The Great Recession Blog
by David Haggith
Brexit — the second major landslide in the Year of the Epocalypse — has bankers all over the world scrambling to pick up and prop up their crumbled facades this week. This is one more jolt in the developing global economic collapse that I predicted for 2016.
The ground of an entire nation just dropped several feet. Aftershocks from a drop that size will be felt frequently throughout the summer and to some extent for years to come.
As I’ve said before, US politicians will find it increasingly difficult this year to keep shoring up the US economy until the end of the election cycle. This collapse just made things a lot worse for them. Brexits, Grexits and other exits, oil defaults, job decay, manufacturing malaise and a host of other planet-sized problems are piling up so fast that it will become almost impossible to hold off collapse much longer as global problems press in on the US and other nations.
Entire nations are now making for the exits
Near the start of 2016, I described the anti-establishment forces that were shaping up to define the year ahead and the impact those nationally divisive forces would have on the world’s banking system this year:
The resources of all nations and their central banks are just too depleted to handle such a massive rupture of the global economy as we saw in 2008. Yet, this one is appearing that it could be far greater because it is developing all over the world simultaneously. The capacity of nations and their banks is fully taken up by huge monstrous national debts and balance sheets that have swelled beyond anything anyone would have imagined a decade ago.
At the same time, the people of all nations are fatigued from years of hearing about recession. In nations like Greece this is true at a level that is already explosive. If a recession like the Great Recession happens now, it will deplete all hopes because of all the talk of recovery that proved false after the last recession. They will have scaled the mountain — or tried to — only to find themselves shaken to the bottom again. Who would have faith in the central bankers to save the economy this time when all their plans to save it from the last recessionary period blew up in their faces?
Anger, albeit late in coming, is showing itself in US elections this round in the form of a movement in both parties away from the establishment. Who believes, however, that newly elected officials could find a solution once the central banks are proven to have failed? In moving away from the establishment, Democrats are moving further left and Republicans further right. There is little likelihood of agreement on a solution, especially one profound enough to right the entire world. (“Hell Week for the Global Economy“)
Later in May, I focused on the immigration tensions that were amplifying the anti-establishment discontent in Europe and here at home:
We don’t know what will happen with a Brexit or whether a Grexit will raise its ugly head again or whether immigration tensions will spontaneously combust in Europe … but I think the frying pan will certainly be sizzling this summer to cook up the last of the market’s bully beef for the bears to feast upon.
The increasingly scarce market bulls are dead cattle walking thanks to zombie economics. (“Zombie Economy Soon to Have its Zombie Epocalypse“)
In other words, I wouldn’t bet back then on exactly what national breakaway would happen first in the EU, but was certain national tensions would heat up to where Europe started falling apart this summer, particularly over immigration tensions. The falling apart began right on cue. One cannot always see what section of land will give way first, but one can certainly see that so many pieces are ready to give way that collapse is certain and imminent.
Banks and bankers are trembling all over the world
To sum up where we are now now, I’ll turn to former Fed Chair Allan Greenspan who said that the Brexit event “may be just the tip of the iceberg” for Europe’s problems. When asked what he meant by that, he responded with the following:
This is the worst period I recall since I’ve been in public service. There’s nothing like it, including the crisis — remember October 19th, 1987, when the Dow went down by a record amount 23 percent? That I thought was the bottom of all potential problems. This has a corrosive effect that will not go away….
This problem that’s causing the British problem is far more widespread. Fundamentally, what we are looking at is a massive slowing in the rate of real of incomes across the whole European spectrum…. Real incomes are not going anywhere, and that is creating a serious political problem, which is not easy to resolve….
I think the euro currency is the immediate problem… There’s this whole movement toward European political integration…. The euro area was a major step in that direction, and it’s failing. Greece is in real serious trouble. It is not going to continue in the euro very much longer, irrespective of what’s going on currently. (CNBC)
While Greenspan was one of the absent-minded architects of the Great Recession with his rabid debt-expansion policies, I quote him because he is speaking against his own longtime centrist bias when he claims that Grexit is certain for its own reasons and that the euro “is failing.”
In other words, if even Greenspan says Europe is falling apart and the euro “is failing,” it must be bad. He’s a centrist saying the center is not holding. It’s not the nature of a central banker — even a former one — to be alarmist by saying an entire economic zone run by his comrades, which he has applauded, is now collapsing into chaos.
Don Quijones, an editor of Wolf Street, adds a note to Greenspan’s candid observations:
Another serious problem (on which Greenspan was somewhat less forthcoming) is Europe’s swelling ranks of heavily leveraged, scantily capitalized, bad-loan bedeviled, zombified banks. It was they whose stocks plunged the most [on Friday]….
The prophets of Project Fear reaped what they’d sown, as financial carnage spread across global markets on news that a slim majority of British voters had done the unthinkable by drowning out the relentless doomsaying and voting to leave the European Union. The pound sterling plunged 8% against the dollar, to $1.37, its lowest level in three decades. The euro fell 1.93%, in itself a huge one-day move for a major currency. UK stocks surrendered over 3% of their value. But that was nothing compared to the havoc unleashed in other European stock markets….
