Category Archives: Doomsday scenarios

Too Big to Be Saved: Systemic Risk Alive and Well in Europe

With the recent Global Crisis, the interest in systemic risk and the interconnection between financial institutions has increased. This column investigates the case of European financial firms, where several factors can jeopardise a firm’s financial health. Using data since 2000 to evaluate the firms’ systemic risk, the authors find that for certain countries, the cost to rescue the riskiest domestic banks is too high. They might be considered too big to be saved.

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Who Wins in the Financial Casino?

I received a message last week from a savvy reader, a former McKinsey partner who has also done among other things significant pro-bono work with housing not-for-profits (as in he has more interest and experience in social justice issues than most people with his background). His query:

We both know that financialization has, among so many other things, turned large swaths of the capital markets into a casino

Here’s my thought/question: is there a house?

The common wisdom is that the ‘house wins’ in casinos.

So, who or what was really the ‘house’?

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Are Advanced Economies Mature Enough to Handle No Growth?

Economists occasionally point out that societies generally move to the right during periods of sustained low growth and economic stress. Yet left-leaning advocates of low or even no growth policies rarely acknowledge the conflict between their antipathy towards growth and the sort of social values they like to see prevail. While some “the end of growth is nigh” types are simply expressing doubt that 20th century rates of increase can be attained in an era of resource scarcity, others see a low-growth future as attractive, even virtuous, with smaller, more autonomous, more cohesive communities.

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Ilargi: The Black Swan Of Scotland

Yves here. The way that England’s leaders, as well as pundits and investors generally, failed to recognize that Scotland really could vote for secession, is even more significant than it seems, and as Ilargi tells us below, it’s plenty significant. As NC readers have noted, the fact that Scots have swung in favor of secession is certain to embolden other separatists. But at least as important is why events have reached this juncture.

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Mathew D. Rose: Merkel’s Götterdämmerung, Victory in Ukraine and Draghi’s Old Trick

Yves here. Mathew’s post describes the political and ideological dynamics that continue to drive failed austerity policies in Europe. But even more important, it also explains why Europe, and German leaders in particular, have fallen in line with the US and are escalating the conflict with Russia over Ukraine. As we’ve discussed, they’ve convinced themselves that Russia will suffer from the economic sanctions imposed by the US and EU before Russia can play its energy card. And some analysts further believe that Russia would not dare restrict gas supplies to Europe, that it cannot afford to lose the income.

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Blogs Review: The Forever Recession

As the recovery takes hold in the US, Europe appears stuck in a never-ending slump. With the ECB systematically undershooting its inflation target and recent signs that inflation expectations could become de-anchored, the bulk of commentators in the blogosphere are again calling for more monetary actions. Noticeably, some have completely lost hope in the ability of the European institutions to turn this situation around and are now calling for countries to simply break away from the EMU trap.

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Is the West Risking Financial Blowback From Sanctions on Russia?

The spectacle of insanely authoritarian policing in Ferguson, as well as media jitters over ISIS and ongoing reports of action in Gaza and Ukraine, has shifted attention a bit away from simply lousy economic results from Europe. That fragility could play in a nasty way into blowback from sanctions against Russia.

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“A Financial Casino Would Be a Step Up From What We Have”

This is a terrific and very accessible interview with Boston College professor Ed Kane, who is a long-standing critic of the failure to rein in financial firms that feed at the taxpayer trough. At one point in the talk, Kane and his interviewer Marshall Auerback discuss how casinos are well aware of the fact that the house can lose and they monitor gamblers intensively to make sure that no one is engaging is sleight of hand. Thus if we treated our banking system like the financial casino that it has become, we’d be much better off than we are now.

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Ilargi: Follow The Money All The Way To The Next War

The prospect of unnecessary war has focused Ilargi’s mind. He starts with an important article in Handlesblatt that a record number of NC readers flagged, then turns to an issue we’ve focused on: what is the evidence behind US claims of Russian responsibility for the downing of MH17? After Colin Powell’s Iraq WMD canard, it’s remarkable that anyone accepts “trust me” from American officials, but remarkably, that’s where things stand.

One excuse offered for the failure of the US to support its claims is that the military apparatus does not want to expose its information-gathering capabilities. But there’s another, more obvious reason.

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Ilargi: Europe Teeters On The Edge

Yves here. Ilargi is more amped up that usual on the topic of Europe’s self-inflicted wounds resulting from joining the US in imposing so-called Tier Three sanctions against Russia. This own goal results from Europe offering itself as as economic shield, since by virtue of having its nations far more engaged in commerce with Russia than the US, it stood first in line in the event Russia decided to respond in kind. And that’s before you throw in that Europe’e economy and its banking system are in far more fragile shape than America’s.

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GFC Seer Raghuram Rajan Warns of New Crash

Yves here. There has been so much anticipation of the seemingly inevitable next financial markets crash that it’s easy to brush off yet another market call. But given Rajan’s track record, it’s worth at least listening to his reasoning.

It’s noteworthy, however, that post author Llewellyn-Smith sees no crash detonator prior to 2016, which might as well be 2025 as far as most investors are concerned. I have no idea what the timing will be, but the focus on financial/asset markets as the trigger seems unduly narrow. Geopolitics are vastly more fraught than in the runup to the global financial crisis, and we also have more unstable weather, such as the drought in California, which is certain to put pressure on food prices in the US. In other words, it appears that real economy risks, which are often wild cards, are not adequately factored into these “when might the wheels come off” exercises.

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