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State of European Banks: The ECB View vs Reality

The ECB would like you to believe the European banking system is sound and banks are better regulated. They aren’t.

Ten years after Lehman there are numerous statements from bureaucrats, academics, media and others that banks are now better regulated, more solid and liquidity problems vanished.

Reader Lars from Norway Emailed this assessment today.

Price/Book Ratio

Deutsche Bank trades at 0.30 on the low side and BNP Paribas at 0.70 on the high side. In between we have Commerzbank at 0.40, Unicredit at 0.50, and Society General at 0.50.

The verdict is negative.

Target2

​Italian and Spanish bank require € 900 billion in liquidity support on a permanent basis. ​

This element is mostly ignored by academics and others because they do not understand the implications of Target 2 as a capital flight phenomenon. This is a hidden crisis.

​The verdict is negative.

Nonperforming Loans

Italian banks would all be insolvent if NPLs were to be written off. In order to keep the facade, NPLs are kept on the books as if it’s not a problem.​

The verdict is negative.

​Proprietary Trading and Derivatives

Some of the banks have huge portfolios, led by Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas. As much as 45% of total assets. ​

Nobody knows what a strict mark-to-market exercise would lead to. Most of the derivatives are interest rate swaps that might suffer should rates rise.

​The verdict is negative.

Emerging Market and Troubled Bank Exposure

French banks have huge exposures to Italy, and Italian banks have big exposure to Turkey.

​The verdict is negative.

Contagion Risk

We learned from 2008 that interbank markets can freeze. Liquidity is no longer available. How much more than the € ,400 billion is the eurosystem willing to provide to insolvent Spanish, Italian and Greek banks?

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

Clinging to Old Theories of Inflation

QUESTION: Mr. Armstrong, I think I am starting to understand your view of inflation. It is very complex. I think some people cannot think beyond a simple one dimension concept as you often say. So I am trying to be more dynamic in my thinking process. Here you point out that when debt is collateral it is the same as printing money but worse because it pays interest. Then you point out that hyperinflation takes place not because of printing money but because a collapse in confidence and people then hoard their wealth which reduces the economic output and that compels a government to print more to cover expenses. So there is a line that is crossed and kicks in that collapse in confidence as in Venezuela. This is very interesting but complex. Is this a fair statement?

ANSWER: You are doing very well. You are correct. Some people cannot get beyond an increase in money supply is automatically inflationary one-dimensional thinking. If that was true, then why did 10 years of Quantitative Easing by the ECB fail completely to create inflation given that theory? It is like brainwashing kids with global warming ignoring all evidence to the contrary.

There is yet another dimension that you have to add to this complexity. The BULK of the money is actually created by the banks in leveraged lending. If I lent you $100 and you signed a note that you would repay it, then the note becomes my asset on my balance sheet. I can take that to a bank and borrow on my account receivables. In this instance, just you and I are creating money. Now let a bank stand between us.

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

ECB To Cut Euro Area Growth Outlook In Latest Global Slowdown Warning

One week ago, Bank of America’s CIO Michael Hartnett predicted that Europe will be the “missing link” for the emerging market crisis to spread to the rest of the developed world and “morph into a global deleveraging event.”

But where would the crack appear: after all, until recently European economic data had been surprisingly strong… if not so much in the past few days, because after emerging into the green, the Citi Eurozone economic surprise index appears to have rolled over, and returned back into negative territory.

Then, as if to confirm that Europe was finally starting to groan under the weight of EM turmoil, overnight Bloomberg reported that the ECB was set to revise its forecasts lower for euro-area economic growth during its press conference on Thursday “as global trade tensions damp external demand, according to officials familiar with the latest projections.”

According to Bloomberg’s sources, the main nations dragging on demand were the U.K. and Turkey, though the U.S. outlook is still positive.

In June, the ECB predicted economic growth would slow from 2.1 percent this year to 1.7 percent in 2020, with inflation averaging 1.7 percent in all three years covered in the forecast.

The growing pessimistic outlook comes at an “awkward time” for the Governing Council, just as it prepares to wind back stimulus, though the adjustments probably aren’t big enough to derail those plans yet, unless of course the EM turmoil continues and results in even more German foreign factory order weakness.

The silver lining: the path of inflation, the primary consideration for monetary policy, remains unchanged… for now.

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

Genocide of the Greek Nation

Genocide of the Greek Nation

The political and media coverup of the genocide of the Greek Nation began yesterday (August 20) with European Union and other political statements announcing that the Greek Crisis is over. What they mean is that Greece is over, dead, and done with. It has been exploited to the limit, and the carcas has been thrown to the dogs.

