Greece’s problem can only be truly solved if large scale debt restructuring is accepted and executed. But that would initiate a chain of events that would bring down the bloated zombie that is Wall Street. And it just so happens that this zombie rules the planet. We are all addicted to the zombie. It allows us to fool ourselves into thinking we are doing well – well, sort of -, but the longer term implications of that behavior will be devastating. We’re all going to be Greece, that’s inevitable. It’s not some maybe thing. The only thing that keeps us from realizing that is that the big media outlets have become part of the same industry that Wall Street, and the governments it controls, have full control over. And that in turn says something about the importance of what Yanis Varoufakis and Syriza are trying to accomplish. They’re taking the battle to the finance empire. And it should not be a lonely fight. Because if the international Wall Street banks succeed in Greece, some theater eerily uncomfortably near you will be next. That is cast in stone.
Needless to say, Greece is only the poster child. The McKinsey numbers above suggest that “peak debt” is becoming a universal condition, and that today’s Keynesian central bankers and policy apparatchiks are only pushing on a giant and dangerous global string. So now we get to ground zero of the global Ponzi. That is the monumental pile of construction and debt that is otherwise known on Wall Street as the miracle of “red capitalism”. In truth, however, China is not an economic miracle at all; its just a case of the above abandoned Athens stadium writ large.
- RadioShack files for bankruptcy; Sprint to take over some stores (Reuters)
- Kansas To Issue Bonds and Invest Proceeds to Boost Pension Returns (WSJ)
- Merkel to Make Last Push With Putin as Pessimism Prevails (BBG)
- Islamic State in Syria seen under strain but far from collapse (Reuters)
- Texas Swagger Fades Fast as Oil Town Squeezed Hard by OPEC (BBG)
- SEC probes Blackberry options trading ahead of Reuters report about Samsung talks (Reuters)
- Spanish Bonds Underperform Italy’s as Podemos Gains Popularity (BBG)
- Steelworkers Union Rejects Offer From Refiners (WSJ)
- Brazil January Inflation at Fastest Pace in Nearly 12 Years (BBG)
All you need to know about the rapidly changing situation in Greece.
You know the world has gone truly mad when... For what we believe is the first time, a Euro-denominated corporate bond yield has gone negative. Aa2-rated Swiss chocolate-maker Nestle saw its 2016 bonds close at -0.2bps yield follows the swing to negative yields among covered bonds (bank debt backed by loans) that started in September. As Deutsche Bank opines, maybe chocolate is the new Gold!!
The following chart from Deutsche Bank illustrates the difference between life under the Classical Gold Standard and today’s “modern” forms of money. For the first four hundred years depicted here, money was gold and silver - the quantity of which rose at roughly the same rate as the human population. Prices during that time fluctuated, but only modestly by today’s standards, and they always returned to more-or-less the same level. In other words, money held its value for not just years but centuries. It was a fixed aspect of the financial environment and was therefore not a tool of economic policy. Governments and individuals had to adapt to unchanging money rather than forcing money to adapt to political circumstances. A phase change occurs in the 20th century when the US created the Federal Reserve and World Wars I and II placed survival above monetary stability for most of Europe and Asia.
For anyone who has traded RadioShack's bonds or stocks over the last decade or so, the constant threat of an LBO has been the bane of any fundamental analysis as one Credit Suisse memorably described it as "a company in a virtual state of constant collapse." It appears, with multiple default notices this week and the news that NYSE will suspend/delist trading in the ever-on-the-block company, that the 'LBO rumor' threat is over. With several firms (Sprint, Sanpower, and Amazon) mulling post-bankruptcy purchases, the concept of a pre-petition savior appears dead in the water...
Just hours after apparently settling its suit with the USA (not at all retaliation for downgrading them), S&P has taken the big red marker out on a slew of European banks:
- Downgrades: Credit Suisse, Barclays, Lloyds, Bank of Scotland, RBS, HSBC, and Ulster Bank
- On Watch Negative: Raiffeisen Zentralbank, MBank, Unicredit, Commerzbank, and Deutsche Bank
The driver of the shift in perspective is the apparent removal of the 'bailout put', as the prospect of "extraordinary government support" appeared less likely under recently passed bail-in legislation.
