The Greek Debt Strategy Is Crazy, But Shrewd

With everyone making nice - apart from Dijsselbloem - ahead of the weekend, we thought some reality checks were in order... This whole Greek debt “face-off” with the rest of Europe is so comical. First of all, as previously mentioned, there is NO way that Greece will EVER pay off all of its debt. And its ability to even service [interest payments] its debt is questionable. So, really, if you are a creditor to Greece what are you to do? You are definitely going to get “stiffed”. The question = Can you recover even some of your principal? In this case probably not a lot.

Fighting Rages After Ukraine "Ceasefire" Deal; Ukraine Ultranationalist Leader Rejects Peace Agreement

"A ceasefire is due to come into effect from Sunday under the agreement, which also envisages a withdrawal of the heavy weapons responsible for many of the 5,000 casualties in the conflict that broke out almost a year ago. Kiev said pro-Russian rebels had built up their forces across separatist-held zones since the deal and both sides accused each other of killing civilians." There is still hope that on Sunday morning things will be different. Yet, one element that is certain to undermine any deal, in addition to the now usual suspects because after all this is a proxy civil war with far greater geopolitical interests involved, is Ukraine’s ultranationalistic Right Sector, whose leader Dmitry Yarosh today said his radical movement rejects the Minsk peace deal and that their paramilitary units in eastern Ukraine will continue “active fighting" according to their "own plans."

Argentine President Fernandez Charged In Alleged Cover-Up

Just weeks after the death of Alberto Nisman - the prosecutor who was investigating Argentine President Fernandez' alleged cover-up of an Iranian bombing - it appears the discovery of an arrest warrant for the President at his home has prompted the following:

*ARGENTINA'S FERNANDEZ CHARGED IN PROBE OF ALLEGED COVER UP: TN

Given her insistence that Nisman's death was not suicide but from a faction within her (now defunct) intelligence unit, we can only imagine the level of uncertainty in the nation and the potential for social unrest (or worse) is growing rapidly as the movement supporting Nisman was already surging. Analysts warned that charging Fernandez would be "a scandal on a level previously unseen.”

World Press Freedom Index Plunges – USA Now Ranked #49 Globally

The 2015 World Press Freedom Index highlights the worldwide drastic decline in freedom of information in 2014. The rise in overall violations of freedom of information was evident in all continents, but for America - the bastion of press freedom in the land of the free and "the most transparenet administration ever" - fell once again... to 49th!!

300 US Troops In Iraq Under "Severe Threat" After ISIS Seizes Nearby Town

While military officials have stated that their "advisers" are not involved in the fighting, WaPo reports that ISIS militants have seized an Iraqi town within two miles of the Ayn al-Asad base where 300 US military advisers are stationed. The region remains under "severe threat" and the local council has called for "immediate and urgent military reinforcements” after the attack on the town of al-Baghdadi, which began in the early morning." It seems those non-boots-on-the-ground advisers are about to get a taste of what President Obama promised they would not...

Dijsselbloem Says "Very Pessimistic" About A Deal On Monday As Greek Deposit Flight Hits €1 Billion Per Day

The game of words continues, and following reports both yesterday and today that first Germany, and then Greece would compromise, and in the case of the latter even do "whatever it can" to reach a deal, it is time for Europe's bad cop, Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem, to pour cold water on the party and crush Greek enthusiasm even more when he said moments ago that he was "very pessimistic" about the chances that a meeting he will chair on Monday of euro zone finance ministers would reach a final debt deal with Greece.  Cited by Reuters, he said that Greek voters' expectations of their new government were "a mile high", Dutch finance minister Dijsselbloem was asked whether a plan to resolve Athens' financial problems would be achieved on Monday. He replied, in a remark aired on Dutch television: "I’m really still very pessimistic about that now."

Silver Is Soaring

Once again the correlation between silver and crude intraday has asymptoted to 1. As Crude accelerates higher so silver has surged - bouncing off its 100DMA...

UMich Consumer Confidence Tumbles, Biggest Miss On Record

After six month so soaring confidence, UMich consumer confidence tumbled from 11 year highs by the most since October 2013 in January (despite the low gas price stimulus), printing at 93.6, missing expectations of 98.1 by the most on record. It appears survey-based 'hope' is catching down to hard-date-based reality of spending habits as the sheer idiocy of the low-gas-price meme is destroyed once again. The drop was led by a plunge in Current Conditions from 109.3 to 103.1 and towards teh future, fewer now expect higher incomes and those who have favorable business expectations plunged from 70 to 58 with a surge in people expecting "bad times" over the next 12 months.

China Creates Most Loans Since Lehman As M2 Growth Tumbles To Record Low

China's January credit data hints that in some ways China is becoming like the US, and as ever more newly created credit money ends up in the stock market, is China about to follow the US and Europe and suffer a collapse in monetary velocity. Because whereas previously the biggest asset bubble in China was that of housing, now it is the stock market, which means that suddenly its monetary system is for all intents and purposes haunted by the same issues that affect western markets. So how long until China, too, which is battling both deflation and economic contraction, proceeds with outright monetary devaluation?

