The Greek Bankruptcy: One Year Later - Exposing The Charlatans Formerly Lost In Translation

Tyler Durden's picture

What a difference a year makes. It was just over a year ago that Greece received its first (and certainly not last) $1 trillion + bailout package from the EU, the ECB and the IMF. Just over 12 months later, all those who peddled Greek bonds to the rest of the world (ahem Germany) are now furiously backtracking, having finally realized what we, and everyone else with half a brain said from the beginning: it's over for Greece, for the eurozone in its current configuration, and for the single currency. But fine, let's kick the can down the road for a few more months, which will allow banks, with access to interest-free central bank capital, to literally steal Greece's soon to be privatized assets for pennies on the dollar, and then send the carcass, now picked dry, to the international bankruptcy court. In the meantime, we would like expose all the idiots, who like various anchors on Comcast's bubblevision channel, pitched Greek paper to hapless investors, only to see losses (this is not some speculative asset - this is fixed income) of over 40% in one year, and for some reason continue to have a podium from which to spread their lunacy, greed and outright stupidity.

From "We are buying Greek Governmen Bonds!", published in Handelsblatt May 3, 2010: On this day, the German financial newspaper “Handelsblatt” launches a multi-page call to lure unsuspecting citizens into buying Greek government bonds. Gabor Steingart, editor-in-chief, opens the indecent proposal with the following words (loose translation):

Handelsblatt-Aktion: Wir kaufen griechische Staatsanleihen!
Gabor Steingart, editor-in-chief, Picture: Handelsblatt

“As the largest financial newspaper in the Euro region, Handelsblatt wants to be a voice of reason during these turbulent times. (…) The Greeks are sinners, but they are repentant sinners. The rescue package agreed on by the international community this weekend takes this into account. However, governments alone cannot save Greece. A stabilization can only be achieved if Greece can access capital markets. What is needed is a contribution of major banks. What is also needed is a sign of trust by the citizens of Europe. This is the purpose of our action call “I am buying Greek government bonds”. Last Friday, as a sign of responsibility, I have ordered EUR 5,000 Greek government bonds.”

What follows is a parade of German dignities.

First to praise the virtues of Greek government bonds is Hans Eichel, former German Finance Minister:

Handelsblatt-Aktion: Wir kaufen griechische Staatsanleihen!

Hans Eichel, former German Finance Minister. Picture: Handelsblatt

For the first time in my life I am buying government bonds – Greek government bonds! Because we have to keep the Euro-zone together. The Greek population has to bring great sacrifices, there is no way around that. But we should show our solidarity.”

Handelsblatt must have summoned every single pied piper available over that weekend (or was it the other way ‘round – was Handelsblatt summoned by the pied pipers?). Eichels virginal foray into government bonds is seconded by Bert Ruerup, former government advisor (“I have bought Greek government bonds at the beginning of the year and will continue to do so”), Gustav Horn, Director IMK Institute for Macro-economic Research (“I bought Greek government bonds since I can’t leave our currency’s fate in the hand of speculators”) and Wolfgang Kirsch, CEO DZ Bank (“I own Greek government bonds because I believe in the idea of a unified Europe”).

Manfred Lahnstein, former Finance Minister, felt like he had to lean out of the window a little bit further:

Handelsblatt-Aktion: Wir kaufen griechische Staatsanleihen!

Manfred Lahnstein, former German finance minister. Picture: Handelsblatt

“I am ready to buy a reasonable amount of Greek government bonds. I am doing this because I have confidence in the creditworthiness of Greece and the strength of European and international guarantees. I am doing so in order to also set a small sign against arrogance and thoughtlessness our Greek partners are treated with by parts of politics and media.”

Condolences go out to Werner Bahlsen, CEO of Bahlsen GmbH (“Today I bought Greek government bonds for EUR 100,000”). Not because of his reasoning (“we must not leave the country to speculators!”) but because of all the Choco Leibnitz one could have bought with that money.

Handelsblatt-Aktion: Wir kaufen griechische Staatsanleihen!

Werner Bahlsen, CEO Bahlsen GmbH, Picture: Handelsblatt

Deputy editor-in-chief Peter Brors gives free advice as he specifically addresses the retail investor reluctant to fall for the scam: “Greek government bonds for you as a private individual? Yes, of course! EUR 2,500 for Athens and a first-class yield for me.”

We will spare readers the embarrassing statements by the rest of the 20+ celebrities. Remarkably, the only sane person in the asylum seems to be troll-like Hans-Werner Sinn, head of IFO Institute for Economic Research: “It’s okay to be partial for Greece. But I cannot recommend buying Greek government bonds in good conscience. Instead, I would recommend vacationing in Greece. That way, you know you’ll get something in return for your money.”

