As we have outlined in previous articles, The EU will collapse, it was a matter of time. Well, that time has arrived. The falsely placed hope was that Greece would go silently into the night and then the politicos in Germany and France then could consolidate any impacts from the rest of the PIIGS and somehow manage the overwhelming debt over time. It was a fool’s dream from the onset.
It was so because first there is no way the German and French People would settle with being saddled with the cost of that bailout. The big secret is that both Germany and France are not in that good a shape themselves. France’s external debt to GDP is 208% and Germany’s external debt to GDP is 163%. Here is what the house of cards really looks like:
It is deceptive, at least, to use the Public Debt to GDP to honestly evaluate the situation, given the enormous exposure of the German and French banks are facing in the derivatives market float that currently exists. Keep it in your mind always that is the banks behind all of this and the ECB would have to bail them out when the final wheel falls off the joy wagon.
There is no way that German and French banks can cover their exposure and the ECB cannot possibly print that much money without setting off massive hyperinflation that would follow any effort to try and print that many Euros. The hope was that Greece would accept the draconian austerity demanded by the bankers to cover the 220% external debt (ED) to GDP.
Where it gets really crazy is that IF Greece went silently into what can only be described as a deep depression, somehow the EU could then manage the Italian ED (135%), the Irish ED 1098%, the Portuguese ED 239%, and the Spanish ED of 173%, basically on the backs of the French and Germans. See how crazy it gets.
Well it just got a whole lot crazier in the last 72 hours. The country that invented drama and democracy is not disappointing the world on either front. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Monday called for two high- stakes votes. The first asks parliament to say by the end of this week whether it has confidence in his leadership. The second is a referendum in which Greek voters would approve or reject, possibly by year’s end, Europe’s latest debt-crisis workout. The move blindsided European leaders on the eve of a global summit and rocked lawmakers in Papandreou’s party, some of whom are now calling for him to step down. The next day, stocks tumbled worldwide, the euro declined and Italian bonds plunged.
French banks and other lenders exposed to Greece and other weak euro zone countries slumped on Tuesday after Greece’s leader said he would put a bailout plan to a referendum, raising the risk of a disorderly default. Papandreou knew all along he could not force the Greek people to accept the austerity plan proposed by the ECB and IMF. Europe’s latest bailout proposal falls far short of what’s needed. Under the deal, private banks holding Greek debt would voluntarily accept a 50 percent write-off on their returns; the European Financial Stability Facility, the EU’s bailout fund, would be leveraged to 1 trillion euros ($1.37 trillion) from 400 billion euros; and European banks would raise 106 billion euros ($145 billion) in new capital by June 2012. As for Greece, it is due to receive 130 billion euros ($180 billion) in public funds on top of 110 billion euros pledged in 2010.
Writedowns of Greece’s sovereign debt should be much steeper. Greek bonds held by the European Central Bank would not be covered, so the writedown is really less than 50 percent. It needs to be closer to 70 percent to make Greece’s debt burden bearable. In addition, the EFSF needs a war chest of at least 3 trillion euros to make sure Europe’s banks are recapitalized and to guarantee the financing needs of Italy and other struggling governments.
Greeks know that this latest bailout proposal will also come with many unpopular strings attached, including further austerity measures. In an Oct. 27 poll for the Greek weekly To Vima, the majority said the deal should be put to a national vote, with 58 percent calling it “negative” or “probably negative.” Deep budget cuts, broken pension promises and heavy government job losses have already led to strikes, street protests and violence.
Then Monday’s surprise was, as Greek politics grew ever more chaotic, strong political protests erupted as the government moved to replace military chiefs with officers seen as more supportive of George Papandreou, the prime minister. In a surprise development, Panos Beglitis, Defence Minister, a close confidante of Mr. Papandreou, summoned the chiefs of the army, navy and air-force and announced that they were being replaced by other senior officers.
Neither the minister nor any government spokesman offered an explanation for the sudden, sweeping changes, which were scheduled to be considered on November 7 as part of a regular annual review of military leadership retirements and promotions. Usually the annual changes do not affect the entire leadership. “Under no circumstances will these changes be accepted, at a time when the government is collapsing and has not even secured a vote of confidence,” said an official announcement by the opposition conservative New Democracy party.
Add to this Greece’s government looked on the verge of implosion on Tuesday ahead of a Friday confidence vote as a socialist deputy defected and another cadre called for early elections after the prime minister called a referendum on his EU debt rescue. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou called the referendum late Monday in a bid to secure approval of his disputed economic policies without early elections. But the gambit backfired when a former deputy minister defected, reducing the ruling party’s majority in the 300-seat parliament to 152 deputies. Moments later, the head of parliament’s economic affairs committee Vasso Papandreou called for an early ballot and a temporary unity government to “safeguard” the EU deal agreed last week to slash Greece’s huge debt by nearly a third.
This “popular revolutionary” move is going to spread rapidly to the rest of the PIIGS. The unraveling will be rapid. The exposure of the American banks is significant and they have already been slammed this week with MF Global filing for bankruptcy on Monday, investors pummeled many financial stocks, fearful that problems were lurking on the books of other Wall Street firms. It was a crisis of confidence, not unlike in 2008 when the markets punished stocks on mere speculation of trouble. An interesting note is that Jon Corazine, the ex-head of Goldman Sachs, was at the helm at MF Global. Imagine that! A leopard doesn’t change its spots!
We are going to witness the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world within the next few weeks and the citizens of Germany, France, US, and Britain are NOT the winners, and neither is the 1%. The winners are the 1/4%. Are we catching on yet?