Posts Tagged ‘Mario Monti’

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: The Roar From Yellen Quieted the Bloviators

February 11, 2014

The talking heads of financial visual media tried to create a circus around the new Fed Chair Yellen’s first official Congressional testimony. Yellen proved a worthy animal trainer and backed critics and supporters to their corners as she delivered very measured and COGENT responses to her inquisitors. The media was hoping for “red meat” but the Fed chair served up a vegetarian casserole full of nutritional value but nothing for the perpetrators of pabulum to sensationalize. It seems as though Yellen watched tape of Mario Draghi for she knew which Congressional posers needed long, drawn out answers so as devour their allowed five minutes of time. Well done Madam Chairman. This testimony of the Fed Chair, as mandated by Congress, has become about as relevant as the G-7 photo-op. If Congress has questions, put them in writing and establish a record of correspondence and thus a trail of responsibility to satisfy the dual mandate. It was reported that the House Republicans on the Finance Committee was to going to have a second hearing post Yellen’s testimony  in which four invited guests would provide a rebuttal of the policy put forth by Yellen.

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Notes From Underground: A Major Point of Clarification

October 20, 2013

It has been brought to my attention that many readers believe my continued criticism of the European financial markets equates to an OUTRIGHT BEARISH POSITION on the EURO. I have not discussed being short euro unless it is on some cross-rate without any DOLLAR exposure. My continued hammering of the European situation is to minimize exposure to the European banks and financial institutions that so many pundits continue to promote. THE EURO HAS BEEN BULLISH BECAUSE THE QE PROGRAMS PROMOTED BY THE ECB HAVE CONTINUED TO BE PAID DOWN, (UNLIKE THE U.S. WHERE ANY TALK OF TAPERING RATTLES THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL MARKETS). Less ECB liquidity floating in the markets has been a positive factor for the EURO CURRENCY, especially during the time of political buffoonery in the U.S. Money flows out of nervous emerging markets has avoided the DOLLAR and sought refuge in the world’s next largest reserve currency, the euro. Even with the positive forces pushing on the euro, there are other currencies that have RECENTLY outperformed both the DOLLAR and EURO: the Aussie, kiwi and even the lowly British pound. Until the ECB has to pump liquidity into the system to avert some problem bank or sovereign, the euro is a difficult short.

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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: Mario Monti Is No General Sherman

December 23, 2012

Over the weekend Mario Monti decided not to run for the Prime Minister position through joining any party’s list for the election to be held in February. Mr. Monti was never elected to his present position but was parachuted into the job by the Eurocrats in Brussels. It seems that PM Monti fears facing the electorate as so many Italians are angered by the slash-and-burn techniques of the supreme technocrat–both left and right have criticized the present Monti government. Monti resigned after Silvio Berlusconi pulled his support from the Monti regime, but now it appears that Berlusconi would renew his support for a Monti-led coalition. The dramatic fall in bond and stock prices following Monti’s resignation caught the attention of the monied groups in Italy.

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Notes From Underground: The Bank of Canada Holds Rates Steady, Or, Anything But European Debt

January 17, 2012

This morning the Bank of Canada (BOC) voted to keep rates steady as 1% as Governor Mark Carney voiced concern over the troubling situation in Europe. The BOC noted that weakness in the EUROPEAN ECONOMY could spread as more austerity is applied to the profligate peripheries. The Canadians are in a difficult situation as the growth in household debt is growing because of continued low rates and this is causing angst with economic policy makers. Finance Minister Flaherty noted that the Canadian government may have to find other ways to halt the increase in household borrowing. I am not a fan of Mr. Flaherty but it is nice to see a government actually thinking ahead of the problem and looking for ways to “LEAN AGAINST THE WIND.”

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Notes From Underground: Bernanke, Housing Fails to Provide Economic Foundation

January 11, 2012

In a BLOOMBERG article published today, “Bernanke Doubling Down on Housing Bet Asks Government to Help,” it appears that the Obama administration and the FED are in sync that something needs to be done to lift the moribund residential real estate market. This is certainly not a new development but it shows how the FED is at a loss to explain how the ultra-low interest rate policy for the last three years has FAILED to stem the decline in housing prices and ultimately foreclosures. The FED and others don’t want to admit that this IS A BALANCE SHEET RECESSION.

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