Monday, November 28, 2011

Financial Armageddon - Arriving at Last?

Eurocarnage Continues:

Things are only going from bad to worse in Europe.

Reader Antifa had noted in comments that the IMF had expanded access on Thursday to borrowing facilities via a Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL), which would allow “responsible” borrowers to take down five or perhaps as much as ten times their normal allotment. But I don’t agree with his/her hopeful view that this meant the IMF was acting as lender of last resort. Only the ECB, an issuer of euros, can play that role. The IMF gets its budget from member nations, and my understanding in the US is that it comes from the Treasury, not the Fed, which means it is a budgetary item. New spending allocations, particularly to ‘furriners, are not likely to get much traction. China was already approached directly (for the EFSF) and was notably cool on the idea. Why would it lend indirectly, via the IMF, when it and other emerging economies are already unhappy that their voting share is out of line with their economic power? The BRICs have made it clear they want more voting rights as a condition to making bigger contributions. So I don’t see the IMF as an effective force, in general, and even on a stopgap basis given it certain to be insufficient firepower.

Mr. Market seems to think so too. Italy had a disastrously bad bond auction today, a mere €10 billion of two year notes and six month bills (remember, the day of reckoning comes in February, when Italy has to roll €300 billion). The rate on the bills was 6.50%; on the notes, 7.81%. Three year note yields rose as high as 8.13%. Even though the ECB intervened, buying both Spanish and Italian debt, it barely made a dent. Yields in Italy on two to five year paper remained in the 7.67% to 7.77%

German bond yields were also higher than they were after Wednesday’s terrible bunds auction. Stunningly, Belgian ten year yields have risen more than 1% this week, from 4.79% to 5.85%, with a downgrade of Belgium to AA by Standard & Poors no doubt contributing.

The Financial Times also reports that investors are fleeing Eurobank stocks:

Uninvestable is just about the worst word in a shareholders’ vocabulary.

The term – meaning that the market sees no point at all in investing in a certain asset – is being used increasingly when talking about European banks.

It's all about debt based on land value. A lot of people (well, a lot of people who read or comment on blogs like Naked Capitalism) can see the debt/money angle of the issue, but much fewer the land issue, because the privatization of site rent is taken for granted as the 'natural order of things' instead of as a root pathology.

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