The first domino in Europe has fallen.
Italy held an important constitutional referendum over the weekend. As we’ve explained many times, this vote had huge implications for Italy and the rest of Europe.
As we told you, a “Yes” vote would have basically kept things the same in Italy. A “No” vote, on the other hand, would pave the way for radical political change.
That’s because Italian Prime Minster Matteo Renzi promised to step down if the Italian people voted against the referendum.
• Yesterday, the Italian people voted against the referendum…
And the outcome wasn’t even close. According to MarketWatch, nearly 60% of Italians voted “No.”
Shortly after the votes were tallied, Prime Minster Renzi made good on his promise and resigned from his position.
Now, most investors expected this to happen. You could even say the market “priced in” the outcome. Still, the news roiled parts of Italy’s financial system.
The yield on Italy’s 10-year government bond, for example, jumped to 1.98%. (Remember, a bond’s yield rises when its price falls.)
Shares of Italian banks tanked, too. UniCredit, Italy’s largest bank, fell 5.6% on the news. Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Italy’s third-largest bank, plunged as much as 10% in early trading.
• The euro also fell on the news…
Last night, it hit a 21-month low but quickly recovered. As we go to press, the euro is up 0.9% against the U.S. dollar.
Most investors didn’t expect this to happen.
You see, the Italian people basically gave the European Union (EU) the finger by voting “No.” More importantly, many smart people are saying Italy could now leave the EU…and that could destroy confidence in the euro.
Nick Giambruno, editor of Crisis Investing, even thinks Italy’s “No” vote could cause the EU to fall apart. He’s so confident this will happen that he shorted (bet against) the euro back in August.
Nick’s thesis was simple. If Italy voted “No,” a populist political party could quickly rise to power. And this party basically wants to cut ties with the EU, which could be very bad news for the euro.
• Nick’s readers were up 13% on this trade heading into the weekend…
Many of us around the office thought the euro could crash today if Italy voted “No.” Obviously, that didn’t happen.
The market’s reaction to the referendum might worry some investors who recently shorted the euro. But you need to realize something about this trade. It wasn’t just a bet on the outcome of yesterday’s vote, or just a bet against Italy.
It’s a bet that the entire EU experiment will fail. And Italy’s referendum is likely just the first of many dominos to fall.
• With Renzi out, the Five Star Movement (M5S) could soon take control of Italy…
M5S is a radical political group in Italy. Like many Italians, it blames Italy’s economic problems on the EU. It’s even threatened to get rid of the euro and bring back the lira, Italy’s old currency, if it takes control of Italy’s government.
According to Nick, M5S could rise to power as early as next spring. And that would have serious repercussions for the rest of Europe.
Nick explained why in an alert to his readers this morning:
They're now likely a matter of months away from taking power, and then holding a new referendum on whether Italy should dump the euro and go back to the lira. If that happens, Italians will likely vote to leave. Without Italy, the euro currency would likely disintegrate. Without the euro, the whole European Union—the world's largest economy—would likely come unglued.
According to Nick, the market could start "pricing in" a euro collapse over the next few days:
I expect the euro to tank this week.
If it breaks below its March 2015 low of $1.046, it would pave the way for it to test parity with the US dollar (which hasn't happened since late 2002). If that happens, look out below.
• Italy’s “No” vote could also ignite radical change in other European countries…
CNN reported yesterday:
Europe's populist movements are on the cusp of sweeping far-right, nationalist and euroskeptic parties into power across the continent in a series of upcoming elections.
Once consigned to the fringes of the political scene, these parties now legitimately stand front and center alongside their more traditional counterparts.
France is one country to keep a close eye on. That’s because it’s holding a presidential election just a few months from now.
Nick says there’s a good chance the French will vote for radical change, just like the Italians did. He wrote in last month’s issue of Crisis Investing:
France has a presidential election next spring. There’s a chance that Marine Le Pen, leader of the eurosceptic National Front party, will do better than many expect. After more than a decade of disappointment under presidents François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, French voters are clamoring for something different.
Populist political parties are also becoming more popular in Spain, the Netherlands, and even Germany. If even one of these countries votes in a populist group, the EU could soon be finished.
• Casey Research founder Doug Casey doesn’t think the EU ever stood a chance…
Doug wrote in October:
The EU itself is a completely artificial and dysfunctional union. The Swedes are very different from the Sicilians, and the Portuguese very different from the Austrians. These people have little in common besides a history of fighting with each other. Force them together into a phony union and they’ll become mutually resentful, the way the Germans and the Greeks now are…
Centripetal force will eventually tear it apart, with the EU as a whole disintegrating long before its individual parts—France, Italy, Germany, the U.K., etc.—fall apart. The colors of the map are always running.
According to Doug, it’s only a matter of time before the euro joins “the ranks of many hundreds of defunct paper currencies.” Doug’s so sure of this that he, too, shorted the euro. He did this mainly by selling naked calls on the euro.
The good news is that you can short the euro without doing anything complex like trading options.
• Nick found a way to short the euro that’s as easy as buying a share of Apple…
You can get in on this trade today by signing up for Crisis Investing. Just don’t wait to act. If Doug and Nick are right, the euro’s value could start plunging again soon.
You can learn more about the situation in Italy and this incredible opportunity by signing up for Crisis Investing. We’ll even give you a full 120 days to decide if the service is right for you.
Chart of the Day
Italy’s third-largest bank is fighting for its life.
Today’s chart shows the performance of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena this year. As we said earlier, Monte dei Paschi is Italy’s third-largest bank. It’s also one of the most fragile banks on the planet.
About 35% of the bank’s loans are “non-performing,” meaning its borrowers have stopped paying the loans. Its non-performing loan (NPL) ratio is about five times greater than the average European bank.
Monte dei Paschi’s stock is now trading like the bank is about to collapse. And that could happen, unless it receives a “bailout.” The Financial Times reported this afternoon:
Bankers are running out of private-sector solutions for Monte dei Paschi di Siena and have told the Italian lender to prepare for a state bailout this weekend after prime minister Matteo Renzi was felled by a referendum defeat.
There’s just one problem. Yesterday’s constitutional vote could make Monte dei Paschi hard to save. The Financial Times added:
While financial markets responded relatively calmly to the referendum result, people briefed on the situation said the political upheaval made it “more difficult” to secure a €1bn investment from Qatar on which Monte dei Paschi’s €5bn capital-raising plan hinges.
What’s more, a crisis involving Monte dei Paschi would likely engulf Italy’s entire banking system. The Financial Times continued:
Senior bankers fear that a failure to shore up the bank, which was the worst loser of this summer’s European bank healthcheck, could damage already jittery investor confidence about Italy’s overall banking sector, which is hobbled by €360bn of bad loans and weak profitability…
“Whatever solution is found for Monte dei Paschi, I believe there is a significant risk of contagion to other Italian banks in particular,” said Megan Greene, chief economist at Manulife Asset Management.
Italy’s delicate banking sector is one of the biggest stories in the investing world right now. We’ll have more to say about this situation in the coming days. We’ll even show you how to protect yourself and profit from this coming crisis.