Posts Tagged ‘Berlusconi’

Notes From Underground: Low Probability, High Impact Events

April 11, 2016

When Alan Greenspan was Fed Chairman he would regularly orate on the concept of low probability events that could create disruption in the global financial system. These events are not BLACK SWANS because by definition a black swan is unknowable nor foreseeable. So it is time to take a survey of what Greenie called low probability:

1. Paul Ryan being parachuted into the candidacy for the Republican Party. There is a possibility but is a potential problem, which could rip apart the GOP. What would the fallout be for financial markets if the U.S. was splintered into a three- or four-party system? The same could be said for the Democratic Party if there was a revolt by the left-wing in response to the super delegates. The issue for the Democrats will rise to the fore if Hilary Clinton were to lose New York. Bernie Sanders is a low probability bet but his impact would be great.

2. The probability of Russia attacking Turkey, which could result in the break-up of NATO. If Putin attempts to seek revenge against President Erdogan by providing support to the Kurds against Turkey, the U.S. and its NATO allies would be forced to decide if they were willing to risk war with Russia to honor its commitment to a friend. Imagine what happens to the political situation in Europe if NATO were demolished because of its failure to honor Article 5, which asserts that an attack on one is an attack on all.

3. The June 23rd vote by the U.K. on Brexit results in a vote to leave. Not sure this is a low probability event but it will certainly have a HIGH IMPACT. The greatest outcome will be that others in the EU will request a referendum for this was certainly articulated in the recent Dutch vote on the EU’s agreement with the Ukraine. The most volatile result of a Brexit would be the pursuit of a referendum by German voters. The myriad articles on German unhappiness with the ECB are a mere prelude to what a vote in favor of Brexit would result in for the rest of EU. If you want a good sense of the arrogance of the European elite, watch Mario Monti’s CNBC appearance from today. Mr. Monti decried the outbreak of democracy in Europe and was very critical of David Cameron for falling in the trap and calling a referendum.

The critical assessment by Monti is an infamia for Mr. Monti was appointed Prime Minister of Italy by a “coup” orchestrated by the Brussels elite. Berlusconi was forced from office by threats of Italian debt downgrade and the Brussels eurocrats’ rejection of the Italian budget. When Prime Minister Monti had to call elections in 2013 after the Berlusconi term expired, Monti and his allies received a mere 11% of the vote. So Mario Monti’s views of popular democracy are subject to further review.

4. A failure of a major European bank, something on the order of Deutsche Bank or a major French institution. The cracks in the Italian financial system are well known. It is the exposure of other EU domestic banks that can cause a blind side hit to the financial system. Part of this issue is the BIS view of how sovereign debt is rated. Currently, all EU sovereign debt carries a zero risk weighting. If this were to change, EU banks would be forced to raise a great amount of capital, a total that would dwarf the amount that was recently raised to support the purchase of non-performing loans from Italian financial institutions. The European nations are struggling even with zero interest rates. Imagine what the budget deficits of Spain, Italy and France would be if borrowing rates were to dramatically increase.

This is just the beginning of analyzing low probability, high impact events. The landscape of the global macro system are rife with such possibilities. Now a black swan in an uncertain event this focus will be on those with a probability of occurring. The floor is open to all suggestions.

Notes From Underground: Erections, Ejaculations and Other Tales Of Ordinary Madness (Bukowski)

September 29, 2013

As the end of September approaches it seems that the global financial markets are again buffeted by the egomaniacs who crowd the corridors of power. This weekend has brought news that Silvio Berlusconi (Captain Viagara) has forced his party’s minister to resign from the coalition government, headed by Enrico Letta. Mr. Berlusconi was angry about losing another court appeal and in reprisal has decided to bring down the government. This will of course unnerve the Italian debt markets and send the Italian bond yields higher. Berlusconi will hope that he can craft a compromise with the government and receive some clemency and relieve him of his continued legal problems. The ability to hold the Italian financial markets hostage to instability is an expensive way to play for a legal reprieve. The U.S. markets are being subjected to a similar sort of hostage taking as the Republicans in the House are looking to negotiate away Obamacare by holding the U.S. debt levels and credit ratings hostage to political machinations. Being sympathetic to the long-term designs of the Republicans I understand there concerns but question their methods. Each time the House Republicans go down this path they ultimately cave and suffer politically at the ballot box. Better to draw up a genuine budget plan and educate the public to the destructive future budgetary problems.

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Notes From Underground: Back to Work … Assessing the Significance of the Italian Elections

March 3, 2013

The recent Italian elections wound up in a very inconclusive result. In a political lineup of the three Bs–(no Chuck, not Biggio, Berkman and Bagwell)–Bersani, Berlusconi and Beppe, the Italian populace dealt a massive defeat to Brussel-appointed technocrat Mario Monti. The vox populi raised its voice against continuing austerity and will look to whatever government is formed to be one of a pro-growth economic agenda. The biggest loser from the Italian election may in fact be another Italian, ECB President Mario Draghi. If European nations say no to more austerity then Draghi’s program of doing anything to stem the Euro crisis comes to an end. WHY? The Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) are based upon ECB intervention and the quid pro quo of conditionality of acceptance of austerity budgets. If you accept that the basis of OMT is a form of quantitative easing and the recipients of the QE won’t accept the severity of conditionality that is demanded by the ECB, then emperor Draghi is truly naked and not dressed in a fine Italian suit.

