European Central Bank
When it comes to the ongoing Greek question, I see a lot of people eagerly jump to conclusions, after the ‘debt deal’, that I don’t think are justified; certainly not yet. The overall conviction in the press seems to be that Syriza has given in on just about all fronts, and Germany and Dijsselbloem are the big winners. But since that may well be the exact position Syriza wants ‘the other side’ to be in, where they think they have prevailed, one will have to try and think a few steps ahead before judging the situation. There’s far more grey area here than many pundits seem to assume, easily 50 shades of it.
A quick recap of the key implications of Friday’s Greek “deal”, and what it means for the future of the Eurozone, the common currency and capital markets.
A bank which has €54.7 trillion, or a little over $62 trillion at today's exchange rate, in derivatives - a number that is 20 times greater than the GDP of Germany - just failed a central bank stress test due to lacking governance and risk management controls and, just maybe, has insufficient capital? What can possibly go wrong.
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.
All of the biggest problems in the financial world revolve around the bond markets today:
This is what peak bluffing looks like. Moments after there was much hope for a deal, suddenly ze Germans yanked the carpet from under any potential leverage Greece may have though it had when the Maltese foreign minister said:
- GERMAN-LED BLOC WILLING TO LET GREECE LEAVE EURO, SCICLUNA SAYS
- "I think they’ve now reached a point where they will tell Greece if you really want to leave, leave"
This in turns follows minutes after a Spigel article said that the ECB prepares for Greek euro 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.
Very few, it seems...
While the ECB is responsible for determining the euro-zone's supply of bank notes, it doesn't actually print them; instead it outsources the work to central banks of a few euro-zone countries (one of which is Greece). As WSJ reports, the Greek central bank's bank-note printing facility is called IETA. Built in 1941, the Attica plant today is outfitted with "state-of-the-art machinery," and has been responsible for printing batches of €10 notes, according to the ECB. One wonders how tempted the Greeks will be to take matters into their own ink-stained hands, should the ECB/Germany/Eurogroup pull the plug without acquiescing to their non-ultimatum "take it or leave it" offer...
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.
Here's a plan where the drachma will be more desirable than the euro after Greece defaults on anything euro denominated and backs its redeemable drachma with fractional gold. Upon default euros drop, drachma pops!
- Greece requests euro zone loan extension, offers big concessions (Reuters)
- Germany Rejects Loan Request Saying Greece Must Meet Conditions (BBG)
- Did the Fed Just Enter the Currency Wars (BBG)
- French consumer prices fall for first time since 2009 (Reuters)
- Oil falls sharply after U.S. crude inventories rise (Reuters)
- High-Speed Firm Virtu Revives IPO Plans (WSJ)
- Fed Tiptoes Into Rate-Hike Debate (Hilsenrath)
- Rajoy’s Nemesis Is Back: Anti-Graft Editor Targets Vote (BBG)
With the world's oldest central bank - Sweden's Riksbank - taking the plunge into negative rates, there have been 19 'eases' by central banks this year, Morgan Stanley warns of "ghosts of the 1930s." With competitive 'easing' stoking fears of international currency wars, The Telegraph notes however that looser monetary policy is not the order of the day everywhere in the world, and herein lies potential danger for the world economy.
One thing is becoming clear: Greece will almost certainly not last until the proverbial D-Day on February 28 before it either i) runs out of money, ii) is forced to sign a "bailout extension" deal with the Eurogroup thus crushing its credibility with the people, or iii) exits the Eurozone. Needless to say, two of the three above options are very unpleasant for Greek savers, assuming any are left. And it is those savers that the Eurozone is directly targeting when it does everything in its power to provoke a bank run with statement such as these: "The situation of the banks is getting more and more difficult every day," said a European official. "In the end, in order to safeguard the banking system, capital controls will probably have to be imposed."
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."