A quick glance at Greece's progress in implementing its austerity measures to placate the EU enough to justify a publicized bailout.
If Greece fails to comply with all of the demands from the rest of the EU, and then experiences a genuine liquidity crisis in April and May, the most obvious next step for the region is to push Greece into the arms of the IMF. The IMF would then provide a program of financial support, with appropriate amounts of conditionality, to give Greece a couple of years to implement the appropriate fiscal adjustment. - JP Morgan
Just because one waves a magic wand and austerity measures appear automatically, with unicorns singing, leprechauns dancing and pissing gold coins, and rainbows shooting out of Joaquin Almunia's... assets. Or not. The much delayed budget cuts which are finally being instituted are causing transportation gridlock with taxicab drivers on strike, multi-hour long lines at gas stations, and as of recently, following the customs union workers' strike, an export plunge of 18%, putting the already frayed economy even more on edge.
This story gets more surreal by the day. First it was the Spanish CIA, and now Greek daily To Vima reports that the Greek National Intelligence Service, instead of focusing on such potentially more pressing issues as who may be bombing various offshore financial offices, or possible Cypriot unrest, is hot on the heels of those who were solely responsible for the Greek bond market collapse: four hedge funds who have had the temerity to buy and sell Credit Default Swaps (or, heaven forbid, GGBs). And they are not doing it alone: French and British intelligence agencies have also joined in the fray, actual people blowing themselves up all over the place be damned. Next up, after the obligatory sov CDS trading ban: selling of government bonds will only be legal during a full lunar eclipse, between the hours of 2:03 am and 2:04 am, when Mercury is in retrograde,and when Joaquin Almunia is not eating spam straight from the trough. In other words never.
David Hawley, an IMF senior advisor, has said that while the fund has previously sent a team to Athens to explore providing technical assistance, it "stands ready to respond positively to requests for future technical assistance." The IMF has so far failed to quantify just how many tens of billions of euros the word "technical" is equivalent to. While this is not precisly news, increasing chatter which includes the words "IMF", "Greece" and "assistance" in the same sentence, can only be preparing the general public for one thing.
Dow Jones reporting that Greece is rumored to be going for broke (no pun and everything) and praying it can place a €5 billion 10 year bond issue next week. Surely, the longer the country delays, the greater the concessions that will be demanded as Greece approaches the April/May funding crunch. Yet coming to market too early and experiencing a failed auction would be just the catalyst the bond vigilantes need to go viral. And it is not exactly as if there will be a scarcity of supply in Europe as we pointed out previously: Portugal is expected to sell €1 billion in 5 year bonds next Wednesday, followed by a major auction in the next crisis epicenter, Italy.
Nobel-winning Columbia professor Robert Mundell, considered the "father of the euro" provides some biased views on his creation, and how it is impacted by Greece (spoiler alert: this will only make the EMU stronger). To be sure, he sees no risks of Greece spillover into the broader eurozone, and in fact is calling for the adoption of the euro by Britain. Probably not worth holding your breath on that one. What he does highlights is that Greece is not the powderkeg - Italy is. This is inline with Bank of America and others' warning that the biggest concern in the eurozone crisis is indeed the Boot. "I think it would be very difficult to bail Italy out. I think we have to make sure that whatever is being done to Greece, and possibly to Portugal and maybe Ireland has to also save Italy. Italy has got to be worried...Right now I think they should let the euro ever, for the next 10 years, rise above $1.40." We are confidence Bernanke and Shirakawa will miss that particular memo.
Love him or hate him, Putin sets the record straight. While the media's attention remains on the Greek fiscal crisis, the bigger debt crisis is in the US, and the world is starting to take notice.
