Beware of a Looming Fiscal Crisis. Something Must Snap!

Abstract: We face yet another 2008 as major banks are ready to fall from bad loans. The problem is centered in the EU this time and capital must be raised to provide liquidity to the zombie banks[1] in Italy and Germany and this liquidity may come from your bank deposits or from special bonds banks sold to you or other or from printing money by the EU government, as usual. The IMF or Fed may ‘loan’ money to those banks as well hiking EU debt levels. Be assured that your money will in one way or another be used to satiate these zombie banks that have no future. You EU folk that have bank deposits are at risk of being replaced with phony bonds and that money used to keep the bank solvent while your bonds sink in value. The quest for money by governments is now in full force as they have exhausted most other options and all they have left is yours. The US is looking at this along with negative interest rates. Your savings, deposits, IRAs, 401(k)s and such are not immune to confiscation by governments around the globe. The US admires this system and may try to implement some of this .

 

Background

 

Since the fall [or Fall!] of 2007 the US and several foreign housing markets have plummeted and bounced around without a full recovery while the stock market has made impressive gains since Mar 9, 2009. QE[2][quantitative easing or stark printing of money] from the Fed has fueled most of this US equity price increase. But, interest rates seem to continue to descend toward zero [or below] and this, coupled with the massive US debt of some $24 trillion dollars[3] continues to plague us.  No country has ever had such enormous debts and survived and we are in the same relative state as Japan, UK, and EU. All four have massive debts.[4]Cheap Credit[5]of this sort was probably responsible for the Great Depression. The excuse by government is that they can borrow at ‘cheap rates.’ Cheap credit may crash the EU and pull us down as well in the US.

 

If we look at the important economic vectors such as interest rates, GDPs across the world, unemployment, inflation or the lack of it, printing money and the money supply M2, credit, bank reserves, size of government, tax rates and such things as bank failures we find that: compared to, say, the standards of the 80s or 90s that every critical fiscal component in this system is warped in some way. Trouble in fiscal terms is on the horizon.

 

Here are some Danger Signals:

 

[1] Gold and silver prices are rising at a rapid rate. Emerging countries’ currencies are falling. This is known as a race to safety. This means people are buying the dollar and yen so far.

 

[2] The GDP of the EU is essentially flat. The US has been less than %2 for 8 years.

 

[3] There is essentially no inflation according to governments despite rabid money printing.

 

[4] The unemployment rate in the US, Japan, UK and EU are phony, but range above 8% in most places [US U6 is about 8%] with some like Greece and Spain above 25%

 

[5] Some banks are in major trouble[6]

 

[6] World derivatives markets: World derivatives[7] market is 650 trillion dollars of which Deutsche Bank holds $ 72.8 trillion[8] which is more than 11% of the entire world’s market.  The world GDP is only $61T and the world debt is about $260T so how can this happen? Derivatives are often purchased by banks and others to protect the value of an asset by guaranteeing the interest rate within certain limits or to pay for a bond in case it defaults or both.

 

Bank Problems

 

Banks have balance sheets[9]that feature statements with the usual general categories: assets, liabilities and such. The critical bank reserves are scattered around the sheets on the asset side and income reports as vault cash, deposits at the Fed, deposits in other banks[10], stockholder’s equity and the Fed deposits and more. Banks need sufficient cash such that their liabilities do not exceed assets at the end of the day. If the sum is negative then the bank is insolvent and may borrow funds from several sources or call for a rescue from the central bank. Central banks will try to rescue problem banks by buying up some of their ‘assets’ or with loans or in a host of other ways. Suffice it to say that this is complicated and difficult to follow even for the bank regulators.

 

The perilous asset in banks is their loan book which includes mortgages and such.  Banks have a precarious business model in that they take in monies on a daily basis and loan out money on a decade basis. US banks failed in 2008 due to millions of non performing mortgages crashing their loan books, many of which were forced upon the banks by the CRA[11]or Community Reinvestment Act, designed to help the poor get loans without much credit or no credit at all. Falling loan books forced insolvency and the need for instant liquidity from the Fed. Non-performing loans fall in market value so they do not reflect the original value when the loan was issued.

 

Italian and German Banks are in Trouble

 

Italy’s 4th largest bank, Banca Monte dei  Paschi di Siena, is only an example of the major problems of recapitalizing the banks to keep them solvent.[12]The money must come from somewhere [World Bank, IMF, ECB, ..] as most of those banks have huge numbers of non-performing loans thus their asset book values are plummeting.  This pushes them toward insolvency. Many Italian banks have sold higher interest rate bonds than the markets offer to retirees and such and those are at risk of being used to save the banks.

