In March of 2010, or roughly 2 and quarter years ago, I ridiculed Italy's public proclamations of austerity and fiscal responsibility. I put out a report to my paid subscribers detailing my thoughts therein...
Well, fast forward to today and Bloomberg reports Italy Moves Into Debt-Crisis Crosshairs After Spain (you know, the same Spain that we also warned about in March of 2010):
Italy’s 10-year bonds reversed early gains today in the first trading after the Spanish bailout. Their yield rose by the most in a day since Dec. 8, adding 27 basis points to 6.04 percent. Shares of UniCredit SpA (UCG), the country’s largest bank, had their steepest decline in five months.
“The scrutiny of Italy is high and certainly will not dissipate after the deal with Spain,” Nicola Marinelli, who oversees $153 million at Glendevon King Asset Management in London, said in an interview. “This bailout does not mean that Italy will be under attack, but it means that investors will pay attention to every bit of information before deciding to buy or to sell Italian bonds.”
Investors don't need to focus on Spain's bailout (although there are many common threads). All you need to do is look at Italy's actual numbers and the credibility of thier reporting, as excerpted from BoomBustBlog subscriber document Italy public finances projection:
Back to Bloomberg...
Italy has 2 trillion euros of debt, more as a share of its economy than any developed nation other than Greece and Japan. The Treasury has to sell more than 35 billion euros of bonds and bills per month -- more than the annual output of each of the three smallest euro members, Cyprus, Estonia and Malta.
Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said on June 9 that he would request as much as 100 billion euros in emergency loans from the euro area to shore up a banking system hobbled by more than 180 billion euros of bad assets. Mounting concern about the state of Spain’s banks and public finances drove the country’s borrowing costs to near euro-era records last month, pushing up Italian rates in the process.
Italy’s total debt of more than twice Spain’s has given investors pause, especially in a country where economic growth has lagged the EU average for more than a decade. The euro region’s third-biggest economy, Italy is set to contract 1.7 percent this year, more than the 1.6 percent in Spain, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates.
Italy’s debt load had traditionally led the country to be perceived as a bigger credit risk than Spain. At the start of this year, Italy’s 10-year bond yielded 202 basis points more than that of Spain. As the extent of Spain’s banking woes became more evident and the country was forced to raise its deficit target, that spread reversed and now Spain’s 10-year yields 48 points more than Italy’s.
Debt agency head Maria Cannata last week said that fewer foreign investors were turning up at Italian auctions in recent months and that the country could still finance at yields as high as 8 percent.
Yeah, but for how long? 4 weeks????
The exodus of foreign buyers has left the Treasury more dependent on Italian banks, which in turn have been among the biggest borrowers in the European Central Bank’s three-year lending operations.
And this is the crux of the whole problem.
This why Italy is, for all intents and purposes, simply a gigantic Greece at the end of the day.
I have written about this extensively, and in plenty of time for subscribers and investors to take advantage of said advice. Simply read How Greece Killed Its Own Banks! and remember that this article was written in the beginning of 2010, when the Greek bonds were trading for much more then they were right before they defaulted! Then reference Greece Reports: "Circular Reasoning Works Because Circular Reasoning Works" - Or - Here Comes That Default!!!
Sovereign entities cannot fund themselves by borrowing from the insolvent entities that they actually need to bailout, but somehow they have convinced enough holders of capital that they can. To quote from "Sophisticated Ignorance"...
Again, public states bailing out insolvent private banking institutions simply does not work. The result is simply insolvent states and insolvent banks versus simply having insolvent banks. We have 800 years of experience from which to judge from...
In Dead Bank Deja Vu? How The Sovereigns Killed Their Own Banks & Why Nobody Realizes They're Dead… I have explained this nonsensical methodology in detail. I also warned on the Italian banks back in 2010, for there is truly no new economic profits being produced in bulk - simply a continuation of the Pan-European Ponzi scheme. Subscribers see Italian Banking Macro-Fundamental Discussion Note
Italy returns to markets before Spain does, selling as much 6.5 billion euros of treasury bills on June 13, followed by a bond auction the next day.
“If Italy has a problem with accessing the markets because investors lose confidence in the Italian ability to do the right thing, the ECB will be drawn into the fire,” Thomas Mayer, an economic adviser to Deutsche Bank AG, said in a telephone interview. “That could pose a potentially lethal threat to European monetary union.”
At this point, the ECB must be stuffed with more shit than a broken toilet, reference Over A Year After Being Dismissed As Sensationalist For Questioning the ECB’s Continued Solvency After Sovereign Debt Buying Binge, Guess What. We have been through this with Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and now Italy.
Given the size of Italy’s debt, only the ECB has the firepower to rescue the country and yet deploying that ammunition -- through buying back bonds or making more long-term loans -- may prove unacceptable to Germany and its allies in northern Europe, Mayer said.
“The ECB will probably have to restart buying bonds but there will be a lot of sellers into that of people who are worried that Spain is the next Greece and Italy the next Spain,” said Lex Van Dam, who manages $500 million at Hampstead Capital LLC in London.
