The day dawns with a deal for Greece that is full of smoke and mirrors; lies and deceptions. It is a deal pretty much as expected and, as I have said before, now the realities are going to be confronted. Europe has spun the agreement and the Euro has rallied some and the S&P futures are up but the next few weeks, I am afraid, will hold some serious disappointments. The page turns today because now we are about to confront not what is told to us but the actuality of what has been presented to us and just what will happen as a result.
Heading into the North American open, equities are trading lower with the benchmark EU volatility index up 1.6%, with financials underperforming on concerns that the latest Greek bailout deal will need to be revised yet again. Officials said that the deal will require Greece’s private creditors to take a deeper write-down on the face value of their EUR 200bln in holdings than first agreed. The haircut on the face value of privately held Greek debt will now be over 53%. As a result of the measures adopted, the creditors now assume that Greece’s gross debt will fall to just over 120% of GDP by 2020, from around 164% currently, according to the officials. However as noted by analysts at the Troika in their latest debt sustainability report - “…there are notable risks. Given the high prospective level and share of senior debt, the prospects for Greece to be able to return to the market in the years following the end of the new program are uncertain and require more analysis”. Still, Bunds are down and a touch steeper in 2/10s under moderately light volume, while bond yield spreads around Europe are tighter.
Depending on what yield you apply to the new Greek bonds, then the package is worth 21.5% to 26.25%. Since bonds are trading with accrued and accrued will be paid in 6 months, the real question comes down to what you believe is the value of these new bonds. If there is an amortization schedule, that would change the valuation positively... We still haven’t seen retroactive CAC clauses implemented, but assuming that they are, I’m not sure why the Troika would accept a 95% rate and not trigger, but it seems worth taking the risk. The ECB swap may be illegal. The retroactive CAC may be illegal. The Troika seems like it wants to pretend there is no default if at all possible, in spite of the write-down of more than 50% of the debt.
Goldman's Greek Deal Summary: Increased Likelihood Of CDS Trigger And CAC Use Will Lead To VolatilitySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/21/2012 07:25 -0500
While we await for Thomas Stolper to issue his latest flip flop and to go long the EURUSD again ("tactically", not "strategically"), here is Francesco Garzarelli's take on the Greek bailout.Here is the biggest issue: "Increased likelihood of CDS: Moreover, higher losses inflicted on the private sector, involving the likely activation of CACs and the triggering of CDS, represent sources of near-term volatility." Bingo. Now as we pointed out in the previous post, a "successful" and completely undefined PSI program is a key precondition to the program. However, with bondholders now certain to throw up, and the requisite 75% (forget 95%) acceptance threshold unlike to be reached, will the use of Collective Action Clauses, and thus a CDS trigger constitute a PSI failure, and thus deal breach? In other words, since we now know that the March 20 bond payment will be part of the PSI, is last night's farce merely a way to avoid giving Greece a bridge loan, and putting its fate in the hands of creditors, which as we noted back in January is a lose-lose strategy?
Update 3: Conference begins now
Update 2: At this point the conference, if at all, will be held at 3:30 am CET. Probably would be better to just scrap it all, put a fork in Greece and go home. The second the 10 page Greek "sustainability" report hits the public it's lights out.
Update: 23:00 CET has come and gone. Next stop: midnight. As a reminder, the October 2011 official second Greek bailout announcement was delayed until 4 am.
According to a just released update on the website of the European Council, the much anticipated press conference "to end all press conferences" will take place at 23:00 CET, or 5 pm Eastern. What will then likely happen is another delay until midnight, then later, then finally when Europe is sleeping a few finance ministers will say that the Deal is virtually done, the terms of the PSI are agreed upon (except that "some" creditors, those who have a blocking stake, will vote no and force the use of CACs and thus trigger a default before March 20) with the exception of a few minor outstanding items, such as whose debt is cut to bring total Debt/GDP to 120% by 2020, which they hope to get resolved shortly. And so this latest and greatest meeting will come and go, and anyone who shorted the Belgian caterers will be broke when the market opens up tomorrow, when Belgian catering ETFs all go limit up.
