They’ve become sitting ducks, in a market that is "in extreme overvaluation."
Back in early 2007, just as the first cracks of the bursting housing and credit bubble were becoming visible, one of the primary harbingers of impending doom was banks slowly but surely yanking availability (aka dry powder) under secured revolving credit facilities to companies across America. This, in effect, was the first snowflake in what would ultimately become the lack of liquidity avalanche that swept away AIG and unleashed the biggest bailout of capitalism in history. Back then, analysts had a pet name for banks calling CFOs and telling them "so sorry, but your secured credit availability has been cut by 50%, 75% or worse" - revolver raids. Well, the infamous revolver raids are back.
It appears clear that the war reparations 'issue' will not go away anymore. Either Berlin pays what legal experts determine should be paid, or it risks becoming a pariah in its own neighborhood. That the Germans in the 1950s and 1960s, at home and in schools, chose not to tell their children anything about their crimes cannot serve as an excuse to silence the children of its victims. It seems the only way to save the European Union, that Germany has made its economy so dependent on, is for Germany to pay up.
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."
- Barack Obama's 'vacation from hell' (Politico)
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- Missouri protests calmer after governor puts black police captain in charge (Reuters)
- Finally someone will prove the US is a pyramid scheme (in a 1000 page presentation): Ackman’s Pershing Square Sues U.S. Over Fannie, Freddie (BBG)
- Banks, Financial Firms Load Up on Cheap Debt (WSJ)
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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?