Are you willing to bet against three of the wealthiest men in the entire world? Jacob Rothschild recently bet approximately 200 million dollars that the euro will go down. Billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson made somewhere around 20 billion dollars betting against the U.S. housing market during the last financial crisis, and now he has made huge bets that the euro will go down and that the price of gold will go up. And as I wrote about in my last article, George Soros put approximately 130 million more dollars into gold last quarter. So will the euro plummet like a rock? Will the price of gold absolutely soar? Well, if a massive financial disaster does occur both of those two things are likely to happen. The European economy is becoming more unstable with each passing day, and investors all over the globe are looking for safe places to put their money. The mainstream media keeps telling us that everything is going to be okay, but the global elite are sending us a much, much different message by their actions. Certainly Rothschild, Paulson and Soros know about things happening in the financial world that the rest of us don’t. The fact that they are all behaving in a consistent manner right now should be alarming for all of us.
Let’s start with Jacob Rothschild. Apparently he believes that the euro is headed for quite a tumble. The following is from a recent CNBC article….
You know the euro is in deep water when a doyen of the banking industry, Lord Jacob Rothschild takes a £130 million ($200 million) bet against it.
Okay, but the euro has already been falling dramatically. In mid-2011, the EUR/USD was above the 1.40 mark, and right now it is at about 1.23.
Does it really have that much more that it can fall?
If the eurozone ends up breaking apart it sure does.
If there is a Greek default, or if Germany leaves the euro, or if a new currency comes along to replace the euro those currently betting against it will end up looking like geniuses.
Another big name in the financial world that is betting against the euro right now is John Paulson. The following is from a recent Der Spiegel article….
One of these warriors is John Paulson. The hedge fund manager once made billions by betting on a collapse of the American real estate market. Not surprisingly, the financial world sat up and took notice when Paulson, who is now widely despised in America as a crisis profiteer, announced in the spring that he would bet on a collapse of the euro.
And as I noted in my last article, Paulson has also been putting billions of dollars into gold.
So just what are Rothschild and Paulson anticipating?
Could we be on the verge of a massive financial collapse in Europe?
According to the Der Spiegel article mentioned above, a lot of investors seem to be preparing for such a possibility right now….
Banks, companies and investors are preparing themselves for a collapse of the euro. Cross-border bank lending is falling, asset managers are shunning Europe and money is flowing into German real estate and bonds. The euro remains stable against the dollar because America has debt problems too. But unlike the euro, the dollar’s structure isn’t in doubt.
The financial world is starting to wake up to the fact that the globe is absolutely drowning in debt and it is not really good to be holding fiat currencies when a debt crisis erupts.
When men like John Paulson and George Soros start pouring huge amounts of money into gold, it is time to start becoming alarmed about the state of the global financial system.
The amount of money that these men are investing in gold is staggering….
There was also news last week in an SEC filing that both George Soros and John Paulson had increased their investment in SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest publicly traded physical gold exchange traded fund (ETF).
Mr Soros upped his stake in the ETF to 884,400 shares from 319,550 and Mr Paulson bought 4.53m shares, bringing his stake to 21.3m.
At the current price of about $156 a share, these are new investments of about $88m of Mr Soros’ cash and more than $700m from Mr Paulson’s funds. These are significant positions.
And the central banks of the world are certainly buying gold at an unprecedented rate as well. According to the World Gold Council, the central banks of the world added 157.5 metric tons of gold last quarter. That was the biggest move into gold by the central banks of the globe that we have seen in modern financial history.
But that might just be the beginning.
According to a recent Marketwatch article, there are persistent rumors that China has plans to buy thousands of metric tons of gold….
Within the gold market, there is unconfirmed speculation that China plans to buy up to at least 5,000 to 6,000 metric tons of gold and that it will start to buy during this year, according to Kevin Kerr, president of Kerr Trading International.
If China buys this much gold, that would exceed annual, global production of gold, he said. “We do not have enough gold for China to buy that much, and it will take China time to purchase this amount of gold.”
So what comes next?
Nobody is quite sure.
Another major financial crisis could erupt in Europe at any moment.
A major war in the Middle East could start literally at any time.
Others believe that the action could start even sooner than that.
The truth is that even though we have not seen a “Lehman Brothers moment” yet, things in Europe just continue to get progressively worse. The following is from a recent article by Mark E. Grant….
Whether you turn your attention to Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal or even Ireland; it is getting worse. Nowhere on the Continent are things improving and even in France and Germany the financial strains are beginning to show. It is not a question of Euro-bear or Euro-bull; it is just the numbers as they come rolling out month after month.
There is a growing realization in Europe that the euro simply does not work. Italy is absolutely drowning in debt, the Spanish economy has basically descended into a depression, and Greece has been experiencing depression-like conditions for years at this point.
The euro is doomed. The only question is who is going to blink first.
Nobody wants to be the first to leave the euro. There are rumblings that it could actually be Finland that leaves the euro first, and that would please Germany just fine because they don’t want to look like the bad guys in all of this.
But that doesn’t mean that Germany won’t eventually pull the trigger if nobody else does. The German public is sick and tired of bailing out the weak sisters of southern Europe, and at this point it looks like it would take perpetual bailouts just to keep the euro together.
And recently there have been lots of little signs that Germany is starting to move slowly toward the exit doors.
In fact, I found it quite interesting that a giant euro sculpture was recently removed from the Frankfurt International Airport….
A massive € sculpture (identical to the one in front of the European Central Bank) was dismantled and removed from the Frankfurt International Airport in Germany Thursday.
The official explanation is ‘the plastic parts are getting weak after 11 years and the terminal needed the space‘.
Does € sculpture’s removal from the Frankfurt Airport indicate Germany is preparing for a surprise return to the Deutsche Mark?
Sure that might just be a coincidence, but it also could be a harbinger of things to come.
Sadly, most average people living in North America and Europe have absolutely no idea what is coming. Most of them just want to be able to get up in the morning and go to work and pay the bills and take care of their families.
Unfortunately, millions upon millions of those hard working individuals are in for a very rude awakening.