In Spain and Italy: the IBEX 35 plummeted 12.3% and the FTSE MIB 12.5%. It was their worst day on record. The UK economy may be in for a hellishly bumpy ride in the months and years ahead, but the fact that London’s FTSE 100 was Europe’s least worst performing stock market on this day of all days suggests that Europe’s biggest financial risks probably lie elsewhere. And that is in euro land, in particular on its southern flank….
The shares of Italy’s biggest bank (and global systemically important institution), Unicredit, slid more than 23% on Friday. They are down 59% since January. The stock of Banco Populare, Italy’s fifth biggest bank, also lost 23% on Friday and is down over 80% since the beginning of this year. The fourth biggest institution, the perpetually failing Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena whose loss-making derivatives bets were made under Mario Draghi’s watch as Bank of Italy’s governor, fell by 16.5%. (Wolf Street)
Spain’s banks suffered as badly as Italy’s, with Bankia shares losing 20% of their value. Spain’s largest bank, Santander, already suffering heavy losses from its operations in Brazil, also lost 20% of its value overnight, as did a third mega bank in Spain, Sabadell. Expect to see more major bank bailouts in Europe.
In the UK, Barclay’s shares plunged 20.5%. HSBC dropped 9%, and the Royal Bank of Scotland fell off a cliff, taking a 27.5% pounding.
Mood in the restaurants and coffee shops in the high-rise banking hub of Canary Wharf, home to JPMorgan, Citi , HSBC and Barclays, was sober and contemplative, with job security fears rising to levels unseen since the 2008 financial crisis. Major investment banks have already warned they could move thousands of jobs elsewhere if Britain opts out of the EU, while the European Central Bank has signaled it could force euro trading out of London, the world’s largest foreign exchange market….
“We’ll have a crash and big layoffs,” a senior investment banker at a U.S. bank told Reuters….
“This is the biggest vote in my lifetime. Black Wednesday and the impact of Lehman Brothers collapsing – these other big events don’t even compare in magnitude to this,” said Mark Boleat, Chairman of the City of London’s Policy and Resources Committee…. “We are just beginning to think through what will have to happen legally and it is massive, absolutely massive….”
“Leave’s victory [Brexit’s victory] has delivered one of the biggest market shocks of all time … Panic may not be too strong a word,” Joe Rundle, Head of Trading at ETX Capital said. (Newsmax)
Bankers are shaking in their hip waders as they congregate in a swamp full of alligators.
As individual bankers bemoaned what they see as a crushing shock, central banks ran in for emergency rescues. The Bank of England offered a quarter of a trillion pounds plus substantial access to foreign currencies, promising additional measures as required. The US Federal Reserve assured the entire world it was standing by to supplement liquidity through its swap lines with global funding markets. The ECB said it would provide additional liquidity to protect euro stability, and the People’s Bank of China assured other nations it would maintain a stable yuan (though on Monday, China weakened the yuan by its most since the big sell-off last August). Even neutral Switzerland ran to the rescue.
In a rare move for a major central bank, the Swiss National Bank openly intervened in currency markets to weaken the safe-haven franc, promising to do even more if needed. (Newsmax)
The Epocalypse is here
We have now entered a global period of bailouts heaping up against the back of earlier bailouts and attempted recovery coming on the back of already failed recovery. Why? Because it is all the same Great Recession, and as I’ve maintained since I began this blog several years ago the “recovery” is nothing but a prop under the Great Recession’s monstrous belly. That prop, I said would fail this year, and we would slide into the abyss of an economic apocalypse in a series of jolting plunges and rallies.
As I quoted David Stockman in an earlier article,
At long last the tyranny of the global financial elite has been slammed good and hard. You can count on them to attempt another central bank based shock and awe campaign to halt and reverse the current sell-off, but it won’t be credible, sustainable or maybe even possible….
The central bankers and their compatriots … have well and truly over-played their hand. They have created a tissue of financial lies; an affront to the very laws of markets, sound money and capitalist prosperity…. So there will be payback, clawback and traumatic deflation of the bubbles. Plenty of it, as far as the eye can see….
When I say “the Epocalypse is here” or “the end is here,” I don’t mean we are now on the final leg down or that there will be no leveling off or no rally — that its finished. Heck, the central bankers aren’t going to give up the show that easily, and this is an election year in the US where they can expect totally subservient assistance from establishment politicians on both sides of congress. The majority of elected politicians clearly deplore the possibility that Donald Trump could not only be proven right about economic collapse but could be hoisted to a success big enough to give him a political mandate to tear the establishment apart in 2017!
What I mean when I claim “the end is here” is that this is one more enormous jolt like we saw in January that is a part of the end. We are, in other words, going through the end. I’ve consistently stated the Epocalypse will take, at least, a year and half to find its bottom; so it is far from over. This is just the beginning of the end.
