When it comes to trading the possibility of a Grexit, Bloomberg strategist Vassilis Karamanis writes,that there are three possible outcomes.
Scenario 1: Greece exits the euro
Scenario 2: Capital controls are imposed on Greek banks
Scenario 3: Agreement is reached within the next days
As noted earlier, the key macro event on today's calendar, and one which will likely be the origin of significant volatility, is the Eurogroup meeting to decide Greece's fate starting in a few hours where Yanis Varoufakis and his European Finance Minister peers will attempt to resolve two diametrically opposite and seemingly uncompromisable positions. Here is what to expect.
Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory debate. Regardless of whether you argue for it, or against, there are times when suddenly the ramifications for plausible truth are realized that overshadow the conspiracy. This is where the plot of truth can get far more sinister than the imagined conspiracy ever could.
Moments ago, the Advocate General Pedro Cruz Villalon of the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg delivered the non-binding opinion on issue of Mario Draghi's "unconditional" OMT. Here are the details from Reuters and Bloomberg:
- EU COURT ADVISER SAYS OMT PROGRAMME IN LINE WITH EU LAW SO LONG AS CERTAIN CONDITIONS MET
- EU COURT ADVISER SAYS OMT LEGITIMATE SO LONG AS THERE IS NO DIRECT INVOLVEMENT IN FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMME THAT APPLIES TO STATE IN QUESTION
- EU COURT ADVISER SAYS ECB MUST OUTLINE REASONS FOR ADOPTING UNCONVENTIONAL MEASURES SUCH AS OMT PROGRAMME
In other words, Draghi's "unconditional" bazooka just became conditional, but it is still a bazooka, albeit one that will never actually be used since well over two years after it was revealed following Draghi's famous "whatever it takes" speech, it still has no legal termsheet or basis, and no definition on its pari passu or burden-sharing status. And it never will: after all it was merely meant as a precautionary device designed to scare away the bond vigilantes, and never to be actually implemented.
And just like that Grexit is back.
It appears that with a few short days left in the year, the Santa rally is finally over, if only in Greece where both bonds and stock are tumbling after the third vote for PM Samaras' appointed presidential appointee Stavros Dimas concluded as many had expected: in failure, with 168 Greek lawmakers voting in favor of Dimas, well short of the 180-vote threshold needed. 132 voted against Mr. Dimas. This means that the "worst case" scenario - at least as described by Goldman - is now on deck: a snap general election that could bring the anti-bailout Syriza party to power. And speaking of Syriza, and its triumphant leader Samaras, moments ago he announced that the now inevitable Greek elections will take place on January 25: pencil that date in for even more turmoil.
Overnight the bank with the $58 trillion in derivative exposure issued a note "From GRecovery to GRelapse" which is quite absent on the usual optimism, cheerfulness and happy-ending we have grown to expect from the bank whose former employee is in charge of the European printing press. Here is the punchline: "In the event of a severe Greek government clash with international lenders, interruption of liquidity provision to Greek banks by the ECB could potentially even lead to a Cyprus-style prolonged “bank holiday”. And market fears for potential Euro-exit risks could rise at that point." Dear Greeks, you have been warned, and "don't vote wrong" as EU's Juncker urges the Greeks.
Just 2 short months ago we noted S&P's warning that Greece will default again within 15 months and following comments by Prime Minister Samaras that the market's drop is due to fear that Syriza will win an early election and seek a Greek exit from the Euro. Pressuring parliamentarians and the public alike, he stated "the choice is simple," warning that Greek financing needs are only covered through the end of February without further aid from the EU (but we thought they were 'recovered'). Greek stocks have crashed further, Greek default risk has spiked, and 3Y bond yields are now well north of 10% (138bps inverted to 10Y).
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Ayn Rand or US Congress? Directive 10-289: "All business establishments of any nature whatsoever shall henceforth remain in operation, and the owners of such establishments shall not quit nor leave, nor close, sell or transfer their business..." H.R. 5445: "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no mail processing facility operating as of September 1, 2014, may be closed or consolidated prior to December 31, 2015."
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Greek 10Y yields, up 6 days in a row, have surged in the last few days to 2-month highs (bond price lows). The significant shift in sentiment appears related to two main factors. First, The Independent reports that Europe is considering pulling Troika (its economic oversight committee) - which has been likened to German Nazi occupation - out of Greece, forcing local politicians to come up with their own reforms by the start of 2015 (which clearly the market is not believing). Perhaps even more concerning is Goldman Sachs shift to neutral on European peripheral bonds, warning that "at current spread levels we think there is not enough of a buffer for investors to take credit risk in intermediate and long-dated peripheral sovereign bonds." Time for some more 'whatever it takes' we think.
Shortly after we exposed the real liquidity crisis facing Chinese banks recently (when no repo occurred and money market rates surged), China (very quietly) announced CNY 1 trillion of 'Pledged Supplementary Lending' (PSL) by the PBOC to China Development Bank. This first use of the facility "smacks of quantitative easing" according to StanChart's Stephen Green, noting it is "deliberate and significant expansion of the PBOC's balance sheet via creating bank reserves/cash" and likens the exercise to the UK's Funding For Lending scheme. BofA is less convinced of the PBOC's quantitative loosening, suggesting it is more like a targeted line of credit (focused on lowering the costs of funding) and arguing with a record "asset" creation by Chinese banks in Q1 does China really need standalone QE?
Earlier today Reuters reported that the European Commission said on Monday it had approved a Bulgarian request to extend a credit line of 3.3 billion levs ($2.30 billion) in support of banks that have come under speculative attack. “The Commission concluded that the state aid implied by the provision of the credit line is proportionate and commensurate with the need to ensure sufficient liquidity in the banking system in the particular circumstances,” the EU executive said in a statement. The statement said Bulgaria’s banking system was “well capitalised and has high levels of liquidity compared to its peers in other member states. For precautionary reasons, Bulgaria has taken this measure to further increase the liquidity and safeguard its financial system”. The move follows runs by jittery depositors on two major Bulgarian commercial banks in the space of a week. And while this latest backstop of the Bulgarian bank system should provide a respite from bank insolvency fears (if only for the time being), one wonders about Europe's true intentions.
"...On June 28, 1914, a Slavic nationalist in Sarajevo murdered Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne. The battle lines were drawn. Austria positioned itself against Serbia. Russia announced support of Serbia against Austria, Germany backed Austria, and France backed Russia. Military mobilization orders traversed Europe. The national and private finances that had helped build up shipping and weapons arsenals in the last years of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth would spill into deadly battle. Wilson knew exactly whose help he needed. He invited Jack Morgan to a luncheon at the White House. The media erupted with rumors about the encounter. Though Wilson explained this did not signify the start of a series of talks with “men high in the world of finance,” rumors of a closer alliance between the president and Wall Street financiers persisted..." Woodrow Wilson and Jack Morgan’s collaboration to finance the Allies in the early days of the war - aside from its timeliness - provides one of the strongest examples of the intimate cooperation between the presidency and the highest levels of banking to drive American interests.
Wall Street is back in the business of lending money at the Fed’s gifted rate of zero plus a modest 80 basis point spread - so that the fast money can buy CLO paper on 9 to 1 leverage. There is your triple shuffle. It didn’t work out last time, but that doesn’t matter because the game is obvious. After enough buying on Wall Street’s triple leverage, junk loan prices might temporarily rebound. Then the brokers will put out the call to retail: The junk loan asset class is rebounding - its time to come back. For the final shearing, that is!