Greek Bank Bonds & Stocks Crumble To Record Lows

Just 3 short months ago, Greek bank bonds were trading near par and every over-leveraged, over-confident, over-full-of-propaganda hedge fund was buying them "for the yield" - well, S&P had upgraded Greece and implied 'all-clear'. Today, Greek bank bonds are trading at 60% of face-value, having dead-cat-bounced last week before re-collapsing today. Greek bank stocks are also careening lower with most at record lows (below the lows reached during the peak of the crisis). The reason to focus on these instruments is that, while somewhat illiquid, they are the most sensitive to the day-to-day headlines and overall sentiment on Greece (and Grexit) as a pure reflection (redenomination risk aside) of trouble ahead.

The World's Best Known Global Shipping Index has Crashed To Its Lowest Level Ever

Having fallen for 47 of the last 51 days, The Baltic Dry Index (tracking the cost of shipping dry bulk from iron ore to grains) has been collapsing in a well-documented manner by Zero Hedge (though not the mainstream media). With Cramer having told investors of its importance previously, it will be hard to ignore the fact that, as of this morning, the index of global shipping costs has never (ever) been lower at 554. We leave it to readers to decide what they think this means (but we already know what it means for shippers and ship-building companies).

Russia's Newest Military Base In Europe Will Be Just 40km From NATO Facilities In Cyprus

"We want to avoid further deterioration in relations between Russia and Europe," explained Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades upon reportedly signing an agreement to offer Russia military facilities on its soil (that we noted previously). The air force base at which Russian planes will use is about 40 kilometers from Britain's sovereign Air Force base at Akrotiri, on the south shores of Cyprus, which provides support to NATO operations in the Middle and Near East regions. As fault lines within the EU widen, Anastasiades said in his interview that Cyprus opposes additional sanctions against Russia by the European Union over Ukraine, "Cyprus and Russia enjoy traditionally good relations and that is not going to change."

Varoufakis Blasts ECB "Has Lost Control Of Monetary Policy" As Germany Tells Greece: "There Is No Way Out"

"There is no way out" for Greece from its treaty obligations warns German lawmaker Michael Fuchs (Angela Merkel's deputy caucus chairman) telling Bloomberg TV that conditions set for Greece by The Troika (EU, ECB, IMF) for bailout funds "have to be fulfilled.... That's it, very simple." The Greeks remain adamant that they will not ask for an extension to the bailout mechanism with both Tsipras and Varoufakis confirming that a bridge agreement is required and the latter adding "the ECB has lost control of monetary policy," demanding the Troika structure come to an end. Then German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble exclaimed at the G-20 meeting that "Greece either has to find a way to get bridge financing, or, if they want to do it with us, they need a program," seeming to push the door open to possible Russian financial aid for Greece as Europe's pivot to Putin appears to be rising.

Morgan Stanley Says Grexit Would Send EURUSD Crashing To 0.90

"Greek Fin Min Varoufakis said the euro will collapse if Greece exits, calling Italian debt unsustainable. Markets may gain the impression that Greece may not opt for a compromise, instead opting for an all or nothing approach when negotiating on Wednesday. It seems the risk premium of Greece leaving EMU is rising. Our scenario analysis suggests a Greek exit taking EURUSD down to 0.90."-  Morgan Stanley

Frontrunning: February 9

  • Greek Risk Draws Global Concern on Lehman Echo Warnings (BBG)
  • Merkel to urge caution in U.S. as pressure builds to arm Ukraine forces (Reuters)
  • West Races to Defuse Ukraine Crisis (WSJ)
  • German-French Push Yields Ukraine Summit Plan With Putin (BBG)
  • Swiss Leaks lifts the veil on a secretive banking system (ICIJ)
  • Italy Lenders Seen Cleansing Books Amid Bad-Bank Plans (BBG)
  • G-20 Finance Chiefs Face Tough Test in Istanbul (WSJ)
  • Demand for OPEC Crude Will Rise This Year, Says Group (WSJ)... or rather prays
  • U.S. Banks Say Soaring Dollar Puts Them at Disadvantage (WSJ)

Europe, US Risk Off After Greece Rejects European Ultimatum, Ukraine Peace Talks Falter

In the absence of any notable developments overnight, the market remains focused on the rapidly moving situation in Greece, which as detailed over the weekend, responded to Europe's Friday ultimatum very vocally and belligerently, crushing any speculation that Syriza would back down or compromise, and with just days left until the emergency Eurogroup meeting in three days, whispers that a Grexit is imminent grow louder. The only outstanding item is what happens to the EUR and to risk assets: do they rise when the Eurozone kicks out its weakest member, or will they tumble as UBS suggested this morning when it said that "the escalation of tensions between the Greek government and its creditors is so far being shrugged off by investors, an attitude which is overly simplistic and ignores the risk of market dislocations" while Morgan Stanley adds that a Grexit would likely lead to the EURUSD sliding near its all time lows of about 0.90.

Is This Who Is Managing EURUSD "Turmoil" Tonight?

