Monday, May 10, 2010

Evil Taking Root in Europe -- The Next Day

Yesterday's announcement of a €750 Billion bailout of eurozone sovereign debt was cause for some celebration in the world's bond markets.  That celebration appears to have been short lived, as by the end of the trading day today bank swaps and the LIBOR inter-bank interest rates showed pessimism over the viability of the bailout, while the Japanese yen rose against the euro.

The market place assessment of the bailout has been simply this: "That's fine for today, now what about tomorrow and the day after next year?"  The bailout may have arrested the free-fall of eurozone sovereign debt in the marketplace, but it does nothing to eliminate the burden that debt places on the economies of Europe.
“Markets realized quickly that this crisis won’t be cured by adding liquidity, no matter how big it is,” said Toshihiko Sakai, head of trading for currencies and financial products at Mitsubishi UFJ Trust & Banking Corp. in Tokyo. “The structural problems of the euro zone will persist. I’m not surprised at all the euro is losing strength again.”
Still unanswered are the lingering questions about how successful efforts to trim deficit spending in the eurozone will be--even fiscally prudent Germany's deficit will be in excess of 5% this year, well in excess of the 3% allowed under euro rules.  Nations such as Greece and even the UK are faced with the daunting challenge of growing their economies while drastically slashing government spending, a task that yesterday's bailout mechanism does not even begin to address.

The eurozone is spending the equivalent of $1 Trillion, not to solve their sovereign debt crisis, but to buy (on credit) a little time before they must resolve their sovereign debt crisis.  That does not seem a wise use of increasingly scarce financial resources.  €750 Billion of new debt will not make the existing debt any less troublesome; it will most likely make that debt more troublesome.

The evil taking root in Europe is simply this: to defend a particular bit of money--the euro currency--Europe is prepared to lay waste to its nations' finances and economies.  The marketplace realizes this, and so the euro's downward spiral against other currencies continues despite Europe's spending their very last euro to reverse that course.