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TheStreet Open House

Kostohryz: Prepare Now for Major Bank Runs in Europe

Stocks in this article: QQQ EWP EWI SPY DIA EWQ

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Most people don't comprehend the significance of the new bank "bail-in" model of bank restructuring in Europe. Major bank runs are a serious threat.

Therefore, you should have your trigger finger ready to sell. Obviously, that means European stocks and ETFs such as iShares MSCI Spain Capped Index Fund (EWP), iShares MSCI Italy Index (EWI) and iShares MSCI France Index (EWQ).

But it also includes U.S. stocks and ETFs such as SPDR S&P 500 (SPY), SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA) and PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) that will feel the impact of global turmoil emanating from Europe if bank runs start.

Watch European interbank lending rates closely. A spike in these rates will be your signal to sell stocks globally and take profits.

How should this affect your portfolio management? If bank runs are not triggered in Spain or elsewhere in southern Europe, perhaps not at all. In the absence of external shocks, I am bullish on the U.S. economy and markets, as I have written at Seeking Alpha.

Investors Should Not Ignore Signals

The German Bundesbank just published a major study, outlined by West, saying that Italians and Spaniards are significantly wealthier than Germans. This follows on the heels of the Eurogroup-imposed bail-in of unsecured depositors in Cyprus. The implications are clear, and the timing is very telling.

Northerners signal that they will not pay for southern bank bailouts. On Tuesday, Eurogoup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said that Europe (read northern countries) should not bail out southern banks. He said that there must be "push back" on the pleas to bail out investors such as bondholders and unsecured depositors (i.e., those with deposits in excess of 100,000 euros). According to Mr. Dijsselbloem, after wiping out equity and debt holders, if more funds are needed, unsecured depositors should be "bailed in," as is currently being done in Cyprus.

Make no mistake, northern Europeans do not want to spend a single penny on a bailout for southern Europeans. The Cyprus "solution" is now the blueprint for how they can avoid paying for future bank bailouts in southern Europe.

But the Germans and the Dutch do not want to be accused of being "heartless" or "unfair." So, they need some cover.

The Bundesbank Study

The Bundesbank just published the aforementioned study (leaked about five days ago) to head off charges that the northern countries are being "stingy" ogres who are not showing "solidarity" with their southern brethren. The study implies that it would be unfair to force relatively poor Germans to bail out the relatively richer Spaniards and Italians. The Germans have actually been making this claim for a while, but this is the first time they have published a formal study on it.

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