 

Bank bail-in is a new form of hybrid bond is known as the Coco bonds [contingent convertible bonds].[13] The Cocos are designed to absorb losses when the capital of the issuing bank falls below a certain level.’[14] What this is a slush fund where the bank can dip into the previous purchases of their depositors and use that money to support the bank’s reserves.  The rescue funds could come from many places but the EU laws [supposedly] prevent the ECB [European Common Bank] from printing money and forces the bank loses upon creditors and not tax payers, or so it seems. Cyprus first used a novel system now known as a bank bail-in[15] model where the bank attaches a portion of your account, against your will, and uses that to attempt to remain solvent. This switches liabilities of deposits to assets! This truncates your account balance. The ’bonds’ you got in return fell 90% or so in a few months later when the bank allowed the bonds to be sold.

 

Deutsche Bank is also in big trouble:[16] “Deutsche Bank is sitting on more than $75 Trillion in derivatives bets — an amount that is twenty times greater than German GDP.    Their derivatives exposure dwarfs even JP Morgan’s exposure – by a staggering $5 trillion.”

 

Summary:

 

The world debt is so massive [$261 trillion against a $61T GDP] that there is no way to handle debt in a rational manner any more. The ‘solution’ to the problem is to print more money or push the bank debts off into the future upon those who will be able to pay taxes in the future or for no one to have to pay if the currency collapses to zero. Now, the liability is now gone but we then will certainly get social unrest or worse. Most of our nation’s leaders are socialist or left-liberal in nature and cannot conceive of cutting spending [Austerity] so the debt will rise monotonically until it consumes all tax revenues. Then, our system collapses.

 

 

[1] Fiscally dead in any terms.

[2] QE or  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantitative_easing

[3] [total arrived at by adding in what is known about the Fed’s balance sheet  of about $4.5T to $19 trillion dollars]

[4] Usdeptclock.org http://www.usdebtclock.org/world-debt-clock.html

[5] Reliving the Crash of '29  https://mises.org/library/reliving-crash-29

[6] A Look Inside Europe's Next Crisis: Why Everyone Is Finally Panicking About Italian Banks, http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-07-05/look-inside-europes-next-crisis-why-everyone-finally-panicking-about-italian-banks

[7] “In finance, a derivative is a contract that derives its value from the performance of an underlying entity. This underlying entity can be an asset, index, or interest rate, and is often simply called the "underlying".[1][2] Derivatives can be used for a number of purposes, including insuring against price movements (hedging), increasing exposure to price movements for speculation or getting access to otherwise hard-to-trade assets or markets.[3] Some of the more common derivatives include forwards, futures, options, swaps, and variations of these such as synthetic collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps. Most derivatives are traded over-the-counter (off-exchange) or on an exchange such as the Bombay Stock Exchange, while most insurance contracts have developed into a separate industry. Derivatives are one of the three main categories of financial instruments, the other two being stocks (i.e., equities or shares) and debt (i.e., bonds and mortgages”-- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derivative_(finance)

[8] Is It Time To Panic About Deutsche Bank?

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-02-03/it-time-panic-about-deutsche-bank

[9] Analyzing A Bank's Financial Statements  http://www.investopedia.com/articles/stocks/07/bankfinancials.asp

[10] [not deposits by customers in this bank as those are liabilities]

[11] The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA, P.L. 95-128, 91 Stat. 1147, title VIII of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1977, 12 U.S.C. § 2901 et seq.)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_Reinvestment_Act

[12] Sharing the Burdon of Italy's Troubled Banks. Who Pays? http://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2016-07-07/sharing-the-burdon-of-italy-s-troubled-banks-who-pays

[13] ECB is having second thoughts on ‘coco’ bonds  http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/23d61e50-08a7-11e6-b6d3-746f8e9cdd33.html#axzz4DjY9OVIW

[14] CoCos: a primer http://www.bis.org/publ/qtrpdf/r_qt1309f.pd

[15] We've All Been Warned (the Cyprus "Bail-In" Model is coming to a Country Near You)  http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-28/weve-all-been-warned-cyprus-bail-model-coming-country-near-you

[16] Is Deutsche Bank The Next Lehman? http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-06-12/deutsche-bank-next-lehman

Comments

Leroy Added Nov 14, 2017 - 7:45am
Excellent article, rycK.  It is only a matter of time.  The center cannot hold. 
 
What do you think about China?  It would seem to be a major player but I didn't see where it was mentioned.  It has been the engine driving the world economies since 2008.  Its debt is now 300% of GDP as it prints its way to prosperity.
 