So, Spain finally gets a bailout, as I pretty much guaranteed in The Economic Bloodstain From Spain's Pain Will Cause European Tears To Rain and The Spain Pain Will Not Wane: Continuing the Contagion Saga. I'd like to draw attention to an excerpt from the aforelinked article:
Subscribers, be ready. When/if Spain cracks, these two short positions will explode:
Of course, in today's environ of mega banks, mega marketing, mega investment returns, white hot IPOs, it may be hard for many to appreciate the words of an entrepreneurial investor and blogger. Then again, just remember that this also coming from the same man that called Bear Stearns, Lehman, GGP, CRE, RIM, housing, the entire Pan-European Debt crisis, etc. See Who is Reggie Middleton for more.
Any aid that might come from the European Stability Mechanism, which is expected to start work next month, would enjoy a preferred creditor status second-only to the IMF, the spokesman confirmed.
Whoa! Of course, we've broached this topic in the past, over two years ago actually- How the US Has Perfected the Use of Economic Imperialism Through the European Union! Long story, short - there is no free lunch. Bailout's of indebted nations using more debt is NOT a NET POSITIVE! Anyway, back to the bailout that subordinates existing senior bondholders, guess who some of those largest bondholders are? Here's a hint, F.I.R.E.!!!. As duly predicted in BoomBustBlog published research dated 12/11...
As you can see below, Spain and Greece have already taken big shots. Greece has already defaulted and is about to default again - exactly as we predicted...
- Beware The Overly Optimistic Greek Speculators As Icarus Comes Crashing Down To Earth!
- Greece Gets "Corzined" In Its Fruitless Pursuit of Euro Unity, Sans Its Own Sovereignty As Simple Arithmetic Sets In Again
- Greece Sneezes, The Euro Dies of Pneumonia! Yeah, Sounds Bombastic, Yet True
Spanish 5Y CDS broke back above 600bps (just shy of their record 603bps level) and 35bps wider of their intrday low spread from 5 hours ago. Spanish 10Y yields are over 50bps wider/higher than their intraday lows just after the open in Europe. Italy also just broke 550bps. EURUSD is almost unch now.
Next up in the bond vigilanted shooting gallery is Italy - Italy Moves Into Debt-Crisis Crosshairs. I will dive into this in detail in my next post on this topic, but for now we should all see what this means for those insurers on F.I.R.E.?
Go to 1:45 in this video and listen carefully for at least 5 minutes (you'd probably want to watch more if you have an interest in truth in reporting, competent analysis, or simply the truth). Keep in mind that this interview was done in February, no crystal balls, just spreadsheets and common sense. Independent news has truly come into its own.
Remember, I warned readers to Beware The Overly Optimistic Greek Speculators As Icarus Comes Crashing Down To Earth! I gave subscribers (click here to subscribe) explicit proof that another Greek default was right around the corner. That's right! Direcly after the Greek default in March of this year!!!! Subscribers, see Greek debt restructuring maturity extension blog - March 2012 (Global Macro, Trades & Strategy). And in today's MSM fare: Greece Warns of Going Broke as Tax Proceeds Dry Up
As European leaders grapple with how to preserve their monetary union, Greece is rapidly running out of money.
Nikos Lekkas, a government official, said banks had hindered his efforts to collect back taxes.
Government coffers could be empty as soon as July, shortly after this month’s pivotal elections. In the worst case, Athens might have to temporarily stop paying for salaries and pensions, along with imports of fuel, food and pharmaceuticals.
Officials, scrambling for solutions, have considered dipping into funds that are supposed to be for Greece’s troubled banks. Some are even suggesting doling out i.o.u.’s.
Greek leaders said that despite their latest bailout of 130 billion euros, or $161.7 billion, they face a shortfall of 1.7 billion euros because tax revenue and other sources of potential income are drying up. A wrenching recession and harsh budget cuts have left businesses and individuals with less and less to give for taxes — and growing incentive to avoid paying what they owe.''
But...but... but didn't I warn everybody of this as far back as 2010 and as recently as last February?
Government expenditures have outstripped revenues ever since 2007 and have gotten worse nearly every year since, despite 3 bailouts a restructuring, austerity and a default!
The budget gap is widening as the so-called troika of lenders — the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission — withholds 1 billion euros in bailout money earmarked for government financing while it waits to see whether new leaders elected June 17 will honor Greece’s commitments.
Even if the troika delivers that money, Greece will struggle to cover its obligations. It underscored a harsh reality that is playing out in other troubled euro zone economies. Prolonged austerity is making it harder, not easier, for governments like Greece to become self-reliant again.
Go figure! As excerpted from Beware The Overly Optimistic Greek Speculators As Icarus Comes Crashing Down To Earth!
Despite extensive, self-defeating, harsh and punitive austerity measures that have combined with a lack of true economic stimulus, Greece has (to date) failed to achieve Primary Balance. For the non-economists in the audience, primary balance is the elimination of a primary deficit, yet the absence of a primary surplus, ex. the midpoint between deficit and surplus before taking into consideration interest payments.
The primary balance looks at the structural issues a country may have. The best analogy I’ve heard for the Grecian situation is the highly indebted family that has binged on credit cards creating huge interest and debt service payments. They then lose the earning power of one of the parents at the same time that a spike in medical bills and household repairs (ex. Murphy’s law) dig deeper into family finances. The family is then forced to continue spending via credit cards to meet these unforeseen expenses.
