Going into 2015 the economic outlook held by the U.S. investment establishment could not have been much more positive, and more unified. Pundits saw all the variables aligning to create the best of all investment worlds, a virtual "no-brainer" of optimism. High degrees of certainty can be dangerous. Herd mentality can cause investors to chase returns en masse and pile into positions that may already be overvalued. But herds can be spooked, most often by unexpected developments which can catch the herd wrong-footed and spark major movements when the masses scatter at the same time. When that occurs, those who resisted the herd may find themselves rewarded. We believe that we are approaching such a point.
To be sure, we’ve written quite a bit lately about the ECB’s upcoming plunge into the world of 13-figure debt monetization (or as we call it, Draghi’s Waterloo), and while we hate to beat a dead horse, the sheer lunacy of a bond buying program that is only constrained by the fact that there simply aren’t enough bonds to buy, cannot possibly be overstated. Here is everything you need to know about Q€ ahead of the ECB's Thursday meeting.
With little newsflow out of Europe, and just as little on deck out of the US (just NY ISM and auto sales later today), the main overnight events were out of Asia where first the RBA decided to leave rates unchanged but not before the announcement was leaked up to a minute early. In China, the rate-cut euphoria lasted just one day, and after a feeble 0.8% bounce on Monday, the SHCOMP was down 2.2% this morning over fears the PBOC is doing too little, too late to halt what is now perceived by many as a massive "tightening" capital flight out of China. Finally, Japan made the newsflow, after it JGBs continued to slide following a weak auction, fears that the BOJ is done easing after Abe advisor Etsuro Honda warned against overheating, and after the biggest jump in base pay in over a decade led some to think the BOJ may soon have to halt easing altogether, especially if real wages proceed to rise
Oh well, some are more equal than others. One day after Eurogroup head Dijsselbloem says France won’t get any more lenience... "France must respect EU budge rules," ... the EU over-rules him "France gets more time to meet EU budget rules."
What happened over the past week to the Syriza "mandate" is that the new government's list of unfulfillable promises to the Greek people has been replaced with a new list of unfulfillable promises to the Troika.
Update: EU COMMISSION SAYS GREEK LIST `SUFFICIENTLY COMPREHENSIVE'
The Ultimate "Easy Money Paradox": How The ECB's Previous Actions Are Assuring The Failure Of Its Current ActionsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/22/2015 17:35 -0500
The problem, as several sources told Reuters last week, is that there simply aren’t a lot of willing sellers. Ironically, the ECB’s own policy maneuvers are ultimately responsible for creating this situation. That is, the fallout from previous forays into ultra accommodative monetary policy is now hampering the implementation of quantitative easing - call it the ultimate easy money paradox.
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.
Having, as we previously explained, been given 'just enough rope' by the Germans, we thought it worth looking at just what Greece capitulated on (or perhaps a shorter version - what they did not capitulate on) and how Tsipras and Varoufakis will sell this to their fellow politicians... and most of all people.
Ultimately, then, we are still left with the same three-step process to reach a conclusion to the Greek crisis.
- Step 1 consists of a request for a new program or an application for a 3rd ESM program with Greece committing to some a prior conditionality.
- Step 2 consists of negotiating the substance around this conditionality, in particular the prior actions that would need to be fulfilled to disburse funding to Greece.
- Step 3 would consist of passing such prior actions through the Greek parliament and ultimately servicing Greece's loan obligations.
The more each of these steps is delayed, the shorter the timespans available and the greater the risks of failure.
The 2015 World Press Freedom Index highlights the worldwide drastic decline in freedom of information in 2014. The rise in overall violations of freedom of information was evident in all continents, but for America - the bastion of press freedom in the land of the free and "the most transparenet administration ever" - fell once again... to 49th!!
Who would have thought all it takes for Eurozone Q4 GDP to print above expectations, even if by the smallest of possible margins - one which even the Chinese goalseek-o-tron bows its head down to in respect - which at 0.3% Q/Q was above the 0.2% expected and above Q3's 0.2%, was for Europe to admit it has finally succumbed to deflation. Oh, and for the ECB to admit the situation has never been more serious by launching Q€. Oh, and add the "estimated contribution" to GDP from hookers and drugs. Put all that together and on an annualized basis, the European economy grew by 1.4%. Whatever the reason, Q4 GDP was the best print since Q1, even as Germany blew not only consensus of 0.3%, but the highest GDP estimate of 0.6% out of the water when it reported that courtesy of a spike in spending, its economy grew by 0.7% in the fourth quarter, up from the near-recessionary 0.1% in Q3. That, together with QE and ZIRP now raging across the continent, was enough to push the DAX above 11,000 for the first time ever.
Just over an hour ago, what appears to have been a strawman now was issued by Bloomberg via leaked sources from Greek and German officials that proclaimed talk of a "compromise" deal that makes everyone happy in Europe. However, as the leaders exited today's summit, the tone of their responses did not exactly sound compromise-prone:
*DIJSSELBLOEM SAYS GREECE PROCESS GOING TO BE V. DIFFICULT, "DON'T GET YOUR HOPES UP YET" ON GREECE
*MERKEL URGES GREECE TO MAKE UP ITS MIND SOON ON FINANCING
Hardly the resoundingly positive spin we saw earlier. Poland's Tusk, Finland's Stubb, and good old Juncker also chimed in with the latter commenting on Greece's "anti-social" behavior. Tsipras made some neutral statements, then came out swinging, "The MoU as we knew it is over. The same goes for the troika. All these years, the burden fell on the poorest. Our aim is to restore the sense of justice."
After paying governments, you'll be paying corporates...
The politicians of Europe are plunging into a form of ideological fratricide as they battle over Greece. Accordingly, all the combatants - the German, Greek and other national politicians and the apparatchiks of Brussels and Frankfurt - are fundamentally on the wrong path, albeit for different reasons. Yet by collectively indulging in the sum of all statist errors they may ultimately do a service. Namely, discredit and destroy the whole bailout state and central bank driven financialization model that threatens political democracy and capitalist prosperity in Europe - and the rest of the world, too.