Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Dollargeddon - Gold Price to Soar Above $6,000 - P_Radomski_CFA
2.Is Gold Price On Verge Of A Bottom, See For Yourself - Chris_Vermeulen
3.Dow Stock Market Trend Forecast 2018 - Nadeem_Walayat
4.Gold Price to Plunge Below $1000 - Key Factors for Gold & Silver Investors - P_Radomski_CFA
5.Why The Uranium Price Must Go Up - Richard_Mills
6.Dow Stock Market Trend Forecast 2018 - Video - Nadeem_Walayat
7.Jim Rogers on Gold, Silver, Bitcoin and Blockchain’s “Spectacular Future” - GoldCore
8.More Signs That the Stock Market Will Rally Until 2019 - Troy_Bombardia
9.It's Time for A New Economic Strategy in Turkey - Steve_H_Hanke
10.Fiat Currency Inflation, And Collapse Insurance - Raymond_Matison
Last 7 days
Golden Sunsets in the Land of U.S. Dollar Hegemony - 20th Sep 18
5 Things to Keep in Mind When Buying a Luxury Car in Dubai - 20th Sep 18
Gold Price Seasonal Trend Analysis - Video - 20th Sep 18
The Stealth Reason Why the Stock Market Keeps On Rising - 20th Sep 18
Sheffield School Applications Crisis Eased by New Secondary Schools Places - 20th Sep 18
Precious Metals Sector: It’s 2013 All Over Again - 19th Sep 18
US Dollar Head & Shoulders Triggered. What's Next? - 19th Sep 18
Prepare for the Stock Market’s Volatility to Increase - 19th Sep 18
The Beginning of the End of the Dollar - 19th Sep 18
Land Rover Discovery Sport 'Approved Used' Bad Paint Job - Inchcape Chester - 19th Sep 18
Are Technology and FANG Stocks Bottoming? - 18th Sep 18
Predictive Trading Model Suggests Falling Stock Prices During US Elections - 18th Sep 18
Lehman Brothers Financial Collapse - Ten Years Later - 18th Sep 18
Financial Crisis Markets Reality Check Now in Progress - 18th Sep 18
Gold’s Ultimate Confirmation - 18th Sep 18
Omanization: a 20-year Process to Fight Volatile Oil Prices  - 18th Sep 18
Sheffield Best Secondary Schools Rankings and Trend Trajectory for Applications 2018 - 18th Sep 18
Gold / US Dollar Inverse Correlation - 17th Sep 18
The Apple Story - Trump Tariffs Penalize US Multinationals - 17th Sep 18
Wall Street Created Financial Crash Catastrophe Ten Years Later - 17th Sep 18
Trade Wars Are Going To Crash This Stock Market - 17th Sep 18
Why Is Apple Giving This Tiny Stock A $900 Million Opportunity? - 17th Sep 18
Financial Markets Macro/Micro View: Waves and Cycles - 17th Sep 18
Stock Market Bulls Prevail – for Now! - 17th Sep 18
GBPUSD Set to Explode Higher - 17th Sep 18
The China Threat - Global Crisis Hot Spots & Pressure Points - 17th Sep 18 - Jim_Willie_CB
Silver's Relationship with Gold Reaching Historical Extremes - 16th Sep 18
Emerging Markets to Follow and Those to Avoid - 16th Sep 18
Investing - Look at the Facts to Find the Truth - 16th Sep 18
Gold Stocks Forced Capitulation - 15th Sep 18
Hindenburg Omen & Consumer Confidence: More Signs of Stock Market Trouble in 2019 - 15th Sep 18
Trading The Global Future - Bad Consequences - 15th Sep 18
Central Banks Have Gone Rogue, Putting Us All at Risk - 15th Sep 18
Gold Price Seasonal Trend Analysis - 14th Sep 18
Growing Number of Small Businesses Opening – and Closing – In the UK - 14th Sep 18
Gold Price Trend Analysis - Video - 14th Sep 18
Esports Is Exploding—Here’s 3 Best Stocks to Profit From - 13th Sep 18
The Four Steel Men Behind Trump’s Trade War - 13th Sep 18
How Trump Tariffs Could Double America’s Trade Losses - 13th Sep 18
Next Financial Crisis Is Already Here! John Lewis 99% Profits CRASH - Retail Sector Collapse - 13th Sep 18
Trading Cryptocurrencies: To Win, You Must Know Where You're Wrong - 13th Sep 18
Gold, Silver, and USD Index - Three Important “Nothings” - 13th Sep 18
Precious Metals Sector On a Long-term SELL Signal - 13th Sep 18
Does Gambling Regulation Work - A Case Study - 13th Sep 18
The Ritual Burial of the US Constitution - 12th Sep 18
Stock Market Final Probe Higher ... Then the PANIC! - 12th Sep 18
Gold Nuggets And Silver Bullets - 12th Sep 18
Bitcoin Trading - SEC Strikes Again - 12th Sep 18

