Many still fail to understand the typical Wall Street bank business model! I have laid it bare in BoomBustBlog many a time, which is probably the reason why my blog is banned from more than half of the big bank intranets!!!
Greece as the Davie in David & Goliath: A video tale
One in a series of financial discussions of a more conversational nature.
Greek "Voluntary" Restructuring On Verge Of Collapse As Hedge Fund Vega Threatens To Sue Greece For Excessive HaircutSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/21/2011 16:03 -0400
Back in June, which now seems like a lifetime ago, we wrote an article titled: "A Few Good Hedge Funds May Have Called The ECB's Bluff, And Hold The Future Of The EUR Hostage" in which we discussed the weakest link in the Eurozone bailout and in which we warned, rather prophetically as it turns out, "that not only is Bailout #2 in jeopardy of not passing the Greek parliament, but that we may suddenly find ourselves in the biggest "activist" investor drama, in which voluntary restructuring "hold out" hedge funds will settle for Cheapest to Delivery or else demand a trillion pounds of flesh from the ECB in order to keep the eurozone afloat. In other words, the drama is about to get very, very real. And, most ironically, a tiny David is about to flip the scales on the mammoth Goliath of the ECB and hold the entire European experiment hostage..." Why prophetic? Because the FT has just reported that "One of the most prominent hedge funds holding Greek bonds has threatened legal action against officials negotiating the country’s debt restructuring if losses are too deep, raising a hurdle to eurozone leaders’ hopes of quickly reducing the country’s debt levels." Well, Vega may not be quite the David we envisioned but it will do. The bottom line is that the weakest link in the Eurozone rescue, precisely the one we predicted over six months ago, has now been exposed. We fully expect other "activist" funds to be buying up or have already bought up the debt of the other PIIGS, and hold the future of the Eurozone ransom for the princely sum of 1 million dollars.... Or realistically, much, much more. Oh, and so much for ISDA's carefully conceived plan of a "voluntary" restructuring - should Vega proceed to indeed sue Greece it is game over for the worst laid plan of mice and corrupt derivatives organizations.
As expected banks couldn't agree to a haircut. Now Greece, the EU, the IMF, and taxpayers, will pay out about about $11 billion of principal and interest before the end of the year. I don't know who holds the bonds maturing this year, but some of that money is probably finding its way into banks that survive solely on the grace of central bank funding. Why would any bank agree to a haircut when they are getting unlimited virtually free funding on the one hand, and the Troika has shown zero willingness to stand its ground and force a default?
Vice President Joe Biden, now best known for being the man who relies primarily on Jon Corzine for financial advice, continued his recent roll of epic linguistic blunders this morning. As Reuters reports, the VP, "joked during a visit to debt-choked Athens on Monday about bringing money to help Greece out of its deepest financial crisis in decades. Introducing a member of his delegation during a meeting with Greek President Karolos Papoulias, Biden said: "This man represents the Treasury department. He's brought hundreds of millions of dollars." His comments drew laughs from both the Greek and U.S. delegations." It is unclear if the Greeks laughed because the noted number was orders of magnitude less than what would be needed to actually put a dent in the Greek fast-motion train wreck, or because everyone was waiting to see what the American taxpayer's response would be to learn that while America is hopelessly locked in gridlock of releasing more cash to that country's middle class, the US Treasury is quite happy to disburse taxpayer funding to Greece. We are holding out breath to find out.
There is a Bloomberg story out there stating that the debt negotiations are “complex”. So long as the TROIKA keeps making the payments, the banks have no reason to reach a settlement, particularly on their shorter dated paper. In fact, given the movements in the Greek CDS-Cash basis, we wonder how much debt is even held by banks? The daily dialogue that some sort of bailout and some sort of solution and some central bank action seems to be churning along, but the Greek haircut will ultimately have to be dealt with and we don’t see how it is accomplished without a failure to pay and involves all bond holders. Some holders may receive preferential offers (ECB and Greek Institutions) but avoiding a honest to goodness failure to pay seems impossible, and avoiding the writedowns altogether also seems impossible.
