Monday, February 8, 2010
EUROPE RISKS ANOTHER GLOBAL DEPRESSION (HERE WE GO AGAIN?)
"The stronger EU countries are not willing to help – in part because they want to be tough, but also because they do not have effective mechanisms for providing assistance-with-strings. Unconditional bailouts are simple – just send a check. Structuring a rescue package that will garner support among the German electorate – whose current and future taxes will be on the line – is considerably more complicated.
The financial markets know all this and last week sharpened their swords. As we move into this week, expect more selling pressure across a wide range of European assets.
As this pressure mounts, we’ll see cracks appear also in the private sector. Significant banks and large hedge funds have been selling insurance against default by European sovereigns. As countries lose creditworthiness – and, under sufficient pressure, very few government credit ratings will hold up – these financial institutions will need to come up with cash to post increasing amounts of collateral against their derivative obligations (yes, the same credit default swaps that triggered the collapse last time).
Remember that none of the opaqueness of the credit default swap market has been addressed since the crisis of September 2008. And generalized counter-party risk – the fear that your insurer will fail and this will bring down all connected banks – raises its ugly head again.
Another Lehman/AIG-type situation lurks somewhere on the European continent, and again our purported G7 (or even G20) leaders are slow to see the risk. And this time, given that they already used almost all their fiscal bullets, it will be considerably more difficult for governments to respond effectively when they do wake up.
Read the rest here.