Tag Archives: credit crunch

Now When Did You Last Hear The Term “Credit Crunch”?

17 Aug

From Reuters:

Bank funding stress threatens Europe credit crunch

The risk of a credit crunch in southern Europe is rising as banks face stress in their medium- to long-term funding, forcing some to shrink their lending, analysts said on Monday.

European banks were rocked last week by concern about a squeeze for short-term funding, with tougher and more costly financing and a retreat by U.S. money market funds prompting lenders to turn to the European Central Bank (ECB) for more cash. France’s banks were hit particularly hard.

“Bank funding remains a key source of risk for bank earnings, ability to lend and a drag on economic recovery … the risks of a credit crunch in southern Europe are rising,” said Huw van Steenis, analyst at Morgan Stanley…

The speedy deterioration in funding markets — which were a lead indicator of pressure points during the 2007/08 financial crisis — has raised fears about the knock-on effect on fragile economies.

When did you last hear the term “credit crunch”?

That’s right. GFC1.

Brace yourself for GFC2 (or more correctly, GFC1.1 … because the first never really went away).

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Cracks Multiply In Europe

7 May

From Business Spectator:

Global share markets plunged overnight as panicked investors worried that the eurozone could fragment as a result of the escalating European financial crisis.

The European banking system is under huge strain* as banks are increasingly reluctant to lend to each other. The European banks are worried about how much other banks have lent to the weaker eurozone countries – the so-called PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) – and the catastrophic losses that could ensue if any of these countries defaulted on their debt.

At the same time, there’s been a flight of capital out of the eurozone as investors have worried the common currency might crumble as a result of the problems in the vulnerable economies of the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain).

The huge question mark over the eurozone’s survival is causing the euro to plummet. Increasingly, market analysts are predicting that the currency, which broke through the $US1.30 earlier this week for the first tine since April 2009, is set to hit parity with the US dollar.

There is an increasing consensus that the $US145 billion European Union-IMF rescue package for Greece is not sufficient to solve Greece’s basic problem – that it is simply unable to service its colossal debts. There are also questions as to whether Greece will be able to implement the punitive austerity measures it is being forced to adopt in exchange for the bailout.

At the same time, there are increasing signs that even if it bails out Greece, Germany will not be prepared to write the huge cheques required to help other vulnerable PIIGS.

German taxpayers are already outraged at having to pick up a large chunk of the cost of the Greek bail-out, and Germany’s largest opposition party, the centre-left SPD, has said that it will not vote in favour of the bill.

Predictions that the cascading PIIGS debt crisis will cause the eurozone to collapse are becoming more widespread.

* That the European banking system is “under huge strain” and is beginning to freeze up (again) has profound implications for our economy. Why?

As explained in this post a few days ago, even the heads of our major banks quietly admit that our banking system has an “achilles heel” – it is desperately dependent on the international wholesale capital markets for funding.  If/when the banking system abroad seizes up again, our banks will be in deep trouble.

Watch out for the emergency reinstalment of the government’s Bank Guarantee, hoping to again prop up international confidence in our banks so that they can continue to attract funding in a second credit crunch.

Watch out also for higher interest rates charged by the banks – irrespective of the RBA cash rate – due to their having to pay ever higher interest rates in order to get that international funding in the first place.

Credit Contraction Heralds Recession

5 May

Does a contraction in the growth of Broad Money Supply say that recession is looming?  Australia’s most recent history responds with a resounding ‘Yes’.

Take a look at the following chart, showing the 12 month percentage change in Broad Money Supply. Note in particular the time frame of Australia’s last recession – Paul Keating’s “recession we had to have” – back in the early 1990’s. See how Broad Money Supply growth peaked in June/July 1989, before falling sharply and eventually turning negative in Nov ’91 – Mar ’92  (click image to enlarge):

Now, consider the dates of the most recent peak (and fall), coinciding with the onset of the Global Financial Crisis.  Broad Money Supply growth peaked again in December 2007 – coincident with the peak in the Australian (and global) stock markets:


Broad Money Supply in Australia has been falling ever since December 2007.

