Darkening Skies

Market threats are multiplying
Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 6:31 PM

Chris is busy finishing up a meaty report on the accelerating friction between the West and Russia, so I'm stepping in to make some quick notes on today's meaningful developments.

As PP.com readers know, we've been cautioning about a serious market correction for a long time. Valuations have been so far divorced from fundamentals for so long that we are frighteningly overdue for a drop -- likely a large one -- in asset prices. » Read more


Alasdair Macleod: Europe is a Hot Mess

Its banks are the weak point in the global financial system
Sunday, July 28, 2013, 9:42 AM

It's almost August, the month everyone in Europe takes off on holiday to forget their troubles. This year may be different, though, as not only can many not afford a vacation, but Europe's troubles loom so large that forgetting them won't be easy... » Read more

Daily Digest

Image by Images_Of_Money, Flickr Creative Commons

Daily Digest 6/5 - Portugal 'Should Leave Euro', Beef Prices At Record High

Wednesday, June 5, 2013, 8:39 AM
  • EPA: The United States needs $384 billion in drinking-water infrastructure improvements
  • Argentina May Tax Revenue Rises 27.4% on Year to ARS77.8 Billion
  • Portugal 'should leave euro': best-selling economist
  • Portugal's biggest unions band together for general strike
  • Italian businessmen drop trousers to protest hounding by taxman
  • Many Probationers Go Unsupervised Because of Budget Cuts
  • Cost cutting: Spain's national police buy own bullet-proof vests
  • Chicago Public Schools new pension headache
  • Illinois Losing Rally as State Fails to Fix Pension: Muni Credit
  • China gold imports to keep growing after hitting record high
  • Disney hikes some park prices to over $90
  • Beef Prices Hitting Record High for Summer
  • Gold Imports by India Seen Falling as Central Bank Widens Curbs
  • State of Florida to increase yellow light minimums following 10 News Investigation into red-light camera intersections
Daily Digest

Image by Blatant_World, Flickr Creative Commons

Daily Digest 3/27 - Cyprus Banks Stay Shut Until Thursday, Spain Bank Offers Grim Forecast

Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 9:55 AM
  • Cyprus bail-out: savers will be raided to save euro in future crises, says eurozone chief
  • Spain's central bank offers grim economic forecast
  • Mr Yen cautions on Japan's 'unsafe' debt trajectory
  • House To Propose College Tuition Increase
  • California State Treasurer emphasizes shrinking retirement savings
  • Portugal to contract 2.3% in 2013: central bank
  • Bernanke rejects competitive devaluation worries
  • Cyprus bailout: Banks to stay shut until Thursday
  • Recession keeps Italy's banks at risk: IMF
Daily Digest

Image by Digitalmoneyworld, Flickr Creative Commons

Daily Digest 3/13 - U.K. Faces Growing Vulnerability, German Bank Doubles Reserves

Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 8:18 AM
  • Spain unveils $4.6-billion plan to get young back to work
  • Portugal in worst recession in 37 years
  • Duty hike on gold expected to reduce imports: Minister
  • France's Francois Hollande admits to miss deficit target
  • Students Rally Against Proposed Tuition Hike
  • Military tuition assistance another casualty of the sequester
  • Abe’s Weak Yen Policy Erodes Japanese Tourist Spending in Korea
  • Local Lawmakers Lead Fight To Ban Traffic Cameras in Ohio
  • German Central Bank Doubles Reserves
  • U.K. Faces Growing Vulnerability

Europe is Drowning Under Too Much Government

Its banks are being increasingly propped up by the U.S.
Monday, March 4, 2013, 2:52 PM

The Christmas and New Year's break, when Europe shuts down and stops thinking, is now well and truly over, and we are reawakening to the same old problems: Greece, Spain, Cyprus, Portugal, Italy, France…all with their hands out for money from Germany, Holland, Finland, and Austria.

The holiday from the banking crisis, which was the result of the determination of the ECB to put a lid on it, is also over, with yields on the supplicant countries’ debt rising again.

However, joining the bad news list is the United Kingdom. Ominously, the pound is sliding in the foreign exchange markets, providing a very tricky background for Chancellor Osborne’s budget on March 20th. I shall examine the UK’s position later, but first let’s update ourselves on developments in the Eurozone.

The reality is that all the problems of the Eurozone are still with us, despite the fall in bond yields and their modest subsequent recovery. There is now the likelihood that we are about to enter the final phase of the end of the Eurozone experiment, with far wider consequences. So we need to pick up the story where we left off. » Read more

Daily Digest

Image by NASA, Flickr Creative Commons

Daily Digest 10/31 - Sandy Damage Bill May Be $50 Billion, Greece PM Warns of Chaos

Wednesday, October 31, 2012, 11:56 AM
  • Storm's cost may hit $50B; rebuilding to ease blow
  • Greek PM Warns of Chaos if Austerity Blocked
  • Spanish banks sap profits with "desperate" price war
  • Portugal government seeks opposition support for more spending cuts
  • India Cuts Reserve Ratio to Back Growth Push; Holds Key Rate
  • Bernanke’s Cash Fuels Record Debt Rally
  • Hungary 'to offer wealthy foreigners citizenship in return for investment'
  • Fitch Puts Argentina's Junk-Level Sovereign Rating on Review For Downgrade
  • Superstorm Sandy cuts power to 8.1 million homes
  • Tenn. has 74 percent increase in homeless students
  • Storm-Surge Damage May Not Be Covered by Some Insurance
  • Why Germany Wants to See its US Gold
  • Bank of Japan Expands Stimulus as GDP Poised to Decline
  • Willow Road work will impact red light revenue (Illinois)
  • Four nuclear plants shut down in N.Y. area
  • Argentina scorns US debt ruling, vows to pay restructured bonds

The Growing Pressures Likely to Blow the Eurozone Apart

Look for Finland to exit first
Wednesday, July 18, 2012, 12:18 AM

There was yet another European Union summit at the end of June, which (like all the others) was little more than bluff. Read the official communiqué and you will discover that there were some fine words and intentions, but not a lot actually happened. However, there are some differences when compared with past meetings that need explaining:

  1. The European Council is being asked to consider permitting the European Central Bank to have a regulatory role alongside national central banks “as a matter of urgency by the end of 2012.” When this new super-regulator is eventually established, perhaps the ECB might be able to recapitalize banks directly. This was needed three years ago; the Eurozone will be lucky not to have a new banking crisis in the next few months, let alone by the year-end.
  2. A bail-out for Spain’s banks is agreed in principle, but it is to be funded by the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) until the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) is up and running. The EFSF has no money and relies on drawing down funds from all member states including Greece, Spain, Italy, Ireland, and Portugal, and the chances of the ESM being ratified by the individual Eurozone parliaments is very slim. We are told that Spain’s banks need about €100bn, but how much they really need is not known.
  3. The ESM will not rank as a prior creditor to the disadvantage of bond holders. This is a positive step, but makes it more difficult for national parliaments to authorize the ESM.

The big news in this is the implication the ECB will, in time, be able to stand behind the Eurozone banks because it will accept responsibility for them. This is probably why the markets rallied on the announcement, but it turned out to be another dead cat lacking the elastic potential energy necessary to bounce.

e another dead cat lacking the elastic potential energy necessary to bounce. » Read more