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Notes From Underground: When Will We See The Full Monti?

December 10, 2012

Mario Monti upset the Italian credit markets as he announced his early resignation over the weekend. In an apparent fit of rage after Silvio Berlusconi (aka Captain Viagra) pulled his political support from the sitting prime minister, Mario Monti headed off to the opera in Milan and apparently he was the fat lady that sang. It was a Wagner Opera that Mr. Monti saw so it seems that the political drama playing out in Rome is going to be a long, drawn out affair. I believe that the present Italian PM played a political gambit by announcing his early resignation in an effort to reveal the markets lack of support for the return of Berlusconi. As the Italian bond markets sold off and yields on 10- and TWO-YEAR NOTES increased by more than 25 basis points. It seems that there is little support from the financial markets for a return to the buffoonery of a Berlusconi-led government.

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Notes From Underground: Somebody Please Cancel Silvio Berlusconi’s Viagara Prescription

December 6, 2012

Due to the availability of virility enhancers, the Italian political arena is plagued by billionaires who still believe they remain relevant. The ability to sustain an erection does not make you politically astute. Today’s effort by Silvio Berlusconi to undermine the Monti government led to a selloff in the Italian debt markets which caused 10-year rates to rise 13 basis points. Mr. Berlusconi didn’t want to bring the present government down but merely wanted to exhibit his relevance to the Italian political establishment. What the Greek debt problems couldn’t do, a 76-year-old man with a bottle of Viagra was able to accomplish. Elections are going to be held soon and the Monti coalition will be called to account. Now with all the problems confronting the peripheral governments the attempts of a disgraced former prime minister to prove his manhood is just an exhibition of the absurd. Pay no attention to the man with unnatural bulge in his ego.

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Notes From Underground: Friday and the BINI SMAGHI Rally Continued

November 13, 2011

It was a risk-on day Friday as the markets were ostensibly relieved by the exit of Berlusconi in Italy and Papandreou in Greece. The replacement of two European will have little effect on the austerity proposals facing the beleaguered profligate states. Most important for the EU is whether the EUROS will be “FOUND” to backstop the indebted sovereigns so as to be able to aid European banks loaded with “risk-free” sovereign bonds. There are meetings all over the world to find support for a world-wide bailout of Europe as the G-20 meeting revealed the urgency of the situation.

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Notes From Underground: Bini Smaghi Resigns From ECB Executive Board … What’s It All About?

November 10, 2011

The global markets were on the verge of a failed rally when a news story broke about the resignation of Bini Smaghi. In my mind this is a very significant event as it portends the beginning of a major deal on EFSF funding in the works. WHY? Two weeks ago it appeared that Mr. Berlusconi had castrated President Sarkozy by reneging on an agreement for Mr. Bini Smaghi to resign his ECB position once Mario Draghi assumed the Presidency of the ECB. If SMAGHI retained his seat it meant Italy would occupy two key positions in the ECB and France would have none. Sarkozy supported Draghi only on that basis that the Bini Smaghi seat would go to a Frenchman.

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Notes From Underground: When I have Something to Say Sir I Am Going to Say It Now! (Phil Ochs)

November 8, 2011

Yes, all the news about Prime Minister Berlusconi is pure puff and nonsense. The Italian economic situation will not change one iota when Silvio steps aside and, in fact, I would argue that the situation will become more volatile. Italy has seen so many governments come and go since the end of WORLD WAR II that it must be the role model for Japan. Mr. Berlusconi may be a scoundrel but the markets and the Italians know what they have and it seems that Berlusconi the known is better than what may come next. If the present government falls there is a possibility that a more leftist coalition will be formed and it is doubtful if it would be prone to pass an AUSTERITY plan.

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Notes From Underground: Charles Evans Stars In LONESOME DOVE

November 3, 2011

The markets initial reaction to the FOMC statement was perplexing as the financial media reported the FED to be hawkish for there was nothing explicit about a potential QE3 program. Readers of this BLOG were well aware that the consensus was for no change from the FED as it would have been difficult to announce any new program with the G-20 meeting this weekend in Cannes. The BRICs have already accused the U.S. of causing havoc in world currency markets by utilizing its monetary policy as a “stealth devaluation” of the U.S. DOLLAR. It seemed though that the FOMC statement was DOVISH because the previous three dissenters all voted with the majority–there was a lone no vote and that came from Chicago FED President Charles Evans.

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Notes From Underground: Economy to Ben Bernanke … It’s Not You, It’s Me

September 21, 2011

THERE WAS CERTAINLY NO SURPRISE FROM THE FED TODAY EXCEPT THAT THE FOMC STRESSED THAT THERE ARE SIGNIFICANT DOWNSIDE RISKS TO THE ECONOMY. It appears that this phrase caused the markets to sell everything after the release of the most important outlook for U.S. economic policy. The market’s response must have left Mr. Bernanke wondering just what the FED could actually do to lift the “animal spirits” of the investor and business community.

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