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Many European Banks Would Collapse Without Regulators’ Help: Fitch

Many European Banks Would Collapse Without Regulators’ Help: Fitch

Only two things keep these banks alive: “a State willing to support them and a regulator that does not declare them insolvent.”

Dozens of Greek, Italian, Spanish and even German lenders have volumes of troubled assets higher or similar to that of Spain’s fallen lender Banco Popular. They, too, are at risk of insolvency. This stark observation came from Bridget Gandy, director of financial institutions for Fitch Ratings, who spoke at a conference in London on Thursday.

The troubled banks include:

  • Greece’s HB, Piraeus, NBG, Eurobank and Alpha;
  • Italy’s Monte dei Pachi di Siena (which is in the process of being rescued with state funds), Carige (9th largest bank, now under ECB orders to raise capital or else), CreVal, and the two collapsed banks, Veneto and Vicenza (whose senior bondholders were bailed out last weekend);
  • Germany’s Bremer Landesbank (which just cancel interest payments on its CoCo bonds) and shipping lender HSH Nordbank.
  • Spain’s Liberbank and majority state-owned BMN and Bankia, which are completing a merger after private-sector institutions refused to buy BMN. Now, the problems on BMN’s balance sheet belong to Bankia, which already has its own set of issues, Gandy said.

That many of Europe’s banks are teetering on the brink of insolvency is not exactly new news. Most of the problems that caused the financial crisis have not been resolved. As the financial journalist and former investment banker Nomi Prins said in a 2015 interview with Dutch media group VPRO, “in Europe there still exist massive amounts of trades (on banks’ balance sheets) that are underwater and going wrong every day.”

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Will Central Banks Derail The Shale Boom?

Will Central Banks Derail The Shale Boom?

Permian

The U.S. Federal Reserve has already increased interest rates several times, most recently in June, with promises to do much more. Rate hikes pose a problem for the oil industry, which has used debt to underpin a drilling boom across the U.S. shale patch. Higher rates could raise the cost of drilling.

But low oil prices, and few prospects for a strong rebound in the near-term – and possibly even the medium- and long-term – undercut the rationale for higher rates. After all, inflation is soft, and low commodity prices have a lot to do with that.

In fact, the decline of oil prices this year has led to even lower inflation than expected, not just in the U.S., but also in Europe. The Fed has insisted that weak inflation is “transitory,” but more people are starting to wonder if that is true. “There is now a much bigger chance that there will be an important disinflationary impact from lower oil prices,” Thierry Wizman, global interest rates and currencies strategist for Macquarie, told MarketWatch. With oil prices and broader inflation low, why raise rates?

Still, the Fed seems intent on moving forward. And the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), a group of central banks from around the world, urged central banks a few days ago to continue the “great unwinding.” That is, the extraordinary monetary stimulus stemming from the 2008-2009 financial crisis needs to be reined in. Fed chair Janet Yellen has warned about overpriced asset classes, a side effect of loose monetary policy. The hawkish Fed thinks that monetary policy needs to tighten in order to prevent overheating. Related: The Downturn Is Over, But U.S. Oil Companies Face A Huge Problem

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

European Gas Security 2017

European Gas Security 2017

On 22nd June, The Telegraph published an interesting article called Germany’s gas pact with Putin’s Russia endangers Atlantic alliance where Ambrose Evans-Pritchard made many of the correct observations but also managed to make some odd comments too. The article focussed on proposals to build Nord Stream II that would pipe more Russian gas directly into Germany, bypassing Belarus and Ukraine. This will clearly enhance German and European gas security, and yet Evans-Prichard manages to say:

The Nord Stream 2 venture creates a sweetheart arrangement with Germany while undermining the security and economic interests of Eastern and Central Europe, and leaves Ukraine at the mercy of Kremlin blackmail.

“It does nothing whatsoever to supply the EU with gas. It deprives the East Europeans of political leverage and rewards an aggressor state,” said Professor Alan Riley from the Institute for Statecraft.