Handelsblatt-Aktion: Wir kaufen griechische Staatsanleihen!Hans-Werner Sinn, IFO Institute. Picture: Handelsblatt

If Greek government bonds were so attractive at 9% yields (and a national duty for Germans to pile into), where is the call to gobble up those gems now at 17%? Or maybe better to see bond express in price terms...

As Lighthouse Investment Management's Alex Gloy points out: "I am not holding my breath for Handelsblatt to revisit this blatant display of licking their advertisers’ boots (banks, insurance companies, consultancies). Usually, advertisements are marked as such. Cigarette companies have to display prominent health warnings on their products (“Smoking kills”). Next time, Handelsblatt should label each page accordingly: “Following the investment advice of these politicians and bankers might kill your performance”.

Last but not least, perhaps it is time to revisit the performance of the Norway Sovereign Wealth Fund:

Norway, which has amassed the world’s second-biggest sovereign wealth fund, says Greece won’t default on its debts.

The Nordic nation’s $450 billion Government Pension Fund Global has stocked up on Greek debt, as well as bonds of Spain, Italy and Portugal. Finance Minister Sigbjoern Johnsen says he backs the strategy, which contributed to a 3.4 percent loss on European fixed income in the second quarter, compared with gains on bonds in Asia and the Americas.

“The point is, do you expect these guys to default?” said Harvinder Sian, senior fixed-income strategist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, in an interview. “Norway has taken the view that they will not. The Greek holdings are particularly interesting because the consensus in the market is that they will at some point restructure or default.”

Norway says its long-term perspective will protect it from losses. “One could say we are investing for infinity,” Johnsen said in an Aug. 27 interview...

Who would have thought infinity could come so fast (and at a 36% annualized loss). And what, we wonder, would Alanis Morrisette say about this: "Norway Stops Aid Payments To Greece"...

with Alexander Gloy

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Sudden Debt's picture


untill the road ends...



Urban Redneck's picture

Need a physical or temporal road built in Belgium?  No Problem.

We still accept payment in Euro (reluctantly) and it's xCHF priced, but the local whores must be better looking than the Germans above. 

??'s picture

Guess which Zero Hedge contributor made this statement:

Submitted by        ?           on 03/26/2011

Are we heading towards a "major European default"? Are macro funds shorting the euro? Is owning Greek debt "ridiculous"? Of course not.

wandstrasse's picture

but the local whores must be better looking than the Germans above.

Dear Tylers, next time can you please WARN in the headline that such kind of creatures are depicted in the main article. The unexpected vision spoilt my evening and will give me uneasy dreams. Thank you in advance.

ambrosiac's picture


>Who would have thought infinity could come so fast



Overnight our world went flat
Can't do this and can't do that
Long live mediocrity
Greater than the deep blue sea

Eternity is at an end
We have no more Gods to send
No one longer hears our prayers
We are left to our despair

Eternity is at an end
There are no more rules to bend
We have played our final card
Killed the play in which we starred

Freedom has been torn to shreds
Three Cheers For The Newlydeads
Honor doesn't mean a thing
Empty words a pleasant ring

Eternity is at an end
There are no more rules to bend
We have played our final card
Killed the play in which we starred

Send "Eternity At An End" Ringtone to your Cell



Ashbury Heights - Eternity at an End



TSA gropee's picture

Wilfully ignorant or deliberately playing along, one has to wonder...

hack3434's picture

Can we add Leo to the list?

luster's picture

I haven't seen Leo's Greece blatherings around ZH in quite a while.

I am a Man I am Forty's picture

no doubt, leo was a big pumper of this junk as well

LawsofPhysics's picture

Priceless.  nice work TD

topcallingtroll's picture

If you call one or more countries leaving the euro " the end of the euro" then you are probably right.

I would be curious to hear from europeans on this issue.

Will the north permanently subsidize the profligate south?

goldm3mb3r's picture

I am not convinced that these guys actually bought these bonds, certainly not with their own money. Losing is for little people.

Sudden Debt's picture



SheepDog-One's picture!!! Oh wait...

Sudden Debt's picture


We'll give you athens as a extra if you pay cash...

wandstrasse's picture

would you be so kind and also accept my PMs?

dick cheneys ghost's picture

If you see a fork in the road take it.........


Wall street banks own 872,000 foreclosed American homes...with 2 million more to come....

disabledvet's picture

I'm in the market.  "at a price" of course.

agent default's picture

There is a fine line between contrarian investing and being a jackass.  The Norwegians jumped over it buck naked.  But then again it's a pension fund ie. Other Peoples Money.

bugs_'s picture

some things you just can't paper over

Dolemite's picture

Support being put into Euro

Will it hold?

Internet Tough Guy's picture

Leo K and the circus freaks are blowing town?

InconvenientCounterParty's picture

It's all a giant confidence game. These sophists will try to convince you it's real and it's elegant and what not. Losing confidence in a foundational meme like fiat currency will be non-linear.

