Saturday, June 29, 2013

29/6/2013: Banks-Sovereign Contagion: It's Getting Worse in Europe

Two revealing charts from Ioan Smith @moved_average (h/t to @russian_market ): Government bonds volumes held by Italian and Spanish banks:


  • Italy EUR404bn (26% of 2013 GDP) up on EUR177bn at the end of 2008
  • Spain EUR303bn (29% of 2013 GDP) up on EUR107bn at the end of 2008
Now, recall that over the last few years:
  • European authorities and nation states have pushed for banks to 'play a greater role' in 'supporting recovery' - euphemism for forcing or incentivising (or both) banks to buy more Government debt to fund fiscal deficits (gross effect: increase holdings of Government by the banks, making banks even more too-big/important-to-fail); 
  • European authorities and nation states have pushed for separating the banks-sovereign contagion links, primarily by loading more contingent liabilities in the case of insolvency on investors, lenders and depositors (gross effect: attempting to decrease potential call on sovereigns from the defaulting banks);
  • European authorities and nation states have continued to treat Government bonds as zero risk-weighted 'safe' assets, while pushing for banks to hold more capital (the twin effect is the direct incentive for banks to increase, not decrease, their direct links to the states via bond holdings).
The net result: the contagion risk conduit is now bigger than ever, while the customer/investor security in the banking system is now weaker than ever. If someone wanted to purposefully design a system to destroy the European banking, they couldn't have dreamt up a better one than that...

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