CRASH ALERT: The Stock Market is Falling like a Stone
by Mike Whitney
May 24, 2012
As you might have noticed, the stock market is falling like a stone. As of 9 AM PST, the Dow Jones has dropped 172 points while all the other indices are down sharply. German 2-year debt (bund) has dipped below 0% this morning at auction, signalling an acceleration in the bank run taking place in southern Europe. Depositors in Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, etc would rather take a loss on their investment, then risk not their money back at all. The European Central Bank (ECB) does not guarantee deposits, so people are withdrawing their money en masse and getting out of Dodge pronto. What we’re seeing is a real-time panic.
The ostensible trigger for the panic is known, but you won’t read about it in the financial media where the news is dumbed down to the point of incoherence. What’s really going on is that the German central bank (The Bundesbank) has indicated that it’s ready to pull the plug on Greece which means that future bailouts will probably not be forthcoming. That’s bad. It means that Greece will run out of money some time in June; their banking system will implode, and the “birthplace of democracy” will be reduced to 3rd world status overnight. Here’s a blurb from the Bundesbank’s communique:
“Current developments in Greece are extremely worrying. Greece is threatening not to implement the reform and consolidation measures that were agreed in return for the large-scale aid programmes.
This jeopardises the continued provision of assistance. Greece would have to bear the consequences of such a scenario. The challenges this would create for the euro area and Germany would be considerable, but manageable given prudent crisis management. By contrast, a significant dilution of existing agreements would damage confidence in all euro-area agreements and treaties and strongly weaken incentives for national reform and consolidation measures. In such circumstances the institutional status quo comprising liability, control and individual responsibility of member states would be fundamentally called into question.
When the Eurosystem provided Greece with large amounts of liquidity, it trusted that the programs would be implemented and thereby ultimately assumed considerable risks. In the light of the current situation, it should not significantly increase these risks. Instead, the parliaments and governments of the member states should decide on the manner in which any further financial assistance is provided and therefore whether the associated risks should be assumed.”
Okay. So German central bankers don’t want to wait until the June elections in Greece to decide whether to provide more money or not. They’re throwing in the towel now. No more money. No more bailouts. No more Mr. Niceguy. End of story. But what does that mean? Does it mean that the whole global financial system is headed back into the shitter again like after Lehman Brothers?
No one knows for sure, but there’s bound to be a few bumps in the road, don’t you think? Take a look at this from Bloomberg today (Wed):
“Europe’s banks, are sitting on $1.19 trillion of debt to Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland, are facing a wave of losses if Greece abandons the euro. While lenders have increased capital buffers, written down Greek bonds and used central-bank loans to help refinance units in southern Europe, they remain vulnerable to the contagion that might follow a withdrawal, investors say. Even with more than two years of preparation, banks still are at risk of deposit flight and rising defaults in other indebted euro nations.” (Bloomberg)