With SNB's Danthine having proclaimed last week that, despite allowing Swissy to free-float again (with a soft corridor from 1.05 - 1.10), that "the SNB remains ready to intervene on foreign exchange markets" one could be forgiven for thinking that the Swiss National Bank is at it again tonight. The 'stabilitee' of EURUSD - trading in a narrow 45 pip range and holding very close to unchanged (as US equity futures slide, Treasuries rally and gold rises) seems a little too well managed tonight and one glance at EURCHF's "spikey-ness" suggests the visible hand of intervention at play...

The Singularity Is Already Here - It's Name Is Big Data

It seems like everyone and his brother today are wringing their hands about AI and some impending “Singularity”, a moment of future doom where non-human intelligence achieves some human-esque sentience and decides in Matrix-like fashion to turn us into batteries or some such. Please. The Singularity is already here. Its name is Big Data. Big Data is magic, in exactly the sense that Arthur C. Clarke wrote of sufficiently advanced technology. But here’s the magic trick that we're worried about for investors...

If Greece Exits, Here Is What Happens (Redux)

Now that the possibility of a Greek exit from the euro is back to being topic #1 of discussion, just as it was back in the summer of 2012 and the fall of 2011, and investors are propagandized by groundless speculation posited by journalists who have never used excel in their lives and are merely paid mouthpieces of bigger bank interests, it is time to rewind to a step by step analysis of precisely what will happen in the moments before Greece announces the EMU exit, how the transition from pre- to post- occurs, and the aftermath of what said transition would entail, courtesy of one of the smarter minds out there at the time (before his transition to a more status quo supportive tone), Citi's Willem Buiter, who pontificated precisely on this topic previously. Three words: "not unequivocally good."

Do You Believe In Miracles? 2015 Earnings Edition

Quarterly earnings fell (yes fell) 2% from Q4 2013 to Q4 2014 on an operating EPS basis, and as Goldman Sachs notes, was only saved from a much more disastrous fate by Apple. However, don't worry about the mother's milk of markets... From now on, everything looks awesome as the hockey-stick extrapolators project EPS growth to resume in its escape velocity gung-ho, higher interest rates are good way by year-end...

Europe Fractures: France Pivots To Putin, Cyprus Offers Moscow Military Base, Germany-US Splinter On Ukraine

Following yesterday's summary of the utter farce that the Minsk Summit/Ukraine "peace" deal talks have become, the various parties involved appear to be fracturing even faster today. The headlines are coming thick and fast but most prescient appears to be: Despite John Kerry's denial of any split between Germany and US over arms deliveries to Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Steinmeier slammed Washington's strategy for being "not just risky but counterproductive." But perhaps most significantly is France's continued apparent pivot towards Russia.

Violent Extremism & Europe's Economic Hardship

"Economic hardship is another piece of the puzzle governing the extent to which violent extremism takes hold of societies. Europe, in part because of the unintended (but entirely predictable) effects of the euro currency union, is in its seventh year of economic stagnation. Unemployment and underemployment are high, especially among the region’s youth. This economic environment is a foul ground in which anger and racial, religious and ideological hatreds flourish."

Citi Warns Chinese Stocks "Look Precarious", Fears 23% Downside Correction

The Chinese stock market is "looking prercarious" according to Citi FX Technicals' team. A bearish outside day on the Shanghai Composite could represent just the first of a series of technical patterns that suggest a potential 23% correction... as 100s of thousands of newly minted margin'd retail equity 'investors' find out the hard what a tap on the shoulder feels like. As Paul Sinder warned, "take a look at a chart of Chinese retail margin debt, but not just right before bedtime. It looks something like the U.S. figures heading for 1929."

Albert Edwards' On The Next Shoe To Drop: The Realization That Core Inflation In The US And Europe Are The Same

"The next shoe to drop will be the realisation that the US recovery is stalling and outright deflation is as big a threat there as it is in the eurozone. Indeed my former esteemed colleagues Marchel Alexandrovich and David Owen pointed out to me that if US core CPI is measured in a similar way to the eurozone (i.e. ex shelter), then US core CPI inflation is already pari passu with the eurozone ? despite the former having enjoyed a much stronger economy!"

Does Kyle Bass Pay His Taxes In Nickels?

"Don't mess with Texas," may be a dire warning to most but perhaps after this "don't mess with Taxes" would be more appropriate. In what must have most free-thinking libertarians smirking, a man in Texas was arrested this week for “disrupting the operation and efficiency” of the local tax office - by trying to pay his taxes in $1 bills. Which leaves us with one question... does Kyle Bass pay his taxes with nickels?

Guest Post: 5 Reasons To Buy Gold & Silver In 2015

“In effect, there is nothing inherently wrong with fiat money, provided we get perfect authority and god-like intelligence for kings. Aristotle (?2,400 years ago)

“Remember what we’re looking at. Gold is a currency. It is still, by all evidence, a premier currency. No fiat currency, including the dollar, can match it. Alan Greenspan (2014)