A lot of people are about to have their current lifestyles totally turned upside down.
In the spring of 2010, just as the Greek government was embarking on some of its harshest austerity measures, 29-year-old Apostolos Sianos packed in his well-paid job as a website designer, gave up his Athens apartment and walked away from modern civilisation.
In the foothills of Mount Telaithrion on the Greek island of Evia, Mr Sianos and three other like-minded Athenians set up an eco-community.
The idea was to live in an entirely sustainable way, free from the ties of money and cut off from the national electricity grid.
The group sleeps communally in yurts they have built themselves, they grow their own food and exchange the surplus in the nearest village for any necessities they cannot produce.
I think there is a lesson to be learned there.
When the system fails, it is going to be important to be able to live independently of the system.
Are we rapidly approaching a moment of reckoning for the global financial system? August is likely to be a relatively slow month as most of Europe is on vacation, but after that we will be moving into a “danger zone” where just about anything could happen. Historically, a financial crisis has been more likely to happen in the fall than during any other time, and this fall is shaping up to be a doozy. Much of the focus of the financial world is on whether or not the euro is going to break up, but even if the authorities in Europe are able to keep the euro together we are still facing massive problems. Countries such as Greece and Spain are already experiencing depression-like conditions, and much of the rest of the globe is sliding into recession. Unemployment has already risen to record levels in some parts of Europe, major banks all over Europe are teetering on the brink of insolvency, and the flow of credit is freezing up all over the planet. If things take a really bad turn, this crisis could become much worse than the financial crisis of 2008 very quickly.
All over the world people are starting to write about the possibility of a major economic crisis starting this fall.
The consensus? The world economy has entered a final countdown with three months left, and investors should pencil in a collapse in either August or September.
Citing a theory he has been espousing since 2010 that predicts “a future lack of policy flexibility from the monetary and fiscal side,” Jim Reid, a strategist at Deutsche Bank, wrote a note Tuesday that gloated “it feels like Europe has proved us right.”
“The U.S. has the ability to disprove the universal nature of our theory,” Reid wrote, but “if this U.S. cycle is of completely average length as seen using the last 158 years of history (33 cycles), then the next recession should start by the end of August.”
The global financial system is so complex and there are so many thousands of moving parts that it is always difficult to put an exact date on anything. In fact, history is littered with economists that have ended up looking rather foolish by putting a particular date on a prediction.
But without a doubt we are starting to see storm clouds gather for this fall.
The following are 11 more signs that time is quickly running out for the global financial system….
#1 A number of very important events regarding the financial future of Europe are going to happen in the month of September. The following is from a recent Reuters article that detailed many of the key things that are currently slated to occur during that month….
In that month a German court makes a ruling that could neuter the new euro zone rescue fund, the anti-bailout Dutch vote in elections just as Greece tries to renegotiate its financial lifeline, and decisions need to be made on whether taxpayers suffer huge losses on state loans to Athens.
On top of that, the euro zone has to figure out how to help its next wobbling dominoes, Spain and Italy – or what do if one or both were to topple.
#2 Reuters is reporting that Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos has suggested that Spain may need a 300 billion euro bailout.
#6 Morgan Stanley is projecting that the unemployment rate in Greece will exceed 25 percent in 2013.
#7 It is now being projected that the Greek economy will shrink by a total of 7 percent during 2012.
#8 German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble says that the rest of Europe will not be making any more concessions for Greece.
#9 The UK economy has now plunged into a deep recession. During the second quarter of 2012 alone, the UK economy contracted by 0.7 percent.
#10 The Dallas Fed index of general business activity fell dramatically to -13.2 in July. This was a huge surprise and it is yet another indication that the U.S. economy is rapidly heading into a recession.
#11 As I have written about previously, a banking crisis is more likely to happen in the fall than at any other time during the year. The global financial system will enter a “danger zone” starting in September, and none of us need to be reminded that the crashes of 1929, 1987 and 2008 all happened during the second half of the year.
So is there any hope on the horizon?
European leaders have tried short-term solution after short-term solution and none of them have worked.
Now countries all over Europe are sliding into depression and the authorities in Europe seem to be all out of answers. The following is what one eurozone diplomat said recently….
“For two years we’ve been pumping up the life raft, taking decisions that fill it with just enough air to keep it afloat even though it has a leak,” the diplomat said. “But now the leak has got so big that we can’t pump air into the raft quickly enough to keep it afloat.”
The boat is filling up with water faster than they can bail it out.
So what is the solution?
Well, some of the top names in economics on both sides of the Atlantic are urging authorities to keep the debt bubble pumped up by printing lots and lots more money.
Needless to say, I will be advocating 1933 monetary stimulus à l’outrance, or trillions of asset purchases through old fashioned open-market operations through the quantity of money effect (NOT INTEREST RATE ‘CREDITISM’) to avert deflation – and continue doing so until nominal GDP is restored to its trend line, at which point the stimulus can be withdrawn again.
But is more money and more debt really the solution to anything?
In the United States, M2 recent surpassed the 10 trillion dollar mark for the first time ever. It has increased in size by more than 5 times over the past 30 years.
Unfortunately, our debt has been growing much faster than GDP has over that time period.
The election results from Greece are in and the pro-bailout forces have won, but just barely. It is being projected that the pro-bailout New Democracy party will have about 130 seats in the 300 seat parliament, and Pasok (another pro-bailout party) will have about 33 seats. Those two parties have alternated ruling Greece for decades, and it looks like they are going to form a coalition government which will keep Greece in the euro. On Monday we are likely to see financial markets across the globe in celebration mode. But the truth is that nothing has really changed. Greece is still in a depression. The Greek economy has contracted by close to 25 percent over the past four years, and now they are going to stay on the exact same path that they were before. Austerity is going to continue to grind away at what remains of the Greek economy and money is going to continue to fly out of the country at a very rapid pace. Greece is still drowning in debt and completely dependent on outside aid to avoid bankruptcy. Meanwhile, things in Spain and Italy are rapidly getting worse. So where in that equation is room for optimism?
