Posts Tagged ‘Germany’
The economic implosion of Europe is accelerating. Even while the mainstream media continues to proclaim that the financial crisis in Europe has been “averted”, the economic statistics that are coming out of Europe just continue to get worse. Manufacturing activity in Europe has been contracting month after month, the unemployment rate in the eurozone has hit yet another brand new record high, and the official unemployment rates in both Greece and Spain are now much higher than the peak unemployment rate in the United States during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The economic situation in Europe is far worse than it was a year ago, and it is going to continue to get worse as austerity continues to take a huge toll on the economies of the eurozone. It would be hard to understate how bad things have gotten – particularly in southern Europe. The truth is that most of southern Europe is experiencing a full-blown economic depression right now. Sadly, most Americans are paying very little attention to what is going on across the Atlantic. But they should be watching, because this is what happens when nations accumulate too much debt. The United States has the biggest debt burden of all, and eventually what is happening over in Spain, France, Italy, Portugal and Greece is going to happen over here as well.
The following are 20 facts about the collapse of Europe that everyone should know…
#1 10 Months: Manufacturing activity in both France and Germany has contracted for 10 months in a row.
#2 11.8 Percent: The unemployment rate in the eurozone has now risen to 11.8 percent – a brand new all-time high.
#3 17 Months: In November, Italy experienced the sharpest decline in retail sales that it had experienced in 17 months.
#4 20 Months: Manufacturing activity in Spain has contracted for 20 months in a row.
#5 20 Percent: It is estimated that bad loans now make up approximately 20 percent of all domestic loans in the Greek banking system at this point.
#6 22 Percent: A whopping 22 percent of the entire population of Ireland lives in jobless households.
#7 26 Percent: The unemployment rate in Greece is now 26 percent. A year ago it was only 18.9 percent.
#8 26.6 Percent: The unemployment rate in Spain has risen to an astounding 26.6 percent.
#9 27.0 Percent: The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 in Cyprus. Back in 2008, this number was well below 10 percent.
#10 28 Percent: Sales of French-made vehicles in November were down 28 percent compared to a year earlier.
#11 36 Percent: Today, the poverty rate in Greece is 36 percent. Back in 2009 it was only about 20 percent.
#12 37.1 Percent: The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 in Italy – a brand new all-time high.
#13 44 Percent: An astounding 44 percent of the entire population of Bulgaria is facing “severe material deprivation”.
#14 56.5 Percent: The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 in Spain – a brand new all-time high.
#15 57.6 Percent: The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 in Greece – a brand new all-time high.
#16 60 Percent: Citigroup is projecting that there is a 60 percent probability that Greece will leave the eurozone within the next 12 to 18 months.
#17 70 Percent: It has been reported that some homes in Spain are being sold at a 70% discount from where they were at during the peak of the housing bubble back in 2006. At this point there are approximately 2 million unsold homes in Spain.
#18 200 Percent: The debt to GDP ratio in Greece is rapidly approaching 200 percent.
#19 1997: According to the Committee of French Automobile Producers, 2012 was the worst year for the French automobile industry since 1997.
#20 2 Million: Back in 2005, the French auto industry produced about 3.5 million vehicles. In 2012, that number dropped to about 2 million vehicles.
One thing that these shocking numbers cannot convey is the tremendous amount of pain that many average Europeans are living through on a daily basis at this point. To get a peek into what life is like in Greece these days, check out this short excerpt from a recent Bloomberg article…
Anastasia Karagaitanaki, 57, is a former model and cafe owner in Thessaloniki, Greece. After losing her business to the financial crisis, she now sleeps on a daybed next to the refrigerator in her mother’s kitchen and depends on charity for food and insulin for her diabetes.
“I feel like my life has slipped through my hands,” said Karagaitanaki, whose brother also shares the one-bedroom apartment. “I feel like I’m dead.”
For thousands of Greeks like Karagaitanaki, the fabric of middle-class life is unraveling. Teachers, salaries slashed by a third, are stealing electricity. Families in once-stable neighborhoods are afraid to leave their homes because of rising street crime.