Former IMF Employee And Greek Statistics Head Faces Life In Prison If Found Guilty Of Making Greece Look UglierSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/27/2011 18:30 -0400
A few months ago we reported that unlike in any other Banana Republic, where the natural bias is to fudge one's numbers higher to make the economy look better and get the stock market to rise, in Greece even the traditional banana metrics are upside down. To wit: "Greek newspaper Eleftherotypia reports that according to a just terminated member of the Greek Statistical Authority, Greece artificially misrepresented its 2009 15.4% deficit number to Eurostat in order to obtain aid from the EU and IMF." Sure enough, two months later even this absolutely bizarre story has been confirmed. The FT reports that "The head of Elstat, Greece’s new independent statistics agency, faces an official criminal investigation for allegedly inflating the scale of the country’s fiscal crisis and acting against the Greek national interest." Not surprisingly, the man who allegedly cooked the books is none other than a 20 year former IMF employee: precisely the kind of guy who knows just what buttons to push to get the US-funded organization to dole out capital. "Andreas Georgiou, who worked at the International Monetary Fund for 20 years, was appointed in 2010 by agreement with the fund and the European Commission to clean up Greek statistics after years of official fudging by the finance ministry." And just because someone needs to be made a scapegoat, if convicted Georgiou may face the same sentence as Madoff: "Mr Georgiou is due to appear before Greece’s prosecutor for financial crime on December 12 to answer the charges. If convicted of “betraying the country’s interests”, he could face life imprisonment." Well, that's fine: the man should rot in hell for not learning that "minus" is not really "plus" - surely no greater ex-capital punishment crime exists. Yet we wonder - will the same life sentence follow all those others who are found to have betrayed their countries interest and inflated numbers higher thus not getting US taxpayer-funded bailouts? Because when it comes to Europe, it is now every many for himself (as the soon to be faded rumor du jour of a €600 billion IMF-funded bailout of Italy confirms)... all the way to Joe Sixpack's wallet.
Based on its debt maturation cycle I expect we’ll see an Italian default within the next six months. Indeed, no matter what happens with Greece, Italy will make sure that the EU in its current form no longer exists within the next year.
Harvard University Professor Martin Feldstein, who predicted in 1998 that the euro would prove an “economic liability,” said the single currency will survive for now, even as he bets Greece quits within a year.
“With the exception of Greece leaving, I don’t think the whole thing is going to fall apart anytime soon,” Feldstein said in a Nov. 14 telephone interview. “The Greek situation is impossible.”
There's that name again: BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, and the firm that was forced to deny last Wednesday it is in any trouble courtesy of accumulating unknown amounts of Italian bonds (how about a nice little Cusip list there Rick Reider?), just made the news following a report in Reuters that the firm anticipates massive haircuts in 3 of the 5 PIIGS. From Reuters: "Debt restructuring in Greece, Portugal and Ireland with write-downs for private creditors of 75 percent to 80 percent are needed to help stop Europe's debt crisis turning into a global meltdown, said BlackRock, one of the world's largest asset managers. "Governments are falling, bond yields are zig-zagging by whole percentage points and markets around the world are locking up: the euro zone turmoil risks turning into a global crisis," BlackRock said in a research note on Monday." So, let's see: Greece, Portugal and Ireland... But not Italy of course? The country that has the second largest amount of debt in Europe is somehow excluded from a very conflicted BlackRock's "objective" analysis. Why is that? "BlackRock also said the European Central Bank should buy more bonds and that policymakers should provide more details on the rescue fund and implement fiscal discipline without hurting growth, according to the note." Is BlackRock betting the farm that the ECB will bail it out? That didn't work too well for MF... Seriously, Rick, some CUSIP level breakdown of your Italian exposure would be terrific. Even if it is at the "net" level. We can wait. So can the market.
Germany makes contingency plans to deal with the fallout from the debt crisis.
Euro And Futures Slide As Schaeuble Admits Germany Faces Potential Further Costs From Greece FalloutSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/08/2011 00:40 -0400
EURUSD and US equity futures slid lower this evening as late day exuberance leaked away. This was then accelerated briefly by comments from Germany's FinMin Schaeuble in a German newspaper that Germany faces additional costs should Greece go bankrupt or bondholders face a larger write-down on GGBs. Bloomberg notes the comments suggest additional costs potentially amounting to billions stemming from losses at WestLB and Hypo RE. While this seems like a 'worse-not-worst' case scenario concern, it does suggest that even the venerable Germans do not see the EU Summit (10/26) solution as the endgame in the charade of European sovereign debt and politics.
The G-20 expected relaxed photo ops, handshakes, and fancy dinners, interrupted by rubber stamping the Grand Plan of bailing out Greece, bondholders, and banks. But then Papandreou fired his bazooka....
Ah the old "destroying the universe" ploy.