In yet another bad omen for Greece, now that Bailout Plan #2 has been demonstrated to be impractical and every question related to it is met at best with silence, it is back to plan B: letting Greece default. And in what is very good news for longs in the Drachma black market (which is already offered on an "when issued" basis by several large financial institutions), the Bundesbank's president Jens Weidmann just announced that “If the [Greek] commitments are not met, that cancels the basis for further funds from the aid package,” Weidmann told the newspaper. “This would be Greece’s decision, and the country then would have to bear the surely dramatic economic consequences of a default. I don’t think this would be sensible, and it would surely put partner countries in a difficult situation. But the euro would even in this case remain stable.” Translation: we now believe our banks are well enough reserved for what comes next. It also means that the rift with the ECB, which will be exposed as near-insolvent courtesy of using Greek collateral for tens of billions of loans that will have to be impaired, is now terminal. As for the far trickier, and now answered, question where the money to withstand this upcoming systemic shock comes from, just read this expose on the Fed's use of QE2 reserves.
Weidmann’s depiction of a default as a liveable outcome contrasts with warnings from fellow ECB officials Lorenzo Bini Smaghi and Christian Noyer, as well as European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, who described it as a “Lehman Brothers catastrophe” last week.
European officials are racing to find a plan to stem Greece’s debt crisis by June 24 while sharing the cost of a new rescue with bondholders. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is calling for Greek bondholders to extend the maturities of their debt by seven years, a move ECB officials say is akin to a default.
A bailout for Greece must include “voluntary” investor participation and meet the approval of central bankers, Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker said yesterday in an effort to narrow the dispute.
“We cannot push through private investor participation without, or against, the ECB,” Juncker said on Radio Berlin- Brandenburg. “A default would mean the ECB would have to end its accompanying programs. A default would mean we have reached the end of the line.”
Naturally, those German banks that did not have enough time to soak up Federal Reserve indulgences, are nervous:
Forcing losses on creditors may also hurt confidence, Commerzbank AG Chief Executive Officer Martin Blessing said in an interview published today in Welt am Sonntag. Investors had been told they wouldn’t need to join any efforts before 2013, and reneging on that pledge would “not exactly help build trust in the markets,” Blessing said, according to the newspaper.
Alas poor Angela, who is now caught between her electorate which will have her scalp should Germany proceed with some impractical Greek bailout, her bankers, which now are convinced they have enough cash to face principal writedowns, and the ECB and the europarliament which realize that a Greek bankruptcy is far from a contained exercise in Lehmanism, has to pick her words very carefully:
“We cannot accept an uncontrolled bankruptcy of a country,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday in her weekly video message. Such an event may endanger the recovery of Germany’s economy, she said.
As usual, with a healthy dose of grandstanding, posturing and jawboning over the weekend, we expect the delayed reaction in the gravitational pull on the EURUSD to continue with full force in 5 hours.