All over Europe, people that have lost all hope are actually setting themselves on fire in a desperate attempt to draw attention. Millions of formerly middle class Europeans have lost everything and are becoming increasingly desperate. Suicide and crime are skyrocketing all over southern Europe and massive street riots are erupting on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. Things are going to get even worse for Europe.
Meanwhile, those of us living in the United States smugly look down our noses at Europe because we are still living in a false bubble of debt-fueled prosperity.
But eventually we will feel the sting of austerity as well. The recent fiscal cliff deal was an indication of that. Taxes are going up and government spending is at least going to slow down. It won’t be too long before the effects of that are felt in the economy.
And of course the reality of the situation is that the U.S. economy really did not perform very well at all during 2012 when you take a look at the numbers. The cold, hard truth is that the U.S. economy has been declining for a very long time, and there are a whole bunch of reasons to expect that our decline will accelerate even further in 2013.
So if you are an American, don’t laugh at what is happening over in Europe at the moment. We are headed down the exact same path that they have gone, and we are going to experience the same kind of suffering that they are going through right now.
Use these last few “bubble months” to prepare for what is ahead. At some point this “hope bubble” will disappear and then the time for preparation will be over.
Four Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) employees arrested on allegations of obstruction of justice and money laundering were ordered to remain in custody while the investigation is pending.
The fifth suspect arrested yesterday was released because of health issues, Guenter Wittig, a spokesman for the Frankfurt General Prosecutor, said by phone today. He declined to explain the court’s ruling or identify any suspects.
The case is part of a criminal probe over tax-evasion allegations linked to the sale of carbon-emission certificates in which prosecutors are investigating a total of 25 people at Deutsche Bank. The lender’s German offices were raided yesterday and Co-Chief Executive Officer Juergen Fitschen and Chief Financial Officer Stefan Krause, who weren’t arrested, are subjects of the probe.
Criminal probe? You mean, like jailtime? Bubba dates?
This is serious and not something out of The Onion?
It appears so.
It looks like this isn’t a bunch of underlings either — the co-CEO and CFO are subjects of the probe, although they have not (yet) been charged.
If you remember there were raids on offices a couple of years ago. I, along with everyone else, assumed that the odds of an actual prosecution were slim and none, and slim left the building. After all, that’s been the pattern since 2007 – it literally doesn’t matterwhat was done, the worst that is ever assessed is a fine — which the bank can (and does) then pass onto customers and shareholders, neither of which did anything wrong.
This bears watching — especially if it manages to reach all the way up into the executive suite and tag some of the highest-ranking corporate officers.
The lack of enthusiasm for the latest effort to centralize all banking and monitory regulation within the European Central Bank suggests that the surreal struggle for continental unanimity still resides in the minds of banksters. Elites still seek to perfect the class distinguish of century old traditions, into a modern version of feudal serfdom. Globalism is the brainchild of the cabal of international banking. As long as a financial monopoly dominates political institutions, the end result will be more consolidation of the rule of the House of Rothschild.
The European Commission recently announces and lays ground for banking union.
“A new proposal would see the European Central Bank (ECB) gaining new powers to monitor the performance of the 6 000 or so banks in the eurozone. The arrangement would be known as the single supervisory mechanism.
The ECB would take over tasks such as authorizing banks and other credit institutions, ensuring they have enough (liquid) capital to continue operating even when sustaining losses and monitoring the activities of financial conglomerates.
If a bank breaches – or is at risk of breaching – capital requirements, the ECB would be able to ask the bank to take corrective action. National supervisors would meanwhile continue to carry out day-to-day checks.
A single rulebook on capital requirements, standardized deposit protection schemes and new recovery and resolution provisions – all proposed earlier in the year – would complete the ‘banking union’.”
A champion for the proposal, Michel Barnier: European banking union is “necessary and possible”, explains the scheme further.
“It is also understood the ECB will have the power to wind up banks; remove bank licenses; and force recapitalization programs when it think it’s necessary, according to the documents.
The ECB will also be empowered to “enter into administrative arrangements” with regulators outside the eurozone – or act and negotiate on behalf of all members in talks on global financial regulation.”
The City of London has never been a keen supporter of European governance. Britain opposes ECB as head of Banking Union illustrates push back.
