London’s stockbrokers are shrinking as Europe’s sovereign debt crisis and competition from international firms squeezes revenue and fees.
“This isn’t just a blip, this is much worse,” said Tim Linacre, who is stepping down as chief executive officer of Panmure (PMR) Gordon & Co., a 135-year-old brokerage. “It’s a desert for activity, which is why you are seeing some firms throw in the towel.”
In the past month, Altium Capital closed its securities unit. Evolution Group Plc (EVG), Merchant Securities Group Plc, Arbuthnot Securities Ltd. and Collins Stewart Hawkpoint Plc have all accepted takeover offers from larger competitors.
“It feels worse than any other time,” said Lorna Tilbian, an executive director at Numis Corp. who began her career in 1984. “All I hear about is people putting up a white flag.”
There are clear signs of a liquidity crunch in the asset markets right now, and the question I keep hearing is, Is this 2008 all over again?
No, it’s worse. Much worse.
In 2008 there was a lot more faith and optimism upon which to draw. But both have been squandered to significant degrees by feckless regulators and authorities who failed to properly address any of the root causes of the first crisis even as they slathered layer after layer of thin-air money over many of the symptoms.
Anyone who has paid attention knows that those “magic potions” proved to be anything but. Not only are the root causes still with us (too much debt, vast regional financial imbalances, and high energy prices), but they have actually grown worse the entire time.
“I am convinced the whole derivatives market will cease to exit. Will become zero. And when it happens I don’t know: you can postpone the problems with monetary measures for a long time but you can’t solve them… Greece should have defaulted ~ it would have sent a message that not all derivatives are equal because it depends on the counterparty.”
“I am ultra bearish. I think most people will be lucky if they still have 50% of their money in 5 years time. You have to have diversification ~ some real estate in the countryside, some gold and some equities because if you think it through, say Germany 1900 to today, we had WWI, we had hyperinflation, WWII, cash holders and bondholders they lost everything 3 times, but if you owned equities you’d be ok. In equities in general you will not lose it all, it may not be a good investment, unless you put it all in one company and it goes bankrupt.”
“There is no economy in the world, whether low-income countries, emerging markets, middle-income countries or super-advanced economies that will be immune to the crisis that we see not only unfolding but escalating”
All key measures of the money supply in the eurozone contracted in October with drastic falls across parts of southern Europe, raising the risk of severe recession over coming months.
“If anyone thinks things are getting better, they simply don’t understand how severe the problems are,” a London executive at a global bank said. “A major bank could fail within weeks.”
Others said many continental banks, including French, Italian and Spanish lenders, were close to running out of the acceptable forms of collateral, such as US Treasury bonds, that could be used to finance short-term loans.
Some have been forced to lend out their gold reserves to maintain access to US dollar funding.
“We seem to have entered the last days of the euro as we currently know it. That doesn’t make a break-up very likely, but it does mean some extraordinary things will almost certainly need to happen ~ probably by mid-January ~ to prevent the progressive closure of all the euro zone sovereign bond markets, potentially accompanied by escalating runs on even the strongest banks.”
At this point there is zero possibility that Italy can refinance any portion of its $300b of 2012 maturing debt. If there is anyone at the table who still thinks that Italy can pull off a miracle, they are wrong. I’m certain that the finance guys at the ECB and Italian CB understand this. I repeat, there is a zero chance for a market solution for Italy.
“Banks will collapse, including possibly a number of French banks that are very exposed to Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain.”
A senior minister has now revealed the extent of the Government’s concern, saying that Britain is now planning on the basis that a euro collapse is now just a matter of time.