In short, the main reason for Greece requiring additional funding is its primary deficit but the main reason why this latest (as well as the two rounds before this latest) round of bailout funding won’t work is Greece’s primary deficit.
A top Spanish official acknowledged on Tuesday that Spain could not readily return to the markets to raise money because investors are demanding such high rates, highlighting how the debt crisis is spreading to larger economies in Europe.
Again, BoomBustBlog made this clear early in 2010. Surprise you should be not! Be sure to note the date on the articles below...
- The Coming Pan-European Sovereign Debt Crisis – introduces the crisis and identified it as a pan-European problem, not a localized one... As a matter of fact, I directly and explicitly compared the plights of Greece vs Spain 2 years and 4 months ago, yes before anyone even publicly admitted Greece would have to default, not to mention Spain!!!
- The Coming Pan-European Soverign Debt Crisis, Pt 4: The Spread to Western European Countries
- The Depression is Already Here for Some Members of Europe, and It Just Might Be Contagious!
Fast forward to years, and as luck will have it - The Economic Bloodstain From Spain's Pain Will Cause European Tears To Rain.
Oh, and here comes that Grecian Circular Argument again. What circular argument you query? Well simply read How Greece Killed Its Own Banks! and remember that this article was written in the beginning of 2010, when the bonds were trading for much more then they were right before they defaulted! then reference Greece Reports: "Circular Reasoning Works Because Circular Reasoning Works" - Or - Here Comes That Default!!!
That has left a caretaker government scrambling for a Plan B. One thought is to take billions of euros reserved for recapitalizing Greek banks, which have suffered from a flight of deposits amid political uncertainty and fears that Greece may abandon the euro for its own currency.
But using that money would require the troika’s approval. Other notions, like i.o.u.’s and scrip, so far are only that — ideas.
Next up I will consider releasing my research on what wil probably be the most profitable (US) CRE short of the year - GGP part 2!
A few months ago, I warned all to Watch As Near Free Money To Banks Fails To Prevent Nuclear Winter For European CRE. This warning was an offshoot of the extensive research that I did on the European banking sector, sovereign debt and CRE. In a nutshell, I said It appears as if there were a few who failed to heed said sage warning. Bloomberg reports Commercial Landlords Fail to Pay Loans Amid Crisis, Moody’s Says
Landlords of commercial properties in Europe are struggling to repay mortgages as banks pull back from refinancing the loans, according to Moody’s Investors Service.
And the reason they are pulling back has been well documented on BoomBustBlog for some time. See Is Another Banking Crisis Inevitable? 04 February 2011
Seventy-nine percent of the loans packaged into commercial mortgage-backed securities rated by Moody’s that came due in the first quarter weren’t repaid on time, Frankfurt-based analyst Oliver Moldenhauer wrote in a report. The non-payment rate more than doubled from 35 percent in 2009 and reflects “the current weak state of the lending market,” Moldenhauer wrote.
Whoa!!!! And to think everyone is worried about sovereign debt in Europe. Once all of that rapidly depreciated real estate collapses mortgages that have been leveraged 30x, you'll really see the meaning of AUSTERITY! I'm trying to make it very clear to you people, you ain't seen nothing yet!!!
The economic slowdown is hurting landlords of properties from office blocks to car parks and shopping malls across Europe. A total of 38 billion euros ($47 billion) of commercial real estate loans come due this year and next, Moody’s said.
“As banks need to deleverage due to regulatory requirements, commercial real estate financing will remain constrained,” Moldenhauer wrote. “Most loans will not be repaid.”
...“Not only can underwater loans not be refinanced, borrowers also face difficulties refinancing moderately leveraged loans that are simply too large in the current lending market,” said Christian Aufsatz, an analyst at Barclays Plc in London. “For CMBS, the situation will become worse.”
Real estate with mortgages that match or exceed the value of the property -- a so-called loan-to-value ratio of 100 percent or higher -- suffered defaults in “nearly all” cases in the first quarter, Moody’s said. About a third of borrowers with LTV ratios of up to 80 percent didn't pay up on time, according to the report.
Keep in mind that the LTV of these properties are safe in the 50-60 LTV range. We're now discussing 80 to 100+ LTVs. Think about it? Whose going to cough up the missing equity? Quick answer - bank equity investors! More thought out answer - Taxpayers the world over as their hardheaded ass government officials rush in once against to try to bailout banking systems that are too big to be bailed out, leaving what few decent sovereign nation economies left insolvent - once again!!!!
Most of the loans that were repaid were for less than 25 million euros, while just one of the 15 mortgages worth 75 million euros or more was paid on time, Moldenhauer wrote.
As queried many times on this blog, "What do you think, pray tell, happens when the liquidity starved, capital deprived, over leveraged banks fail to roll over all of that underwater EU mortgage debt?" Excerpted from Watch As Near Free Money To Banks Fails To Prevent Nuclear Winter For European CRE:
So, what is the net effect on real estate as thousands of underwater mortgages come up for rollover on depreciating real property?
