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Euro May Have To Devalue By Mid Year

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In an original interview with Handelsblatt, Felix Zulauf founder of  Zulauf Asset Management in Switzerland has declared that the euro will most likely experience a crisis by mid year and will have to devalue.

euroThe Euro crisis will escalate again says Felix Zulauf. Swiss money manager is preparing for a collapse of the stock market. But even greater is his concern that angry citizens could take to the streets.

The markets were expecting the world economy to recover, but he suspected that neither the economy nor corporate earnings would develop as hoped. Once the distance between “wish” and “reality” became apparent, “it could cause a crash.”

Timeframe? This year. Optimism might hang in there for a while; the second quarter would be more problematic. Over time, downdrafts in some markets could reach 20% to 30%. Despite the incessant insistence by Eurozone politicians that the worst was over, he didn’t see “any normalization.” The structural problems were still there, they’ve only been hidden, “drowned temporarily in an ocean of new liquidity.”

“Look at the economic data,” he said. “There is no visible improvement.” As if to document his claim, the Eurozone Purchasing Managers Index was released. It dropped again after three months of upticks that had spawned gobs of hope that “the worst was over.” Business activity has now declined for a year and a half. New orders, a precursor for future activity, fell for the 19th month in a row. While Germany was barely in positive territory, France’s PMI crashed to a low not seen since March 2009 and was on a similar trajectory as in 2008—when it was heading into the trough of the financial crisis!

Sure, the financial markets calmed down, but only because the ECB pulled the “emergency brake” by declaring that it would finance bankrupt states so that the euro would survive. It was a signal for the banks to buy sovereign debt. Borrowing from the ECB at 1%, buying Spanish or Italian debt with yields above 5%, while the ECB took all the risks—”a great business for the banks,” he said. As a consequence, the banks were once again loaded up with sovereign debt. “The problems weren’t solved but kicked down the road,” he said.

Politicians would muddle through. Government debt would continue to rise. But next time something breaks, the pressure would come from citizens, he said. Standards of living have been deteriorating. Many people have lost their jobs. Real wages have declined. “We’ve sent millions into poverty!” People were discontent. And it was conceivable that “someday, they could go on the street and attack these policies.”

Mid year is the timframe for the euro to hit a crisis. Draghi will have no choice but to “lira-ize” the euro.

Countries were devaluing their currencies to gain an advantage. This “race to the bottom” could escalate to where governments would impose limits on free trade. The devaluation of the yen would hit other countries. In Germany, it would pressure automakers, machine-tool makers, and others. By midyear, he said, “Europe will reach a point when it can no longer live with this euro.”

It would have to be devalued. France’s President François Hollande was already agitating for it. “And he has to because the French economy is in a catastrophic condition. It’s no longer competitive. France is becoming the second Spain.”

But didn’t the ECB emphasize that the exchange rate was irrelevant for monetary policy? And wasn’t the Bundesbank resisting devaluation?

“The policies of the Bundesbank are unfortunately dead,” he said, and its representatives were only “allowed to bark, not bite.” Monetary policy at the ECB was made by Draghi, “an Italian.” He’d push for the “lira-ization of the euro,” he said, “not because he likes it, but because he has no choice.” It was the only way to keep the euro glued together. “Mrs. Merkel knows that too, but she cannot tell the truth; otherwise citizens would notice what’s going on.”

So what does Zulauf recommend ?

Given this dreary scenario, what could investors do? Long-term, equities were a good choice, he said, but this wasn’t the moment to buy.

Gold? That it was down from its peak a year and half ago was “normal,” he said. Currently, gold funds were forced to liquidate, which could cause sudden drops, but it also signified “the end of a movement.” He expected the correction to end by this spring. “Long-term, the uptrend is intact,” he said.

Bonds? They had a great run for 30 years but were now “totally overvalued”—in part due to central banks that had bought $10 trillion in debt “with freshly printed money” over the past five years. Debt markets were completely distorted, but central banks would be able to hold the bubble together for “a while longer.” So he admitted, “Last summer, I sold all long-term debt.”

But where the heck was he putting his money now? That’s when he made his sobering remark, “I’m sitting on cash.”

