This post was published at World Alternative Media
In a report released today by DBRS titled “Consumer debt and debt burden”, the rating agency which is best known for keep Italian debt eligible for ECB monetization at the peak of the European banking crisis, looks at the latest Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit issued by the NY Fed (discussed here previously) which showed that consumer debt for the third quarter of 2017 was approximately $12.96 trillion, representing an increase of $116 billion over the second quarter of 2017. The debt level for the first three quarters of 2017 has continued to increase above the previous record debt level which was established in the third quarter of 2008 as shown in Exhibit 1 below.
DBRS also highlights that not only did total debt levels increase, but their composition changed as highlighted in Exhibit 2 below.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 30, 2017.
Just don’t mention ‘Antonveneta.’ By Don Quijones, Spain, UK, & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET. A blame game has begun in Italy that risks casting a bright light on the leadership of both the Bank of Italy and Italy’s financial markets regulator Consob. The controversial decision to award the central bank’s current Chairman Ignazio Visco a fresh six-year mandate despite presiding over one of the worst banking crises in living memory has ignited a tug-of-war between political parties and the president, who makes the ultimate decision on who to appoint as central bank chief.
The first to cast aspersions was Italy’s former premier Matteo Renzi, who, no doubt in an effort to distract from his own party’s part in the collapse of Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), called into question the supervisory role of both the Bank of Italy and Consob during Italy’s banking crisis.
Silvio Berlusconi, a key player in the center-right coalition whose party came out on top in recent elections in Sicily, was next to join the fray. ‘The Bank of Italy did not exercise the control that was expected of it,’ he told reporters in Brussels in response to a pointed question about Visco.
This post was published at Wolf Street on Nov 22, 2017.
Subtly, the EU is looking to establish preparations for the coming banking crisis and how to protect the banks from massive withdrawals. The solution? The EU wants to be able to temporarily free up credits for the banks and at the same time to freeze bank deposits, In other words, like Greece, you just won’t be able to withdraw funds. Obviously, everything will be frozen. The current EU plan envisages blocking account disbursements for five working days and with the authority to extend any suspension to up to 20 days. They may need longer!
This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Nov 16, 2017.
Mark Thornton of the Mises Institute and our good friend Claudio Grass recently discussed a number of key issues, sharing their perspectives on important economic and geopolitical developments that are currently on the minds of many US and European citizens.
A video of the interview can be found at the end of this post. Claudio provided us with a written summary of the interview which we present below – we have added a few remarks in brackets (we strongly recommend checking the podcast out in its entirety – there is a lot more than is covered by the summary).
We currently find ourselves in a historically and economically significant transition period. The already overstretched bubble in the markets is still expanding, but we now see bold moves by the Fed to reduce its balance sheet, at the same time the ECB plans to taper, overall presenting us with a fairly deflationary outlook. This reversal of the expansionary policies of the last decade can be seen as the first step toward a potentially ferocious correction in the not-too-distant future.
The ECB is trapped, as it already holds 40% of euro zone sovereign debt. At the same time, Spain, Italy and Greece continue to potentially present major challenges, as a banking crisis could easily reemerge in these countries [ed note: banks in Europe have managed to boost their capital ratios, but the amount of legacy non-performing loans in the system remains close to EUR 1 trn. Moreover, TARGET-2 imbalances have recently reached new record highs, a strong sign that the underlying systemic imbalances remain as pronounced as ever]. Mario Draghi intends to reduce the ECB’s asset purchases from EUR60 billion to EUR30 billion per month. He may soon realize that if the ECB does not buy euro zone bonds, no-one will.
This post was published at Acting-Man on November 14, 2017.
‘We had a banking crisis, a fiscal crisis and we spent lot of the tax-payers’ money – in the wrong way, in my opinion – to save the banks’ outgoing Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem said adding ‘so that the people criticizing us and saying that everything was being done for the benefit of the banks were to some extent right.’