“Britain is pushing for changes to a proposed euro zone banking union to dilute the power of the European Central Bank, EU officials said, potentially hampering efforts to build the infrastructure urgently needed to underpin the euro.
Britain intends to propose a system that would give countries outside the banking union the possibility of blocking those within the project from clubbing together to shape EU-wide regulations, said EU officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The concern is that the Bank of England can find itself outvoted by the ECB on aspects of rule making,” said one official. Britain will not join the banking union.”
Another report in, Britain pushing to dilute powers of ECB in banking union, reveals the concerns about a diminished influence of the British financial houses.
“Britain’s finance minister, George Osborne, fears the ECB will use its authority to impose EU-wide regulation that would favor countries with the euro and put London’s financial centre, using sterling, at a disadvantage.
“It seems unlikely that the ECB would ride roughshod over the wishes of the Bank of England, but that is what the British Treasury is worried about,” said the first official. “They want safeguards to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Britain and all other members of the European Union must give the green light to the banking union before it can go ahead, an approval that could be delayed or withheld if London’s concerns are not addressed.”
Empowering the European Central Bank regulatory authority over every country as part of the broad EU coalition requires surrender of even more national sovereignty.
Since the initial pronouncement for a single supervisory mechanism, acceptance for a new European Central Bank Headquarters in Frankfurt Germany has shown caution.
In the article, Germany’s Merkel, Sweden’s Reinfeldt:Banking Union Must Be Done Right, even Angela Merkel told reporters, “Quality is more important than speed“.
“Mr. Reinfeldt said Sweden wasn’t fundamentally opposed to banking union, but added: “We don’t think suggestions on the table now are ready. It would be better to get it right than rush it through.”
He also said that although Sweden isn’t in the euro zone, Sweden must have influence over decisions taken that could have an impact on his country’s banks. “If we take part, we want to have influence. And we do not find in the current proposal that we have that,” Mr. Reinfeldt said.”
Germany having lost two military world wars, wants to win the financial conflict for dominance of Europe. However, is the relative prosperity of the German economy healthy enough to carry the burden of the bankrupt sister nations on the continent?
While the prospects of a single supervisory mechanism are profoundly disturbing, the forecast of globalized integration into a one-world economy is even worse. At stake is a total elimination of the national identity and home rule.
Essentially the will of the “people” demonstrated by numerous referendums, have sought to limit the centralization overreach of the European Commission. Now that the power grab of the European Central Bank is in motion, the communal interests of Europeans needs to reflect disgust for the administrative technocrats that seek to impose their will across national borders.
It seems the lessons of centuries are so soon forgotten, when the illusory and outlandish nightmare, that a centralized banking cartel is the best form for political government. Absent from the fiscal equation is that the Federal Reserve has been bailing out the failed ECB. MarketWatch reports in Fed bails out Europe while ECB dithers.
“On one level, it’s almost funny to call offering dollars at a cheaper rate to foreign banks “coordinated” action.
It’s only coordinated in the sense that the Federal Reserve is printing the dollars and the European Central Bank and other central banks put the greenbacks in the virtual vaults of mangled commercial banks that are drowning in European debt. See story on Fed action.”
The central banks are the problem, not the solution; and the only way to regain economic prosperity and political independence is to repudiate the illicit debt extortion.
Of course we are not going to see hyperinflation in the U.S. this week or this month.
But don’t think that it will never happen.
The people of Germany never thought that it would happen to them, but it did.
The following is an excerpt from a Wikipedia article about the Weimar Republic. Take note of the similarities between what the Weimar Republic experienced and what we are going through today….
The cause of the immense acceleration of prices that occurred during the German hyperinflation of 1922–23 seemed unclear and unpredictable to those who lived through it, but in retrospect was relatively simple. The Treaty of Versailles imposed a huge debt on Germany that could be paid only in gold or foreign currency. With its gold depleted, the German government attempted to buy foreign currency with German currency, but this caused the German Mark to fall rapidly in value, which greatly increased the number of Marks needed to buy more foreign currency. This caused German prices of goods to rise rapidly which increase the cost of operating the German government which could not be financed by raising taxes. The resulting budget deficit increased rapidly and was financed by the central bank creating more money. When the German people realized that their money was rapidly losing value, they tried to spend it quickly. This increase in monetary velocity caused still more rapid increase in prices which created a vicious cycle. This placed the government and banks between two unacceptable alternatives: if they stopped the inflation this would cause immediate bankruptcies, unemployment, strikes, hunger, violence, collapse of civil order, insurrection, and revolution. If they continued the inflation they would default on their foreign debt. The attempts to avoid both unemployment and insolvency ultimately failed when Germany had both.