Right now the ingredients for a “perfect storm” are developing in Europe. Government spending is being slashed all across the continent, ECB monetary policy is very tight, new regulations and deteriorating economic conditions are causing major banks to cut back on lending and there is panic in the air.
Unless something dramatic changes, things are going to continue to get worse.
Yes, the Greek election results mean that Greece will stay in the euro – at least for now.
But is that really a reason for Greeks to celebrate?
Right now, the unemployment rate in Greece is about 22 percent. Businesses continue to shut down at a staggering rate and suicides are spiking.
So far this month, about 500 million euros a day has been pulled out of Greek banks. The entire Greek banking system is on the verge of collapse.
Meanwhile, the Greek government is still running up more debt. It is being projected that the Greek budget deficit will be about 7 percent of GDP this year.
The Greeks went to the polls and they voted for more of the same.
Are they crazy?
Someone once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Unfortunately, it looks like things are going to continue to get worse in Greece for quite some time.
And the rest of Europe is heading into a very bleak economic future as well.
To say that Spain has an unemployment problem would be a massive understatement. The unemployment rate in Spain is even higher than the unemployment rate in Greece is. In fact, unemployment in Spain is the highest that it has ever been since the introduction of the euro.
The Spanish banking system is a complete and total disaster at this point. The Spanish government has already asked for a 100 billion euro bailout for its banks.
But that might not be nearly enough.
Spain is facing a housing collapse similar to what the United States went through back in 2008 and 2009. Right now, home prices in Spain are absolutely collapsing….
Fresh data yesterday shows how desperate the crisis is becoming in Spain. The property crash is accelerating. House prices fell at a 12.6pc rate in the first quarter of this year, compared to 11.2pc the quarter before, and 7.4pc in the quarter before that. Prices have fallen 26pc from their peak.
“Fundamentals point to a further 25pc decline,” said Standard & Poor’s in a report on Thursday. It may take another four years to clear a glut of one million homes left from the building boom.
Meanwhile, money is being pulled out of banks in Spain at a very alarming rate. As panic spreads we are seeing slow motion bank runs all over Europe. Over the past few months massive amounts of money have been moved from troubled nations to “safe havens” such as Switzerland and Germany.
Investors are getting very nervous and yields on Italian and Spanish debt are spiking again.
Last week yields on Spanish debt hit their highest levels since the introduction of the euro. Without massive ECB intervention the yield on 10 year Spanish bonds will almost certainly blow well past the 7 percent danger mark.
The credit rating agencies are indicating that there is danger ahead. Moody’s recently downgraded Spanish debt to just one notch above junk status. Spain is heading down the exact same road that Greece has gone.
The situation in Europe is very grim.
Greece is going to need bailouts for as far as the eye can see.
Spain is almost certainly going to need a huge bailout.
Italy is almost certainly going to need a huge bailout.
Ireland and Portugal look like they are going to need more money.
France is increasingly looking vulnerable, and Francois Hollande appears to have no real solutions up his sleeve.
As I have said so many times before, watch Europe.
Every few weeks there are headlines that declare that “Europe has been saved” but things just keep getting worse.
The governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, said the following a few weeks ago….
“Our biggest trading partner is tearing itself apart with no obvious solution.”
And that is the truth. There is no obvious solution to the problems in Europe. The politicians could kick the can down the road for a while longer, but in the end there will be no avoiding the pain that is coming.
Brutal austerity + toxic levels of government debt + rising bond yields + a lack of confidence in the financial system + banks that are massively overleveraged + a massive credit crunch = A financial implosion of historic proportions
We are watching a slow-motion financial train wreck that is absolutely unprecedented happen right in front of our eyes and our politicians are powerless to stop it.
On election day in Greece, the mood was incredibly somber. Instead of celebrating, most Greeks seemed resigned to a very hard future. As an article in the Telegraph described, the entire nation seems to be grinding to a halt….
This is the election that is supposed to decide whether Greece stays in the euro. Yet as it, and Europe, face what could be their Katrina moment, the dominant sense here is not of panic, or fear, or even hope – but of a country in suspended animation, grinding to a halt.
The Athens Heart shopping centre, in the southern suburbs, is polished, full of big brands, and almost totally empty of customers. “We’ve had five sales all day,” says Steryiani Vlachakou, the assistant in the Champion sportswear store. “It’s been getting a lot, lot worse.”
Sadly, it is not only Greece that is doomed.
The truth is that all of Europe is doomed, and when Europe falls the entire globe is going to feel it.
So get ready for the hard times that are coming. The pain is going to be immense and most people are not even going to see it coming.
When it comes to the financial world, it is important to listen to what the “smart money” is saying, but it is much more important to watch what the “smart money” is actually doing. The ultra-wealthy and those that run the biggest financial institutions on the planet are far more “connected” to what is really going on in financial circles behind the scenes than you and I could ever hope to be. But if we watch their behavior we can get clues as to what they think is about to happen. As is the case with so many other things, if you want to figure out what is really going on in Europe, just follow the money. And right now, money is rapidly flowing out of southern Europe and into northern Europe. In fact, some large corporations are now pulling the money that they make in Greece during the day out of the country every single night. It is becoming increasingly clear that the upper crust of the financial world considers a Greek exit from the euro to be “inevitable” and that it also considers much of the rest of southern Europe to be a lost cause. Unfortunately, a financial collapse across southern Europe is also likely to trigger another devastating global recession.
Even though all the warning signs were there, very few people actually expected to see the kind of financial crisis that we saw back in 2008.
But it happened.
Now very few people actually expect another “Lehman Brothers moment” to happen in Europe although the warning signs are all around us.
Sadly, most people never want to believe the truth until it is too late.
The following are 25 signs that the smart money has completely written off southern Europe….
#1 Lloyd’s of London is publicly admitting that it is rapidly making preparations for a collapse of the eurozone.
#2 According to the New York Times, top global law firms are advising their clients to withdraw all cash and all other liquid assets from Greece….
So their advice is blunt: Remove cash and other liquid assets from Greece and prepare to take a short-term hit on any other investments.
