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The Cost Of The Combined Greek Bailout Just Rose To €320 Billion In Secured Debt, Or 136% Of Greek GDP

Some of our German readers may be laboring under the impression that following the €110 billion first Greek bailout agreed upon and executed in May 2010, the second Greek bailout would cost a "mere" €130 billion. Alas we have news for you - as of this morning, the formal cost of rescuing Greece for the adjusted adjusted adjusted second time has just risen to €145 billion, €175 billion, a whopping €210 billion, bringing the total explicit cost of all Greek bailout funds to date (and many more in store) to €320 billion. Which incidentally is a little more than Greek GDP (which however is declining rapidly) at 310 billion, only in dollars. So as of today, merely the ratio of the Greek DIP loan (Debtor In Possession, because Greece is after all broke) has reached a whopping ratio of 136% Debt to GDP. This excludes any standing debt which is for all intents and purposes worthless. This is secured debt, which means that if every dollar in assets generating one dollar in GDP were to be liquidated and Greece sold off entirely in part or whole to Goldman Sachs et al, there would still be a 36% shortfall to the Troika, EFSF, ECB and whoever else funds the DIP loan (i.e., European and US taxpayers)! Another way of putting this disturbing fact is that global bankers now have a priming lien on 136% of Greek GDP - the entire country and then some now officially belongs to the world banking syndicate. Consider that when evaluating Greek promises of reducing total debt to GDP to 120% in 2020, as it would mean wiping all existing "pre-petition debt" and paying off some of the DIP. Also keep in mind that Greece has roughly €240 billion in existing pre-petition debt, of which much will remain untouched as it is not held in Private hands (this is the debt which will see a major "haircut" - or not: all depends on the holdout lawsuits, the local vs non-local bonds and various other nuances discussed here). If you said this is beyond idiotic, you are right. It is not the impairment on the Greek "pre-petition' debt that the market should be worried about - that clearly is 100% wiped out. It is how much the Troika DIP will have to charge off when the Greek 363 asset sale finally comes. This is also what Angela Merkel will say tomorrow when Greece shows up on its doorstep with the latest "revised" agreement from its parliament to take Europe's money ahead of the March 20 D-Day. Because finally, after months (and to think we did the math for Die Frau back in July) Germany has done the math, and has reached the conclusion that letting Greece go is now the cheaper option.



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Guest Post: The DHS Defends Globalism, Not America

Under any collectivist society, the act of non-participation is always painted as an attack on the group.  In a fully interdependent system, refusing to contribute automatically hurts others, and therefore, makes you a criminal by default.  These systems are built this way deliberately, in order to control a population by exploiting their sense of innate guilt.  The DHS may claim a limited involvement in globalization, restricted to security issues, but the very process of integration with the international corporate framework as well as foreign institutions makes the agency a catalyst for forced collectivism.  Bombs in shipping containers (the bombs we’re supposed to believe are everywhere), do not warrant the massive shift of our security apparatus into a policy of global centralization.  In the end, this move on the part of the DHS has nothing to do with security, and everything to do with manipulating the attitude of the general public towards globalization.  It is much more difficult to challenge a methodology when that methodology is suddenly treated as a national security issue, and is defended by an army of bureaucrats and blue-shirted thugs.  When a world view is made violently essential to the very survival of a people, defiance is held tantamount to treason, and change, no matter how wise, becomes impossible.



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Credit Card Fueled Binges No Longer Bring A Smile To US Consumers' Faces

To be happy is to be confident. And at least until the recent past, in America to be confident, meant to have purchasing power, which pretty much always, at least for the bulk of the population, meant to lever up, i.e., to take on debt and to spend it on worthless crap. Well, as we reported earlier this week, in December the US population literally jumped head first right back into the credit frenzy, experiencing the largest jump in unadjusted consumer credit since the peak of the credit bubble. however, very much contrary to naive interpretations that this would reignite the economy, as Lance Roberts explained, and as Charles Hugh Smith confirmed showing plunging gasoline usage, it merely indicated that with savings again at record lows, US consumer have no choice but to dig deep into their credit card stash merely to pay for staples, and non-discretionary spending. And one hardly is happy when one purchases a roll of toiler paper (not to be confused with US Treasurys - there is far less than 15.4 trillion pieces of toiler paper in the world) on credit. Sure enough, as the following chart from John Lohman demonstrates, the recent (mini) reincarnation (because it will last at most a month or two) of the consumer credit bubble has done absolutely nothing for consumer confidence. In fact, today's UMichigan data showed a decline in confidence. Which shows  all one needs to know about just what the true state of the US consumer is...