So are there any concrete examples of all of this Reggie style pontification? If course there is. Do you see that chart above where the tiny country of the Netherlands is one of the largest per capita contributors to these bailouts? Well, you don't think all of the expenditure (to be) is free do you? Here are some screenshots of a prominent Dutch property company, on its way down the tubes - subscribers reference (click here to subscribe):
My next posts on this topic will delve into US REITS, global (but EU based) insurers and banks who have the exposure to make ideal shorts considering "The astonishing number this time is the number of banks participating, which signals that a lot more small banks looked for the money and it is likely they will pass it on to the economy,” said Laurent Fransolet, head of fixed income strategy Barclays Capital in London, who estimates about 300 billion euros of the total is new lending. “So the impact may be bigger than with the first one.”
My next post on CRE will show how this is not just a European phenomena. Yes, US REITS will come crashing back to reality as well. Subscribers should pay attention as I ladder puts and shorts into this REIT which we have calculated to fall roughtly 95% in value if math comes to the forefront. To date, the price has not broken out of a relatively narrow range, which means the opportunity is still there. I am considering making the research public after it is clear all long terms subscribers have attained positions.
Cashflows and Debt Preliminary Analysis (493.89 kB 2012-01-19 09:19:16) - compete cash flow analysis showing this REIT coming up short in every possible practical scenario.
Fire Sale Scenario Analysis (303.76 kB 2012-02-10 09:17:04) - illustrates the situation if a fire sale was pursued to raise cash.
Foreclosure Scenario Analysis (414.15 kB 2012-02-09 10:16:12) - illustrates the situation if properties were allowed to go into foreclosure to ease debt service.
Sample Property Valuation (360.45 kB 2012-01-26 09:03:33) - one of over 40 property valuations performed by hand, with on the ground inputs using our proprietary valuation models.
I will go over this opportunity in more detail over the next 72 hours as well as reviewing the path taken by European real estate to show what can be expected here in the US and the FIRE sector.
Please note that we independently value REIT portfolios - property by property - with independently sourced rents and expenses to ascertain a truly accurate valuation picture. This is how we called the short on General Growith Properties in 2007, a year before they were downgraded from investment grade status and still buys on them from all the major sell side houses that followed them. I rode GGP down from the $60s to about $8, the shares eventually fell to $1 and change or so. The General Growth Properties short generated returns deep into the three digits... Deep enough to come close to registering a four digit return.
Last week I penned Sophisticated Ignorance Part 2: Pressuring Germany To Do The Wrong Thing Is A Short Seller's Dream, wherein I continued the argument that serial bailouts of banks whose assets dwarf domicile GDPs has never, ever worked. Part and parcel to said argument was Germany's resistance to such profligate spending and the perception that Germany was somehow immune to the economic maladies that afflicted its European trading partners - reference The Biggest Threat To The 2012 Economy Is??? Not What Wall Street Is Telling You... An astute reader commented on these postings as follows:
Reggie, all well argued, but the scramble for German Bunds is still on and even if it were to stop there won't be many who sell. (or COULD sell). Even if, you have the ECB who could easily buy up German bunds as well and keep rates down. At the end of the day it's a complete fiasco, no doubt, but that day could last a lot longer than you (or me) currently assume...
I have broached the argument in the past that the ECB is not god, or even close to it, and that it can only play the bond buying ponzi for but so long before negative consequences occur. Reference:
- Over A Year After Being Dismissed As Sensationalist For Questioning the ECB's Continued Solvency After Sovereign Debt Buying Binge, Guess What!
How much damage is being inflicted upon the ECB, and how? Well simply read How Greece Killed Its Own Banks! and remember that this article was written in the beginning of 2010, when the bonds were trading for much more then they were right before they defaulted! then reference Greece Reports: "Circular Reasoning Works Because Circular Reasoning Works" - Or - Here Comes That Default!!!
The ECB's balance sheet bloat doesn't begin or end with Greece. I excerpt "The Bull Argument For Europe Is Credible, Except For The Circular Argument: You Can't Solve Debt Problems With More Debt!!!" as follows:
Italy has close to a quarter trillion euros of bonds maturing around now and another $352 bln maturing next year. The market has already soured on Italy's need to raise so much capital and has punished it through rate increases. The ECB already holds an estimated 20% of Greek, Portugal and Irish outstanding bonds yet it has jumped on the Italian bond buying bandwagon as well. It is doubtful that it has the political will to do the same for Italy and Spain, and even if it did it may not have the financial will to politically monetize the guaranteed losses it will endure. Just take a look at the losses it took on Greek bonds last year, before they really tanked...
The same hypothetical leveraged positions expressed as a percentage gain or loss…
One should doubt that the new EFSF is likely to be large enough to rescue all of insolvent Europe without the necessary debt destruction taking place.
Hopefully, by now, I have presented enough to get the message across. The question is, whom have I gotten the message across to? Again, evidence that BoomBustBlog should be one of your first reads, ahead of the MSM and the sell side, significantly ahead! Last week, CNBC ran this article - Time Bomb? Banks Pressured to Buy Government Debt Thursday, 31 May 2012 | 2:42 PM ET
US and European regulators are essentially forcing banks to buy up their own government's debt—a move that could end up making
the debt crisis even worse, a Citigroup analysis says. Regulators are allowing banks to escape counting their country's debt against
capital requirements and loosening other rules to create a steady market for government bonds, the study says.
