Just out from the Eurogroup, the final statement. Bottom line: Greece caves on pretty much everything, however it has two semantics successes: the dreaded "Troika" words has been replaced with "institutions" and "Current programme" has been changed to "Current arrangement" - surely nobody will notice. Sarcasm aside, Greece has just kicked the can for four months. Why four months? Because that's just ahead of the big Greek debt maturity.
"The Eurozone chess game has entered its third and final stage. Germany wins in three moves - Euro, deflation and purchase of public debt by the ECB (QE) – and in the last few years it has found a way to maximise its profits and reduce to zero its risks as Europe’s creditor.... If we wait too long before leaving the Euro, then Germany will get checkmate and after cashing in all the benefits of our entry into the Euro, it will also cash in on the benefits of our exit."
Official Greek deposit data began tumbling in December (outflows around EUR3bn), and accelerated in January in the run up to the Syriza election (proxied by JPMorgan at over EUR 12bn). During the last two weeks, however, the absence of ATM lines and visible bank runs has been curiously lacking as, at least on the surface, there appears to be no panic. However, as Dody Tsiantar reports, sources in the Greek banking sector have told Greek newspapers that as much as EUR 25bn euros have left Greek banks since the end of December with outflows surging this week. Perhaps they are getting anxious that authorities will take Cypriot advantage of the Bank Holiday that is planned in Greece on Monday.
In its role as global hall monitor, Washington appears to have jabbed its nose into the Greece-EU talks:
*LEW SPOKE WITH SAPIN, DIJSSELBLOEM, VAROUFAKIS TODAY: OFFICIAL
*U.S. URGES SIDES IN GREEK TALKS TO TONE DOWN RHETORIC: OFFICIAL
Treasury Secretary Lew "urges compromise" and explains he is in touch with Eurogroup, IMF, and Greece putting the onus back on Varoufakis' shoulders by urging them to reach a deal of face additional hardhsip.
UPDATE: *GREEK GOVT WON'T ACCEPT ULTIMATUMS, WON'T GIVE ANY: OFFICIAL
After days of repeated ultimata from The Eurogroup, as Germany (bad cop) and the rest (good cop) make optimistic sounds, this morning's rejection of Greece's latest plan (following Greek comparisons of Germany to Nazi surrender demands) has prompted something new:
*EU HAS 2 CHOICES, APPROVE OR REJECT GREEK REQUEST; EUROGROUP MEETING TO SHOW WHO WANTS A SOLUTION: GREEK OFFICIAL
Markets are stumbling on this news as Germany and the rest come to terms with not just the billions in debt on ECB and various bank balance sheets but the 49 billion other reasons to avoid Grexit that have mounted in TARGET2 liabilities.
The S&P 500 and Dow futures are now trading back below the pre-Greek Talks Fail levels from Monday on desk chatter from a New York think-tank claiming contingency planning for a "dirty exit" are being made...
After yesterday's FOMC Minutes, despite a huge dovish reversal by the Fed - one which increasingly puts its "credibility" and reputation at risk - stocks were unable to close green, or even above 2100, for one simple reason: uncertainty with the fate of Greece. Overnight there has not been much more clarity, when as previously reported Greece submitted a 6 month extension request to its master loan agreement but not to its bailout extension, a nuance lost in the annals of diplomacy. But is this the much-awaited Greek capitulation? Or will the Eurogroup reject this too? The answer may be available in a few hours after an emergency Eurogroup meeting due later today. However, as usual stocks are ready to "price in" yet another Greek conflict resolution, and after futures were lower by 7 points overnight, were up 4 points at last check: a rebound which will not correct if the latest Greek "compromise" fails to deliver.
As had been leaked in advance, earlier today Jeroen Dijsselbloem first reported that Greece had submitted a request to euro-area creditors to extend the availability of bailout funds for six months, i.e., an extension to the "Master Financial Assistance Facility Agreement" not an extension to the Greek "bailout programme" aka the Memorandum per se, which has been the sticking point in all Greek government public addresses in recent days. Greece further asked for best use of flexibility in "current arrangement", which supposedly means an unconditional extension with Greece given the liberty to determine what happens in the next 6 months without Troika intervention. But was it a bailout extension or just a loan extension? GREECE DENIES HAS REQUESTED EXTENSION OF 'BAILOUT'-OFFICIAL: MNI
In short, confusion reigns once more.
With historically low long-term interest rates, the opportunity cost of holding gold and silver are close to zero or even negative, in other words you would “lose” money if you buy bonds (the benchmark) instead of gold and silver. When people realize that their money is not “safe” with the banks they will start withdrawing cash from their accounts and buy physical gold and silver instead. Depending on circumstances this could possibly bring down the (fractional) banking system. Why keep money in an account that gives you a negative return? Swiss banks are already witnessing stronger than normal interest for physical gold.
"February 24 is expected to be the first crucial day for state finances, as projections of cash flows see state coffers starting to run dry on that date. The state of cash reserves – not robust before – has deteriorated further in recent days due to a shortfall in revenues, as a 1-billion-euro hole in January revenues is putting the execution of the state budget in jeopardy and hampering the management of cash reserves. Given these figures, the Finance Ministry estimates that cash reserves will run out next Tuesday.
- Greece to submit loan request to euro zone, Germany resists (Reuters)
- Ukrainian forces start to quit besieged town (Reuters)
- Bank of Japan maintains policy, no surprises (FT)
- China Considering Mergers Among Its Big State Oil Companies (WSJ)
- Soros Shifts to Europe, Asia as Investors Cut U.S. Equities (BBG)
- Putin tells Kiev to let troops surrender as Ukraine ceasefire unravels (Reuters)
- Venezuela Squanders Its Oil Wealth (BBG)
- Swiss prosecutor raids HSBC office, opens criminal inquiry (Reuters)
There was much confusion yesterday when algos went into a buying frenzy on news that Greece would submit a request for a 6 month loan extension, believing this means Greece has caved and will agree to a bailout programme extension as well. Nothing could have been further from the truth as we explained first moments after the headline struck, and also as Reuters validated moments ago when it said that "Greece will submit a request to the euro zone on Wednesday to extend a "loan agreement" for up to six months but EU paymaster Germany says no such deal is on offer and Athens must stick to the terms of its existing international bailout." But since the political nuances of diplomacy are lost on the math Ph.Ds who program the market-moving algos, the S&P did manage to roar above 2100 on what was another headfake and then forgot to sell off on the reality.
Like spirits, debt and risk make for a great party but a terrible hangover...
From a Citi global credit survey: "...over 65% of respondents said they believed action from central banks in Europe and the US would be the principal force driving credit index spreads [and] surprisingly, in a year with major political catalysts in Europe, and ongoing regional tensions in the Middle East and Russia, only 4% of respondents felt that geopolitical risk would be the major factor driving spreads.”
Here comes the strawman we've all been waiting for: "Greek deposit withdrawals picked up after talks between Greece and its euro-area creditors on extending its bailout ended in acrimony in Brussels Monday night, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The ECB will likely provide ELA to Greek banks as long as there is a chance of an agreement between Greece and its creditors to extend the current bailout, economists at Barclays Plc including Antonio Garcia Pascual and Thomas Harjes wrote in a client note after the meeting ended Monday. If Greek authorities don’t take up euro area finance ministers’ offer this week, ELA funds to Greek banks would likely be shut down, they wrote."