“My personal view is that it is irrational for anyone, whether a corporation or an individual, to be leaving money in Greek financial institutions, so long as there is a credible prospect of a euro zone exit,” said Ian M. Clark, a partner in London for White & Case, a global law firm that has a team of 10 lawyers focusing on the issue.
#3 According to CNBC, large numbers of wealthy Europeans have been moving their money from banks in southern Europe to banks in northern Europe….
Financial advisers and private bankers whose clients have accounts too large to be covered by a Europe-wide guarantee on deposits up to 100,000 euros ($125,000), are reporting a “bank run by wire transfer” that has picked up during May.
Much of this money has headed north to banks in London, Frankfurt and Geneva, financial advisers say.
“It’s been an ongoing process but it certainly picked up pace a couple of weeks ago We believe there is a continuous 2-3 year bank run by wire transfer,” said Lorne Baring, managing director at B Capital, a Geneva-based pan European wealth management firm.
#4 The President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Charles Plosser, says that the Federal Reserve is advising money market funds to reduce their exposure to Europe….
The Fed and regulators have tried to stress to money market funds, for example, to reduce their exposure to European financial institutions.
#5 The yield on 10-year Spanish bonds is rapidly moving toward the very important 7 percent level.
#6 Many multinational corporations that operate in Greece are now pulling their funds out of the country on a nightly basis.
#7 Juergen Fitschen, the co-CEO of Deutsche Bank, has publicly proclaimed that Greece is a “failed state“.
#8 The head of the Swiss central bank has admitted that Switzerland is developing an “action plan” for how it will handle the collapse of the eurozone.
#16 According to the Telegraph, “struggling European banks could be seized and controlled by Brussels as part of secret plans being drawn up”.
#17 The head of equity strategy at Societe Generale, Claudia Panseri, is warning that European stocks could fall by as much as 50 percent if Greece leaves the euro.
#18 Economist Marc Faber is warning that there is now a “100% chance” that there will be another global recession.
#19 There seems to be an increasing attempt to pin the problems that Greece is now experiencing on the behavior of Greek citizens. The following are some of the shocking things that the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, said in a recent interview….
“Do you know what? As far as Athens is concerned, I also think about all those people who are trying to escape tax all the time. All these people in Greece who are trying to escape tax.”
Even more than she thinks about all those now struggling to survive without jobs or public services? “I think of them equally. And I think they should also help themselves collectively.” How? “By all paying their tax. Yeah.”
It sounds as if she’s essentially saying to the Greeks and others in Europe, you’ve had a nice time and now it’s payback time.
“That’s right.” She nods calmly. “Yeah.”
And what about their children, who can’t conceivably be held responsible? “Well, hey, parents are responsible, right? So parents have to pay their tax.”
#20 According to the Telegraph, an unidentified member of Angela Merkel’s cabinet has stated that Germany simply will not “pour money into a bottomless pit”.
#21 This week the Bank of England is holding a “secret summit” of global central bankers to address the European financial crisis….
The summit will be dominated by central bankers including the host, Sir Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England. Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, and Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China, have been invited.
#22 According to Zero Hedge, a major German newspaper is reporting that a Greek exit from the eurozone is a “done deal”….
“The Greece-exit is a done deal: According to the German economic news from financial circles EU and the ECB have abandoned the motherland of democracy as a euro member. The reason is, interestingly, not in the upcoming elections – these are basically become irrelevant. The EU has finally realized that the Greeks have not met any agreements and will not continue not to meet them. A banker: “We helped with the Toika. The help of the troika was tied to conditions. Greece has fulfilled none of the conditions, and has been for months now.”
#23 According to CNBC, preparations are quietly being made to print up and distribute new drachmas should the need arise….
British banknote printer De La Rue is drawing up plans to print new drachma notes in the event of a Greek euro exit, according to an industry source with knowledge of the matter.
The world’s biggest security firm G4S expects to be involved in distributing notes around the country.
The debate among very knowledgeable individuals and institutions as to the future of Europe is intense. There are those who argue that the cost of breaking up the eurozone, even allowing Greece to leave, is so high that it will not be permitted to happen. Estimates abound of a cost of €1 trillion to European banks, governments, and businesses, just for the exit of Greece. And that does not include the cost of contagion as the markets wonder who is next. Keeping Spanish and Italian interest-rate costs at levels that can be sustained will cost even more trillions, as not just government debt but the entire banking system is at stake. Not to mention the pension and insurance funds. If the cost of Greece leaving is €1 trillion, then who can guess the cost of Spain or Italy?
As I have written about previously, a Greek exit from the euro would cause the “bank jogs” that are already happening in Spain and Italy to accelerate.
Would you pool your debt with a bunch of debt addicts that have no intention of reducing their wild spending habits? Of course you wouldn’t. But that is exactly what Germany is being asked to do. Increasingly, “eurobonds” are being touted as the best long-term solution to the financial crisis in Europe. These eurobonds would represent jointly issued debt by all 17 members of the eurozone. This debt would also be guaranteed by all 17 members of the eurozone. This would allow all countries in the eurozone to enjoy the same credit rating that Germany does, and borrowing costs for nations such as Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain would plummet. But borrowing costs for Germany would rise substantially. In fact, it is being estimated that Germany could be facing an extra 50 billion euros a year in interest expenses. So over ten years that would come to about 500 billion euros. Needless to say, Germany is not thrilled about this idea. But new French President Francois Hollande is pushing eurobonds very hard, and he has the support of the OECD, the IMF and many top Italian politicians. In the end, this could be the key to the future of the eurozone. If the Germans give in and decide that they are willing to deeply subsidize their profligate neighbors indefinitely, then the euro could potentially be saved. If not, then this issue could end up shattering Europe.
It is easy to try to portray the Germans as the “bad guys” in all this, but try to step into their shoes for a minute.
If you had some relatives that were spending wildly and that had already run up $100,000 in credit card debt, would you be a co-signer on their next credit card application?
Of course not.
The recent elections in France and Greece made it abundantly clear that the populations of those two countries are rejecting austerity.
Instead, they want a return to the debt-fueled prosperity that they have always enjoyed in the past.
Unfortunately, they need German help to be able to do that.
