Posts Tagged ‘European Central Bank’
That which cannot go on forever will eventually stop. The young woman who looks 50 but is 20 as a consequence of sucking on a crack pipe for 2 years and laying down for anyone with a rock or two to offer eventually runs out of Johns as her looks and abilities fade; she is then consigned to trying to scrape up enough to stay stoned.
That young-but-old-looking lady is Spain, Greece and Italy, among others. It is also the “free shit army” in the United States; those who believe the pablum served up by people like Jeff Miller (R-FL-1) who continually proclaim that nobody will have their Medicare changed if they’re 55 or older, when in point of fact at a 9.x% expansion in cost annually we double spending every seven years and change; ergo, that’s four doublings between 55 – 85, or a 55-year old’s approximate life expectancy (30 years).
Starting from today ($820 billion) this results in:
$1,640 billion in seven years
$3,280 billion in fourteen
$6,560 billion in twenty-one
$13,120 billion in twenty-eight
That’s $13 trillion dollars.
The entire Federal Budget today is $3.8 trillion and what’s worse, we’re only taxing about $2.6 trillion — so that, in fact, is all we have to spend.
Paul Ryan (and President Obama, in the main) are both proposing to spend more than four times the entire Federal Budget and approximately the entire current GDP on Federal Medical Care 30 years from now.
That’s not going to happen.
But it is what you’re being sold.
Oh yes, both Obama and Romney are claiming they will “bend the cost curve” but they’re lying. They can’t both maintain the programs at the current benefit levels given the demographics that are and will be driving this problem for the next 30 years – that is, it’s impossible for them to both keep their promise and not have the above escalation of costs occur.
Germany’s Bundesbank stepped up its criticism of the European Central Bank’s plan to embark on potentially “unlimited” government bond purchases, widening a rift over how to tackle the sovereign debt crisis.
“The Bundesbank holds to the opinion that government bond purchases by the Eurosystem are to be seen critically and entail significant stability risks,” the Frankfurt-based central bank said in its monthly report today. The new program “could be unlimited” and decisions about potentially far greater sharing of solvency risks should be taken by governments or parliaments, not by central banks, it said.
But Germany doesn’t have the money. Neither do we. And neither of us can acquire it; that sort of money simply doesn’t exist.
That this path is unsustainable has been known for decades. When the path first became apparent in the 1980s and federal medical spending was $53 billion we heard a few people tell us we were headed for the cliff. Yet for decades our politicians have continued to lie and dole out money to people that they don’t have and can’t manage to acquire via taxation.
Last year the federal government spent $820 billion on health care alone.
This manipulation is all a game and Central Banks along with politicians are all whoring around with each other trying to evade the mathematical truth of what they’ve been pulling over your eyes for the last three decades.
This is pointless; the so-called “solution” isn’t and can’t be an actual answer, as there is no answer that maintains that which is impossible to maintain.
Until we have the political debate that must be held we will remain subject to sudden dislocations in the markets and the level of outright thievery will continue to escalate as ever-more desperate politicians and so-called “banksters” will claw at the carpet like our proverbial crack whore, seeking that one tiny elusive piece of crack to provide them just one more, even if abortive and tiny, hit of their drug of choice.
Monti Lashes out at Germany; Merkel Hardens Position; Reader from Italy Explains Why Early Elections Might Lead to “Deadlock”
Merkel Hardens Position
The EU summit is a day away and pre-summit bickering is so intense that it will be difficult if not impossible to get any major agreements.
Two days ago, in a speech in German parliament, Bloomberg reportedMerkel Hardens Resistance to Euro-Area Debt Sharing
Chancellor Angela Merkel hardened her resistance to euro-area debt sharing to resolve the region’s financial crisis, setting Germany on a collision course with its allies at a summit of European leaders this week.
Merkel, speaking to a conference in Berlin today as Spain announced it would formally seek aid for its banks, dismissed “euro bonds, euro bills and European deposit insurance with joint liability and much more” as “economically wrong and counterproductive,” saying that they ran against the German constitution.