When the Weimar Republic first started rapidly printing money everything seemed fine at first. Economic activity was buzzing and unemployment was very low.
But as the following chart shows, when hyperinflation kicks in, it can happen very quickly. By late 1922, the effects of all of the money printing were really starting to hit the German economy….
Once you start printing money it is really, really hard to stop.
By late 1922, inflation was officially out of control. An article in The Economist described what happened next….
Prices roared up. So did unemployment, modest as 1923 began. As October ended, 19% of metal-workers were officially out of work, and half of those left were on short time. Feeble attempts had been made to stabilise prices. Some German states had issued their own would-be stable currency: Baden’s was secured on the revenue of state forests, Hanover’s convertible into a given quantity of rye. The central authorities issued what became known as “gold loan” notes, payable in 1935. Then, on November 15th, came the Rentenmark, worth 1,000 billion paper marks, or just under 24 American cents, like the gold mark of 1914.
Hyperinflation hurts the poor, the elderly and those on fixed incomes the worst. The following is an excerpt from a work by Adam Fergusson….
The rentier classes who depended on savings or pensions, and anyone on a fixed income, were soon in penury, their possessions sold. Barter often took over from purchase. By law rents could not be raised, which allowed employers to pay low wages and impoverished landlords in a country where renting was the norm. The professional classes — lawyers, doctors, scientists, professors — found little demand for their services. In due course, the trade unions, no longer able to strike for higher wages (often uncertain what to ask for, so fast became the mark’s fall from day to day), went to the wall, too.
Workers regularly got wage increases during this time, but they never seemed to keep up with the horrible inflation that was raging all around them. So they steadily became poorer even though the amount of money they were bringing home was steadily increasing.
People started to lose all faith in the currency and in the financial system. This had an absolutely devastating effect on the German population. American author Pearl Buck was living in Germany at the time and the following is what she wrote about what she saw….
“The cities were still there, the houses not yet bombed and in ruins, but the victims were millions of people. They had lost their fortunes, their savings; they were dazed and inflation-shocked and did not understand how it had happened to them and who the foe was who had defeated them. Yet they had lost their self-assurance, their feeling that they themselves could be the masters of their own lives if only they worked hard enough; and lost, too, were the old values of morals, of ethics, of decency.”
Of course not everyone in Germany was opposed to the rampant inflation that was happening. There were some business people that became very wealthy during this time. The hyperinflation rendered their past debts meaningless, and by investing paper money (that would soon be worthless) into assets that would greatly appreciate thanks to inflation, many of them made out like bandits.
The key was to take your paper money and spend it on something that would hold value (or even increase in value) as rapidly as possible.
The introduction of the Rentenmark brought an end to hyperinflation, but the damage to the stability of the German economy had been done. The German economy went through several wild swings which ultimately resulted in the rise of the Nazis. The following description of this time period is from an article by Alex Kurtagic….
The post-hyperinflationary credit crunch was, not surprisingly followed by a credit boom: starved of money and basic necessities for so long (do not forget the hyperinflation had come directly after defeat in The Great War), many funded lavish lifestyles through borrowing during the second half of the 1920s. We know how that ended, of course: in The Great Depression, which eventually saw the end of the Weimar Republic and the beginning of the National Socialist era.
By the end of the decade unemployment really started to take hold in Germany as the following statistics reveal….
September 1928 – 650,000 unemployed
September 1929 – 1,320,000 unemployed
September 1930 – 3,000,000 unemployed
September 1931 – 4,350,000 unemployed
September 1932 – 5,102,000 unemployed
January 1933 – 6,100,000 unemployed
By the end of 1932, over 30 percent of all German workers were unemployed. This created an environment where people were hungry for “change”.