A massive 150bn euro bill exclusively reserved for the EU-IMF funding of the "official" (OSI) and the private (PSI) sector participations in the Greek writedown on Greek debt may be the key factor behind the ongoing delays in the eurozone finance ministers' approval of a second bailout for Greece. This factor remains concealed behind media hysteria about the supposed failure of Athens to comply with a brutal austerity diktat by the EU-IMF-ECB 'troika'....The question is how will the Eurogroup approve these PSI participation costs that far exceed the supposed gain from the 100bn euro "haircut" but also leave nothing to cover Greece's debt servicing obligations for 2012-2014 of at least another 70bn euros to say nothing of possible budget deficits due to the collapse of public revenues in the fifth consecutive year of a Greek depression. All the histrionics about forcing Greece to set up a separate “escrow account that would give legal priority to debt and interest payments over paying for government expenses”, is nothing but a smokescreen for piling massive sums of fresh public debt on Greece's shoulders without lending a single penny to make up for the economic catastrophe meted out on the country.
The first details of the Greek bond deal are leaking out via Reuters, and we now learn the reason for the Greek bond sell off in recent days:
- UNDER GREEK DEBT SWAP, PRIVATE SECTOR WILL GET 3% COUPON ON BONDS FROM 2012-20, 3.75% COUPON FROM 2021 ONWARDS [2021... LOL]
- PRIVATE SECTOR WILL ALSO GET A GDP-LINKED ADDITIONAL PAYMENT, CAPPED AT 1 PCT OF THE OUTSTANDING AMOUNT OF NEW BONDS [If it appears that nobody gives a rat's ass about this bullet point, it's because it's true]
- GREEK BANK RECAPITALISATION NEEDS MAY NOW BE AS MUCH AS 50 BLN EUROS-DEBT SUSTAINABILITY ANALYSIS
Which in turn explains the sell off in pre-petition Greek junior triple subordinated bonds (i.e., those held by private unconnected investors, which are subordinated to the Troika's bailout loans, to the ECB's SMP purchases, to the Public Sector bonds and to UK-law bonds in that order). With the EFSF Bill "sweetener" amounting to about 15 cents (and likely less), the fact that bondholders will receive a 3% cash coupon, a cash on cash return based on Greek bonds of 2015 trading at just 20.7 cents on the euro, indicates that investors are expecting to collect 1 cash coupon payment, and at absolute best 2, before redefault, as buying a 2015 bond now at 20.7 of par, yields a full cash return of 21 (15+3+3), thus the third coupon payment is assured not to come. And since there is a substantial upside risk premium kicker to bond buyers, in reality the investing market is saying that Greece will last at best about a year following the debt exchange (if it ever even happens) before the country redefaults.
Run your on Greek default scenario right here. An online sovereign default calculator, of sorts...
Update: And finally for some reality from Dutch fin min De Jager: "We Cannot Approve Second Programme For Greece Until Greece Has Met All Its Obligation"... And now we know who Germany's "+1" will be when Greece becomes Southern Goldman Bavaria: "De Jager Says He’s in Favor of a Permanent Troika in Athens"
We would love to share some witty comments and jovial banter on this latest set of soundbites by Europe's effete bureaucrati on occasion of the latest and greatest Greek bailout, however having already done so on at least 10 times in the past, we have run out of things to say in this particular context and frankly we are bored with this topic. Which is precisely the Eurogroup's intention. Presenting "soundbites du jour, Greece edition N+1".
Let's put things back into perspective. Europe is lending money to Greece, which according to latest rumors will at least for the time being be in the form of the dreaded Escrow Account, which in turn means that the only recipients of bailout cash will be Greek creditors, whose claims will be senior to that of the government. In other words, it will be up to Greece, and specifically its own tax "collectors" to provide the actual funding needed to run the country as bailout or not bailout, Greek mandatory (forget discretionary) expenditures will not see one penny from Europe. As a reminder, the country is already €1 billion behind schedule in revenue collections which are down 7% Y/Y compared to an expectation of 9% rise. As a further reminder, the one defining characteristic of Greek tax collectors is that they are prone to striking. Virtually all the time. And that is assuming they even have the ink to print the required tax forms. Which last year they did not. So under what realistic assumptions are Greek tax collectors laboring in the current tax year? Why, nothing short of them having to be not 100%, but 200% more efficient. From Kathimerini: "Greece’s tax collectors were told over the weekend that they would have to do a much better job this year at gathering overdue taxes. How much better? Almost 200 percent." And this, unfortunately, is where the Greek bailout comes to a screeching halt, because while it is no secret that Greek "bailouts" do nothing for the country, but merely enforce ever more stringent austerity to mask the fact that all the cash is simply going from one banker pocket to another, it is the pandemic corruption embedded in generations of behavior that is at the root of all Greek evil. And there is no eradicating that. Now tomorrow, and not by 2020.