Each of these jolts does huge damage to the global economy, weakens banks and central banks and other corporations in substantial ways, and takes us further into the Epocalypse. This one is massive to such a degree that its damage to the establishment will only be discovered over a period of weeks or more likely months. Along the way, we also have smaller jolts like we saw when I quoted Dennis Gartman as saying a month ago:
The Bulls and the Bears left scratching their heads and wondering aloud, “What the hell just happened?” …Yesterday was our worst day of the year thus far, as that which we were long of fell and that which we were short of closed unchanged…. Yesterday was a disaster which we wish to put behind us. (Zero Hedge)
By “Epocalypse” I mean an economic collapse on the scale of things predicted in The Apocalypse (i.e. on the same scale as biblically prophesied disasters in the Book of Revelation). The “Epocalypse” is my name for our second and deeper plunge into the belly of the Great Recession — a drop so great it will make the first slump look like it was just a dress rehearsal for the real show.
I am sure many bulls who were long on Brexit are feeling the sizzle of the frying pan in the summer heat now as they try to recover from foolhardy long positions. Those were just the first ones who didn’t listen, and they just lost over two trillion dollars. The price of continuing to bet on the bull will grow worse each time something hits. You’re going to smell a lot more barbecued bull this summer … and beyond:
A few major banks that were already stressed will likely fail in the months ahead because Brexit added more stress than they can absorb. That will probably mean more bailouts, but the populace is not inclined to accept any more bailouts, so that will mean more civil unrest if bailouts happen.
National economies that were already crumbling like Greece, Brazil, Italy, Spain and France, will fall faster. As a result, other parts of the Eurozone will likely break off like icebergs in the summer heat. They may not announce their break from the EU this summer, but you’ll see major cracks form around their circumference.
Areas of marginal economic weakness will develop visible fault lines and experience serious tremors. In the US that would include jolts to jobs and wages, more falloff in GDP, increasing social unrest, increasing corporate collapse.
In the midst of that there will likely be periods of calm created by massive central bank infusions. You’ll see central banks invent new tricks that even they didn’t know they could come up with … out of desperation to save their “recoveries.” Those eddies of calm that run as counter currents to the main flow of events may beguile some rosy-eyed optimists into thinking the earth has stabilized, but it hasn’t and it won’t, and those beguiled will be hurt just as many were massively hurt by this jolt. As soon as you think the earth is steady, the next nation will fall.
The calm between January and Brexit was longer than I expected between legs down, and the expected intervening rally went twice as high as I thought it would, but this is an election year. Regardless of the extended pause, global economic breakdown is continuing along the fault lines where I’ve indicated it would and in the year when I said things would all come apart, and the scale of Brexit is as huge as I said each leg of our journey into the Epocalypse will be.
The journey into our decline has now resumed. Each part that gives way makes all the other parts weaker and their own collapse more certain and more imminent. It’s going to be a summer filled with aftershocks.
You cannot stop this collapse, nor can you talk it into happening with negativity either. It is going to happen because it has to happen. It has inevitability all over it. Economic structures that should never have been created in the first place are giving way in what will become total structural failure. They are giving way because of their own flawed design:
- You cannot create mountains of enduring wealth by carving out caverns of debt beneath them.
- You cannot create stable economies by focusing all the benefits toward the rich industrialists and hoping they will trickle down to create demand later.
- You cannot deplete your nation’s treasure with endless wars around the world by putting the wars of budget and beguiling yourself to think that means there was no cost to your own greatness.
- You cannot cram people from divergent cultures together by the millions without creating huge social costs that become economic costs.
- You cannot bail out rich bankers without creating moral hazard that entices them to repeat their sins.
- You cannot centrally manage economies in a way that benefits the periphery.
My list could be bigger. The earthquake has happened. The aftershocks will come. And then there is autumn, the time called “fall” because many things will.
What happens to the EU as a result of the Epocalypse?
This last part is a longer-term outlook than just 2016, and is added as an afterthought. Rather than loosen their bonds to become more democratic and less centralized in order to keep dissatisfied states from pulling out, I think the EU’s most powerful states crave power enough that they would choose to close ranks and tighten their agreement for more highly centralized power, letting those states that demand more localized authority fall away. Tightening the squeeze is certainly the approach Germany chose when Greece considered pulling out. It seems to be the German way.
If other states start to follow Britain’s lead, the EU may consolidate into a smaller, more tight-knit European superstate, which may hope to dominate the nations that pull out. I say that because Germany and France have a long-standing intense clench on power that already dominates the EU. They also share a Franco-Germanic history that may incline them to believe they can aggregate power around themselves, and those who are fundamentally seeking greater centralized power don’t become more democratic just so the center of a larger enterprise can hold.
The splintering of nations away from the center would make it easier for the centrists that remain to tighten their grip in response to create a state that has less breadth but more intensity. Merkel, certainly, does not seem inclined to loosen the reins she holds.