Monday, January 2, 2012

The List of Companies & Governments Preparing for Euro Breakup Grows

The list of companies and governments putting plans and systems in place to handle a breakup of the Euro continues to grow. Last week The Telegraph reported the UK "Treasury plans for Euro failure":
"The Treasury is working on contingency plans for the disintegration of the single currency that include capital controls.
The preparations are being made only for a worst-case scenario and would run alongside similar limited capital controls across Europe, imposed to reduce the economic fall-out of a break-up and to ease the transition to new currencies. 
Officials fear that if one member state left the euro, investors in both that country and other vulnerable eurozone nations would transfer their funds to safe havens abroad. Capital flight from weak euro nations to the UK would drive up sterling, dealing a devastating blow to the Government’s plans to rebalance the economy towards exports."
The bold was added by me.....Clearly that should say "perceived" safe havens. To think currencies from indebted counties like the UK, Japan and the US are true "safe havens" is wishful thinking.
"Britain’s response to a euro meltdown would reflect measures taken by Argentina when it dropped the dollar peg in 2002 and by Czechoslovakia after the country broke in two in 1993, according to sources. Faced with a massive capital inflow, the Czech Republic temporarily imposed taxes on foreign inflows to banks and capped the amount of overseas credit domestic banks could use.
In addition to the risk of an appreciating currency, dealing with potential UK corporate exposures to the euro poses a considerable challenge for the Treasury.
Britain’s top four banks have about £170bn of exposure to the troubled periphery of Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain through loans to companies, households, rival banks and holdings of sovereign debt. For Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland, the loans equate to more than their entire equity capital buffer."
Here is a nice chart from economist Steve Keen's debtwatch blog on the distribution of debt in the UK

You can expect that UK Government debt line (orange) to continue to explode as it absorbs (via bailouts) the coming defaults in the UK Finance sector (black line). Want to think about the possible magnitude we are talking about? And we thought the US finance sector was bloated........

What was that about running to the safe haven of the UK? If you think running to your slaughter is a good idea then be my guest. The UK will eventually have no choice but to print, print, print.

So despite ongoing denials to any possibility of a Euro breakup. A wide range of companies  and governments are putting plans and systems in place for that very possibility. Not a bad idea considering that the "possibility" will eventually be reality despite all the denials. The only question is which countries will be left in the Euro, if any, and how long will it take to play out?


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  2. Fascinating to see how the UK canvas economy will recover from this.

  3. Really great report, lucky for us it's not too bad is AUS!

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