There are several good articles in The Telegraph today. Let’s take a close look at two of them.

The Death of a Currency

Jeremy Warner writes Death of a currency as eurogeddon approaches

The market is starting to bet on what was previously a minority view – a complete collapse, or break-up, of the euro. Up until the past few days, it has remained just about possible to go along with the idea that ultimately Germany would bow to pressure and do whatever might be required to save the single currency.

The prevailing view was that the German Chancellor didn’t really mean what she was saying, or was only saying it to placate German voters. When finally she came to peer over the precipice, she would retreat from her hard line position and compromise. Self interest alone would force Germany to act.

But there comes a point in every crisis where the consensus suddenly shatters. That’s what has just occurred, and with good reason. In recent days, it has become plain as a pike staff that the lady’s not for turning.

All of a sudden, the pound is the European default asset of choice.

What we are witnessing is awesome stuff – the death throes of a currency. And not just any old currency either, but what when it was launched was confidently expected to take its place alongside the dollar as one of the world’s major reserve currencies. That promise today looks to be in ruins.

Contingency planning is in progress throughout Europe. From the UK Treasury on Whitehall to the architectural monstrosity of the Bundesbank in Frankfurt, everyone is desperately trying to figure out precisely how bad the consequences might be.

What they are preparing for is the biggest mass default in history. There’s no orderly way of doing this. European finance and trade is too far integrated to allow for an easy unwinding of contracts. It’s going to be anarchy.

UK Banks Brace for Eurozone Break-Up

Garry White quotes Andrew Bailey, a top UK regulator who says “UK banks must brace themselves for euro break-up”

Andrew Bailey, deputy head of the Prudential Business Unit at the Financial Services Authority (FSA), noted that British banks are not heavily exposed to the eurozone, but said they must prepare for some countries to exit the single currency – or a complete break up.

“We cannot be, and are not, complacent on this front,” Mr Bailey said. “As you would expect, as supervisors we are very keen to see the banks plan for any disorderly consequence of the euro area crisis.

“Good risk management means planning for unlikely but severe scenarios and this means that we must not ignore the prospect of a disorderly departure of some countries from the eurozone.

“I offer no view on whether it will happen, but it must be within the realm of contingency planning,” he added. Failure to plan for the exit of a country from the euro would be “unsound risk management”, Mr Bailey said.

Last week, Japanese bank Nomura said a euro break-up is a “very real risk” and advised bond holders to check whether they are likely to be repaid in other, reinstated European currencies if the euro crumbles.

Disorderly Death

Read that last paragraph above closely. The death of the Euro could be very disorderly.

It would be far better for Germany and other states against ECB printing to leave rather than suffer the consequences of a breakup fueled by Greece, Spain, and Portugal leaving.

If France wants to print (Sarkozy is committed to the Euro and to printing), then France can stay in. Will Sarkozy survive the next French election?

The next election may be moot. Things are unraveling far faster than I expected. The market is going to force some major action in days, not months.

“Plan C” Germany Exits the Euro

Several times recently I have linked to a discussion by Michael Pettis and Hans-Olaf Henkel (the former head of the Federation of German Industries), regarding “Plan C” a Eurozone breakup with Germany leaving instead of Greece, Spain, and Portugal leaving.

It is well worth another look. Please see Eurozone Breakup Logistics (Never Believe Anything Until It’s Officially Denied) for a lengthy discussion.

Interestingly, Hans-Olaf Henkel was an early supporter of the euro but now says “I now consider my engagement to be the biggest professional mistake I ever made.”

Steen Jakobsen is still sticking with his European “bank holiday” idea detailed in Perfect Storm the Most Likely Scenario; Is Europe Set to Declare a Chapter 11 in Early 2012?

If by some miracle the can is to be kicked farther down the road, it better happen soon. Promises to agree to agree will not work. Time is up.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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