This Is Yet Another Glaring Example Of Why The EU Is A Mind Blowing Failure

The debt crisis in Europe just seems to get worse with each passing day, and it is yet another glaring example of why the EU is a mind blowing failure.  The EU is made up of 27 nations that all have their own economic policies, and 17 of those nations are trying to use the euro as a common currency.  But when you have 27 different governments pulling in different directions, it is inevitable that there are going to be major problems.  The stunt that Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou just pulled is a perfect example of the nightmare that the EU has become.  European officials worked really hard to pull together a deal to address the debt crisis (of course the deal was a total mess, but that is another matter), and a couple of days later Papandreou decides that Greece should hold a national referendum on it.  It is so bizarre that it almost defies words.  But that is what happens in the EU.  Someone else always wants to have a say.  Someone else always wants to throw a fly into the ointment.  Someone else always want to throw in their two cents.  The EU is a bureaucratic nightmare and this latest episode is yet another example of that fact.  First the politicians in Europe come up with an idiotic plan that is going to make the financial crisis much worse, then Papandreou comes forward and pulls a stunt that shatters what little confidence the financial markets still had in Greece.  That is why the EU should break up.  It is a total failure and it is time that we all admitted it.

Financial markets reacted in horror to the news that Papandreou wants Greece to hold a referendum on the debt deal.

Apparently Papandreou wants the Greek people to willingly choose the harsh austerity measures contained in the package.  To be honest, that is not entirely unreasonable considering the tremendous economic damage that austerity measures have already done to the Greek economy.

So if there is a referendum, will the Greeks vote for the package?

That is not at all certain.

As month after month of protests have shown, austerity measures have been extremely unpopular in Greece.

But a lot of Greeks are not too keen on rejecting the bailouts and being forced to leave the euro either.

Both alternatives would be extremely unpleasant.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou apparently believes that the Greek people will vote in favor of the debt deal.  He made the following statement on Tuesday….

“We have faith in our citizens, we believe in their judgment and therefore in their decision. All the country’s political forces should support the (bailout) agreement. The citizens will do the same once they are fully informed”

Predictably, global financial markets were shocked by the announcement by Papandreou.  The Dow was down another 297 points on Tuesday, and bond yields for the PIIGS shot up significantly.

It really is mind blowing to watch what is happening to some of the bond yields over in Europe.

The yield on 1 year Greek bonds is now over 200 percent.  If you want to see what a financial meltdown looks like, just look at this chart.

The yield on 2 year Irish bonds is now over 9 percent, and the yield on 2 year Portuguese bonds is now over 20 percent.

Most importantly, the yield on Italian bonds continues to surge higher.

The higher those bond yields go, the worse things are going to get for Europe.

And those bond yield are skyrocketing in spite of rampant bond buying by the European Central Bank.

A CNBC article from earlier today noted the extraordinary intervention by the ECB that we are witnessing right now….

“Yesterday we had one of the biggest ever days of peripheral sovereign bond buying from the Securities Market Program, with some banks estimating that over 5 billion euros of peripheral sovereign bonds were purchased via the ECB’s bond buying program in an effort to keep a lid on peripheral sovereign bond yields” said Mike Riddell, a fund manager at M&G Investments in London.

Europe is falling apart financially and politicians all over Europe are furious with Papandreou right now.  The following comes from an article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard that was published earlier today….

The Greek referendum – if it is not overtaken by a collapse of the government first – has left officials in Paris, Berlin, and Brussels speechless with rage. The ingratitude of them.

The spokesman of French president Nicolas Sarkozy (himself half Greek, from Thessaloniki) said the move was “irrational and dangerous”. Rainer Brüderle, Bundestag leader of the Free Democrats, said the Greeks appear to be “wriggling out” of a solemn commitment. They face outright bankruptcy, he blustered.

A number of European politicians are warning of severe consequences for Greece.  For example, the Finnish minister of European affairs and foreign trade, Alexander Stubb, even declared that if Greek citizens do not vote the right way it will mean an exit from the eurozone for Greece….