As KeepTalkingGreece.com reports, Dijsselbloem was responding to a question posed by leftist MEP Nikos Chountis during a session at the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee on Thursday.
‘This is valid for the banks of all our countries. Everywhere in Europe banks were saved at taxpayers’ cost,’ he underlined. ‘This was the reason for banking union and the introduction of higher standards, better supervision and a reform and rescue framework when banks have losses,’ he said stressing ‘precisely so that we don’t find ourselves in that situation again.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 10, 2017.
Usually, a sudden stop in capital inflows sparks a currency crash, sometimes a banking crisis, and quite often a sovereign default. Why, then, has the worldwide incidence of sovereign defaults in emerging markets risen only modestly?
Booms and busts in international capital flows and commodity prices, as well as the vagaries of international interest rates, have long been associated with economic crises, especially – but not exclusively – in emerging markets. The ‘type’ of crisis varies by time and place. Sometimes the ‘sudden stop’ in capital inflows sparks a currency crash, sometimes a banking crisis, and quite often a sovereign default. Twin and triple crises are not uncommon.
The impact of these global forces on open economies, and how to manage them, has been a recurring topic of discussion among international policymakers for decades. With the prospect of the US Federal Reserve raising interest rates in the near and medium term, it is perhaps not surprising that the International Monetary Fund’s 18th Annual Research Conference, to be held on November 2-3, is devoted to the study and discussion of the global financial cycle and how it affects cross-border capital flows.
Rising international interest rates have usually been bad news for countries where the government and/or the private sector rely on external borrowing. But for many emerging markets, external conditions began to worsen around 2012, when China’s growth slowed, commodity prices plummeted, and capital flows dried up – developments that sparked a spate of currency crashes spanning nearly every region.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 6, 2017.
Just over a decade ago, as the S&P was hitting all time highs and there was a line around the block of 30-some year old hedge fund managers, desperate to put other people’s money in various ultra risky investments just so they could pick a few excess bps of yield over Treasurys – a situation painfully familiar to what is going on now – Goldman had an epiphany: create new synthetic products that have huge convexity, i.e., provide little upside (such as a few basis points pick up in yield) versus unlimited downside, link them to the shittiest assets possible and sell them to gullible, yield-chasing idiots (collecting a transaction fee) while taking the other side of the trade (collecting a huge profit once everything crashes). The instruments, of course, were CDOs, and not long after Goldman sold a whole of them, the financial system crashed and needed a multi-trillion bailout from which the world has not recovered since.
Ten years later, Goldman is doing it again, only instead of targeting subprime mortgages, this time the bank has focused on quasi-insolvent European banks.
And just like right before the last financial crash, Goldman is once again allowing its clients to profit from the upcoming collapse, or as Bloomberg puts it, “less than a decade after the last major banking crisis, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan are offering investors a new way to bet on the next one.”
The trade in question is a total return swap, a highly levered product which is similar or a credit default swap but has some nuanced differences, which targets what are known as Tier 1 , or AT1 or “buffer” notes issued by European banks, and which usually are the first to get wiped out when there is even a modest insolvency event (just ask Banco Popular), let alone a full blown financial crisis.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 12, 2017.
USD-denominated debt outside the US hits record – even junk bonds.
China announced today that it would sell $2 billion in government bonds denominated in US dollars. The offering will be China’s largest dollar-bond sale ever. The last time China sold dollar-bonds was in 2004.
Investors around the globe are eager to hand China their US dollars, in exchange for a somewhat higher yield. The 10-year US Treasury yield is currently 2.34%. The 10-year yield on similar Chinese sovereign debt is 3.67%.
Credit downgrade, no problem. In September, Standard & Poor’s downgraded China’s debt (to A+) for the first time in 19 years, on worries that the borrowing binge in China will continue, and that this growing mountain of debt will make it harder for China to handle a financial shock, such as a banking crisis.