350,000 Greeks, mainly the young and professionals, have fled dead Greece. The birth rate is far below the rate necessary to sustain the remaining population. The austerity imposed on the Greek people by the EU, the IMF, and the Greek government has resulted in the contraction of the Greek economy by 25%. The decline is the equivalent of America’s Great Depression, but in Greece the effects were worst. President Franklin D. Roosevelt softened the impact of massive unemployment with the Social Security Act other elements of a social safety net such as deposit insurance, and public works programs, whereas the Greek government following the orders from the IMF and EU worsened the impact of massive unemployment by stripping away the social safety net.

Traditionally, when a sovereign country, whether by corruption, mismanagement, bad luck, or unexpected events, found itself unable to repay its debts, the country’s creditors wrote down the debts to the level that the indebted country could service.

With Greece there was a game change. The European Central Bank, led by Jean-Claude Trichet, and the International Monetary Fund ruled that Greece had to pay the full amount of interest and principal on its government bonds held by German, Dutch, French, and Italian banks.

How was this to be achieved?

In two ways, both of which greatly worsened the crisis, leaving Greece today in a far worst position that it was in at the beginning of the crisis almost a decade ago.

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

Looks Like Italian Default is Back on the Menu

Looks Like Italian Default is Back on the Menu

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini was right to call out the EU over the failure of the bridge in Genoa this week.  It was an act of cheap political grandstanding but one that ultimately rings very true.

It’s a perfect moment to shake people out of their complacency as to the real costs of giving up one’s financial sovereignty to someone else, in this case the Troika — European Commission, ECB and IMF.

Italy is slowly strangling to death thanks to the euro.  There is no other way to describe what is happening.  It’s populist coalition government understands the fundamental problems but, politically, is hamstrung to address them head on.

The political will simply isn’t there to make the break needed to put Italy truly back on the right path, i.e. leave the euro.  But, as the government is set to clash with Brussels over their proposed budget the issues with the euro may come into sharper focus.

Looking at the budget it is two or three steps in the right direction — lower, flat income tax rate, not raising the VAT — but also a step or two in the wrong direction — universal income.

Opening up Italy’s markets and lowering taxpayers’ burdens is the path to sustainable, organic growth, but that is not the purpose of IMF-style austerity.  It’s purpose is to do exactly what it is doing, strangling Italy to death and extracting the wealth and spirit out of the local population, c.f. Greece and before that Russia in the 1990’s.

So, looking at the situation today as the spat between Turkey and the U.S. escalates, it is obvious that Italy is in the crosshairs of any contagion effects into Europe’s banking system.

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

From “Doom Loop” To Just “Doom”: Italian Debt Faces A “Huge Structural Shift”

At the start of July, we revealed that a familiar force had returned to Europe.

According to ECB data, during May when the market saw unprecedented Italian government bond turmoil, Italian bank holdings of domestic government bonds showed record buying over the month at €28.4bn, higher inflows than those seen during the European sovereign debt crisis of 2012. Visually, this is what the single biggest month of Italian bank purchases of BTPs in history looked like.

This vicious circle of Country X banks (in this case Italy) buying Country X bonds during times of stress – with the backstop of the ECB –has for years been Europe’s dreaded sovereign bank doom loop. And, as Italy clearly demonstrated, repeated and aggressive attempts by European regulators and policymakers to finally break the doom loop, most recently with the introduction of the 2014 BRRD directive, which sought which sought to remove the need for and possibility of bank bailouts, and instead ushered in bail ins, have been an abject failure.

It is also a major problem.

In a note published by Goldman on Wednesday, the bank’s Italy analyst Matteo Crimella writes that “regulatory and supervisory changes, together with the risk of a deterioration in banks’ capital ratios/ratings owing to weaknesses in the sovereign market could, all together, raise the bar for domestic banks to step in as buyers.

In other words, Italian lenders may no longer be as willing to snap up domestic government bonds during market stresses, something which Bloomberg calls “a potentially huge structural shift in demand in the euro area’s second-most indebted nation.”

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

Italy Warns that Stopping QE will Lead to Collapse of Eurozone

Italy has called on the ECB to guarantee the bond yields warning that if they END quantitative easing the Eurozone will break apart. On this score, they are not wrong. The economic spokesman for the Italian governing party Lega has warned of a collapse of the Eurozone. The ECB should ensure that the yield spreads of government bonds of the euro countries are contained and not allowed to soar. This is what Claudio Borghi told Reuters. “Either the ECB offers a guarantee or the euro will break apart.” Interest on Italian, Spanish and Portuguese bonds rose in response to the currency crisis in Turkey. Borghi warned that this situation cannot be solved and will explode in everyone’s face. This is the Sovereign Debt Crisis coming into play. We are no looking at the risk premium for ten-year Italian government bonds has risen to 2.7% above Germany. The promise that a single currency would produce a single interest rate has been a complete failure.

