The yield on Spanish 10-year government debt was as high as 6.16% on Monday. Credit default swaps on Spanish debt hit a record even though the peak yield on the 10-year was 6.70% on November 25, 2011. After a big selloff on Friday, stocks were rallying on Monday despite the new emerging crisis in Europe.
The 6% yield level is watched closely because when rates went over that level in Greece, the Greek debt crisis emerged. Spanish 10-year yields were over 6% three times last year. Prior to last November they reached 6.32% on July 8, 2011 and 6.28% on August 4, 2011. The ECB (European Central Bank) has intervened directly in bond markets under its Securities Market Program (SMP) to hold down interest rates in the peripheral countries. At least one Spanish official has called for a renewal of these efforts.
The ECB also established the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM). Massive money-pumping operations have also been conducted through the two LTROs (Long-Term Refinancing Operations), one for $645 billion and a second for $713 billion. The massive liquidity coming out of Europe has led to the recent global market rally. This will be just one of its unintended consequences. Later on we will be experiencing a large uptick in consumer price inflation as another.
While the inflation caused by the ECB is likely to last, the lower interest rates aren't. Spain has now broken above the 6% line in the sand four times. Portugal has never even gotten down to that level. Its 10-year governments were yielding 12.7% on Monday. So far they have peaked at 17.4% on January 30th. Italian 10-year governments have also yielded over 7% last November and this January, but were driven back down to below 5%. They are now rising rapidly again and heading toward 6%.
European stock markets were damaged significantly on Friday and the U.S. markets to a lesser degree. Despite the ongoing bad news markets across the pond were rallying Monday. And why shouldn't they? Another bailout (and another bailout and another bailout and another bailout and even another bailout) is expected. So far, even with the massive amounts of printed money thrown at the bond markets in the peripheral countries, the debt problems keep emerging . And now the global stock market rally looks like it is beginning to fray around the edges.Disclosure:
I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.