Moody’s had already downgraded China in May (to A1) for the first time in 30 years. ‘The downgrade reflects Moody’s expectation that China’s financial strength will erode somewhat over the coming years, with economy-wide debt continuing to rise as potential growth slows,’ it said.
These downgrades put Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s on the same page with Fitch, which had downgraded China in 2013.
This post was published at Wolf Street on Oct 11, 2017.
The European banking crisis is still brewing. The biggest problem rises from the rules that if a bank is in trouble, they just seize the bank and sell it for 1 and all the shareholders lose everything. This is having serious impact upon the European Banking System as a whole as I previously warned. The Italian bank Carige has had difficulty in trying to raise capital to meet requirements. If any bank cannot raise enough capital to meet the requirements, the European supervisory authorities can seize the bank in accordance with the new rules.
This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Oct 10, 2017.
Occasionally, the Irish Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) office produces some remarkable, in their honesty, and the extent of their disclosures, reports. Last month gave us one of those moment.
There are three key findings by CA&G worth highlighting.
The first one relates to corporate taxation, and the second one to the net cost of banking crisis resolution. The third one comes on foot of tax optimisation-led economy that Ireland has developed since the 1990s, most recently dubbed the Leprechaun Economics by Paul Krugman that resulted in a dramatic increase in Irish contributions to the EU budget (computed as a share of GDP) just as the Irish authorities were forced to admit that MNCs’ chicanery, not real economic activity, accounted for 1/3 of the Irish economy. All three are linked:
Irish banking crisis was enabled by the combination of a property bubble that was co-founded by tax optimisation running rampant across Irish economic development model since the 1990s; and by loose money / capital flows within the EU, which was part and parcel of our membership in the euro area. The same membership supported our FDI-focused competitive advantage. Irish recovery from the banking crisis was largely down to non-domestic factors, aka – tax optimisation-driven FDI and foreign companies activities, plus the loose money / capital flows within the EU enabled by the ECB. In a way, as Ireland paid a hefty price for European imbalances and own tax-driven economic development model in 2007-2012, so it is paying a price today for the same imbalances and the same development model-led recovery.
This post was published at True Economics on Friday, October 6, 2017.
Accounts of the financial crisis leave out the story of the secretive deals between banks that kept the show on the road. How long can the system be propped up for?
It is a decade since the first tremors of what would become the Great Financial Crisis began to convulse global markets. Across the world from China and South Korea, to Ukraine, Greece, Brexit Britain and Trump’s America it has shaken our economy, our society and latterly our politics. Indeed, it has thrown into question who ‘we’ are. It has triggered both a remarkable wave of nationalism and a deep questioning of social and economic inequalities. Politicians promise their voters that they will ‘take back control.’ But the basic framework of globalisation remains intact, so far at least. And to keep the show on the road, networks of financial and monetary co-operation have been pulled tighter than ever before.
In Britain the beginning of the crisis was straight out of economic history’s cabinet of horrors. Early in the morning of Monday 14th September 2007, queues of panicked savers gathered outside branches of the mortgage lender Northern Rock on high streets across Britain. It was – or at least so it seemed – a classic bank run. Within the year the crisis had circled the world. Wall Street was shaking, as was the City of London. The banks of South Korea, Russia, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and Iceland were all in trouble. We had seen nothing like it since 1929. Soon enough Ben Bernanke, then chairman of the US Federal Reserve and an expert on the Great Depression, said that this time it was worse.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 9, 2017.
Crescat Capital’s Q2 letter to investors shouold be retitled “everything you wanted to know about the looming bursting of the world’s biggest credit bubble… but were afraid to ask…” Don’t say we didn’t warn you…
History has proven that credit bubbles always burst. China by far is the biggest credit bubble in the world today. We layout the proof herein. There are many indicators signaling that the bursting of the China credit bubble is imminent, which we also enumerate. The bursting of the China credit bubble poses tremendous risk of global contagion because it coincides with record valuations for equities, real estate, and risky credit around the world.
