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."
From a Citi global credit survey: "...over 65% of respondents said they believed action from central banks in Europe and the US would be the principal force driving credit index spreads [and] surprisingly, in a year with major political catalysts in Europe, and ongoing regional tensions in the Middle East and Russia, only 4% of respondents felt that geopolitical risk would be the major factor driving spreads.”
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."
The chances of Greece being forced out of the euro zone have risen but a compromise agreement between Athens and its European partners is still possible, Greek media and investment banks said on Tuesday.
- Markets From Stocks to Debt to Euro Show Little No Panic (BBG)
- Greek Euro Exit Risk Increases as EU Delivers Ultimatum (BBG)
- Oil rises to $62, near 2015 high as Mideast risks support (Reuters)
- Texas judge blocks Obama plan to protect undocumented immigrants (Reuters)
- Oil Train Derails and Ignites Forcing West Virginia Evacuations (BBG)
- Battle rages for town where Ukraine rebels reject ceasefire (BBG)
- Chinese Firms Tiptoe Back Into Europe’s Battered Financial Sector (WSJ)
- Putin’s Paradise Becomes Economic No-Go Zone Where Cash Is King (BBG)
- Emerging fund managers stuck in buy-and-hold as trading shrivels (Reuters)
The attacks demonstrate a shocking vulnerability in the highly interconnected global banking system. The Kaspersky Lab report gives a fascinating insight into the hackers operation.
There is a saying: "strike while the rehypothecated iron is hot", and nobody is better at it than Germany, which hours after the latest disappointing Eurogroup summit failed - again - to reach a solution on the third iteration of the Grexit dilemma, has decided to pour even more gas on the fire in the form of infamous Euroskeptic, the president of the Ifo Institute for Economic Research, Hans-Werner Sinn who in an FT op-ed beckons someone, supposedly Europe's federalist, if non-existant, powers which in the mind of the German have control over Greek sovereignty, to immediately 'impose capital controls in Greece or repeat the mistake of Cyprus."
While certainly a revision is pending after today's latest, disastrous Eurogroup meeting after which the two sides are further apart from reaching a deal than a week earlier, here is the latest set of questions asked by UBS clients on the topic of "what could go wrong" with the biggest Swiss bank's mutedly optimistic outlook on the "global recovery" (aided no doubt by the biggest intervention of central banks in history) which is characterizes as "uneven", especially when one considered that even UBS itself admitted last week that a "dislocation" in the market (which is "underestimating Grexit Risks") is necessary in order to overcome the Greek impasses.
Gold in euro terms is telling the whole story...
With only a few short hours until the process of everyone's cards being revealed in Brussels begins, it is once again Greece' turn to remind the other players on the table that no matter the quality of cards it has, it is not bluffing. Which is precisely what anyone bluffing would say. In a just released Op-Ed in the NYT (were there no European newspaper willing to accept the Greek finance minister's Op-Ed one wonders that he had to go all the way to the bastion of the left... in the United States) the new Greek finance minister says that not only is he not bluffing adding "that I have no right to bluff", but using recent military jargon says that "the lines that we have presented as red will not be crossed. Otherwise, they would not be truly red, but merely a bluff."
"European leaders resolved a bitter financial dispute with Greece today, paving the way for Spain and Portugal to join the Common Market at the start of next year. Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou of Greece had threatened to veto an agreement reached this week on Iberian membership unless the other nine members gave Greek farmers $2 billion in special subsidies to help them compete with Spain and Portugal. But after two days of negotiations at a European Economic Community meeting here, Greece was persuaded to accept about $1.4 billion in new agricultural aid in return for lifting its veto threat."
- March 31, 1985
Last year, the global economy was supposed to start returning to normal. Interest rates would begin rising in the United States and the United Kingdom; quantitative easing would deliver increased inflation in Japan; and restored confidence in banks would enable a credit-led recovery in the eurozone. Twelve months later, normality seems as distant as ever – and economic headwinds from China are a major cause.
In another 'odd' event for Europe's status quo, for the second time in a week, tens of thousands of pro-government supporters have taken to the infamous Syntagma Square in Athens to ensure Syriza knows exactly what tomorrow's 'negotiations' are all about. With the latest poll showing Syriza in an even more dominant position nationally (45.4% vs ND's 18.4%) and Merkel's party looking like it will lose in a landslide in Hamburg local election, it seems the people of Europe have expressed their will. As Germany's Sinn suggests, Grexit would be best, "if Greece doesn't exit the euro, it will keep adding new debt it will be unable to repay." Perhaps that is why the rally cries of "Give Greece a chance" are so loud...
Straight-forward discussion of the international climate.
According to Kathimerini, late last night, Greek PM Tsipras chaired a meeting of his cabinet on Friday night to brief ministers on the state of talks with the eurozone. "With the possibility of the government having to make a compromise with the eurozone over the way forward in the next few days, Tsipras was eager to assess the mood of his cabinet. Some members, such as Energy Minister Panayiotis Lafazanis have been adamant that the government should stick to its pre-election pledges." Which probably suggests that Greece is if not about to fold, then certainly cave on most, if not all, of its demands. Still, Greece is hopeful that some deus ex machina will appear in the last minute, and that delaying the inevitable will give it some further leverage. Which explains why, as Kathimerini reported, "the government is not holding out much hope for a solution in Brussels on Monday.