I find these comments to be totally bizarre. Evans-Prichard seems to have forgotten that it was Ukraine stealing gas that crossed its territory that led Russia to periodically cut supplies to the whole of Europe. And I seem to recall that it was Western meddling in the Ukrainian elections that led directly to the civil war. Bypassing land pipeline routes that cross either Ukraine or Belarus of course improves European gas security. Evans-Prichard goes on to say:

What the project does is to erode Ukraine’s $2bn revenue from pipeline fees and to leave the country vulnerable to a Gazprom squeeze. It stops Ukraine transporting gas to Slovakia and then buying it back at EU prices to escape punitive tariffs.

It enables Russia to play a divide-and-rule game that splits the EU, and that sweetens Germany with preferential pricing. It really is a bizarre 1939-style pact.

The Changing Face of the European Gas Market

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“Massive Cyberattack” Spreads Across Europe, Hits Ukraine, Russia, UK, Denmark

“Massive Cyberattack” Spreads Across Europe, Hits Ukraine, Russia, UK, Denmark

Update 2: RUSSIAN CENBANK SAYS AS A RESULT OF ATTACKS THERE HAVE BEEN ISOLATED CASES WHERE IT SYSTEMS INFECTED

* * *

Update: in addition to the below listed companies, all of which appear to have been targeted in the global cyberattack including Russia’s Rosneft and metals giant Evraz, Danish shipper Maersk, UK ad company WPP, the Ukraine central bank, government and airport, more targets are emerging including Norway’s national security authority which has said that a Ransomeware attack is ongoing in Norway “similar to the attack on Maersk”, while Russia’s Home Credit Bank said all domestic branches are closed because of the cyber attack.

As the Spectator adds, companies in Spain are also now affected by the cyberattack which appears to be a modification of the “WannaCry” virus, and has been named “Petya.”

A Moscow-based cyber security firm, Group-IB, said it appeared to be a coordinated attack simultaneously targeting victims in Russia and Ukraine, according to Reuters.

Now that CNN is officially out of the “Russia hacking” fake news business, the Ukraine has decided to fill in the void, and moments ago Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Pavlo Rozenko said that the government’s computer network was down, in what he claimed was a “massive cyberattack”, one which has also impacted the central bank, power plant and airport, and promptly blamed Russia for being behind the attack without a shred of evidence. To “prove” the accusation, he posted a picture on Twitter of a computer screen showing an error message.

“We also have a network ‘down’,” he wrote. “This image is being displayed by all computers of the government.” The photo showed his PC displaying a message claiming a disk “contains errors and needs to be prepared”, urging the user not to turn it off.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

NATO Holds Defense Drill Simulating Russian Invasion Of Baltics

NATO Holds Defense Drill Simulating Russian Invasion Of Baltics

NATO officials are growing increasingly nervous about the possibility of an invasion of the Baltic states ahead of Russian wargames planned this fall on the border of Belarus and Poland that could involve as many as 100,000 troops. That “anxiety” was on display this week, when US and British troops carried out the first NATO military exercise that involved a simulated defense of the Suwalki Gap, an area in northern Poland on the border with Lithuania that serves as the gateway to the Baltic region.

In other words, a drill against a Russian invasion of the Baltics states, and by extension, Europe.

NATO officials described the area as a “choke point” that, if it were taken by an invading force, could potentially isolate the Baltic states from their NATO allies, according to Reuters.

“The gap is vulnerable because of the geography. It’s not inevitable that there’s going to be an attack, of course, but … if that was closed, then you have three allies that are north that are potentially isolated from the rest of the alliance”, said U.S. Lieutenant General Ben Hodges.
“We have to practice, we have to demonstrate that we can support allies in keeping (the Gap) open, in maintaining that connection,” he said.

