Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Crude Oil Price Trend Forecast - Saudi's Want $100 for ARAMCO Stock IPO - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Gold Price Focusing on May Cycle Bottom - Jim_Curry
3.Silver, silver, and silver! There’s More Than Silver, People! - P_Radomski_CFA
4.Is the Malaysian Economy a Potemkin Village - Sam_Chee_Kong
5.Stock Market Study Shows Why You Shouldn’t “Sell in May and Go Away” - Troy_Bombardia
6.A Big Stock Market Shock is About to Start - Martin C
7.A Long Term Gold Very Unpopular View - Rambus_Chartology
8.Stock Market “Sell in May and go away” Study When Stocks Are Down YTD - Troy_Bombardia
9.Global Currency RESET Challenge: Ultimate Twist - Jim_Willie_CB
10.The Coming Silver Supply Crunch Is Worse Than You Know - Jeff Clark
Last 7 days
Trump Puts North Korea Nuclear WAR Back on Track as Plans for Nobel Peace Prize Evaporate - 25th May 18
Insane EU GDPR SCAM Triggers Mass Email Spam Attacks! - 24th May 18
Stock Market Higher Again, but Still No Breakout - 24th May 18
Study: Slowing Global Economic Growth IS NOT Bearish for U.S. Stocks - 24th May 18
What if This Week’s Rally in Gold is Already Over? - 24th May 18
EUR/USD – Reward for Bears - 24th May 18
5 Terrible Trading Mistakes That Rookie Investors Keep Making - 24th May 18
More Clarity for the Short Term for Bitcoin Price - 22nd May 18
Study: A Rising and Strong U.S. Dollar Isn’t Consistently Bearish for the Stock Market - 22nd May 18
Gold, Silver & US Dollar Updates with Review of Latest COTS - 22nd May 18
Upside DOW Stock Market Breakout May Be Just the Beginning - 22nd May 18
5 Reasons Why Forex Trading Is Becoming Such A Big Deal In SA - 22nd May 18
Fibonacci And Elliot Wave Predict Stock Market Breakout Highs - 21st May 18
Stock Market Ideal Cycle Low Near - 21st May 18
5 Effects Of Currency Fluctuations On The Economy - 21st May 18
Financial Conditions are Still too Easy for the Stocks Bull Market to End - 21st May 18
US Stock Market Elliott Wave Predictions for 2018 and Beyond - 20th May 18
Are You Still Fearful of Cryptos? - 20th May 18
US Stocks - Why I am Short-term Bearish, Medium-term Bullish - 20th May 18
Looking for a Turn in Gold Price - 20th May 18
GDX Gold Mining Stock Fundamentals 2018 - 19th May 18
Semiconductor Stock Market Canaries: Chirp, Warble… Soon a Croak and Silence? - 19th May 18
Three Drivers of Gold Price - 18th May 18
Gold Market in First Tertile of 2018 - 18th May 18
What Happens Next When Small Cap (Russell) Leads the Stock Market - 17th May 18
Negative Signs for EUR/USD? AUD/USD - Battle - 17th May 18
DOW Jones and CRUDE Oil on a Cliff Edge, Waiting for a Nudge! - 17th May 18
Gold Price No More Subtleness – It’s Show Time! - 17th May 18
VIX Cycles Point to Stock Market Correction - 17th May 18

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Trading Lessons

Brace Yourself For Italy’s Bankruptcy

Interest-Rates / Eurozone Debt Crisis Dec 20, 2016 - 07:43 AM GMT

By: John_Mauldin

Interest-Rates

When Charles Gave of Gavekal chooses to express displeasure over an economic trend, an asset class, or what have you, he does not mince words. Right now, Charles is exercised about Italy.

When Italy adopted the euro in 1999, Charles argued at the time that Italy would change from being an economy with a high probability of many currency devaluations to one with the certain probability of eventual bankruptcy. Now, he says, the fateful moment is not far off.


