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Saturday, October 04, 2008


roubini: cardiac arrest

read this very carefully.

This is indeed a cardiac arrest for the shadow and non-shadow banking system and for the system of financing of the corporate sector. The shutdown of financing for the corporate system is particularly scary: solvent but illiquid corporations that cannot roll over their maturing debt may now face massive defaults due to this illiquidity. And if the financing of the corporate sectors shuts down and remains shut down the risk of an economic collapse similar to the Great Depression becomes highly likely.

roubini follows with six desperate ideas -- insure ALL bank deposits to stop the quiet run of uninsured deposits on the commercial banks for at least six months; expand fed lending facilities to the shadow banking system which funds the non-financial corporate sector through paper; use fed backstop to force prime brokers to maintain exposure to large hedge funds in a sort of backdoor bailout of the remainder of the shadow banking system; direct lending from the fed to the corporate sector; a coordinated global 100bps policy rate cut; a radical redesign of the TARP.

The suggested policy actions are extreme and radical but the times and conditions in financial markets and the corporate sector are also extreme. Thus, to avoid another Great Depression radical and unorthodox policy action needs to be taken now both in the US and in other advanced economies as the credit crisis and liquidity crisis is now becoming virulent even in Europe and other advanced economies. This credit crisis is both a crisis of confidence and illiquidity and a crisis of credit and solvency. But while the insolvent institutions should go bust we have now reached a point where many financial institutions and now non financial firms may become insolvent because of pure illiquidity; and this would lead to an extremely severe economic contraction similar to an economic depression rather than a mild recession. At this point the US, the advanced economies (and now likely even some emerging market economies) will experience an ugly recession and an ugly financial and banking crisis regardless of what we do from now on. What radical policy action can only do is preventing what will now be an ugly and nasty two-year recession and financial crisis from turning into a systemic meltdown and a decade long economic depression. The financial and economic conditions are extreme; thus extreme policy action is needed now to save the global economy from an ugly depression.

if that isn't pessimistic enough for you, consider doug noland.

We are today witnessing the Acute Stage of Bursting Credit Bubble Dynamics. It’s an absolute debacle, and there’s little our well-intentioned policymakers can do about it other then try to slow the collapse. To be sure, there were momentous effects to both the Economic and Financial Structures during the Bubble period between 1994’s $578bn Non-Financial Debt Growth and 2007’s $2.561 TN. It is also worth noting that Financial Sector Debt expanded $462bn in 1994 compared to $1.753 TN in 2007. Mortgage debt almost doubled in the six years 2002 through 2007 to $14.0 TN, while Financial Sector borrowings rose 75% to $16.0 TN. This Credit onslaught fostered huge distortions to the level and pattern of spending throughout the entire economy. It is today impossible both to generate sufficient Credit and to main previous patterns of spending. Economic upheaval and adjustment are today unavoidable.

... This [the last remnants of credit expansion] all ended abruptly three weeks ago with the Lehman filing.

Today, confidence has been shattered, and Wall Street finance is a complete and unsalvageable bust. The spigot for Trillions of finance - that for years fueled the asset markets and U.S. Bubble economy – has been essentially shut off and dismantled. ...

... It is today impossible to comprehend the full ramifications from The Bust in Wall Street Finance. Yet we can be rather certain that for the foreseeable future much less Credit and liquidity will be directed to the asset markets. And, at the same time, there will be significantly less Credit Availability for riskier loans of all varieties – for the household, business, financial and the government sectors. Few appreciate that these dynamics are extremely problematic for the U.S. Bubble Economy – an economic system that had come to a large extent to be governed by asset-based and high-risk lending. These dynamics are at the heart of today’s Acute Financial and Economic Fragility and the resulting imploding markets.

... One of the greatest manias ever – surely The World's Greatest Episode of “Ponzi Finance” – is absolutely coming apart. And the wreckage is accumulating in all markets – everywhere. ...

Here at home, our maladjusted economic system will only be sustained by somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.0 TN of new Credit. It’s simply not going to happen. The $700bn from Washington would seem like an enormous amount of support. In reality, it’s nowhere even close to the amount necessary for systemic stabilization. To the $2.0 TN or so of new Credit required this year (and next) add perhaps as much as several Trillion more necessary to accommodate speculative de-leveraging (liquidations forced by huge losses). Importantly, the Bust in Wall Street Finance has ensured that insufficient liquidity will be forthcoming to maintain inflated asset prices and sustain the Bubble economy – creating catastrophe for the leveraged speculating community.

The “Freidmanites” thought they understood the (post-crash) policy mistakes that led to The Great Depression. They believed the “Roaring Twenties” was the “Golden Age of Capitalism.” The great bust could have been avoided with a simple ($5bn or so) banking system recapitalization. As we are witnessing today, the issue is not some manageable amount of new “capital” to replenish banking system losses. Instead, the predicament is the massive and unmanageable amount of new Credit necessary to, on the one hand, sustain a mal-adjusted Bubble Economy and, on the other, the Trillions more required to accommodate a gigantic speculative de-leveraging. I have a very difficult time seeing a way out of this terrible mess.

if hypo isn't resolved by the asian market open sunday night, it could be remembered as the creditanstalt of 2008. to throw a massive international banking failure into a global credit market already in full collapse and blind with panic is the stuff of nightmares.

i wouldn't be surprised by a 100bps cut in fed funds tomorrow before the asian open -- an attempt to shock the patient back to life. i further would not be surprised if the market read that as central bank desperation and crashed all the harder.

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