Wondering why the market just viagra'ed up to green on absolutely nothing? Here is the news from Reuters, with key words underlined:
Greek conservative party leader Antonis Samaras is expected to deliver a letter of commitment to the country's international lenders on Wednesday, a government source said on Tuesday.
"Samaras' letter of commitment is expected to be handed in tomorrow morning," the government official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
A senior official at the conservative New Democracy party confirmed that Samaras intended to sign the letter. There was no official comment from the party.
So... let's get this straight: Samaras, the guy who has promised will he reneg on the European deal as soon as he becomes PM, is "expected" to agree to the deal he voted for on Sunday..."according to a Grek government source." And who will he supposedly delivery this letter to? The cancelled European meeting? Or to Juncker who said Greece needs to comply with the terms of the first bailout, forget the second one. The same Juncker who said he is uncomfortable with Samaras lack of commitment?
We noted the particular shift in Europe's sentiment toward Greece back in January, observing that ever since the "favorable" uptake of the LTRO (all of which has since been recycled and parked at the ECB's deposit facility which was at €510 billion as of today), Europe has become convinced that letting Greece fail is not a bad idea (an idea which is so ludicrous, and so Lehman deja vuish it makes us shudder, and which CS' William Porter wrote his entire February 10 piece "The Flaw" on, an excerpt of which can be found here). This culminated with the following observations by UBS. Ever since then everything Europe has done has been in preparation of an "orderly" Greek default (odd - try as we might we fail to find that section in the MiniCode MiniRules) and all the posturing about Greece saving itself has been beyond a farce. Yet as has been beaten to death, the final outcome won't be certain until March 20, at which point the market may finally grasp the new reality. In the meantime, here is Peter Tchir explaining how Germany just broke up with Greece... via a text message.
While we mock and ridicule the corrupt and often times purposefully obtuse Greek politicians, we often ignore the human cost in the equation (and so does the rest of the world). Unfortunately this is becoming an ever greater issue for a country that is rapidly devolving to sub-3rd world status. Because while we have previously discussed the miserable conditions for a country where ever more people are sliding out of the middle class and into poverty status, in reality it is far worse. Spiegel has profiled the new Misery in Athens where "aid workers and soup kitchens in Athens are struggling to provide for the city's "new poor." Since the economic crisis has taken hold, poverty has taken hold among Greece's middle class. And suicide rates have nearly doubled." Just like in the US, those in misery are growing exponentially, but the last thing anyone needs is a reminder of their existence. Yet perhaps they should, because when the Bastille moment hits, the spark to overthrow tyranny, especially that masking under the guise of democracy, will come precisely from the slums of the impoverished and disenfranchised, from those who have nothing left to lose. In Greece, with 28% of the population living "at risk of poverty or social exclusion" this moment may arrive any second.
Forget the weather, forget AAPL, forget American Idol, forget Greece, forget the Middle East, forget inventories, forget USD strength, forget the SPR, and forget the implicit tax cut we 'received' in Q4 from low gas prices... the average gasoline price in the US was the highest ever for January - is it any wonder that retail sales disappointed? So as we all await the tax-cut extension to pass, perhaps we should remember just how big a chunk of our consumer-spending bias is anchored from the starting point of our energy needs and seasonals will do nothing to help this time, like it did in Q4.
Yes, another indirect Greek headline. Oh well.
- EUROZONE FINANCE MINISTERS UNLIKELY TO MEET IN BRUSSELS ON WEDS AS NOT ALL PAPERWORK ON GREECE IS READY - EU OFFICIALS - RTRS
- EUROZONE FINANCE MINISTERS EXPECTED TO HOLD A CONFERENCE CALL ON SECOND PACKAGE FORE GREECE INSTEAD
At least the dog and the homework were not invoked. yet. March 20 is just 35 days away. After that, it is mercifully over.
If there is one physics rule that the central planners know all about, in their utter disdain of virtually every other natural principle, regression to the mean being the most prominent one, it is the law of communicating vessels. Only instead of water, the central banks use monetary liquidity to achieve equivalency across the various different vessels a/k/a capital shortfall locations. Such as the Spanish financial sector. Think that "Spain is fine"? Look at the chart below and think again. And don't even get us started on Portugal. How long before the residents of Portugal and Spain pull a Greece and withdraw 20% of statutory bank deposits in a year, in the process starting the terminal unwind of these two countries financial cores and putting them on day to day ECB life support? Oh wait, they already have. The chart below, showing Spanish bank borrowings from the ECB, is self-explanatory, even when factored in for "seasonal adjustments."
A few weeks ago, some of the more naive media elements reported that Greece has "all the cards" in its negotiations with private creditors, a topic we had the pleasure of deconstructing in its entirety to its constituent flaws? Well, a day ahead of the February 15 Eurozone meeting at which Greece's fate is finally supposed to be settled, things appear to be quite amiss. As a reminder, a critical part of the Greek debt deal is the private sector's agreement to roll over existing holdings into new bonds, which as we learned may now see the 15 cent per bond sweetener into new EFSF debt reduced. According to the Handelsblatt, that is now off the table. Dow Jones summarizes: "Some central bankers expect that Greece will fail to enlist enough private investors in a voluntary debt restructuring to avoid a technical default, a German newspaper reported Tuesday. Greece is likely to make its case for a voluntary debt swap after a meeting of euro group finance ministers Wednesday, the Handelsblatt newspaper says. The Greek government is seeking to lower its burden by EUR100 billion. Handelsblatt cites unnamed central bank sources as saying the country will fail to achieve that goal, leaving the government little choice but to make the write-down mandatory for investors holding out. Requiring investors to take a loss would prompt credit rating agencies to declare a debt default for Greece, an event with unforeseeable consequences for financial markets. The report doesn't specify whether its sources are with the European Central Bank or with the German Bundesbank. Neither bank would comment early Tuesday." Which of course is not news: after all even the rating agencies have long warned a Greek default is now inevitable, and a CDS trigger will follow. The only thing that there is massive confusion over is whether and how this event will impact everyone else, and whether it will lead to an explusion of Greece from the Eurozone. Optimism is that it is all priced in. So was Lehman.