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Trading Any Market

Raging Credit Crisis, Why the Dow Crashed 512 Points On Thursday

Stock-Markets / Financial Markets 2011 Aug 08, 2011 - 03:28 AM GMT

By: Mike_Whitney

Stock-Markets

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleWhat caused global markets to plunge on Thursday?

Was it poor economic data in the US; the sudden slowdown in manufacturing, declining consumer spending, shrinking GDP and ongoing troubles in the housing market?


No. While the prospect of a double dip recession has pushed shares down for two weeks, Thursday's crash was all about Europe.

ECB chief Jean Claude Trichet touched-off a panic when he announced the Central Bank would resume its purchases of Irish and Portuguese debt, but made no indication that he'd buy bonds from struggling Italy and Spain. (Italy's 10-year sovereign bond has soared to over 6 percent in recent days signally deepening distress.) Investors took Trichet's announcement to mean that the ECB would not backstop the world's 3rd largest bond market (Italy), so bond yields would continue to go higher while banks throughout the EU would suffer devastating losses. That set off a firestorm in the bond market that quickly spread into equities sending global markets into a nosedive and wiping out $4.4 trillion in capital.

So, what does it all mean?

It means that nothing has changed since Lehman tanked 3 years ago. It means that the basic regulations that were put in place following the Great Depression have not been restored, so the financial system is just as unstable and crisis-prone as it was in 2008. We're back to Square 1. The banks are so undercapitalized that the ECB has to take emergency action to prevent a possible meltdown. Here's how the Financial Times sums it up:

"Italy can afford to ignore rising bond yields for months. Europe’s banks cannot wait. Worries about the banks, measured by the gap between euro forward rate agreements and overnight indexed swaps, are now worse than at the height of last year’s panic over Greece. Eurozone bank shares were last this low in April 2009, just after the market bottomed." ("Dr Trichet’s medicine leaves bitter after-taste", Financial Times)

So, Trichet's bond purchasing program is actually another bank bailout. But that's not how the media describes it. According to the MSM, this is a "debt crisis", as though the source of the trouble remains unknown. But it is known; the problem is the banks. The banks are 100% responsible. Here's a little background from an article titled "Euro Debt Crisis: Banks exposures to Italian bonds":

"European banks (including UK banks) holds EUR 167 bn of Italian bonds (mainly in France – 74 bn – and Germany – 39 bn). Italian banks and insurers holds 245 bn of public debt. Is we take all into account (insurers, asset managers…), the foreign exposures to the Italian public debt is close to 806 bn.

