Well, its official (sort of). Greece, a member of the European Union, will probably join the ranks of countries like Latvia (where policies are limited by the choice of the currency regime), Iceland (where the crisis has resulted in a very heavy external debt burden), the Ukraine (which is still affected by financial and political fragility) and a bevy of third world and emerging market countries in distress from the (not very) esteemed club of IMF financial aid recipients. What does this portend for the Euro? Well, I have blogged earlier in the year that the Euro's credibility is now highly suspect and those pundits who dared contemplate the Euro potentially replacing the dollar as the global reserve currency now see the folly of their ways. The chances of a break-up are significantly higher and quite realistic. Credit Agricole's currency strategist puts it succinctly:
"If Greece goes with the IMF, that says something terrible about the political process within Europe," said Stuart Bennett, a senior foreign-exchange strategist at Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank in London. "This undermines any confidence in the currency."
Greece will probably end up defaulting on their debt, with or without the aid of the IMF, and they will probably have good company with several other EU members. I say so, and so does UBS Economist Donovan.
"I think it's in an impossible situation," said Donovan, who is based in London, in an interview with Bloomberg Radio today. "Europe has failed to clear its first serious hurdle. If Europe can't solve a small problem like this, how on earth is it going to solve the larger problem, which is the euro doesn't work. It's a bad idea."
How dare I make such a proclamation? Well, because I am telling the truth based upon facts and the many forecasts from the various sovereign nations are basically based upon lies, fiction and farce! As it is look at how the market is viewing the Greek tragedy:
European governments have yet to agree on how to fund any rescue for Greece, which says it will struggle to pay its debts at current market interest rates. While Prime Minister George Papandreou announced a 4.8 billion euro ($6.4 billion) austerity package on March 3, the extra yield that investors demand to hold Greek debt over German counterparts has since risen.
The spread was at 324 basis points today compared with 316 points at the start of the month. The euro fell 1 percent today to $1.3358, extending its decline this year to 6.7 percent.
I am willing to bet the "market" has not taken a strong, hard, objective look at those proposed austerity measures and uncovered the secrets that I am about to reveal. If they have, these spreads would have been blown out much wider.
A German finance official said yesterday that both countries may agree to involve the IMF. Papandreou said March 19 that Greece, which needs to sell about 10 billion euros ($13.4 billion) of bonds in coming weeks, is a step away from not being able to borrow and may need to turn to the IMF if European aid isn't forthcoming.
Europe's fiscal crisis shows the need for the euro region to create a common fiscal policy, former U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont said in an interview in London today.
"That would be the logical step," Lamont said. "I don't think they are prepared to do that, and without doing that I think the euro is a contradiction, a currency without a state."
Bingo! The man hit the point right on the head. There are too many chiefs and not enough Indians.
I want to visually and verbally demonstrate what an absolute joke European economic estimates have been throughout this crisis, and more importantly how politicians and sovereign states are interpreting this joke in such a way that can deliver a punch line that can most assuredly end in sever global recession, or worse. This document/blog post alone should serve to sink the Euro and blow out CDS spreads for several European sovereign. Why? Because the truth hurts and the truth is not what has been coming from European sovereign states as of late.
The IMF and the EU have been consistently and overtly optimistic from the very beginning of this crisis. Their numbers have been dramatically over the top on the super bright, this will end pretty, rosy scenario side - and that is after multiple revisions to the downside!!! We can visit the US concept of regulatory capture (see How Regulatory Capture Turns Doo Doo Deadly and Lehman Brothers Dies While Getting Away with Murder: Regulatory Capture at its Best) for the EU, but due to time constraints we will save that topic for a later date. To make matters even worse, the sovereign states have taken these dramatically optimistic and proven unrealistic projections and have made even more optimistic and dramatically unrealistic projections on top of those in order to create the illusion of a workable "austerity" plan when in reality there is no way in hell the stated and published plans will come anywhere near reducing the debts and deficits as advertised - No Way in Hell (Hades/Tartarus/Anao/Uffern/Peklo/Niffliehem - just to cover some of the Euro states caught fudging the numbers)!
Let's take a visual perusal of what I am talking about, focusing on those sovereign nations that I have covered thus far.
Notice how dramatically off the market the IMF has been, skewered HEAVILY to the optimistic side. Now, notice how aggressively the IMF has downwardly revsied their forecasts to still end up widlly optimistic.
Ever since the beginning of this crisis, IMF estimates of government balance have been just as bad...
The EU/EC has proven to be no better, and if anything is arguably worse!
... and the EU on goverment balance??? Way, way, way off.
If the IMF was wrong, what in the world does that make the EC/EU?
The EC forecasts have been just as bad, if not much, much worse in nearly all of the forecasting scenarios we presented. Hey, if you think tha's bad, try taking a look at what the govenment of Greece has done with these fairy tale forecasts, as excerpted from the blog post "Greek Crisis Is Over, Region Safe", Prodi Says - I say Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!...
Think about it! With a .5% revisions, the EC was still 3 full points to the optimistic side on GDP, that puts the possibility of Greek government forecasts, which are much more optimistic than both the EU and the slightly more stringent but still mostly erroneous IMF numbers, being anywhere near realistic somewhere between zero and no way in hell (tartarus, hades, purgatory...).
