Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Gold vs Cash in a Financial Crisis - Richard_Mills
2.Current Stock Market Rally Similarities To 1999 - Chris_Vermeulen
3.America See You On The Dark Side Of The Moon - Part2 - James_Quinn
4.Stock Market Trend Forecast Outlook for 2020 - Nadeem_Walayat
5.Who Said Stock Market Traders and Investor are Emotional Right Now? - Chris_Vermeulen
6.Gold Upswing and Lessons from Gold Tops - P_Radomski_CFA
7.Economic Tribulation is Coming, and Here is Why - Michael_Pento
8.What to Expect in Our Next Recession/Depression? - Raymond_Matison
9.The Fed Celebrates While Americans Drown in Financial Despair - John_Mauldin
10.Hi-yo Silver Away! - Richard_Mills
Last 7 days
United States Coronavirus Infections and Deaths Trend Forecasts Into End April 2020 - 29th Mar 20
Some Positives in a Virus Wracked World - 29th Mar 20
Expert Tips to Save on Your Business’s Office Supply Purchases - 29th Mar 20
An Investment in Life - 29th Mar 20
Sheffield Coronavirus Pandemic Infections and Deaths Forecast - 29th Mar 20
UK Coronavirus Infections and Deaths Projections Trend Forecast - Video - 28th Mar 20
The Great Coronavirus Depression - Things Are Going to Change. Here’s What We Should Do - 28th Mar 20
One of the Biggest Stock Market Short Covering Rallies in History May Be Imminent - 28th Mar 20
The Fed, the Coronavirus and Investing - 28th Mar 20
Women’s Fashion Trends in the UK this 2020 - 28th Mar 20
The Last Minsky Financial Snowflake Has Fallen – What Now? - 28th Mar 20
UK Coronavirus Infections and Deaths Projections Trend Forecast Into End April 2020 - 28th Mar 20
DJIA Coronavirus Stock Market Technical Trend Analysis - 27th Mar 20
US and UK Case Fatality Rate Forecast for End April 2020 - 27th Mar 20
US Stock Market Upswing Meets Employment Data - 27th Mar 20
Will the Fed Going Nuclear Help the Economy and Gold? - 27th Mar 20
What you need to know about the impact of inflation - 27th Mar 20
CoronaVirus Herd Immunity, Flattening the Curve and Case Fatality Rate Analysis - 27th Mar 20
NHS Hospitals Before Coronavirus Tsunami Hits (Sheffield), STAY INDOORS FINAL WARNING! - 27th Mar 20
CoronaVirus Curve, Stock Market Crash, and Mortgage Massacre - 27th Mar 20
Finding an Expert Car Accident Lawyer - 27th Mar 20
We Are Facing a Depression, Not a Recession - 26th Mar 20
US Housing Real Estate Market Concern - 26th Mar 20
Covid-19 Pandemic Affecting Bitcoin - 26th Mar 20
Italy Coronavirus Case Fataility Rate and Infections Trend Analysis - 26th Mar 20
Why Is Online Gambling Becoming More Popular? - 26th Mar 20
Dark Pools of Capital Profiting from Coronavirus Stock Markets CRASH! - 26th Mar 20
CoronaVirus Herd Immunity and Flattening the Curve - 25th Mar 20
Coronavirus Lesson #1 for Investors: Beware Predictions of Stock Market Bottoms - 25th Mar 20
CoronaVirus Stock Market Trend Implications - 25th Mar 20
Pandemonium in Precious Metals Market as Fear Gives Way to Command Economy - 25th Mar 20
Pandemics and Gold - 25th Mar 20
UK Coronavirus Hotspots - Cities with Highest Risks of Getting Infected - 25th Mar 20
WARNING US Coronavirus Infections and Deaths Going Ballistic! - 24th Mar 20
Coronavirus Crisis - Weeks Where Decades Happen - 24th Mar 20
Industry Trends: Online Casinos & Online Slots Game Market Analysis - 24th Mar 20
Five Amazingly High-Tech Products Just on the Market that You Should Check Out - 24th Mar 20
UK Coronavirus WARNING - Infections Trend Trajectory Worse than Italy - 24th Mar 20
Rick Rule: 'A Different Phrase for Stocks Bear Market Is Sale' - 24th Mar 20
Stock Market Minor Cycle Bounce - 24th Mar 20
Gold’s century - While stocks dominated headlines, gold quietly performed - 24th Mar 20
Big Tech Is Now On The Offensive Against The Coronavirus - 24th Mar 20
Socialism at Its Finest after Fed’s Bazooka Fails - 24th Mar 20
Dark Pools of Capital Profiting from Coronavirus Stock and Financial Markets CRASH! - 23rd Mar 20
Will Trump’s Free Cash Help the Economy and Gold Market? - 23rd Mar 20
Coronavirus Clarifies Priorities - 23rd Mar 20
Could the Coronavirus Cause the Next ‘Arab Spring’? - 23rd Mar 20
Concerned About The US Real Estate Market? Us Too! - 23rd Mar 20
Gold Stocks Peak Bleak? - 22nd Mar 20
UK Supermarkets Coronavirus Panic Buying, Empty Tesco Shelves, Stock Piling, Hoarding Preppers - 22nd Mar 20
US Coronavirus Infections and Deaths Going Ballistic as Government Start to Ramp Up Testing - 21st Mar 20
Your Investment Portfolio for the Next Decade—Fix It with the “Anti-Stock” - 21st Mar 20
CORONA HOAX: This Is Almost Completely Contrived and Here’s Proof - 21st Mar 20
Gold-Silver Ratio Tops 100; Silver Headed For Sub-$10 - 21st Mar 20
Coronavirus - Don’t Ask, Don’t Test - 21st Mar 20
Napag and Napag Trading Best Petroleum & Crude Oil Company - 21st Mar 20
UK Coronavirus Infections Trend Trajectory Worse than Italy - Government PANICs! Sterling Crashes! - 20th Mar 20
UK Critical Care Nurse Cries at Empty SuperMarket Shelves, Coronavirus Panic Buying Stockpiling - 20th Mar 20
Coronavirus Is Not an Emergency. It’s a War - 20th Mar 20
Why You Should Invest in the $5 Gold Coin - 20th Mar 20
Four Key Stock Market Questions To This Coronavirus Crisis Everyone is Asking - 20th Mar 20
Gold to Silver Ratio’s Breakout – Like a Hot Knife Through Butter - 20th Mar 20
The Coronavirus Contraction - Only Cooperation Can Defeat Impending Global Crisis - 20th Mar 20
Is This What Peak Market Fear Looks Like? - 20th Mar 20
Alessandro De Dorides - Business Consultant - 20th Mar 20
Why a Second Depression is Possible but Not Likely - 20th Mar 20

