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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fear in Europe over Greece Default

Europe is fretting over Greece. While the future of the EU and the Euro may indeed be at risk, the bigger concern probably actually relates to the exposure of French and German banks and their governments to a possible Greek default. The citizens of Europe might be even less likely to support what is actually a French/German banking bailout than a Greek bailout if this aspect is highlighted. Take a look at the chart below.

If Greece defaults, then a banking bailout would be almost a certainty. Otherwise, a domino effect would probably take down the world's whole banking system. So the choices are: 1) Bailout Greece (again and again) or 2) Let Greece default and bail out the banks instead. Neither seems to be an attractive option when considering the likely backlash from voters.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Greece: the next Lehman - update

In a previous post, I talked about Greece having the potential of becoming the next Lehman. Well, yesterday, the New York Times chimed in with a similar theme. I believe the problem of Greece is still under-appreciated in North America. Just as Lehman had global consequences, so might Greece!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Financial Repression

It's not new but Financial Repression is a term seen recently in many articles, even in the mainstream media. It refers to a purposeful and methodical policy approach by government towards solving its deficit/debt problems by massively cheating investors and savers rather than contemplating default. This is accomplished through strong government control and intervention of interest rates and financial institutions. Savers are given close to zero interest in spite of considerable inflation, which is usually purposefully under-reported.

Because the problems are far more severe than in the past and because world markets far more fluid today, I doubt that governments will be able to control markets successfully enough this time around to prevent a bond collapse (higher interest rates) or some other financial crisis. Many have already begun to flock to gold and silver in an attempt to escape controlled markets. However, so far, the U.S. has succeeded in maintaining absurdly low yields on its bills and bonds, perhaps giving more support to some cynics' views that these are certificates of guaranteed confiscation. For a thorough treatment of "financial repression", please see this excellent article by Daniel R. Amerman.

Friday, June 3, 2011

QE3 Gets Closer as U.S. Economic Indicators Falter

As economic storm clouds gather (see CNBC for example), pressure mounts on the Federal Reserve to launch QE3. They will deny and obfuscate as long as possible but at a certain point they will mount their white stallions again and sally forth to the "rescue". Trillions more will be printed and trillions more in debt accumulated. Currencies, stock/bond markets and commodities will gyrate. Gold and silver will make new highs while U.S. credit ratings will be downgraded. But I'm getting ahead of myself a bit. The economic situation and especially the stock markets will first need to suffer a bit, enough to be noticed by the general public, maybe even some panic drops in market values, for example. Political and public consensus will then build around the new imperative of QE3 although it may be called something else to avoid the obvious embarrassment of creating a string of failed initiatives.