No Leeway from the Punishment Union
As it has recently filtered through that Spain is likely to produce a bigger deficit this year than originally planned, the new European Punishment Union has let it be known that there will be no compromise: Spain is in for a whupping.
As CNBC reports:
“Spain will get no leeway on its budget targets before May, Spanish Economy Minister Luis De Guindos said on Thursday, but Madrid could opt for defiance when it presents the backbone of its 2012 plan on Friday.
Spain has hovered on the fringes of the euro zone crisis as investors worry that its economy, enfeebled by the bursting of a property bubble, puts it at risk of following Greece, Ireland and neighbouring Portugal in seeking a bailout.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, elected last year on a pledge to slash spending, has been lobbying Brussels for leniency, arguing the country's shrinking economy makes it impossible to cut enough this year to achieve a deficit target agreed with Brussels of 4.4 percent of gross domestic product.
Officials in Brussels insist Spain must present a budget based on the 4.4 percent target and that there will be no room for discussions on relaxing it until May.
But a government source said the spending limit Spain would present in Madrid on Friday would be based on a deficit target of 5.3 percent to 5.5 percent, thus breaching the path to cut the deficit agreed with the Commission in 2009.
Spain's Economy Minister Luis De Guindos conceded no resolution was likely before May. "The process has been initiated … In May, we'll have a final decision," he told journalists after talks with euro zone finance ministers in Brussels, where European leaders also meet on Thursday and Friday.
He insisted Spain would keep cutting its deficit, but that toughened economic conditions would make impossible to meet the 4.4 percent target at the end of 2012. "They understand perfectly that the circumstances that led to 4.4 (percent) are not the same any more and that obviously this requires a change," he said.
Spain has restructured its ailing banks, reformed its labour market laws to make it cheaper for companies to hire and fire and threatened sanctions on overspending local governments to try to reassure its bond investors.
On Thursday the European Central Bank's latest handout of cheap 3-year loans to banks encouraged them to buy at a Spanish debt auction, enabling Madrid to borrow 4.5 billion euros at relatively low cost. But in the latest sign that Spain is entering a recession, a survey showed its manufacturing sector shrank for the tenth straight month in February.
So not even the old target was met, which should surprise exactly no-one. As we have pointed out about a year ago already, Spain's former government simply shifted the deficit to the regions, which has predictably brought several of the regions close to insolvency. The process is now going into reverse.
Moreover, Spain has the same problem every other government in the EU now faces: its economy is tanking, and tax revenues are sinking right with it.
The below chart via the WSJ shows the situation:
Spain – the budget gap yawns, while unemployment has reached depression-like levels (an unemployment rate close to 24%).
The Wall Street Journal has formulated it more bluntly: 'Spain Defies EU on Deficit':
“Spain Friday went back on its 2012 budget-reduction commitment to the European Union, highlighting the difficulties of the EU's efforts to tighten control over the finances of its member states. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said his government, which came to power at the end of 2011, will prepare a 2012 budget that aims to reduce its deficit to 5.8% of gross domestic product, far in excess of the 4.4% target his predecessor, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, had committed to. Mr. Rajoy said a rapidly deteriorating economic situation and a large 2011 budget overrun made the wide deviation necessary. Earlier this week, the government said Spain's 2011 budget deficit stood at 8.51% of GDP, compared with a target of 6%.
Mr. Rajoy said he hadn't announced Spain's new budget target at a meeting in Brussels Thursday and Friday where EU leaders signed off on new fiscal rules. "This is a sovereign decision made by Spain, that I am announcing now, to you," he said at a press conference.
The Spanish leader, however, said his country is maintaining its commitment of reducing its budget deficit to the 3%-of-GDP limit for EU countries by 2013.”
The new fiscal rules, most of which were agreed to in January, give the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, more power to force governments to adhere to deficit targets. Since Spain has exceeded the 3%-of-GDP limit, the Commission now has considerable discretion whether to seek penalties against the government.
A Commission spokesman suggested Spain shouldn't expect leniency. "Meeting fiscal consolidation targets in vulnerable countries has been and remains one of the cornerstones of EU's comprehensive response to the crisis," said spokesman Amadeu Altafaj Tardio. "It is key to reinforce confidence."
