In downgrading the city, Moody’s said it expected “Chicago's credit challenges will continue, both in the near term and in the long term [as] unfunded liabilities of the Municipal, Laborer, Police, and Fire pension plans grow and exert increasing pressure on the city's operating budget.” That looks to have been an accurate assessment, because as Bloomberg reports, Chicago’s budget gap is set to triple by 2017.
Having shown his true colors in recent months by embarking not just on an anti-gold crusade, but more recently on an anti-cash mission, Citi's Willem Buiter has once again exposed his newly minted CFR status-quo-embracing status this morning. During an appearance on CNBC, Buiter notes that there would be "havoc" if Greece left the euro zone and adopted an alternative currency; but then he went on the pre-prescription blasting that any kind of alternative currency tied to the euro "would be rubbish." These comments come just hours after German FinMin Schaeuble raised the possibility that Greece may need a parallel currency alongside the euro if the country’s talks with creditors fail.
While admitting that reaching agreement between the two countries will be difficult to achieve, George Soros - speaking at The World Bank's Bretton Woods conference this week - warned that unless the U.S. makes 'major concessions' and allows China's currency to join the IMF's basket of currencies, "there is a real danger China will align itself with Russia politically and militarily, and then it is not an exaggeration to say that we are on the threshold of a third world war."
"German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble conceded the possibility that Greece may need a parallel currency alongside the euro if the country’s talks with creditors fail," Bloomberg reports. Meanwhile, "sideline" negotiations between Greek PM Tsipras and Angela Merkel breakdown in Riga.
Chinese Stock Bubble Frenzy Returns; US Futures Flat Ahead Of Today's Pre-Holiday Zero Volume Melt UpSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/22/2015 06:51 -0400
The highlight of the overnight newsflow may have been the BOJ's preannounced statement that it is keeping its QE unchanged (which comes as no surprise after a few weeks ago the BOJ adimitted it would be unable to keep inflation "stable" at the 2% in the required timeframe), but the highlight of overnight markets was certainly China, where the Banzai Buyers have reemerged, leading to another whopping +2.8% session for the Shanghai Composite which has now risen to a fresh 7 years high.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the Syriza show will ultimately have to be canceled in Greece (or at least recast) if the country intends to find a long-term solution that allows for stable relations with European creditors, but as we noted on Wednesday, it may be time for Greeks to ask themselves if binding their fate to Europe is in their best interests. Indeed, it's time to take a hard look at the political ramifications of the June 5 IMF deadline and ask if the troika will, in the final analysis, be successful in using financial leverage to undermine the democratic process.
The big news overnight was neither the Chinese manufacturing PMI miss nor the just as unpleasant (and important) German manufacturing and service PMI misses, but that speculation about a rate hike continues to grow louder despite the abysmal economic data lately, with the latest vote of support of a 25 bps rate increase coming from Goldman which overnight updated its "Fed staff model" and found surprisingly little slack in the economy suggesting that the recent push to blame reality for not complying with economist models (and hence the need for double seasonal adjustments) is gaining steam, and as we first suggested earlier this week, it may just happen that the Fed completely ignores recent data, and pushes on to tighten conditions, if only to rerun the great Trichet experiment of the summer of 2011 when the smallest of rate hikes resulted in a double dip recession.
"Europe faces the risk of a second revolt by Left-wing forces in the South after Portugal’s Socialist Party vowed to defy austerity demands from the country’s creditors and block any further sackings of public officials", The Telegraph reports. In sum, the reason why concessions (any concessions) to the Greeks are a non-starter in Athens' negotiations with creditors is that the IMF, the European Commission, and most especially Germany, want to send a clear message to any other 'leftist radicals' who may be thinking about using the "one move and the idea of EMU indissolubility gets it" routine as a way to negotiate for breathing room on austerity pledges, will get exactly nowhere and will have a very unpleasant time on the way.
In exactly a month, Ukraine will owe Russia a $75 million debt coupon payment. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told reporters in Moscow today that "if they miss the payment, we will use our right to go to court." Then it got serious, as Vladimir Putin instructed Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to assume control of Ukraine's repayment of its $3-billion debt in Eurobonds that Russia bought in 2013, slamming Ukraine's bill allowing them to impose a moratorium on foreign debt repayments as a de facto announcement of default. As one market participant warned, "I would wait until after June 20 to go forward with" any moratorium, as "if Russia takes Ukraine to court, that might be an incentive for other creditors to go down the same route."
"A senior government official says that among the proposals discussed with the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund is the imposition of a levy on bank transactions, whose exact rate will depend on the exemptions that would apply. The aim is to collect 300-600 million euros on a yearly basis," Kathimerini reports. Meanwhile, parliamentary speaker Nikos Filis has a message for the IMF.
- Clinton aides sometimes blocked release of documents requested under public-records law (WSJ)
- House Benghazi panel subpoenas former Clinton White House aide (Reuters)
- Cash Crunch, for Many, Is a Monthly Woe (WSJ)
- Doubts over Greece add to euro's ECB-driven frailty (Reuters)
- For Many American States, It's Like the Recession Never Ended (BBG)
- Japan debt plan needs BOJ to keep rates low for years (Reuters)
- Euro Continues to Fall; European Bonds, Stocks Broadly Steady (WSJ)
- Los Angeles gives preliminary approval to $15 minimum wage (Reuters)
Futures Flat With Greece In Spotlight; UBS Reveals Rigging Settlement; Inventory Surge Grows Japan GDPSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/20/2015 07:00 -0400
The only remarkable macroeconomic news overnight was out of Japan where we got the Q1 GDP print of 2.4% coming in well above consensus of 1.6%, and higher than the 1.1% in Q4. Did it not snow in Japan this winter? Does Japan already used double, and maybe triple, "seasonally-adjusted" data? We don't know, but we do know that both Japan and Europe have grown far faster than the US in the first quarter.
Do you remember what happened when Cyprus decided to defy the EU? In the end, the entire banking system of the nation collapsed and money was confiscated from private bank accounts. Well, the nation of Greece is now approaching a similar endgame. At this point, the Greek government has not received any money from the EU or the IMF since August 2014. As you can imagine, that means that Greek government accounts are just about bone dry.
It’s no secret that the protracted negotiations between Athens and its creditors are taking a toll on the Greek economy in general, on the Greek banking sector more specifically, and on Greek citizens most tragically. Now, thanks to a new report from the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Enterprises, we can quantify the daily economic toll of failed negotiations.
US Taxpayer On The Hook As Ukraine Prepares Moratorium On Debt Repayments, Increases Military SpendingSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/19/2015 08:26 -0400
It appears, thanks to the generous backing of US taxpayers, Ukraine is about to get its cake and eat it too. On the same day as Ukraine's government unleashes a bill enabling a moratorium on foreign debt repayments - implicitly meaning default "in case of an attack from dishonest lenders" - the defense ministry unveils a plan to increase military spending by 17 billion hryvnia this year statuing that will “make efforts to find possibilities to finance needs” to secure country’s defense. Ukraine bonds are tumbling.