The European Ponzi Scheme and the Euro
by Bob Chapman
January 4, 2012
It is now obvious to alert observers that the ECR’s new long-term refinancing program, LTRO, is an end-run quantitative easing program. The bankers and politicians would not dare call it what it really is. Who would not want 3-year loans at 1%? Then there is Target 2, where the Bundesbank has secretly but legally, lent the ECB $640 billion. That money will be shared as a bailout for the six euro zone nations, which are on the edge of bankruptcy. These are technically claims not loans. You only discover the legerdemain if you root around in the footnotes of the reports of euro zone members. Just five years ago these target claims were just 7% of Bundesbank assets. They now represent 64% of assets. Worst yet the collateral the ECB holds to back these loans is toxic debt. If and when debt failure occurs proportionately Germany’s part of all that debt is 28% of the total. We learn something new every day. What this means is that $1 trillion swap, which is really a loan to the ECB by the Fed, will probably be exclusively used to bail out European banks, 523 at last count.
Just to give you an idea of debt structure, as a percentage of GDP, Germany’s public debt as a percentage of public debt in 2009 was 74% and today it is 83% of GDP. In Greece in 2009 it was 79% and today it is 82%. Italy is 120% and Greece 160%.
The bottom line is there has been little or no restraint in spending over the last ten years in government, personal and corporate debt all of which has grown exponentially. Just look at Italy and Italians are big savers. In ten years corporate debt is up from 96% to 128%, personal debt has risen from 30% of GDP to 53% of GDP. Overall debt is up from 252% to 310%. The 18 main countries in the OECD saw the total debt to GDP rise from 160% of GDP in 1980 to 321% in 2010. Corporate non-financial corporations increased by 300%, governments 425% and personal by 600%.
We just saw this latest swap of $1 trillion by the Fed to the ECB and you have to ask yourself how long can this go on? The leverage in the system; where does it end? We do not know and neither does anyone else, but it will end unhappily.