Economic Impacts

With Italy under fire, the crisis is moving from a relatively small and manageable problem to a potential financial disaster. If the value of the bonds continues to fall (spreads to widen), the losses for banks could soon become huge. The first one to suffer will be Italians. In this case, you have to take into account claims over local banks. Consequently, the foreign exposure climbs to more than EUR 250 bn, with an heavy weight for the French (close to 100 bn) and German banks (75 bn)." ("Euro Debt Crisis: Banks exposures to Italian bonds", Gecodia.com)

Okay; so if Trichet doesn't buy tens of billions in Italian bonds on the secondary market, then banks in Germany and France will lose tons of money and possibly end up in the ditch. That would trigger another global crisis, which has to be avoided at all cost, right? So the ECB has decided to load up on dodgy bonds in order to keep their prices artificially high sparing the banks any losses on their bad investments. Does that sound fair? That's been the pattern since Sept 15 2008 and it continues to today. The banks are not allowed to lose money.

Think of it like this: Let's say Joe Blow bought a house in 2005 for $400,000 believing the hype that "Housing prices can only go up". But by 2008, Mr Blow is underwater because housing prices have dipped and his house is only worth $300,000. Even worse, he has to put his house on the market fast because he just lost his job. So Blow is forced to sell his house for $300,000 and take a $100,000 loss. That's the way capitalism is supposed to work, right?

But the rules don't apply to the banks. If they win, they keep the profits. And if they lose, they get a bailout. And, of course, all of this has terrible consequences for the real economy because diverting capital into failing financial institutions (that should be restructured) constricts growth and productivity. It's no coincidence that the massive bank bailouts have been accompanied by belt-tightening measures that have pushed the broader economy to the brink of another recession. Propping up toxic assets--so they appear to be worth more than they really are-- is a costly business that results in chronic high unemployment, flagging demand, and slow growth. Until the banks are restructured and their debts are written down, prosperity will remain elusive. This is from an article in The Economist:

"Concerns over bank funding are on the rise, as European banks in particular find it difficult to get hold of short-term funding. Analysts are keeping a close eye on the Euribor-OIS spread, which, in effect, measures how nervous European banks are about lending money to each other: that gauge is widening again. The amount of cash that euro-area banks deposited with the European Central Bank (which means, of course, that it is not being lent out to other banks) hit a six-month high this week.

Across the Atlantic, investors withdrew $66 billion from money-market funds in the week ending August 3rd, according to data from Lipper, a research firm. That is the second-largest net outflow on record.....money-market funds are pushing down hard on maturities. One European bank boss said privately this week that he had never seen risk aversion this intense.

In response the ECB announced yesterday that it was reintroducing six-month unlimited funding to banks that wanted it, up from three-month loans currently." ("High Anxiety", The Economist)

Get the picture? We're at the beginning of a full-blown banking crisis. The banks are hoarding cash overnight at the ECB, money markets are seeing heavy withdrawals, gauges of market stress are elevated, and interbank lending is starting to sputter. If liquidity freezes up; it's "Game Over". The EU financial system will grind to a standstill and the global economy will go into freefall. That's why Trichet stepped in despite objections from German members of the ECB's governing council. It was the only way he could head off another catastrophe.

But the troubles are far from over. As Italian and Spanish bonds lose value, the capital cushion for German and French banks will get thinner and thinner. That will make funding more difficult in their repo operations (repurchase agreement) because the bonds they had been using as collateral, will have taken a haircut. When Trichet buys Italian or Spanish bonds, he is, in effect, providing a subsidy to the banks (by pushing down yields) and then charging it to workers who have to bear the brunt of savage austerity measures to make up the difference. This has nothing to do with free market capitalism. It's a straightforward transfer of wealth from one class to another. It's highway robbery.

Bottom line: The credit crisis rages on. The financial markets have not been reconfigured to reduce risk nor have the banks raised sufficient capital to withstand losses on their bad assets. The effort to regulate the system post-Lehman has mostly failed. More important, Big Finance now controls the policy levers on both sides of the Atlantic, which is why the EU and US are headed for a protracted period of economic stagnation, high unemployment and civil unrest.

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.

© 2011 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

© 2005-2018 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