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The Next Financial Crisis Has Already Arrived In Europe, And People Are Starting To Freak Out June 12, 2017

Did you know that the sixth largest bank in Spain failed in spectacular fashion just a few days ago?  Many are comparing the sudden implosion of Banco Popular to the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, and EU regulators hastily arranged a sale of the failed bank to Santander in order to avoid a full scale financial panic.  Sadly, most Americans have no idea that a new financial crisis is starting to play out over in Europe, because most Americans only care about what is going on in America.  But we should be paying attention, because the EU is the second largest economy on the entire planet, and the euro is the second most used currency on the entire planet.  The U.S. financial system is already teetering on the brink of disaster, and this new financial crisis in Europe could turn out to be enough to push us over the edge.

If EU regulators had not arranged a “forced sale” of Banco Popular to Santander, we would probably be witnessing panic on a scale that we haven’t seen since 2008 in Europe right about now.  The following comes from the Telegraph

Spanish banking giant Santander has stepped in to the rescue ailing rival Banco Popular by taking over the failing lender for €1 in a watershed deal masterminded by EU regulators to avoid a damaging collapse.

Santander will tap its shareholders for €7bn in a rights issue to raise the capital needed to shore-up Popular’s finances in a dramatic private sector rescue of Spain’s sixth-largest lender.

It will inflict losses of approximately €3.3bn on bond investors and shareholders but crucially will avoid a taxpayer bailout.

But now that a “too big to fail” bank like Banco Popular has failed, investors are immediately trying to figure out which major Spanish banks may be the next to collapse.  According to Wolf Richter, many have identified Liberbank as an institution that is highly vulnerable…

After its most tumultuous week since the bailout days of 2012, Spain’s banking system is gripped by a climate of fear, uncertainty and distrust. Rather than allaying investor nerves, the shotgun bail-in and sale of Banco Popular to Santander on Tuesday has merely intensified them. For the first time since the Global Financial Crisis, shareholders and subordinate bondholders of a failing Spanish bank were not bailed out by taxpayers; they took risks in order to make a buck, and they bore the consequences. That’s how it should be. But bank investors don’t like not getting bailed out.

Now they’re worrying it could happen again. As Popular’s final days showed, once confidence and trust in a bank vanishes, it’s almost impossible to restore them. The fear has now spread to Spain’s eighth largest lender, Liberbank, a mini-Bankia that was spawned in 2011 from the forced marriage of three failed cajas (savings banks), Cajastur, Caja de Extremadura and Caja Cantabria.

On Thursday, shares of Liberbank dropped by an astounding 20 percent, and that was followed up by another 19 percent decline on Friday.

Spanish authorities responded by banning short sales of Liberbank shares, and that caused a short-term rebound in the stock price.

But we haven’t seen this kind of chaos in European financial markets in a very long time.

Meanwhile, Nick Giambruno is sounding the alarm about a much bigger bubble.  At this moment, more than a trillion dollars worth of Italian government bonds have negative yields…

Over $1 trillion worth of Italian bonds actually have negative yields.

It’s a bizarre and perverse situation.

Lending money to the bankrupt Italian government carries huge risks. So the yields on Italian government bonds should be near record highs, not record lows.

Negative yields could not exist in a free market. They’re only possible in the current “Alice in Wonderland” economy created by central bankers.

You see, the European Central Bank (ECB) has been printing money to buy Italian government bonds hand over fist. Since 2008, the ECB and Italian banks have bought over 88% of Italian government debt, according to a recent study.

The moment that the ECB stops wildly buying Italian bonds, the party will be over and the Italian financial system will crash.  Unfortunately for Italy, the Germans are pressuring the ECB to quit printing so much money, and the Germans usually get their way in these things.

But if the Germans get their way this time, we could be facing a complete and utter nightmare very quickly.  Here is more from Nick Giambruno

Once the ECB—the only large buyer—steps away, Italian government bonds will crash and rates will soar.

Soon it will be impossible for the Italian government to finance itself.

Italian banks—which are already insolvent—will be decimated. They hold an estimated €235 billion worth of Italian government bonds. So the coming bond crash will pummel their balance sheets.

It’s shaping up to be a lovely train wreck.

And all of this is happening in the context of a global economy that appears to be headed for a major downturn.

For example, the last time that global credit growth showed down this rapidly was during the last financial crisis

From peak to trough the deceleration in global credit growth is now approaching that during the global financial crisis (-6% of global GDP), even if the dispersion of the decline is much narrower. Currently 55% of the countries in our sample have experienced a -0.3 standard deviation deterioration in their credit impulse (median over 12 months) compared to 77% of countries in Dec ’09 when the median decline was -1.4 stdev.”

Of course the last time global credit growth decelerated this dramatically, global central banks intervened on a scale that was unlike anything that we had ever seen before.

But this time around it is happening at a time when global central banks are very low on ammo

More importantly, back in 2009, not only China, but the Fed and other central banks unleashed the biggest injection of credit, i.e. liquidity, the world has ever seen resulting in the biggest asset bubble the world has ever seen. And, this time around, the Fed is set to hike for the third time in the past year, even as the ECB and BOJ are forced to soon taper as they run out of eligible bonds to monetize. All this comes at a time when US loan growth is weeks away from turning negative.

As such, what “kickstarts” the next spike in the credit impulse is unclear. What is clear is that if the traditional 3-6 month lag between credit inflection points, i.e. impulse, and economic growth is maintained, the global economy is set for a dramatic collapse some time in the second half.