Source: Testosteronepit, Handelsblatt

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Cyprus Bailout MoneyTo Benefit Russia

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Cyprus is on the verge of a bailout from the EU but according to Testosteronepit it is Russian “black” money that will benefit. Either way, Cyprus needs €17 billion for its bankrupt banks following in the path of other Eurozone countries whereby the banks destroyed the nation and governments under orders, signed its citizens up to repaying the banks debts.

German Bailout Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is trying to avoid any tumult ahead of the elections later this year, has a new headache. Cyprus, the fifth of 17 Eurozone countries to ask for a bailout, might default and exit the Eurozone under her watch. Using taxpayer money or the ECB’s freshly printed trillions to bail out the corrupt Greek elite or stockholders, bondholders, and counterparties of decomposing banks, or even privileged speculators, is one thing, but bailing out Russian “black money” is, politically at least, quite another.

Cyprus is in horrid shape. Particularly its banks. Their €152 billion in “assets” are 8.5 times the country’s GDP of €17.8 billion. “Assets” in quotation marks because some have dissipated and because €23 billion in loans, or 27% of the banks’ entire credit portfolio, are nonperforming. That’s 127% of GDP! And then there are the Russian-owned “black-money” accounts.

A “secret” report by the German version of the CIA, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) was leaked last November, revealing that any bailout of Cyprus would benefit rich Russians and their €26 billion in “black money” that they deposited in the now collapsing banks. The report accuses Cyprus of creating ideal conditions for large-scale money laundering, including handing out Cypriot passports to Russian oligarchs, giving them the option to settle in the EU. Much of this laundered money then reverses direction, turning minuscule Cyprus into Russia’s largest foreign investor [read…  The Bailout of Russian “Black Money” in Cyprus].

Now Cyprus needs a bailout of over €17 billion but Merkel faces an enormous task back home in convincing a sceptical public in bailing out Russian interests.

Now Cyprus needs €17.5 billion—just about 100% of its GDP—of which €12 billion would go directly to the murky and putrid banks. The package should be wrapped up and signed on February 10 at the meeting of the European finance ministers.

“I cannot imagine that the German taxpayer will save Cypriot banks whose business model is to abet tax fraud,” grumbled Sigmar Gabriel, chairman of the opposition SPD that has been a supporter of euro bailouts; and Merkel, hobbled by opposition within her own coalition, had relied on them to get prior bailouts passed. “If Mrs. Merkel wants to have the approval of the SPD, she must have very good reasons,” he said. “But I don’t see any….”

The Greens are resisting the Cyprus bailout for the same reasons. And 20 members of Merkel’s own coalition are categorically opposed to it. For the first time, Merkel has no majority to get a bailout package passed. The opposition smells an election advantage.

Before the German finance minister can vote in the Euro Group of finance ministers for disbursement of bailout funds, he must seek parliamentary approval. The German Constitutional Court said so, inconveniently. But without his yes-vote, which weighs 29%, the qualified majority of 73.9% cannot be reached. The bailout disbursement crashes. That’s what Cyprus is contemplating.

Fearing defeat, sources within the government now made it known that they wouldn’t even present a bailout package unless Cyprus agreed to “radical reforms,” including massive privatizations of the bloated state sector—precisely what communist President Dimitris Christofias has ruled out.

The Russian “black money” is so unpalatable that even the bailout-happy President of the EU Parliament, Martin Schulz, got cold feet. Before a bailout package could be put together, he said, “it must be disclosed where the money in Cyprus is coming from.”

Markus Ferber, head of Merkel’s coalition partner CSU, demanded a guarantee that “we help the citizens of Cyprus and not the Russian oligarchs.” In addition, he wants Cyprus to reform its naturalization law. If Cyprus wants to get bailed out, he mused, it must make sure “that not everyone who has a lot of money can get a Cypriot passport.

Source: Testosteronepit

German Growth Rate For 2013 Drops Massively

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The Bundesbank massively cut its growth forecasts for 2013 for the German economy from previous estimate of 1.6% down to 0.4%. Such a huge drop in growth forecast shows even the mighty German economy which has benefited from a weak euro is now feeling the pressure. Its the last thing Merkel needs as she faces an election next year with a weakened economy and a growing bill for bailing out the rest of Europe. Couple that with the TARGET2 imbalance and a strong possibility of Italy or Spain needing a bailout, she could be facing an angry electorate.

germanThe German economy could slam into reverse this winter as the crisis in the eurozone intensifies, the country’s central bank warned yesterday.

