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Greece Issues Exchange Offer Terms; Raises Minimum Acceptance Threshold To 75% From 66%; €10 Billion Buys PSI Killer

Three days ago we recoiled in terror at the stupidity of Greek leaders, when we learned that the Greek exchange offer would be deemed satisfactory if only 66% of bondholders accept it as valid, as it would mean an immediate abrogation of UK-law bonds which have a 75% minimum covenant threshold as specified in the indenture. Apparently this was a "small oversight" on behalf of the gross amateurs in charge of this process as according to the just released full exchange offer doc, this threshold was mysteriously raised to the proper minimum acceptance threshold of 75%. Of course, it is needless to say that at least 25% of Greek bondholders will decline the offer, either in the current Greek law exchange, or the forthcoming UK-law one, which would throw the whole process into a tailspin.  Because here is the kicker, from the release: "if less than 75% of the aggregate face amount of the bonds selected to participate in PSI are validly  tendered for exchange, and the Republic does not receive consents that would enable it to complete the proposed exchange with respect to bonds selected to participate in PSI representing at least 75% of the aggregate face amount of all bonds selected to participate in PSI, the Republic will not proceed with any of the transactions described above." So here's the math: if one has 25% +1 of the €177 billion in Greek-law bonds, they can smash the entire process (and give Germany a way out, wink wink). At today's price of about 20 cents on the dollar, this means that one can hold Greece, and thus Europe (assuming Europe wants Greece in the Eurozone and Germany itself is not the biggest shadow hold out) hostage for less than €9 billion. Or better yet, since the total bonds subject to PSI are about €206 billion, this means UK law bonds of just €29 billion are part of the deal, and one can buy a blocking stake there, at roughly 30 cents on the euro, for a meager €2 billion in cash out today. Furthermore since many hedge funds already have built up blocking stakes, this almost certainly means that Greece will not get the requisite needed votes to pass the exchange. Wondering if these hold-outs are actively shorting the market knowing they can bring Europe to its knees with virtually no capital at risk? You should be.



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Europe's VIX At 7-Month Lows As EURUSD Nears 1.35

The decoupling/recoupling we discussed earlier in the EURUSD pair seemed the biggest deal in Europe this week as the 2.5% gain is thge most in a month and takes the cross back to near 3-month highs. Not to be outdone, the VSTOXX (Europe's VIX equivalent) dropped notably and now stands at its lowest in 7 months - dramatically outperforming equity and credit markets on its way as selling vol appears the easiest trade ever (until of course your arms and legs are ripped off by a risk flare). Credit markets outperformed this week as equity underperformed - bringing the two asset classes closer into sync after last week's plunge in credit. Sovereign credit markets were mixed but clearly the high-beta compression trend has stalled as Portugal underperformed dramatically followed by Belgium with the rest generally tracking sideways (and Spain outperforming modestly). JPY weaknes balanced the EUR strength to keep the USD (DXY) from getting completely crushed on the week -1.35% (as Oil has rallied over 5%).



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What Rising Gasoline Prices Do To The Economy

Yes, the Federal government can cover up the damage by borrowing 10% of GDP each and every year ($1.5 trillion, and don't forget to add in the off-budget "supplementary appropriations"), and the Federal Reserve can add trillions in quantitative easing stimulus, but even adding $8 trillion of borrowed/printed money to the economy over the past four years has had remarkably little effect on the private-sector economy. That does not bode well for the "recovery."



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One PSI Chart To Rule Them All

As the Greek PSI deal rears its ugly head on our screens once again with Merkel, Schaeuble, and Papademos all pulling from one angle or another (and Dallara disquietingly silent in his uselessness), BNP created a simple flowchart of the various steps and probabilities of participation rates, retroactive embedded CACs, CDS triggers, and actual debt reduction that may (or may not) occur in the next week or two. The price action in Greek CDS and Bonds strongly suggest the CDS will trigger (as we have been vehemently explaining for weeks/months now) but there is a long way between here and there.



