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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 12:10 PM

Italian Paradox: Italy is Borrowing money at 4-5% to Lend to Spain at 3%; Official Denials From Italy That Italy is Next

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Sovereign bond yields in Spain and Italy have been climbing across the board, not just the longer durations. Please consider Italy pays dearly to issue one-year debt.

Italy sold €6.5bn of one-year debt at the highest cost since December, underscoring how one of the world’s biggest bond markets has been dragged back into Europe’s debt crisis.

The 364-day bills were priced to yield 3.972 per cent, but the bid-to-cover ratio fell to 1.73 from 1.79. At the last auction of similarly dated debt Rome’s Treasury only paid 2.34 per cent, according to Bloomberg.
Official Denials

Italy’s prime minister Mario Monti "forcefully denied" Italy would be next in line to seek a eurozone bailout.

Monti said comments by Austria’s finance minister that Italy was at risk of needing a rescue were “inappropriate”.

Corrado Passera, the Italian industry minister, also dismissed the idea that Rome might need external help.

Italy 2-Year Government Bonds

Chart from Bloomberg

Yield charts from Bloomberg seldom if ever match the posted yield. In this case, at the time of capture, Bloomberg shows the yield is 4.72%, up 19 basis points.

I have pointed out this discrepancy to Bloomberg on numerous occasions.

Presumably the yields from Bloomberg are correct, while the chart is delayed by some unknown amount.

Spain 2-Year Government Bonds

Chart from Bloomberg

Germany 2-Year Government Bonds

Chart from Bloomberg

Italian Paradox

Italy 1-Year Debt Yield is 3.97%
Italy 2-Year Debt Yield is 4.72%
Italy 10-Year Debt Yield is 6.21%

Italy is Borrowing money at 4-5% to Lend to Spain at 3% (assuming borrowing is at the short end of the curve)

Who is Backstopping Whom?

Chart from European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) Publication.

Supposedly Spain is 12.75% responsible to bail out itself.
Italy is 19.18% responsible to bail out Spain.

Does this work?

In retrospect the word "paradox" is wrong. Ponzi scheme is more like it, and the scheme is ultimately backstopped by Germany.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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