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High Yield Plummets and VIX Flares Most In Almost 3 Months

UPDATE: EURUSD back over 1.32 and TSYs +2bps on Greek loan plan news.

Credit (and vol) continue to lead the way as smart deriskers as ES (the e-mini S&P 500 futures contract) ends down only 0.5% - which sadly is the biggest drop since 12/28. The late day surge in ES, which was not supported by IG or HY credit (and very clearly not HYG - the HY bond ETF - which closed at its lows and saw its biggest single-day loss since Thanksgiving), saw heavier volumes and large average trade size which suggest professionals willing to cover longs or add shorts above in order to get filled. Materials stocks underperformed but the major financials had a tough day as their CDS deteriorated to one-week wides. VIX (and its many derivative ETFs) had a very bumpy ride today. VXX (the vol ETF) rose over 14% (most in 3 months) at one point before it pulled back (coming back to settle perfectly at its VWAP so not too worrisome). After the European close, FX markets largely went sideways with the USD inching higher (EUR weaker) as JPY strength reflected on FX carry pair weakness and held stocks down. Treasuries extended their gains from yesterday's peak of the week yields as 7s to 30s rallied around 6bps leaving the 30Y best performer on the week at around unchanged. Commodities generally tracked lower on USD strength with Oil the exception as WTI pushed back up to $99 into the close (ending the week +1.1% and Copper -1.1%). Gold and Silver ended the week down almost in line with USD's gains at around 0.25-0.5%. Broadly speaking risk has been off since around the European close yesterday and ES and CONTEXT have reconverged on a medium-term basis this afternoon (to around NFP-spike levels) as traders await the potential for event risk emerging from Europe.



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Finance For Adult Dummies

For the last thirty years economic policy makers have been in the business of promoting asset prices higher through easy credit. Global policy makers are meddling in markets so that the economies they feel responsible for can achieve what seems to be a consensus objective of muddling through. A policy of meddling to muddle, if you will. QBAMCO's critical 'inflation' insights, and Tourette's-ridden ranting, reflect the simple realities of what real-world consequences occur when policy makers succumb to the perceived political imperatives of perverting economic data. In this combined note, Brodsky and Quaintance scrub away at the misconceptions related to inflation, raise doubts as to the incentives of central banks to share the true loss of their currencies' purchasing power with the public, and extend this to try and get a truer sense of money, inflation, and real value today - all of which seem grossly misunderstood, despite our best efforts, in the marketplace. Simply put, they point out that, "It should not be considered acceptable to be in a profession – as a political economist, policy maker or investor – in which self-delusion has become a necessary requirement for success and perpetuating that delusion is harmful to the broad economy over time. Yes, but the “public good” you say? Ah, but for how long?"



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The Epic Farce Continues - US Attorneys General "Robosigned" A Foreclosure Settlement Which Does Not Exist

It is only appropriate, and so ironic, that a politically motivated settlement whose purpose is to squash any claims of pervasive defective document fraud (and contract law but just ask GM bondholders about that - it's hardly news) is itself found to be... defective. American Banker reports that the reason why the terms of the so-called historic (just ask the Teleprompter in Chief) foreclosure settlement deal are not public yet, is "because a fully authorized, legally binding deal has not been inked yet." Wait, so America's cohort of AGs just all, pardon the pun, robosigned a piece of paper that does not exist? What next: there is a different Linda Green signature on every page of this yet to be produced document making a complete mockery of the rule of law?



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Proof Of LTRO Bank Stigma, Or Why Mario Draghi Is Lying

