May 28

–  It’s Official: Austria Repatriates Gold, Confirms Loss Of Faith In Bank Of England (ZeroHedge, May 28, 2015):

Earlier today the Austrian Central Bank confirmed the Kronen-Zeitung report, and said that by the year 2020, it would hold 50%, or 140 tons, of its gold domestically, up from 17% currently. This means that Austria will withdraw some 140 tons of gold from the BOE which holds 80% of Austria’s gold currently and send 92.4 tons back home to Vienna with another 47.6 tons being sent to Switzerland. Which is also the biggest news: Austria is explicitly demonstrating a lack of confidence in the “pro-western” system of which the Bank of England is a critical cog, and instead opting for “neutral” Switzerland, which will hold nearly 50 tons of the gold formerly located at the Bank of England.

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May 27

Oesterrreichische Nationalbank

The End Game Continues: Austria Repatriates Gold (ZeroHedge, May 27, 2015):

After Germany and the Netherlands decided to repatriate a substantial amount of gold from vaults abroad to the vaults in respectively Amsterdam and Frankfurt, now Austria is joining the ‘bring our gold home’ movement.

After increasing pressure from the Austrian people on the government and the central bank to increase the ratio of the gold effectively held in the Austrian Central Bank in Vienna, the central bank has finally made the decision to effectively do so. Less than 20% of Austria’s (relatively) sizeable gold reserves were held in its own vaults with the remainder being stored in Switzerland and London. Austria will now remove 63% of the gold from London and transport it to both Switzerland and Austria. This will be an interesting test case to see how long it will take the Bank of England to ship the 140 tonnes of gold (4.5 million ounces) to Vienna, and we dare to bet this will either take much longer than anticipated, or we’ll suddenly see another gold withdrawal from the Federal Reserve which will very likely be the magical 125-150 tonnes number. Continue reading »

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Mar 28

black swan two

Black Swan 2: This Is “The Next Critical Chapter In The Austrian Banking System Story” (ZeroHedge, March 27, 2015):

“A relatively low-profile entity in Austria – Pfandbriefbank Oesterreich AG (Pfandbriefbank) – is becoming the next critical chapter in the Austrian banking system story.” – Daiwa

When it comes to the sweeping of (trillions of) toxic assets until such time as the ECB starts purchasing not only government bonds but equities, bank loans and really anything else that in a normal world would have some “mark to market” value, Europe had a ready answer: bad banks. A tradition which started with Switzerland and the semi-bailout of UBS during the great financial crisis, “bad banks” have been proposed every time there are a few hundred billion in bad assets that need to be swept away or otherwise removed from the the public eye. Continue reading »

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Mar 15

black_swan

The Austrian Black Swan Claims Its First Foreign Casualty: German Duesselhyp Collapses, To Be Bailed Out (ZeroHedge, March 15, 2015):

Precisely one week ago in “A Black Swan Lands In Southern Austria: The Ripple Effects Of “Mini-Greece Going Off In The Heartland Of Europe“, when analyzing the consequences of the collapse of Austria’s bad bank, we noted perhaps the biggest paradox of Europe’s emergency preparedness response to the Greek collapse and imminent expulsion from the Eurozone: namely that the biggest threat to German banks was no longer in some Mediterranean nation, but in its very own back yard. To wit:

Irony #2, and the biggest one of all: while German banks had spent the past 3 years preparing for the inevitable Grexit and offloading all their exposure to the now insolvent Greek state, it was a waterfall chain of events which started in Germany’s own “back yard”, courtesy of auditors who decided it was unnecessary to mark losses to market until it was far too late, and the immediate outcome is that one ninth of until recently Aaa/AAA-rated Austria is now also insolvent. And that is just the beginning. Continue reading »

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Mar 02

bank-failure1

Lehman Moment For Austrian “Bad Bank” Means Worse Coming (ZeroHedge, March 2, 2015):

Not “contained.” Just six short months ago, the 2Y bonds of Austria’s bank bank – HETA Asset Resolution AG – were trading well above par as the world and his mom reached for yield (~6%) in all the wrong places. Today, following the “spectacular development” over the weekend that the bank will be wound down due to the discovery of an $8.5bn “hole” in its balance sheet, the 2Y HETA bonds are trading below 50c on the dollar (at a yield of 54%). This is indeed Austria’s “Lehman” moment as for the first time in the new European ‘bail-in’ era, senior debt is getting a massive haircut.

As we noted yesterday, the punchline, is that while the world was waiting for Greece to announce capital controls, or a bail-in over the past week, it was none other than one of the Europe’s most pristeen credits (one which until recently was rated AAA/Aaa) that informed creditors a bail-in is imminent: “The finance ministry noted that creditors can be forced to contribute to the costs of winding down Heta – or “bailed in” – under new European legislation that Austria adopted this year so that taxpayers do not have to shoulder the entire burden.Continue reading »

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Mar 01

hypo group_0

“Spectacular Developments” In Austria: Bail-In Arrives After €7.6 Billion Bad Bank Capital Hole “Discovered” (ZeroHedge, March 1, 2015):

Slowly, all the lies of the “recovery”, all the skeletons in the closet, and all the bodies swept under the rug are emerging.

