Tag Archives: Target2

The Eurozone Is in a Danger Zone, by Alasdair Macleod

ECB liquidity has kept the European economy and European government bond markets afloat. What happens when the ECB tightens the spigot? From Alasdair Macleod at mises.org:

It is easy to conclude the EU, and the Eurozone in particular, is a financial and systemic time-bomb waiting to happen. Most commentary has focused on problems that are routinely patched over, such as Greece, Italy, or the impending rescue of Deutsche Bank. This is a mistake. The European Central Bank and the EU machine are adept in dealing with issues of this sort, mostly by brazening them out, while buying everything off. As Mario Draghi famously said, “whatever it takes.”

There is a precondition for this legerdemain to work. Money must continue to flow into the financial system faster than the demand for it expands, because the maintenance of asset values is the key. And the ECB has done just that, with negative deposit rates and its €2.5 trillion asset purchase program. But that program ends this month, making it the likely turning point, whereby it all starts to go wrong.

Most of the ECB’s money has been spent on government bonds for a secondary reason, and that is to ensure Eurozone governments remain in the euro system. Profligate politicians in the Mediterranean nations are soon disabused of their desires to return to their old currencies. Just imagine the interest rates the Italians would have to pay in lira on their €2.85 trillion of government debt, given a private sector GDP tax base of only €840 billion, just one third of that government debt.

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Fuse is Lit! Target2 Imbalances Hit Crisis Levels: An Email Exchange With the ECB Over Target2, by Mike Mish Shedlock

Mike Mish Shedlock explains how Germany has been financing the Southern European nations and may get left holding the bag. From Shedlock at mishtalk.com:

Eurozone Target2 imbalances have touched or exceeded the crisis levels hit in 2012 when Greece was on the verge of leaving the Eurozone. Others have noted the growing imbalances as well.

I had a couple of questions for the ECB regarding Target2, which they have answered, I believe disingenuously.

First, we will explain Target2, then we will take a look at various charts, viewpoints, and the email exchange with the ECB.

Target2 Background

Target2 stands for Trans-European Automated Real-time Gross Settlement System. It is a reflection of capital flight from the “Club-Med” countries in Southern Europe (Greece, Spain, and Italy) to banks in Northern Europe.

Pater Tenebrarum at the Acting Man blog provides this easy to understand example: “Spain imports German goods, but no Spanish goods or capital have been acquired by any private party in Germany in return. The only thing that has been ‘acquired’ is an IOU issued by the Spanish commercial bank to the Bank of Spain in return for funding the payment.”

This is not the same as an auto loan from a dealer or a bank. In the case of Target2, central banks are guaranteeing the IOU.

Target2 also encompasses people yanking deposits from a bank in their country and parking them in a bank in another country. Greece is a nice example, and the result was capital controls.

If Italy or Greece (any country) were to leave the Eurozone and default on the target2 balance, the rest of the countries would have to make up the default according to their percentage weight in the Eurozone.

To continue reading: Fuse is Lit! Target2 Imbalances Hit Crisis Levels: An Email Exchange With the ECB Over Target2