Greek FinMin Varoufakis is meeting sovereign debt lawyer Lee Buchheit today, the ‘fairy godmother to finance ministers in distress’... The big questions concern not just the difference between on the one hand, economic issues and on the other, political ones. Syriza doesn’t have the mandate to take Greece out of the eurozone. That is a huge point. But neither does it have the mandate to give in to the troika’s insistence on pensions cuts. At a certain moment, it may come down to what can be explained to the Greek people, and how well it can be explained. This explanation will almost certainly have to come after the fact, since holding a referendum pre-Grexit would carry far too much potential risk of uncontrolled demolition of the entire Greek economy and banking system.
To think it was just recently in September of last year when the S&P, seemingly unaware of the tragic reality facing Greece in just a few months (by reality we meen democratic elections which overthrew the previous regime which was merely a group of Troika picked technocrats), upgraded Greece to B and said "The upgrade reflects our view that risks to fiscal consolidation in Greece have abated." Well, the risks have unabated, and two months after S&P flipflopped and downgraded Greece back to B- on February 6, moments ago it downgraded it again, this time to triple hooks, aka the dreaded CCC+. But, as City AM reports, the biggest news is that the Greek Finance Minister "will on Friday meet with infamous sovereign debt lawyer Lee Buchheit, who has helped numerous countries restructure their debt. Buchheit is a partner at top US law firm Cleary Gottlieb."
Bond prices in Venezuela have totally collapsed this morning - at 45c on the dollar, they are the lowest since 1998 - as the realization of the "abyss" they are staring into sparks an exodus from all credit positions in the country. VENZ 5Y CDS rallied 130bps which signals hedgers unwinding and the simultaneous sale of the underlying bonds implies broad-based capital flight (and profit taking) as 1Y CDS surges to record highs at 4830bps.
This may not quite be the blow-off top in the merger bubble as companies rush to frontrun the ECB and buy whatever still isn't nailed, but it is getting close. Because while earlier today Baker Hughes announced it would accept the Halliburton offer to buy it unchallenged in a $35 billion transaction leading many to wonder just how much lower the price of oil is still set to drop, moments ago the Allergan "White Knight" swooped from up on high, and as had also been leaked in recent weeks, Actavis agreed to buy the botox- maker which Ackman and Valeant had been so eagerly chasing for months in order to let the roll-up pharma pad its non-GAAP books with another 2-3 years of pro forma "synergies" add backs. This means that between Halliburton and Actavis, today we have had the first $100 billion "Merger Monday" in over a decade.
The ongoing debacle surrounding Argentina's holdout over holdouts appears to be escalating (in rhetoric at least) once again. As Reuters notes, negotiations or voluntary payment by Fernandez's government appear almost impossible. Economy Minister Hernan Lorenzino called Griesa's ruling "a kind of judicial colonialism". "The only thing left is for Griesa to order them to send in the (U.S. Navy's) Fifth Fleet," Lorenzino told reporters, outlining Argentina's plans to file an appeal against Griesa's ruling with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York on Monday. Many specialists think it unlikely that the appeals court will reinstate the stay. "It may be an issue of process, but Argentina will struggle to justify why it refuses to pay the $1.3 billion," Eurasia Group analyst Daniel Kerner wrote last week. "Argentina has the resources to meet the payment, so in the end it will be a political decision (and) there does not seem to be any political support for paying the holdouts at all." The Argentina case surely brings into clear view the murkiness of investing in sovereign debt and the increasing difference between ability-to-pay and willingness-to-pay.
That the SEC is the most incompetent, corrupt, irrelevant and captured organization "serving" the US public is known by everyone. And while the details of the SEC's glaring lack of capacity to do anything to restore investor confidence in the capital markets, which has become a casino used exclusively by Wall Street to defraud any retail investor still stupid enough to play (which lately a moot point as there have been no material retail inflows into mutual funds in over three years), are scattered, courtesy of Bloomberg we now have the best summary of just how the utterly clueless SEC is a muppet plaything of Wall Street, and together with it, the "grand regulation" that was supposed to keep Wall Street in check, is nothing but what Wall Street demand it to be, and forced the SEC, way over its head on regulation, to accept every change, that the very banks that are supposed to be regulated, demands as part of Dodd-Frank reforms. In short: everything we know about Wall Street 'regulation' has been a farce, and a lie, exclusively thanks to corruption rampant at the now documentedly incompetent Securities And Exchange Commission.
CFTC article from 1993 warned of dangers of SIPA liquidation for a futures broker. So why Ch 11 for the parent company, which destroys customer rights?
Update: the NYT chimes in, just to make the point all too clear: "Hedge Funds May Sue Greece if It Tries to Force Loss"
Five minutes before market close yesterday, Bloomberg came out with an "exclusive" interview with Marathon CEO Bruce Richards, who may or may not be in the Greek bondholder committee any longer, in which the hedge fund CEO said that the Greek creditor group had come to an agreement and that the thorniest issue that stands between Greece and a coercive default (and major fallout for Europe) was in the bag, so to say. To which we had one rhetorical comment: "Well as long as Marathon is talking for all the possible hold outs..." As it turns out, he wasn't. As it further turns out, Mr. Richards, was just a little bit in over his head about pretty much everything else too, expect for talking up the remainder of his book of course (unsuccessfully, as we demonstrated earlier - although it does beg the question: did Marathon trade today on the rumor it itself spread, based on information that was material and thus only afforded to a privileged few creditors, especially if as it turns, the information was false - we are positive the SEC will be delighted to know the answer). Because as the supposed restructurng expert should know, once you have a disparate group of ad hoc creditors, which is precisely what we have in the Greek circus now, there is nothing even remotely close to a sure deal, especially when one needs a virtually unanimous decision for no CDS trigger event to occur (yes, ISDA, for some ungodly reason, you are still relevant in this bizarro world). Which also happens to be the fascination for all the hedge funds, whom we first and then subsequently repeatedly noted, are holding Europe hostage, to buy ever greater stakes of Greek bonds at 20 cents on the dollar. Because, finally, as the FT reports, the deal is nowhere in sight: "Several hedge fund managers that hold Greek debt have said they have not been involved in the talks and will not be agreeing with the “private sector involvement” (PSI) deal – which centres on a 50 per cent loss on bondholders’ capital and a reduction in the interest they receive... Even members of the committee concede the process is unlikely to succeed in time for the crunch date: a €14.5bn bond repayment falling due on March 20." But, wait, that's not what Bloomberg and Bruce Richards told us yesterday, setting off a 100 point DJIA rally. Time to pull up the Einhorn idiot market diagram once again.