Armstrong Economics Blog/Central Banks
Re-Posted Oct 15, 2018 by Martin Armstrong
The European Central Bank (ECB) will NOT aid Italy with an EU rescue program if the country or its banks are in financial turmoil. The Italian government is taking the view that Italy has become an “occupied” country and that Germany has conquered Europe imposing austerity and its view of inflation upon the whole of Europe without firing a shot. While the spin is that the ECB is making Italy a test case to demonstrate that Europe and its mechanisms work, in reality, it is a realization that the ECB cannot save Italy’s financial institutions because austerity has created the greatest economic depression perhaps in economic history.
The new five-star Movement in Rome and Lega have been on a confrontational course with the EU Commission, as they plan a higher level of new debt to fulfill election promises. The EU Commission, on the other hand, is calling for less spending and the implementation of austerity as demanded by Germany. Italy is already sitting on a debt of around 131% of GDP. The financial markets are nervous for they see a confrontation that could tear Europe apart at the seams. Italy now has to offer investors significantly higher interest rates when placing its government bonds in order to raise money. In addition, the gap to the yield of German government bonds widened. But in reality, stopping the ECB’s Quantitative Easing will result in interest rates rising by at least 300% very rapidly. Italy is getting ahead of the curve BEFORE everything comes crashing down.
The EU rules prohibit the ECB from helping a country unless it has agreed to a rescue program of EU partners. Then, for example, the Euro-watchdogs could buy up Italian government bonds in order to contain a rise in yields. This provides for a monetary policy emergency tool adopted in 2012 – called “OMT”. However, this has never been used before. The ECB, behind the curtain, fears that if they try to use this mechanism and it fails, as our model warns, then the CONFIDENCE in the entire EU system will collapse.