This is what I have been warning about. Ten years of QE has FAILED to stimulate the economy of Europe, it has only made governments addicted to the ECB buying their debt at absurd low levels in rate. The Eurozone will indeed break apart once QE stops for rates will soar and tensions will then rise among the 28 member states for the promise of a single currency would produce a single interest rate pointing to the USA as their proof was a lie. The USA federal debt had a single rate because it was a single authority issuing the debt, not 28 separate states. The better comparison was looking to the 50 states who all experienced different interest rates based on a single currency and their individual CREDIT RATING! The lies of selling the Euro are coming back to haunt them.

Italian Bond Market Crisis Coming Up

Italy’s 10-Year bond yield surged around the Italian election. There’s heavy issuance in Sept and ECB tapering in Oct.

The yield on Italian bonds surged in May on the victory of the League- and Five Star in the national election. The alliance does not intend to follow EU budget rules.

Heavy issuance is coming up in September. And in October, the ECB is scheduled to taper its QE bond purchases. This Combination of Events May Derail the Italian Bond Market.

Bankers lining up new company bonds in September may find that budget and spending discussions in Italy could derail what’s usually the second-half’s busiest issuance month. That’s what happened in May, another typically busy month for sales, when the Italian election result triggered a government bond sell-off and issuance slump.

“If we have something that resembles what we saw in May, the primary market should basically come to a halt,” said Marco Stoeckle, a credit strategist at Commerzbank AG. “If we have the Italian government curve inverting, anything like that would be enough to significantly hamper issuance volumes. I guess the market would be closed.”

Last week, as Italian finance minister Giovanni Tria was said to begin a series of meetings to determine a draft budget, there were already signs of nerves, with 10-year yields breaking above three percent for the first time in nearly two months. Markets fear the nation may be headed for a collision course with European Union partners as the two parties in Italy’s ruling coalition pledge to implement bold spending plans next year.

On May 29, as BTP spreads lurched violently, borrowing costs for all of Europe’s corporate borrowers rose: the Bloomberg Barclays index of corporate spreads widened 100 basis points in a single day — its largest jump in almost two years.

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

“That’s a Super Dangerous Place to Be”: CEO of JPMorgan Asset Management

“That’s a Super Dangerous Place to Be”: CEO of JPMorgan Asset Management

When central banks distort the markets, risk disappears from view.

“You could have a bunch of walking-zombie companies and you don’t even know it,” explained Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO of JPMorgan Asset Management, on Wednesday at the Delivering Alpha Conference in New York. “That’s a super dangerous place to be,” she said.

She was talking about the effects of the ECB’s bond buying program as part of a broader warning that investors are no longer seeing risks.

The ECB has been buying corporate bonds, among other things, in an explicit effort to distort the bond market and drive corporate bond yields to near zero. At the peak of the frenzy last fall, the average euro junk-bond yield fell to 2.08% — though it has risen since. These are bonds with an appreciable risk of default. But the yield was barely enough to cover inflation (currently 2.0%). Credit risk wasn’t priced in at all.

The bond-buying binge has created a universe of bonds with negative yields, and desperate investors who’ll take any risk without compensation just to cover inflation. This desperation supplies fresh money to burn to even the riskiest zombie companies.

Companies have relentlessly taken advantage of this investor desperation. The amount of corporate euro bonds outstanding has surged by about 45% over the past three years, to €1.5 trillion ($1.75 trillion), including record euro-bonds issued by American junk-rated companies.

When credit risk is not being priced at all – when it’s free – this most important gauge of the credit market is worthless.

“You’re equally rewarding the A-plus student and the student who’s doing no homework and is just showing up,” Erdoes said at the conference, as reported by Bloomberg.

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

China Launches Quasi QE To Support Banks And Sliding Bond Market

With the ECB’s QE coming to an end at the end of the year (absent some shock to the market or economy), some traders have already been voicing concerns which central bank will step in and provide a backstop to the global fixed income market, especially once the BOJ joins the global tightening bandwagon (something it will soon have to as Japan is rapidly running out of monetizable securities, and just moments ago the BOJ announced it would trim its purchases of bonds in both the 10-25 and 25+ year bucket).

Today one answer emerged when China’s central bank – three weeks after its latest RRR cut – announced further easing measures, including the introduction of incentives that will boost the liquidity of commercial banks, helping them to expand lending and increase investment in bonds issued by corporates and other entities.

