Creditors

Greek "Anti-Austerity" Wave Spreads In Dramatic Loss For Spanish Status Quo

With just 10 days until a June 5 IMF payment that Athens almost certainly will not make unless it strikes a deal for the disbursement of more bailout funds, things just got quite a bit more interesting on the EU political front after Spain’s Popular Party was dealt a dramatic electoral blow on Sunday by the leftist Podemos and center-right Ciudadanos.

With All Major Markets Closed For Holiday, Here Are The Major News

With US markets closed for the Memorial Day holiday, and some of the key European markets likewise shuttered for public holiday including the UK, Germany and Switzerland, it is difficult to find where one can observe or trade the weekend's newsflow, which is once again centered on developments in Europe, where on Sunday Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party suffered its worst result in a municipal election in 24 years while Greece continues to threaten with default 5 some years after it should have officially pulled the plug.

Grexit "Disaster" Looms As Greek Hospitals Run Out Of Sheets, Painkillers

"Greek hospitals have run out of supplies such as painkillers, scissors and sheets as budget cuts have left the health service unable to provide even basic provisions for operations and medical procedures," The Independent reports. With Tsipras still refusing to compromise on campaign "red lines," the end game is quite clearly approaching.

Is Greece Still A Country If Someone Else Owns Its Assets?

Foreign investment is of course common around the world and is generally seen as a good thing. Americans mostly like it, for instance, when Japanese investors bid up shares of US companies or Chinese expats pay above asking price for Manhattan apartments. With only a few exceptions we take the money and don’t look back. But there must be a limit, a point where foreign interests own so much of a country that they call the shots and the locals become in effect their serfs. Greece might be the test case that shows us where that point is...

Junk-Rated Chicago Has A Billion Dollar Pension Problem

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.

Willem "Gold-Is-A-6000-Year-Bubble" Buiter Says A New Greek Currency "Would Be Rubbish"

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.

George Soros Warns "No Exaggeration" That China-US On "Threshold Of World War 3"

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."

Chinese Stock Bubble Frenzy Returns; US Futures Flat Ahead Of Today's Pre-Holiday Zero Volume Melt Up

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.

Democracy Under Fire: Troika Looks To Force Greek Political "Reshuffle"

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.

Despite Weak Economic Data Overnight, Futures Slide On Rate Hike Concerns

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.

Portugal's "Left-Wing" Forces Threaten Troika Revolt

"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.

Putin Pans Ukraine's Debt Moratorium As "De Facto Default", Threatens Court

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."

Greece To Tax Bank Transactions, Says IMF "Won't Get Any Money" On June 5

"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.

Frontrunning: May 20

  • 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)