“It’s not a bold prediction to say that in Brussels most eyes — all eyes — will be on Germany yet again,” Merkel said. “I say quite openly: when I think of the summit on Thursday I’m concerned that once again the discussion will be far too much about all kinds of ideas for joint liability and far too little about improved oversight and structural measures.”
“There must not be an imbalance between liability and control,” she said today. “For instance, we would do a European deposit insurance immediately if it doesn’t lead to common liability but to improved oversight possibilities and standards.”
Monti Lashes out at Germany
In response his own falling support as much as his displeasure with Merkel, Monti lashes out at Germany ahead of summit
Italy’s technocratic prime minister’s frustration with Germany surfaced in a combative speech to parliament, saying he would not go to Brussels to “rubber-stamp” pre-written documents and was ready to extend the two-day summit until Sunday night if needed to reach agreements before markets reopen on Monday.
Speculation over the fate of his government has become so feverish in Rome that officials were forced to deny that the prime minister had threatened to resign if he were to leave Brussels without success.
Singling out Jens Weidmann by name, Mr Monti said the Bundesbank president had “badly misunderstood” his proposal to deploy eurozone rescue funds to bring down the borrowing costs of countries such as Italy and Spain that had honoured obligations to implement reforms and bring down their budget deficits.
Italy on Tuesday was forced to borrow at 4.71 per cent for two-year bills, its highest level since December, and will face a testing auction on Thursday of up to €5.5bn in five and 10-year bonds.
Italian officials said they were extremely concerned how markets might react Monday if the Brussels talks fail to break new ground. The summit was heading towards “complete uncertainty”, Mr Monti said.
Mr Monti is said by aides to be furious with Mr Berlusconi’s recent anti-European tack which is seen as undermining Italy ahead of the summit. Mr Berlusconi reportedly repeated on Tuesday that it would not be a bad thing if Germany exited from the euro.
Explaining Italian Politics
Reader Andrea who is from Italy but now lives in France, has some observations and comments on Italian politics in response to Monti Threatens to Resign if No Eurobonds; Specter of Early Elections
I have a few comments on your article.
First: Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi made a third call for a euro exit, this time asking Germany to exit if the ECB will not print.
Berlusconi has a certain ability in “feeling” what people wants to hear and use it as his message. In my opinion he is testing the public opinion. I expect he will run polls to check if his anti-euro stance is allowing his party to increase consensus. In this case, I strongly believe that he will raise the level of his anti-euro stance given he has nothing to lose as his party is in freefall.
Second: Monti’s days are indeed numbered because he will step down at the end of legislature (spring 2013) and he will not seek for renewal of his mandate in the new one.
However, his term could be even shorter. There could be early elections before the natural term.
In the Italian constitution, the President of the Republic appoints the prime minister, but the appointment must get Parliamentary approval. If a PM resigns or loses majority approval, a search is on to find another person. If parliament cannot find a coalition leader with sufficient votes, the only choice left is to call early elections.
Berlusconi’s PDL party has the numbers to make Monti step down and to not allow any new majority. He may do just that.
Berlusconi is increasingly uncomfortable in supporting Monti. So are others. Government bond yields are back at very high levels and now Monti is losing popular support. Backing Monti has cost PDL to lose a lot of votes.
However, with early elections, a dangerous competitor like Beppe Grillo’s Movimento 5 Stelle (Five Star Movement) will not have enough time to present candidates everywhere. Thus, Berlusconi might also use a poor EU summit as reason to withdraw support to Monti, given the side benefit of holding elections before the Five Star Movement grows stronger.
Third: the most likely outcome of the next election in Italy is a deadlock, assuming recent polls are accurate.
The reason is the electoral law. The current electoral law gives additional representatives and senators to the “coalition” that scores first. Coalition is the key term. Even if Grillo’s Five Star Movement wins as a party, he will be politically isolated whereas the center-left can form a coalition.
However, additional share is given on national basis for the Chamber of Representatives and on regional basis for the Senate. For this reason, the Senate will most likely be fragmented with no majority at all. To govern, you need majority on both.
What would happen then? Very hard to guess.
For more on the Five Star Movement and Beppe Grillo’s plan to dump the euro, please see ….