There's no conceivable way it will end peacefully. I would like it to, but I simply can't imagine it.

molecool's picture

Why would you like it to end peacefully. Sometimes 'real' change only happens at the point of a barrel. Fact is that the banksters' games are destroying our children's future - I for one am out of good will and short on patience.

LawsofPhysics's picture

"I for one am out of good will and short on patience."

Ditto.  People will be sharecropping again in the USSA again soon enough.  Hell, the southern states would have never stopped if not for government subsidies.

Ride30B430's picture

Mole (Chart Chaser),

I agree 100% with, "the banksters' games are destroying our children's future". 

Now go back to your own crappy blog where you only give terrible advice and never time the market correctly with your BS indicators.  I bet you start telling people that your prediction for a bear market was correct (using quotes out of context) even though the market rallied 90% first over 2 years......

Do you really even trade real money?


SheepDog-One's picture

They keep it going till things get too unprofitable for them, then they run and hide and let everyone kill each other in 'WW3' which they designed.

Franken_Stein's picture


Yeah there will be bloodshed, carnage and mayhem.

Sacking, looting, pillaging, too.

Dead bodies lying in the gutter.

Burning rubbish bins.


All this while international bankers, who hold the countries' taxpayers hostage, are paying themselves huge bonuses.

Privatizing gains and socializing losses.


It's all part of the gameplan to establish the one world government.

First they leave behind scorched earth and then they want to rule over the remaining rest.


disabledvet's picture

"Who called the Stay-Puff Marshmellow man?  Fess up!  Whoooo did it?"

mayhem_korner's picture

"I couldn't help it. It just came to me."

Very nice.

Trillax's picture

Wirtschaftswoche, WirtschaftsWiki, Der Tagesspiegel, and Handelsblatt are interesting reads at times but they have been opening the floodgates for the advertisers and not vetting whom they necessarily deal with for the last few years.  In such, I must agree with Alex Goy about "..holding my breath for Handelsblatt to revisit this blatant display of licking their advertisers’ boots."

I've noticed they (at times) let the advertisers influence their opinion and writing and as such take writing contained therein with some scepticism.  However, "a podium from which to spread their lunacy, greed and outright stupidity" sounds pretty close to Handelsblatt company line.

molecool's picture

The world as protrayed by the Handelsblatt does not exist - anyone following the advice of their blantant shill pieces is doing it at their own peril.

Trillax's picture

Agreed.  However, there have been rare times that Handelsblatt does indeed have some actual reporting/journalism within their pages; this is the exception and not the rule but it does happen on occasion.

Ride30B430's picture

Anyone following your advice is doing it at their own peril.  I would rather own Greek bonds than let you trade my account!  You are a fraud.

molecool's picture

I can appreciate Hans-Werner Sinn's advice: Vacation in Greece instead - perhaps plunge a few hot Greek babes. Either way - Greece is getting fucked...

Misean's picture

I'll vacation in Greece when they revert to an appropriately devalued me an island or two while I'm at it.

molecool's picture

Make sure whatever you buy has access to drinking water - it's a rare resources on some of those islands and has to literally be shipped in.

Ride30B430's picture

If you use EW counts water appears magically on those islands.  How many people burned in the last two years following your bad advice?  Now they will not get to ride this move down and swoop at the real bottom......unless QE3 comes first.  You do get how QE works now?  I tried to warn people on your blog but you seemed to always delete my comments back in the day since it did not agree with you BS count.  JK knew you were a fraud when you  posted on him blog with different user names but from the same IP address.  He told me!


disabledvet's picture

Will you call it "Disabled Vet der lander?"  What will your national anthem be?  Am I..."allowed the possibility of some form of path to citizenship?"  Some "strange ritual" involving "binge drinking" or something?  And will we mock the Sophists through the works of Aristophanes causing Mediocrates to "laugh his balls off" as only the Greeks would have it?

Two Towers AU AG's picture

You can also dig on your island to mine for Silver... it takes only $5 for an OZ of silver.. wewewewewewewewewewewewe... :) :)

Ride30B430's picture

How many little blue pills does it take before your old ass can hook up with a paid in full Greek?  Go back to your EW counts sucker city.

NotSpartacus's picture

Doesn't sound like you've been here...  There are no "hot Greek babes."  All the hotties are high dollar imports..  Unless you like girth=height

AR15AU's picture

for some reason continue to have a podium from which to spread their lunacy, greed and outright stupidity


That's one badass podium. You can see why Comcast wanted it...

SheepDog-One's picture

'We are investing for infinity'...nevermind the defaults along the way to infinity, because in the land of Infinity apparently all is well.

Trillax's picture

All things are coated in sugar and fine/dandy when your drinking the 'kool-aid' and freebaseing Unicorn scat.  Infinity can seem mighty close during those times ;)

Plus I think some of these guys think 'defaulting' is the same as 'Winning!'


Flore's picture

If the ECB buys gold in the open market.. the usd is toast.. instantly..