The world continues to believe that Europe’s woes are solved.
The EU Crisis went into overdrive in the spring of 2012 when the Spanish banking system as a whole nearly collapsed. Having pumped €1 trillion into EU banks via its LTRO 1 and LTRO 2 programs in December 2011 and February 2012, the European Central Bank found itself facing a problem far greater than Greece (Spain’s banking system is over €3.7 trillion assets in size, compared to Greece’s €338 billion) and on the verge of losing control of the entire system.
To understand why this happened, you first need to understand that European banks as a whole are leveraged at 26 to 1. In simple terms, this means they have just €1 in capital for every €26 in assets (bought via borrowed money).
When you are leveraged at these levels you only need the assets you invest in to fall 4% before you’ve wiped out all of your underlying capital (€26 * 0.04 = €1.04). At that point you are total insolvent.