- Italy “Gasping Like Beached Whale”; Berlusconi Reiterates Euro Exit “Not Blasphemy”; Beppe Grillo Discusses “Taboo of the Euro”
- Six Reasons Why Italy May Exit the Euro Before Spain; Ultimate Occupy Movement.
- Monti Begs Germany to Stabilize Interest Rates; Merkel Pours Cold Water On “Theoretical Discussions”; Italy Official Denial #1; Why Monti’s Days Are Numbered.
“We don’t owe the Germans money, they owe us,” he told Reuters in an interview in his central Athens office, sitting in front of a line of campaign posters for his radical Syriza bloc, which placed second in last Sunday’s Greek parliament election.
“The total they owe us is 162 billion euros without interest. If you add 3 percent interest, it’s more than a trillion euros. But we can accept a haircut on the interest.”
Actually, there’s a problem here — his accounting appears to count inflation twice.
See, he inflates the principal. But you don’t get to do that — the reason you get interest is to cover the expected inflation and the risk of non-repayment.
So inflating the principal would be to demand to be paid for the expected event twice — after the fact.
The figure he uses for money Germany owes is made up of war reparations awarded to Greece at an international conference in Paris in 1946 ($7 billion at the time, adjusted for inflation to 108 billion euros in today’s money) and the forced loan Greece made ($3.5 billion, adjusted to 54 billion euros today).
No no no no no. You can have inflation on the original sum or (if provided for) interest, but you can’t have both since that is compounding on compounding and wasn’t part of the original contemplated agreement.
Of course this is more of a political foil than a practical one….. but if it gets legs over there…
This should be good for Confidence, especially after Monti (Hall?) was running around telling everyone that Italy was “just fine” and “didn’t need help.”
LOS CABOS, Mexico, June 19 (Reuters) – Italy put forward a proposal at a G20 summit in Mexico on Tuesday for the euro zone’s rescue funds to start buying the debt of distressed European countries, and the idea is expected to be discussed at a meeting of leaders in Rome on Friday.
The Italian proposal foresees using the EU’s rescue funds, known as the EFSF and the ESM, to buy bonds of countries such as Spain and Italy in the secondary market to help bring down bond yields and lower refinancing costs.
So we’ve gone beyond “liar liar pants on fire!” to “and behind Door #1 we have….”
You know the jackass is back there too.
I’m well beyond the point where I register surprise — say much less shock — when “leaders” get caught lying like this by their own hand. We’re into this odd Kafkaesque realm where the bigger the lie the more it is believed, where Presidents of drunk nations prescribe cases of whiskey for the pounding headache and puke-fest taking place the next morning and where the citizens wave multi-colored flags pretending that John and Steve’s public expression of intent to screw each other in the ass or Jeff’s desire to smoke a joint on the courthouse steps is the most-important issue in the upcoming election.
Pass that whiskey please, it will make me forget that I’m broke and the only calories down my pie hole in the last 72 hours have been ethanol-based — and liquid! Oh, it will also make me forget the hemorrhoids from last night’s boffing too – and where did I put that joint?
Yeah. This is what passes for “political discourse” on the issues of the day. Blatantly unconstitutional usurpations of power by the President (under the guise of “prosecutorial discretion”) either garners no comment (from Romney) or worse, a plan to do even more unconstitutional things (by Wayne Root) in response. Nobody raises the quite-simple point that a person who’s first act upon entry to the United States was to break the law should not be rewarded, as whatever behavior you reward in the law you will get more of!
Never mind that the nation’s economy has collapsed (not “is about to collapse”) and is being propped up by explicit debasement of everyone’s wealth through government deficit spending — a path that will eventually lead to the collapse of the government itself if it continues for too long, and for every day it goes on it increases the economic damage that must be recognized to “detox” from our credit-induced craze.
As such the morning news flow, including this little tidbit from the G-20, no longer elicits even a wry smile from me. I do, however, take some solace in the fact that yesterday Bloomberg finally came around to the idea of sound(er) banking and had the audacity to publish it — a drum I’ve been beating on since The Ticker began publication.
