Europe Saved By China Again, But Is This Time For Real?

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by: Carlos X. Alexandre

Wednesday's story is that China is saving Europe once gain, having supposedly saved the union in January of this year. Well, not quite. Back then I wrote that China had to save itself first - and I've written about the ongoing struggles - and as the months went by, there wasn't a shred of evidence that the Chinese government bought a single euro of distressed debt.

Back then the The Irish Times had the main story, "China shows appetite for EFSF bond issue despite official's note of caution," and the following excerpt showed China's concern about its own skin, while providing very simple points.

"As for the euro zone, while voicing its strong support, China must urgently seek clarification on whether its current holdings of periphery debt will be part of any restructuring plans," Mr Yongding wrote in the China Daily. "According to market observers, the numbers for Ireland and Greece don't add up. Until such clarification is provided, or the euro zone comes up with a permanent resolution mechanism, I do not think China should commit itself to supporting the euro zone by buying government bonds directly, because of the risk of turning good money bad," said Mr Yu, a senior researcher at a government think tank, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

In short, and just in case China is still looking, the numbers still don't add up and have become worse. A Wall Street Journal's blog offered a bit of humor regarding the news, which thus far was provided by anonymous sources and reported by the AFP - and don't confuse that with the AP because that's the Agence France-Presse.

In the weeks and months ahead, as you commute to your high-paying jobs and take vacations with your intelligent, handsome children and eat warm meals in your clean, well-lit homes, please take a moment to thank China.

According to a Bloomberg report on Wednesday, there's some truth to trying to get China to buy into the fund, which is a far cry from a commitment.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy plans to call Chinese leader Hu Jintao tomorrow to discuss China contributing to a fund European leaders may set up to bolster its debt-crisis fight, said a person familiar with the matter.

And to clarify the earlier AFP news, "China may be willing to respond to a European request to help them fund a package to solve the euro region's debt crisis, AFP said." Ah, China "may," not "will." Now it makes sense, and we're back to square one, which falls in line with all the talk that we have endured over the last two years.

When China no longer presents a credible solution, or its over usage no longer provides the impetus that we're looking for, we'll be hearing about Eskimos saving Europe. Take my word for it.

But in the midst of the latest announcement that Greece is now synonymous with a haircut, which the markets started to celebrate overnight, CNBC delivered much needed humor.

Humor can also reveal the pathos behind that smiling mask, as in the Frankfurter Rundschau cartoon showing a child walking into the living room in the evening saying, "I can't sleep." The father, looking up from the TV where he is watching a program about saving the euro, says: "Oh, dear little bunny, were you dreaming about who might have to pay for all of this one day?"

But the bigger unknown is how many more haircuts can they take before going bald? And they're coming!

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.