In the light of more evidence pointing to a global slump, the thrashing of Greece will prove to be the most expensive beating in history
The degree to which the elected Syriza government in Greece never stood a chance of turning round a dying, austerity-hammered economy is revealed by today’s BIS report on cross-border lending. It shows that, while such lending rose by $755 billion in the Q1 2015 – spearheaded by a Tsunami of lending to ezone sovereigns and companies – lending to Greece fell by $22 billion.
Mario Draghi also illegally shut Greece out of the QE programme, and as the IMF reported last week, the blackmail pressure applied to the Greek banking system during the last month of the
negotiations humiliation sent the economy backwards and knackered any credibility the debt sustainability ever had. Finally – the icing on this ‘bailout’ cake – Troika2 has upped the VAT on a huge range of products….just as the first holidaymakers of the season are arriving.
Somebody on the UK’s Opposition benches needs to address a simple PMQ to David Cameron, along the lines of “Could the Prime Minister explain to this House why anyone with a scintilla of morality and an ounce of common sense would want to stay in this power-crazed madhouse called the EU?”
As it happens, while much of the hapless spin continues to come from the eurozone, most of the globally significant data at the moment is from outside the EU. None of it looks good.
Global trade has slumped to the same dismal 2009 levels occasioned by the 2008 financial crisis.
The FT has been sold to Nikkei for 35 times operating income. Not pre or post tax profits, but income. That’s the sort of PE ratio I remember seeing in the late 1980s…just before the first of many busts since then. The Nikkei said, in an official statement, that it saw the deal as “the key to global expansion”. The global expansion of what exactly….its ability to measure central bank asset purchase insanity without batting an eyelid?
Two very bad signs from China: electricity usage is at a 30 year low; and Bloomberg’s commodities index slumped to a 13 year low as Chinese demand was the lowest for 20 years. Low, lower and lowest.
And in the land of the Rising Sun, things are also diving. Earlier this week, Japan’s index of economic indicators was shown to have fallen in May. This prompted the Tokyo government to downgrade its assessment of the nation’s economy for the first time in nine months……..from “improving” to “pausing.” Yes, it’s another outstanding success for QE.
But the business media just keep on hanging in there, determined to polish every rotten apple. There was uncontained joy in the US yesterday when the grab-bag of ten leading indicators (the LEI) went up 0.6%, “leaping past” analysts expectations, as CNBC put it. But a few paragraphs down came this short burst of reality: ‘labor market indicators such as average workweek and initial claims remained unchanged.’ This could turn into Jobless Recovery II, but the workforce’s slightly different experience to that of the directors and stockholders came through loud and clear when the consumer confidence index turned out to be exactly where it was in November 2014….that is, not very confident.
The fact that the corporates staring up their backsides surprised the analysts staring up their backsides doesn’t impress me that much, to be honest…and equally, the fact that bank lending to corporate entities is on the rise (accordinng to the BIS) might suggest increased banker confidence, but it doesn’t improve my opinion of bankers and their correlation with justified confidence. Having come close to destroying the global banking system as a result of infinite confidence seven years ago, ever since then they’ve had the confidence in their ability to regulate themselves by fighting every last banking reform tooth and nail….and, I might add, usually winning.
For example, a large proportion of the upweight in bank lending has gone into the eurozone, where the lenders’ view is that growth is just around the corner. As we saw at the outset, the exception is Greece – but I think we all need to accept now that Greece’s role in world affairs is to be run ragged, starved and have its liquidity cut off. Either way, with or without Greece in the mix, would you invest heavily in an already flatlining and indebted currency area? Nope, neither would I. Certainly not in Italy, where Beppe Grillo last night called for the nationalisation of Italian banks and an exit from the eurozone. Certainly not in France, where things are going from worse to awful. And certainly not in a FiskalUnion which, sooner rather than later, is going to have to face out the French on the awfulness of its deficits and derisory level of its exports.
Brussels-am-Berlin is in triumphalist mode for the time being. It won’t last.