Across the pond, the Euro crisis doesn’t appear to be abating despite the latest rescue plan for Greece. Paul Krugman writes that:
When I fire up my computer these days, I quickly check out the Italy-Germany 10-year spread. That spread spiked earlier this month, signaling the spread of the crisis beyond the small peripheral economies; at its peak a couple of weeks ago it was 3.32 percent. Then the new rescue plan was announced, and the spread fell to 2.47 — still very bad, but a little less catastrophic.
Well, as of this morning it’s back up to 3.08. Things are falling apart.
Don’t look now, but as of this afternoon—two days later—that spread is at 4.26 percent.
Finally, it’s worth looking at Jonathan Weil’s column from a week ago eviscerating Bank of America’s balance sheet (emphasis mine):
At $9.85 a share, down 26 percent this year, Bank of America finished yesterday with a market capitalization of $99.8 billion. That’s an astonishingly low 49 percent of the company’s $205.6 billion book value, or common shareholder equity, as of June 30. As far as the market is concerned, more than half of the company’s book value is bogus, due to overstated assets, understated liabilities, or some combination of the two.
That perception presents a dangerous situation for the world at large, not just the company’s direct stakeholders. The risk is that with the stock price this low, a further decline could feed on itself and spread contagion to other companies, regardless of the bank’s statement this week that it is “creating a fortress balance sheet.”
None of this, of course, means we’re heading for a crash, but it’s sure not helping anything. And it shows how insane it is to be playing around with something like the debt ceiling. Nobody knows what might happen.