Moments ago, Austrian ORF reported that there have been “spectacular developments” in the case of the Hypo Alpe Adria bad bank, also known as the Heta Asset Resolution, where an outside audit of Heta’s balance sheet exposed a capital hole of up to 7.6 billion euros ($8.51 billion) which the government was not prepared to fill, the Austrian Financial Market Authority said.

As a result, according to Reuters, the bad bank that was created in the aftermath of the Hypo collapse, is itself about to be unwound, as the bad bank itself goes bad! Continue reading »

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Feb 10

Yanis Varoufakis Sums Up Europe In One Sentence

–  Varoufakis Blasts ECB “Has Lost Control Of Monetary Policy” As Germany Tells Greece: “There Is No Way Out” (ZeroHedge, Feb 9, 2015):

“There is no way out” for Greece from its treaty obligations warns German lawmaker Michael Fuchs (Angela Merkel’s deputy caucus chairman) telling Bloomberg TV that conditions set for Greece by The Troika (EU, ECB, IMF) for bailout funds “have to be fulfilled…. That’s it, very simple.” The Greeks remain adamant that they will not ask for an extension to the bailout mechanism with both Tsipras and Varoufakis confirming that a bridge agreement is required and the latter adding “the ECB has lost control of monetary policy,” demanding the Troika structure come to an end. Then German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble exclaimed at the G-20 meeting that “Greece either has to find a way to get bridge financing, or, if they want to do it with us, they need a program,” seeming to push the door open to possible Russian financial aid for Greece as Europe’s pivot to Putin appears to be rising. Continue reading »

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Dec 11

Austria ice storm – So bad that authorities use tanks to move supplies (Ice Age Now, Dec 9, 2014):

Entire towns cut off by thousands of fallen trees and ice-covered roads – More than 60 major roads are closed

4 Dec 2014 – Conditions worsened in the on-going ice storm in Lower Austria and Burgenland on Thursday.

Large areas of the eastern part of Austria have been brought to a standstill, with fire services calling in the military after finding ice-covered roads impassable in emergency vehicles.

Roads, trees and houses are covered in at least a centimeter of solid ice, leaving thousands of homes cut off and without power. Continue reading »

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Oct 26

Snow causes chaos in western Austria (Ice Age Now, Oct 23, 2014):

23 Oct 2014 – Winter has come early to western Austria, leaving hundreds of homes without electricity. Snow and rainfall also caused numerous problems on roads, and is expected to continue until Thursday evening.

Four vehicles crashed in Riezlern in Vorarlberg due to the chaos caused by the snowfall. Numerous drivers had to be rescued from the Hochkönig-Bundesstraße road in Salzburg after they got trapped in snow.

Fallen trees also caused power outages in the Tyrolean regions of Brandenberg, Hochfilzen, Zillertall in Zell and Gerlostal. Continue reading »

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Aug 25

Bilderberg 2015 - Austria - Interalpen-Hotel Tyrol

Bilderberg 2015 Location Confirmed: Austria (RINF, Aug 25, 2014):

The location for the 2015 annual conference of the Bilderberg Group has been confirmed. The yearly transatlantic summit, which is attended by senior politicians, bank bosses and the heads of some of the world’s largest companies, will be held at the Interalpen-Hotel Tyrol, a luxury hotel and conference centre in Austria.

The Interalpen-Hotel Tyrol is a “five-star hotel conference centre” tucked away in the mountain forests a few kilometres west of the Seefeld ski resort, and conveniently close to Innsbruck airport. The hotel is part of the privately-owned Liebherr Group, a giant Switzerland-based manufacturing conglomeration, owned by the billionaire German Liebherr family.

Interalpen-Hotel Tyrol

Interalpen-Hotel Tyrol-1

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Aug 23

Facebook given deadline in ‘largest privacy class action in Europe’ (RT, Aug 22, 2014):

Facebook has been given four weeks to respond to a class action, launched against it by an Austrian activist and supported by 60,000 users. The suit claims Facebook violated users’ privacy, by cooperating with the NSA’s PRISM program.

The class action initiated by Max Schrems, an Austrian lawyer, data privacy activist and founder of Europe vs. Facebook group has passed its first review in the Vienna Regional Court.

Facebook Ireland, which runs the social network’s activities outside the US and Canada, has been given four weeks to respond to the action.

