Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Investing in a Bubble Mania Stock Market Trending Towards Financial Crisis 2.0 CRASH! - 9th Sep 21
2.Tech Stocks Bubble Valuations 2000 vs 2021 - 25th Sep 21
3.Stock Market FOMO Going into Crash Season - 8th Oct 21
4.Stock Market FOMO Hits September Brick Wall - Evergrande China's Lehman's Moment - 22nd Sep 21
5.Crypto Bubble BURSTS! BTC, ETH, XRP CRASH! NiceHash Seizes Funds on Account Halting ALL Withdrawals! - 19th May 21
6.How to Protect Your Self From a Stock Market CRASH / Bear Market? - 14th Oct 21
7.AI Stocks Portfolio Buying and Selling Levels Going Into Market Correction - 11th Oct 21
8.Why Silver Price Could Crash by 20%! - 5th Oct 21
9.Powell: Inflation Might Not Be Transitory, After All - 3rd Oct 21
10.Global Stock Markets Topped 60 Days Before the US Stocks Peaked - 23rd Sep 21
Last 7 days
S&P 500 – Is a 5% Correction Enough? - 6th Dec 21
Global Stock Markets It’s Do-Or-Die Time - 6th Dec 21
Hawks Triumph, Doves Lose, Gold Bulls Cry! - 6th Dec 21
How Stock Investors Can Cash in on President Biden’s new Climate Plan - 6th Dec 21
The Lithium Tech That Could Send The EV Boom Into Overdrive - 6th Dec 21
How Stagflation Effects Stocks - 5th Dec 21
Bitcoin FLASH CRASH! Cryptos Blood Bath as Exchanges Run Stops, An Early Christmas Present for Some? - 5th Dec 21
TESCO Pre Omicron Panic Christmas Decorations Festive Shop 2021 - 5th Dec 21
Dow Stock Market Trend Forecast Into Mid 2022 - 4th Dec 21
INVESTING LESSON - Give your Portfolio Some Breathing Space - 4th Dec 21
Don’t Get Yourself Into a Bull Trap With Gold - 4th Dec 21
GOLD HAS LOTS OF POTENTIAL DOWNSIDE - 4th Dec 21
4 Tips To Help You Take Better Care Of Your Personal Finances- 4th Dec 21
What Is A Golden Cross Pattern In Trading? - 4th Dec 21
Bitcoin Price TRIGGER for Accumulating Into Alt Coins for 2022 Price Explosion - Part 2 - 3rd Dec 21
Stock Market Major Turning Point Taking Place - 3rd Dec 21
The Masters of the Universe and Gold - 3rd Dec 21
This simple Stock Market mindset shift could help you make millions - 3rd Dec 21
Will the Glasgow Summit (COP26) Affect Energy Prices? - 3rd Dec 21
Peloton 35% CRASH a Lesson of What Happens When One Over Pays for a Loss Making Growth Stock - 1st Dec 21
Stock Market Sentiment Speaks: I Fear For Retirees For The Next 20 Years - 1st Dec 21 t
Will the Anointed Finanical Experts Get It Wrong Again? - 1st Dec 21
Main Differences Between the UK and Canadian Gaming Markets - 1st Dec 21
Bitcoin Price TRIGGER for Accumulating Into Alt Coins for 2022 Price Explosion - 30th Nov 21
Omicron Covid Wave 4 Impact on Financial Markets - 30th Nov 21
Can You Hear It? That’s the Crowd Booing Gold’s Downturn - 30th Nov 21
Economic and Market Impacts of Omicron Strain Covid 4th Wave - 30th Nov 21
Stock Market Historical Trends Suggest A Strengthening Bullish Trend In December - 30th Nov 21
Crypto Market Analysis: What Trading Will Look Like in 2022 for Novice and Veteran Traders? - 30th Nov 21
Best Stocks for Investing to Profit form the Metaverse and Get Rich - 29th Nov 21
Should You Invest In Real Estate In 2021? - 29th Nov 21
Silver Long-term Trend Analysis - 28th Nov 21
Silver Mining Stocks Fundamentals - 28th Nov 21
Crude Oil Didn’t Like Thanksgiving Turkey This Year - 28th Nov 21
Sheffield First Snow Winter 2021 - Snowballs and Snowmen Fun - 28th Nov 21
Stock Market Investing LESSON - Buying Value - 27th Nov 21
Corsair MP600 NVME M.2 SSD 66% Performance Loss After 6 Months of Use - Benchmark Tests - 27th Nov 21

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Protect your Wealth by Investing in AI Tech Stocks

Italy Is the Mother of All Systemic Threats

Stock-Markets / Eurozone Debt Crisis Sep 16, 2016 - 11:44 AM GMT

By: John_Mauldin

Stock-Markets

BY GEORGE FRIEDMAN : Italy has been in a crisis for at least eight months, though mainstream media did not recognize it until July. This crisis has nothing to do with Brexit, although opponents of Brexit will claim it does. Even if Britain had voted to stay in the EU, the Italian crisis would still have been gathering speed.

