Well, my hat is off to the global central planners for averting the next stage of the unfolding financial crisis for as long as they have. I guess there’s some solace in having had a nice break between the events of 2008/09 and today, which afforded us all the opportunity to attend to our various preparations and enjoy our lives.
Alas, all good things come to an end, and a crisis rooted in ‘too much debt’ with a nice undercurrent of ‘persistently high and rising energy costs’ was never going to be solved by providing cheap liquidity to the largest and most reckless financial institutions. And it has not.Forestalled is Not Foregone
The same sorts of signals that we had in 2008 are once again traipsing across my market monitors. Not precisely the same, of course, but with enough similarities that they rhyme loudly. Whereas in 2008 we saw breakdowns in the credit spreads of major financial institutions, this time we are seeing the same dynamic in the sovereign debt of the weaker European nation states.
Greece, as expected and predicted here, is a right proper mess and will have to leave the euro monetary system if it is to have any chance at recovery going forward. Yes, all those endless meetings and rumors and final agreements painfully hammered out by eurocrats over the past year are almost certainly going to be tossed, and additional losses are going to be foisted upon the hapless holders of Greek debt. My prediction is that within a year Greece will be back on the drachma, perhaps by the end of this year (2012). ...If You Think Greece is Bad
Greece, of course, is tiny compared to Spain or Italy. The situation in Spain -- which is big enough to matter -- is truly dire, very large, and getting worse.
Spain has been playing fast and loose with the numbers, and that fact has now been revealed to the world. It’s not a pretty picture. ... And this is just the losses that Spanish banks face on their real-estate portfolios. They are also now facing losses on all the Spanish sovereign debt that they bought with their LTRO funding as well. Very simply, Spain now needs a massive rescue, and soon.
Meanwhile German citizens are all done with helping their southern neighbors. Merkel has used up all of her political capital on the rescues performed to date, and it is far from clear that any more help is politically doable here. The only way that I can see such help coming is under some terms other than drawing upon the savings of Germany’s citizens. Printing, perhaps, but even that is a dicey political proposition here.
If Spain drops here, then you can just set an egg timer for when Italy will go. And then France. The dominoes will rapidly fall from there. ...