Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Gold Price Trend Forecast, Where are the Gold Traders? - Bob_Loukas
2.Stocks Bear Market of 2017 Begins? Shorting the Dow At its Peak! - Nadeem_Walayat
3.Betting on President Trump Leaving Office Early, Presidency End Date - Betfair Market - Nadeem_Walayat
4.Why Stock Market Analysts Will be Wrong About 2017 - Clif_Droke
5.Is This The Best Way For Investors To Play The Electric Car Boom - OilPrice_Com
6.Silver Price 2017 Trend Forecast Update - Video - Nadeem_Walayat
7.Gold Price Set For Very Bullish 2017, Trend Forecast - Austin_Galt
8.10 Things I learned From Meetings With Trump’s Transition Team - - John_Mauldin
9.How Investors Can Profit From Trumps Military Ambitions - OilPrice_Com
10.Channel 4 War on 'Fake News', Forgets Own Alt Reality Propaganda Broadcasting - Nadeem_Walayat
Last 7 days
US Dollar and Gold Battle of the Cycles - 21st Feb 17
NSA and CIA is the Enemy of the People - 21st Feb 17
Big Moves in the World Stock Markets - Big Bases - 21st Feb 17
Stock Market Uptrend Continues - 21st Feb 17
Brent Crude Oil Price Technical Update: Low Volatility Leads to High Volatility - 20th Feb 17
Trump’s Tax System Could Spark The Wave Of Self-Employment - 20th Feb 17
Here’s How to Stay Ahead of Machines and AI - 20th Feb 17
Warning Signs Of Instability In Russia - 20th Feb 17
Warning: This Energy Investment Could Wreak Havoc On Your Portfolio - 20th Feb 17
The Mother of All Financial Bubbles will be Unimaginably Destructive when it Bursts - 19th Feb 17
Gold’s Fundamentals Strengthen - 18th Feb 17
The Flynn Fiascom, the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper - 18th Feb 17
Not Nearly Enough Economic Growth To Keep Growing - 18th Feb 17
SPX Stocks Bull Market Continues to make New Highs - 18th Feb 17
China Disaster to Trigger Gold Run, Trump to Appoint 5 of 7 Fed Governors - 18th Feb 17
Gold Stock Volume Divergence - 17th Feb 17
Gold, Silver, US Dollar Cycles - 17th Feb 17
Inflation Spikes in 2017, Supporting Gold Prices Despite Increased Odds of March Rate Hike - 17th Feb 17
Roses Are Red... and So's Been EURUSD's Trend - 17th Feb 17
Gold Trade Note Sighted - 17th Feb 17
Gold Is Undervalued Say Leading Fund Managers - 17th Feb 17
NSA, CIA, FBI, Media Establishment 'Deep State' War Against Emerging 'Trump State' - 16th Feb 17
Silver, Gold Stocks and Remembering the Genius of Hunter S. Thompson - 16th Feb 17
Maps That Show The US’ Strategy In Asia-Pacific - 15th Feb 17
The Trump Stock Market Rally Is Just Getting Started! - 15th Feb 17
Tesco Crisis - Fake Prices, Brexit Inflation Tsunami to Send Food Prices Soaring 10% 2017 - 15th Feb 17
Stock Market Indexes Appear Ready to Roll Over - 15th Feb 17
Gold Bull Market? Or was 2016 Just a Gold Bug Mirage? - 15th Feb 17
Here’s How Germany Buys Time From China - 15th Feb 17
The Stock Trader’s Actionable Guide to Trump - 15th Feb 17
Trump A New Jacksonian Era? The Fourth Turning (2) - 14th Feb 17
Stock Market Yet Another Wall Street 'Witch's Brew' - 14th Feb 17
This Is Why You Don’t Own A Lot Of Stocks - 14th Feb 17
Proposed Tax Reforms Face Enormous Headwinds - 14th Feb 17

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

State of Global Markets 2017 - Report

Italy The Invisible Elephant in Europe's Escalating Sovereign Debt Crisis

Interest-Rates / Global Debt Crisis Jan 09, 2011 - 05:46 AM GMT

By: Mike_Shedlock

Interest-Rates

Diamond Rated - Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleIn regards to the escalating sovereign debt crisis in Europe, most eyes have been focused on Greece, Ireland, Spain, and Portugal, the so-called PIGS.


Dr. Evil, a former government bond trader for a very prominent bank pinged me regarding my post PIGS Exposure Table, Explaining the Panic by Numbers. Her message was to pay more attention to the second "I" in PIIGS, namely Italy, the "invisible elephant".

Dr. Evil writes ...

Hello Mish

I just saw your table on the PIGS and I see the biggest one of all missing, ITALY. I traded Euro Government bonds for 11 years and know this market inside out. Spain is a big one should it go but Italy has a cool 2 Trillion EUR in debt and has much worse debt statistics than Spain.

