While the Spanish government feverishly attempts to wrap up the country’s euphemistic financial system reform, the ever-expanding black holes, multiple balance-sheets restructuring with infinite amounts of public funds and reiterated calls for the need to further consolidate financial institutions seem to be setting up the stage for a self-fulfilling prophecy of Mayan proportions. Hopefully, this time around, we can learn from the not-so-ancient Mesoamericans’ hard-learnt lessons of the dangers implied in the state breaking the rules of free market capitalism when bailing out institutions and interest groups at the taxpayers’ expense. If we don’t, at least the endgame should not take anyone by surprise.
Last week, when we reported on the then brand new record number of EUR non-commercial short contracts as reported by the CFTC, we said: "with such a massive surge in shorts in a short period of time, this means that the likelihood of major short squeezes is substantial on even the most innocuous of news, such as a G8 summit which promises much but delivers nothing, or China once again saying it will gladly focus on growth (as opposed to what? non-growth?), or some DieBold-inspired leadership change in the Greek pro/anti-bailout polls. Our advice to FX trading readers: be very careful with EURUSD stops: it is very likely that in their pursuit of short covering squeezes, (BIS) algos will take the pair substantially into the offer-side stop limit buffer just to force short hands out, which in turn may initiate short-term covering ramps." As of last Friday, the record number of net short contracts (-173.9K), just rose to a new all time high of -195.4K. The result: something as worthless and meaningless as uber-volatile Greek political polls (which had Syriza with a 4 point lead last Friday, which somehow dissolved and is now in second place about 24 hours later), was enough to send the EUR higher nearly by 100 pips overnight. Obviously, with ever more record shorts in the currency, expect the desperate continent to come up with nothing but more flashing red headlines in attempts to spook weak hands and incite even more very transitory short covering.
With all of the talk of Greece leaving the Eurozone and forfeiting the Euro as its currency; what if it does not? That, my friends, is now the question. The current estimation of Greece’s GDP is $308.3 billion. All of the debt of Greece, direct, derivatives and guaranteed is $1.3 trillion giving the country an actual debt to GDP ratio of 421.67%. You may recall all of the talk, all of the pandering words spit out by the IMF and the European Union that the new austerity measures would take the Greek debt to 120%; all nonsensical and a nonfactual expression of a very fantastic and fairy tale imagination. If someone has actually stepped through the looking glass I suspect it is Christine Lagarde. Perhaps she is Alice’s granddaughter? In my estimation she must have eaten some of the cake because her reputation has dwindled as she and Greece fell down the rabbit’s hole.
A reminder of the sharp increase in demand for gold and silver, particularly store of wealth demand, in recent years was seen in the figures released by the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association in Shanghai today. China’s gold consumption rose 33% to 761 tons in 2011 and China’s silver consumption rose 6.8% to 6,088 tons last year. China’s gold consumption rose 190 metric tons last year to 761 tons, Wang Shengbin, China Gold Association Vice Chairman, said in a speech in Shanghai as reported by Bloomberg. China’s jewelry consumption jumped 28 % to 456.7 tons last year, gold bar consumption surged 51% to 213.9 tons and gold coin consumption gained 25% to 20.8 tons, Wang said. China’s silver consumption, including industrial use, jewelry and coins, rose 6.8% to 6,088 metric tons last year, the vice chairman said. The amount shows a surplus given China’s output of 12,348 tons last year, which gained 6.3%, Wang said.
- Merkel Prepares to Strike Back Against Hollande (Spiegel)
- China to subsidise vehicle buyers in rural areas (Reuters) - what could possibly go wrong
- Bankia’s Writedowns Cast Doubts on Spain’s Bank Estimates (Bloomberg) - unpossible, they never lie
- Shares in Spain's Bankia plunge on bailout plan (AP) - oh so that's what happens when a bank is bailed out.
- SNB’s Jordan Says Capital Controls Among Possible Moves (Bloomberg)
- Greeks Furious Over Harsh Words from IMF and Germany (Spiegel)
- Tehran defiant on nuclear programme (FT)
- Finally they are getting it: Greece needs to go to the brink (Breaking Views) - of course, Citi said it a week ago, but it is the MSM...
- OTC derivatives frontloading raises stability concerns (IFRE)
- Wall Street Titans Outearned by Media Czars (Bloomberg)
The US may be closed today but Europe sure is open. And while the general sentiment may be one of modest optimism in light of four highly meaningless Greek polls which fluctuate with a ferocious error rate on a daily basis, now showing New Democracy in the lead (and soon to show something totally different - after all Syriza had a 4 point leads as recently as Friday according to one of the polls), pushing equity futures higher, Spain has so far failed to benefit from either this transitory spike in optimism driven by record number of EUR shorts forced to cover (more below), with its yields touching a fresh record overnight, the 10 year hitting 6.50% and 450 bps in the spread to bunds, while re-re-nationalized Bankia, now with explicit ECB support plunging nearly 30% only to make up some of the losses and trade down 20% at last check. An earlier 2 year bond auction out of Italy did not help: the country raised the maximum €3.5 billion in zero coupon bonds, however the OID was high enough to send the yield soaring to 4.037% average compared to 3.355% just a month ago, while the Bid to Cover dropped from 1.80 to 1.66. In summary: Europe is walking on the edge right now, and the only thing preventing it from imploding this morning is some short covering as well as a furious statement out of Germany, which has to understand that its precious ECB is now directly funding nationalized banks: something Merkel and BUBA's Weidmann have said in the past is dealbreaker.