There had been some hopes for Greece following the Q3 GDP number which slowed the decline in the country's economy when it dropped by just 5%, following drops of 8% and 7.3% in Q1 and Q2. These may have to be doused following a report that Q4 GDP came in at a disappointing -7%. As Athensnews reports: "The country's economic slump is headed towards a record annual plunge close to 7 percent in 2011, the fourth consecutive year of a deepening recession. After an official confirmation by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (Elstat) on Tuesday that GDP dropped 7 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2011, the economy has shrunk by an average of 6.8 percent. The latest quarterly contraction followed a slight slowdown of the depression in the preceding quarter, with GDP shrinking 5 percent due to the customary seasonal surge of tourist revenues in the summer." The full year drop was a record 6.8%, compared to the expected 6% projected in the 2012 budget. No comment there.
While all the focus has been on Greece in recent days, the global nature of the debt crisis came to the fore yesterday and overnight. This was seen in the further desperate measures by the BOJ and Moodys warning that the UK could lose its AAA rating. Some of us have been saying for some years that this was inevitable but markets remain myopic of the risks posed by this. Possibly the greatest risk is that of the appalling US fiscal situation which continues to be downplayed and not analysed appropriately. President Obama unveiled a massive $3.8 trillion budget yesterday and he is to increase Federal spending by 53% to $5.820 trillion by 2022. The US government is projected to spend over $6 trillion a year by 2022. Still bizarrely unaccounted for is the ticking time bomb of unfunded entitlement liabilities - Social Security and Medicare, which Washington continues to deal with by completely ignoring them. While Washington and markets are for now ignoring the fiscal train wreck that is the US. This will change with inevitable and likely extremely negative consequences for markets – particularly US bond markets and for the dollar.
- BOJ Adds to Monetary Easing After Contraction (Bloomberg)
- EU to punish Spain for deficits, inaction (Reuters)
- Obama, China's Xi to tread cautiously in White House talks (Reuters)
- Global suicide 2020: We can’t feed 10 billion (MarketWatch)
- Greece rushes to meet lender demands (Reuters)
- Obama Budget Sets Up Election-Year Tax Fight (Reuters)
- Foreign Outcry Over ‘Volcker Rule’ Plans (FT)
- Moody’s Shifts Outlook for UK and France (FT)
- France to Push On With Trading Tax (FT)
Below are the main overnight catalysts:
- ECB won’t take loss on Greek bond holdings - Benoit Coeure, member of the ECB’s executive board
- European Industrial Output Declines 1.1%, Led by German Slump
- Greece to Cut Ministry Spending for EU325 Million Gap, ANA Says - so... Greek politicians will fire themselves?
- EU spokesman Hughes speaks to reporters in Brussels, Says EU still expects Greece to take ‘certain measures’
- Spanish Banks’ ECB Borrowings Rise to EU133.2 Bln in Jan from 118.9 billion in December
- Banks deposited €510.2 bn with ECB, up from 507.9 bn yesterday
- Central Bankers Doubt Greek PSI Deal, Handelsblatt Reports
- BOJ Governor Says JGB Purchases Not for Financing Government
- Schaeuble Says EU Now Better Prepared Should Greece Default
Even Greek politicians scored higher.
Moody's Downgrades Italy, Spain, Portugal And Others; Puts UK, France On Outlook Negative - Full StatementSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/13/2012 19:00 -0400
You know there is a reason why Europe just came crawling with an advance handout looking for US assistance: Moody's just went apeshit on Europe.
- Austria: outlook on Aaa rating changed to negative
- France: outlook on Aaa rating changed to negative
- Italy: downgraded to A3 from A2, negative outlook
- Malta: downgraded to A3 from A2, negative outlook
- Portugal: downgraded to Ba3 from Ba2, negative outlook
- Slovakia: downgraded to A2 from A1, negative outlook
- Slovenia: downgraded to A2 from A1, negative outlook
- Spain: downgraded to A3 from A1, negative outlook
- United Kingdom: outlook on Aaa rating changed to negative
In other news, we wouldn't want to be the company that insured Moody's Milan offices.
Cue the fireworks in 3...2...1...
- FRIEDEN EUROPEANS CAN'T DO MUCH FOR GREECE BEYOND AGREEMENT - BBG
- FRIEDEN: GREECE NEEDS STRUCTURAL REFORMS, SHORT-TERM FINANCING - BBG
- FRIEDEN: GREECE HAS HISTORY OF PROBLEMS IMPLEMENTING DECISIONS - BBG
- FRIEDEN: GREECE SHOULDN'T BE IN EURO-ZONE IF CONDITIONS NOT MET - BBG
And... drumroll please:
- FRIEDEN SAYS HE WISHES U.S. MORE INVOLVED IN STRENGTHENING IMF - BBG
Translation: Hey America, we've done all we can, now it's your turn to sustain the Ponzi. Because if we go, you go.