On January 30th, 1933 Hitler was sworn in as chancellor, and the rest is history.
So where will all of this money printing take America?
As I wrote about in a previous article, the amount of excess reserves that banks have stashed with the Federal Reserve has risen from about 9 billion dollars on September 10th, 2008 to about 1.5 trillion dollars today….
What is going to happen to inflation when all of those excess reserves start flowing out into the regular economy?
It won’t be pretty.
Just consider the ominous words that Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser used earlier this week….
“Inflation is going to occur when excess reserves of this huge balance sheet begin to flow outside into the real economy. I can’t tell you when that’s going to happen.”
“When that does begin if we don’t engage in a fairly aggressive and effective policy of preventing that from happening, there’s no question in my mind that that will lead to lots of inflation.”
And so what is Bernanke doing?
He is printing up lots more money.
But isn’t this supposed to help the economy?
I wouldn’t count on it.
According to USA Today, the following is what Plosser says about the effect that QE3 is likely to have on our economy….
“We are unlikely to see much benefit to growth or to employment from further asset purchases.”
But we will get more inflation, so our monthly budgets will not go as far as they did before.
The other day I was going to the supermarket, and my wife told me that she wanted some croissants. When I got to the bakery section I discovered that it was $4.49 for just four croissants.
If it had just been for me, I would have never gotten them. I am the kind of shopper that doesn’t even want to look at something unless there is a sale tag on it.
But I did get the croissants for my wife.
Unfortunately, thanks to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke soon none of us may be able to afford to buy croissants.
I still remember the days when I could fill up my entire shopping cart for 20 bucks.
And it was not that long ago – I am talking about the late 90s.
But paying more for food is not the greatest danger we are facing. Bernanke is destroying the credibility of our currency and he is destroying faith in our financial system.
Bernanke may believe that he is preventing the next great collapse from happening, but the truth is that what he is doing is going to make the eventual collapse far worse.
Better get your wheelbarrows ready.
U.S. stock-index futures dropped as Germany and France differed on when to introduce a banking union for the euro-area and a report showed optimism among Chinese manufacturers fell, adding to concern of an economic slowdown.
Let me guess — beyond the problem that transparent balance sheets would cause for certain financial institutions in Germany (and elsewhere) riots are good for Chinese confidence, yes?
I always find it amusing when people talk about “resolving” a debt crisis while continuing to run leverage ratios at ridiculous levels and using central banks to try to play “inflate it away” (which, incidentally, cannot work.)
Speaking of which, I wish to dispell one of the common lies told about the paths available when one is overwhelmed with debt. It is often said that Europe (and the US) can “inflate away” debt with central-bank policy.
This is a lie.
It is mathematically impossible for that to work because all money is debt in a fiat currency system. Therefore, attempting to inflate away the debt is in fact counter-productive and doomed to failure, as the credit in the system, growing faster than output does, must always destroy more purchasing power than it diminishes debt in current-unit amounts.
The reason is that economics has slippage, and thus behaves much like a system subject to the laws of thermodynamics. That is, all economic actions have loss in some form or fashion; they are less than 100% efficient. To no small degree this is because government is always involved somewhere in the economy, but that is not the only reason — private parties always have some waste in their economic processes as well, as we all interact with the material world and that interaction is always less than 100% efficient.
This, in the end, leads one to the inexorable conclusion that there are in fact only two ways out of having too much debt — one can either cut the spending and raise the taxes required to stop increasing deficits at a government level, and stop the unsustainable spending in the private economy, or bankruptcy is inevitable.
The United States has a different set of problems that Europe to a large degree mostly because our deficits come from two places — defense and health care. As I have previously expounded upon the health care spending issues are not about Medicare and Medicaid per-se; they are instead about the health system itself and the unjust and unsustainable monopoly-style practices that health providers of all sorts have managed to carve out in the law over the previous 50 years. Likewise, our defense posture and spending, which is also grossly unsustainable, is nearly all about our energy policy — or rather the lack of one.
