Once again, as they have already done countless times before since the emergence of the European sovereign debt crisis, the 27 political head honchos of the European Union have once again boasted that they have saved the global economy from collapse with finally, the real definitive cure for the crisis. However, the only thing really distinct with this latest version of the EU cure is that the numbers are much larger. The politicos claim that they have received agreement from impacted banks to write off 50 percent of the value of outstanding loans to Greece. Banks in turn will receive recapitalization from the EU. And perhaps most striking in terms of attempting to win investor confidence, the value of the EFSF, or Eurozone bailout fund, will expand from just over $400 billion to around $ 1.4 trillion. No wonder the European politicians are patting themselves on the back, while predictably stock exchanges across the globe are rallying to new, dizzying heights.
So, should we believe that this time, after so many failed attempts also advertised as the real solution, the politicians have finally got it right? I don’t think so. The massive write-down of Greek debt will jeopardize the financial solvency of many European banks, requiring massive recapitalization. That is supposedly why the European Financial Stability Facility is being expanded to a level of one trillion euros. But where will the Europeans get this money? From the same banks they will need to bail out? From investors already spooked by a 50 percent write-down on Greek debt? From China? From already over-leveraged German taxpayers? In the meantime, the other PIIGS nations are on the brink of insolvency (Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Spain), not to mention fragile eastern European economies, which nobody in the EU will even discuss. No wonder the agreement announced in Brussels is lacking in specific details.
Nouriel Roubini tweeted this morning, “Little in EZ plan to restore growth/competitiveness. Without it financial schemes (greek haircut, bank recap, levered EFSF) alone will fail.” Professor Roubini has had a far more reliable track record in predicting the trajectory of the global economic crisis then all the 27 EU political leaders and their army of economic and financial advisors combined. The fact that Nouriel Roubini is already predicting that the EU’s latest bailout plan will fail is far more significant, in my view, then all the stock market rallies being fed by the latest self-congratulatory propaganda coming out of Brussels.