Signs of Panic Spreading as Europeans Face Inevitability of Collapse
May 29, 2012 • 7:21AM

May 28 (LPAC)—As the frontline Spanish situation was imploding over the past 24 hours, the following indications of panic, and the dimensions of the crisis surfaced.

* British Prime Minister David Cameron held an emergency meeting today at 10 Downing Street, including head of the Bank of England, Chancellor of the Exchequer Osborne, FSA chairman Lord Turner and a number of others. The Daily Telegraph story says it's to discuss "contingency plans" for the Eurozone collapse.

* Yesterday, on Meet the Press, CNBC wildman Jim Cramer ranted against imminent catastrophe as a result of the European crisis, predicting "financial anarchy" and "bank runs" in Spain and Europe. Of course, the latter are aleady going on.

* Most perceptive is a column which appears in the Huffington Post by Simon Johnson (a former IMF economist) and Peter Boone, under the title "The End of the Euro: A Survivor's Guide." The title is misleading, as no solution is offered, but the long article is a fairly well-documented elaboration of how the "Greek exit" will inevitably lead toward chaos, detailing a much fuller extent of its debts, including the whole Target2 payments system which puts billions in bad debt on the books of the German banks.

Johnson figures Greece leaving the euro will mean default on EU121 billion of official creditor debt, EU27 billion to the IMF, then EU155 billion owed to the euro system, of which EU110 are through the Target2 system. So, he says, "between Target2 and direct bond purchases alone, the euro system claims on troubled periphery countries are now approximately EU1.1 trillion (this is our estimate based on available official data). This amounts to over 200% of the (broadly defined) capital of the euro system." They also amount to about 43% of the German GDP.

Later in the article, Johnson and Boone spin out the way this bankruptcy collapse might affect the "global financial markets" in a way much worse than 2008. European government will face insolvency — and if you look at the euro-denominated derivative contracts outstanding, they amount to a $185 trillion market, and this will lead to massive turmoil. Note that they are talking only about an estimate of the euro-denominated derivatives—and in all cases, these are estimates undoubtedly being incomplete.

Johnson and Boone don't go all the way, in terms of how this will blow up this side of the Atlantic as well, but they see the chaos coming, need for an orderly plan. However, despite their denunciations of all fantasies and "bedtime stories" at the conclusion of the article, they fail to mention the one solution that will work: the immediate and ruthless application of a strict Glass-Steagall.