It’s been a lonely five years, but this morning, as I sip my coffee in expectation of the heroin dealerextraordinaire, Ben Buttafackie himself, pontificating on how we shall all be fine if we just take another slug of that case of whiskey, I will ponder whether that tiny second drumbeat from Bloomberg yesterday might — just might — turn into a cacophony of sufficient volume to halt that which, at this point, appears inevitable.
Incidentally, if you are in the Orlando area I am speaking this evening at The 2012 Business Convention and Expo of The Deaf at 7:30 PM.
From Professor Tim Duy: Is Anyone Answering the Phones at the ECB?. Excerpt:
It is never a good sign when the monetary authority – the lender of last resort – is no longer willing to buy your bonds. If the ECB sees only risk at these rates, why should private investors jump into the pool?
Honestly, I find it incomprehensible to believe that the ECB will not soon come to the aid of Spain and Italy with additional bond purchases. Only the most irresponsible policy body would take such a risk. To not do so almost guarantees the destruction of the Eurozone and a deepening recession if not depression throughout Europe. They cannot possibly believe that fiscal and structural reforms will bear sufficient fruit in any reasonable time frame. Nor can they possibly believe that Spain and Italy can implement a IMF-type structural reform program in the absence of the competitive boost provided by currency devaluation.
Or can they? If they do believe these things – that they can do no more, the job is entirely on the shoulders of fiscal policymakers – then we all need to be afraid, very afraid. Because when the ECB fully abdicates its role as a provider of financial stability for the Eurozone, all Hell is going to break loose.
Exclusive: The Fed's $600 Billion Stealth Bailout Of Foreign Banks Continues At The Expense Of The Domestic Economy, Or Explaining Where All The QE2 Money Went
Courtesy of the recently declassified Fed discount window documents, we now know that the biggest beneficiaries of the Fed’s generosity during the peak of the credit crisis were foreign banks, among which Belgium’s Dexia was the most troubled, and thus most lent to, bank. Having been thus exposed, many speculated that going forward the US central bank would primarily focus its “rescue” efforts on US banks, not US-based (or local branches) of foreign (read European) banks: after all that’s what the ECB is for, while the Fed’s role is to stimulate US employment and to keep US inflation modest. And furthermore, should the ECB need to bail out its banks, it could simply do what the Fed does, and monetize debt, thus boosting its assets, while concurrently expanding its excess reserves thus generating fungible capital which would go to European banks. Wrong.
Below we present that not only has the Fed’s bailout of foreign banks not terminated with the drop in discount window borrowings or the unwind of the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, but that the only beneficiary of the reserves generated were US-based branches of foreign banks (which in turn turned around and funnelled the cash back to their domestic branches), a shocking finding which explains not only why US banks have been unwilling and, far more importantly, unable to lend out these reserves, but that anyone retaining hopes that with the end of QE2 the reserves that hypothetically had been accumulated at US banks would be flipped to purchase Treasurys, has been dead wrong, therefore making the case for QE3 a done deal.
In summary, instead of doing everything in its power to stimulate reserve, and thus cash, accumulation at domestic (US) banks which would in turn encourage lending to US borrowers, the Fed has been conducting yet another stealthy foreign bank rescue operation, which rerouted $600 billion in capital from potential borrowers to insolvent foreign financial institutions in the past 7 months. QE2 was nothing more (or less) than another European bank rescue operation!
For those who can’t wait for the punchline, here it is. Below we chart the total cash holdings of Foreign-related banks in the US using weekly H.8 data.
Note the $630 billion increase in foreign bank cash balances since November 3, which just so happens is the date when the Fed commenced QE2 operations in the form of adding excess reserves to the liability side of its balance sheet. Here is the change in Fed reserves during QE2 (from the Fed’s H.4.1 statement, ending with the week of June 1).
Above, note that Fed reserves increased by $610 billion for the duration of QE2 through the week ending June 1 (and by another $70 billion in the week ending June 8, although since we only have bank cash data through June 1, we use the former number, although we are certain that the bulk of this incremental cash once again went to foreign financial institutions).
So how did cash held by US banks fare during QE2? Well, not good. The chart below demonstrates cash balances at small and large US domestic banks, as well as the cash at foreign banks, all of which is compared to total Fed reserves plotted on the same axis. It pretty much explains it all.