Now, if the Greek government's macroeconomic assumptions are overstated when compared with EU estimates, and the EU estimates are overstated when compared to the IMF estimates, and the IMF estimates are overstated when compared to reality.... Just who the hell can you trust these days??? Never fear, Reggie's here. Download our "unbiased, non-captured, empirically driven" forecast of the REAL Greek economy - (subscribers only, click here to subscribe) Greece Public Finances Projections 2010-03-15 11:33:27 694.35 Kb. Related banking research can be downloaded here:
It really is a shame when you have to pay for the truth, isn't it? If you think you've witnessed an example of social unrest in Greece, you ain't seen nuthin' yet. Wait until the reality of these faked numbers start hitting home...
What about the UK?
I'm glad you asked. We just finished our UK analysis (subscribers, see UK Public Finances March 2010 2010-03-24 09:32:01 617.23 Kb), and the Greek theme has continued into the land of the Brits.
... and in terms of government balance over-optimism???
The UK government's projections are based on real GDP growth of 1.3% and 3.5% in 2010-11 and 2011-12, respectively while the (extremely and unrealistically optimistic) consensus estimates stand at 1.2% and 2.1%, respectively. The latest estimates announced by the EIU (Economist intelligence unit) in March 2010 are even lower at 1.2% and 1.5% for 2010-11 and 2011-12, respectively. The European Commission has also raised similar concerns with the Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn, criticizing governments after scrutinizing the strategies of 14 countries, including Germany, France, Italy, the U.K. and Spain, that "their budget projections were based on favorable macroeconomic assumptions after 2010 that may not materialize" (stated in a press article on March 18, 2010)
Raising concerns on the UK, the European Commission also stated that "The U.K. won't meet the EU's recommended target of reaching a 3% budget deficit by 2014-15, and projections for economic recovery may also fall short. Details on how the U.K. government, whose budget deficit is expected to hit 12.7% in the current financial year, will rein back its spending are also lacking. The absence of detailed departmental spending limits is a source of uncertainty".
Continuously rising fiscal deficit has led to a continuous increase in the government total debt, which increased from 43.3% of GDP in 2007-08 to 72.9% in 2009-10. Moreover, according to EU Commission estimates, after Ireland, the UK is poised to incur the worst deterioration in the gross debt ratio in the EU, from 44.2% of GDP in 2008 to 88.2% of GDP in 2011. Though the average maturity of UK's debt is considerably higher compared to other nations (thus no refinancing risk in the near future), the expanding interest burden is exacerbating the already strained fiscal deficit.
Moreover, rising debt not only restricts government's fiscal stimulus and support to the economy, but is also forcing the government to undertake sharp fiscal consolidation measures to moderate the adverse impact of rising interest expenses on the fiscal deficit. This is bound to have an internal deflationary effect.
The government expects an increase in its debt from 55.5% of GDP in 2008-09 to 90.9% in 2012-13. In absolute terms, the government debt is expected to grow from £796.4 billion in 2009-10 to £1,486.2 billion in 2012-13. However, we expect the debt to increase much higher off higher primary deficit owing to relatively lower GDP growth assumptions.
And what about Italy???
Again, we're glad you inquired. Subscribers should download Italy public finances projection 2010-03-22 10:47:41 588.19 Kb as well as the Italian Banking Macro-Fundamental Discussion Note and the Spanish Banking Macro Discussion Note in anticipation of our upcoming Spain analysis, which should be a doozy!
This is Italy's presumption of economic growth used in their fiscal projections:
For those that don't subscribe, there is still a lot of nitty gritty that I made publicly available on Italy here: Once You Catch a Few EU Countries "Stretching the Truth", Why Should You Trust the Rest?
More on Euro stretching of the truth
If you haven't had your fill of innuendo, ambiguity, creativity and sleight of hand (my polite way of saying "lying"), you can peruse Smoking Swap Guns Are Beginning to Litter EuroLand, Sovereign Debt Buyer Beware!
For the complete Pan-European Sovereign Debt Crisis series, see:
- The Coming Pan-European Sovereign Debt Crisis - introduces the crisis and identified it as a pan-European problem, not a localized one.
- What Country is Next in the Coming Pan-European Sovereign Debt Crisis? - illustrates the potential for the domino effect
- The Pan-European Sovereign Debt Crisis: If I Were to Short Any Country, What Country Would That Be.. - attempts to illustrate the highly interdependent weaknesses in Europe's sovereign nations can effect even the perceived "stronger" nations.
- The Coming Pan-European Soverign Debt Crisis, Pt 4: The Spread to Western European Countries
- The Depression is Already Here for Some Members of Europe, and It Just Might Be Contagious!
- The Beginning of the Endgame is Coming???
- I Think It's Confirmed, Greece Will Be the First Domino to Fall
- Smoking Swap Guns Are Beginning to Litter EuroLand, Sovereign Debt Buyer Beware!
- Financial Contagion vs. Economic Contagion: Does the Market Underestimate the Effects of the Latter?
- "Greek Crisis Is Over, Region Safe", Prodi Says - I say Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!
- Germany Finally Comes Out and Says, "We're Not Touching Greece" - Well, Sort of...
- The Greece and the Greek Banks Get the Word "First" Etched on the Side of Their Domino
- As I Warned Earlier, Latvian Government Collapses Exacerbating Financial Crisis
- Once You Catch a Few EU Countries "Stretching the Truth", Why Should You Trust the Rest?