Since Russia’s annexation of Ukraine back in 2014, NATO has shifted four battlegroups totaling just over 4,500 troops to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

US and UK aircraft took part in the exercises, alongside troops from Poland, Lithuania and Croatia in a simulated defense of the potential flashpoint in an area several hours’ drive from where a U.S. battalion is stationed at Orzysz base in Poland, Reuters reported.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Truth Has Become Un-American

Truth Has Become Un-American

Those of us who have exited The Matrix are concerned that there are no checks on Washington’s use of nuclear weapons in the interest of US hegemony over the world.

Washington and Israel are the threats to peace. Washington demands world hegemony, and Israel demands hegemony in the Middle East.

There are two countries that stand in the way of Washington’s world hegemony—Russia and China. Consequently, Washington has plans for preemptive nuclear strikes against both countries. It is difficult to imagine a more serious threat to mankind, and there is no awareness or acknowledgment of this threat among the Congress, the presstitute media, and the general public in the United States and Washington’s European vassal populations.

Two countries and a part of a third stand in the way of Greater Israel. Israel wants the water resources of southern Lebanon, but cannot get them, despite twice sending in the Israeli Army, because of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, which is supplied by Syria and Iran. This is why Syria and Iran are on Washington’s hit list. Washington serves the military/security complex, Wall Street and the over-sized US banks, and Israel.

It is unclear if the Russians and Chinese understand that Washington’s hostility toward them is not just some sort of misunderstanding that diplomacy can work out.

Clearly, Russia hasn’t interfered in the US presidential election or invaded Ukraine, and does not intend to invade Poland or the Baltics. Russia let go the Soviet empire and is glad to see it gone, as the empire was expensive and of little benefit. The Soviet Eastern European empire comprised Stalin’s buffer against another Western invasion. The Warsaw Pact had no offensive meaning. It was not the beginning, as misrepresented in Washington, of Soviet world domination.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

NATO Builds Infrastructure for Permanent Military Presence Near Russia’s Borders

NATO Builds Infrastructure for Permanent Military Presence Near Russia’s Borders

NATO Builds Infrastructure for Permanent Military Presence Near Russia’s Borders

A group of about 50 combat engineers based at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown were deployed to Latvia on April 29 as part of Operation Reassurance. The mission is to build a town for 500 soldiers. According to commanding officer Lt.-Col. Chris Cotton, the installation will have «everything you would expect in a small town, from its kitchen to its quarters, its electrical distribution system, water distribution system, internet, gym facilities that would allow people to survive over the long term in Latvia». Obviously, this is an element of vast infrastructure to provide for a long-term commitment.

In early April, a US-led battle group of 1,350 soldiers for NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Eastern Europe arrived at its base near Orzysz in northeastern Poland. It took place just a few days after a NATO-Russia Council meeting took place on March 30. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called the talks with Moscow «frank» and «constructive». Then the usual song and dance followed under the slogan of Russian threat.

British RAF fighters are scheduled to be stationed to Romania this May. In March the first of 800 UK troops arrived in Estonia supported by around 300 armed vehicles. Along with French and Danish forces they’ll be stationed there on what NATO leadership calls «rotational basis». In January, German and Belgian forces arrived in Lithuania near the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

The UK leads the Estonia Battlegroup while other NATO members are deploying forces to Latvia, Lithuania and Poland as part of the bloc’s Enhanced Forward Presence battalion. All in all, 4,000 NATO troops with tanks, armored vehicles, air support, and high-tech intelligence centers deployed to Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

In accordance with the fiscal year 2017 European Reassurance Initiative budget proposal, the US Army is reopening or creating five equipment-storage sites in the Netherlands, Poland, Belgium and two locations in Germany.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Italy Warns Sudden Collapse Of Alitalia Would Lead To “Great Shock” For The Economy

Italy Warns Sudden Collapse Of Alitalia Would Lead To “Great Shock” For The Economy

That Italy has a bank solvency problem will not come as a surprise to anyone who has been following events in Europe for the past 7 years.

Just yesterday, Italian daily La Stampa reported that four months after the third government bailout of Italy’s third largest bank in as many years, the Italian government may have to inject even more cash than planned into Monte Paschi, the world’s oldest and apparently always insolvent bank.