That is why new French President Francois Hollande is pushing so hard for eurobonds. He wants the rest of the eurozone to be able to “piggyback” on Germany’s sterling credit rating so that everyone can return to the days of wild borrowing and spending.
But Germans greatly fear what a co-mingling of eurozone debt could eventually mean. Not only would Germany’s borrowing costs rise dramatically, but there is also a concern that the rest of the eurozone could eventually pull Germany down with them.
Austria, Finland and the Netherlands are also against eurobonds, but the key is Germany.
For now, Germany is not budging on the issue of eurobonds at all. The following is a statement that German Chancellor Angela Merkel made during a recent speech in Berlin….
“It’s just about not spending more than you collect. It’s astonishing that this simple fact leads to such debates”
And she is right.
Why is it so controversial to insist that people not spend more than they bring in?
But this is the problem that is created when you create a false lifestyle fueled by debt that goes on for decades. People become accustomed to that false standard of living and they throw hissy fits when that false standard of living begins to disappear.
The Germans don’t want to make great sacrifices just so the Greeks, the French and the Italians can go back to borrowing and spending wildly.
Why would the Germans want to do that?
And as a recent CNN article noted, German politicians believe that eurobonds are explicitly banned under existing EU treaties anyway….
“There is no way of introducing them under the current [EU] treaties. Indeed, there is an explicit ban on them,” one senior German official said, adding Berlin would not drop its opposition in the foreseeable future. “That’s a firm conviction which will not change in June.”
But politicians such as Hollande are complaining that austerity could seriously damage living standards throughout Europe.
And Hollande is right about that.
When you inflate your standard of living with borrowed money for many years, eventually there comes a time when you must pay a great price.
Anyone that has ever been in trouble with credit card debt knows how painful that can be.
It is shameful for the rest of Europe to be pleading and begging Germany to help them.
They should take care of themselves.
As I wrote about the other day, Greece would be much better off in the long run if it left the euro and created a new financial system based on sound financial principles.
But in the financial press all over the world there are calls for someone to come up with a “plan” to “rescue” Europe. For example, the following is from a recent Wall Street Journal article….
There have been two main responses to the crisis: austerity, and kicking cans down roads. Austerity, in case you haven’t noticed, is so last year. It’s out. Which means that unless something else is found, some other comprehensive plan, the other main response, can kicking, is going to run out of road.
Just about everybody backed the idea of eurobonds, except for the Germans, and since they’re the ones with all the money, they’re kind of the only ones whose vote counts anyway. So, it’s time to go to plan B. Only there’s no Plan B, and there’s no time, either.
If Germany does not agree to subsidize the rest of the eurozone, will that ultimately mean that the eurozone will be forced to break up?
And that would cause a huge amount of pain in the short-term.
But the euro never was a good idea in the first place. It was foolish to expect a monetary union to work smoothly in the absence of fiscal and political union.
And to be honest, the entire world would be a better place with less European integration. The EU has become a horrifying bureaucratic nightmare and it would be wonderful if the entire thing broke up.
But for now, the only thing that is in danger is the euro.
This week, former Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos admitted that the Greek government is considering making preparations for Greece to leave the euro.
Not only that, Reuters is reporting that top officials in the eurozone are now working on “contingency plans” for a Greek exit from the euro….
Each euro zone country will have to prepare a contingency plan for the eventuality of Greece leaving the single currency, euro zone sources said on Wednesday.
Officials reached the consensus on Monday afternoon during an hour-long teleconference of the Eurogroup Working Group (EWG).
As well as confirmation from three euro zone officials, Reuters has seen a memo drawn up by one member state detailing some of the elements that euro zone countries should consider.
So obviously a Greek exit from the euro has become a very real possibility.
A recent Bloomberg article detailed how a Greek exit from the euro could play out during the 46 hours that global financial markets are closed over the weekend….
Greece may have only a 46-hour window of opportunity should it need to plot a route out of the euro.
That’s how much time the country’s leaders would probably have to enact any departure from the single currency while global markets are largely closed, from the end of trading in New York on a Friday to Monday’s market opening in Wellington, New Zealand, based on a synthesis of euro-exit scenarios from 21 economists, analysts and academics.
Over the two days, leaders would have to calm civil unrest while managing a potential sovereign default, planning a new currency, recapitalizing the banks, stemming the outflow of capital and seeking a way to pay bills once the bailout lifeline is cut. The risk is that the task would overwhelm any new government in a country that has had to be rescued twice since 2010 because it couldn’t manage its public finances.
At this point, everyone is afraid of what is going to happen if Greece is forced to start issuing drachmas again. As CNBC is reporting, some big European corporations are already beginning to implement their own “contingency plans”….
Big tourism operators like TUI of Germany and Kuoni of Britain are demanding the addition of so-called drachma clauses to contracts with Greek hoteliers should the euro no longer be in use here. British newspapers are filled with advice columns for travelers worried about the wisdom of planning a vacation in Greece, or even Portugal and Spain, should the euro crisis worsen. Large multinational companies like Vodafone Group, Reckitt Benckiser and Diageo have taken to sweeping cash every day from euro accounts back to Britain to limit their exposure.
During an appearance on Meet The Press on Sunday, Jim Cramer of CNBC boldly predicted that “financial anarchy” is coming to Europe and that there will be “bank runs” in Spain and Italy in the next few weeks. This is very strong language for the most famous personality on the most watched financial news channel in the United States to be using. In fact, if Cramer is not careful, people will start accusing him of sounding just like The Economic Collapse Blog. It may not happen in “the next few weeks”, but the truth is that the European banking system is in a massive amount of trouble and if Greece does leave the euro it is going to cause a tremendous loss of confidence in banks in countries such as Spain, Italy and Portugal. There are already rumors that the “smart money” is pulling out of Spanish and Italian banks. So could we see some of these banks collapse? Would they get bailed out if they do collapse? It is so hard to predict exactly how “financial anarchy” will play out, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the European financial system is heading for a massive amount of pain.
Posted below is a clip of Jim Cramer making his bold predictions during his appearance on Meet The Press. He is obviously very, very disturbed about the direction that Europe is heading in….