I look at the recommendations for assets allocations for someone my age.  It is 60% bonds.  If we do have massive inflation and interest rate hikes, many people nearing retirement who think that have secure, safe investments will be wiped out.  There are perilous times ahead.  The bond market is multiples of the stock market. 
Michael Cikraji Added Nov 14, 2017 - 11:02am
Ahh, here we are again. You should talk to George Romey, he'd love this article.
Unfortunately, recessions hit (very roughly) about once-twice a decade:
 
Recessions
 
It's an integral component to living in a capitalistic system. That's because it isn't perfect. Sorry. Just don't spend money like an idiot, and try to save and stay out of as much debt as you can. You'll be fine.
Leroy Added Nov 14, 2017 - 5:17pm
"As 2015 morphed into the historic year of vitriol, hate, fake news, Russians, pussy grabbing, and an all-out establishment effort to discredit and defeat Donald Trump – 2016 saw battle lines drawn and combatants armed. The oligarchs used every propaganda trick in their bag. They used their vast limitless wealth to insure the election of their hand-picked candidate – Hillary Clinton. Black Lives Matter terrorists slaughtered policemen in cold blood. Social justice warriors were triggered on campuses across the land, retreating to safe spaces with crayons and coloring books."
 
For those of you who have a mythical, apocalyptic view of the economy and the upcoming turmoil, you might be interested in this article on the Fourth Turning.
Mike Haluska Added Nov 15, 2017 - 9:51am
NOT ONCE did the Congress pass a budget during the 8 years of President Obama!  Despite the fact that it is a Constitutional duty to do so, Obama vetoed one budget after another when Republicans held the House and when the Democrats held the House they didn't even try.
 
The Republicans need to grow a spine and talk to the American people like adults.  It is fiscally irresponsible to continue to spend more than you bring in - just ask once-prosperous, oil rich Venezuela.
George N Romey Added Nov 15, 2017 - 10:19am
Yes this is an excellent article and what our future holds. The clueless are watching Rachael Maddow on MSNBC ramble on about Russia.  The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming! I mean you have to laugh at these twits. 
 
Central Banks continue their Ponzi scheme or never ending money printing and buying up of sovereign and bank debt.  Like any well oiled Ponzi scheme, Bernie Madoff in particular, it can go on unnoticed for years.  Its believed Madoff ran a Ponzi scheme back to the 70s or 80s.
 
However, eventually something happens and the Ponzi scheme becomes exposed. 
 
As far as a Recession.  We haven't had one because Central Banks are busy propping up asset prices and debt.  They know a technical Recession would end the Ponzi scheme in the way it ended Madoff's crimes in 2008.
 
This is far bigger than the two political parties or Donald Trump.  People are totally dumbed down to think the right "R" or "D" would solve the problem.  They all are in on the con.  No different than Chase Bank, the feeder funds and Madoff's CPA firm (some store front out on Long Island) were in on the Madoff con because it was making them millions. 
Donald Bickerstaff Added Nov 15, 2017 - 3:17pm
1. The price of gold per ounce peaked around $1800, it is now in the 1200s, $1277. Itss price is not soaring.
2. EU GDP growth in real terms is close to 2%.
3. There is little inflation because the credit crunch caused higher levels of unemployment and therefore consumption contracted, wages have shown little growth also. Interest rates are not preditive of inflation; see Phillips Curve debunked.
4. US unemployment rate if 4.4% and that's as good as it gets; roughly translated to frictional unemployment (people changing jobs). UK is 5.5%, Spain 17.5%.
5. Banks are in trouble. The US issued $53 trillion in pooled mortgage debt falsely classified as AAA investments, and foreign banks sucked it up through their American subsidiaries; that is a giant shit burger and it takes a lot of time to swallow it.
6. Your biggest mistake is to estimate the notional value of derivatives, as if every contract would be exercised. The actual notional value according to the OTC is $544 trillion; but the market price of all contracts is about $21 trillion. The world gdp according to the world bank is about 108 trillion.
 
Most of the world debt is incurred by corporations and the financial sector; sovereign debt world wide is around $55 trillion.
 
I have worked in the financial sector for 35 years and read chicken little articles since 1980.........the sky is not falling in; there will be severe financial corrections from time to time.
rycK the JFK Democrat Added Nov 15, 2017 - 5:59pm
Have to agree with all of this. The debt is intractable and raising interest rates to normal levels will just hike the debt service and result in more debt. 
 
"...there will be severe financial corrections from time to time."
 
there always have been. 
Autumn Cote Added Nov 16, 2017 - 9:15am
Please note, the more personal responses you offer the more likely your articles will remain popular and commented upon.