How Long Before Global Financial System Fails?
By Egon von Greyerz
The global economy turned down in earnest already in 2006 but with a massive worldwide printing and lending programme, the world has had a temporary stay of execution. But the effect of this fabricated money has now come to an end. And what else would you expect. To print money that has no value or to lend money that doesn’t exist can never create wealth or save anybody. The downturn will soon start to accelerate and eventually lead to a total failure of the financial system and sovereign defaults. But no one must believe that there will be a sudden implosion or a “reset” that solves or changes everything. Instead, what we will experience is a process with things deteriorating at a fast pace but without one single event that overnight changes everything.
It is actually happening all around us right now. Let’s just look at some examples of the stresses within the system. The ECB is facing bank failures in almost every member country. An Austrian bank just had to be bailed-in and the whole Italian banking system is on the verge of collapse. The Greek banks are already bankrupt although no one dares to declare it officially. The ECB knows that they only have one tool left to temporarily postpone a breakdown of the European banking system and that is to further increase its money printing programme. Only in the last 15 months, the balance sheet of the ECB has exploded by 45% to Euro 3 trillion. The Bundesbank, the German central bank, is totally aware of the predicament of the European banks. But they also know that they will be on the hook for the majority of the money printed by the ECB and therefore they have indicated that they will sue the ECB if it accelerates money printing.
The Fed is not printing money currently but in my view it is only a matter of time before we see a major QE programme in the US due to a deteriorating economy and a financial system under pressure. US outstanding derivatives are at least $500 trillion and most of that will just implode as counter-party fails. The Fed and the FDIC are concerned about this and that is why they just issued a warning to US banks. They told JP Morgan for example that the bank is unprepared for a crisis and that they have no plans for winding down their derivatives. JP Morgan’s derivatives exposure, properly valued, is probably in excess of $100 trillion.