Brent Crude Spikes Above $61, Highest Since December

Having quietly tested the $52 level and brushed with green on the week overnight, crude traders have decided that a surprise European GDP beat is good enough to outweigh all the over-supply fears and pushed WTI to $53 (with Brent breaking above $61 - highest since 12/23).

Global Deflation Exports To US Send Import Prices Tumbling Most Since Lehman

Import prices dropped 8.0% YoY (modestly beating expectations of an 8.9% plunge) and 2.8% MoM. The last time import prices started to fall at this pace was a month after Lehman Brothers BK'd. Of course the crash of oil prices is largely responsible as imported fuel costs slumped 16.9% YoY - the most since Dec 2008 (petroleum -17.7%). However, even away from that the price of imported capital goods collapsed the most since March 2009 with the biggest rise in Japanese (foreign central banks) exported deflation since April 2013 (when QE really accelerated).

Greece Willing To Do "Whatever It Can" To Reach Deal After Greek Liquidity Situation Deteriorates Rapidly

"Greece will make every effort to reach an agreement with its euro zone partners at Monday's meeting of euro zone finance ministers on how to transition to a new support program, its government spokesman said on Friday. "We will do whatever we can so that a deal is found on Monday," Gabriel Sakellaridis told Skai TV. "If we don't have an agreement on Monday, we believe that there is always time so that there won't be a problem." The reason for this rapid about face? "Senior bank officials have told Kathimerini that almost all the liquidity available to Greece (59.5 billion euros) has been absorbed and that banks’ total dependence on the Eurosystem amounts to 90 billion. The rapid deterioration in liquidity conditions has been attributed to the uncertainty that arose when the snap general elections were called as well as the new government’s inability to reach a swift agreement with the country’s creditors." As usual: money threatening to walk, walks.

Goldman Asks If Negative Rates Are Coming To The US

Now that Europe has demonstrated that one can go NIRP and not crash the system, will the Fed - once its silly obsession with hiking rates in the summer only to launch even more easing and/or QE as the ECB did in 2008 and 2011 - follow suit and join a rising tide of "developed" world central banks in punishing savers for hoarding cash? In a note released last night titled "Revisiting Negative Interest Rates in the US", Goldman shares its thought on the matter. It goes without saying that Goldman is important, because whatever Goldman's econ team shares with Goldman's Bill Dudley over at the NY Fed, usually tends to become official policy with a 3-6 month lag.

Frontrunning: February 13

  • Greece will do 'whatever it can' to reach deal with EU (Reuters)
  • ECB Urges Greek Political Deal as Emergency Cash Is Tight (BBG)
  • Fighting rages in run-up to Ukraine ceasefire (Reuters)
  • Eurozone GDP Picks Up, Thanks to Germany (WSJ)
  • Two J. P. Morgan Executives Connected to Asia Hiring Probe Pushed Out (WSJ)
  • Putin's High Tolerance for Pain and Europe's Reluctance to Inflict It (BBG)
  • Indigestion Hits Top U.S. Food Firms (WSJ)
  • Alibaba's Jack Ma seeks to reassure employees over U.S. lawsuits (Reuters)

German DAX Rises Above 11,000 For First Time After European GDP Surprises To Upside

Who would have thought all it takes for Eurozone Q4 GDP to print above expectations, even if by the smallest of possible margins - one which even the Chinese goalseek-o-tron bows its head down to in respect - which at 0.3% Q/Q was above the 0.2% expected and above Q3's 0.2%, was for Europe to admit it has finally succumbed to deflation. Oh, and for the ECB to admit the situation has never been more serious by launching Q€. Oh, and add the "estimated contribution" to GDP from hookers and drugs. Put all that together and on an annualized basis, the European economy grew by 1.4%. Whatever the reason, Q4 GDP was the best print since Q1, even as Germany blew not only consensus of 0.3%, but the highest GDP estimate of 0.6% out of the water when it reported that courtesy of a spike in spending, its economy grew by 0.7% in the fourth quarter, up from the near-recessionary 0.1% in Q3. That, together with QE and ZIRP now raging across the continent, was enough to push the DAX above 11,000 for the first time ever.

Traders Lose Faith In BoJ As Another Weak Japanese Auction Sparks JPY, JGB Turmoil

Yet another weak Japanese bond auction (this time 5Y maturity - lowest bid-to-cover and biggest tail since 2013), on the heels of last night revelations of a growing chorus of JPY-devaluation-fears has many wondering if the faith they placed in The BoJ's grandest experiment was wrong after all. With speculators now net short for Japanese stocks for the first time since Abenomics was unleashed, a series of weak bond auctions and a spike in JGB yields since the ECB unleashed QE, and now a surging JPY (tumbling USDJPY) as carry trader around the world pull back on leverage and exposure... perhaps - the idea that a nation can devalue itself into prosperity on the backs of the rest of the world was total idiocy after all and Kyle Bass' Potemkin Village is about to fall.