While what you are about to read is widely know for months now, it’s a good idea for market participants to refresh their memory once in awhile, as not to get too carried away.
The issue is the tremendous amount of dollar negativity lately. While there are reasons for the dollar to currently be in a downtrend, one must not forget that in relative terms, the euro is loaded with more negative news looking ahead than one can imagine.
Let me quote from the very interesting study the team at Variant Perception did.
"As we have repeatedly said, Spain is set for a long, painful deflation that will manifest itself via a spectacularly high unemployment level, a real estate collapse and general banking insolvencies. Consider this: the value of outstanding loans to Spanish developers has gone from just €33.5 billion in 2000 to €318 billion in 2008, a rise of 850% in 8 years. If you add in construction sector debts, the overall value of outstanding loans to developers and construction companies rises to €470 billion. That's almost 50% of Spanish GDP. Most of these loans will go bad.
"Spanish banks are now facing a very bleak outlook. Spain's unemployment rate reached over 17% last month; there are now four million unemployed Spaniards and over one million families with not a single person employed in the family. Spain and Ireland had the worst housing bubbles in the world and now Spain has as many unsold homes as the US, even though the US is about six times bigger.
Why are Spanish banks not insolvent? Spanish banks are not marking their real estate loans to market. We've often wondered how it is that our thesis for Spanish real estate and industrial collapse has not created more victims. The answer is simple according to an article in Expansion, the Spanish equivalent of the Financial Times, from the 19th of April titled 'Spanish banks control half of all real estate appraisals.' You can't make this stuff up. We haven't even begun to see the worst in Spain yet."
European banks are in far worse shape than their US counterparts. That is because they utilize far more leverage, on an average about 30 times leverage. How can that be, in what is supposed to be a conservative industry?
“European banks were only restricted on the basis of risk-weighted assets, unlike the US where it is the total leverage ratio that matters, so most European banks bought assets that were rated by Moody's and S&P, who couldn't rate their way out of a paper bag, and for anything that wasn't highly rated, they bought credit default swaps or guarantees from AIG and MBIA. Because of that European banks were able to lever up a lot more than their US counterparties. Given the much higher leverage levels and general worsening of collateral values, we think that all the shoes in Europe have not dropped."
European banks have assets of about 330% of their GDP, compared to US banking assets, which are about 50%. They have over $700 billion in loans to Asian businesses (which are watching their exports collapse) and $1.3 trillion in loans to Eastern Europe, which is in a very serious recession, and so many of those loans are simply not going to be worth anything. Simply put, there is going to be a need for massive amounts of money to bail out European banks, or we'll watch their economies simply implode.
Where is the money for the bailouts going to come from? Germany? That will be a tough sell politically in a country that is in a much worse recession than the US. How do you tell your citizens you need to bail out banks in other countries with their tax dollars? Italian and Austrian banks are going to need a lot of capital, more than their governments can pay. It is going to be a very tough problem.
Governments around the world are responding to the global recession by running massive deficits. In addition to the US, the UK, Japan, Russia, Spain, and Ireland are all running deficits of over 10%.
And, as in the case of the US, these are not going to be one-time deficits. The IMF predicts that England will shrink again next year and the recovery in the US will be modest at best. The US economy is expected to grow by 0.2% (far from the optimistic projections of various US government agencies), the 16-nation eurozone will eke out a modest gain of 0.1%, and the Group of Seven (G7) leading industrial economies will, as a whole, only grow by 0.2 percent. They project that Japan's economy will stagnate next year.
Mark my words, sometimes in the next 24 months the ECB will monetize European public and private debt to such an extent, that the Fed in comparison will seem like boy scouts!