Neither of these issues can be resolved by simply “fixing the budget”; one must remove the special protections in the health care system and allow competition to come back into the fore, which will inevitably result in a short-term contraction in GDP (and a large one at that) as realignment occurs. Likewise, we must also solve our energy dependence, which will in turn make our military protectionism unnecessary and allow for contraction of our defense spending.
But neither of these are likely on a voluntary basis; both are political hot potatoes and none of the candidates for high office are even talking about these facts.
You cannot solve a problem until you admit you have it.
There was a time about a year ago, before the second Greek bailout was formalized and the haircut on its domestic-law private sector bonds (first 50%, ultimately 80%, soon to be 100%) was yet to be documented, when it was in Greece’s interest to misrepresent its economy as being worse than it was in reality. Things got so bad that the former head of the Greek Statistics Bureau Elstat, also a former IMF employee, faced life in prison if convicted of doing precisely this.
A year later, the tables have turned, now that Germany is virtually convinced that Europe can pull a Lehman and let Greece leave the Eurozone, and is merely looking for a pretext to sever all ties with the country, whose only benefit for Europe is to be a seller of islands at Blue Aegean water Special prices to assorted Goldman bankers (at least until it renationalizes them back in a few short years). So a year later we are back to a more normal data fudging dynamic, one in which Greece, whose July unemployment soared by one whole percentage point, will do everything in its power to underrepresent its soaring budget deficit.
Case in point, on Friday the Finance Ministry proudly announced its budget deficit for the first eight months was “just” €12.5 billion, versus a target of €15.2 billion, leading some to wonder how it was possible that a country that has suffered terminal economic collapse, and in which the tax collectors have now joined everyone in striking and thus not collecting any tax revenue, could have a better than expected budget deficit. Turns out the answer was quite simple. According to Spiegel, Greece was lying about everything all along, and instead of a €12.5 billion deficit, the real revenue shortfall is nearly double this, or €20 billion, a number which will hardly incentivize anyone in Germany to give Greece the benefit of another delay, let along a third bailout as is now speculated.
To quote Greg House: “Everybody lies”
The gap in the Greek national budget is greater than previously expected. According to a preliminary Der Spiegel finding, the troika of European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund reported that the government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is missing currently around 20 billion euros - nearly twice as much as last admitted. Only if the funding gap is closed, the next EU tranche will be transferred to Athens.
What is well-known is that for all intents and purposes Greece has already stopped trying:
That Greece can bridge the financing gap on its own seems unlikely. The already adopted austerity program has encountered great opposition in the population. In one published study in Athens on Saturday 90 percent of survey respondents declared that the new reform package go almost exclusively to the detriment of the poorer sections of the population. Only 33 percent also believe that the new cuts in the social network can not solve the country’s problems would be. Nevertheless, 67 percent of respondents argued that Greece remains in the euro zone.
But at what cost? Already 8000 people in Athens alone have to resort to soup kitchens to find some food in a country in which there are virtually no opportunities left to make a living.
Sure enough, in a world in which no politician has any credibility left, it took Greece a few short hours to issue its canned response to the allegation that it has been making up numbers all along… as usual. Per Dow Jones:
Greece’s finance ministry late Sunday refuted a report in a German magazine claiming that Athens must cover a 20 billion euros ($26 billion) budget shortfall–twice previous estimates–in order to satisfy international conditions for emergency aid.
Now we just need two more denials to have no doubt that every number out of that particular economic basked case is a lie. Which we don’t now. Don’t forget: this is what the Greek Finance Ministry looks like:
And the kicker of course is that as reported on Friday, Europe is now desperate to not rock the boat ahead of the Obama reelection, because as Reuters reported all of Europe wants to give Obama a second term. Which makes sense: in a world of wealth redistribution, it will be only fair that America, which has taken the place of China as the world’s growth dynamo, and where fund flows out of Europe have pushed the S&P to a few percentage point shy of all time highs, will repay its reelection debt to Europe for avoiding reality as long as possible, by “sharing” US taxpayer funding, from those who for one reason or another still pay taxes, with its European proletariat cousins and bailout all of Europe’s insolvent countries on Uncle Sam’s tab yet again, starting just after November 6, 2012.
Because it’s only “fair.”