Stampa cited the outcome of an ECB inspection, focusing on uncertainties from the bank’s planned bad loan reduction. The Italian daily noted that the ECB had communicated results of its inspection to the bank last week, noting that losses are now expected to be well above those calculated until now. Specifically, while the proposed €8.8BN recapitalization would be sufficient to take the bank’s CET1 above the required regulatory level, it would not be sufficient to meet the ECB SREP requirements, raising the risk the government will have to contribute more than the €6.6BN currently envisaged.

But while Monte Paschi continues to be a perpetual drain of taxpayer funds, the most imminent threat facing the Italian economy comes not from the banking sector, but from its just as troubled national airline carrier. Last week, Alitalia said it had exhausted all options after workers voted against job cuts aimed at salvaging the cash-strapped Italian airline, pushing it toward administration for the second time in a decade.

According to Bloomberg, a €2 billion recapitalization tied to the savings plan is effectively dead and Alitalia would start appropriate “legal procedures” as funds run out, the Rome-based airline said. Chairman Luca Cordero Di Montezemolo “formally” communicated to the Italy aviation authority that the carrier decided to start the process of naming a administrator, the authority said on its website last Tuesday.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Fate of the Euro

QUESTION: The bounce in the Euro is a fool’s’ game?

ANSWER: Absolutely. The Euro is doomed because especially if Le Pen loses, Brussels will be relieved and proceed as usual. The same problems will merely exist and no reform will come forward to save the day. A good wind will blow over the European banking system. You are expecting politicians to admit they were wrong and surrender power in Brussels. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. As Einstein said, you will NEVER solve the problem of the Euro with the same thinking process.

IBEUUS-M 4-24-2017

A weekly closing above the 10860 level in the Euro will imply the rally will press higher to test the 112-114 level. Just look at the technical perspective on a monthly level. The Downtrend Line stands in May up at 12622. We are nowhere near reversing the trend in the Euro.

We have the French, British, and then German elections here in 2017. We do not expect total chaos before 2018. That seems to be the point of a major shift.

Fitch Downgrades Italy To BBB From BBB+

Fitch Downgrades Italy To BBB From BBB+

Having largely disappeared from the market’s scope for the past 6 months, ever since Europe “bent” its rule allowing the bailout of Monte Paschi and several smaller banks despite Italy having the greatest amount of disclosed NPLs of any European nation, moments ago Fitch decided to drag Italy right back in the spotlight when it downgraded Italy to BBB from BBB+, citing “Italy’s persistent track record of fiscal slippage, back-loading of consolidation, weak economic growth, and resulting failure to bring down the very high level of general government debt has left it more exposed to potential adverse shocks. This is compounded by an increase in political risk, and ongoing weakness in the banking sector which has required planned public intervention in three banks since December.

And some more:

Italy has missed successive targets for general government debt/GDP, which increased by 0.5pp in 2016 to 132.6%. This is 11.2% of GDP higher than the target in the Stability Programme of 2013, the year Fitch downgraded Italy’s Long-Term IDRs to ‘BBB+’, and compares with the current ‘BBB’ range median of 41.5% of GDP. Fitch forecasts general government debt to peak at 132.7% of GDP in 2017, falling only gradually to 129.3% in 2020 in our debt sensitivity projections.

Fitch’s rating Outlook for the Italian banking sector is Negative, primarily reflecting the challenge of reducing the high level of un-provisioned non-performing loans (NPLs), alongside weak profitability and capital generation. The rate of new NPLs edged down to 2.3% in 4Q16, and there is some greater impetus for disposals and write-downs, which has slightly reduced total NPLs. However, sofferenze, the worst category of loans, increased to EUR203 billion in February, from EUR199 billion in October. Total NPLs amount to close to 17.5% of loans and 20% of GDP, and just over half are provided against.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The High Cost of Renewable Subsidies

The High Cost of Renewable Subsidies

I have for some time wanted to get to the bottom of renewable subsidies and their impact upon electricity prices. But the complexity and opacity of the system has always defeated me. And then last week a report titled “Status Review of Renewable Support Schemes in Europe” landed in my inbox and it seemed to contain much of the information I was seeking. The headline numbers: the weighted average subsidy paid to renewable generators in EU 26 in 2015 was €110 / MWh. The maximum was €184 / MWh in the Czech Republic and the minimum €16.2 / MWh in Norway and the UK came in at €75 / MWh.