The chart above has tremendous implications for everything from US and European monetary policy, to exhange rate and trade policy, to the current account on both sides of the Atlantic, to US fiscal policy, to borrowing and lending activity in the US, and, lastly, to QE 3.
What is the first notable thing about the above chart is that while cash levels in US and US-based foreign-banks correlate almost perfectly with the Fed’s reserve balances, as they should, there is a notable divergence beginning around May of 2010, or the first Greek bailout, when Europe was in a state of turmoil, and when cash assets of foreign banks jumped by $200 billion, independent of the Fed and of cash holdings by US banks. About 6 months later, this jump in foreign bank cash balances had plunged to the lowest in years, due to repatriated fungible cash being used to plug undercapitalized local operations, with total cash just $265 billion as of November 17, just as QE2 was commencing. Incidentally, the last time foreign banks had this little cash was April 2009… Just as QE1 was beginning. As to what happens next, the first chart above says it all: cash held by foreign banks jumps from $308 billion on November 3, or the official start of QE2, to $940 billion as of June 1: an almost dollar for dollar increase with the increase in Fed reserve balances.
In other words, while the Fed did nothing to rescue foreign banks in the aftermath of the first Greek crisis, aside from opening up FX swap lines, one can argue that the whole point of QE2 was not so much to spike equity markets, or the proverbial “third mandate” of Ben Bernanke, but solely to rescue European banks!
What this observation also means, is that the bulk of risk asset purchasing by dealer desks (if any), has not been performed by US-based primary dealers, as has been widely speculated, but by foreign dealers, which have the designatin of “Primary” with the Federal Reserve. Below is the list of 20 Primary Dealers currently recognized by the New York Fed. The foreign ones, with US-based operations, are bolded:
- BNP Paribas Securities Corp.
- Barclays Capital Inc.
- Cantor Fitzgerald & Co.
- Citigroup Global Markets Inc.
- Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC
- Daiwa Capital Markets America Inc.
- Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.
- Goldman, Sachs & Co.
- HSBC Securities (USA) Inc.
- Jefferies & Company, Inc.
- J.P. Morgan Securities LLC
- MF Global Inc.
- Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated
- Mizuho Securities USA Inc.
- Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC
- Nomura Securities International, Inc.
- RBC Capital Markets, LLC
- RBS Securities Inc.
- SG Americas Securities, LLC
- UBS Securities LLC.
That’s right, out of 20 Primary Dealers, 12 are…. foreign. And incidentally, the reason why we added the (if any) above, is that since this cash is fungible between on and off-shore operations, what happened is that the $600 billion in cash was promptly repatriated and used by domestic branches of foreign banks to fill undercapitalization voids left by exposure to insolvent European PIIGS and for all other bankruptcy-related capital needs.
And one wonders why suddenly German banks are so willing to take haircuts on Greek bonds: it is simply because courtesy of their US based branches which have been getting the bulk of the Fed’s dollars in 1 and 0 format, they suddenly find themselves willing and ready to face the mark to market on Greek debt from par to 50 cents on the dollar. And not only Greek, but all other PIIGS, which will inevitably happen once Greece goes bankrupt, either volutnarily or otherwise. In fact, the $600 billion in cash that was repatriated to Europe will mean that European banks likely are fully covered to face the capitalization shortfall that will occur once Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain and possibly Italy are forced to face the inevitable Event of Default that will see their bonds marked down anywhere between 20% and 60%.
Of course, this will also expose the ECB as an insolvent central bank, but that largely explains why Germany has been so willing to allow Mario Draghi to take the helm at an institution that will soon be left insolvent, and also explains the recent shocking animosity between Angela Merkel and Jean Claude Trichet: the German are preparing for the end of the ECB, and thanks to Ben Bernanke they are certainly capitalized well enough to handle the end of Europe’s lender of first and last resort.
