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January 25, 2012

Using Reserves to Measure a Euro Country Default

A good way to measure a possible default from one of the big euro denominated countries is to monitor their reserves. The current data runs through last September. Interestingly enough, France took a decent size drop in reserves.

Unfortunately, data for the smaller European Union countries was not available. However, if the data on these four countries is layered, an interesting conclusion is found.

Reserves among the four largest EU countries is at a euro-era high. Clearly these governments are attempting to prepare for a debt crisis. Italy and Spain are the two economies to watch. Spain has the lowest reserves of these four countries, so their default would actually be the hardest to monitor (this is because the data lags by 3-4 months and in that time, Spain can burn through $20 billion).

While $200 billion may seem like enough, recently the IMF announced a projected one trillion dollar financing shortfall, and a need to boost its own bailout reserve fund by several hundred billion dollars. With shortfalls like this expected to hit these economies over the next two years, these countries reserve amounts should be taking an impact.

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