Let us speak in praise of flexibility, and avoid the siren songs of false precision and certitude. Let us confess that the situation globally and in Europe is unprecedented and thus intrinsically unpredictable; predictions based on the past or models plucked from the ether may prove to be not just inaccurate, but disastrously misleading to all those who put store in them. A flexible outlook avoids the temptations of zealotry, which in these times often takes the form of stating what is "impossible" (i.e. near-zero probability) and what cannot possibly happen--even if it has already happened. The only realistic prediction that can be made about the next few months is that events will be unpredictable. What we see, think and believe as near-certainties now may be undermined by events and new data. The greatest assets going forward may well prove to be flexibility, adaptability, humility and openness to low probability events suddenly transpiring despite previous estimates of their relative impossibility.
Like a Swiss watch, Goldman's Jim O'Neill, who refuses to acknowledge that decoupling between the US and the BRICs not only never existed, but was always a flawed premise to begin with, has released his latest dose of Kool-Aid, in which he bets the horse track on, you guessed it, Chinese decoupling.... Sigh. Then again what can one expect: just like Bernanke will keep trying QE until QE succeeds (it won't) or the market breaks; and just like the Krugmanites will keep pushing for an ever bigger fiscal stimulus (because the last one is never big enough, regardless of how big it is), why should one expect the latest addition to Goldman's biggest loss leader (GSAM) be any different. And what makes this particular episode not only tragic but very much comic, is that the former "Red Knight" now sees the Chinese launch of a fully convertible and floating Yuan by 2015 as the panacea to the US stock market, and Goldman bonus doldrums (because when one cuts to the chase, that's really what it's all about). Little does it bother the BRICer that the advent of a new reserve currency would have a devastating impact not only on existing risk markets, but on so-called risk free ones as well. Remember that 0.000% yield on last week's 4 week bond auction? Yeah... that would not come back. Ever. Anyway, with the upcoming week sure to provide significant tears, especially to European readers, here is at least some comic relief (yes, O'Neill does in fact "applauds" the move by the pegging move by the SNB - apparently loading up the asset side of your balance sheet with toxic paper which may or may not exist post the Greek expulsion is considered prudent when one is a Goldman partner) to start it off with.
The Maginot Line failed because it was inflexible and was largely designed to fight the last war. As Europe braces for a potential default from Greece it has to be strong, yet flexible enough to adapt to this particular situation. We learned a lot from Bear and Lehman about what can be done to contain financial panic, but not all the tools will be equally applicable here. Ironically, for all the talk about how bad it was to let Lehman fail, the U.S. banks seem in far better shape than European banks. Maybe as Europe prepares to ring fence its banks, it should remember that letting Lehman fail may be the reason US banks are in better shape now than in 2008. Citi and BAC, which required the most government support – and got it – are our weakest. Europe can use this time to reshape their banking industry and if they are willing to deal with enough short term pain, the ultimate outcome will be a banking system that can prosper and provide true long term growth opportunities for the Euro Zone – whatever that may ultimately look like.
A few months ago, when Zero Hedge first broke the news that the Drachma is trading at several major banks on a "when issued" basis at the client's request, it was promptly dismissed. Alas, it may be time to dismiss the dismissal, after Spiegel reports that as one of the scenarios considered for a Greek default, Germany anticipates the reintroduction of the drachma by the pathological liars at the Greek parliament. Yes: the currency that Greece was so happy to jettison 10 years ago when after the assistance of Goldman to hide its bloated debt, to much pomp and circumstance it entered the soon to be defunct Eurozone, is coming baaaaack.
It is a messy situation Trichet will be handing over to Draghi on October 31st. After the unnecessary rate hike in spring, what do you do: i) Cut rates in one of the remaining 3 meetings (see table), presenting Draghi with (almost) no room left to cut? ii) Leave rates unchanged and risk being seen as a lame duck as the Euro debt crisis escalates? iii) Agree to be removed early so Draghi can announce “his” first interest rate cut?
German Economy Minister: "Greek Default Can't Be Ruled Out" And "We Need A Bankruptcy Procedure For Countries"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/11/2011 12:33 -0400
Greece may not file for bankruptcy this weekend... But its time is coming - it is a 100% certainty. And throwing just that little more fuel into the fire is Germany's Economy Minister Philipp Roesler who in an op-ed posted in Die Welt, is once again planting the seeds for the inevitable day when that perpetual transgressor Greece (which just announced yet more tax hikes, and as a result can now shut down its economy as the tsunami of 24 hour strike will be unprecedented) is finally kicked out of the union. The question then, as now, will be: what next?