The Bundesbank slashed its growth forecasts in an abrupt reversal for Europe’s powerhouse economy. It now expects Germany to grow by 0.7 per cent this year and just 0.4 per cent next year.

It was previously expecting growth of 1 per cent in 2012 and 1.6 per cent in 2013.

But the Bundesbank added that there was a risk of recession – defined as two quarters of contraction in a row – this winter. ‘There are indications that economic activity may fall in the final quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013,’ it said. Germany has been the key driver of an otherwise moribund eurozone.

Experts warned the country’s slump is ‘a big reality check’ and casts doubt over the future of the single currency. Any setback in the eurozone, Britain’s major trading partner, raises the risk of a new recession here. The Bundesbank blamed the crisis crippling the eurozone for the downturn amid signs that German patience with struggling economies such as Greece and Spain is wearing thin. ‘Germany cannot prosper alone,’ it said. ‘It has a particular interest in the welfare of its partners.’

The gloomy analysis came a day after the European Central Bank warned that the 17-nation eurozone will remain mired in recession until late next year. ECB president Mario Draghi said a ‘gradual recovery’ will not start until ‘later in 2013’ as the region lurches from one crisis to the next. The eurozone sank back into recession over the summer as the malaise in peripheral states spread to Germany and France.

The German government put on a brave face in response to the Bundesbank forecast. A spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel said: ‘The government is cautiously optimistic that we’ll keep growing.’

Source: Daily Mail

 

 

Is Spanish Bank Run Panicking ECB Into Bond Buying Scheme?

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It will come as no surprise that in light of Spain’s woes, capital has been leaving Spanish banks in droves. In July 5% of the country’s entire asset base (€74 billion) left the country. That’s over 17% in just over a year. The most likely place for those banks to come up with the cash has been selling sovereign bonds. The question remains has this prompted Draghi in recent weeks to make comments about doing “what it takes”.

A need to raise cash to meet those withdrawals may have prompted the recent bond sales, as other assets owned by banks – mainly loans and mortgages – are far less liquid. Spanish bank bond holdings are dominated by Spanish government debt, but also include those of other countries.

So where does this leave Mario Draghi? While Spanish banks are selling SPGBs, Spain has 8 bonds auctions planned in the next 6 weeks. Draghi is under serious pressure to get aggreement on a sovereign bond buying scheme. 

…..while Mario Draghi is furiously trying to come up with a bond buying plan that is endorsed by Germany, Buba and Weidmann, all of whom have, to date, said, “9-9-9”, regardless of what the final construct is, whether it includes the ECM, EFSF, and/or ECB buying bonds directly, the key distinction is that no monetary authority can buy bonds in the primary market, as that is a direct breach of Article 123/125, and absent a thorough revision of the Maastricht Treaty, investors will dump as soon as the ECB starts breaking the rules unilaterally. Certainly bonds can be monetized in the secondary market, but someone has to buy them from the government. And if Spanish banks are unable to stem the deposit outflow, there is simply no practical possibility for banks to be buying SPGBs in the primary market even as they are forced to dump them in the secondary market.

In other words, the ECB may or may not surprise next week, but unless the Spanish public is convinced its banks are safe, and the remaining EUR1.5 trillion in Spanish deposits do not explicitly remain within the Spanish bank system, anything Draghi does will be for nothing.

As for next year, the requirement to sell even more SPGBs increases by 40% on this year while competing with Spanish banks dumping bonds. The monster continues to grow. We already know from Mark Grant that Spain’s real debt/GDP figure is closer to 134%.

All in all, the total amount of gross bond issuance from Spain in 2013 could be in excess of EUR 120bn. That is around 40% higher than this year, 10-20% higher than in 2009 and almost four times larger than the average amount of Spanish bond issuance recorded in the previous four years.

 As far as another LTRO, its unlikey to suceed as Spain is fresh out of collateral.

…and the inevitable LTRO X, which the ECB will have to do in order to provide additional funding to Spain, which unlike before, however, will no longer work as Spain and the rest of Europe, are out of eligible collateral, meaning the ECB will have to get the Buba to agree to even more last minute rule changes to keep Spain “solvent.”