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"Welcome To The Housing Non-Recovery" In Three Simple Charts

Below is some more hard data where you won't find the much anticipated, 'any minute now', housing recovery. While the first chart shows the annualized new home sales sold data, which came in at meaningless 321K in January on expectations of 315K, and a meaningless drop from an upward revised 324K, all this shows is that 3 years after the "recovery", there is zero improvement in housing. In non-SAARed terms, there were just 22K homes sold in January. Naturally, this is to be expected because as long as the government continues to prevent true price discovery, there will be no real housing market. Which is just what the second chart  shows: Completed houses for sale at the end of period dropped to 57K - this is the lowest point in the 40 years of this data series. Said otherwise nobody has any hopes that there will be a pick up in housing demand. And why should they - after all as the third and final chart shows, shadow inventory is at a record, and about to be unleashed on the market at bargain basement prices courtesy of the Robo-settlement, which in turn will drag down prevailing prices far, far lower everywhere. Welcome to the latest housing non-recovery.



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EUR Decouples: The Other Way

As the Greek 'deal' is being finalized and we anxiously await next week's LTRO, it would appear that the market is now pricing in a very different way forward. EURUSD is soaring and decoupling (the other way) from risk assets as market participants begin to anticipate potential rate hikes in Europe to combat soaring energy prices, and furthermore that following the second LTRO, any and all easing expectations (and the pump to keep global asset prices afloat) will be squarely on the shoulders of the somewhat ambivalent Fed as the rest of the world already pumped about $2 trillion of cash into the market.



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Guest Post: The Dexia Effect

As the banks in Europe report out earnings; or the lack thereof in most cases, it becomes clear that the LTRO is helping with liquidity but not with solvency past some very short term point. This is always the case of course but it is beginning to hit home. The balance sheets for many European banks have now swelled on the liability side with more and more debt piling up courtesy of the ECB while their assets decrease due to the Basel III mandates so that the financials of these banks begin to deteriorate. It is not just the losses from their Greek debt holdings that are coming into play but also their potential future losses from sovereign debt write downs markedly for Portugal soon I think but also perhaps for Spain and Italy in the near term as the recession in Europe brings new problems to the fore which will further reduce the value of sovereign and bank credits in Europe.



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And This Is What Greece Spends Its Bailout Money On

We announced previously that as a result of the second "bailout" Greece would not see one penny, as it itself would be required to fund the creditor escrow package, in essence meaning that the flow of funds would from Greece to Europe. Yet somehow, a little money must have made its way to the Greek government. We now have a first look at just what it is that Greece is spending this newly panhandled cash on, courtesy of the WSJ...



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SSDD - Same S...&P, Different Day

The last six months' market behavior is somewhat breath-takingly similar to the same period a year ago. With global central banks pumping (RoW replacing Fed for now), energy prices soaring, and since the market is the economy - hope is rising that we are doing better; the drivers of the asset price reflation are similar too. While Treasury yields appear to be bucking this sentiment-euphoria, perhaps it is the because the US is the hottest market and all the world's money comes here that we are 'decoupling'. It seems the stakes are higher and scale of known unknowns even larger this time as the can that we are kicking is gathering a lot of trash as it rolls down the road.



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$200 Oil Coming As Central Banks Go CTRL+P Happy

We have been saying it for weeks, and today even the WSJ jumped on the bandwagon: the sole reason why crude prices are surging (RIP European profit margins: with EUR Brent at a record, we can only assume the ECB will pull a 2011 and hike rates in 3-4 months even as it pumps trillions in PIIGS, banks bailout liquidity) - is because global liquidity has risen by $2 trillion in a few short months, on the most epic shadow liquidity tsunami launched in history in lieu of QE3 (discussed extensively here in our words, but here are JPM's). Luckily, the market is finally waking up to this, and just as world central banks were preparing to offset deflation, they will instead have to deal with spiking inflation, because the market may have a short memory, it can remember what happened just about this time in 2011. And the problem is that when it comes to the inflation trade, the market, unlike in most other instances, can be fast - blazing fast, at anticipating what the central planning collective's next step will be, after all there is only one. And if Bank of America is correct, that next step could well lead to the same unprecedented economic catastrophe that we saw back in 2008, only worse: $200 oil. Note - this is completely independent of what happens in Iran, and is 100% dependent on what happens in the 3rd subbasement of the Marriner Eccles building. Throw in an Iran war and all bets are off. Needless to say, an epic deflationary shock will need to follow immediately, just as in 2008, which means that, in keeping with the tradition of being 6-9 months ahead of the market, our question today is - which bank will be 2012's sacrificial Lehman to set off the latest and greatest deflationary collapse and send crude plunging to $30 just after it hits $200.