The order is very likely on the way to Facebook. The first step in the legal procedure is hereby taken,” said a statement by Europe vs. Facebook on Thursday

The group has described the suit, joined by 25,000 users, as “the largest privacy class action in Europe” and specified that 35,000 more users have registered on www.fbclaim.com, expressing their will to join the action should it expand. Continue reading »

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Jul 21

Israeli Gaza offensive inspires global rallies, Paris protest turns violent
French riot police officers face rioters in Sarcelles, a suburb north of Paris, on July 20, 2014, after clashes following a demonstration denouncing Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and showing support to the Palestinian people. (AFP Photo / Pierre Andrieu)

Israeli Gaza offensive inspires global rallies, Paris protest turns violent (RT, July 21, 2014)

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Jul 15

putin smile

9 EU countries ready to block economic sanctions against Russia (RT, July 15, 2014):

France, Germany, and Italy are among EU members who don’t want to follow the US lead and impose trade sanctions on Russia. US sanctions are seen as a push to promote its own multibillion free-trade pact with Europe.

“France, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Slovenia, and EU President Italy see no reason in the current environment for the introduction of sectorial trade and economic sanctions against Russia and at the summit, will block the measure,” a diplomatic source told ITAR-TASS. Continue reading »

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Jul 04

–  Largest Austrian Bank Crashes After “Revealing” 40% Surge In Bad Debt Provisions, Record Loss (ZeroHedge, July 4, 2014):

Update: just as expected, the confidence-preservation brigade is quick on the scene:

  • HUNGARY LOAN-REFUND LAW VIOLATES RULE OF LAW: BANK ASSOCIATION 
  • HUNGARY LOAN-REFUND LAW DAMAGES INVESTOR CONFIDENCE, BANKS SAY

Because clearly marking loans to fair value would crush investor confidence. And clearly investors are dumb enough not to realize that it is precisely by hiding what is beneath the surface, that they have zero confidence in the system.

* * *

Ever since 2012, when we first revealed that the biggest problem plaguing Europe’s financial sector is the $2 trillion+ in bad debt on the books of European banks (not our numbers, the IMF’s), it became clear that the only way Europe can avoid a complete financial meltdown coupled with currency disintegration, is if it can constantly keep rolling over said bad debt (obviously the only way to do that would be to create an epic debt bubble leading managers of other people’s money to do idiotic things like buy Spanish debt at 2.75%). This is why not only the BOJ launched its mega QE in 2013, but why Draghi also kicked in with NIRP a month ago: the logic – do anything and everything to reflate the biggest credit bubble possible as otherwise European banks will have no choice but to face up to their trillions in bad loans. Continue reading »

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Jun 27

Austria signs Russian pipeline deal, hosts rare Putin visit (Reuters, June 24, 2014):

VIENNA, June 24 (Reuters) – Austria gave its final approval to a controversial Russian gas pipeline project on Tuesday, defying EU officials and welcoming Russian President Vladimir Putin to the neutral country that has been a long-standing energy customer for Moscow.

The chief executives of Russia’s Gazprom and Austria’s OMV sealed the deal to build a branch of the South Stream gas pipeline to Austria, a staunch defender of the project in the face of opposition from the European Commission.

South Stream, which will cost an estimated $40 billion, is designed to carry Russian gas to the centre of Europe, a continent already dependent on Russia for a third of its gas needs, on a route that bypasses current transit country Ukraine. Continue reading »

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Dec 17

worthman

Eyewitness to Hitler Warns Americans: “Keep your guns. Keep your guns and buy more guns” (The Daily Sheeple, Dec 17, 2013):

When Katie Worthman was a little girl in Austria, she witnessed firsthand Adolph Hitler’s rise to power and the Soviet communist occupation that followed.  She also witnessed, for decades, the distortions of the media when it came to the reporting of the events.

From her eyewitness perspective, Worthman said that the whole thing didn’t happen overnight, in a brutal attack, like the media portrays it, but rather, it evolved into a dictatorship gradually, over a period of a few years.  Hitler didn’t come across as someone evil, to be feared, initially.  ”In the beginning, Hitler didn’t look like, or talk like a monster at all. He talked like an American politician.”

Here are some things that occurred in Austria, according to Worthman, that just might look familiar to Americans: Continue reading »

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Jul 12

Austrian Steelmaker Offshores Production To … Texas (Testosterone Pit, July 9, 2013):

Labor is expensive in Austria, and heavily unionized with strict work rules governing what workers can and can’t do, and with long mandated vacations, and all sorts of other welfare-state goodies, and yet the unemployment rate of 4.7% is the lowest in the Eurozone, and one of the lower rates around the world. Austria is a small industrial powerhouse, dependent on its largest export partner, Germany, to which it is, economically, joined at the hip.

Nevertheless, there are issues: shaky TBTF banks exposed to Eastern European “growth opportunities,” such as Hungary; Alpine Bau, a construction group with 15,000 employees that just went bust; Germany whose economy is stagnating; and now offshoring by the steel industry.

