No, not those.
While England may have quietened down (for now), Belgium, France, Italy and Spain have over-ridden European regulation to impose 15-day short selling bans on their markets. While there are huge black holes of debt slowly sucking those nations’ good faith and credit into the mists of the universe, regulators seem to have forgotten that imposing short selling bans didn’t prevent a crash in September 2008. Abraham Lioui, a professor at the Edhec business school in France, said:
It is the worst thing to do right now. This would signal to the market there may be something fundamentally bad that is happening.
Regulators might instead remember that if something is fundamentally broken, then it needs to be allowed to break for new, organic growth to take place. The reality is that ever since the last crash (some would argue far earlier) we have been in slow motion destruction. Quantitative easing, stimulus and bailouts have merely prolonged the slow death of the old model, and delayed the birth of something new. Change happens: markets reflect that. Slumbering and bumbling regulators promote stability, but as Nassim Taleb shows, artificial stability just makes the crash bigger and more painful when it finally happens.
Will France be downgraded? Will Italy default? Will the European Union system — of monetary union, and political discord — be brought to its knees? Probably. But for those of you prone to panic, who are looking for soothing words, here’s the BBC:
The announcement was made both by the European Union’s markets supervisor, ESMA, and the four national markets authorities.
France’s agency, the AMF, said it was banning short-selling on 11 banking and insurance stocks for 15 days, including France’s three largest banks, Societe Generale, BNP Paribas and Credit Agricole.
In Thursday trading on Societe Generale’s share price started up 8%, before falling by the same amount, and then recovering to finish 3% higher.
Societe Generale chief executive Frederic Oudea said the speculation about his bank was “absolutely rubbish”.
Mr Oudea also spoke to France Info radio. “People are scared,” he said, “so the tiniest information touches off irrational fears. To our clients, we have to tell them that these rumours are baseless and that they can have confidence in Societe Generale.”
“Irrational fears”? Just like Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns were irrational? Right. The greater reality, of course, is that all of these details will eventually be subsumed by the fact that we are witnessing a total re-alignment of the geopolitical and geosocial picture. What comes out the other end is still up for grabs.