Some stock investors never seem to learn.
They hope and pray for a new government rescue from Washington or Brussels.
They wait with bated breath for each official sign of money printing, interest-rate cuts, or financial bailouts.
Then, as soon as something is finally announced, they breathe a sigh of relief, applaud with enthusiasm, even buy a stock or two.
But it’s a fool’s game. Because within a few months — or even just a few days — the government rescue crumbles, investors run for cover, and, ironically, they begin a whole new cycle of hoping and praying for the NEXT big rescue.
Just this year alone, European authorities have held 19 high-level emergency meetings … proposed dozens of rescue packages … and delivered an endless stream of promises.
Since the crisis began, we’ve seen four PIIGS bailouts (Greece twice, Ireland and Portugal) … the creation of two European bailout funds (ESFS and ESM) … plus countless central bank interventions to buy sinking PIIGS bonds.
What have they gained from all this? Nothing! In fact …
The Danger of Systemic Collapse Is
Far Greater Today Than at Almost Any
Time Since the Debt Crisis Began
The European Union is the biggest economy in the world — close to $15 trillion in GDP. When it sinks, so does the U.S. and much of the world.
European banks are roughly THREE times larger than U.S. banks. When they’re forced to cut their lending drastically, global capital shortages hit hard.
Most frightening of all, the U.S. has committed most of the same mistakes as Europe — the same kind of massive debts, deficits, and failed bailouts.
And now the European Union is crumbling, threatening a systemic collapse far larger than the near meltdown witnessed in the wake of the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008.
My Debt Danger Index
How do I know a dangerous new meltdown is so likely?
Because that’s what the objective data proves. In fact, to measure and track this danger as accurately as possible, I’ve created a new barometer — my Debt Danger Index for Europe.
This index is based on the total cost of insuring against sovereign debt defaults in each of five key countries — Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
So it directly reflects the danger of European debt disasters, regardless of the sentiment in the stock market.
Reason: Unlike stock market investors, sellers of these specialized insurance contracts see through the hype and hoopla of government bailouts and rescues.
If the danger of debt default is rising, they charge a higher premium for the insurance and my index goes up. If the danger of default is subsiding, they charge a lower premium and the index goes down.
Now, just look at how my Debt Danger Index has surged:
Four years ago, before the U.S. housing bust and the Greek debt crisis, the sovereign debts of large European countries were considered beyond reproach.
Default was unthinkable.
And any talk of wholesale collapse was considered science fiction.
So the cost of insuring against default was a pittance:
To insure a $50-million portfolio — allocated equally among sovereign bonds of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain — the total cost was a meager $28,649 per year.
Care to venture a guess as to how much it costs now?
The cost of insuring the same $50-million portfolio today is a whopping $2,258,200 per year, or 78.8 times more!
In other words, based on the market for these insurance contracts, the danger of a wholesale European debt disaster — with the potential to melt down the global banking system — is now nearly 79 times greater today than it was four years ago.
Massive Policy Failure
What about all the trillions of dollars and euros committed to money printing, bailouts, and guarantees?
What did they do to stem the crisis?
Nothing, absolutely nothing!
Quite the contrary, even the most massive and dramatic government interventions only made the crisis worse.
Then take a look at my timeline in the chart below. It’s the same Debt Danger Index I showed you in the previous chart, but this time zeroing in on just the last two years:
Here’s a timeline of the four most important government actions:
April 2010 — the first Greek bailout. What did it do? Nothing! My Debt Danger Index was rising at a steady pace before the bailout announcement … and it continued to do so after the announcement.
May 2010 — the $1 trillion European bailout fund (EFSF). Now, THIS was supposed to be the be-all, end-all Mother of All Bailouts. Instead, it was the cue for a whole new wave of the crisis … and my Debt Danger Index promptly resumed its steep rise.
July 2011 — the second Greek bailout. Finally a solution? Of course not! Instead of reducing the Debt Danger Index, it merely helped drive it sharply higher.
This past Friday, December 9, 2011 — Europe’s “new fiscal pact.” The grand bargain that markets were praying for? Far from it!
The European Central Bank will NOT provide the money printing that investors were hoping for.
England will NOT sign on to the deal.
And even most of the countries that DO join the pact — including big movers and shakers like France and Germany — are merely making the same old promises that they’ve already broken repeatedly in the past.
Bottom line: The European sovereign debt crisis is barely beginning. It will strike our shores directly and massively in 2012. And you must do everything possible to prepare.
Good luck and God bless!
Martin Weiss Ph.D. – Money & Markets
Dr. Weiss founded Weiss Research in 1971 and has dedicated the past 40 years to helping millions of average investors find truly safe havens and investments. He is president of Weiss Ratings, the nation’s leading independent rating agency accepting no fees from rated companies. And he is the chairman of the Sound Dollar Committee, originally founded by his father in 1959 to help President Dwight D. Eisenhower balance the federal budget. His last three books have all been New York Times Bestsellers and his most recent title is The Ultimate Money Guide for Bubbles, Busts, Recesssion and Depression.