Update: SCHAEUBLE: GREECE FREE TO SEEK RUSSIAN AID, MAY NOT GET MUCH
As Greeks take to the streets, Varoufakis calls predictions about Grexit reverberations delusional, and Bloomberg proposes a list of Greek default scenarios. Meanwhile, central banks move to ringfence Greek exposure and analysts scramble to outline the risk of bank runs, capital controls, and contagion.
A large number of European countries have effectively quarantined Greece in a bid to minimize the consequences on their credit systems in case of a Greek "accident." As ekathimerini reports, the actions are being taken in order to shield themselves and minimize the danger of contagion in case the negotiations between the Greek government and the eurozone do not bear fruit. This has sparked broad-based selling across global risk assets but particularly in Europe. Stocks from Germany to Spain are having their worst day of the year, European sovereign bond risk is exploding higher (contagion Mr. Schaeuble?), and Greek bank bonds and stocks are getting crushed.
Greece could "issue IOUs to pay public sector workers and pensioners and free up money to repay its debts. But this could cause economic chaos if fears that the IOUs would never be paid sparked riots or public sector employees simply refused to work."
You know it's over when the bookies are closing their markets...
"Greek officials have made an informal approach to the International Monetary Fund to delay repayments of loans to the international lender," FT reports. Knowing it faces the rather untenable choice between paying the IMF or paying public sector wages and pensions, Athens attempted to "shuffle" its payment schedule around to no avail. Yields on GGBs spiked as the now openly insolvent Greece stares into the drachma abyss.
Exactly one month ago we wrote that "Japan Ties China As America's Largest Creditor" when, according to Treasury International Capital in the month of January, China sold just over $5 billion in Treasurys while Japan bought $8 billion in US paper. Fast forward to today when we are pleased to announce that, as expected, the trend has continued and for the first time since the great financial crisis, Japan is once again America's largest foreign credito.
At the New York Fed’s evocatively named workshop, “Chapter 9 and Alternatives for Distressed Municipalities and States.”
Confidence in the system likely hangs by a much thinner thread than is currently widely perceived. Since “risk asset” prices are soaring in much of Europe, the underlying currents of suspicion are well masked, but that certainly doesn’t mean they don’t exist. While we believe that central bank and regulatory interventions in the market are a major reason why so many bond yields have dropped into negative territory, the role played by distrust in the banking system is probably quite large as well – a suspicion that seems to be confirmed by the strength of the euro-denominated gold price.
To think it was just recently in September of last year when the S&P, seemingly unaware of the tragic reality facing Greece in just a few months (by reality we meen democratic elections which overthrew the previous regime which was merely a group of Troika picked technocrats), upgraded Greece to B and said "The upgrade reflects our view that risks to fiscal consolidation in Greece have abated." Well, the risks have unabated, and two months after S&P flipflopped and downgraded Greece back to B- on February 6, moments ago it downgraded it again, this time to triple hooks, aka the dreaded CCC+. But, as City AM reports, the biggest news is that the Greek Finance Minister "will on Friday meet with infamous sovereign debt lawyer Lee Buchheit, who has helped numerous countries restructure their debt. Buchheit is a partner at top US law firm Cleary Gottlieb."
* Fall 2015 turning point - civil unrest and riots globally says forecaster Armstrong
* European banks will collapse and “blood in the streets”
* Advocates diversification and holding bullion coins familiar to public such as $20 gold coins
* “Your portfolio has got to include everything … including bullion”
Berlin is drawing up contingency plans as Germany prepares for an increasingly likely Greek default, Zeit reports. The new plan purportedly is designed to prop up the Greek banking sector in the event Athens misses a payment, but it's contingent upon the Syriza government acting less "taxi-driver-ish" at the reform negotiating table. In the event Greece will not cooperate, Germany is prepared to let them go but Brussels will help "facilitate" the transition to the drachma (that currency Goldman recently said the country "can't just print").
If yesterday stocks surged on the worst 4-month stretch of missing retail sales since Lehman, one which BofA with all seriousness spun by saying "it seems not unreasonable to suspect that the March 2015 reading on retail sales gets revised up next month", then the reason why futures are now solidly in the green across the board even as German Bunds have just 14 bps to go until they hit negative yields and before the ECB is fresh out of luck on future debt monetization, is that overnight China reported its worst GDP since 2009 together with economic data misses across the board confirming China's economy continues its hard landing approach despite a stock market that has doubled in the past year.
Without the support of the ECB, the country’s banking system would be shut off from international markets and likely collapse.
Judging by the recent action in equity futures, the continuously rangebound US market since the end of QE may be entering its latest downphase, catalyzed to a big extent by the recent strength in the JPY (the EURJPY traded down to 2 year lows overnight), especially following yesterday's not one but two statements by Abe advisor Harada saying a USDJPY at 125 isn't "justified" and a 105 level would be appropriate. A level, incidentally, which would push the Nikkei lower by about 20% and crush Japanese pensions which are now mostly invested in stocks. Not helping matters was the pause in the Chinese and Hang Seng stock bubbles, with the former barely rising 0.3%, while the former actually seeing its first 1.6% decline after many days of torrid, relentless rises.
Update: as always is the case in Europe, nothing is confirmed until it is officially denied by officials, so here you go: GREEK GOVT OFFICIAL DENIES FT REPORT GREECE PLANNING DEFAULT
It should hardly come as a surprise that after the latest round of Greek pre-negotiation negotiations with the Troika, in which the Greek representative was said to behave like a taxi driver, who "just asked where the money was and insisted his country would soon be bankrupt" and in which the Eurozone members "were disappointed and shocked at Athens' lack of movement in its plans, and in particular its reluctance to talk about cutting civil servants' pensions" that the next Greek step is to fall back - yet again - to square zero: threats of an imminent default. Which is precisely what, according to the FT, has happened "Greece is preparing to take the dramatic step of declaring a debt default unless it can reach a deal with its international creditors by the end of April."