While that helps governments issue more and more debt, the strategy could ultimately explode if the governments are unable to
make the bond payments, leaving the banks with billions of toxic debt, says Citigroup strategist Hans Lorenzen.
"Captive bank demand can buy time and can help keep domestic yields low," Lorenzen wrote in an analysis for clients. "However,
the distortions that build up over time can sow the seeds of an even bigger crisis, if the time bought isn't used very prudently."
"Specifically," Lorenzen adds, "having banks loaded up with domestic sovereign debt will only increase the domestic fallout if the
sovereign ultimately reneges on its obligations."
The banks, though, are caught in a "great repression" trap from which they cannot escape.
"When subjected to the mix of carrot and stick by policymakers...then everything else equal, we believe banks will keep buying,"
Institutions both in the U.S. and abroad have been busy buying up their national sovereign debt for years, he found.
Spanish banks bought 90 billion euros worth while Italian firms picked up 86 billion euros just between November and March. Even
in the UK, which has avoided a debt crisis as it is outside the euro zone and able to set its own monetary policy, banks have increased
holdings of gilts by 100 billion pounds over the past few years.
And in the U.S., banks, though having "comparatively low holdings" of Treasurys, have bought $700 billion of American debt since 2008.
"Ask the simple question: Why are banks buying sovereign debt when yields are either near record lows, or perhaps more interestingly,
when foreign investors are pulling out?" Lorenzen wrote.
It's really enough to make you say, "Hmmmm!!!" While I have illustrated, in explicit detail, the danger to the banks due to this "kick the can
down the road syndrome" (subscribers, see the 141 items in the Banks & Financial Services downloads section) The truly underappreciated
risk is in the insurance sector, as illusrated in the "The Biggest Threat" post.
I'm actually in the process of building a staggered put portfolio on this company, among others covered in my research notes, right now. I will
post on why I chose what I chose to represent my bearish position on this company in a future post, likely sometime this week if time permits.
Those that regularly follow me know that although I'm quite the mediocre short term trader, I have uncommon strengths that lie in the realm of medium to long term strategy and macro-fundamental valuation. Unfortunately, with the advent of free money and perpetually whirring inkjets splashing that Frankiln hue of green all over the place, the value of longer term strategy and analysis has taken a back seat to buy it today and flip it tomorrow wannabe mo-mo enthusiasts who do nothing more than chase leveraged beta with a 2/20 toll to those foolish enough to part with their lesser educated funds. It's downright disheartening to hear so many lament that fundamental analysis doesn't work. My dear friends, if fundamental analysis doesn't work, then math doesn't work! If math doesn't work, exactly how is it you can measure whatever gains you have made while trading? Oh yeah, that's right! Fundamental analysis doesn't work until its time to positively value your operation, then all of a sudden math is the new sexy, right?
Listen up, math never, ever went out of style. The Fed and its cartel of global central planners, AKA central bankers, did an unprecedented job of pushing capitalism to the side for the benefit of the financial oligarchy, but truly implemented capitalism is like unto a force of nature that constantly fights to reassert itself, and like the actual forces of nature - it never gives up and ultimately, never loses.
So, all of you mo-mo trading, fair weather arithmeticians, I'm bringing sexy back!
Back in January of 2009, I warned on Spanish banks. Take note that that was nearly 3 years ago...
BBVA's valuation at... Register (for free) and download the full report Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA) Professional Forensic Analysis 2009-01-28 16:04:04 439.80 Kb
I also warned on the entire country a year later, which was still 2 years before the sell side truly got serious about the departure port of the Santa Maria, reference The Spain Pain Will Not Wane: Continuing the Contagion Saga.
Professional subscribers can now actually download the original Spanish Bond Haircut Model that we used to calculate loss scenarios - Spain maturity extension_010610 (The Man's conflicted copy). Despite the fact I was probably the most realistically bearish out of the bunch, things have actually gotten materially worse since this model was constructed two years ago, hence it can use a refresh. Alas, it is still quite useful.
In the general subscriber document Spain public finances projections_033010, the first four (or 12) pages basically outline the gist of the Spanish problem today, to wit:
The stress caused by Spain breaking the central bank will bring to full fruition the theory behind our European Banking and Insurance research from the last few quarters.
On that note, this entire week the MSM has been on Spanish kick - Spain Is Crying for Help; Is Berlin Really Listening?
Crisis is the watchword in Madrid. Take your pick - liquidity crisis, debt crisis, banking crisis, economic crisis, confidence crisis, investor crisis, jobless crisis.
Spain, the ailing euro zone's latest problem child, has them all. As the problems pile up, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's five-month-old conservative administration feels like a government under siege.
Nervy top officials are reluctant to speak on the record for fear of slipping up. Policymakers contradict one another. Plans keep changing. Financial markets reel amid the uncertainty. The gloom in ministry corridors is palpable.
The latest gaffe: after weeks insisting that one of the country's biggest banks, Bankia, did not need fresh funds, ministers dropped the bombshell last Friday that there was a 23-billion-euro hole in the accounts.
Damn! That's one helluva rounding error, eh???
They have yet to explain clearly how they will find the money when they are already struggling to finance a spiralling national debt.