“The situation is so tight that basically it would be a vote over their euro membership”

If Greece ends up rejecting the bailout package, it would essentially mean a complete and total debt default by Greece.  The following is what Nobel prize-winning economist Christopher Pissarides said about the potential consequences of a “no” vote….

“In the scenario of a ‘No’ vote Greece would declare bankruptcy immediately, they would default immediately. I can’t see them staying within the euro”

But there is no guarantee that a referendum will actually be held.  The Greek government has been thrown into a state of chaos and is on the verge of collapse.

To many, it seems more likely that the government will fail and that we will see early elections in Greece.  For example, the following is a quote from an anonymous Greek trader that was posted in an article on Business Insider this morning….

I believe the present government will be history by the end of this week. Most probably this evening actually, when the already scheduled emergency cabinet meeting is to be held.

The important question to be resolved is whether the present government will be replaced by an interim national unity government for several months ratifying in parliament the Eurogroup decisions of last week and then proceeding with elections, or else whether national elections will be immediately announced with probable dates the 4th or 11th of December.

But in the final analysis, it is not the Greek government that is the problem.

The reality is that the way the eurozone was constructed was fatally flawed from the very beginning.

It was inevitable that trying to force 17 different countries with 17 different economic policies to use a common currency was going to end up creating a huge mess.

People all over Europe know this is true.  Just consider the following quotes….

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

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

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

* Professor Giacomo Vaciago of Milan’s Catholic University: “It’s clear that the euro has virtually failed over the last ten years, even if you are not supposed to say that. We pretended to be Germans, but it was an illusion”

So why should those of us living in the United States care about all of this?

Well, it is because a financial collapse in the EU could plunge the entire globe into a horrific economic nightmare.

Today, the EU actually has a larger economy and a larger population than the United States does.  The EU also has more Fortune 500 companies that the United States does.

If Europe experiences a financial crash, it is going to send shockwaves to the very ends of the earth.

Another reason why Americans should care is because what is happening right now in Greece, in Italy and in some of these other countries is eventually going to come to the United States.

Just like Greece, we are in debt up to our eyeballs.

Just like Greece, our politicians thought that they could pile up gigantic mountains of debt indefinitely.

Just like Greece, this debt is going to have very, very serious consequences.

Just like Greece, we are going to have mass economic rioting in our streets.

The road that Greece is going down is the exact same road that the United States is going down.

Yes, the Federal Reserve could step in and print up trillions and trillions of dollars, but that would not solve our problems.  The truth is that a hyperinflationary crash can be even worse than a deflationary crash.

What is happening in Greece is just the beginning.  A bunch of other eurozone nations are also rapidly approaching a date with destiny.  At some point the United States is going to experience massive problems as well.

The epicenter for the financial collapse of 2008 was the United States.

The epicenter for the next financial collapse will almost certainly be Europe.

When Europe goes down, the rest of the world will be dragged down with them.

The next wave of the economic collapse is coming.

You better get ready.

Has The Financial Collapse Of Europe Now Become Inevitable?

What in the world is happening over in Europe?  Well, it is actually quite simple.  We are witnessing the slow motion collapse of the euro and of the European financial system.  At this point, many analysts are convinced that a full-blown financial implosion in Europe has become inevitable.  Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, France and Belgium are all drowning in an ocean of unsustainable debt.  Meanwhile, Germany and the few other “healthy” members of the EU continue to try to keep all of the balls in the air by bailing everyone out.  But can Germany keep bailing the rest of the EU out indefinitely?  Are the German people going to continue to be willing to hand out gigantic sacks of cash to fix the problems of other EU nations?  The Irish were just bailed out, but their problems are far from over.  There are rumors that Greece will soon need another bailout.  Spain, Portugal, Italy and France have all entered crisis territory.  At the same time, there are a whole host of nations in eastern Europe that are also on the verge of financial collapse.  So is there any hope that a major sovereign debt crisis can be averted at this point?