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Coronavirus-bear-market-2020-analysis

Market "Thumbs Down" on the EU Bailout

Politics / Euro-Zone May 15, 2010 - 12:20 PM GMT

By: Mike_Whitney

Politics

Barack Obama must have been very frightened, indeed. Otherwise he never would have inserted himself so forcefully into Greece's debt crisis. The truth is, there's much more at stake then people seem to realize. A Greek default would be a major blow to the banking system and the damage would not be limited just to Europe. It could easily spread to the United States and trigger another meltdown. That's why Obama spent most of his weekend on the phone, exhorting EU finance ministers to take swift action to put out the brushfire. Not surprisingly, the details were omitted in the US. media. Here's an excerpt from the UK Independent explaining what happened behind the scenes last weekend:


"As the dust settles and the markets cool, details are beginning to emerge of the frantic background negotiations which generated the €750bn plan to save the euro in the early hours of Monday.....the most startling – and most pivotal role – may have been played by Barack Obama, according to both American and French officials. He convinced the Europeans that it was time not just to Do Something, but to Do Something Very Big, to rescue the euro and prevent the world from plunging into another financial crisis and recession.....

It was after these calls that the headline figure for the EU rescue plan inflated rapidly to €500bn, plus another €250bn from the IMF." ("Was the euro saved by a call from Barack Obama?", John Lichfield, Independent)

The Telegraph's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard tells a similar tale, but with a twist. In this incident, Obama spoke directly to Spanish Premier Jose Luis Zapatero. Here's an excerpt from the Telegraph:

"Premier Jose Luis Zapatero told a stunned nation that public sector pay will be reduced by 5 percent this year and frozen in 2011...Pension rises will be shelved. The country’s €2,500 baby bonus will be canceled. Aid to the regions will be slashed and infrastructure projects will be put on ice....

US President Barack Obama played a key role behind the scenes, pleading with Mr Zapatero for "resolute action". The telephone call from the White House is a clear indication that contagion from Greece and Portugal to the much larger debt markets of Spain had become a global systemic threat by late last week.

"The markets were going in for the kill: the eurozone itself was on the brink of collapse," said Jose Garcia Zarate from 4Cast." ("EU imposes wage cuts on Spanish 'Protectorate", Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph)

Is that why Obama was twisting arms all Saturday and Sunday, because he thought the EU might collapse? Does that explain why the Federal Reserve reopened its controversial swap lines with European central banks, providing unlimited short-term loans in dollars for collateral to prop up the euro and exposing the US to tens of billions in potential losses without congressional approval? And is that why ECB chief Jean Claude Trichet reversed his position on monetization and agreed to initiate an EU quantitative easing (QE) program to would buy up government and corporate bonds?

What's clear, is that very little of last weekend's behind-the-scenes maneuvering had anything to do with the problems facing ordinary Greeks, who are merely the victims in this latest bank bailout fiasco.