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$10 Trillion In 2 years - 'Over' Abundant Liquidity And Expectations

A funny thing happened while we all waited for the Fed to announce QE3. The rest of the world did it for them. Courtesy of Bloomberg's excellent Economics Brief, and the n'th time, here is what a multi-trillion dollar liquidity expansion looks like even with the Fed running silent. And this is also what $10 trillion in 2 years pumped into the markets looks like. Wonder where the market gets its "spring step" from? Now you know. Thank you Economist PhD's!



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Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: February 24

The better tone in risk markets is largely being driven by encouraging economic data from the US and Europe, which as a result saw Bunds trade in negative territory. Of note, ECB’s Liikanen has said that inflation is not a particular concern in Europe, adding that the ECB has never said that there is an interest rate floor. On the other hand, Gilts are being supported by comments from BoE’s Fisher, as well as less than impressive GDP report. Nevertheless, EUR/USD took out touted barrier at the 1.3400 level earlier in the session, while USD/JPY is trading in close proximity to an intraday option expiry at 80.60.



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Today's Events: Consumer Confidence in Manipulated Markets, New Home Sales, Fed Speeches

Bunch of irrelevant and reflexive (stock market is up so confidence - in what? manipulated markets? - is higher, so stock market is up so confidence is higher etc) stuff today, as the world central banks prepare to pump another $600-$1000 billion into the consolidated balance sheet and send input costs into the stratosphere. Somehow this is bullish for stocks. Luckily, it will finally break the EURUSD - ES linkage.



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'Gold Bullion or Cash' Shows Buffett, Roubini, Krugman Mistaken; Faber, Rogers, Bass, Einhorn, Gross Correct

Currency debasement of all major currencies is happening today on a scale never before seen in history. Yet there continues to be a complete lack of awareness amongst the majority in the western world as to the risks posed by our currency monetary and financial system. There continues to be a lack of knowledge and indeed often wilful ignorance regarding gold. Indeed, some comments on gold are so ignorant of the historical and academic record that they have all the hallmarks of crude anti-gold propaganda – and will be seen as such in time. Gold is a proven safe haven asset and currency. Despite much recent academic evidence and the historical record showing this and despite voluminous articles, research and evidence, (evidence succinctly summarised in the video 'Gold Bullion or Cash'), there continue to be frequent anti gold outbursts by some of the most respected and trusted people in the western financial and economic world. Such attacks on gold have come from men such as Paul Krugman, Nouriel Roubini and more recently Warren Buffett. Alan Greenspan correctly wrote in 1966 that "an almost hysterical antagonism toward the gold standard is one issue which unites statists of all persuasions”. Today, an almost hysterical antagonism towards gold bullion as a diversification and as a store of wealth alternative to fiat currencies unites beneficiaries of the current status quo – both intellectual beneficiaries and material beneficiaries. That status quo is a massively leveraged and insolvent monetary, financial and economic system. 



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Frontrunning: February 24

  • U.S. Postal Service to Cut 35,000 Jobs as Plants Are Shut (BBG) -Expect one whopper of a seasonal adjustment to compensate
  • European Banks May Tap ECB for $629 Billion Cash (Bloomberg) - EURUSD surging as all ECB easing now priced in; Fed is next
  • Madrid presses EU to ease deficit targets (FT)
  • Greek Parliament Approves Debt Write-Down (WSJ)
  • Mentor of Central Bankers Fischer Rues Complacency as Economy Accelerates (Bloomberg)
  • Draghi Takes Tough Line on Austerity (WSJ)
  • European Banks Hit by Losses (WSJ)
  • Moody's: won't take ratings action on Japan on Friday (Reuters)
  • Athens told to change spending and taxes (FT)


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