There are so many experts that are warning about big economic trouble in our immediate future.  I would like to say that all of the experts that are freaking out are wrong, but I can’t do that.

I have not seen an atmosphere like this since 2008 and 2009, and everything points to an acceleration of the crisis as we enter the second half of this year.

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Global Financial Markets Plunged Into Chaos As Italy Overwhelmingly Votes ‘No’ December 4, 2016

italy-flag-map-public-domainItalian voters have embraced the global trend of rejecting the established world order, but the “no” vote on Sunday has plunged global financial markets into a state of utter chaos.  The euro has already fallen to a 20 month low, Italian government bonds are poised for a tremendous crash, and futures markets are indicating that both U.S. and European stock markets will be way down when they open on Monday.  It is being projected that Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s referendum on constitutional reforms will be defeated by about 20 percentage points when all the votes have been counted, and Renzi has already announced that he plans to resign as a result.  When new elections are held it looks like comedian Beppe Grillo’s Five-Star movement will come to power, and the European establishment is extremely alarmed at that prospect because Grillo wants to take Italy out of the eurozone.  In the long run Italy would be much better off without the euro, but in the short-term the only thing propping up Italy’s failing banking system is support from Europe.  Without that support, the 8th largest economy on the entire planet would already be in the midst of an unprecedented financial crisis.

I know that I said a lot in that first paragraph, but it is imperative that people understand how serious this crisis could quickly become.

This “no” vote virtually guarantees a major banking crisis for Italy, and many analysts fear that it could trigger a broader financial crisis all across the rest of the continent as well.

Just look at what has already happened.  All of the votes haven’t even been counted yet, and the euro is absolutely plummeting

The euro dropped 1.3 percent to $1.0505, falling below its 1 1/2-year low of $1.0518 touched late last month, and testing its key support levels where the currency has managed to rebound in the past couple of years.

A break below its 2015 March low of $1.0457 would send the currency to its lowest level since early 2003, opening a way for a test of $1, or parity against the dollar, a scenario which many market players now see as a real possibility.

In early 2014, there were times when one euro was trading for almost $1.40.  For a very long time I have been warning that the euro was eventually heading for parity with the U.S. dollar, and now we are almost there.

Meanwhile, Italian government bonds are going to continue to crash following this election result.  This is going to make it even more difficult for the Italian government to borrow money, and that will only aggravate their ongoing financial troubles.

But the big problem in Italy is the banks.  At this moment there are eight banks in imminent danger of collapsing, and virtually all of the rest of them are in some stage of trouble.  The following comes from a Bloomberg article about the crisis that Italian banks are facing right at this moment…

They’re burdened with a mountain of bad loans. Their stocks have cratered. And they have to operate in an economy prone to recession and political upheaval.

Signs have been mounting for months that Italy’s weakest lenders, and in particular Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA, were sliding toward the precipice, threatening to reignite a broader crisis.

And we may get some news regarding the fate of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena as early as Monday morning if what the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting is correct…

A last-gasp rescue for Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world’s oldest surviving bank, has been thrown into doubt after reformist prime minister Matteo Renzi decisively lost a referendum on constitutional reform on Sunday.

MPS and advisers JPMorgan and Mediobanca will meet as early as Monday morning to decide whether to pull a plan to go ahead with a €5bn recapitalisation, the FT reports, citing people informed of the plan.

Senior bankers will decide whether to pursue their underwriting commitments or exercise their right to drop the transaction due to adverse market conditions, these people said. In the event the banks drop the capital plan, the Italian state is expected to nationalise the bank, say senior bankers.

If Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena fails, major banks all over Italy (and all over the rest of Europe) could start going down like dominoes.

So what were Italians voting on anyway?

Well, the truth is that the constitutional reforms that were proposed actually sound quite boring

“The changes involve sharply reducing the size of one of the chambers of Parliament — the Senate — shifting its powers to the executive, and eliminating the Senate’s power to bring down government coalitions.

“The amendments also shift some powers now held by the regions to the central government, thereby reducing frequent and lengthy court battles between Rome and the regional governments.”

The reason why this vote was ultimately so important is because it became a referendum on Renzi’s administration.  The fact that he announced in advance that he would resign if it did not get approved gave a tremendous amount of fuel to the opposition.

So now Beppe Grillo’s Five-Star Movement stands poised to come to power, and that could be very bad news for those that are hoping to hold the common currency together.

The following is how NPR recently summarized the main goals of the Five-Star Movement…

“It calls for a government-guaranteed, universal income, abolishing Italy’s fiscal commitments to the European Union and a referendum on Italy’s membership in the Euro — a prospect that could unravel the entire single currency Eurozone.”

If Italy chooses to leave the euro, it will probably mean the end of the common currency, and the continued existence of the entire European Union would be called into question.

So this vote on Sunday was huge.  The Brexit had already done a tremendous amount of damage to the long-term prospects for the European Union, and now the crisis in Italy is sending political and financial shockwaves throughout the entire continent.

Over the next few weeks, keep a close eye on the euro and on Italian government bonds.

If they both continue to crash, that will be a sign that a major European financial crisis is now upon us.

And what happens in Europe definitely does not stay in Europe.

If Europe goes down, we are going to go down too.

At this point we still have almost a month left in 2016, but 2017 is already shaping up to be a very troubling year.  As always, let us hope for the best, but let us also keep preparing for the worst.

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