We just saw the first sub-sovereign default in Europe since the Lehman crisis

The Austrian region of Carinthia stands on the edge of bankruptcy. But it won't be getting bailed out, says. Bengt Saelensminde. ‘Bail-ins’ are the new norm.


Austria's parliament has said it will no longer bail out the state of Carinthia

It's easy to forget quite how far we've come since the dark days of 2008/9.

Do you remember when the news always led with details of one financial crisis or another?

Banking stocks were falling through the floor. Who was the next Northern Rock, or RBS? Entire countries too. Which would be the next Ireland to face its fiscal cliff? These were the questions on the on the mind of anyone with savings and a toe in the markets.

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Well, news from Austria shows exactly how far we've come since then.

Did you hear that an important region of Austria is effectively bust? Creditors hung out to dry?

Time to sit up and take note...

The next shoe to drop has dropped!

The market in Austrian government bonds barely blinked although with the European Central Bank just about to come along and start hoovering up its bonds irrespective of price, that's hardly a surprise.

Just a few years ago, the markets would be tearing their collective hair out right now. You can be sure that your average punter would be very familiar with the name of the Austrian region of Carinthia, for instance.

It would be all over the news that this Alpine region, bordering the former Eastern bloc, was bust.

As Ambrose Pritchard-Evans puts it in the Telegraph, it's the "first sub-sovereign default in Europe since the Lehman Brothers crisis, comparable in some respects to the bankruptcy of California's Orange County in 1994 or the city of Detroit in 2013."

The key point is that Austria is no longer going ask its taxpayers to continue bailing out Carinthia's banking misadventures.

We should be getting far more used to this new tone of bailout fatigue, and what it could mean for us.

We won't be fooled again

If foreign banks were dumb enough to lend to Irish banks that subsequently went bust, well, that was their choice. Was it really for Irish taxpayers to underwrite the deal?

Quite why the government came out with this promise during the tumultuous weeks before the bust of its two main banks is quite beyond me.

And the newly-elected Greek team is asking the same question. Why has Greece been made to shoulder what it feels are the burdens of the European banking community?

They want to retrospectively undo what they term the Greek bailout of Europe. A scheme perversely labelled a bailout for Greece.

With plenty of water now having passed under the bridge, we're starting to see a climate in which bail-ins' where a borrower's creditors bear some of the burden by taking a haircut' on their debt are the new norm. Bailouts are so yesteryear!

And I should think that the public at large are now also on the same page.

Five years ago, nobody really questioned the idea that taxpayers would automatically underwrite banking losses. First and foremost, the public wanted to know that the financial system was safe and secure. At whatever cost.

But next time (if there is a next time!) I'm not so sure that things will go so swimmingly for the central planners, and their banking chums. I don't think that the public will believe that in order to save their savings, one must first save the banks.

It doesn't even really matter if the premise is right or wrong. Personally, I think the banking bailouts in Europe by the so-called Troika were atrociously handled and were grossly unfair.

Many will disagree with me. But the point is, should there be a next time, one has to assume things will turn out quite differently. Financial collapse... who knows?

A busted flush, or benign recovery?

The fact is, things are very different to five years ago. The fact that regions of Europe can effectively go bust, and we can even discuss the notion of Greece leaving the eurozone, just goes to show how faith in the system' has grown.

But I'll forgive you for thinking given my thoughts today that I may have become a little confused. How does the idea of an outright financial collapse couple with my benign view of the stock market, you may well ask!

The only thing I can say is, these are strange days indeed. Markets spun by planners in a wholly unprecedented way. Personally, as far as my investments go, I've chosen to run with it; I'll go to the disco.

But I'll tell you one thing for sure. I haven't taken my eye off the fire exit.

Probably my most significant exit strategy has always been gold. We haven't spoken much about it of late; frankly, the market has been a bit dull. However, when gold comes back, it'll come with a mighty roar.

Next week, I'll provide an update on Old Yeller'.

Things are stirring in this market, and I guess with global geopolitics, and complacent banking being as it is, gold has every right to feel confident right now.

We'll catch up on the story next week.