The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) has identified an important warning signal to identify credit bubbles that are poised to trigger a banking crisis across different countries: Unsustainable credit growth relative to gross domestic product (GDP) in the household and (non-financial) corporate sector. Three large (G-20) countries are flashing warning signals today for impending banking crises based on such imbalances: China, Canada, and Australia.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 6, 2017.
When people think about geopolitics, they tend to think about war, as if the two issues were the same. But that is only partly true.
Geopolitics is the study of the power of nation states, and war is certainly a determinant of power. But it is only one of many. Things like economics, politics, ideology, and technology work together to form national power, and however useful it may be to learn about any single element, they are inseparable. It’s for this reason that the situation in North Korea is (rightly) seen as a geopolitical problem but the Italian banking crisis (wrongly) is not.
Before we begin…
At the risk of stating the obvious, Warren Buffett is an extraordinary forecaster. At the risk of displaying hubris, I am struck by how similar his approach to forecasting the future of companies is to our method of forecasting geopolitics.
At Geopolitical Futures, we have pinpointed a way that our similarities can benefit you. You’ll find out more at the bottom of this issue.
But for now, let’s dig in to This Week in Geopolitics.
Rooted in Geography
Multifaceted though it may be, geopolitics is nonetheless rooted in geography. Geography dictates what is possible and what is impossible. Iceland, for example, can never conquer Europe, nor will it become a major industrial power.
This post was published at Mauldin Economics on JULY 10, 2017.
The European Central Bank (ECB) has announced as of June 23rd, that it was declaring two Italian banks insolvent. Veneto Banca SpA and Banca Popolare di Vicenza SpA have failed since the two banks repeatedly violated the regulatory capital requirements. The determination was made in accordance with Article 18 (1a) and Article 18 (4a) of the Uniform Resolution Mechanism Regulation.
The European banking crisis continues.
This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Jun 24, 2017.
The European ‘bail-in’ rules have been cheered claiming taxpayer money will be spared. However, many seniors bought bank bonds for their retirement. In the rescue of the small Banca Popolare d’Etruria, a retiree who had lost more than 100,000 euros worth of bonds lost everything and committed suicide. There have been many such events that do not always make the press. In Italy, the death of a pensioner who also committed suicide after losing his life savings as a result of a controversial move by the government to rescue four banks. The 68-year-old hung himself at his home in Civitavecchia, a port town near Rome, after the so-called ‘save banks’ plan wiped out 100,000 in savings held at Banca Etruria, one of the four lenders included in the government rescue deal announced on November 22nd, 2015. There was the 23-year old who committed suicide over 8000 in debts for student loans. A Greek pensioner who was 77-years old committed suicide in central Athens shooting himself with a handgun just several hundred meters from the Greek parliament building in apparent despair over his financial debts.
This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Jun 19, 2017.
At first, deny, deny, deny. Then taxpayers get to bail out bondholders.
By Don Quijones, Spain & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.
Spain’s Banco Popular had the dubious honor of being the first financial institution to be resolved under the EU’s Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive, passed in January 2016. As a result, shareholders and subordinate bondholders were ‘bailed in’ before the bank was sold to Santander for the princely sum of one euro.
At first the operation was proclaimed a roaring success. As European banking crises go, this was an orderly one, reported The Economist. Taxpayers were not left on the hook, as long as you ignore the 5 billion of deferred tax credits Santander obtained from the operation. Depositors and senior bondholders were spared any of the fallout.
But it may not last for long, for the chances of a similar approach being adopted to Italy’s banking crisis appear to be razor slim. The ECB has already awarded Italy’s Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) a last-minute reprieve, on the grounds that while it did not pass certain parts of the ECB’s last stress test, the bank is perfectly solvent, albeit with serious liquidity problems.
This post was published at Wolf Street by Don Quijones ‘ Jun 16, 2017.