The question that is framing the most recent debate in European circles is the one asked by Bernard Connolly for the last 18 years: Whose currency is the euro and who controls its outcome? The media has been full of stories about the gathering forces allied against AUSTERITY:
Posts Tagged ‘Angela Merkel’
Notes From Underground: #Irony … Carmen Reinhart Says “Do Not Take Size As An Indicator of Importance”; Harry Rheems DiesMarch 21, 2013
Okay, you must have some fun amongst the idiocy of the Eurocrats. It seems that the best intentions of last Friday night’s decision to sacrifice the pawns in the game have done exactly what I thought the ill-conceived plans would accomplish. For 10 billion euros of bailout capital the fallout has been large drops in equity values. The capital losses are small compared to embarrassment facing the European policy makers. In a Bloomberg article by James Neuger, “Europe Plays I-Didn’t-Do-It Blame Game on Cypriot Deposit Levy,” it seems that German FM Schaeuble, France’s FM Moscovici, Spain’s FM Guidnos and even Finland’s FM Urpilainen all claim that they were opposed to taxing the guaranteed deposits of under a 100,000 euros. They all seem to point to the ECB and IMF as wanting the “bail-in.” This is a classic example of what my friend Andy Schreiber used to say: “Success Has Many Fathers, Failure Is But An Orphan.” The Cypriot situation is a situation that punches way above its weight. Carmen Reinhart, an economist I cite regularly on financial repression, silenced the talking heads on CNBC when she claimed that, “Do not take size as an indicator of importance.”
Yes, another day and the markets had to try to understand the significance of Cyprus. The newswires were filled with analysts claiming this was a “tempest in a teapot” and that the doomsayers were blowing the Cypriot problem into a pseudo crisis. Again, a world that is highly leveraged is subject to a “single spark starting a prairie fire” and the fear of contagion and an electronic bank run are very real if the major policy makers don’t invoke the trust of the electorate and investors. The perceived actions by IMF Director Lagarde (the joker) and the liquidationist mentality being thrust from Berlin and Chancellor Merkel (the thief) have created a situation where European bank depositors are nervous, especially so in the peripheral banks. THE MAIN COMPONENT OF THIS UNCERTAINTY WAS THE MOVE IN THE FRONT MONTH EURIBOR CONTRACTS,AS THE JUNE 2013 FELL 10 TICKS ON A DAY WHEN OTHER INTEREST RATES WERE LOWER. NOTHING SAYS BANK FEARS THEN A COUNTER MOVE IN THE EURIBOR AND LIBOR MARKETS. An increase in bank yields with equity markets falling is a sign about the fear in the bank deposits market. It seems that the policy makers that are leading the previously “revered” TROIKA (IMF,European Commission and ECB) have initiated fear for a mere pittance.
Notes From Underground: Raising The Specter of Secretary Robert Rubin (Turning Back the Hands of Time)March 18, 2013
It was a very muddled and confusing day in the markets as the news wires carried numerous rumors. The Cypriots were going to approve the lunacy and then they weren’t as the government couldn’t get the needed votes in parliament. Later in the day there was noise about a new compromise with the depositors with more than 100,000 euros bearing the brunt of the “TAX PLAN” and small depositors paying just 3 percent. The markets did not follow through with last night’s initial selloff and the U.S. equities tried to make a move higher late in the day but late selling pushed the markets down on the day by the close. The U.S. is fulfilling its role as a haven, but instead of bonds being the main recipient of global angst, it appears that frightened money is comfortable buying the asset base of U.S. corporations. Gold did perform as a haven but for all the turbulence in the market its rally was tepid. It seems that investors want an asset with some return rather than the mere store of value.
Notes From Underground: The Fed’s Zero Rate, Quantitative Easing Policies Are Stock Market FundamentalsMarch 10, 2013
The continued parade of stock market analysts who proclaim the equity market is rallying merely on Fed monetary policy instead of market fundamentals have spent far too much time doing case studies and not reading economic history. Interest rates as the variable signaling the cost of money are a very critical element and a key fundamental of the economy and especially the equity markets. U.S. multinational corporations are sitting on record piles of cash and also reporting strong profits. Much of the growth in profits can be attributed to two factors: Very low borrowing costs and continued pressure on wages. The FED has created the low interest rates and has hoped that the profitability resulting from low borrowing costs would bleed into higher wages and thus the need for increased hiring. The problem is many fold on the lack of success in aiding jobs creation. Globalization has kept pressure off wages and the deleveraging of the private balance sheets has meant that downward pressure remains on demand.
In the London Telegraph, it was reported that French President Hollande visited Greece in an effort to show solidarity with the Greek people in pledging to support growth over austerity. The French leader told the Greeks that the French would “help with privatizations, tourism and a public sector overhaul.” Hollande also urged French investment into devastated Greek businesses. In direct opposition to October’s visit by German Chancellor Merkel, the French President proclaimed, “The Greek people have has as much as they can take.” While I would not disagree about the Greek citizenry being pushed to the limit through austerity budgets and tax increases, be assured that Hollande’s public show of support is all about trying to gain as much support as possible in his coming battle with the Germans.
In the very anticipated FOMC release, the FED announced that the Operation Twist would be extended from the June expiration until the end of the year. No surprise as Bernanke seemed to believe that the FED had to do something about the lethargic growth in the economy. Listening to the press conference held after the FOMC release, it seems that Ben Bernanke is the most troubled man in America. All of the FED‘s actions during the last two years have failed to generate the robust growth that TEXTBOOK MODELS HAVE PREDICTED. Europe continues to be the main theme as to why the GLOBAL ECONOMY IS FAILING TO GAIN ANY REAL TRACTION. Europe continues to plague the world as capital investment languishes in fear of European debt problems causing a massive new round of deleveraging.
As I looked at the photos from the G-8 conference, this caption became obvious. The German Chancellor is the belle of the ball as her Germany has what the World is crying for: surplus wealth in a debt-laden world. The pressure was on Chancellor Merkel to provide enough EUROS for short-term triage on the European nations hemorrhaging wealth from the huge amount of debt owed to many global creditors. As the communique revealed, there were few concrete proposals provided by the G-8 “brain trust” except that Germany “ought” to provide the financial backstop for all of Europe and, thus, the rest of the world. President Obama is well aware that any financial collapse in Europe will weigh heavily upon his reelection potential.
As regular readers of NOTES are well aware, I have been very critical of market participants like George Soros and their sanguine views of the European DEBT CRISIS. Many analysts like Jim Cramer have spent the last years waving the debt problem away. First, it was Greece was too small to have an impact on Europe. Ireland was too small and besides was ring-fenced by a bad bank structure. Portugal was smaller than Greece, thus nothing to be concerned about. Italy and Spain were possible problems but many were listening to the flirtations of the Chinese, who, time after time, made solicitations about purchasing European Debt. (By the way, we still haven’t seen the Chinese Sovereign Wealth Fund enter the fray.) If all else failed, European financial leaders were too exposed to the EURO to allow the European Monetary Structure to collapse. Germany would not allow the work of Helmut Kohl and others to be just another failed attempt at a unified Europe.
Yes, I know Athens is burning as some of the more violent demonstrators threw some Molotov cocktails and the media was given some photo ops so the situation can be understood by those too involved with life’s challenges to read. If that sounds acerbic it is because I have been writing about the Greek debt crisis since December of 2009 when the Chinese investment funds reneged on a promise to purchase $25 Billion of Greek bonds and the debt crisis was in full swing. Again, Athens may be the present battleground but the political and financial games are being played out in Paris and Berlin and of course in the offices of the IMF.