The US financial press appears to believe they can keep the US’ fiscal/ debt issues at bay by MOPE (management of perspective economics) and continually focusing on the debt issues of Europe. There are 48 US states in the same situation as the southern European nations.
Jim Sinclair states that the short Euro trade is the most one-sided trade he has witnessed in his entire trading career.
The US domino will fall hard when it’s time comes.
Investors have not woken up to it, but last week may have been a game changer. European Central Bank (ECB) President Draghi took tail risks out of the Eurozone, while at the same time forcing closer fiscal integration. He did it all while keeping the ECB out of some political minefields. It’s pure genius. The initial market reaction suggested he might have lost a battle, not realizing that he is winning the war.
Dismayed by a dysfunctional process caused by a lack of leadership and the increasing risk of some of the worst case scenarios playing out, we have been staying away from the euro in our hard currency strategy. As of late last week, those dynamics changed: we are giving the euro another chance, not only because of substantial short covering potential, but also because Draghi’s “whatever it takes” approach might bring about seismic changes in how European integration, fiscal and monetary policy move forward.
In essence, Draghi told the world that the ECB will act like a central bank of a United States of Europe if the integration of European fiscal policy accelerates. The “integration” process hasn’t worked particularly well. In the early years of the Eurozone, peripheral Eurozone countries used cheap access to financing to live beyond their means. Now, the markets have serious doubts about the sustainability of the finances of weaker Eurozone countries. To regain the markets’ trust, governments have nibbled with austerity measures. While the respective governments will take offense to us using the term ‘nibble’ at their hard fought progress, governments have not been able to reduce their debt loads. Politicians blame the high cost of borrowing and speculators. Unfortunately, as long as debt is merely shuffled around, no matter how big any aid package may be, it is unlikely to bring long lasting relief. In an effort to regain the trust of the markets, governments must engage in credible structural reform. Ireland has successfully gone down this path, but politicians have so far been unable to do the same in Spain, Italy and Greece. In Spain, Prime Minister Rajoy enjoys an absolute parliamentary majority and has no excuse. Italy is run by a technocrat; as such, the market is rightfully suspicious. Greece, well, is in a category of her own.
To break the debt spiral of these weaker countries, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and European Stability Mechanism (ESM) have been put in place. Accessing these facilities comes with a hefty price tag: giving up sovereign control over one’s budget. However, that’s exactly what a United States of Europe needs: tight fiscal integration. While access to the bailout facilities reduces the immediate cost of borrowing, it may also shut the door to selling bonds in the markets at palatable cost.