Greece

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EU's Poorest Member Country Smacks Down Euro As Bulgaria Refuses To Join Eurozone





If one needs a shining example of why the days of Europe's artificial currency are numbered, look no further than the EU's poorest country which moments ago said "Ne Mersi" to the Eurozone and the European currency. From the WSJ: "Bulgaria, the European Union's poorest member state and a rare fiscal bright spot for the bloc, has indefinitely frozen long-held plans to adopt the single currency, marking the latest fiscally prudent country to cool its enthusiasm for the embattled currency. Speaking in interviews in Sofia, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Finance Minister Simeon Djankov said that the decision to shelve plans to join the currency area, a longtime strategic aim of successive governments in the former communist state, came in response to deteriorating economic conditions and rising uncertainty over the prospects of the bloc, alongside a decisive shift of public opinion in Bulgaria, which is entering its third year of an austerity program. "The momentum has shifted in our thinking and among the public…Right now, I don't see any benefits of entering the euro zone, only costs," Mr. Djankov said. "The public rightly wants to know who would we have to bailout when we join? It's too risky for us and it's also not certain what the rules are and what are they likely to be in one year or two."

 
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Carpe Diem, Quam Minimum Credula Postero





Tomorrow the Battle of Frankfurt begins. Make no mistake in your thinking as America ends its holiday weekend; it will be a battle and there will be bodies littering the field of engagement. Spain and the rest have aims, plans, schemes if not hopes and ambitions in direct opposition to Germany and her side. The outcomes prayed for are a demand for money and a resistance to those demands.  The pleas of Spain are about to be answered; first from the ECB and then from Germany’s acceptance or rejection of the Draghi plan. The “Game of Muddle” will be ended and real answers to real insistences will be given. It all comes down to this; money and how much of it and under what circumstances and whether the nations with capital are willing to hand it to their neighbors and watch their credit ratings, their own cost of funding, their standards of living decline to a mean for all of Europe.

 
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Frontrunning: September 3





  • Germans write off Greece, says poll (FT) - Only a quarter of Germans think Greece should stay in the eurozone
  • As predicted here two months ago: ECB chief and Spanish PM on collision course (FT)
  • Gold Wagers Jump To 5-Month High As Fed Spurs Rally (Bloomberg)
  • Euro zone factories faltering as core crumbles (Reuters)
  • Those who expected more China easing, beware: PBOC Has No Short Term Intention for Loose Money Policy (Financial Market News)
  • French jobless tops three million, minister says (AFP)
  • Spain Leads Europe’s $25 Billion Gamble Before ECB (Bloomberg)
  • US investor is Ireland’s biggest creditor (FT)
  • Draghi May See Silver Lining In Disappointing Investors (Bloomberg)
  • China's steel traders expose banks' bad debts (Reuters)
  • NY probes private equity tax strategy  (FT)
 
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Spain: For Whom The Bell Now Tolls





To use the analogy offered by Senor Cervantes we would say that Rodrigo, as representing Spain, is about to be devoured by the snakes. The central bank of Spain just released the net capital outflow numbers and they are disastrous. During the month of June alone $70.90 billion left the Spanish banks and in July it was worse at $92.88 billion which is 4.7% of total bank deposits in Spain. For the first seven months of the year the outflow adds up to $368.80 billion or 17.7% of the total bank deposits of Spain and the trajectory of the outflow is increasing dramatically. Reality is reality and Spain is experiencing a full-fledged run on its banks whether anyone in Europe wants to admit it or not. We are now at the virtual epicenter of the European Crisis where decisions will have to be made; avoidance is no longer possible. We have reached the end of the road where there is no more path left for can kicking.

 
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September Arrives, As Does The French "Dexia Moment" - France Nationalizes Its Second Largest Mortgage Lender





September has arrived which means for Europe reality can, mercifully, return. First on the agenda: moments ago the French government suddenly announced the nationalization of troubled mortgage lender Credit Immobilier de France, which is also the country's second lagrest mortgage specialist after an attempt to find a buyer for the company failed. "To allow the CIF group to respect its overall commitments, the state decided to respond favourably to its request to grant it a guarantee," Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said according to Reuters. What he really meant was that in order to avoid a bank run following the realization that the housing crisis has finally come home, his boss, socialist Hollande, has decided to renege on his core campaign promise, and bail out an "evil, evil" bank. Sadly, while the nationalization was predicted by us long ago, the reality is that the French government waited too long with the sale, which prompted the Moody's downgrade of CIF by 3 notches earlier this week, which in turn was the catalyst that made any delay in the nationalization inevitable. The alternative: fears that one of the key players in the French mortgage house of cards was effectively insolvent would spread like wildfire, leading to disastrous consequences for the banking system. End result: congratulations France: your Fannie/Freddie-Dexia moment has finally arrived, and the score, naturally: bankers 1 - taxpayers 0.

 
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Europe's Scariest Chart... Got Scarier





While the general level of unemployment in Europe is rising in a scary enough way (more detail here), the one really concerning data point has gone from bad to worse. When we last looked at youth unemployment in Europe, things were stabilizing a little, though at extremely lofty levels. With the release of July's data, the situation has deteriorated rapidly; Euro-Zone youth unemployment hs now ticked back up to its euro-era record-high of 22.6% (18-year highs). Only Portugal saw an improvement is the rate of unemployment among the Under-25 age group (from 37.6% to 36.4%) though it remains anarchically high. Italy was the hardest hit, back above 35% with its largest rise in youth joblessness in 5 months, Ireland rose back above 30% for its biggest rise in 11 months as France jumped to two-year highs and Spain and Greece are practically deadlocked with ~53% of their younger-generation out of work - new all-time records. Why do we worry? Why is this so scary? Two reasons - this and this.

 
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Relying Upon The European Numbers





We fear that the data given to us by Europe is erroneous. The resident institutions in the world where one thinks that accurate data may be found for Europe are Eurostat and the Bank for International Settlements. Spain and her official admission of "dynamic provisioning" has raised all kinds of questions in our mind and has unsettled our belief in the data provided by Europe. It is now quite apparent that the numbers for all of the Spanish banks, are inaccurate. It may well be that the EU or the ECB could bury what may be found but it would be awfully tough for the IMF to hide any material breaches. Even when considering the IMF however, certain questions are raised. Their projections for Europe and each and every country in Europe have been wrong, dead wrong and far too optimistic. This then would explain why Europe is in such trouble because if the data is not truthful then the truth, as most often happens, leaks out from underneath that which is hidden and provides the outcomes that the Europeans have tried so hard to avoid. Whatever the real numbers are, they are providing the consequences that result from their actuality.

 
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Overnight Recap And Today's Key Events





Following a series of bad economic news (Eurozone unemployment, rising inflation, plunging retail sales in Germany, Spain and Greece) out of Europe, and the usual sound and fury out of the ECB signifying nothing (was there finally news that Weidmann and/or the Buba are endorsing anything Draghi is doing - instead of seeking to potentially quit his post leaving the ECB in limbo? No? Then stop flashing red headlines which are completely irrelevant), the EURUSD has decided to go on its usual countersensical stop hunt higher in hopes an algo or two will push it even higher on nothing but momentum, with has one purpose only: to allow the pair enough of a buffer so that when it does fall after the J-Hole disappointment, it has more room to drop. And as European newsflow fades into the periphery, everyone is once again focusing on Wyoming where Bernanke is now broadly expected to do absolutely nothing. What else are market participants focusing on? Here is the full ist courtesy of Bloomberg daybook.

 
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Stagflation: Eurozone Unemployment Hits Record High As Inflation Rises Above Expectations





In July European unemployment rose to 11.3% - a record post-Euro rate, and the highest since 1990 for the constituent countries. While this was in line with estimates, what surprised the market, and has sent the EUR paradoxically higher (paradoxically, because all a continent in stagflation, which Europe by now most certainly is, is to have its currency rise just when it needs to export more goods, in the process entrentching its economic plight even further) is that inflation in August picked up from 2.4% to 2.6%, beating expectations of a 2.5% increase, allowing the European misery index to stand head and shoulders above the rest of the world.

 
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Bundesbank's Weidmann Wanted To Resign Last Week, Bild Reports; Is Goldman's "Ambassador" To Germany In Play?





Confirming that the ECB soap opera must go on, German Bild reports overnight that Bundesbank head, and most vocal critic of Goldman's pro-inflationary European policy, conducted by the firm's Italian alum Mario Draghi, last week considered joining other such German luminaires as Axel Weber and Jurgen Stark in following the red Egress signs at the Bundesbank headquarters, ironically located in downtown Frankfurt. From Bild: "In recent weeks, Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann has repeatedly seriously considered his resignation." Citing unnamed sources, which is merely a polite way of denying the other side's just as credible "unnamed sources", Bild says Weidmann discussed the possible resignation with the Bundesbank's board. Bild condludes that Weidmann has decided against resignation for now because hwants to fight against the ECB’s bond-purchasing program at next week’s meeting, and that the German government has urged Weidmann to remain in post. In other words, just as has been expected all along Merkel may say this, or that, but in the end she will adamantly fight Goldman and its inflation spreading tentacles in Europe as long as she has to (with recent German data of accelerating inflation and unemployment merely helping her cause).