The voestalpine Group, a steelmaker based in Linz, Austria, with over 46,000 employees, saw its revenues for 2012/13 decline by 4% to $15 billion. It blamed the “cooling down of the global economy,” and “dwindling momentum in Asia (especially China).” It doesn’t see a scenario that’s exactly rosy [the CEO of Siemens had sketched a similar scenario: my take…. “During The Last Crisis, We Had China,” Now We Have No One].

Continue reading »

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Mar 24

Why Cyprus 2013 is worse than the KreditAnstalt (1931) and Argentina 2001 crises (A View from the Trenches, March 24, 2013):

The Cyprus 2013, like any other event, can be thought in political and economic terms.

Political analysis: Two dimensions

Politically, I can see two dimensions. The first dimension belongs to the geopolitical history of the region, with the addition of the recently discovered natural gas reserves. The historical relevance goes as far back as 1853, the year the Crimean War began. The Crimean War took place in the adjacent Black Sea, but the political interest was the same: To avoid the expansion of Russia into the Mediterranean. The relevance of this episode was the break-up of the balance of power established after the Napoleonic Wars, with the Congress of Vienna, in 1815. From then on, a whole new series of unexpected events would lead to a weaker France, a stronger Prussia, new alliances and a final resolution sixty years later: World War I.  It is within this same framework that I see Cyprus 2013 as a very relevant political event: Should Russia eventually obtain a bailout of Cyprus (as I write, this does not seem likely) against a pledge on the natural gas reserves or a naval base, a new balance of power will have been drafted in the region, with Israel as the biggest loser.

The second political dimension refers to a point I made exactly a year ago, precisely inspired in the KreditAnstalt event of 1931. In an article titled: “On gold, stocks, financial repression and the KreditAnstalt of 1931” I wrote: Continue reading »

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Mar 13

Over half of Austrians think the Nazis would be elected if the party was readmitted to politics (Independent, March 11, 2013):

As Austria prepares to mark the anniversary of its annexation by Nazi Germany, an opinion poll has shown that more than half of the population think it highly likely that the Nazis would be elected if they were readmitted as a party.

A further 42 per cent agreed with the view that life “wasn’t all bad under the Nazis”, and 39 per cent said they thought a recurrence of anti-Semitic persecution was likely in Austria.

The disturbing findings were contained in a poll conducted for the Vienna newspaper, “Der Standard” in advance of Tuesday’s 75th anniversary of Austria’s Nazi annexation – a date which still counts as one of the most shameful and controversial in the country’s history.

Tens of thousands of Austrians gave Adolf Hitler and his troops a rapturous welcome when they invaded the country unopposed in March 1938. Austria fought World War II as part of Nazi Germany and many Austrians helped run Nazi death camps. Yet for decades, post-war Austria frequently perpetuated the myth that it was a victim of Nazi oppression. Der Standard said its poll was designed to show how today’s Austrians judged Nazi rule.

Continue reading »

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Feb 10

“China Accounts For Nearly Half Of World’s New Money Supply” (ZeroHedge, Feb 8, 2013):

When it comes to the creation of money in China, and specifically the asset side of the ledger, or loans, there is much more confusion than consensus, primarily because nobody knows who it is that is creating the money: private or public entities, SOEs, the PBOC, regional banks, shadow banks, or your next door neighbor.Another thing that is largely misreported: what the actual assets pledged as collateral to new loans are. Because while it is well-known that corporate debt in China is now greater as a percentage of GDP than in any other country, the comprehensive picture is still confusing (albeit GMO did a fantastic summary recently of what is known) as reporting standards are still non-existent, and the government flat out lies about its balance sheet.

Yet one very simple shortcut to get a sense of what is truly happening in monetary China is to peek at the liability side of the consolidated balance sheet, and one line in particular, namely deposits. Because unlike in the US, where the vibrant equity Ponzi scheme has rarely been stronger, in China it is still all about the cash and as a result the bulk of the newly created money once again return back to the banking sector in the form of a deposit. Ironically, that is what banking should be about (instead of the entire industry being a glorified hedge fund) although in China even this practice has gone on way too far, and like in Europe, has long passed the point where there is real collateral value backing up the new money created (which explains the emergence of various letters of credit collateralized by copper still not dug out of the ground which reappear every time Chinese inflation spikes above 5%).

So how do deposits look when comparing the US and China? Well, after having less than half the total US deposits back in 2005, China has pumped enough cash into the economy using various public and private conduits to make even Ben Bernanke blush: between January 2005 and January 2013, Chinese bank deposits have soared by a whopping $11 trillion, rising from $4 trillion to $15 trillion! We have no idea what the real Chinese GDP number is but this expansion alone is anywhere between 200 and 300% of the real GDP as it stands now. Continue reading »

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