As calls for overt European QE grows louder; as opposed to the covert versions that currently exist – such as the ECB guaranteeing sovereign loans to insolvent banks – the expanding collapse of PIIGS economies is on the verge of retaking “center stage.” With record European unemployment, and last week’s announcement that continental GDP rose just 0.1% in the third quarter, it’s hard to believe anyone still believes in the propagandized economic “recovery.” Heck, France just had its credit rating downgraded last week – amidst its lowest Presidential approval ratings ever; and it isn’t even a PIIG. In most of Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain, the economic situation is measurably worse than at any time during the 2011-12 “financial crisis.”
Obviously, the crisis of real economies has been temporarily masked by the same financial market gains seen in the other hyper-inflating Western nations; i.e., all of them. In Europe’s case, its own versions of the U.S. “PPT” have clearly been at work as well – particularly since Draghi’s July 2012 announcement that the ECB would do “whatever it takes” to save the Euro. Notwithstanding, it doesn’t change the fact that actual Europeans are suffering, debts piling up, and hope rapidly waning. Youth unemployment is approaching plague-like levels across several PIIGS nations; but most notably Spain – the continent’s fourth largest economy – where it last month tied Greece’s horrific rate of 55%…
And here’s Spain’s Fotocasa Real Estate Index – which gauges housing prices based on a base level of 2005. In other words, October’s record low reading is 28% below levels from eight years ago, and 38% below 2008’s pre-crisis peak. By the way, if you listen to Friday’s Audio blog, guest Jay Taylor speaks of the similar situation he witnessed when traveling to Portugal last month.
If you don’t think the recent Spanish stock and bond gains – caused by the aforementioned money printing and market manipulation – are divergent from reality, check out these charts; depicting surging debt, falling GDP, and…plunging bond spreads! FYI, Spain is about to surpass the $1 trillion debt level; and like the U.S., its true debt/GDP is vastly understated – perhaps by double the “official” level of 90%. A full eighteen months ago – i.e., before the debt surge that prompted Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro to last week notes his “concerns at the pace of the increase,” a more realistic calculation of debt/GDP was 146%. That is, assuming reported economic data is truthful; as based on actual, empirical data, the level of GDP is likely 20% lower.
And what better way to conclude a piece about PIIGS than with these images from this weekend. Protesting proposed “austerity” layoffs and pay cuts, the entire Madrid garbage collection industry has been on strike for the past 12 days. European social unrest is only beginning to expand; in my view, a trend that will worsen dramatically as long as the continent is ruled by a money printing group in Brussels.
It’s only a matter of time before European gold and silver demand erupts higher; as the Euro’s “stewards” have run it into the ground. Unlike the dollar, the Euro is not the world’s “reserve currency.” And thus, the future Draghi endeavors to do “whatever it takes” will cause inflation to ripple through Europe at a much more rapid, uncontrolled pace than what the Fed’s here in America.