November 17, 2010

Europe stumbling and coming apart?

Ambrose Evans Pritchard writes the scariest article I've read in some time.

Europe stumbles blindly towards its 1931 moment.

Unless the ECB takes fast and dramatic action, it risks destroying the currency it is paid to manage, and allowing a political catastrophe to unfold in Europe.
--
“Does the ECB understand the concept of contagion?” asked Jacques Cailloux, chief Europe economist at RBS. Three EMU countries have already been shut out of the capital markets, and footloose foreign creditors hold €2 trillion of debt securities issued by Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece.
---
The eurozone’s fiscal fund (European Financial Stability Facility) is fatally flawed. Like Alpinistas roped together, an ever-reduced core of solvent states are supposed to carry the weight on an ever-widening group of insolvent states dangling beneath them. This lacks political credibility and may be tested to destruction if – as seems likely – Ireland is forced to ask for help. At which moment the chain-reaction begins in earnest, starting with Iberia.
--

Bundesbank chief Axel Weber might fairly conclude that it is impossible at this stage to reconcile the needs of Germany and the big debtors. If the ECB prints money on the scale required to underpin the South, it would set off German inflation, destroy German faith in monetary union, and perhaps run afoul of Germany’s constitutional court. If EMU must split in two, it might as well be done on Teutonic terms.

All this is understandable, but is Chancellor Merkel really going to let subordinate officials at the ECB destroy Germany’s half-century investment in the post-war order of Europe, and risk Götterdämmerung?

That is until I read that interest on the debt and entitlement expenses will take ALL of the revenue of the Federal Government in the year 2025 according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Gonzala Lira livens up the report as only he can in Is Europe Coming Apart Faster Than Anticipated?

The bond markets have no faith in Ireland—Greece has been shown up as having lied again about its atrocious fiscal situation—and now Portugal is teetering—

—in other words, the PIIGS are screwed. I would venture to guess that we are about to see this slow-boiling European crisis bubble over into a full blown meltdown over the next few days—and it’s going to get messy.
--

I think that these measures the European leadership is trying to carry out are simply postponing the inevitable. And what’s inevitable is a crash of the peripheral members of the Eurozone—the PIIGS plus Belgium. Because even if the Irish are bailed out in the next day or two, in a few months time, we’ll have another round of panic, this time over Portugal. And by next summer, it is going to be Spain—inevitably.
--
In my post just last week, The Tidal Forces Ripping Europe Apart, I argued that the stress of over-indebtedness coupled with an unwillingness to take haircuts and restructure the sovereign debt would rip the European Union apart.

I argued this would happen—I just didn’t think it would happen so soon . . .
Posted by Jill Fallon at November 17, 2010 3:07 PM | Permalink