Again, we ask what are they going to do? The reality of the situation is that 'paper is patient', as the German saying goes. No matter what agreements are signed and what additional powers the EU now has – on paper – to 'punish' recalcitrant member states, in the end there is no truly viable enforcement mechanism. If the threat of penalties were working, it would have already worked with the old 'Growth and Stability Pact', which has so spectacularly failed.
This problem is almost certain to crop up more often as time passes. All is well while the economy booms, egged on by an expansion of credit and money. Alas, things become dicey once a bust is underway. At the moment, only a precious few of the euro area member nations are actually adhering to the deficit and public debt targets of the Maastricht treaty. It is noteworthy in this context that not even Germany has been able to stock to the rules, in spite of being the country that is now pushing for even stricter fiscal limits.
Credit Market Charts
Below is our customary collection of charts, updating the usual suspects: CDS on various sovereign debtors and banks, bond yields, euro basis swaps and a few other charts. Charts and price scales are color coded (readers should keep the different scales in mind when assessing 4-in-1 charts). Prices are as of Friday's close.
As the case of CDS on Greece for a renewed determination whether or not a credit event nee3ds to be declared, the CDS have soared even further, closing last week at nearly 24,100 basis points. CDS on Greece look like the macro-trade of the decade so far, in spite of the fact that there is considerable uncertainty whether in the end, they'll be worth anything at all.
There has also been a blip higher in CDS on Spain, no doubt as a result of the above mentioned altercation with the EU over its deficit target. Otherwise the recent downtrends seem largely intact for now.
5 year CDS on Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain – click for better resolution.
5 year CDS on France, Belgium, Ireland and Japan – click for better resolution.
5 year CDS on Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary and Austria – click for better resolution.
5 year CDS on Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia and Slovakia – click for better resolution.
5 year CDS on Romania, Poland, Ukraine and Estonia – click for better resolution.
5 year CDS on Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Turkey – click for better resolution.
5 year CDS on Germany, the US and the Markit SovX index of CDS on 19 Western European sovereigns – the SovX continues to hold up, as the sharp increase in CDS on Greece outweighs small declines elsewhere – click for better resolution.
Three month, one year, three year and five year euro basis swaps – a small dip on Friday. The euro-land banks are not out of the woods with regards to dollar funding problems – click for better resolution.
Our proprietary unweighted index of 5 year CDS on eight major European banks (BBVA, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Societe Generale, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, UBS, Intesa Sanpaolo and Unicredito) – a tad higher on Friday – click for better resolution.
5 year CDS on two big Austrian banks, Erste Bank and Raiffeisen Bank – click for better resolution.
10 year government bond yields of Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain – Greek and Portuguese yields continue to levitate, while Italy has seen a major improvement in long term yields last week – click for better resolution.
UK gilts, Austria's 10 year government bond yield, Ireland's 9 year government bond yield and the Greek 2 year note. Austria is back in the market's good graces for now – click for better resolution.
5 year CDS on Australia's 'Big Four' banks – dipping further – click for better resolution.
Charts by : Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal
It is that time of the year again – our semi-annual funding drive begins today. Give us a little hand in offsetting the costs of running this blog, as advertising revenue alone is insufficient. You can help us reach our modest funding goal by donating either via paypal or bitcoin. Those of you who have made a ton of money based on some of the things we have said in these pages (we actually made a few good calls lately!), please feel free to up your donations accordingly (we are sorry if you have followed one of our bad calls. This is of course your own fault). Other than that, we can only repeat that donations to this site are apt to secure many benefits. These range from sound sleep, to children including you in their songs, to the potential of obtaining privileges in the afterlife (the latter cannot be guaranteed, but it seems highly likely). As always, we are greatly honored by your readership and hope that our special mixture of entertainment and education is adding a little value to your life!
Bitcoin address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke
Most read in the last 20 days:
- Ganging Up on Gold
So Far a Normal Correction In last week's update on the gold sector, we mentioned that there was a lot of negative sentiment detectable on an anecdotal basis. From a positioning perspective only the commitments of traders still appeared a bit stretched though, while from a technical perspective we felt that a pullback to the 200-day moving average in both gold and gold stocks shouldn't be regarded as anything but a normal - and in this case actually long overdue -...
- Gold Sector Correction – Where Do Things Stand?
Sentiment and Positioning When we last discussed the gold sector correction (which had only just begun at the time), we mentioned we would update sentiment and positioning data on occasion. For a while, not much changed in these indicators, but as one would expect, last week's sharp sell-off did in fact move the needle a bit. Gold - just as nice to look at as it always is, but slightly cheaper since last week. Photo via The Times Of India The commitments of...