One would like to think that there is always hope, but each month things just seem to keep getting worse.  Confidence in European government debt continues to plummet.  The yield on 10-year Irish bonds is up to 8.97%.  The yield on 10-year Greek bonds is up to an astounding 12.01%.  The cost of insuring French debt hit a new record high on December 20th.

Bond ratings all over Europe are being slashed or are being threatened with being slashed.  For example, Moody’s Investors Service recently cut Ireland’s bond rating by five levels.  Now there is talk that Spain, Belgium and even France could soon all have their debt significantly downgraded as well.

But if the borrowing costs for these troubled nations keep going up, that is just going to add to their financial problems and swell their budget deficits.  In turn, larger budget deficits will cause investors to lose even more confidence.

So how far are we away from a major crisis point?

Professor Willem Buiter, the chief economist at Citibank, is warning that quite a few EU nations could financially collapse in the next few months if they are not quickly bailed out….

“The market is not going to wait until March for the EU authorities to get their act together. We could have several sovereign states and banks going under. They are being far too casual.”

Many analysts are even calling for some of these troubled nations to stop using the euro for a while so that they can recover.  In fact, Andrew Bosomworth, the head of portfolio management for Pimco in Europe says that Greece, Ireland and Portugal must all quit the euro at least for a little while if they expect to survive….

“Greece, Ireland and Portugal cannot get back on their feet without either their own currency or large transfer payments.”

Sadly, most Americans don’t realize just how bad the situation in Europe is becoming.  This is truly a historic crisis that is unfolding.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared earlier this year that this is the biggest financial crisis that the EU has ever faced….

“The current crisis facing the euro is the biggest test Europe has faced for decades, even since the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957.”

So what is the answer?

Well, many are speculating that the EU could actually break up over this whole thing, but another possibility is that we could eventually see much greater integration.

In fact, for the first time the idea that “euro bonds” could be issued is gaining some traction.  This would spread the risk of European government debt throughout the European Union.  At this point, Andrew Bosomworth says that things have gotten so bad that it now seems inevitable that we will soon see the creation of euro bonds….

“Whether now or later, there is no way around a euro bond.”

So just how bad are things going to get in Europe? Well, earlier this year Anthony Fry, the senior managing director at Evercore Partners had the following to say about the emerging bond crisis in Europe….

“I don’t want to scare anyone but I am considering investing in barbed wire and guns, things are not looking good and rates are heading higher.”

So why should Americans care about all this?

Well, what is happening to these troubled European states is eventually going to happen to us.

If rates on U.S. government debt eventually hit 8 or 12 percent it will literally be financial armageddon in this country.  The U.S. government has piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world, and if we continue piling up debt at the pace that we are, then it will only be a matter of time before the IMF is demanding that we implement our own “austerity measures”.

As I have written about previously, there are already numerous indications that confidence in U.S. Treasuries is dying.  If that happens, we could literally see interest costs on the national debt double or even triple.

But it is not just the U.S. government that is in trouble.  A bloodbath in the municipal bond market has already started.  Hundreds of state and local governments across the United States are on the verge of bankruptcy.

So don’t laugh at what is going on in Ireland or Greece.  The next victims could be financially troubled states such as California and Illinois.

In the history of global finance, we have never faced a sovereign debt crisis like we are seeing now.  All over the globe governments are being suffocated by absolutely crushing debt loads.  Once a couple of dominoes fall, it is going to be really hard to keep the rest of the dominoes from falling.

This is the biggest crisis that the euro has ever faced.  At some point Germany will either be unwilling or unable to continuing rescuing the rest of the EU countries from the unsustainable mountains of debt that they have accumulated.  When that moment arrives, it is going to throw world financial markets into turmoil.

But this is what happens when we allow long-term debt bubbles to be created.  Eventually they always burst.

So keep your eye on the euro, because if a financial collapse does happen in Europe it is going to have a dramatic impact on the United States as well.

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