Italy's debt-to-GDP ratio is 118% (2009). Greece got in trouble at 116%. Italy's deficit is smaller and has a high savings ratio. However, nobody focuses on that as Spain is in the limelight with a debt-to-GDP ratio under 60%. Should austerity measures result in a nominal GDP contraction in Italy, its debt stats will worsen very rapidly.

Italy is the elephant in the room not Spain.

Regards
Dr. Evil

Let's take a closer look at sovereign bonds spreads in Europe, comparing German 10-year government bonds to Italian 10-year government bonds.

German 10-Year Government Bonds


Italian 10-Year Government Bonds


Since mid-October, German 10-Year Government bond yields are up .64%. In the same timeframe, Italian 10-Year Government bond yields are up 1.04%.

The flight-to-safety divergence increased starting around December 16, 2010. Since then, German bonds yields are off .16% while Italian bond yields rose .14%.

Government Bond Spreads as of January 7, 2011

On January 7, 2011 the German-Italian spread government bond spread is 1.88% and rising. Table is courtesy of the Financial Times.


Web of Debt

Here is an interesting chart courtesy of the New York Times regarding Europe's Web of Debt that helps explain the picture.



The graphic is from May, 2010 so it's a bit dated. However, it does explain the interrelationships quite nicely.

Note that Italy owes France a whopping $511 billion, 20% of the French GDP. Moreover, nearly 1/3 of Portugal's debt is held by Spain. Meanwhile Spain owes huge amounts to Germany, France, and the UK.

Do you think all of that will be repaid? I don't.

Critical Court Ruling Coming Up

In Feb 2011 the German court gives its verdict on the constitutionality of the bail-out. Fifty academics and politicians sued the government over it. February is crunch time. For more details please see EU Commission Plans Haircuts on Bank Debt; Greek Yields Hit New Record; China Buys Spanish Debt; German Courts to Decide Bailout Constitutionality.

If the German courts uphold the constitutionality of these various bailouts, the crisis is merely pushed a bit further down the road.

New Irish Government Likely To Demand Haircuts

In March a new Irish government will take over and it is highly likely that government questions the hundreds of billions Ireland owes German, French, and UK banks.

I believe Ireland should tell the ECB and IMF to go to hell and default. For my rationale, please see To Ireland With Love. Here is the "Trojan Horse" image I used with the article.


Italian Snowball and Off-Balance Sheet Derivatives

In a subsequent email, Dr. Evil elaborated on Italy's off-balance sheet debt.

Hello Mish,

If Italy were to go into a nominal GDP recession on account of its austerity programs, its debt-to-GDP ratio would likely be 130% by 2012. It's difficult to see how the market would ignore that.

Also check out Italy's debt compared to Germany. Here is the official EU Gross Government Debt Figures by country. Note that as of 2009, Italy's Debt is 1.763 Trillion EUR, about the same as Germany. Obviously the German economy is far bigger.

Moreover, I assure you that Italy has a lot of off-balance sheet debt. Some European countries took some very creative measures to reduce interest payments on debt. Italy was one of those countries.

I have seen Italy do HUGE (10+ billion USD) derivative transactions. Those transactions were all off-balance sheet but the cash flows behind the transactions were very real.

Italy was the number 1 customer for big investment banks in London for years. You won't find anything about that in the press.

In 2011, Italy will need to rollover a pile of debt. It will be interesting to see how that goes. I believe that if the 10-year yield hits 6%, an irreversible snowball effect similar to what Greece and Ireland went through is likely.

That's when gold hits $2000

Dr. Evil

2011 Italian Debt Issuance

Inquiring minds are reading Italian Public Securities By Maturity to see how much debt Italy will need to rollover in 2011.

A quick look at page 3 totals approximately 281 billion in euro debt rollovers. Assume a 5% budget deficit on a GDP of roughly 1.5 trillion euros and you end up with 281 + 75 billion or roughly 356 billion euro total debt issuance.

Will the market accommodate that issuance at a good interest rate? If not, the "Invisible Elephant In The Room" will quickly make its presence known in a rather rude manner.

By Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

Mike Shedlock / Mish is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management . Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction.

Visit Sitka Pacific's Account Management Page to learn more about wealth management and capital preservation strategies of Sitka Pacific.

I do weekly podcasts every Thursday on HoweStreet and a brief 7 minute segment on Saturday on CKNW AM 980 in Vancouver.

When not writing about stocks or the economy I spends a great deal of time on photography and in the garden. I have over 80 magazine and book cover credits. Some of my Wisconsin and gardening images can be seen at MichaelShedlock.com .

© 2011 Mike Shedlock, All Rights Reserved.


© 2005-2016 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

Catching a Falling Financial Knife