Monday, August 6, 2012

Warnings About the Eurozone


The Republicans can blame President Obama or do-nothing Ben Bernanke for all the economic problems, but this mess in the Eurozone gets worse week after week, and while you can possibly put blame on the Bush Administration and Wall Street for starting the crisis in Europe, this is also a political problem that only those countries can solve. However, while we wait for that to happen, the angst and fear emanating from the Eurozone make the markets seem unstable even on a good day, and every weekend there is some dire warning just before the Monday opening. This week is no different.

A few weeks ago, Mario Draghi, European Central Bank President, made a speech promising to do "whatever it takes" to save the Euro. But his words didn't calm the markets, which instead reacted negatively. They just aren't buying what he is selling, so to speak. Then he spoke again last Thursday, to mixed reviews.

"It's pointless to bet against the Euro," he said.

Can Draghi Turn the EU Ship Around?
Draghi, when he spoke late last week in Frankfurt, did not step away from his sweeping “whatever it takes” reassurance of the week before. In fact, he reaffirmed that the ECB would enter the bond markets to keep sovereign borrowing rates down. And he put this every which way he could. The central bank would “undertake outright open-market operations of a size adequate to reach its objective.” Interest rates, he said later, “that are related to fears of the reversibility of the euro are unacceptable, and they need to be addressed in a fundamental manner.”

What changed? Nothing of consequence. Draghi spoke a little more technocratically, offering details and leaving behind the billboard headlines. He implicitly acknowledged a target yield on European sovereign debt. That amounts to another commitment to whatever it takes.

In the meantime, Germany’s central bank president, Jens Weidmann, repeated that Germany was against the ECB’s latest thinking about bond buying.

Meanwhile: Italy's President is in a panic, and sees the Euro collapsing:

Mario Monti Sees Euro Alliance Dissolving
Monti, in an interview with Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine published yesterday, said that disagreements within the 17- nation euro area are detracting from the policy response to the debt crisis and undermining the future of the European Union.

“The tensions that have accompanied the euro zone in the past years are already showing signs of a psychological dissolution of Europe,” Monti told Der Spiegel. While he backed the ECB’s willingness to address “severe malfunctioning” in the government bond market, Monti said the problems “have to be solved quickly now so that there’s no further uncertainty about the euro zone’s ability to overcome the crisis.”

. . . Monti told Spiegel that he intends to stay in office until April 2013, when Italy is due to hold elections, and he hopes he “can save Italy from financial ruin until then, with the moral support of some European friends, and Germany foremost. But I say very clearly: moral support, not financial.”


An article reprinted on CNBC from Financial Times hints that Spain might actually be leaving the Eurozone:

Wall Street Warned of Possible Euro Exit
The eurozone continues to be the predominant concern of US bank executives, ahead of the faltering US recovery. Last summer the worsening of the eurozone crisis produced wild swings in US banks’ stock prices and led the Securities and Exchange Commission to demand they provide more disclosure of assets in Spain, Greece, Italy, Ireland and Portugal.

. . . Last week the speculation on whether Mario Draghi, European Central Bank president, would take more aggressive action to tackle the crisis produced further gyrations in US stock prices.

One senior Wall Street executive said his bank was approaching derivatives counterparties to say: “‘We’ve got this contract, it’s in euros, what I want to know is in the event that Spain were to be redenominated are we going to end up being adversaries on this or can we just agree that this is a euro contact? Let’s just move it to London law so we each agree that we know where we stand.’

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