By Michael Synder
The fallout from the Brexit vote continues to rock the European financial system. On Wednesday, the British pound dropped to a fresh 31 year low as confidence in the currency continues to plummet. At one point it had fallen as low as $1.2796 before rebounding a bit. As I write this, it is still sitting at just $1.293. Meanwhile, the problems for the biggest banks in Europe just continue to mount. At one point on Wednesday Credit Suisse hit an all-time record low, and German banking giant Deutsche Bank closed the day at an all-time record closing low of 12.93. Overall, Europe’s Stoxx 600 Bank Index closed at the lowest level in almost five years. What we are watching is a full-blown financial meltdown in Europe, but because it is not personally affecting them yet, most Americans are not paying any attention to it.
The collapse of the British pound that we have seen since the Brexit vote has been nothing short of breathtaking. In fact, CNN says that this “is what a currency crash looks like”…
This is what a currency crash looks like. The pound has slumped to $1.28, its lowest level in more than three decades.
Investors are dumping the pound following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union on June 23. The pound has dropped roughly 15% since the referendum day, when it reached $1.50.
After appearing to stabilize, the pound resumed its decline this week after three big asset management firms halted withdrawals from real estate investment funds.
Of course this is likely only just the beginning. There are some analysts that are suggesting that the British pound could eventually hit parity with the U.S. dollar at some point. We are seeing seismic shifts on the foreign exchange market right now, and this is going to affect trillions of dollars worth of currency-related derivatives. It will be exceedingly interesting to see how all of this plays out.
Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank continues to get absolutely hammered.
If the biggest and most important bank in Germany is not completely imploding, then why does the stock price continue to crash time after time?
Since the start of 2016, the value of Deutsche Bank has fallen by half, and many have pointed out that the trajectory that it is on is very, very similar to Lehman Brothers in 2008.
My regular readers are probably sick and tired of hearing me warn about Deutsche Bank, so today I will let someone else do it. According to an article that was just published by the BBC, Deutsche Bank is now “the most dangerous bank in the world”…
Deutsche Bank shares hit a new record low today. It’s value has halved since the beginning of the year.
So is it now the most dangerous bank in the world?
According to the International Monetary Fund – yes.
Last week, the IMF said that, of the banks big enough to bring the financial system crashing down, Deutsche Bank was the riskiest. Not only that, Deutsche Bank’s US unit was one of only two of 33 big banks to fail tests of financial strength set by the US central bank earlier this year.
At this point Deutsche Bank is scrambling to raise cash to stave off an imminent implosion. Just today, I came across a report about how they plan to sell at least a billion dollars worth of shipping loans in order to bring in some much needed funds. Many of the steps that they are taking are reminiscent of what Lehman Brothers tried to do just prior to their collapse, and that alone should tell you something.
At the same time all of this is going on, things in Italy just continue to get even worse. As of this moment, approximately 17 percent of all bank loans held by Italian banks are considered to be “non-performing”. In other words, they are absolutely swamped by bad debts. At the height of the 2008 crisis, only about 5 percent of the loans held by U.S. banks were bad. So what we are watching unfold in Italy right now could definitely be described as “cataclysmic”.
Since the Brexit vote, Italian banks have been hit harder than anyone else. The following comes from CNN…
Shares in Italy’s Banca Monte Dei Paschi Di Siena have crashed 45% in 10 days, forcing regulators to temporarily ban short-selling in the stock. The bank has been given until Friday to come up with a plan to reduce its bad loans by 40% by 2018.
It’s not alone. Other Italian bank stocks have fallen by about 30% since June 23, when the U.K. voted to leave the European Union. Italian officials are trying to find ways to shore up the country’s financial system.
Italian banks have been choking on bad debt for years, but the U.K. vote has thrown their problems into sharp relief.
Personally, I have been amazed that the European financial system has been able to hold it together for this long. A total collapse was inevitable, but I really thought that it would have started before now. Up until this time we have seen small crisis after small crisis, but in 2016 the full-blown meltdown has finally arrived.
And this growing crisis in Europe is going to have a dramatic impact on the entire planet. Everywhere you look the economic fundamentals are getting worse, and if you won’t believe me, perhaps you will believe this editorial by Tim Quast on CNBC…
The bottom line is that the fundamentals of the economy and market don’t look good: Whoever you’re listening to — the Federal Reserve, to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, to the International Monetary Fund — hoary heads of the dismal science see deepening malaise worsened by the Brexit, creaky European banks, possible copycat flight from the euro zone — even a slowdown for the U.S.
Can a market characterized by declining money flows, weakening fundamentals and arbitrage that has posted no material gain in over 18 months gather steam? Anything is possible. But it’s not a sound conclusion.
Whenever I post an article about Europe, it tends to get significantly less response than many of my other articles do.
But I hope that my fellow Americans will start paying attention to this growing crisis, because it is going to deeply affect all of us.
What is happening to the European financial system right now is truly history in the making, and I believe that it is going to be one of the biggest news stories of the second half of 2016.
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