For several weeks now we have been warning that while the conventional wisdom is that Europe will never let Greece slide into default, Germany has been quietly preparing for just that. This culminated on Friday when the schism between Merkel, who is of the persuasion that Greece should remain in the Eurozone, and her Finmin, Wolfgang "Dr. Strangle Schauble" Schauble, who isn't, made Goldman Sachs itself observe that there is: "Growing dissent between Chancellor Merkel and finance minister Schäuble regarding Greece." We now learn, courtesy of the Telegraph's Bruno Waterfield, that Germany is far deeper in Greece insolvency preparations than conventional wisdom thought possible (if not Zero Hedge, where we have been actively warning for over two weeks that Germany is perfectly eager and ready to roll the dice on a Greek default). Yet it is not only Germany that is getting ready for the inevitable. So is Greece.
Open Europe has published a briefing note outlining the ten questions and issues that still need to be resolved in the coming weeks in order for Greece to avoid a full and disorderly default on March 20. The briefing argues that, realistically, only a few of these issues are likely to be fully resolved before the deadline meaning that Greece’s future in the euro will come down to one question: whether Germany and other Triple A countries will deem this to be enough political cover to approve the second Greek bailout package. In particular, the briefing argues that recent analyses of Greece’s woes have underplayed the importance of the problems posed by the large amount of funding which needs to be released to ensure the voluntary Greek restructuring can work – almost €94bn – as well as the massive time constraints presented by issues such as getting parliamentary approval for the bailout deal in Germany and Finland. While the eurozone also continues to ignore or side-line questions over the whether a 120% debt-to-GDP ratio in 2020 would be sustainable and if, given the recent riots, Greece has come close to the social and political level of austerity which it can credibly enforce.
One thing is for certain, the litigation is beginning to shift from minor players to major players at the core of the Financial Crisis. Investors take note, this is a major shift and needs to be monitored as it will have major implications for market dynamics going forward.
Yesterday, when the rumor (because it has not been confirmed by the ECB, and most certainly not by the Bundesbank) that the ECB would distribute its "gains" (i.e., personally fund the difference between cost basis and par on Greek bonds - incidentally, a development which BUBA president Jens Weidmann has said would only happen over his dead body) we urged readers "to ignore the constant barrage of meaningless noise and flashing red headlines" as apparently nobody who trades the EURUSD has any clue what subordination means or has ever participated in any debt for equity transaction. Specifically, with regard to the idiotic EURUSD reaction we said: "Today [yesterday] is a great case in point of a tangential detour which does nothing to change the reality that Germany no longer wants Greece in the Eurozone (remember, oh, yesterday), and that the ECB is merely playing possum with PSI creditors who will block the deal with even greater vigor than before (anyone recall the FT story about the PSI deal being on the verge of collapse not due to the ECB but due to private creditors?) as the ECB's even bigger subordination will simply make the amount of hold outs even greater." We concluded by assuming that "algos will take the required 12-48 hours to figure out what just happened today." Well, the algos are still lost in idiot vacuum tube world, but at least the banks are starting to comprehend what the 'deal' really means and that the Nash Equilibrium is even worse than before. From Bloomberg: "A plan being considered by the European Central Bank to shield its Greek bond holdings from a restructuring may hurt the euro because it implies senior status for the ECB over other investors, UBS AG said. “There are at least two euro-negative dimensions, which will likely lead to euro weakness” as a result of the plan, Chris Walker, a foreign-exchange strategist at UBS in London, wrote in a research report today." Once again, we urge all FX traders to read our primer on subordination, and why and how it will define trading this year, as reactions such as the one yesterday confirm that the market is not only broken but also very stupid. Which is just as those in charge like it.
While next to impossible, now may be a good time to ignore the constant barrage of meaningless noise and flashing red headlines, which not only are contradictory but prove that Europe is literally making it all up as it goes along. Today is a great case in point of a tangential detour which does nothing to change the reality that Germany no longer wants Greece in the Eurozone (remember, oh, yesterday), and that the ECB is merely playing possum with PSI creditors who will block the deal with even greater vigor than before (anyone recall the FT story about the PSI deal being on the verge of collapse not due to the ECB but due to private creditors?) as the ECB's even bigger subordination will simply make the amount of hold outs even greater. So while algos take the required 12-48 hours to figure out what just happened today, here is SocGen's Suki Mann stepping back from the endless daily din, and summarizing what is really happening in Europe.