Greece will not escape default, so it's not in its long-term interests to stick with the euro. That just ensures years of high unemployment, severe cuts to public spending, and neverending recession. A return to the drachma would provide an opportunity to restructure debt and regain fiscal equilibrium via devaluation. It would give Greek exports and tourism a boost by making them instantly cheaper. Economist Mark Weisbrot explains the shortcomings of the EU strategy in an op-ed in the New York Times. He says:

"The problem is one of irrational economic policy. The Greek government has reached an agreement with the E.U..... and the I.M.F. that will make the current economic problems even worse....

The projections show that if their program “works,” Greece’s debt will rise from 115 percent of gross domestic product today to 149 percent in 2013. This means that in less than three years, and most likely sooner, Greece will be facing the same crisis that it faces today......The Greek people will go through a lot of suffering, their economy will shrink and their debt burden will grow, and then they will very likely face the same choice of debt rescheduling, restructuring, or default — and/or leaving the Euro." ("The EU's Dangerous Game", Mark Weisbrot, New York Times)

No country large or small has managed to close a fiscal gap as large as 10.9% of GDP. (which is what Greece is being asked to do) It's cruel, especially in an environment where deflation is gradually tightening its grip. Greece needs counter-cyclical fiscal stimulus to get out of the hole its in and to grow its way out of recession. The EU plan implements an anti-Keynesian regimen that is the exact opposite of Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) the $787 billion fiscal stimulus package to build aggregate demand and lower unemployment. The EU has no funding mechanism to implement such a plan, so it is prescribing extreme austerity measures instead. It's unrealistic and it won't work.

Greece didn't create this crisis by itself anyway. It had help from Germany. Germany dictates monetary policy in the EU, which means that it bears much of the responsibility for the deficit-mess in the south. Of course, now that the countries that enriched Berlin (by gobbling up their exports) are flailing about in red ink, German politicians have started lecturing them about the evils of profligate spending. Here's how Michael Pettis sums it up:

"The strong euro and burgeoning liquidity it brought on meant that much of Germany’s trade surplus had to be absorbed within the eurozone, forcing especially southern Europe into high trade deficits. These deficits were dismissed, very foolishly it turns out, and against all historical precedents, as being easily managed as long as the sanctity of the euro was maintained.....

As I see it, domestic German policies, perhaps aimed at absorbing East German unemployment, forced a structural trade surplus. The strong euro, along with the automatic recycling of Germany’s large trade surplus within Europe, ensured the corresponding trade deficits in the rest of Europe – unless Europeans were willing to enact policies that raised unemployment in order to counter the deficits. As long as the ECB refused to raise interest rates, southern Europe had to accept asset bubbles and rapidly rising debt-fueled consumption.

This couldn’t go on forever, or even for very long. Now southern Europe is paying the inevitable price, and of course the moralists are accusing the south of being shiftless and lazy, confusing the automatic balancing mechanisms in the balance of payments with moral weakness." ("Are you ready for the united States of Germany?", Michael Pettis, China Financial Markets)

Only a small portion of the nearly-$1 trillion bailout will go to Greece. And, even that pittance comes with strict "belt-tightening" conditions. The bulk of the funds will be held in an structured investment vehicle (SIV) as a way to ward off speculators who smell blood in the water and think they can make a killing by toppling sovereign bond markets in Portugal, Spain and Italy.

Obama's concern is that a Greek default will put pressure on French and German banks (which have 110 billion-euro exposure) that will start the dominoes tumbling again. According to Dow Jones, "JP Morgan's holdings of non-U.S. government bonds increased by $36.5 billion in 2009, while Citigroup's increased by almost $40 B." ("The European Bailout", James Hamilton, Econbrowser)

So, despite the cheery news this week that all four of the nation's biggest banks (Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Citigroup) racked up perfect quarters off their trading desks, (showing that the Fed's liquidity and zero-rates has restored profitability) the banking system is STILL so weak that the President of the United States has to spend his whole weekend hectoring heads-of-state throughout Euroland to beef up their bailout or the whole financial system will come crashing down.

What does that tell us? It tells us that the whole "recovery" meme is a fraud. It tells us that the banks (where lending is down 20 percent, and foreclosures are running at 300,000 per month) are once again engaged in the riskiest type of speculation; that they're using complex financial assets and repo to maximize leverage to goose profits in the middle of a slump. And, it tells us that Obama is Wall Street's biggest champion, a real "enabler" in chief.

Greece should walk away from this farce and start fresh. "Thumbs down" on the EU bailout.

By Mike Whitney

Email: fergiewhitney@msn.com

Mike is a well respected freelance writer living in Washington state, interested in politics and economics from a libertarian perspective.

© 2010 Copyright Mike Whitney - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

Mike Whitney Archive

© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules