I warned on Greece 2 years ago, and it seems to have come to fruition. This is who's next....
Just a week over the last time S&P said Greece would likely default any second, it reminds us once again why we should care.
- GREECE IN ALL LIKELIHOOD WOULD QUALIFY AS A DEFAULT: CHAMBERS
- S&P'S CHAMBERS SAYS IT'S NOT GIVEN THAT GREECE DEFAULT WOULD HAVE DOMINO EFFECT IN THE EURO ZONE
Perhaps just as irrelevant if notable is that S&P basically said just that back on May 9, 2011. As for Greece, it is a given that if the country proceeds with CACs it will default. Period. And yet that is just what will happen. However a far bigger question, as we touched on yesterday, is what happens next, when Portugal decides to follow the same framework of "deleveraging" only to find that courtesy of having strong creditor protection bonds it can't? Or when the Troika figures out that due to strong negative pledges, the country's balance sheet can not be primed and thus subordinated, and thus is ineligible for secured financing. And what happens when Europe realizes that Portugal is ineligible for saving in the conventional sense? Or Spain? and so forth.
Investors are waiting on the outcome of a 2 day Federal Reserve meeting which ends on Wednesday. Here they are following any signs that interest rates will remain low, as that could put pressure on the U.S. dollar. The Tokyo Commodity Exchange, December, gold contracts climbed as high as 4,167 yen/gram, its biggest gain since mid-December. The gains initially propelled cash gold even though trading was slow during the Lunar New Year break. Japan has been notably absent in the gold market in recent years. This may be changing as concerns about the Japanese economy and continuing debasement of the yen may be leading to Japanese diversification into gold. The scale of domestic savings in Japan remains enormous. This would be a new and potentially extremely important source of demand in the gold market which could help contribute to much higher gold prices.
There was a time, about 4 weeks ago, when the overnight session was assumed by default to mean lower futures just because it was "the time of Europe." Then markets took one glimpse at the ECB's balance sheets and realized it had grown by more in 6 months than the Fed's during all of QE2, and decided that the central bank will not let the continent fail, and despite how ugly the European interbank market continues to be, Europe was ironically a source of optimism, no matters how ugly the actual news. In other words, a carbon copy of January 2011. Alas, January 2011 ended, and so is the currency phase of Risk On on everything European. Which explains the shift in overnight sentiment. As Bloomberg explains, the First Word Cross Asset Dashboard shows sentiment retracing from early European session rise, with commodities, FX, equities lower after Greek debt negotiations hit snag, according to Bloomberg analyst TJ Marta. EU finance chiefs balked at private investors’ offer of 4% coupon for new Greek bonds; EU wants lower; IIF’s Charles Dallara to hold press conference at 8:30am EST; EU equity indexes lower, led by OMX -1.6%; U.S. futures moderately lower, led by S&P -0.5%; US$ outperforming on risk aversion; Commodities generally modestly to moderately lower. Finally both Portugal, and thus Spain, are once again back on the radar screen. Only this time the Greek "deleveraging" model will not apply, as Zero hedge first noted, and as MUFJ picked up on in its overnight note: "It would likely be more difficult for “Portugal to restructure its private-sector debt than for Greece,” Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ’s Lee Hardman says, without necessarily noting where he got the idea. A higher share of Portugal’s outstanding debt is governed by English law which offers greater protection to creditors vs 90% of Greek government bonds covered by local law. Finally, Hardman says that Eurozone lacks a credible firewall to ensure contagion from eventual default in Greece. That may be the case until the ECB does some gargantuan LTRO on February 29, as those in the know already expect.
As of Q3 2011, the citizens of less than 20% of the countries involved in Nielsen's Global Consumer Confidence, Concerns, and Spending Intentions Survey were on average confident in their future economic confidence. Not surprisingly, Nic Colas of ConvergEx points out, six were in Asia, the least confident were in Eastern and Peripheral European nations, and furthermore overall global consumer confidence remains 9.3% below 2H 2006 (and 6.4% below Q4 2010) readings as the global economy still has a long way to get its 'mojo' back. Colas points to the fact that 'confidence is an essential lubricant of any capitalist-based system' and one of the key challenges that worst hit Europe (and other regions and nations) face is capital markets that are assessing the long shadow of the Financial Crisis of 2007-2008 and the ongoing European sovereign debt crisis impact on the world's Consumer Confidence.
Remember when Europe was fixed, if only for a few weeks? Those were the times, too bad they are now officially over. EURUSD is back under 1.30 in thin volume because even as we "shockingly" find that, no, Greece did not have the "upper hand" since Greek bondholder negotiations just broke down (and that over the matter of a cash coupon delta between 3.5% and 4.0%, which implicitly means that from a bondholder IRR perspective, when taking a 15 cent EFSF Bill into consideration, the hedge fund community fully expects the country to be in default even post reorg in at about two years). But it is that "other" European country which was recently junked by S&P (causing the 10 year to soar to new records), that is now the focus point of (re)bailout concerns. Reuters reports: "The euro nudges down some 20 pips to $1.2995 in thin, illiquid trade with Tokyo dealers citing renwed fears Portugal may need a second bailout. Undermining the glow of Lisbon's achievements in reforming the country's labour market is the rapidly rising market concern that it is the next potential candidate to default in the euro zone after Greece -- a point that is fast becoming clear as Athens approaches the end of its debt restructuring talks." And here is the paradox: if Greece succeeds in persuading the ad hoc creditors to accept a 3.5% coupon, which it won't absent cramdown and CDS trigger, Portugal will immediately if not sooner proceed with the same steps. There is however, a problem. Unlike Greece, where the bulk, or over 90%, of the bonds are under Local Law, and thus have no bondholder protections (a fact about to be used by Greece to test the legal skills of asset managers who can retain the smartest lawyers in the world and generate par recoveries on their bonds in due course), in a generic Portuguese Euro Medium Term note Programme prospectus we find the following...
One of the funny things about the proposed Greek debt exchange offer is that, at least according to most recent fluid rumor, the cash coupon ceiling on the "post reorg" bonds, as dictated by the European finance ministers, will be 4% (hedge funds want more). So let's assume 3.5% for argument's sake. Perhaps the fact that the cash coupon of the US 30 Year note is roughly the same is somewhat concerning, because call us skeptical but Greek credit quality may be just a little worse than that of America - something which should be obvious to most. Except for European leaders of course. But that's fine - one can define cash coupons to be anything. After all the only thing that matters for bonds is yield, which Greece appears to have forgotten is determined by coupon and price. So since the Greek Debt/GDP will still be over 120% according to another set of rumors (after all, only a small portion of the country's debt is really getting impaired), it is 100% safe to say that in 30 years Greece will still go bankrupt. So let's say it deserves a comparable yield to its current 30 year bonds, which are priced to yield about 23%. We are being a little generous and estimate the fresh start bonds will yield 20% post break. Which means that according to a generic bond yield calc, the price on the fresh start bonds post reorg will be... 17.9 cents of par, or immediate losses of over 80% the second these bonds break for trading from par.
At least they were kind enough to wait until the close:
- EURO ZONE FINANCE MINISTERS REJECT OFFER OF GREEK PSI REACHED WITH PRIVATE BONDHOLDERS, ASK NEGOTIATORS TO CONSIDER COUPON ON NEW GREEK BONDS BELOW 4 PCT-EURO ZONE SOURCES - RTRS
- EURO FALLS VERSUS DOLLAR AFTER EURO ZONE FINANCE MINISTERS REJECT GREEEK PSI OFFER
Translation: Greece demands that the coupon on its fresh start 30 Year bonds to be below 4%, or roughly in line with US 30 year paper. Good luck guys!
But, but, Marathon promised... And making things even worse, here come the long overdue European S&P bank downgrades
- CREDIT LYONNAIS CUT TO A FROM A+ BY S&P
- BNP PARIBAS OUTLOOK NEGATIVE BY S&P; OFF WATCH NEGATIVE :BNP FP
Sarc-o-bot (that's Sarcasm, not Sarakozy) screaming: "This is all priced in. Buy buy buy."
10 Good And Bad Things About The Economy And Rosenberg On Whether This Isn't Still Just A Modern Day DepressionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/23/2012 17:17 -0400
Two things of note in today's Rosie piece. On one hand he breaks out the 10 good and bad things that investors are factoring, and while focusing on the positive, and completely ignoring the negative, are pushing the market to its best start since 1997. As Rosie says: "The equity market has gotten off to its best start in a good 15 years and being led by the deep cyclicals (materials, homebuilders, semiconductors) and financials — last year's woeful laggards (the 50 worst performing stocks in 2011 are up over 10% so far this year; the 50 best are up a mere 2%). Bonds are off to their worst start since 2003 with the 10-year note yield back up to 2%. The S&P 500 is now up 20% from the early October low and just 3.5% away from the April 2011 recovery high (in fact, in euro terms, it has rallied 30% and at its best level since 2007)." Is there anything more to this than precisely the same short-covering spree we saw both in 2010 and 2011? Not really: "This still smacks of a classic short-covering rally as opposed to a broad asset- allocation shift, but there is no doubt that there is plenty of cash on the sidelines and if it gets put to use, this rally could be extended. This by no means suggests a shift in my fundamental views, and keep in mind that we went into 2011 with a similar level of euphoria and hope in place and the uptrend lasted through April before the trap door opened. Remember too that the acute problems in the housing and mortgage market began in early 2007 and yet the equity market did not really appreciate or understand the severity of the situation until we were into October of that year and even then the consensus was one of a 'soft landing'." Finally, Rosie steps back from the noise and focuses on the forest, asking the rhetorical question: "Isn't this still a "modern day depression?" - his answer, and ours - "sure it is."
By his own admission in an interview today with Bloomberg TV, Barton Biggs is "elderly and not as sprite as he used to be" but for our purpose he is perfectly placed. As the almost-perfect contrarian call (bullish into August here and bearish in September here for example) notorious flip-flopper Biggs is now both "terrified he is not long enough" and yet "fears that an apocalyptic end to the Euro could occur within the next 3-6 months". According to Bloomberg, Biggs is net-long around 65% equities and noted he is "terrified I'm too long if the apocalypse is coming in Europe." Yet another canary in the seemingly 'ever-more-full-of-canaries' coal-mine (but now perhaps post OPEX and facing IMF/Greece/IIF reality we will see contrarianism at its best).
So… are stock investors smarter than everyone else… or are they just gunning the market on low volume yet again regardless of reality? We’ll find out this week once we get past the Fed FOMC and Europe’s decision on Greece.
This is not the rumor that the central planning doctor ordered. This time from Dow Jones:
- No Intention By Euro Zone, IMF To Give More Money To Greece, Say Dow Jones Sources -DJ
- Major Greece creditors made clear EUR130 bn bailout loan "won't be increased by a single euro" - DJ
It remains to be clear if Greece will even get the €130 billion loan still, but that is a different story. EURUSD, and stocks, not happy.
As we wait for more IIF announcements about the Greek Private Sector Involvement (PSI), Greek CDS remains bid above 60 points up front. For a contract that is about to be "worthless", this seems to have a lot of value. Why would Greek CDS still be so well bid? Whether it is stubbornness, stupidity, or more simply a reality check on the IIF's negotiating power (just how many bonds do they speak for?) and the future unsustainability of Greek debt anyway, it seems that an impressive immediate exchange of all Greek debt with at least a 50% notional reduction, 30 year maturity, and low coupon is pretty well priced in (away from actual Greek bonds that is). Anything less is likely to disappoint the market as the realization that nothing is fixed sinks in, and that this may not even take near term "hard default" off the table (this PSI is a default no matter how it is spun even if it isn't a Credit Event).
Reuters report that the EU has agreed to freeze the assets of the Iranian central bank and ban all trade in gold and other precious metals with the Iranian Central Bank and other public bodies in Iran. According to IMF data, at the last official count (in 1996), Iran had reserves of just over 168 tonnes of gold. The FT reported in March 2011 that Iran has bought large amounts of bullion on the international market to diversify away from the dollar, citing a senior Bank of England official. Currency wars continue and are deepening. Many Asian markets are closed for the Lunar New Year holiday which has led to lower volumes. Of note was there was an unusual burst of gold futures buying on the TOCOM in Japan, which has helped the cash market to breach resistance at $1,666 an ounce. Investors are also waiting for euro zone finance ministers to decide the terms of a Greek debt restructuring later today. This would be the second bailout package for Greece.