Considering that the wholesale price of electricity in Europe is typically €40 to €60 / MWh we can see that renewables are costing on average about 3 times as much as conventional power (wholesale~50, subsidy~110, total~160). And politicians, who have mandated the use of renewable electricity, are wondering why electricity prices are rising.

The report was published by the Council of European Energy Regulators (CEER)  on 11th April 2017. But since it summarises a vast amount of complex data that has taken considerable time to compile, the reference years reported are 2014 and 2015. The report can be downloaded here.

Figure 1 [Report Table 4] Total renewable electricity produced that received subsidy support in 2015 in MWh.

Figure 2 Sorting total subsidised generation from Figure 1 shows Germany way out in front with 162 TWh of subsidised renewable generation followed by the UK, Italy, Spain and France.

Figure 3 The 4 largest RE producers with categories of generation broken out and normalised to 100%  shows different solutions for different countries. Germany relies mainly on bio energy, solar and onshore wind. The UK on bio energy onshore and offshore wind. Italy on bio energy solar and onshore wind, rather similar to Germany but with more solar and less wind. Spain on solar and onshore wind. It is notable how important bio energy has become. Only time will tell if this leads to deforestation. There seems to be a lot of woodland disappearing in Scotland right now.

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So Many Triggers

So Many Triggers

So Many Triggers

It’s not a story that’s likely to appear on the evening news, but it certainly should.

Deutsche Bank has announced that it will create more shares, selling them at a 35% discount. Existing shareholders have not been pleased and, in the first four days since the offer was announced, the value of existing shares dropped by 13% as shareholders began dumping them.

So why on earth would Germany’s foremost bank do something so rash? Well, in recent years, the bank has been involved in many arbitrations, litigations, and regulatory proceedings as a result of fraudulent activities, including the manipulation of markets. Having been found guilty, they presently owe $7.2 billion to the US Department of Justice and are now facing an additional $10 billion litigation bill. Unfortunately, the bank is already broke and, should Deutsche actually be able to sell the new shares, the $8.6 billion they hope to receive will still not save them from bankruptcy.

Business has also not been so good. They’ve lost nearly $2 billion in the last two years, instituted a hiring freeze, cut bonuses by 80%, and are facing a $2.5 million civil penalty to pay to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for failure to report transactions and, not surprisingly, have been downgraded.

The German government has stated that they will not bail out Deutsche and, indeed, under the EU agreement, they cannot do so. It’s safe to say that Germany’s largest bank will soon go the way of the dodo.

For those who don’t live in Europe, this may not seem all that significant. However, Deutsche is the bank that funds the euro system, which they can now no longer do. Further, Deutsche is ten times larger than Lehman Brothers, an American bank that famously went down in 2008, heralding in that year’s economic crash. (Ninety percent of Deutsche’s revenue has been from derivative trading, which is what brought down Lehman.)

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Here’s Why Italy’s Banking Crisis Has Gone Off the Radar

Here’s Why Italy’s Banking Crisis Has Gone Off the Radar

Just how many banks are insolvent? Turns out, a lot! But elections are coming up.

For a country that is on the brink of a gargantuan public bailout of its toxic-loan riddled banking sector, or failing that, a full-blown financial crisis that could bring down the European financial system, things are eerily quiet in Italy these days. It’s almost as if the more serious the crisis gets, the less we hear about it — otherwise, investors and voters might get spooked. And elections are coming up.

But an article published in the financial section of Italian daily Il Sole lays out just how serious the situation has become. According to new research by Italian investment bank Mediobanca, 114 of the close to 500 banks in Italy have “Texas Ratios” of over 100%. The Texas Ratio, or TR, is calculated by dividing the total value of a bank’s non-performing loans by its tangible book value plus reserves — or as American money manager Steve Eisman put it, “all the bad stuff divided by the money you have to pay for all the bad stuff.”

