Why the market has been down on the Euro and European banks

Austria’s bank exposure to emerging markets is equal to 85pc of GDP
– with a heavy concentration in Hungary, Ukraine, and Serbia – all now
queuing up (with Belarus) for rescue packages from the International
Monetary Fund.

Exposure is 50pc of GDP for Switzerland, 25pc for Sweden, 24pc for
the UK, and 23pc for Spain. The US figure is just 4pc. America is the
staid old lady in this drama.

Amazingly, Spanish banks alone have lent $316bn to Latin America,
almost twice the lending by all US banks combined ($172bn) to what was
once the US backyard. Hence the growing doubts about the health of
Spain’s financial system – already under stress from its own property
crash – as Argentina spirals towards another default, and Brazil’s
currency, bonds and stocks all go into freefall.

Broadly speaking, the US and Japan sat out the emerging market
credit boom. The lending spree has been a European play – often using
dollar balance sheets, adding another ugly twist as global
“deleveraging” causes the dollar to rocket. Nowhere has this been more
extreme than in the ex-Soviet bloc.

The region has borrowed $1.6 trillion in dollars, euros, and Swiss
francs. A few dare-devil homeowners in Hungary and Latvia took out
mortgages in Japanese yen. They have just suffered a 40pc rise in their
debt since July. Nobody warned them what happens when the Japanese
carry trade goes into brutal reverse, as it does when the cycle turns.
. . .

Just in case you were wondering.  Here is the link.  By the way, this is further evidence that the driving force behind the earlier boom was the global savings glut, and sheer giddiness, not the excessively loose monetary policy of Greenspan’s Fed.  The ECB has pursued a relatively tight monetary policy since its origin.  It also will be interesting to see what trouble arises in Spain, since Spanish banking regulation has been considered a model of how to keep these problems under control.

And here’s Romania fact of the day:

Romania raised its overnight lending to 900pc to stem capital flight…


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