Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.War on Cash, Bank of England Planning Hyper QE, Scrapping Cash for Digital Currency - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Stock Market End Run Smash Crash Looks Imminent... - Clive_Maund
3.Europe Refugee Crisis, UK to Repatriate 120,000 Hungarian Economic Migrants Back to Hungary - Nadeem_Walayat
4.The Great Deflation Will Destroy All Bubbles – These Too - Harry_Dent
5.Deflation Signals Abound for U.S. Dollar, Forex Markets and Commodities - Rambus_Chartology
6.U.S. Housing Market Two Outs in The Bottom of The Ninth - James_Quinn
7.Poland, Czech, Slovakia and Hungary Refugee Hypocrisy After Flooding UK with 4 Million Economic Migrants - Nadeem_Walayat
8.The Two Real Reasons Crude Oil Prices Are Currently Slipping - Dr. Kent Moors
9.R.I.P. Interest Rates - Andrew Snyder
10.Steps from a Deep October Stock Market Selloff - Bob_Loukas
Last 5 days
Stocks Bear Market Apocalypse Imminent Crash Gets Nuked Again - 6th Oct 15
Redesigning Internet and Facebook to Explore Their Full Potentialities... - 5th Oct 15
Nightshades Curb Your Enthusiasm - 5th Oct 15
U.S. Recession Watch, High-Yield – Rising Defaults - 5th Oct 15
The Social Challenge to Find Humanity in Capitalism - 5th Oct 15
Fed Interest Rate Hike: "I don't care. It doesn't really make much of a difference" - 5th Oct 15
Gold Rose 2.2%, Silver Surged 5.4% After Poor Jobs Number On Friday - 5th Oct 15
Gold, Silver Precious Metals: a Critical Week Ahead - 5th Oct 15
Stock Market Correction Still in Force - 5th Oct 15
Gold Price Change in Character - 5th Oct 15
Putin’s Blitz Leaves Washington Rankled and Confused - 4th Oct 15
More Selling for Stock Market, Gold? - 4th Oct 15
Gold And Silver – A Reality Check - 3rd Oct 15
Stock Market Primary IV Still, or Primary V Underway? - 3rd Oct 15
The Oil Industry’s Day of Reckoning - 3rd Oct 15
U.S. Interest Rate Hikes Keep On Slippin' Into the Future; Treasury Yields Sink Again - 3rd Oct 15
China's Stock Market Crashing; Time for Panic or Restraint - 3rd Oct 15
SPX Stocks Bulls Struggle to Regain the Upper hand... - 2nd Oct 15
The Two Faces of Stock Market Volatility - 2nd Oct 15
Money Supply and the Fed’s Serious Inflation Risks - 2nd Oct 15
Stock Market How Bad Can This Get, And How Fast? - 2nd Oct 15
A Worrying Set Of Recession Signals - 2nd Oct 15
Negative Jobs Report Sents SPX, TNX Lower - 2nd Oct 15
Don't be Fooled by the Recent Equity market Rallies. Its a Bear Market, Stupid! - 2nd Oct 15
US Bond Market - How to Fix This - 2nd Oct 15
Survival Secrets from Colorado Resource Investing Front Lines - 2nd Oct 15
What Two Risks From Rising Interest-Rates Could Each Trigger A New Global Crisis? - 1st Oct 15
Stock Market S&P 500 Volatility-Based Price Probability Range - 1st Oct 15
Dow Stock Market About To Crash Like October 1929? Get Your Physical Silver - 1st Oct 15
Stock Market Negative Expectations Once Again - Will It Break Down? - 1st Oct 15
Advice for Biotech Investors: 'Hold Your Powder' 'til Winter - 1st Oct 15
Best Short-Term Commodity Market Opportunities - Video - 1st Oct 15
The Coming Corporate "Crime Wave" - 30th Sept 15
Stock Market Retracement May Have Run Its Course - 30th Sept 15
A Stocks Bear Market Is Now More Likely Than Not - 30th Sept 15
The Killer Ape, Human Evolution, Artificial Intelligence and Extinction End Game - 30th Sept 15
Junk Bond Market Imminent Collapse Threatens (Unwelcome) BIG Rate Rises - 30th Sept 15

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

France May be the Domino that Causes the Euro to Collapse

Currencies / Eurozone Debt Crisis Apr 18, 2012 - 06:21 AM GMT

By: Money_Morning


Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleMartin Hutchinson writes: Commentators are wringing their hands again, worried the troubles in Spain could cause the whole euro project to collapse.

As a result, all eyes are now on Spanish 10-year debt yields, which went above 6% last week as the threat of euro-chaos returned.

But it's not Spain the markets should be worried about.

The reality is that Spain is not in too bad a shape and that a rescue would be affordable for the European Central Bank even if it was needed.

The real tottering European domino to worry about is France.

