Michael Snyder: An economic nightmare is descending on Europe. With each passing month, the economic numbers across Europe get even worse. At this point it is becoming extremely difficult for anyone to deny that Europe is plunging into a full-blown economic depression. In fact, some parts of Europe (NYSEArca:VGK) are already there. In Spain (NYSEArca:EWP) the overall unemployment rate is over 22 percent, and in Greece one out of every five retail establishments has already been closed down. All over Europe (NYSEArca:IEV), economic activity is rapidly slowing down, unemployment is skyrocketing and bad debts are unraveling. It isn’t even going to take a default by a nation such as Greece or a collapse of the euro to push Europe into an economic depression. All Europe has to do is to stay on the exact path that it is on right now and it will get there. Normally, European governments would respond to an economic slowdown by increasing government spending. But this time most of them are already drowning in debt. Instead of increasing government spending, most governments in Europe are actually cutting back. All over Europe, national governments are being encouraged to implement even more tax increases and even more budget cuts. The hope is that all of this austerity will help solve the nightmarish sovereign debt crisis that Europe is facing. But unfortunately, all of these tax increases and budget cuts are also going to involve a tremendous amount of economic pain.
The frightening thing is that we are just at the beginning of the process for most European nations. If you want to see where nations such as Portugal, Italy (NYSEArca:EWI) and Spain are headed, just take a look at Greece. Greece has been going down this road for several years, and there is still no light at the end of the tunnel for them.
The tax increases and budget cuts that are being implemented right now in Europe will be felt for years to come. The tremendous economic prosperity that was fueled by unprecedented amounts of debt will now give way to tremendous economic suffering.
The following are 20 signs that Europe is plunging into a full-blown economic depression….
#2 Overall, the unemployment rate for those under the age of 25 in the EU is 22.7 percent.
#3 Citigroup is projecting that the economy of Portugal will shrink by 5.7 percent this year.
#4 The total of all forms of debt in Portugal (government, business and consumer) is equivalent to 360 percent of GDP.
#5 The Greek “recession” is now entering a fifth year.
#6 The Greek economy shrank by 6 percent during 2011.
#7 It is being projected that the Greek economy will shrink by another 5 percent during 2012.
#8 The overall unemployment rate in Greece is now 18.5 percent.
#9 In Greece, 20 percent of all retail stores have been permanently shut down.
#10 The number of suicides in Greece rose by 40 percent in just one recent 12 month time period.
#11 According to the IMF, the amount of debt accumulated by the Greek government is equal to approximately 160 percent of GDP.
#12 In total, there are now more than 5 million unemployed workers in Spain.
#13 Bad loans in Spain recently reached a 17-year high.
#14 The overall unemployment rate in Spain is now a whopping 22.8 percent.
#15 The number of property repossessions in Spain has risen by 32 percent over the past year.
#16 When the maturing debt that the Italian government must roll over in 2012 is added to their projected budget deficit, the total comes to approximately 23.1 percent of Italy’s GDP.
#17 Manufacturing activity in the euro zone has fallen for five months in a row.
#18 The UK economy actually contracted during the 4th quarter of 2011.
#19 The German economy actually contracted during the 4th quarter of 2011.
#20 The Baltic Dry Index, often used as a gauge for the health of the world economy, has fallen a staggering 61 percent since October.
Economic gloom is slowly spreading throughout Europe like a dark cloud. Some of the strongest economies in Europe are only just starting to slow down. Others are already gripped by tremendous economic pain. Trends forecaster Gerald Celente recently explained to ABC Australia that much of the EU is already experiencing an economic depression….
“If you live in Greece, you’re in a depression; if you live in Spain, you’re in a depression; if you live in Portugal or Ireland, you’re in a depression,” Celente said. “If you live in Lithuania, you’re running to the bank to get your money out of the bank as the bank runs go on. It’s a depression. Hungary, there’s a depression, and much of Eastern Europe, Romania, Bulgaria. And there are a lot of depressions going on [already].”
As things fall apart in Europe, the political wrangling is going to become even more intense.
For example, over the past few days a shocking new German proposal has come to light. Germany apparently would like Greece to give a “EU budget commissioner” the power to veto all Greek decisions on taxes and spending.
That would represent an unprecedented loss of sovereignty for Greece, and obviously Greek politicians are not excited about the idea at all.
In fact, Greek education minister Anna Diamantopoulou said that the proposal was “the product of a sick imagination“.
But the sentiment in Germany (NYSEArca:EWG) is that since Greece must be bailed out by them, Greece should be willing to submit to some oversight for a certain amount of time.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Meanwhile, the Greek people continue to become angrier. According to one recent poll, about 90 percent all of Greek citizens are unhappy with the interim government led by Prime Minister Lucas Papademos.
Things are also unraveling very quickly in Portugal. Now there is talk that private investors will be required to take a “haircut” on Portuguese debt as well.
The following is from a recent article in the Telegraph….
A report for the Kiel Institute for the World Economy said Portugal would have to run a primary budget surplus of over 11pc of GDP a year to prevent debt dynamics spiralling out of control, even in a benign scenario of 2pc annual growth.
“Portugal’s debt is unsustainable. That is the only possible conclusion,” said David Bencek, the co-author, warning that no country can achieve a primary budget surplus above 5pc for long.
“We won’t know what the trigger will be but once there is a decision on Greece people are going to start looking closely and realize that Portugal is the same position as Greece was a year ago.”
Sadly, that article is exactly right.
Portugal is marching down the exact same road that Greece went down.
The yield on 5 year Portuguese bonds is now up to an all-time record 19.8 percent.
A year ago, the yield on those bonds was only about 6 percent.
This is the same thing that happened to Greece.
A year ago, the yield on 5 year Greek bonds was about 12 percent.
Now the yield on those bonds is more than 50 percent.
The world is facing a debt crisis unlike anything ever seen before, and Europe (NYSEArca:EPV) is right at the center of it.
Right now, the major industrialized nations of the world are 55 trillion dollars in debt.
Everyone knew that at some point that debt bomb was going to explode.
So what is going to happen next?
Well, Europe (NYSEArca:EUO) appears to be heading for a full-blown economic depression.
Will the rest of the globe be able to escape a similar fate?
Michael has an undergraduate degree in Commerce from the University of Virginia and a law degree from the University of Florida law school. He also has an LLM from the University of Florida law school. Michael has worked for some of the largest law firms in Washington D.C., but now is mostly focus on trying to make a difference in the world.