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That giant sucking sounds: European banks are in real trouble

First, the Italian banks are in a real pickle; Monte de Pachi (notionally the world's oldest bank) is in such dire staits that even the market is now reacting.  European bank stock prices are limit down almost every day for the following reasons:

  • 34% of all Greek loans are bad or non-performing 
  • Ireland 19% 
  • 17% of all Italian loans are non-performing or bad
  • Portugal 12%. 

And we haven’t seen the next serious financial crisis yet. The story of Italian, Greek, Portuguese and Spanish banks is frightening, but not entirely unexpected considering the economic pressure that these economies are facing. In Italy, 17% of banks’ loans are sour. Putting that figure in perspective that is nearly 10 times the level in the U.S. bad loans in the 2008-09 financial crisis, where the system wide bad loans was around 5%.

The Italian government created a bad bank with Euro 4.5 billion in capital, but its trying to purchase nearly Euro 360 billion in bad loans from Italian banks.  That pig will not fly.  The sclerosis that is Europe means that this crisis has been ongoing for months.  On one side there is the ECB and Germany that say:  no state help to the banking sector, and on the other side you have the ECB and Germany that say:  Italian government has to clean up that mess! (yeah I did this on purpose)

Things get more complicated, for while the PIGS's banks are in deep trouble, their northern neighbours are still undercapitalizes.  DB's stock prices is entirely due to the very very high leverage and the requirements that it raise more money (or cut lending -- or a combination of the two).  The 2008 crisis was very hard for all banks, even those who had done nothing wrong:  Its called contagion.

Meanwhile in Switzerland:

On the other side, we've got Switzerland (God they must be happy they never wanted into the Euro club) as of last week their 50 year bond interest rate drop to -2.27bps -- Yes folks if you lend money to the Swiss government the interest rate will be -0.0027% per annum -- a real bargain.  

A real indication how serious things are; big money doesn't care about yield they just don't want to lose their principal (that's how you make money in the long run).  It's also a currency play, as soon as interest rates revert to positive, the Swiss Franc will go trough the roof.

The fat lady is not yet signing, but she's certainly doing her voice exercises!


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