So, the pressure is on Draghi to push through with his Bond Purchase Plan. In fact it has been reported that he has number of options but rushing it through by giving only 24 hours to digest it before debating a solution. Serious pressure!

Sept. 1 (Bloomberg) — The euro area’s 17 national central bank governors will have about 24 hours to digest European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s bond-buying proposal before they start debating it, three officials said.

The ECB’s Executive Board will send a list of options for the bond-buying program to the governors on Sept. 4, a day before the Governing Council convenes in Frankfurt, the central bank officials said yesterday on condition of anonymity because the plans aren’t public. The meeting concludes on Sept. 6, after which Draghi holds his regular press conference. No single policy option has emerged as preeminent, the officials said. An ECB spokesman declined to comment.

The lack of a clear preference, the complexity of the issue and the shortage of time increase the risk that Draghi won’t present a detailed plan next week, according to economists at Commerzbank AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co. The ECB may choose to hold back some details of the plan until the German Constitutional Court rules on the legality of Europe’s permanent bailout fund on Sept. 12, two of the officials said.

The battle between Draghi and Weidmann of Buba is a serious roadblock for the ECB’s plans. Another resignation from the Bundesbank would apply pressure to Merkel and with elections coming up next year and an ever ailing economy, Merkel and Germany has little room for manoeuver for backing the ECB’s Bond Purchasing Scheme. Best of luck Draghi 😉 

Mr Weidmann, the only ECB council member opposed to ECB president Mario Draghi‘s plan to buy bonds in some shape or form, has decided to remain in his post to defend his position at next week’s policy meeting, ‘Bild’ reported. The second resignation of a Bundesbank boss in as many years would send shockwaves through the markets and make it much more difficult for Chancellor Angela Merkel to soften her stance towards bailouts for countries such as Ireland.

Her room for manoeuvre ahead of next year’s general election is already shrinking as the German economy rapidly slows down. The Bundesbank has repeatedly made clear that it has deep misgivings about the ECB’s determination to press ahead with such a scheme.

Mr Weidmann’s predecessor as Bundesbank chief, Axel Weber, quit last year in protest at the ECB’s previous, now-dormant bond-buy plan. Juergen Stark, a former ECB chief economist, followed him out of the door. Earlier this week, Mr Weidmann told ‘Der Spiegel‘ magazine that bond-buying can become “addictive”, like a drug.

He added: “I hardly believe that I am the only one to get stomachache over this.”

 
Source: Zero Hedge, San Francisco Chronicle, Irish Independent

Eurozone Spirals Faster Down the Plughole

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The EU summit last friday was the last great hope, but really we only got agreement in principle from EU leaders who are used to doling out soundbites. More questions came out of this summit than answers.One thing is for sure, nothing has been resolved and we are traveling faster now down the plughole.

So lets take a look at some of the shit-fests up ahead starting with Greece,

There is Greece, inexorably tottering towards its exit from the Eurozone. Once again, the despised Troika inspectors have arrived in Athens. Based on their findings, they’ll decide if Greece should get the next tranche of the bailout billions—default and/or conversion to the drachma being the alternatives.

Horst Reichenbach, the German head of the Troika inspectors, took one look at the numbers, and while he didn’t end up in the hospital nauseated and with knots in his gut—the fate that had befallen Finance Minister Vassilis Rapanos a couple of days after being appointed—he did see that Greeks have stopped paying their bills.

Which is logical. They’re hanging on to their euros under mattresses or in foreign accounts, assuming that they will soon be able to pay their bills with devalued drachmas. The deal of a lifetime. At least €6.5 billion is past due, owed to Greek industry, Reichenbach said. Everyone is doing it. Hospitals stopped paying for medication, individuals stopped paying for electricity, the government stopped paying for construction work.

“The patience of the public has been exhausted,” said Robert Fico, Prime Minister of Eurozone member Slovakia. His country would no longer be willing to help if recipients didn’t implement sufficient reforms. And the number of bailout candidates continues to grow: in addition to the five that have already requested aid—Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, and Cyprus—Slovenia is now discussing it. And Italy is at the brink. Seven. Out of seventeen.

..and where is the money to come from?