But what is Europe supposed to do? Even though “austerity measures” have been implemented in many eurozone nations, the truth is that they are all still running up more debt. Are European nations just supposed to run up massive amounts of debt indefinitely and pretend that there will never been any consequences?
That is apparently what Barack Obama wants. During the G-8 summit that just concluded, Obama urged European leaders to pursue a “pro-growth” path.
Of course to Obama a “pro-growth” economic plan includes spending trillions of dollars that you do not have without any regard for what you are doing to future generations.
In Greece, the recent elections failed to produce a new government, so new elections will be held on June 17th.
Many EU politicians are trying to turn these upcoming elections into a referendum on whether Greece stays in the eurozone or not. If the next Greek government is willing to honor the austerity agreements that have been previously agreed to, then Greece will probably stay in the eurozone for a while longer. If the next Greek government is not willing to honor the austerity agreements that have been previously agreed to, then Greece will probably be forced out of the eurozone.
The following is what John Praveen, the chief investment strategist at Prudential International Investments Advisers, had to say about the political situation in Greece recently….
“If the pro-euro major parties fail to muster enough support to form a coalition and the radical left Syriza party and other anti-euro, anti-austerity parties secure a majority, the risk of a disorderly Greek exit from the Euro increases and could roil markets”
Right now, polls show the leading anti-austerity party, Syriza, doing very well. The leader of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, has declared that he plans “to stop the experiment” with austerity and that what the rest of the eurozone has tried to do in Greece is a “crime against the Greek people“.
But the Germans do not see it that way. The Germans just want the Greeks to stop spending far more money than they bring in.
The Germans do not want to endlessly bail out the Greeks if the Greeks are not willing to show some financial discipline.
As we approach the June 17th elections, the financial markets are likely to be quite nervous. According to Art Hogan of Lazard Capital Partners, many investors are deeply concerned about how “sloppy” a great exit from the euro could be….
“Next week is only one of the four weeks we have to wait until the Greek election. Every utterance out of Greece makes us think about their [possible] exit and how sloppy that could be”
Most Greek citizens want to remain in the eurozone and most European politicians want Greece to remain in the eurozone, but it is looking increasingly likely as if that may not happen.
In fact, there are reports that preparations are rapidly being made for a Greek exit. According to Reuters, “contingency plans” for the printing of Greek drachmas have already been drawn up….
De La Rue (DLAR.L) has drawn up contingency plans to print drachma banknotes should Greece exit the euro and approach the British money printer, an industry source told Reuters on Friday.
And even EU officials are now acknowledging that plans for a Greek exit from the euro are being developed. The following is what EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said during one recent interview….
“A year and a half ago, there may have been the danger of a domino effect,” he said, “but today there are, both within the European Central Bank and the European Commission, services that are working on emergency scenarios in case Greece doesn’t make it.”
When these kinds of things start to become public, that is a sign that officials really do not expect Greece to remain a part of the euro.
And Greece is rapidly beginning to run out of money. According to a recent Ekathimerini article, the Greek government is likely to run out of money at the end of June….
The public coffers are seen running dry at the end of June, but this will depend on two key factors. First, revenue collection: In the first 10 days of May, inflows were about 15 percent lower than projected but there are fears that the slide may reach 50 percent. The GAO will have a picture for the first 20 days on May 23, while the last three days of the month are considered crucial, when 1.5 billion euros of the month’s budgeted total of 3.6 billion are expected to flow in.
Second, whether the IMF and EFSF installments are disbursed: This is not certain, as the decision will be purely political for both providers and evidently partly linked to political developments. Earlier this month the eurozone approved a disbursement 1 billion short of the 5 billion euros that were expected.
If Greece runs out of money and if the rest of Europe cuts off the flow of euros, Greece would essentially be forced to leave the euro.
So the last half of June looks like it could potentially be a key moment for Greece.
Meanwhile, the Greek banking system is struggling to survive as hundreds of millions of euros get pulled out of it. The following is from a recent CNN article….
The Greek financial system is straining hard for cash.
Consumers and businesses are making massive withdrawals from Greece’s banks — leading to concern the beleaguered nation could be forced out of the eurozone by a banking crisis even before its government runs out of cash.
Deposits are the lifeblood of any bank, and Greeks pulled 800 million euros out of the banking system on Tuesday alone, the most recent day for which figures are available.
If Greece does leave the euro and the Greek banking system does collapse, that is going to be a clear signal that a similar scenario will be allowed to play out in other eurozone nations.
That is why Jim Cramer, myself and many others are warning that there could soon be bank runs all over the eurozone.
And if the “house of cards” does come down in Europe, that is going to greatly destabilize the global derivatives market.
You see, the truth is that the global derivatives market is very delicately balanced. The assumption most firms make is that things are not going to deviate too much from what is considered “normal”.
If we do end up seeing “financial anarchy” in Europe, that is going to greatly destabilize the system and we could rapidly have a huge derivatives crisis on our hands.
And as we saw with JP Morgan recently, losses from derivatives can add up really fast.
Originally, we were told that the derivatives losses that JP Morgan experienced recently came to a total of only about 2 billion dollars.
Now, we are told that it could be a whole lot more than that. According to the Wall Street Journal, JP Morgan could end up losing about 5 billion dollars (or more) before it is all said and done….
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. is struggling to extricate itself from disastrous wagers by traders such as the “London whale,” in a sign that the size of its bets could bog down the bank’s unwinding of the trades and deepen its losses by billions of dollars.
The nation’s largest bank has said publicly that its losses on the trades have surpassed $2 billion, and people familiar with the matter have said they could over time reach $5 billion.
And if Europe experiences a financial collapse, the losses experienced by U.S. firms could make that 5 billion dollars look like pocket change. The following is from a recent article by Graham Summers….
According to Reuters once you include Spain and Italy as well as Credit Default Swaps and indirect exposure to Europe, US banks have roughly $4 TRILLION in potential exposure to the EU.
To put that number in perspective, the entire US banking system is $12 trillion in size.
Interesting days are ahead my friends.