The effect of the Bankia news on fragile financial markets was devastating.
Spanish shares dived to 9-year lows, the euro sank and investors fled Spanish government debt, pushing the yield towards the 7 per cent level at which fellow eurozone members Ireland and Portugal were forced to seek national bailouts from Brussels.
To hear the government tell it, outsiders have got it all wrong: Spain has lived beyond its means for too long and is now going through a painful but necessary period of adjustment to shrink its state sector, cut spending and boost competitiveness.
All the right things are being done.
Rajoy's government is serious, committed and enjoys a comfortable parliamentary majority.
Officials say foreigners don't understand that Spain has boosted its exports more than any other European country in the past three years, that it has reformed its labour markets, cut its costs of production and come clean about the problems in its banks, which lent too enthusiastically to finance a huge property bubble that has now burst.
Now, ministers say, Madrid just needs time and some help and support from its European partners to get through the most acute phase of the crisis and give the reforms time to work.
As I said yesterday, there's no way in hell the EU will be able to bail out its banking system -The Eurocalypse Has Arrived...
Subscribers, be ready. When/if Spain cracks, these two short positions will explode:
- Report_122511 - Professional/Institutional edition (Insurers, Insurance & Risk Management)
- Report_122511 -Retail edition (Insurers, Insurance & Risk Management)
Of course, in today's environ of mega banks, mega marketing, mega investment returns, white hot IPOs, it may be hard for many to appreciate the words of an entrepreneurial investor and blogger. Then again, just remember that this also coming from the same man that called Bear Stearns, Lehman, GGP, CRE, RIM, housing, the entire Pan-European Debt crisis, etc. See Who is Reggie Middleton for more.
Today's top MSM headline - European Commission Recommends Euro Banking Union:
The euro zone should move toward a banking union and consider recapitalizing its banks using its permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, the European Commission said on Wednesday, in remarks that briefly boosted stocksand the euro.
The European Union's executive arm said in documents laying out recommendations for theeuro [EUR=X 1.2422 (-0.51%)]area that the crisis had slowed the financial integration process and "ambitious steps to accelerate and deepen financial integration may be needed."
"More specifically, a closer integration among the euro area countries in supervisory structures and practices, in cross-border crisis management and burden sharing, towards a 'banking union' would be an important complement to the current structure of [the Economic and Monetary Union]," the European Commission said in the documents.
"In the same vein, to sever the link between banks and the sovereigns, direct recapitalization by the ESM might be envisaged," it added.
Hmmmm... BoomBustBloggers crossed this intellectual Rubicon over 2 years ago. I was explicit in explaining that the bulk of the sovereign nations' debt woes stem from thier feeble and failed attempts to prop up their banking systems. I posted a refresher to this thesis a few weeks ago in So, Can Europe Nationalize All Of Its Troubled Banks?
In a discussion that I had over at ZeroHedge there came the topic of whether bank runs are possible in Europe. Well, I believe we've already had some devastating one's (ex. Northern Rock) but if one takes the continent only or the EZ in particular, we still have a significant systemic threat. The gist behind the argument is that if the true economic capital is weakened to the point that depositors/creditors/counterparties make a run for it, the sovereign nation in which it is domiciled will simply nationalize it. Hmmm... Let's take a look at how that might work out, as excerpted from Overbanked, Underfunded, and Overly Optimistic: The New Face of Sovereign Europe March 2010
Literally years later, the sell side is now chiming in: Banks No Longer 'Float Above Their Countries': Deutsche
Banks' countries of origin have become important again.
No shit, Sherlock!!!
Most of the developed EU nations don't stand frozen raindrop's chance in hell of bailing out banking systems that are literally multiples of the GDP of the domiciles themselves.
The problems is getting worse over time, not better, as risk, leverage and unrecognized NPAs continue to pack the banking system.
I warned heavily last year about the connection between overleveraged, garbage laden banks and over-indebteded sovereigns...
Just as in the case of my call on the fall of Bear Stearns (again, I believe I was the only to make such a call so far in advance), this situation consists of something you NEVER hear in the media or investment circles. This is not merely a liquidity crisis of even a solvency crisis. For the first time in recent history, it is BOTH!!! As a matter of fact, it's not just both. There is a another problem that came into play, and it is the direct result of tomfoolery at the hands of the sovereings themselves. The games that they played to assist the banks in hiding thier problems has materially weakened the entire financial system by sowing rampant mistrust. Plain and simple, government endorsed lying has made the entire system afraid to do business with itself. Let's walk through this step by step.
The Liquidity Issue
From The BoomBustBlog BNP Paribas "Run On The Bank" series... "As The French Bank Runs...."... Saturday, 23 July 2011 The Anatomy Of A European Bank Run: Look At The Banking Situation BEFORE The Run Occurs!
The solvency issues
Impact of bank’s banking books on haircuts
EU banking book sovereign exposures are about five times larger than trading book. The table below gives sovereign exposure of major European countries for both trading and banking book. The EU trading book has €335bn of exposure while banking book has €1.7t exposure towards sovereign defaults. EU stress test estimated total write-down’s of €26bn as it only considered banks trading portfolio. This equated to implied haircut of 7.9% on trading portfolio with losses equating to 2.4% of Tier 1 capital. However, if the same haircuts (7.9% weighted average haircut) are applied to banking book then the loss would amount to €153bn equating to 13.8% of Tier 1 capital.