And in a surprising twist, in order to make sure that Chinese banks and financial institutions have ample liquidity, the PBOC appears to have engaged in quasi QE – using monetary policy instruments such as its medium term loan facility (MLF) – to support the local bond market and banks, especially those that have invested in bonds rated AA+ and below. Effectively, China will directly fund banks with ultra cheap liquidity, with one simple instruction: “increase bank lending and bond purchases.” And since all Chinese banks are essentially state owned, what Beijing is doing is launching a form of stealthy QE, only one where it is not the central bank, but the country’s various commercial banks that do the purchases… using central bank liquidity.

As a reminder, one month ago we noted that the spread between China’s AAA and AA- rated bonds has spiked in the past three months, blowing out to levels not seen since August 2016, and an indication of the market’s growing fears about the recent surge in Chinese corporate defaults.

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

Eurointelligence Displays Stunning Ignorance Regarding Target2

On two recent days, Eurointellence made stunningly bad comments about the escalating capital flight from Italy.

The latest Target2 Chart from the ECB is from May. Newer totals are available in some individual countries.

Debtors, primarily Italy and Spain, now owe Germany close to €1 trillion. Realistically, this money cannot and will not be paid back except by a central bank bailout.

Yet, Eurointelligence whitewashed this as no big deal.

July 9 – German Panic About Target2

The German debate on the balances of the Target2 payment clearing system continues to rage. There are two reasons for this. On the one hand, the Bundesbank’s Target2 credit with the Eurosystem was over €976bn at the end of June, and is within weeks of exceeding the symbolic figure of one trillion. On the other hand, Germans have taken notice of Paolo Savona’s plan B for Italy to exit the euro, which involved defaulting on Italy’s external debt including its Target2 balance which is under €481bn and growing. In this context Peter Boehringer, the AfD MP and chair of the Bundestag’s budget committee, has criticised Olaf Scholz in a budget debate for making no risk provisions for the possibility of default on Target2 claims. Frankfurter Allgemeine has also spoken to Christian Dürr, the deputy leader of the FDP group in the Bundestag, who says it’s about time the finance minister put on the political agenda the threat of a default on the German taxpayer. The position of the CDU group is that the situation will correct itself because of the coming end of the ECB’s asset purchase programme, and trust in the eurozone’s southern states returning as a result of the ongoing economic recovery.

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

Italian debt; a financial disaster waiting to happen

Italian debt; a financial disaster waiting to happen

The new Italian government will increase public spending and public debt. It promised to reduce taxes, introduce basic security and reform pensions. Italy’s Northern League’s leader Mateo Salvini surged in the polls and the party is now the strongest in Italy. A couple of years ago it was inconceivable that this regional group could become Italy’s leading political party. We should expect more to come. As the saying goes, it just could not happen till it happened. The financial establishments in North European countries like Germany and the Netherlands assume that the politicians of M5S and Lega Nord will follow the Greek script and will backtrack on their promises. But Mateo Salvini and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte know that if they do not live up to the expectation of the voters, they will be voted out of office. They are also aware of it that the Italian voter has still another alternative called “CasaPound”, a much more radical, if for the time being insignificant, social and anti-migration movement.

The planned reforms could burden the state budget with an additional 125 billion euros per year. Can the Italian government afford such a thing?1)

The question is rhetorical when you look at Italy’s growing debt mountain.

It amounts to €2300 billion, of which 1900 billion are government bonds. What should worry investors, however, is the structure of this debt. Ten years ago, when the last financial crisis broke out, 51% of these government bonds were hold by foreign investors. When the climate for investment in a country deteriorates, they sell these bonds immediately. When in 2011 the Berlusconi government threatened to withdraw from the eurozone budget rules because of the huge budget deficit, German and French banks sold Italian government bonds BTP (Buoni del Tesoro Poliennali) worth a total of €150 billion. In the following years, foreigners bought Italian debt instruments again for around €100 billion, but their share is now very low at 36%.

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

Emerging Market Crisis Spreads To The Core, Central Banks Face Catch-22

Emerging Market Crisis Spreads To The Core, Central Banks Face Catch-22

One of the things giving “data-driven” central banks wiggle room on their pledge to tighten monetary policy is the fact that there are several definitions of inflation. In the US the thing most people think of as inflation is the consumer price index, or CPI, which is now running comfortably above the Fed’s target. But the Fed prefers the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, which tends to paint a less inflationary picture. And within the PCE universe, core PCE, which strips out energy and food, is the data series that actually motivates Fed action.

