Shaggy dog

It’s another fudge from Europe. The European Financial Stability Fund has been ‘theoretically’ expanded through approved leverage to perhaps Euro1 trillion. Private holders of Greek bonds will ‘theoretically’ take a 50 percent hair-cut, though no details have really been agreed. Silvio Berlusconi has delivered a letter ripe with fulsome promises of structural reform in Italy, to add to lots of other fulsome promises he made before.

It was clear in recent days the markets were ready to accept some more thin European gruel as ‘good news’. Corporate earnings in the US continue to be strong and the latest US GDP figures suggest the American economy is slowly crawling away from the abyss. The very slow improvement in the US macro numbers is the bigger economic story, albeit less trumpeted in the press.

The European train wreck waiting to happen has been moved back down the line. But not far. In the absence of any substantive structural change in Italy, a train wreck there will be. The base case remains remains an Italian fiscal crisis and IMF intervention in the absence of any EU capacity to address the problem.

In the mean time, Italy’s negotiating position can only be strengthened by the ECB’s continued purchases of its debt (EU debt socialisation by the back door) and by the Greek debt hair-cut (What about us, another ‘young’,  ‘peripheral’ European state?). Time to write about something else for a while.

Next day update:

Porco cane! Rome auctions some debt this morning and the market still wants 6 percent (FT sub needed)… In fact the cost of Italian public debt has gone up to a new record. Is it possible that people outside the Italian elite are less stupid than they thought?

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