Much was said about the outperformance of the Nikkei relative to other asset classes in various months in 2014. Outperformance in Yen terms that is: for 2014 the Nikkei was actually down in USD terms. However, somehow we doubt if as much will be said about January's best performing asset - again, in local currency terms - which was the Russian stock market. Actually, come to think of it, we doubt anything will be said in the mainstream media about January's two best performing assets in USD terms either: silver and gold.
- RBA cuts interest rates to record low of 2.25% (SMH)
- RBI keeps rates on hold (Reuters), India allows banks flexibility on big projects to reboot growth (Reuters)
- BP slashes capital spending by 20% (FT)
- Greek Retreat on Writedown May Move Fight to Spending (BBG)
- Rosneft accounting move helps BP beat profit forecast (Reuters)
- Amazon in Talks to Buy Some of RadioShack's Stores (BBG)
- Behind Obama's budget proposals, a gloomy view of the future (Reuters)
- How the Justice Department, S&P Came to Terms (WSJ)
- Staples, Office Depot in Advanced Talks to Merge (WSJ)
In 1923 Hitler said, “Believe me, our misery will increase. The scoundrel will get by. But the decent, solid businessman who doesn’t speculate will be utterly crushed; first the little fellow on the bottom, but in the end the big fellow on top too. But the scoundrel and the swindler will remain, top and bottom. The reason: because the state itself has become the biggest swindler and crook. A robbers’ state!” Hitler wasn’t talking about hard money, he was talking about excessive money printing by a robber state. Krugman himself echoes these words, "It’s basically about revenue: when governments can’t either raise taxes or borrow to pay for their spending, they sometimes turn to the printing press." Out of control government that can’t borrow or tax enough to pay its bills? Zimbabwe, Iran, Venezuela... what country is next?
The Tide Is Turning: Obama "Expresses Sympathy" For Greece; Lazard Says 50% Greek Haircut "Reasonable"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/01/2015 23:13 -0500
The newsflow over the past several days was progressing much as expected: any time Greece demanded a bailout renegotiation (or termination), and an end to the Troika, Germany just said "Nein." And then something unexpected happened: the socialists came to the rescue when they voiced their support to their ideological peers in Greece. First, it was France whose finance minister said that France is "more than prepared to support Greece." And now it is Obama's turn who as the WSJ reported, has "expressed sympathy for the new Greek government as it seeks to rollback its strict bailout regime, saying there are limits to how far its European creditors can press Athens to repay its debts while restructuring the economy."
ECB Threatens Athens With Bank Funding Cutoff If No Deal In One Month: February 28 Is Now D-Day For GreeceSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/31/2015 17:40 -0500
Earlier today the ECB's Erikki Liikanen, tired of pleasantries and dealing with what to Europe is a completely incomprehensible and illogical stance, one which is essentially a massive defection by Greece in the European "prisoner's dilemma", and which while leading to a Greek financial collapse and Grexit - both prerequisites to a subsequent Greek economic recovery unburdened by the shackles of the Euro - would also unleash a European depression, came out and directly threatened Greece that it now has 1 month until the end of February to reach a deal with the Troika, or else the ECB would cut off lending to Greek banks, in the process destroying the otherwise insolvent Greek banking sector.
Rather than be a problem, Syriza may well be a solution, if it plays its cards right, but that still leaves politicians and investors denominating Tsipras et al as a problem, if not a menace. The world’s major banks got rich off the back of the Greek population at large, and when their wagers got so absurd they collapsed, the banks saw to it that their losses were transferred to European -and American – taxpayers. And those taxpayers are now told to vent their anger at 'those cheating, lazy Greeks'. The Troika, the EU, the IMF, and the banks whose sock puppets they have chosen to be, are a predatory force that has come a long way towards wiping Greece off the map. And that’s what Syriza has set out to remediate. And for that, they deserve, and probably will need, our unmitigated support.