Earlier in the week we began discussing the stigma that would likely be attached to the banks that decide to borrow from the ECB via the LTRO. Many talking heads including Mario Draghi himself, arbiter in chief of all risky collateral in Europe, dismissed this - reflecting back at the compression in credit spreads in the market-place as evidence that all was well and confidence was returning. In the last week our (senior unsecured debt) index of LTRO-ridden banks has underperformed non-LTRO-ridden banks by 23bps to a 75bps differential. This is the largest divergence since the LTRO began and corrects off mid-Summer tight levels of difference as the critical flaw that we also pointed out earlier in the week (that of the implicit subordination of bank assets via ECB's LTRO collateralization). Credit Suisse agrees with us and expounds on 'the flaw' in the LTRO scheme noting that the market is fickle and self-sustaining at times (as we have seen) but over time (and that time appears to be up this week), the market will weigh the liability side of the balance sheet versus the asset side, less haircuts (which implies haircuts will become the de facto capital requirements) and inevitably (given bank earnings potential) reflect this huge differential - most specifically in the senior unsecured debt market. With few shorts left to squeeze, spreads back at pre-crisis levels and financials having dramatically outperformed even large gains on sovereigns, the weakness in senior financial debt in Europe this week is more than just a canary in the coal-mine, it should become the pivot security for risk appetite perception.



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Obama Revises CBO Deficit Forecast, Predicts 110% Debt-To-GDP By End Of 2013, Worse Deficit In 2012 Than 2011

While we have excoriated the unemployable, C-grade, goalseeking, manipulative excel hacks at the CBO on more than one occasion by now (see here, here and here), it appears this time it is the administration itself which has shown that when it comes to predicting the future, only "pledging" Greece is potentially worse than the CBO. WSJ reports that "President Barack Obama's budget request to Congress on Monday will forecast a deficit of $1.33 trillion in fiscal year 2012 and will include hundreds of billions of dollars of proposed infrastructure spending, according to draft documents viewed by Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. The projected deficit is higher than the $1.296 trillion deficit in 2011 and also slightly higher than a roughly $1.15 trillion projection released by the Congressional Budget Office last week. The budget, according to the documents, will forecast a $901 billion deficit for fiscal 2013, which would be equivalent to 5.5% of gross domestic product. That is up from the administration's September forecast of a deficit of $833 billion, or 5.1% of GDP." Where does the CBO see the 2013 budget (deficit of course): -$585 billion, or a 35% delta from the impartial CBO! In other words between 2012 and 2013 the difference between the CBO and Obama's own numbers will be a total of $542 billion. That's $542 billion more debt than the CBO, Treasury and TBAC predict will be needed. In other words while we already know that the total debt by the end of 2012 will be about $16.4 trillion (and likely more, we just use the next debt target, pardon debt ceiling as a referenece point), this means that by the end of 2013, total US debt will be at least $17.4 trillion. Assuming that US 2011 GDP of $15.1 trillion grows by the consensus forecast 2% in 2012 and 3% in 2013, it means that by the end of next year GDP will be $15.8 trillion, or a debt-to-GDP ratio of 110%. Half way from where we are now, to where Italy was yesterday. And of course, both the real final deficit and Debt to GDP will be far, far worse, but that's irrelevant.



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S&P Downgrades 34 Of 37 Italian Banks - Full Statement

S&P just downgraded 34 of the 37 Italian banks it covers. Below is the full statement. And so get get one second closer to midnight for Europe's AIG equivalent: A&G. As for S&P, this is the funniest bit: "We classify the Italian government as "supportive" toward its banking sector. We recognize the government's record of providing support to the banking system in times of stress." Even rating agencies now have to rely on sovereign risk transfer as the only upside case to their reports. Oh, and who just went balls to the wall Italian stocks? Why the oldest (no pun intended) contrarian indicator in the book - none other than permawrong Notorious (Barton) B.I.G.G.S.



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Ben Bernanke FTMFW Quote Of The Day

And the winner is...

  • BERNANKE: HOUSING MAY NO LONGER BE VIEWED AS SECURE INVESTMENT

That's right. He just said that. And with that, a Lewis Black moment is coming on...



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Manipulation And Abuse Confirmed In $350 Trillion Market

