile, it is going to make the financial collapse of other nations in Europe even more likely. Anyone that believes that the financial situation in Europe is better now than it was last week simply does not understand what is going on. Bond yields are going to go through the roof and investors are going to start to panic. The European Central Bank is going to have an extremely difficult time trying to keep a lid on this thing. Instead of being a solution, the European debt deal has brought us several steps closer to a complete financial meltdown in Europe.
The big message that Europe is sending to investors is that when individual nations get into debt trouble they will be allowed to default and investors will be forced to take huge haircuts.
As this reality starts to dawn on investors, they are going to start demanding much higher returns on European bonds.
In fact, we are already starting to see this happen.
The yield on two year Spanish bonds increased by more than 6 percent today.
The yield on two year Italian bonds increased by more than 7 percent today.
So what are nations such as Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland going to do when it costs them much more to borrow money?
The finances of those nations could go from bad to worse very, very quickly.
When that happens, who will be the next to come asking for a haircut?
After all, if Greece was able to get a 50% haircut out of private investors, then why shouldn’t Italy or Spain or Portugal ask for one as well?
According to Reuters, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is already trying to warn other members of the EU not to ask for a haircut….
Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday it was important to prevent others from seeking debt reductions after European Union leaders struck a deal with private banks to accept a nominal 50 percent cut on their Greek government debt holdings.
“In Europe it must be prevented that others come seeking a haircut,” she said.
But investors are not stupid. Greece was allowed to default. If Italy or Spain or Portugal gets into serious trouble it is likely that they will be allowed to default too.
Investors like to feel safe. They want to feel as though their investments are secure. This Greek debt deal is a huge red flag which signals to global financial markets that there is no longer safety in European bonds.
So what is coming next?
Hold on to your seatbelts, because things are about to get interesting.
Around the globe, a lot of analysts are realizing that this European debt deal was not good news at all. The following is a sampling of comments from prominent voices in the financial community….
*Economist Sony Kapoor: “The fact that a deal has been agreed, any deal, impresses people. Until they start de-constructing it and parts start unravelling.”
*Economist Ken Rogoff: “It feels at its root to me like more of the same, where they’ve figured how to buy a couple of months”
*Neil MacKinnon of VTB Capital: “The best we can say is that the EU have engineered a temporary reprieve”
*Graham Summers of Phoenix Capital Research:
First off, let’s call this for what it is: a default on the part of Greece. Moreover it’s a default that isn’t big enough as a 50% haircut on private debt holders only lowers Greece’s total debt level by 22% or so.
Secondly, even after the haircut, Greece still has Debt to GDP levels north of 130%. And it’s expected to bring these levels to 120% by 2020.
And the IMF is giving Greece another $137 billion in loans.
So… Greece defaults… but gets $137 billion in new money (roughly what the default will wipe out) and is expected to still be insolvent in 2020.
*Max Keiser: “There will be another bailout required within six months – I guarantee it.”
The people that are really getting messed over by this deal are the private investors in Greek debt. Not only are they being forced to take a brutal 50% haircut, they are also being told that their credit default swaps are not going to pay out since this is a “voluntary” haircut.
This is completely and totally ridiculous as an article posted on Finance Addict pointed out…
We now know that private holders of Greek bonds will be “invited” (seriously–this was the word used in the EU summit statement) to take a write-down of 50%–halving the face value of the estimated $224 billion in bonds that they hold. This will help bring the Greek debt-to-GDP ratio down from 186% in 2013 to 120% by 2020. The big question–apart from how many investors they will get to go along with this, given that they couldn’t reach their target of 90% investor participation when the write-down was only going to be 21%–is whether this will trigger a CDS pay-out.
That this is even up for discussion is mind-boggling. These credit default swaps are meant to be an insurance policy in case Greece doesn’t pay the agreed upon interest and return the full principal within the agreed timeframe. If they don’t pay out when bondholders are taking a 50% hit then what’s the point?
European politicians may believe that they have “solved” something, but the truth is that what they have really done is they have pulled the rug out from under the European financial system.
Faith in European debt is going to rapidly disappear and the euro is likely to fall like a rock in the months ahead.
The financial crisis in Europe is just getting started. 2012 looks like it is going to be an extremely painful year.
Let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.
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.