Let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.
The bank runs that we are watching right now in Greece are shocking, but they are only just the beginning. Since May 6th, nearly one billion dollars has been withdrawn from Greek banks. For a small nation like Greece, that is an absolutely catastrophic number. At this point, the entire Greek banking system is in danger of collapsing. If you had money in a Greek bank, why wouldn’t you pull it out? If Greece leaves the euro, all euros in Greek banks will likely be converted to drachmas, and the value of those drachmas will almost certainly decline dramatically. In fact, it has been estimated that Greek citizens could see the value of their bank accounts decline by up to 50 percent if Greece leaves the euro. So if you had money in a Greek bank, it would only make sense to withdraw it and move it to another country as quickly as possible. And as the eurozone begins to unravel, this is a scenario that we are going to see play out in country after country. As member nations leave the eurozone, you would be a fool to have your euros in Italian banks or Spanish banks when you could have them in German banks instead. So the bank runs that are happening in Greece right now are only a preview of things to come. Before this crisis is over we are going to see bank runs happening all over Europe.
If Greece leaves the euro, the consequences are likely to be quite messy. Those that are promoting the idea that a “Grexit” can be done in an orderly fashion are not being particularly honest. The following is from a recent article in the Independent….
“Whoever tells you a Greek exit would be no big deal is an idiot, lying or disingenuous,” said Sony Kapoor of the European think-tank Re-Define. Economists fear that a disorderly exit would prompt a huge run by investors on Spanish and Italian debt, forcing those countries to seek support from an EU bailout fund, which, with a capacity of just €500bn, is widely regarded as too small to cope with those pressures.
A Greek exit from the euro would not only result in a run on Spanish and Italian bonds, but it would also likely result in a run on Spanish and Italian banks.
If Greece is allowed to leave the euro, that will be a signal that other countries will eventually be allowed to leave as well. Nobody in their right mind would want their euros stuck in Spanish or Italian banks if those countries end up converting back to national currencies.
Fear is a powerful motivator. If Greece converts their euros back to drachmas, that will be a clear signal that all euros are not created equally. The race to move money into German banks will accelerate dramatically.
And a Greek exit from the euro is looking more likely with each passing day. Even the IMF is now admitting that it is a very real possibility….
Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, warned she was “technically prepared for anything” and said the utmost effort must be made to ensure any Greek exit was orderly. The effect was likely to be “quite messy” with risks to growth, trade and financial markets. “It is something that would be extremely expensive and would pose great risks but it is part of options that we must technically consider,” she said.
Meanwhile, banks in other troubled European nations are already on shaky ground. The Spanish banking system is an absolute disaster zone at this point and on Monday night Moody’s downgraded the credit ratings of 26 Italian banks.
The situation in Italy is especially worth keeping a close eye on. As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard recently noted, things are not looking good for Italy at all….
Italy’s former premier Romano Prodi said the EU risks instant contagion to Spain, Italy, and France if Greece leaves. “The whole house of cards will come down”, he said
Angelo Drusiani from Banca Albertini said the only way to avert catstrophe is to convert the European Central Bank into a lender of last resort. Otherwise Italy faces “massive devaluation, three to five years of hyperinflation, and unbearable unemployment.”
So what can be done about any of this?
Well, there is actually a lot that could be done if politicians in Europe were willing to think outside of the established global financial paradigm.
The truth is that Greece could solve their current financial problems in four easy steps. They would have to be willing to stick it to the rest of Europe and to risk being blackballed by the international community, but it could be done.
The following is my prescription for Greece….
1) Default on all debts.
2) Leave the euro.
3) Issue drachmas that are debt-free and that do not come from a central bank. Instead, have the Greek government create them and spend them directly into circulation.
4) Enjoy a return to prosperity.
In such a scenario, the Greek national debt would no longer be a problem, the Greek government would never have to borrow any more money and austerity would no longer be needed.
Yes, inflation would be an issue with the new currency, but a bit of inflation would be a walk in the park compared to the horrible economic depression that Greece is experiencing right now.
And once the Greek economy was growing again, it would certainly be possible for them to make the transition to “hard money” if they wanted to.
It is imperative that we all understand that just because the global financial system works a certain way today does not mean that it must always work that way.
If you have a few minutes, I want you to watch an incredible speech by a 12-year-old Canadian girl named Victoria Grant. In this 6 minute speech, she details how the bankers are defrauding the people of Canada and how the Canadian government does not actually need to borrow a single penny from the bankers….
If a 12-year-old girl can figure this out, then why can’t the rest of us?
Right now, America is going down the same path as Greece, Spain and Italy have gone. Eventually we will hit a wall and our financial system will fall apart.
We need the American people to understand that the Federal Reserve system is a perpetual debt machine. The U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Fed was first created. It is at the very core of our national financial problems.
When will people wake up and realize that central banking is the problem and not the solution?
When will people wake up and realize that national governments do not have to go into debt to anyone if they do not want to?
In our world today, there is far more debt than there is money.
It is a system that will inevitably crash.
But there are other alternatives.
Unfortunately, politicians all over the globe continue to want to be married to our current debt-based financial system.
As a result, we will suffer the consequences of that system.
What was considered unthinkable a few months ago has now become probable. All over the globe there are headlines proclaiming that a Greek exit from the euro is now a real possibility. In fact, some of those headlines make it sound like it is practically inevitable. For example, Der Spiegel ran a front page story the other day with the following startling headline: “Acropolis, Adieu! Why Greece must leave the euro”. Many are saying that the euro will be stronger without Greece. They are saying things such as “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” and they are claiming that financial markets are now far more prepared for a “Grexit” than they would have been two years ago. But the truth is that it really is naive to think that a Greek exit from the euro can be “managed” and that business will go on as usual afterwards. If Greece leaves the euro it will set a very dangerous precedent. The moment Greece exits the euro, investors all over the globe will be asking the following question: “Who is next?” Portugal, Italy and Spain would all see bond yields soar and they would all likely experience runs on their banks. It would only be a matter of time before more eurozone members would leave. In the end, the whole monetary union experiment would crumble.