The word "sacrifice" has been sacrificed on the altar of expediency. The politicians we elect (those who dare speak the truth of our impoverishment and complicity don't get elected--we abhor and fear the truth) have ground the word "sacrifice" into meaningless with overuse; it now means nothing but yet another clarion-call to swallow lies and artifice to protect our share of the loot. The government can't be the problem, because the government issues me a nice check every month. And so we cling to easy falsehoods... The problem is our consumerist, Central-State dominated society/economy that depends on ever-rising debt and and leverage is unsustainable, and placating ourselves with expedient simplicities that shift the accountability and responsibility from ourselves to someone or something else solves nothing. This reliance on excuses, denial and expediency is the hallmark of adolescence; in adulthood, these are the hallmarks of failure and pathology.
Is this what we've become, brittle, simulacra "grown-ups" who are incapable of acknowledging the truth of our situation? If we cannot dare acknowledging reality, then how can we solve our problems? If we cannot bear an awareness of our systemic rot and unsustainability, then how can we move past denial and expediency? If we have lost the ability to live within our means and to acknowledge difficult facts, then we have lost everything: our national integrity, our ability to problem-solve, our vigor and our future.
For all its rhetoric, the current situation in the Eurozone should be very familiar to most Americans: after all it is merely a Federalist organization just missing one key feature: Federalism. At least for now. Whether Europe will succeed in reversing 20 centuries of nationalist pride, a multitude of languages, religions, cultures, histories, and superficial solidarity and friendliness covering generations of broad-based enmity, blood feuds and hatred, which is precisely what will be required (because the monetary union was merely half of the game) remains to be seen. It is likely that the stock market will force this resolution sooner than most expect. Then the question becomes: will Europe truly become the United States of Europe. And if so, what would the current Greek travails look like if they were transplanted to the state of California: another place which may soon be in dire need of a bailout. Luckily Jefferies' David Zervos has performed just the thought experiment: "let's assume the European monetary system structure was in place in the US. And then imagine that a US "member state" were to head towards a bankruptcy or a restructuring of its debts - for example California." The results are below.
Either the game of chicken in Europe has just hit and surpassed ludicrous speed, or French banks SocGen and Credit Agricole, both of which have some of the worst CT1/TA ratios in the known universe, and which are the JV participants of Newedge, have decided to formally pull the plug on Greece. As the FT reported moments ago, Newedge "has told clients that it will process only sell orders, and stop extending margin loans for existing positions in Greek securities, according to a memo obtained by the Financial Times."
In any economy, “capital” is real wealth which has not been consumed. The production of new wealth is dependent on the supply of capital goods or factors of production - above all the tools essential to the task. A capitalist economy is impossible without a further form of capital - a medium of exchange or money. But money does not produce goods, it facilitates their exchange. Any money will do that, but SOUND money provides a still more important service. It allows for economic calculation. And without a reliable form of economic calculation, it is impossible to discover whether a given process of wealth production is viable or not. A SOUND money allows for the reliable calculation of profit or loss in any enterprise. By doing that, it acts to minimise the loss of real wealth by directing new capital into profitable uses and diverting it from uses which do not pay their way. This is the only process by which any nation can become prosperous. It is entirely short-circuited when the common denominator in all economic calculations - money - is produced by edict and not by effort. It has long been known that it is impossible to “create” wealth out of thin air. It has long been held that money and wealth are synonymous. It is now a tenet of market faith that when it comes to creating money out of thin air - literally anything goes. The contradiction is as glaring as it is ignored.
There are still 3 weeks until the next so very critical Greek elections (which if we are correct, will have an outcome comparable to the first, and not result in the formation of a new government absent Diebold opening a Santorini office), meaning the power vacuum at the very top in Europe will persist, and while the market demands some clarity about something, anything, nothing is likely to be implemented by a Germany which is (rightfully, as unlike the US, Europe does not have the benefit of $16 trillion in inflation buffering shadow banking) concerned by runaway inflation if and when the global central banks announce the next latest and greatest global bailout, which this time will likely by in the $3-5 trillion ballpark. However, none of this will happen before the market plummets as Citi explained last weekend, and Europe has no choice but to act. Luckily, as the events calendar below from Deutsche Bank shows through the end of July there are more than enough events which can go horribly wrong, which ironically, is precisely what the market bulls need to happen for the central-planning regime to once be given the carte blanche to do what it usually does, and believe it can outsmart simple laws of Thermodynamics, regression to the mean, and all those other things central bankers believe they can simply overrule.