And that, at long last, is now above the 2% target, having risen 2.3% in the past year.
On the following chart, the core PCE is the blue line. Note the steepening slope towards mid-year. This is clearly a trend with some momentum which, if it continues, will take this index from slightly above target to substantially above.

PCE inflation

A more surprising above-target reading just came from Germany, which didn’t used to have inflation of any kind. But now it does:

(Reuters) – German inflation surpassed the target set by the European Central Bank for the euro zone in June, the second month in a row it has done so, lending support to the ECB’s decision to close its bond purchase scheme at the end of the year.

Data published by the Federal Statistics Office on Thursday showed that EU-harmonised German consumer prices rose 2.1 percent year-on-year. The same measure had increased by 2.2 percent in May. The yearly figure matched a Reuters forecast.

German inflation

Again, note the pop over the last couple of months. If this is sustained, the European Central Bank will have to speed up its leisurely tightening pace. Right now it’s scaling back its bond-buying but not signaling higher rates – which will definitely have to be on the menu if German inflation stays above 2%.

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

Ike was right!

POITOU, FRANCE – We wait for the world to fall apart.

The Dow is still more than 1,000 points below its high; so we presume the primary trend is down. Treasury yields – on the 10-year note – are near 3%… twice what they were two years ago. So we presume the primary trend for bonds is down, too.

If we’re right, we are at the beginning of a long slide… down, down, down… into chaos, destitution, and destruction.

Faked Out

Our working hypothesis is that General Eisenhower was right. There were two big temptations to the American Republic of the 1950s; subsequent generations gave in to both of them.

They spent their children’s and grandchildren’s money. Now, the country has a government debt of $21 trillion. That’s up from $288 billion when Ike left the White House.

And they allowed the “unwarranted influence” of the “military/industrial complex” to grow into a monster. No president, no matter how good his intentions, can stop it.

A corollary to our major hypothesis is that the rise of the Deep State (the military/industrial/social welfare/security/prison/medical care/education/bureaucrat/crony complex) was funded by the Fed’s fake-money system.

Now, investors, businesses, households, and the feds themselves have all been “faked out” by a fraudulent money system. None of them can survive a cutback in credit.

For nearly 30 years, central banks have backstopped markets and flooded the world with liquidity.

But last week, the Fed turned the screws a little further. It now targets a 2% Fed Funds Rate and claims to be on the path of “normalization.”

And the European Central Bank (ECB) made it official, too; it hasn’t quite begun tightening, but it’s got its toolbox open. And command of the ECB work crew is set to change hands next year anyway, passing on to a German engineer.

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

Watch Live: The World’s Top 3 Central Bankers Discuss What’s Next

Update: Powell has maintained his hawkish tone from last week’s press conference with his comments in Sintra on the labor market and monetary policy. He expressed confidence in the US economy and said “the case for continued gradual rate hikes is strong.”

According to CitiFX’s market commentary, its traders highlighted one dovish remark when Powell was speaking about the uncertainty surrounding the NAIRU: “Natural rate estimates have always been uncertain, and may be even more so now as inflation has become less responsive to the unemployment rate…as I mentioned, a tight labor market could draw more people into the labor force.”

Here are the headlines:

  • POWELL SAYS CASE FOR CONTINUED GRADUAL RATE HIKES IS `STRONG’
  • POWELL: JOB MARKET TO STRENGTHEN FURTHER, SUPPORT WAGE GROWTH
  • FED’S POWELL REMARKS IN TEXT OF SPEECH AT ECB FORUM IN PORTUGAL
  • POWELL: INFLATION HAS MOVED UP CLOSE TO FED’S 2% GOAL
  • POWELL: U.S. ECONOMY PERFORMING VERY WELL
  • POWELL SAYS GRADUAL RATE-HIKE CASE `BROADLY SUPPORTED’ ON FOMC
  • POWELL: YET TO SEE INFLATION STAY NEAR GOAL ON SUSTAINED BASIS
  • POWELL: U.S. FISCAL POLICY TO ADD TO DEMAND OVER NEXT FEW YEARS

* * *

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda will appear on a policy panel Wednesday that’s set to begin at 15:30 CET (that’s 10:30 am ET). They will be joined by Philip Lowe, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia. The panel is the last big event of the 2018 ECB annual forum on central banking, which was held in Sintra, Portugal and featured the theme “price and wage-setting in advanced economies.”

Of course, there is likely to be disagreement among the 4 (or 3 big guys) as Kuroda remains pedal to the metal on his easing policies (despite the stealth tapering), Draghi has started to adjust to a tightening regime, and Powell is in full normalization mode.

All of which is ironic given that all three  face notable demises in their recent economic data…

 

Watch the panel live below:

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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