- Australian property bubble on a scale like no other
Australian property bubble on a scale like no other Yesterday Citi produced a new index which pinned the Australian property bubble at 16 year highs: Bubble trouble. Whether we label them bubbles, the Australian economy has experienced a series of developments that potentially could have the economy lurching from boom to bust and back. In recent years these have included: the record run up in commodity prices and subsequent correction; the associated...
- Pope Francis: Traitor to Western Civilization
Disqualified There has been no greater advocate of mass Muslim migration into Europe than the purported head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis. At a recent conference, he urged that “asylum seekers” be accepted, “through the acts of mercy that promote their integration into the European context and beyond.”* Before we let Antonius continue with his refreshingly politically incorrect disquisition, we want to remind readers of two previous articles that have...
- Bubble Dissection
The Long Term Outlook for the Asset Bubble Due to strong internals, John Hussman has given the stock market rally since the February low the benefit of the doubt for a while. Lately he has returned to issuing warnings about the market's potential to deliver a big negative surprise once it runs out of greater fools. In his weekly market missive published on Monday (entitled “Sizing Up the Bubble” - we highly recommend reading it), he presents inter alia the following eye-popping...
- US Stock Market - a Spanking May be on its Way
Iffy Looking Charts The stock market has held up quite well this year in the face of numerous developments that are usually regarded as negative (from declining earnings, to the Brexit, to a US presidential election that leaves a lot to be desired, to put it mildly). Of course, the market is never driven by the news – it is exactly the other way around. It is the market that actually writes the news. It may finally be time for a spanking though. Time for some old-fashioned...
- Doomed to Failure
Larded Up and Larded Over We’ve been waiting for the U.S. economy to reach escape velocity for the last six years. What we mean is we’ve been waiting for the economy to finally become self-stimulating and no longer require monetary or fiscal stimulus to keep it from stalling out. Unfortunately, this may not be possible the way things are going. As Milton Jones once revealed: “A month before he died, my grandfather covered his back in lard. After that, he went...
- A Looming Banking Crisis – Is a Perfect Storm About to Hit?
Andy Duncan Interviews Claudio Grass Andy Duncan of FinLingo.com has interviewed our friend Claudio Grass, managing director of Global Gold in Switzerland. Below is a transcript excerpting the main parts of the first section of the interview on the problems in the European banking system and what measures might be taken if push were to come to shove. Andy Duncan of FinLingo.com (left) and Claudio Grass of Global Gold (right) Andy Duncan: How do you see the...
- Are the Deep State’s Drones Coming for You?
What’s Aleppo? Look out kid Don’t matter what you did Walk on your tip toes Don’t try "No Doz" Better stay away from those That carry around a fire hose Keep a clean nose Watch the plain clothes You don’t need a weather man To know which way the wind blows – “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” Bob Dylan The entrance to Baghdad's “Green Zone”. Photo credit: Karim Kadim / AP DELRAY BEACH, Florida – Biggest foreign policy blunder...
- Interview with Doug Casey
Natalie Vein of BFI speaks with Doug Casey Our friend Natalie Vein recently had the opportunity to conduct an extensive interview with Doug Casey for BFI, the parent company of Global Gold. Based on his decades-long experience in investing and his many travels, he shares his views on the state of the world economy, his outlook on critical political developments in the US and in Europe, as well as his investment insights and his approach to gold, as part of a viable strategy for...
- Meet Your New Stimulus Allocation Czar
March Towards Midnight The march towards midnight is both stirring and foreboding. Like a death row inmate sitting down to savor his last meal, a grim excitement greets the reality of impending doom. Thoughts of imminent mortality haunt each bite. Tic-toc, tic-toc... As far as the economy’s concerned, there’s no stopping its march towards midnight. The witching hour’s rapidly approaching. We intend to savor each moment and make the best of...
- Evacuate or Die...
Escaping the Hurricane BALTIMORE – Last week, we got a peek at the End of the World. As Hurricane Matthew approached the coast of Florida, a panic set in. Gas stations ran out of fuel. Stores ran out of food. Banks ran out of cash. A satellite image of hurricane Matthew taken on October 4. He didn't look very friendly. Image via twitter.com “Evacuate or die,” we were told. Not wanting to do either, we rented a car and drove to Maryland. “We’ll just...