But don’t take our word for this: here is Stone McCarthy’s explanation of what massive reserve sequestering by foreign banks means: “Foreign banks operating in the US often lend reserves to home offices or other banks operating outside the US. These loans do not change the volume of excess reserves in the system, but do support the funding of dollar denominated assets outside the US….Foreign banks operating in the US do not present a large source of C&I, Consumer, or Real Estate Loans. These banks represent about 16% of commercial bank assets, but only about 9% of bank credit. Thus, the concern that excess reserves will quickly fuel lending activities and money growth is probably diminished by the skewing of excess reserve balances towards foreign banks.”
Which brings us to point #2: prepare for the Bernanke hearings and possible impeachment. For if it becomes popular knowledge that the Chairman of the Fed, despite explicit instructions to enforce the trickle down of “printed” dollars to US banks, was only concerned about rescuing foreign banks with the $600 billion in excess cash created out of QE2, then all political hell is about to break loose, and not even Democrats will be able to defend Bernanke’s actions to a public furious with the complete inability to procure a loan. Any loan. Furthermore the data above proves beyond a reasonable doubt why there has been no excess lending by US banks to US borrowers: none of the cash ever even made it to US banks! This also resolves the mystery of the broken money multiplier and why the velocity of money has imploded.
Implication #3 explains why the US dollar has been as week as it has since the start of QE 2. Instead of repricing the EUR to a fair value, somewhere around parity with the USD, this stealthy fund flow from the US to Europe to the tune of $600 billion has likely resulted in an artificial boost in the european currency to the tune of 2000-3000 pips, keeping it far from its fair value of about 1.1 EURUSD. If this data does not send European (read German) exporters into a blind rage, after the realization that the Fed (most certainly with the complicity of the G7) was willing to sacrifice European economic output in order to plug European bank undercapitalization, then nothing will.
But implication #4 is by far the most important. Recall that Bill Gross has long been asking where the cash to purchase bonds come the end of QE 2 would come from. Well, the punditry, in its parroting groupthink stupidity (validated by precisely zero actual research), immediately set forth the thesis that there is no problem: after all banks would simply reverse the process of reserve expansion and use the $750 billion in Cash that will be accumulated by the end of QE 2 on June 30 to purchase US Treasurys.
The above data destroys this thesis completely: since the bulk of the reserve induced bank cash has long since departed US shores and is now being used to ratably fill European bank balance sheet voids, and since US banks have benefited precisely not at all from any of the reserves generated by QE 2, there is exactly zero dry powder for the US Primary Dealers to purchase Treasurys starting July 1.
This observation may well be the missing link that justifies the Gross argument, as it puts to rest any speculation that there is any buyer remaining for Treasurys. Alas: the digital cash generated by the Fed’s computers has long since been spent… a few thousand miles east of the US.
Which leads us to implication #5. QE 3 is a certainty. The one thing people focus on during every episode of monetary easing is the change in Fed assets, which courtesy of LSAP means a jump in Treasurys, MBS, Agency paper, or (for the tin foil brigade) ES: the truth is all these are a distraction. The one thing people always forget is the change in Fed liabilities, all of them: currency in circulation, which has barely budged in the past 3 years, and far more importantly- excess reserves, which as this article demonstrates, is the electronic “cash” that goes to needy banks the world over in order to fund this need or that. In fact, it is the need to expand the Fed’s liabilities that is and has always been a driver of monetary stimulus, not the need to boost Fed assets. The latter is, counterintuitively, merely a mathematical aftereffect of matching an asset-for-liability expansion.
This means that as banks are about to face yet another risk flaring episode in the next several months, the Fed will need to release another $500-$1000 billion in excess reserves. As to what asset will be used to match this balance sheet expansion, why take your pick; the Fed could buy MBS, Muni bonds, Treasurys, or go Japanese, and purchase ETFs, REITs, or just go ahead and outright buy up every underwater mortgage in the US. This side of the ledger is largely irrelevant, and will serve only two functions: to send the S&P surging, and to send the precious metal complex surging2 as it becomes clear that the dollar is now entirely worthless.
That said, of all of the above, the one we are most looking forward to is the impeachment of Ben Bernanke: because if there is one definitive proof of the Fed abdicating any and all of its mandates, and merely playing the role of globofunder explicitly at the expense of US consumers and borrowers, not to mention lackey for the banking syndicate, this is it.