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The European flag. (Markus Schreiber/AP)
The European flag. (Markus Schreiber/AP)

Investors bet on euro zone breakup Add to ...

Some investors are openly betting on a euro zone breakup, using Italy as a proxy, Credit Suisse has told clients, while a Japanese brokerage is advising investors to position for such an event.

The collapse of the euro zone is still widely considered unlikely in financial markets and denied vehemently in European corridors of power. But the taboo of talking about it has weakened.

Of the two research notes - both from non-euro zone financial institutions - Japanese brokerage Mitsubishi UFJ Securities was the bluntest.

"It is quite possible that (euro zone) exits will occur, starting in the periphery zone," it said on Tuesday.

"In valuing the government bonds of mid-zone euro-government bonds (Belgium, Italy, Spain), investors should explicitly consider the scenario of (euro zone) exit and the extent of devaluation which would accompany that."

Credit Suisse told its clients on Monday that the reason Italy is currently under such pressure is that it is being treated as a "liquid proxy" for a euro break up.

Italian 10-year bond yields went above 6 per cent for the first time since 1997 on Tuesday, reflecting a self-fulfilling investor concern that the euro zone debt crisis was spreading.

Essentially, the bank believes that investors are no longer willing to put their faith in credit default swaps (CDS), the insurance policies against a bond defaulting.

This is because attempts are being made to reschedule the government bonds of Greece - the most vulnerable euro zone economy - without it being designated the kind of event that would trigger CDS payments.

As a result, Credit Suisse said, investors are protecting themselves by betting that the yields of Italian bonds will widen against core German ones.

Credit Suisse, however, said it continued to believe that the crisis will be solved by core euro zone countries bailing out the periphery.

"The cost of not doing so is at least double the cost of doing so (we estimate the direct cost is €0.5-trillion compared to the cost of a bail out of €0.23-trillion). The indirect cost is a lot more," it said.

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