If the TR is over 100%, the bank doesn’t have enough money “pay for all the bad stuff.” Hence, banks tend to fail when the ratio surpasses 100%. In Italy there are 114 of them. Of them, 24 have ratios of over 200%.

Granted, many of the banks in question are small local or regional savings banks with tens or hundreds of millions of euros in assets. These are not systemically important institutions and can be resolved without causing disturbances to the broader system. But the list also includes many of Italy’s biggest banks which certainly are systemically important to Italy, some of which have Texas Ratios of over 200%. Top of the list, predictably, is Monte dei Paschi di Siena, with €169 billion in assets and a TR of 269%.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Future – Putting it All Together

2017 Countdown

Temple of JanusThis is the year of political hell. The question is not about supporting one side or the other. This is a time that calls for us not to be small petty creatures but a case that requires rational human beings, which seems to be more impossible with each passing day. Never did there arise a period that has witnessed any generation devolve into such agitations in political views surrounded by every considerable danger to our way of life and the survival of our government structure. The imprisoned winds of the Romans symbolized by keeping the doors to their Temple of Janus closed during peace and opened during war have indeed been let loose, but this is predominantly for civil war.

CONFIDENCE rules everything. It is critical upon what society believes. With all the turmoil in politics, even with the Congress in the hands of the Republicans, they still lack the votes for major reform. Then there is the rise of the left hell bent upon bringing down Trump at all costs to preserve the elite and status quo. The majority are generally fools. They actually believe the words of politicians to their doom.

IBEUUS-D 3-11-2017

Nevertheless, it is the unsettling disturbance within politics that reflects the crumbling level of CONFIDENCE. With that, all bets are off. Capital becomes confused. Looking at the Euro, the turmoil politically in Europe one would look to sell the Euro and buy dollars. Then we turn and look at the United States and all we see is incredible infighting and a battle waged by the left to prevent any populist reforms whatsoever. We hear politicians and the press demeaning the rise of “populism” as if the people are just fools who are clueless and do not really know what they are demanding.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bill Gross: “Our Financial System Is A Truckload Of Nitroglycerin On A Bumpy Road”

Bill Gross: “Our Financial System Is A Truckload Of Nitroglycerin On A Bumpy Road”

Courtesy of Bill Gross’ latest monthly letter “Show Me The Money“, here are some perspectives on the only thing that has kept the global economy going since the financial crisis: debt, and lost of it.
in 2017, the global economy has created more credit relative to GDP than that at the beginning of 2008’s disaster. In the U.S., credit of $65 trillion is roughly 350% of annual GDP and the ratio is rising. In China, the ratio has more than doubled in the past decade to nearly 300%. Since 2007, China has added $24 trillion worth of debt to its collective balance sheet. Over the same period, the U.S. and Europe only added $12 trillion each. Capitalism, with its adopted fractional reserve banking system, depends on credit expansion and the printing of additional reserves by central banks, which in turn are re-lent by private banks to create pizza stores, cell phones and a myriad of other products and business enterprises. But the credit creation has limits and the cost of credit (interest rates) must be carefully monitored so that borrowers (think subprime) can pay back the monthly servicing costs. If rates are too high (and credit as a % of GDP too high as well), then potential Lehman black swans can occur. On the other hand, if rates are too low (and credit as a % of GDP declines), then the system breaks down, as savers, pension funds and insurance companies become unable to earn a rate of return high enough to match and service their liabilities. 

U.S. Total Credit Market Debt as a Percent of GDP

Chart: U.S. Total Credit Market Debt as a Percent of GDP

Central banks attempt to walk this fine line – generating mild credit growth that matches nominal GDP growth – and keeping the cost of the credit at a yield that is not too high, nor too low, but just right. Janet Yellen is a modern day Goldilocks.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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