 
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Guest Post: The End Of ECB Rate Cuts Or Draghi Against Weidmann To Be Continued...





Even in the unlikely case of a fiscal union, the conflict “Draghi against Weidmann”, between the ECB and the Bundesbank will continue for years. The ECB mandate and many european inflation figures do not allow for excessive ECB rate cuts or for state financing via the printing press, but Draghi wants to help his struggling home country.

 
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Negative Euro Headlines Are Back Sending EURUSD And Its Derivative, S&P500 To Day's Lows





As the Dow crosses 13000 and S&P crosses 1400 - the wrong way - the noise from Europe is picking up:

*IMF SAYS IMPLEMENTING MEASURES A `MAJOR CHALLENGE' FOR GREECE
*IMF: No Request From Spain For IMF Financial Help
*SLOVAK PREMIER FICO SEES 5O% CHANCE OF EURO AREA BREAKUP

Bah, what does the Slovak premier know: it is not like he is a member of the Eurozone. Oh wait...

EURUSD has fallen 50pips from its intraday highs; Spain 10Y (+19bps to 525bps) is at 3-week wides.

 
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Germany Is Cornered





Several recent releases of data bring the problem into focus; a sharp focus. In Germany, once thought to be almost invincible and somehow outside the recession that is raging in Europe, the crisis is just beginning - but it is clearly indicated by the newest data which shows that Germany has begun the descent down the rabbit hole with the rest of its brethren. Germany is now trapped; having lost control of the situation - first by the way the game has been played; and second by the limitations of her capital. We suspect you will soon find a politician in Germany who is opposed to the policies of Ms. Merkel and who will rise to power based upon "Germany for the Germans". All of this is also defined by a very warped time-line. The problems are now, the recession is now, the economic difficulties are now and the solutions that have been proposed are one to three years out. Germany is in the box and we are afraid that it is now Frau Pandora and not Frau Merkel who owns the key.

 
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Overnight Sentiment And Key Events





Unlike the last two weeks, overnight sentiment for once can not be simply described as zombified, as there has been a decidedly negative undertone to risk, first in Asia, then in Europe, and finally in the US, accompanying the stealthy climb in the VIX which from a 13 handle a few days ago has quietly crept to 17. Will the market, finally realizing Bernanke will not say anything groundbreaking tomorrow, sell off just in time for J-Hole, or will the mysterious buying force-cum-Knight Algo reappear at one or more inflection points and push stocks to unchanged or green on the day. Find out in 9 hours. As for the key events of the past several hours, here is Bloomberg's dealbook summary of all the news that's fit to copy and paste.

 
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The "China Bails Out Europe" Rumor Is Back





It's been a while since the ridiculous "China bails out Europe" rumor made the scene: in fact, the last time we can find with definitive confirmation was back in September of 2011, just before the bottom fell out of Europe, and when the FT, based on "anonymous sources" tripped over itself to report that "[insert European country] is in talks with China to buy bonds, assets." Sure enough, now that Merkel came, and saw, but hardly conquered Beijing, it is the turn of China's Wen Jiabao to add his 10 pips to the EURUSD rumormill: Reuters reports: "China is prepared to buy more EU government bonds amid a worsening European debt crisis that is dragging on the world economy, Premier Wen Jiabao said, in the strongest sign of support for its biggest trading partner in months." Naturally, considering how often this rumor (re)appeared in the past it will be excusable if nobody but the dumbest vacuum tubes fall for it this time, especially considering that the Chinese economy itself is going down in flames faster than the October Iron Ore contract. And lest there be any confusion, China's commitment is about as definitive as a Best Buy LBO "preunderwritten" with a Jefferies highly confident letter: "China is willing, on condition of fully evaluating the risks, to continue to invest in the euro zone sovereign debt market, and strengthen communication and discussion with the European Union, the European Central Bank the IMF and other key countries to support the indebted euro zone countries in overcoming hardships," [Wen] said after meeting Merkel." Ah, conditional aid. The kind that gets Mario Monti to break out the petulant ex-Goldman child act and refuse to leave the Belgian catered dining room until the beggees succumb to his technocratic platitudes. Needless to say, we'll believe China's "continued" investment in Europe when we see it.

 
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