As noted in previous articles, the entire European banking and corporate system is over-burdened with debt.
Jagadeesh Gokhale of the Cato Institute puts the situation as the following, "The average EU country would need to have more than four times (434 percent) its current annual gross domestic product (NYSEMKT:GDP) in the bank today, earning interest at the government's borrowing rate, in order to fund current policies indefinitely."
Suffice to say, no EU country has that kind of money lying around.
Moreover, the argument that the ECB or Federal Reserve could stop this from happening is misguided. True, the Central Banks have managed to prop up the markets for several years now.
So what makes this time different?
Simple: the Crisis coming from Europe will be far, far larger in scope than anything the Fed or Central Banks have dealt with before.
Let me walk through each of these one at a time.
Regarding #1, we have several facts that we need to remember. They are:
1) The European Banking system is over $46 trillion in size (nearly 3X total EU GDP).
2) The European Central Bank's (ECB) balance sheet is now nearly $4 trillion in size (larger than Germany's economy and roughly 1/3 the size of the ENTIRE EU's GDP). Aside from the inflationary and systemic risks this poses (the ECB is now leveraged at over 36 to 1).
3) Over a quarter of the ECB's balance sheet is PIIGS debt which the ECB will dump any and all losses from onto national Central Banks (read: Germany)
So we're talking about a banking system that is nearly four times that of the US ($46 trillion vs. $12 trillion) with at least twice the amount of leverage (26 to 1 for the EU vs. 13 to 1 for the US), and a Central Bank that has stuffed its balance sheet with loads of garbage debts, giving it a leverage level of 36 to 1.
And all of this is occurring in a region of 17 different countries none of which have a great history of getting along… at a time when old political tensions are rapidly heating up.
To be clear, the Fed, indeed, Global Central Banks in general, have never had to deal with a problem the size of the coming EU's Banking Crisis. There are already signs that bank runs are in progress in the PIIGS (Spain has lost 18% of deposits this year alone) and now spreading to France.
Thus, the World's Central Banks cannot possibly hope to contain the coming disaster. They literally have one of two choices:
1) Monetize everything (hyperinflation)
2) Allow the defaults and collapse to happen (mega-deflation)
If they opt for #1, Germany will leave the Euro. End of story. They've already experienced Weimar and will not tolerate aggressive monetization.
So even the initial impact of a massive coordinated effort to monetize debt would be rendered moot as the Euro currency would enter a free-fall, forcing the US dollar sharply higher which in turn would trigger a 2008 type event at the minimum.
In simple terms, this time around, when Europe goes down (and it will) it's going to be bigger than anything we've seen in our lifetimes. And this time around, the world Central Banks are already leveraged to the hilt having spent virtually all of their dry powder propping up the markets for the last four years.
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Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.