Beijing stops credit line to French bank as mistrust goes worldwide

The Bank of China Ltd. has told BNP Paribas that it has put a stop on further trade with the bank in Asian markets, amid broader investor concerns over Europe’s debt woes. It told BNP Paribas (and UBS) that they had reached the limits of their trading credit lines; having notified the banks about its decision last week, the stop to further trading began yesterday (Monday 19th September).

The media tend to talk increasingly in global terms, and so – even if, like me, you vehemently oppose globalist ideas – when in Rome one must describe events in a Roman context.

Economic growth throughout Europe has slowed dramatically – not least because the currency futures are so uncertain, any form of durable purchase is being put off. In the United States, hyper-optimistic investors keep waiting in vain for positive signs of economic growth. There aren’t any, because new business forms have been starved of credit, and older US businesses are moribund.

Major European banks face huge losses; this is no longer a debating point…the only question remaining is just how big the losses are going to be. With Greece as good as in default and Italy very close to it, beyond Deutsche Bank there is probably no major in the EU that can feel at ease about the coming wave of bad debt.

The uncertainty and negative expectation have already made inroads into stock markets worldwide. The newer industries have struggled from lack of finance: now they are being strangled by a tightening of credit, and a hugely declining taste for sensible risk. The more markets fall, the more investors will gravitate towards what looks safe. And in Asia, the more they will eschew all debt investment in favour of putting more money into local/domestic infrastructural needs.

What’s going out of the window world wide now is trust.

The Bank of China telling BNP Paribas that it won’t trade with the bank in China’s local derivatives markets is a highly significant move. Not only does it effectively end the mystery about who the weakest French bank might be, it adds some walk to the talk China has been handing out lately.

China’s Premier Wen Jiabao said last week, “China believes the EU will be able to overcome its difficulties and China remains willing to expand its investment in the EU. We have on many occasions expressed our readiness to extend a helping hand.” Chinese helping hand often very inscrutable.

It’s the EFSF  that is being billed as the saviour of the Eurozone. It has a AAA rating, but only because Germany and France are involved. Given both these two have had some serious banking problems of their own unveiled today, that rating could spiral downwards very quickly. And as its contributors include Spain and Italy, the EFSF already has a serious credibility problem. Geithner’s last-minute plea to beef it up (probably already too late) fell on stone deaf ears last week.

I understand that Geithner has since been giving some very stark orders to the New York Federal Reserve since his first – and probably last – experience of smug europol arrogance. Reduced dollar liquidity alongside interbank distrust spells more money being parked at the ECB…..and banks increasing their reliance on the ECB for liquidity.

China, the US, and individual banks are all losing faith in the EU’s politicians.

Trust is everything in life. No trust in 95% of banks puts too much pressure on the few remaining ones. After which, attention turns to the taxpayer. This time, the taxpayer isn’t going to be interested.