Eastern Europe on the brink of financial collapse?

Rick Moran
I knew I should have bought gold when it was at $600 an oz.:

If mishandled by the world policy establishment, this debacle is big enough to shatter the fragile banking systems of Western Europe and set off round two of our financial Götterdämmerung.

Austria's finance minister Josef Pröll made frantic efforts last week to put together a €150bn rescue for the ex-Soviet bloc. Well he might. His banks have lent €230bn to the region, equal to 70pc of Austria's GDP.

"A failure rate of 10pc would lead to the collapse of the Austrian financial sector," reported Der Standard in Vienna. Unfortunately, that is about to happen.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) says bad debts will top 10pc and may reach 20pc. The Vienna press said Bank Austria and its Italian owner Unicredit face a "monetary Stalingrad" in the East.

Mr Pröll tried to drum up support for his rescue package from EU finance ministers in Brussels last week. The idea was scotched by Germany's Peer Steinbrück. Not our problem, he said. We'll see about that.

Stephen Jen, currency chief at Morgan Stanley, said Eastern Europe has borrowed $1.7 trillion abroad, much on short-term maturities. It must repay – or roll over – $400bn this year, equal to a third of the region's GDP. Good luck. The credit window has slammed shut.

Not even Russia can easily cover the $500bn dollar debts of its oligarchs while oil remains near $33 a barrel. The budget is based on Urals crude at $95. Russia has bled 36pc of its foreign reserves since August defending the rouble.

"This is the largest run on a currency in history," said Mr Jen.

There are two ways we can approach the numerous and ever growing number of financial crisis in the world today. We can learn about them and get real, real scared or we can ignore them and hope that someone somewhere knows what they're doing and fixes things before we all end up in a barter economy, trading cigarettes for food and guns for a place to live.

I would prefer the latter option, but like you, I can't bear to be ignorant of what is going on in the world. So I will continue to share these doomsday posts with you and hope that those of you so inclined, will pray for all of us that the high priests of high finance in the world are smart enough, tough enough, and brave enough to get us through this crisis safely.


I knew I should have bought gold when it was at $600 an oz.:

If mishandled by the world policy establishment, this debacle is big enough to shatter the fragile banking systems of Western Europe and set off round two of our financial Götterdämmerung.

Austria's finance minister Josef Pröll made frantic efforts last week to put together a €150bn rescue for the ex-Soviet bloc. Well he might. His banks have lent €230bn to the region, equal to 70pc of Austria's GDP.

"A failure rate of 10pc would lead to the collapse of the Austrian financial sector," reported Der Standard in Vienna. Unfortunately, that is about to happen.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) says bad debts will top 10pc and may reach 20pc. The Vienna press said Bank Austria and its Italian owner Unicredit face a "monetary Stalingrad" in the East.

Mr Pröll tried to drum up support for his rescue package from EU finance ministers in Brussels last week. The idea was scotched by Germany's Peer Steinbrück. Not our problem, he said. We'll see about that.

Stephen Jen, currency chief at Morgan Stanley, said Eastern Europe has borrowed $1.7 trillion abroad, much on short-term maturities. It must repay – or roll over – $400bn this year, equal to a third of the region's GDP. Good luck. The credit window has slammed shut.

Not even Russia can easily cover the $500bn dollar debts of its oligarchs while oil remains near $33 a barrel. The budget is based on Urals crude at $95. Russia has bled 36pc of its foreign reserves since August defending the rouble.

"This is the largest run on a currency in history," said Mr Jen.

There are two ways we can approach the numerous and ever growing number of financial crisis in the world today. We can learn about them and get real, real scared or we can ignore them and hope that someone somewhere knows what they're doing and fixes things before we all end up in a barter economy, trading cigarettes for food and guns for a place to live.

I would prefer the latter option, but like you, I can't bear to be ignorant of what is going on in the world. So I will continue to share these doomsday posts with you and hope that those of you so inclined, will pray for all of us that the high priests of high finance in the world are smart enough, tough enough, and brave enough to get us through this crisis safely.