This is exactly what I have been saying for years in my books and Thoughts from the FrontlineIt is getting ready to happen. And when it does, it will affect all of Europe and the rest of the world.

The timing for all such things is difficult. It’s possible that the Germans blink and the ECB allows Italy one more chance to kick the can down the road (and drive up their debt-to-GDP to well over 150% at the same time).

Putting the problem off for another few years is a good thing from the point of view of the bureaucrats in power. It means maybe somebody else can deal with it… and take the blame.

Putting the Boot into Italy

By Charles Gave

Matteo Renzi has joined a long line of Italian prime ministers who failed to “reform” their country. This is another way of saying that he could not wave a magic wand and make Italy competitive with Germany. The grim reality is that no Italian leader stood a chance of changing their country once the fateful decision was made to peg its currency to Germany’s. At the time of the euro’s launch in 1999, I argued that the risk profile of Italy would change from being an economy where there was a high probability of many currency devaluations to the certain probability of eventual bankruptcy. Sadly, that moment is not so far away.

The chart below tells the story of Italy’s recent economic history in two parts, namely, (i) March 1979 to March 1999, and (ii) March 1999 to the present. Italy joined the Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1979 at 443 lira per deutschemark, yet by 1990 frequent devaluations meant that rate had slid to about 750 lira. By the early 1990s, the Bundesbank was overseeing a newly unified German monetary system and in order to fight inflation it had driven real interest rates to 7%. By September 1992 the stresses on the system caused the UK, Sweden and Italy to exit the ERM, which meant another huge currency devaluation, pushing the lira as low as 1250 against the deutschemark, but delivering a huge tourist boom to boot.

Still, from 1979 to 1998 Italian industrial production outpaced that of Germany by more than 10%, while Italian equities outperformed German equivalents by 16% (this indicates that Italian firms were earning a higher return on invested capital than those in Germany).

Then came the euro. By 2003 it was clear that Italy was uncompetitive and subsequently, Italian equities have underperformed German equities by -65%, reversing the previous half century’s pattern when Italian equities outperformed on a total return basis. Similarly, since 2003 Italian factory output has lagged Germany’s by 40%.

The diagnosis is simply that Italy has become woefully uncompetitive, and as a result, is not solvent. This much is clear from the perilous state of its banking system, which is always the outcome when banks lend to firms that have been rendered uncompetitive by some reckless central banker. Short of imposing Greek-style slavery on Italy, there is not much hope of solving the problem, but I rather doubt that the Italian electorate will be as patient as its neighbours across the Ionian sea.

As such, the relationship between Italy and Germany is radically different from that in the 1945-99 era when a natural return toward equilibrium was achieved through exchange rates adjustments. The only possibility on the current trajectory is that the Italian and German economies keep diverging, which is why a “normal” resolution cannot be achieved.

Hence, an Italian sovereign default of some variety is now a near certainty. While a central bank can address a liquidity problem, it cannot fix a solvency issue, especially one as large as Italy’s. The only remedial action that can now be taken is to throw good money after bad, which is exactly what I expect Mario Draghi to do, especially as he played such a key facilitators’ role in getting Italy into the euro system in the first place. Such actions – possibly to be announced on Thursday at the European Central Bank’s policy setting meeting – can of course merely postpone the day of reckoning, but will solve absolutely nothing.  

The rational approach for investors is to shun Italian financial assets such as bank equities or government bonds until such time as exchange rates are once again market determined prices. This has to be the most well-telegraphed, and now inevitable, national bankruptcy that I have seen in my 45-year career. There is no reason to be dragged under the steam roller as there are many other markets and assets to play in.

Get Varying Expert Opinions in One Publication with John Mauldin’s Outside the Box

Every week, celebrated economic commentator John Mauldin highlights a well-researched, controversial essay from a fellow economic expert. Whether you find them inspiring, upsetting, or outrageous… they’ll all make you think Outside the Box. Get the newsletter free in your inbox every Wednesday.

John Mauldin 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