2. Huge withdrawals from Spanish and Italian banks, as depositors try to move their money to Germany.
3a. Maybe, just possibly, de facto controls, with banks forbidden to transfer deposits out of country and limits on cash withdrawals.
3b. Alternatively, or maybe in tandem, huge draws on ECB credit to keep the banks from collapsing.
4a. Germany has a choice. Accept huge indirect public claims on Italy and Spain, plus a drastic revision of strategy — basically, to give Spain in particular any hope you need both guarantees on its debt to hold borrowing costs down and a higher eurozone inflation target to make relative price adjustment possible; or:
4b. End of the euro.
By itself, Greece cannot crash the eurozone. But the precedent that Greece is about to set could set forth a chain of events that may very well bring about the end of the eurozone.
If one country is allowed to leave the euro, that means that other countries will be allowed to leave the euro as well. This is the kind of uncertainty that drives financial markets crazy.
When the euro was initially created, monetary union was intended to be irreversible. There are no provisions for what happens if a member nation wants to leave the euro. It simply was not even conceived of at the time.
So we are really moving into uncharted territory. A recent Bloomberg article attempted to set forth some of the things that might happen if a Greek exit from the euro becomes a reality….
A Greek departure from the euro could trigger a default-inducing surge in bond yields, capital flight that might spread to other indebted states and a resultant series of bank runs. Although Greece accounts for 2 percent of the euro-area’s economic output, its exit would fragment a system of monetary union designed to be irreversible and might cause investors to raise the threat of withdrawal by other states.
In fact, yields on Spanish debt and Italian debt are already rising rapidly thanks to the bad news out of Greece in recent days.
What makes things worse is that a new government has still not formed in Greece. It looks like new elections may have to be held in June.
Meanwhile, the Greek government is rapidly running out of money. The following is from a Bank of America report that was released a few days ago….
“If no government is in place before June when the next installment (of loan money) from the European Union and International Monetary Fund is due, we estimate that Greece will run out of money sometime between the end of June and beginning of July, at which point a return to the drachma would seem inevitable”
In the recent Greek elections, parties that opposed the bailout agreements picked up huge gains. And opinion polls suggest that they will make even larger gains if another round of elections is held.
The Coalition of the Radical Left, also known as Syriza, surprised everyone by coming in second in the recent elections. Current polling shows that Syriza is likely to come in first if new elections are held.
The leader of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, is passionately against the bailout agreements. He says that Greece can reject austerity because the rest of Europe will never kick Greece out of the eurozone. Tsipras believes that the rest of Europe must bail out Greece because the consequences of allowing Greece to go bankrupt and fall out of the eurozone would be far too high for the rest of Europe.
“Mr Schaeuble [Germany’s finance minister] is pretending to be the fearless cowboy on the radio, saying the euro is secure [against a Greek exit]. But there’s no way they will kick us out”
So Greece and Germany are playing a game of chicken.
Who will blink first?
Will either of them blink first?
Syriza is trying to convince the Greek people that they can reject austerity and stay in the euro. Syriza insists that the rest of Europe will provide the money that they need to pay their bills.
And most Greeks do actually want to stay in the euro. One recent poll found that 78.1 percent of all Greeks want Greece to remain in the eurozone.
But a majority of Greeks also do not want anymore austerity.
Unfortunately, it is not realistic for them to assume that they can have their cake and eat it too. If Greece does not continue to move toward a balanced budget, they will lose their aid money.
And if Greece loses that aid money, the consequences will be dramatic.
Outgoing deputy prime minister of Greece Theodoros Pangalos recently had the following to say about what would happen if Greece doesn’t get the bailout money that it needs….
“We will be in wild bankruptcy, out-of-control bankruptcy. The state will not be able to pay salaries and pensions. This is not recognised by the citizens. We have got until June before we run out of money.”
If Greece gets cut off and runs out of money, it will almost certainly be forced to go back to using the drachma. If that happens there will likely be a “bank holiday”, the borders will be secured to limit capital flight and new currency will be rapidly printed up. It would be a giant mess.
In fact, there are rumblings that the European financial system is already making preparations for all this. For example, a recent Reuters article had the following shock headline: “Banks prepare for the return of the drachma”
But a new drachma would almost certainly crash in value almost immediately as a recent article in the Telegraph described….
Most economists think that a new, free-floating drachma would immediately crash by up to 50 percent against the euro and other currencies, effectively halving the value of everyone’s savings and spelling catastrophe for those on fixed incomes, like pensioners.
A Greek economy that is already experiencing a depression would get even worse. The Greek economy has contracted by 8.5 percent over the past 12 months and the unemployment rate in Greece is up to 21.8 percent. It is hard to imagine what Greece is going to look like if things continue to fall apart.
But the consequences for the rest of Europe (and for the rest of the globe) would be dramatic as well. A Greek exit from the euro could be the next “Lehman Brothers moment” and could plunge the entire global financial system into another major crisis.
Unfortunately, at this point it is hard to imagine a scenario in which the eventual break up of the euro can be avoided.
Germany would have to become willing to bail out the rest of the eurozone indefinitely, and that simply is not going to happen.
So there is a lot of pessimism in the financial world right now. Nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next and the number of short positions is steadily rising as a recent CNN article detailed….
After staying quiet at the start of the year, the bears have come roaring back with a vengeance.
Short interest — a bet on stocks turning lower — topped 13 billion shares on the New York Stock Exchange at the end of last month. That’s up 4% from March and marks the highest level of the year.
If the eurozone is going to survive, Greece must stay a part of it.
Instead of removing the weakest link from the chain, the reality is that a Greek exit from the euro would end up shattering the chain.
Confidence is a funny thing. It can take decades to build but it can be lost in a single moment.
If Greece leaves the euro, investor confidence in the eurozone will be permanently damaged. And when investors get spooked they don’t behave rationally.
A common currency in Europe is not dead by any means, but this current manifestation is now operating on borrowed time.
As the eurozone crumbles, it is likely that Germany will simply pull the plug at some point and decide to start over.
So what do you think?
Do you think that I am right or do you think that I am wrong?
Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….