Goldman Calls For QE In Europe: "How Far Can The ECB Go In Using Its Balance Sheet. The Short Answer Is: A Lot Further"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/11/2011 12:01 -0400
Even as the eyes of the world are currently frozen in a spot in time from ten years ago, and Wikileaks is making doubly sure of this by releasing the entire record of Metrocall pager (remember those?) intercepts starting at 9:55 am on 9/11/01, the world itself continues onward, and especially those who determine its global policy of "Prevention of Harm to The Status QuoTM" are busier than ever this weekend. Chief among these is and always has been the one financial firm which has infiltrated "sovereign" decision-making more than anyone in history: Goldman Sachs, whose alumnus, incidentally, is about to replace Jean Claude Trichet at the helm of the world's largest and most undercapitalized central bank (yes, a central bank can be undercapitalized - read on). Which is why the following note just released by Goldman's Dirk Schumacher is of particular attention. Mere hours after Goldman economist Sven Jari Stehn said that FOMC "easing at the September meeting is very likely—around 75% according to our model", Goldman is now taking on European monetary policy, and specifically the question of further quantitative easing, across the pond, where printing money has always been a far more touchy subject than in the US, courtesy of the German experience with hyperinflation. As a result, the key line in the Schumacher note is the following: "How Far Can The ECB Go In Using Its Balance Sheet. The Short Answer Is: A Lot Further." To be sure, this is not surprising: after all Zero Hedge first predicted that following the latest market trouncing on Friday, in the aftermath of the ECB's admission of failure on Thursday (who can forget Ze Price Stabeeleetee), see "ECBCTRL+P: The Next Steps In The European Implosion", but we are nothing but a simple blog, which predicts what will happen but certainly does not set policy for a corrupt and failed regime. That's Goldman's job. And what is stunning is the brazenness with which it does it now. To sum up: to Goldman both the Fed and the ECB have to engage asap in yet another episode of bonus-preserving currency debasement, middle class be damned. And, we have very little doubt, they will.
As regular readers may recall, back on June 14, before it became an even bigger pariah in the thoroughly discredited rating agency space due to its refusal to downgrade the US, Moody's placed French megabanks SocGen, BNP and Credit Agricole on downgrade review, which means that at some point in the future the rating agency would have to cut the banks' rating from its existing Aa1-2, to Aa3 or even a single A. It is true that when it comes to downgrade reviews the rating agencies are notorious for being as unpredictable in their timing as they are conflicted in their rating: for example even though Belgium was supposed to be downgraded months ago due to the fact that it continues to be the longest running modern anarchy, nothing has occurred, as political interests are obviously pushing the raters to do as paying clients request, not as reality demands. Alas, for France, which is very sensitive to any inkling it may have a less than sterling rating (due to its sovereign AAA requirement without which the EFSF/ESM falls apart), the luck may have run out. Bloomberg reports that the abovementioned banks "may have their credit ratings cut by Moody’s Investors Service as soon as next week because of their Greek holdings, two people with knowledge of the matter said.
Is the Market about to break down totally as Intervention and Manipulation destroy Market Mechanisms?
The Summer Vacation Is Over - As Papandreou Briefs Greece On Its Sorry State, The Riot Police ReturnsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/10/2011 13:14 -0400
Just as Greece's G-Pap, who has proven he has more political lives than a cat, is about to speak at the Thessaloniki trade fair with an update on the economy (which is now contracting at more than 5% compared to the -3.8% forecast in May), the country reminds us that summer vacation is over, and that millions of Greeks have returned from their month long vacations only to find that they still are not getting the socialist benefits they thought may, just may, sneak their way back into their paychecks and early retirement plans. To wit, as AP reports, "Riot police fired tear gas Saturday to disperse anti-austerity protesters armed with flare guns, stones and sticks as clashes broke out in Greece's second-largest city. From taxi drivers to sports fans, thousands of angry citizens were protesting in the northern port of Thessaloniki before the prime minister's annual speech on the economy. The protests came in waves Saturday. Several thousand taxi drivers angry over new licensing reforms chanted anti-government slogans as they marched, many throwing plastic water bottles at riot police guarding the trade fair where Papandreou was to speak later. An estimated 1,500 students and anarchists followed on their heels, while other crowds gathered for separate protests by the barely-solvent country's two biggest labor unions. Even fans of Thessaloniki's soccer club Iraklis turned out to protest." Of course, now that even Italy, after one aborted attempt to paint over the issue, is forced to impose some austerity, Europe has a long, long autumn and winter of protesting to look forward to, which coupled with the logical impact on GDP courtesy of everyone's complete lack of interest in working any more (think of the horror at retiring at 65), means that all European economies will soon grind to a halt... Just as has been predited on these pages over a year ago.
Your one stop, comprehensive summary of the past week's key positive and negative events.
It's that time again when the IMF has just telegraphed something very big and very bad is about to happen. But let's back up, and paraphrase our post from March: "Back in April 2010, before Waddell and Reed sold a few shares of ES, effectively destroying the market on news that Europe was insolvent, we made the following observation: "The IMF has just announced that it is expanding its New Arrangement to Borrow (NAB) multilateral facility from its existing $50 billion by a whopping $500 billion (SDR333.5 billion), to $550 billion." Little did we know that our conclusion "something big must be coming" would prove spot on just a month later after Greece, then Ireland, then Portgual, and soon Spain, Italy, Belgium, and pretty much all other European countries would topple like dominoes tethered together by a flawed monetary regime. Well, based on news from Dow Jones we can now safely predict the following: "something bigger must be coming." The specific reason for this prediction was the following: "the International Monetary Fund is expected to soon activate a special funding pool that will boost the fund's ability to prevent or resolve economic crises." Sure enough something bigger came, and then some: Greece received its second bailout package about 4 months later, only to see the entire Eurozone hang by a thread following the political fallout that has since ensued. Well, it is time to shift from the comparative to the superlative: "something biggest must be coming."
For those struggling under the deluge of relentless newsflow out of Europe, here are the key events to look for over the next month, courtesy of CitiFX Wire. Readers can take advantage of the weekend which will be calm until late Sunday morning after which it won't be calm, to familiarize themselves with the hurricane that is headed straight to global capital markets.