Global stocks are falling precipitously once again, and banking stocks are leading the way. If this reminds you of 2008, it should, because that is precisely what we witnessed back then. Banking stocks collapsed as fear gripped the marketplace, and ultimately many large global banks had to be bailed out either directly or indirectly by their national governments as they failed one after another. The health of the banking system is absolutely paramount, because the flow of money is our economic lifeblood. When the flow of money tightens up during a credit crunch, the consequences can be rapid and dramatic just like we witnessed in 2008.
We haven’t seen carnage like this in the global financial marketplace in quite some time. On Wednesday, U.S. stocks were down some, but things were much, much worse around the rest of the world. Global banking stocks are plunging, emerging market stocks are cratering, and emerging market currencies continue their stunning decline. This represents a dramatic change from the relative stability that we have seen throughout most of 2018. It is almost as if someone flipped a switch once the month of August began, and the shakiness of global financial markets has many investors wondering what trouble fall will bring. What we are witnessing right now is not a full-blown panic yet, but it definitely has the potential to turn into one.
The Italian banking system is a “leaning tower” that truly could completely collapse at literally any moment. And as Italy’s banks begin to go down like dominoes, it is going to set off financial panic all over Europe unlike anything we have ever seen before. I wrote about the troubles in Italy back in January, but since that time the crisis has escalated. At this point, Italian banking stocks have declined a whopping 28 percent since the beginning of 2016, and when you look at some of the biggest Italian banks the numbers become even more frightening. On Monday, shares of Monte dei Paschi were down 4.7 percent, and they have now plummeted 56 percent since the start of the year. Shares of Carige were down 8 percent, and they have now plunged a total of 58 percent since the start of the year. This is what a financial crisis looks like, and just like we are seeing in South America, the problems in Italy appear to be significantly accelerating.
The Italian financial meltdown that we have been waiting for has finally arrived. For quite a long time I have been warning my readers to watch Italy, and now people are starting to understand why. Italian banking stocks continued their collapse for a fifth consecutive day on Wednesday, and nervous Italians are beginning to quietly pull large amounts of money out of the banks. In particular, Monte dei Paschi is a complete and utter basket case at this point. A staggering one-third of their loans are “non-performing”, and the stock price has fallen a staggering 57 percent since 2016 began. Monte dei Paschi is going to need a major bailout, and the same thing could be said about almost all of the largest Italian banks. But where is the money going to come from?