After all, it would be impossible for the remaining solvent members of the EU to bail out France if it began to fall.

The larger reality is that France's fiscal position is considerably worse than Spain's.

The country's debt-to-GDP ratio was 85% at the end of 2011, while Spain's was only 66%. What's more, France's public spending is 56% of GDP, according to the Heritage Foundation, compared to Spain's 45% of GDP.

Spain's current government has also instituted a stiff austerity program, mostly comprised of cuts in public spending, which will reduce its deficit below France's by 2013.

Meanwhile, France's austerity has so far consisted almost entirely of tax increases on the rich -not actual spending cuts.

Spending cuts, especially from governments which are overspending, may well stimulate GDP because they free resources for the more productive private sector, whereas tax increases generally worsen recession.

French Elections Hold the Key to the Euro
Whether or not France brings down the euro hinges on the outcome of its upcoming presidential election, set for two rounds April 22 and May 6.

France's current position is very confused, to say the least. No fewer than five candidates have a chance to make it into the two-candidate runoff.

The incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy, is currently running slightly behind the mainstream socialist Francois Hollande, but three other candidates potentially could knock one or the other of the front-runners out of the second round.

They are Marine LePen, a nationalist; Francois Bayrou, a moderate; and Jean-Luc Melanchon, an extreme leftist.

Presumably if any of those three made it to the second round, they would be beaten by the remaining major party candidate, as was LePen's father by Jacques Chirac in 2002.

But it has to be said that electoral prognostication is exceptionally difficult.

If Sarkozy or Bayrou win, nothing much changes; France remains committed to the current consensus Eurozone policies and the Eurozone probably "muddles through."

But if one of the other three wins, there is going to be a big problem for the European Union (EU).

LePen would be anathema to the EU leadership, so even if she committed to continue austere fiscal policies, the markets would probably react badly.

As for a Hollande or Melanchon victory, the commitment to government austerity is just not there. In the current nervous state of the markets, France's budget deficit could become impossible to finance.

Hollande, for example, wants to reverse Sarkozy's earlier raising of France's pension age, while also pushing the top income tax rate to 75%.

An election win by Hollande or (very unlikely) Melanchon would simultaneously weaken the credibility of France's own austerity program and weaken the Eurozone coalition that has imposed austerity on Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain.

That would almost certainly cause markets to attack French government bonds, as well as stepping up the attack on Spanish, and probably Italian, government bonds.

The reality is that a France managed by an anti-austerity leftist, even a moderate one, is simply too far from Germany and Scandinavia in its fiscal management and economic outlook to remain part of the same currency zone.

And even if Germany and Scandinavia wanted France to remain part of the euro, they don't have the resources to bail France out.

Hence a Hollande victory at France's election May 6--currently believed to be at least a 50-50 probability--would almost certainly mean the end of the struggle to hold the euro together, and its collapse in failure.

Questions About France, Italy, Spain and the Euro
France, Italy and Spain - unlike Greece - do have ample resources with which to support their government bond markets, provided they control their own currencies.

Since most of their obligations are denominated in euros, their debt/GDP ratios would rise, but probably only by 15-20% since a devaluation of that level would be sufficient to make them export powerhouses.

Thus in principle a break-up of the euro need not lead to a world banking collapse, since the value of French, Spanish and Italian government debt would remain solid.

However, all three countries would have questions about their future.

In France's case, the commitment of the new government to controlling public spending would be questionable.

In Spain, the current government's position would be weakened. What's more, there would be a further round of banking trouble, as home mortgages denominated in euros would be secured only against houses valued in new pesetas.

In Italy, the Monti government, imposed by the EU, would doubtless fall, bringing political uncertainty and further aggression by the country's powerful unions.

And even if everything turned out to be okay in the end (except in Greece) the uncertainty would roil world markets, including in the United States.

For investors, that means it may pay to keep our heads down until the French election results are known.

While everybody is watching Spain, it is France that could topple.

Source :

Money Morning/The Money Map Report

©2011 Monument Street Publishing. All Rights Reserved. Protected by copyright laws of the United States and international treaties. Any reproduction, copying, or redistribution (electronic or otherwise, including on the world wide web), of content from this website, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without the express written permission of Monument Street Publishing. 105 West Monument Street, Baltimore MD 21201, Email:

Disclaimer: Nothing published by Money Morning should be considered personalized investment advice. Although our employees may answer your general customer service questions, they are not licensed under securities laws to address your particular investment situation. No communication by our employees to you should be deemed as personalized investent advice. We expressly forbid our writers from having a financial interest in any security recommended to our readers. All of our employees and agents must wait 24 hours after on-line publication, or after the mailing of printed-only publication prior to following an initial recommendation. Any investments recommended by Money Morning should be made only after consulting with your investment advisor and only after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.

Money Morning Archive

© 2005-2015 - 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

Biggest Debt Bomb in History