And last but not least...
The credibility crisis, whose sole responsibility lies dead center on the sovereigns themselves...
You see, as you bend the rules to reporting, you resuce the banks for a day, but doom them for a decade (or in the case of Japan, 2.4 decades!!!). Now, the counterparties simply CANNOT trust each other!
... and why should the counterparties trust each other when all are privvy to the games that they are playing on each other!
Before government officials start crying innocent, remember the tricks that you youreselves have played to bring use where we are now. In case your memory is failing, simply review Lies, Damn Lies, and Sovereign Truths: Why the Euro is Destined to Collapse!
Now, I ask all... How in the world will grouping all of these increasingly unmanageable individual soveriegn problems cure the overall problem. By gathering all of the roaches into a big pile, you don't get less roaches - you just get a big pile of roaches! The bank failures will increase in both speed and intensity as time progresses and the drag will simply engulf the EU as a whole versus engulfing the states individually. At least individually, the better run states will recieve less pressure, and suffer through crossborder and financial contagion and counterparty risk rather than through this pooled method wherein direct pipes of contagion are being engineered to transmit the problems deep within each country. Does it sound like a good idea to you? I have my own ideas, of course....
In today's MSM front pages:
EU Seen Agreeing on Project Bonds—Not Eurobonds - of course not! 17 different nations, 17 different cultures, 17 different sets of federal laws (not to mention local municipality legislation), 17 different economies, 17 different banking systems... It's this lack of homogeneity that brought the Euro concept to its knees in the first place. Why throw good money (what would have went into Eurobonds) after bad (what went into a flawed Euro concept) to justify flushing it with awful (the multiple bailout mechanisms/default losses, ECB balance sheet bloat)? Reference A Summary and Related Thoughts on the IMF’s “Strategies for Fiscal Consolidation in the Post-Crisis
Germany Sells 2-Year, 0% Bonds Amid Greek Anxiety - Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble! It's as simple as that. Why lend money at risk for no return? Reference The Biggest Threat To The 2012 Economy Is??? Not What Wall Street Is Telling You... where I explained in explicit detail the risk this view of Germany causes the entire European continent and the UK! As a matter of fact, a follow up opinion of the subscription research illustrated subject company (an insurer) in this write-up will be the topic of my next post. After all, we can't let GS and JPM blow up the world by themselves, can we?
Roubini Strategist: High Yields Are Europe's New Normal This is a no brainer. How about high rate volatility as well as all of the financial entity fun that that will ensue? Here's a better question. What happens to real estate values as interest rates increase? Yep! You heard it here first... Watch As Near Free Money To Banks Fails To Prevent Nuclear Winter In European Real Estate. As a matter of fact, We're At Step 2 Of The Global Real Estate Compression!
Of course, after pondering that query, must become more investigatory - What happens to bank mortgages as CRE values plunge? So, Can Europe Nationalize All Of Its Troubled Banks?
CNBC reports Banks No Longer 'Float Above Their Countries': Deutsche - Banks' countries of origin have become important again. No shit, Sherlock!!!
I warned heavily last year about the connection between higher interest rates and falling real estate in Europe...
Reggie Middleton as the Keynote Speaker at the ING Real Estate Valuation Seminar in Amsterdam
UK Retail Sales Slide at Fastest Pace in 2 Years in April - Well of course. Don't these guys read the BoomBust??? The Greatest Risk To Retail Commercial Real Estate Is? Sovereign Debt! Macro Headwinds! Popping Bubbles! Busted Banks! No, It's The Internet! and Prepare For CRE Crash And Burn Marks At A Shopping Mall Near You
'Nuff said! Subscribers, as (not if, but as) this breaks, these are the companies trading at the valuations that are most shortable/profitable in my opinion... Relevant downloads for subscribers only! Click here to subscribe...
- US REIT Fire Sale Scenario Analysis
US REIT Foreclosure Scenario Analysis
- US REIT Sample Property Valuation
- US REIT Cashflows and Debt Preliminary Analysis
European CRE (this one is a bit dated)
And the cat that was already let out of the bag...
On Monday, 23 April 2012 I posted "It's Official & As I Foretold Years Ago, Greece Is Now In A True Depression As Reality Hits Greek Banks", roughly 2 years after penning
Greek depositors withdrew €700 million ($898 million) from the country's banks on Monday, fueling fears of a bank run amid the growing political disarray.
With deposits falling, Greek banks become even more dependent on the European Central Bank to meet their funding needs, exposing the central bank to potentially huge losses if Greece leaves the euro area.
Greek President Karolos Papoulias told the country's political leaders that bank withdrawals plus buy orders received by Greek banks for German bunds totaled some €800 million on Monday, a transcript of his comments said. A central bank official confirmed the figures.
Wait until a 2nd Greek default (virtually guaranteed as we supplied user downloadable models to see for yourself, the same model used to forecast the 1st default) mirrors history. Of the 181 yrs as a sovereign nation after gaining independence, Greece been in default 58 of them. Don't believe me! Check your history, or just read more BoomBustBlog - Sophisticated Ignorance Or Just A Very, Very Short Term Memory? Foolish Talk of German Bailouts Once Again...