According to John Williams of ShadowStats (commenting on the US economy) –

Money supply and credit are now generally contracting. We’re going to see an intensified downturn in the near future. I specialize in looking at leading indicators that have very successful track records in terms of predicting economic or financial turns. One such indicator is the broad money supply. Whenever the broad money supply–adjusted for inflation–has turned negative year over year, the economy has gone into recession, or if it already was in a recession, the downturn intensified. It’s happened four times before now, in modern reporting. You saw it in the terrible downturn of ‘73 to ‘75, the early ’80s and again in the early ’90s.

ANZ: Greece Could Affect Oz Banking

30 Apr

Yesterday I posted about how vulnerable Australia’s banking system is to the spreading debt contagion in the Eurozone. It seems that ANZ chief Mike Smith shares the concern for the same reason – our banking system’s heavy reliance on getting funding from the international markets, which are again beginning to freeze up due to concerns about counterparty risk.

From Business Spectator:

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ) chief executive Mike Smith has warned that sovereign debt problems in Europe have the ability to affect Australian markets.

Speaking to reporters after the bank’s first-half results were released, Mr Smith said the “contagion issue is now very real”, in reference to Europe’s sovereign debt problems.

Mr Smith said the crisis may affect Australia in terms of its dependence on access to the international credit market, and said the concern was very relevant to businesses across the country.

“I think it will probably have an effect on equity and credit markets, but credit markets I think is more relevant to the Australian situation,” he said.

‘Concentrated Risk’ Threat to Aussie Banks

29 Mar

From Contrarian Investor’s Journal:

We must confess, we are getting more and more nervous about the potential for a Black Swan hitting the Australian economy. Particularly, we are looking at a vulnerability in the banking system. Here are some facts about Australian banks:

  1. As at December 2009, around 75% of the Australian mortgage market is held by the Big 4 banks. 50% are held by Commonwealth and Westpac while 25% are held by ANZ and NAB. (source: CoreData’s Australian Mortgage Report Q1 2010)
  2. 60% of Commonwealth’s lending books are residential mortgages.
  3. 50% of Westpac’s lending books are residential mortgages.

Now, here’s an interesting news report from almost two years ago:

“The Reserve Bank of Australia has a dark worry about our banks: they get 90 per cent of their cash from each other. If one bank gets into trouble, the Australian financial system could be snap-frozen overnight.”

That is only one concern for Australia’s banking system. You know, the one that we are constantly reassured is “world-leading”, “safe and secure”, “the best in the world”.  The banking system that needed a Government (ie, taxpayer)  Guarantee on customer deposits since October 2008, to stop the “run on the banks” that threatened to collapse it.  The banking system that still has wholesale funds frozen to withdrawals, leaving hundreds of thousands of retirees destitute and forced to go back on the government (taxpayer) pension.

There’s also this concern. Australia’s banks have $13 Trillion in off-balance sheet business.  Yes, that’s Trillion with a ‘T’. But, they only have $2.59 Trillion in on-balance sheet assets.

From Money Morning:

We’re sure the banks and the RBA will claim that all the off-balance sheet business is completely offset, so that losses are contained. Personally, we don’t think you should believe a word of it. The number one risk with the off-balance sheet business is counterparty risk. As long as each counterparty can keep the ponzi scheme going then sure, everything will be tickety-boo.

But as we all know, that can’t happen. We’ve seen counterparties collapse before (Lehman, Bear Sterns, etc…) and they’ll collapse or need bailing out again.

There’s only so long that banks can keep the ponzi going. They’ve scraped through by the skin of their teeth thanks to an unprecedented bail-out by the taxpayer.

Our “world-leading” Big Four banking system is a total disaster just waiting to happen. And it’s all thanks to greed… and Debt.

Barnaby is right.

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