The following is an excerpt from my latest issue of Private Wealth Advisory: my bi-weekly newsletter to my private clients. By focusing on unquantifiable trends (those trends lurking between the data points) Private Wealth Advisory subscribers have seen a return of 34% over the last 12 months vs. 18% for the S&P 500.
And throughout that entire period… we’ve only closed ONE losing trade while locking in 73 winning trades.
The markets are going bananas over the same tired assumption that Central Bankers have some magic solution up their sleeve.
Over the last five years, market participants have largely operated based on the “Bernanke Put” (the belief that no matter what happens Bernanke will somehow save us). I explained how this was a bluff in last issue of Private Wealth Advisory.
However, the ECB’s Mario Draghi may have surpassed the Bernanke Put as the biggest bluff in financial history with his claim that the ECB will take action and that the action will “be enough” to solve the EU Crisis.
Let’s consider what the ECB has done so far and whether or not it has worked.
To date, the ECB has:
- Intervened in the sovereign bond markets throughout 2011.
- Launched its LTRO 1 and LTRO 2 schemes which provided over €1 trillion in funds to EU banks.
- Opened up various liquidity windows to EU banks.
- Facilitated bailouts of Greece (2) Portugal (1) Spain (1) Ireland (1) and soon to be Cyprus and Slovenia. REAL w
- Ballooned its balance sheet to over €3 trillion Euros (roughly 30% bigger than the German economy, which is the largest single economy in Europe).
Has the EU Crisis been solved by any of these measures? The obvious answer is no. The EU Crisis began in earnest in January 2010 with Greece. Today, August 2012, Greece is still an issue and is in fact about to default or leave the EU.
So, one has to ask one’s self… if the ECB (along with the IMF and Germany) has thus far failed to manage, let alone solve, Greece’s problems (a country which comprises only 2% of EU GDP and whose bond market was just €350 billion), how is it now going to solve those of Greece, Spain, Ireland, Portugal, Cyprus, and Slovenia all at once?
The answer is obvious: it cannot. Draghi is bluffing
However, for the sake of argument and since I’ve received so many emails claiming that the ECB has everything under control, let’s consider the ECB’s options. I can think of just two potential “Hail Mary” moves the ECB could stage to attempt to stop the Crisis. They are:
Massive money printing and buying of sovereign debt
The issuance of Euro-‐bonds along with across the board banking backstops
Let’s say the ECB opts for #1. First of all, rampant monetization would weaken the Euro dramatically: something I’m not sure the ECB wants to do given that the currency is already on the edge of a cliff:
Secondly, this policy would almost certainly result in Germany threatening to, if not outright leaving the Euro. We’ve already seen multiple German officials leave the ECB based on its monetary profligacy. Moreover, Germany knows all too well how monetization of debts pans out: Weimar. According to a recent poll, 69% of Germans are worried about inflation. Do you think they’d let Merkel permit the ECB to go on a money-‐printing rampage?
Finally, we need to consider that the ECB was intervening in both the Italian and the Spanish sovereign bond markets on a weekly if not daily basis in the fall of 2011.
In the case of Spain, the ECB was never able keep the 10-‐year’s yields at 5% for long. In fact, despite aggressive intervention, the ECB lost control of the Spanish 10-‐year several times last year.
The situation was even worse in Italy where the ECB couldn’t even get the 10 year’s yield to flatline (the general trend remained upwards). In this case the ECB also lost control of the bond market several times.
So… the idea that the ECB can suddenly just hit print and monetize everything to stop the EU crisis is extremely problematic. Aside from the fact that it would kick the Euro off a cliff, it would have dire ramifications for EU/ German relations (a situation that is already troublesome as now both Greek and Italian newspapers are referring to Merkel and Germany as Nazis). Finally, it’s not even clear that this policy would work.
Now let’s consider the ECB’s second “Hail Mary” option: the issuance of Euro-‐bonds and across the board backstopping of EU banking deposits.
For starters, Angela Merkel has said that there will not be Euro-‐bonds for “as long as [she] live[s].” This is not a bluff. The issuance of Euro-‐bonds goes against the German constitution. If Merkel were to even consider this option she would likely be kicked out of office (remember she’s up for re-‐election next year).
This would also result in Germany losing its AAA credit status. Germany is already approaching the dreaded Debt to GDP level of 90%. And thanks to nearly €1 trillion in back-‐door bailouts to Europe, the country is already on the hook for potentially tens if not hundreds of billions of Euros worth of losses: money Germany doesn’t have.
As for backstopping EU deposits… no entity on earth has the capital to do this. Total Eurozone deposits stand at €15 trillion. Even deposits at the current EU “problem” countries (Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland) are €5.5 trillion. That’s nearly TWO TIMES the size of the ECB’s balance sheet and over FOUR TIMES the size of the various EU bailout funds (the EFSF and ESM, the former of which only has €65 billion in capital left by the way).
Again, in very plain terms, NO ENTITY on planet earth has the money needed to backstop banking deposits for the PIIGS, let alone the entire EU. So scratch that idea off the list.
So if you somehow think the EU is going to work everything out, you might want to think again. Indeed, I’m already preparing my Private Wealth Advisory subscribers for the next leg down in the markets. It is precisely this kind of forward thinking and seeking out of “unquantifiable” risks and opportunities in the markets has allowed Private Wealth Advisory subscribers to lock in a 34% gain over the last 12 months (compared to an 18% gain for the S&P 500).
And we’ve done it without using options or futures, just stocks and ETFs which nearly ANY investor could buy using a discount brokerage account.
Just as importantly, we’ve accomplished this incredible return without taking on excessive risk. Indeed, we’ve only closed ONE losing trade in the last 13 months. We’re now taking steps to prepare for the collapse of Europe using these same investment themes (low risk, no leverage, high profits).
If this kind of high profit/ low risk approach to investing sounds like your cup of tea, we strongly suggest you try out a Private Wealth Advisory subscription.
To find out more about Private Wealth Advisory and how it can help you grow your portfolio in good times and bad…
Chief Market Strategist
Phoenix Capital Research