Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Europe and All That

First Greece, then Ireland. Now all eyes turn to Portugal, Spain, and Italy. Little noticed is that neither and France and Germany are likely to survive some type of default on their own sovereign debt. A combination of bad economics, a bad economy, and the tide of demographics will sink both France and Germany in time.

The idea that you can paper over the problems in the PIIGS (the new name for Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) is ludicrous. Much of the PIIGS sovereign debt is held in German and French banks. Merkel and Sarcozy think no one knows this, I suppose.

But, in fact, the world markets know everything. Just watch bond yields on European sovereign debt. The are beginning the slow, inevitable surge toward infinity. (You reach infinity when the bonds are completely worthless.

Europe has no real shot other than defaulting and the sooner the better. Ireland will probably be the first. They will renounce their guarantee of bank bondholders and that will begin a tide of defaults and partial defaults (and workouts) that will begin to crush the holders of sovereign debt. That is as it should be. Those who make bad investments should suffer the consequences.

Anxious eyes watch California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and host of small American cities that will default, at least partially, on their debt within the next 24 to 36 months. The idea of a federal bailout died on November 2nd. All appropriations, according to the US Constitution, must originate in the House of Representatives. Good luck with that. There will be no bailouts for the profligate states. That is as it should be. Those who make bad investments should suffer the consequences.

You can't repeal the laws of economics by pretending to backstop folks who make bad decisions. That just leads to more bad decisions.

Real economic recovery and growth cannot begin until the wave of defaults begins.

No comments: