The U.S. stock market surged yesterday on news the European Union (EU) would deploy a two trillion euro rescue fund to help get its sovereign debt crisis under control. This news was so good even battered Bank of America stock jumped more than 10%.
Hold on, not so fast. Some big French banks are in trouble because they are up to their necks with sovereign debt. Naturally, President Nicolas Sarkozy wants action now.
Yesterday, the Financial Times (FT.com) reported the French leader said, “. . . an unprecedented financial crisis will lead us to take important, very important decisions in the coming days.” Raising the sense of urgency, the French president added: “Allowing the destruction of the euro is to take the risk of the destruction of Europe. Those who destroy Europe and the euro will bear responsibility for resurgence of conflict and division on our continent.” (Click here to read the complete FT.com story.)
Jim Rickards of Tangent Capital says you have to distinguish between the bonds, banks and the euro. He said recently in an interview on King World News, “The bonds are definitely going to crash and burn. The bonds are toast. . . . The banks own the bonds, and if the bonds are toast, the banks are toast. . . . But that doesn’t mean the currency is toast.” (Click here for the complete King World News interview with Mr. Rickards.) Rickards expects the euro currency will survive, but many banks will not.
Reggie Middleton of Boombustblog.com says the reason for the coming bank failures is simple—high debt loads. Middleton says many European banks have 40 to 1 leverage. He recently explained how dangerous this was by saying, “I take a dollar and I borrow $39, and I go out and buy something with it. All you need is a 2% move to totally wipe you out—100%. And we all know a lot of sovereign bonds have moved a whole lot more than 2%.” (Click here to see more of Middleton on the Boombustblog.com.) Middleton is expecting more European bank runs as the crisis picks up speed.