Greece's default will hit an already bank NPA laden Spain quite hard: The Spain Pain Will Not Wane: Continuing the Contagion Saga and ditto with Italy "As We Assured Clients Two Years Ago, Italy's Riding The Broken Promise Express To Restructuring". Once Italy gets hit, the true bank runs will start as socialist France (the so-called half of the EU anchor) loses control of its bankinsg system. Reference "As The French Bank Runs....":
Saturday, 23 July 2011 The Anatomy Of A European Bank Run: Look At The Banking Situation BEFORE The Run Occurs!: I detail how I see modern bank runs unfolding
Thursday, 28 July 2011 The Mechanics Behind Setting Up A Potential European Bank Run Trade and European Bank Run Trading Supplement
I identify specific bank run candidates and offer illustrative trade setups to capture alpha from such an event. The options quoted were unfortunately unavailable to American investors, and enjoyed a literal explosion in gamma and implied volatility. Not to fear, fruits of those juicy premiums were able to be tasted elsewhere as plain vanilla shorts and even single stock futures threw off insane profits.
Wednesday, 03 August 2011 France, As Most Susceptble To Contagion, Will See Its Banks Suffer
In case the hint was strong enough, I explicitly state that although the sell side and the media are looking at Greece sparking Italy, it is France and french banks in particular that risk bringing the Franco-Italia make-believe capitalism session, aka the French leveraged Italian sector of the Euro ponzi scheme down, on its head.
I then provide a deep dive of the French bank we feel is most at risk. Let it be known that every banked remotely referenced by this research has been halved (at a mininal) in share price! Most are down ~10% of more today, alone!
- French Bank Run Forensic Thoughts - Retail Valuation Note - For retail subscribers
- Bank Run Liquidity Candidate Forensic Opinion - A full forensic note for professional and institutional subscribers
I also provided a very informative document for public consumption which clearly detailed exactly how this French bank collapse thing is likely to go down: French Bank Run Forensic Thoughts - pubic preview for Blog - A freebie, to illustrate what all of you non-subscribers are missing!
So, What's the Next Shoe To Drop? Read on...
For those who claim I may be Euro bashing, rest assured - I am not. Just a week or two later, I released research on a big US bank that will quite possibly catch Franco-Italiano Ponzi Collapse fever, with the pro document containing all types of juicy details. This is the next big thing, for when (not if, but when) European banks blow up, it WILL affect us stateside! Subscribers, be sure to be prepared. Puts are already quite costly, but there are other methods if you haven't taken your positions when the research was first released. For those who wish to subscribe, click here.
And now that BoomBustBlog foretold reality comes to bite UK ass, as reported by Reuters/CNBC: Inflation-Wary Bank of England to Halt Money-Printing Press
The Bank of England looks set to call a halt to its asset-buying program, despite the economy having slipped into recession and renewed risks rising from the euro zone debt crisis, as UK inflation remains stubbornly high.
Uh Oh!!! In case the gravity of this situation is not weighing on any of you blokes yet, the UK has to step back into a gun fight but cannot fire any more shots due to the fact that it has already hit too many innocent bystanders...
Ending its program of quantitative easing, or QE, may make life more difficult for Britain's Conservative-led ruling coalition, which was battered in local elections last week and relies on loose monetary policy to soften the pain of austerity measures aimed at cutting the country's huge public borrowing.
Therein lies the problem, no? Did they truly try to stimulate the eonomy or did they attempt to overdose on cheap, irresponsible liquidity to save the extant oligarchy?
But after buying 325 billion pounds of government debt with newly created money, 50 billion pounds of which has been purchased in the last three months, the bank is likely to judge that its policy stance is already supportive enough.
You don't need to be an economist to understand the utter foolishness, the circular logic supported folly of the aforementioned statement - "But after buying 325 billion pounds of government debt with newly created money, 50 billion pounds of which has been purchased in the last three months". So, an allegedly fiscally responsible regime leading one of the most powerful countries in the world lends money to itself in order to get some money (What the f@ck!!!), but must print fresh new money in order to afford to buy the money that it just lent itself in order to use the money it just let itself to pay some important bills, you know the thing that it needed the money for in the first place.
Well, what the hell are you staring at your screen for? Don't you get it? Apparently, you must either be a politician or a economist to get it, actually. The UK obviously have the best suited guys for the job leading the way!
Policymakers, most prominently deputy BoE governor Paul Tucker, have also indicated that inflation may not fall as fast as forecast below the bank's 2 percent target after it rose for the first time in six months in March, touching 3.5 percent, the highest rate in the Group of Seven major advanced economies.
Only five of the 58 economists polled by Reuters expect the central bank to announce further asset buying when it publishes its decision at 11:00 a.m. GMT.
The minutes of the Monetary Policy Committee's (MPC) April meeting showed that inflation worries had become more dominant, and that long-standing quantitative easing advocate Adam Posen had dropped his vote for more QE.
Bank of England Governor Mervyn King has also said that the economy looks set to recover slowly and steadily later this year while inflation is too high.
As clearly stated in the BoomBustBlog susbscriber document: UK Public Finances March 2010