The high level of non-performing loans (NPLs) has been a problem since before Brexit. It is clear that there is nothing in the Italian economy that can reduce them. Only a dramatic improvement in the economy would make it possible to repay these loans. And Europe’s economy cannot improve drastically enough to help. We have been in crisis for quite a while.


Banks were simply carrying loans as non-performing that were actually in default and discounting the NPLs rather than writing them off. But that only hid the obvious. As much as 17 percent of Italy’s loans will not be repaid. This will crush Italian banks' balance sheets. And this will not only be in Italy.

Italian loans are packaged and resold, and Italian banks take loans from other European banks. These banks in turn have borrowed against Italian debt. Since Italy is the fourth largest economy in Europe, this is the mother of all systemic threats.

Bail-Ins, Not Bail Outs

The only way to help is a government bailout. The problem is that Italy is not only part of the EU, but part of the eurozone. As such, its ability to print its way out of the crisis is limited. In addition, EU regulations make it difficult for governments to bail out banks.

The EU has a concept called a bail-in, which means the depositors and creditors to the bank will lose their money. This is what the EU imposed on Cyprus. In Cyprus, deposits greater than 100,000 euros ($111,000) were seized to cover Cypriot bank debts. While some was returned, most was not.

The bail-in is a formula for bank runs. The money seized in Cyprus came from retirement funds and payrolls. Rome wants to make sure depositors don’t lose their deposits. A run on the banks would guarantee a meltdown. A meltdown would topple the government and allow the Five Star Movement, a Euroskeptic party, a good shot at governing.

The bail-in rule exists because Berlin doesn't want to bail out banking systems using German money. Anti-European sentiment in Germany is already growing, with the rising popularity of the nationalist Alternative for Germany party. The Germans feel that they are fiscally responsible, and they resent paying for others' irresponsibility.

Therefore, the German government’s hands are tied. It cannot accept a Europe-wide deposit insurance system, as it would put German money at risk. Nor can it permit overprinting of the euro. That would come out of the German hide as well.

The Italians can only try to manage the problem by ignoring EU rules, which is what they are doing.

Crisis Spreading

And another European economic crisis is brewing. Germany derives nearly half of its GDP from exports. All the discipline and frugality of the Germans can’t hide the fact that their prosperity depends on their ability to export. The ability to export depends on the demand of their customers.

Germany exports heavily to the EU, and the Italian crisis could cause an EU-wide banking crisis. That would cut deeply into German exports, slashing GDP and driving up unemployment. Logically, the Germans should be desperately trying to head off an Italian default. But Chancellor Angela Merkel is not eager to announce to the German people that their economy depends on Italy’s well-being.

Clearly, German businesses are aware of the danger. German production of capital goods fell nearly 4 percent from last month. German production of consumer goods rose only 0.5 percent.

German consumption can’t possibly make up for half of Germany’s GDP. In addition, the IMF recently said Deutsche Bank is the single largest contributor to systemic risk in the world. A rippling default through Europe will hit Deutsche Bank.

The US Piece of the Puzzle

However, the real threat to Germany is a U.S. recession. Recessions are normal, cyclical events that are necessary to maintain economic efficiency by culling inefficient businesses. The U.S. has one on average once every six to seven years. Substantial irrationality has crept into the economy. The yield curve on interest rates is beginning to flatten. Normally, a major market decline precedes a recession by three to six months. That would indicate that it likely won’t happen in 2016, but it could in 2017.

Given the stagnation in Europe, Germany has been shifting its exports to other countries, particularly the U.S. If the U.S. goes into recession, demand for German goods, among others, will drop. But in the case of Germany, a 1 percent drop in exports is nearly a half percent drop in GDP. With Germany’s minimal growth rate, drops of a few points could drive it into recession and high unemployment.

A U.S. recession would not only hit Germany, but the rest of Europe. Many countries export to the U.S., either directly or through producing components for German and British products. The U.S. is somewhat exposed to foreign debt defaults, but not enough to bring down the American system. The United States, with relatively low export percentages and low exposure, can withstand its cycle. It is not clear that Europe can.

The Big Picture

The EU must address Italy’s and Germany’s problems, but its regulations make finding solutions very difficult. This all was put in motion in 2008, but it is not a 2008 crisis. This is most of all a political and administrative crisis. The European system was created to administer peace and prosperity, not to manage the complex gyrations of an economy.

The argument from those who are against internationalism is simple. Sometimes the major international systems fail. The less entangled you are with these systems, the less damage you suffer. And since such systemic failures historically leads to political conflict and crisis, the case for nationalism increases – assuming you aren’t already trapped in the systemic crisis. In any event, increasing nationalism follows systemic failure like night follows day.

Watch George Friedman's Ground-breaking Documentary ‘Crisis & Chaos: Are We Moving Toward World War III?’

Italy’s contagious crisis is part of a storm of instability engulfing a region that’s home to 5 billion of the planet’s 7 billion people.

In this provocative documentary from Mauldin Economics and Geopolitical Futures, George Friedman uncovers the crises convulsing Europe, the Middle East and Asia … and reveals the geopolitical chess moves that could trigger global conflict. Register for the online premiere now.

John Mauldin Archive

© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in