Just over three years ago, Zero Hedge first pointed out some dramatically meaningless inconsistencies in one of the world's most important numbers (which also happens to be "self-reported" and without any checks and balances) - the London Interbank Offered Rate, better known as LIBOR, which is the reference rate of a rather large market. Following that, we made a stronger case that the Libor, should really be abbreviated to LiEbor in "On the Uselessness of Libor" from June 2009, which alleged that this number is essentially manipulated, potentially with malicious intent. That alone got us a very unhappy retort from the British Banker Association (BBA) which is the banker-owned entity set to "determine" what the daily Libor fixing is based on how banks themselves tell us their liquidity conditions are. Well, as has been getting more and more obvious over the past two years, our allegations were 100% correct, and have now manifested in a series of articles digging through the dirt, manipulation and outright crime behind this completely fabricated number. And yet this should be the most aggravated offence in the capital markets, because LIBOR just so happens is the primary driver in determining implicit risk as a reference rate for $350 trillion worth of financial products. That's right - that one little number, now thoroughly discredited, has downtstream effects on $350,000,000,000,000.00 worth of notional assets. That's a lot. And while we are confident that nobody will ever go to prison for LIBOR fraud, which has explicitly been leading investors and speculators alike to believe that risk is far lower than where it truly is, what one should ask if the LIBOR rate is manipulated, and with is the entire floating and interest rate derivative market, not to mention CDS which are also driven off a Libor benchmark, what is there to say about the minuscule in comparison global equity market? In other words, does anyone honestly think that with the entire fixed income market pushed around by individuals with ulterior motives, that stocks are ... safe for manipulation?



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Europe Ends Week On Ugly Note

We have been warning of the bearish divergence in European credit markets all week and today saw that trend continue as the best-performers of the year-to-date become the biggest losers on the week. Financials and high-yield (crossover) credit have dramatically underperformed this week (with XOver +50bps touching 600bps once again) as credit overall trades considerably wider than before the NFP-print jump. Investment grade is wider but diverging a little today as decompression trades are laid back out and up-in-quality trades are reconsidered - and away from financials which have seen their senior unsecured credit spreads jump from under 190bps to almost 220bps on the week. Broad equity markets in Europe also saw their worst week of the year but are lagging the credit sell-off for now and sit (for context) right around the pre-NFP jump levels. Sovereigns were mixed on the week with the last couple of days seeing notable deterioration. Spanish spreads are +33bps, Italian spreads are -9bps on the week but are 25-30bps off their tights but it appears Portugal was the darling of the ECB this week as it managed an impressive 100bps compression (10Y now almost 500bps off its wides on 1/30) but this impressive tightening only gets the peripheral nation back to 1050bps (and mid-January levels - still triple the level of risk of a year ago).



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The New Youth Normal - Your Parents' Basement

Recent times have been particularly hard on young adults. As we look around the world at Europe and the Middle-East, it is all too often the youth that are leading the social unrest as they again and again are the hardest hit by the global deleveraging (and admittedly most socially connected). The US is not insulated from this (though perhaps more Xanax-subdued) as youth unemployment is around 20% (with 16-19 year-olds around 25%). As Pew Research Center notes though, that fully 55% of those aged 18-24 (and 4% of 25-34 year olds) say young adults are having the toughest time in today's economy. The day-to-day realities of economic hard times are somewhat shocking for a country supposedly so far up the developed spectrum as roughly a quarter of adults aged 18 to 34 (24%) say that, due to economic conditions, they have moved back in with their parents in recent years after living on their own. In the 25 to 29 age range a shocking 34% have moved back home with mom and pop (hardly likely to help with the huge shadow housing inventory overhang we discussed yesterday) Finding a job, saving for the future, paying for college, and buying a home are seen as dramatically harder for today's young adults compared to their parent's generation while Facebook saves the day as staying in touch with friends/family is the only stand out aspect of life that is 'easier' for today's youth. As these increasingly disenfranchised young adults make some of life's biggest transitions (or not as the case seems to be), we wonder just how long it will be before Al-Jazeera is reporting on the Yankee-Spring and showing video of young hoody-wearing Americans throwing their 'Vans' at 80 inch plasma TVs; or maybe the BLS will decide to redefine basement-dwelling (or rioting) as a full-time job.



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Guest Post: Why Is Gasoline Consumption Tanking?

The cost of oil has declined sharply from mid-2008, yet consumption has tanked from 54.8 MGD in July 2008 to 42.4 MGD in July 2011. That's a hefty 21% decline. What other plausible explanation is there for the decline from 42.4 MGD in July 2011 to 30.9 MGD in November 2011 other than a dramatic decline in discretionary driving? That 27% drop in a few months in unprecedented, except in times of war or sharp economic contraction, i.e. recession. If we stipulate that vehicles and fuel consumption are essential proxies for the U.S. economy, then we can expect a steep decline in economic activity to register in other metrics within the next few months. Such a sharp drop would of course be "unexpected" given the positive employment data of the past few months. But as the data above shows, employment isn't tightly correlated to gasoline consumption: gasoline consumption reflects recession and growth. In other words, look out below.



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