A break-up of the eurozone is not a science-fiction scenario anymore, thanks to the European Central Bank and its Public Sector Purchase Programme (PSPP). The more government bonds the ECB buys, the smaller becomes the problem of a country’s insolvency and debt conversion into French francs or Greek drachmas. Eventually, who cares if all the bonds are kept by the institution that cannot go bankrupt and that is out of the financial market?
Let us recall: the exclusion of Greece from the Euro Area was impossible in 2012 due to a large amount of Greek debt held by foreign banks, which were rescued by the ECB, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. These institutions, called Troika, saved banks and private creditors, not the Greeks: 95% of the bailout money went to banks, as a study of the European School of Management and Technology proved. Continue reading
The efficiency of a monetary policy is disputable in recent times, especially in the Euro Area. But it is not a monetary policy to blame because it works in sovereign countries with their own fiscal policy. It is the design of the Eurozone itself that makes the European Central Bank’s actions ineffective, whatever they are.
The unending crisis in the European banking system is clear proof. In a sovereign country, adjusted monetary policy in combination with so called fiscal policy is enough to manage a banking sector during liquidity problems. It means that if banks stop trusting each other and do not lend money to each other any more, a national central bank wades in and provides temporarily some cheap money to stave off a threat and give the government (fiscal authorities) time to solve the underlying solvency problems. The Euro Area does not have this incredibly important mechanism. Continue reading
Oil companies and their beneficiaries that suffer from low oil prices are being rescued by the current ECB monetary policies. Negative interest rates and the ECB cooperate bond purchase program is turning corporate finances upside down and makes dividend payments rational even if revenue does not justify it. While the oil price is still low, there is no reason to believe that oil prices will stay at this level. There is a lack of investment in new production and world demand is increasing. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects demand to outpace supply in 2017. The exact moment of a sharp price increase is hard to predict, but it will be somewhere between now and 2020. Oil companies and oil-producing countries have to weather the storm to survive. Continue reading
Problems of Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, Monte dei Paschi and other German, Italian and Spanish banks are not the only concern of the European Banking System. Trouble is much deeper than it is thought because there is a systemic imbalance that has been increasing for almost ten years. Politicians do not want to tell us the truth, but soon we will experience the same crisis in the Monetary Union as we did in 2012.
The extent of the problems in the European Banking System is TARGET2 and its balances of the National Central Banks of the Eurosystem. These balances, or rather imbalances, reflect the direction of the capital flight. And there is only one way: from Southern Europe into Germany. After Mario Draghi’s famous words “I do whatever it takes to save the euro”, things seemed to improve; however, since January 2015 problems have been escalating again. Continue reading
After almost two years of the quantitative easing program in the Euro Area, economic figures have remained very weak. Inflation is still fluctuating near zero, while GDP growth in the region has started to slow down instead of accelerating. According to the European Central Bank data, to generate 1.0 euro of GDP growth, 18.5 euros had to be printed in the QE, which means that €80 billion have thus been wasted almost every month!
This year, the ECB printed nearly €600 billion within the frame of asset purchase programme (QE). At the same time, GDP has increased by… €31 billion; even if up to the end of 2015 the ECB issued €650 billion during its QE program. Needless to say that the Greek debt is “only” €360 billion and there has been no chance of a relief, so far. Continue reading
In Gefira #0 we wrote that the Greek crisis was never solved. Greece is disconnected from the European banking system TARGET2, and capital control is still in place. Now Brussels is sealing off the border between Greece and Europe to stem the flow of refugees to the European heartland, severing Greece from the Schengen Area. It is not the question if the country will leave the euro but rather when it will start issuing the drachma. Tensions between Brussels, IMF, and Greece are increasing, implying a Grexit has become a contingency that one has to reckon with very seriously. A Grexit will strengthen the euro and increase its value against other currencies, as the euro bloc without Greece will become much stronger. That said, in the long run the euro has become a project that is crippling European economies. Continue reading