They’re all going to get bailed out by the temporary EFSF, which has a limit of €250 billion, and later by the permanent ESM, which has a limit of €700 billion. Of course, there is the old ESM that doesn’t exist yet, the one that was passed Friday by the German parliament after it had already been obviated by the new ESM that emerged from the EU summit, the one that everyone interpreted differently, the one that has run into a wall of opposition in Northern Europe. And it doesn’t exist either.

The ESM has not come into existence yet and so many either oppose its creation or its purpose.

Finland and the Netherlands quickly expressed their opposition to an essential feature of the new ESM—buying sovereign bonds to force down yields and make borrowing cheaper. They could torpedo it; decisions must be made unanimously. But there would be a way around: if the ECB and the EU Commission decide that this is an emergency, only 85% of the votes, as determined by capital contributions, would be required. But no one can override Germany which contributed 27% of the capital.

And there was a veritable tsunami of actions at the German Constitutional Court. They came from all sides: from the left, from conservative Peter Gauweiler (CSU), and from the association More Democracy, which was joined by 12,000 citizens and by the Association of Tax Payers. They want a rush decision to stop President Joachim Gauck from signing the ESM and fiscal union laws until the court hands down its final decision.

According to the plaintiffs, the Bundestag, in passing the ESM, gave up its parliamentary “budget autonomy”—its rights to create and control the national budget. These rights would be transferred to organizations that were not democratically legitimized, thereby limiting the rights of voters to participate democratically in budget decisions. The fiscal union pact similarly violates German democratic fundamentals, they claim.

However, Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, believed that the court wouldn’t stop the ESM and the fiscal union pact. In prior challenges, the justices reigned in certain planks of the law, she said, “but fundamentally they had no problem with the aid measures.”

Merkel is under pressure back home.

And Chancellor Angela Merkel caught a broadside from her coalition partner. Horst Seehofer, chairman of the conservative CSU, lashed out at her concessions and threatened to let the coalition government collapse if further concessions were made. “My greatest fear is that the financial markets ask: can Germany support all that?” He was worried that the markets would attack Germany and put it in the same spot as Spain. He wouldn’t tolerate the transfer of any additional power to the “European monster state” and promisedhe’d turn the next elections into an election on Europe. “We will put this question to the people,” he said, which so far, amazingly, no one has done in Germany.

The onslaught of criticism put Merkel on the defensive about the summit decisions. The fundamental principles of German policies had been confirmed in Brussels, said Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert, and the assertion that money would flow freely and without conditions was “completely wrong.”

Its going to be a long summer.

Source: testosteronepit.com

Merkel Thinks Greece Will Default

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Andrew Neil of the BBC has just twittered today that the British Foreign office has reported:

Angela Merkel thinks Greece will default !

Unbelievable that she would come out and say it even though everybody else has thought this for a long time. Normally the process is to DENY, DENY, DENY. Not long now folks till the shit hits the fan.

 

Christine Lagarde Warns Of Depression Unless Governments Pay Up

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IMF chief, Christine Lagarde warns that there could be another Great Depression unless Governments pay up. Sounds like extortion to me. She met with Angela Merkel on Sunday, and went on to say

“It is about avoiding a 1930s moment,” she said at the German Council of Foreign Affairs in Berlin, “a moment, ultimately, leading to a downward spiral that could engulf the entire world.”

On Monday Lagarde hinted that Germany is going to have to stump up the cash as she outlined what she wanted:

€500 billion in mostly German taxpayer money to double the size of the future bailout fund, the ESM, to €1 trillion, so that it would be large enough to bail out Italy and Spain. Their insolvency “would have disastrous implications for systemic stability,” she threatened.

$500 billion in taxpayer money from around the world, specifically from the US, Japan, and Germany, the three largest contributors to the IMF, to double its bailout lending power to $1 trillion.

– More government spending in those European countries that can afford it, to stimulate the economy for everyone else. She didn’t mention Germany, but German taxpayers, please step up to the plate. Your money is needed elsewhere. Or else—

– Common liabilities, such as Eurobonds, through which taxpayers in fiscally stronger countries, like Germany, would guarantee the debt of others.

– Elimination of trade imbalances by stimulating internal demand in countries with large trade surpluses. Alas, Germany’s economy lives and dies by its exports, and a drop in the surplus has a vicious effect on GDP. Read…. Germany’s Export Debacle.

Source: Blacklistednews

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