16:58 02/15 EU JUNCKER: WON'T SPECULATE ON INSTRUMENTS TO HELP GREECE
16:59 02/15 EU JUNCKER: NOT WISE TO PUBLICLY DISCUSS SPECIFIC AID TO GREECE
17:01 02/15 EU JUNCKER: GREECE WILL NOT BE LEFT TO MERCY OF MARKETS
16:46 02/15 EU JUNCKER: WE WILL RETURN TO THE GREECE TOPIC IN MID-MARCH
16:42 02/15 EU JUNCKER: GREECE NEW MEASURES ON MAR 16 IF RISKS MATERIALIZE
16:40 02/15 EU JUNCKER: GREECE SHALL ANNOUNCE ADDITIONAL MEASURES MARCH 16
17:01 02/15 EU JUNCKER: WE ARE DOING ALL WE CAN ON GREECE
16:47 02/15 EU JUNCKER: IT IS UP TO GREECE TO CUT ITS BUDGET DEFICIT
and the ever ready:
16:47 02/15 EU JUNCKER: EUROZONE STANDS READY TO ACT IF GREECE NEEDS
Uhm, they need it bud. Like yesterday.
Translation: "Translation: "that whole "bail out" thing... we were keeeeeding. Oh, but don't short Greece. That's not cool. You see we all have our collective head up our collective behind and we think it will all sort itself out if we just keep on doing nothing."
The media world is aflutter with recent revelations that Goldman may have facilitated Greece in creating an SPV that "rebalanced" budget payments via an interest rate swap arrangement, which the NYT describes as "a currency trade rather than a loan, [which] helped Athens meet Europe’s deficit rules while continuing to spend beyond its means." For those curious to get a much more detailed perspective on the mechanics of not just this, but a comparable Goldman-facilitated transaction, we suggest the following article in Risk Magazine, which focuses on a similar prior deal completed over six years ago. Yet we are fairly confident that all this barrage of information is merely a Houdini distraction act: the prospectus of the February 2009 securitization deal clearly delineates the mechanics of the deal; it was full public knowledge. Of course, a Europe gripped by sudden chaos due to their aggressive and quick "bail out" response with no regard for public backlash, is now taking full advantage of this recent "discovery" to make it seem that Greece and Goldman were hiding even more information: Bloomberg reports that "Greece was ordered by European Union regulators to disclose details of currency swaps it may have used to deal with the debts that threaten to swamp its economy." Germany's CDU has gone one step further and claims that the "Goldman deal broke the spirit of Euro rules." Alas, this is nothing but more scapegoating while Europe tries to find its bearings and, if possible, back out of the bail out while finding more pretexts to throw Greece out of the euro zone entirely. If it takes a Goldman smear campaign, so be it.
However, where the rub truly lies, and where things for Greece may get very hairy fairly quick, is in the interplay between the rating agencies and the rating of the Goldman underwritten swap agreement securitization SPV known better as Titlos PLC. As one recalls, it was precisely the rating agencies that were the proximal catalyst that started the collateral call cascade that ultimately resulted in AIG's failure and subsequent bailout (ignoring for a moment the pent up toxicity on AIG's books: both AIG then, and Greece now, are in deplorable shape: the question is what will bring it all to the surface). So here are some recent facts: On December 23, 2009, Moody's downgraded Titlos, following the prior day's downgrade of Greece itself from A1 to A2 with a negative outlook. Fact: last week Moody's said it could further downgrade Greece to Baa1. Fact: the Titlos PLC rating mirrors that of Greece itself. Fact: according to Moody's "Framework for De-Linking Hedge Counterparty Risks from Global Structured Finance Cashflow Transactions Moody's Methodology" a counterparty can enter into a hedge transaction with an SPV and continue to participate in that transaction without collateralizing its obligations so long as it maintains a long-term senior unsecured rating of at least A2. When (not if) Titlos is downgraded again, and its rating drops below the A2 collateralization threshold, look for AIG's margin call driven liquidity crisis escalation from the fall of 2008 to spread to Greece. And that's not all. The Titlos SPV itself may be null and void should the rating of the National Bank of Greece, as the Hedge Provider, drop below a "relevant rating" as defined in the hedge agreement. Should Greece then be forced, at Titlos' option, to unwind the swap agreement, and be forced to cash out to the tune of €5.4 billion (net of the 107.54 issuance price), look for all hell to break loose.
Albert Edwards: At 500% Net Liabilities To GDP, It Is Too Late To Prevent The Collapse Of The G-7; Greece Is Irrelevant, We Are All Now InsolventSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/12/2010 11:52 -0400
For Greece, with on and off balance sheet liabilities at over 800%, it's game over. For the Eurozone, with the same ratio at about 500%, it is also game over. For the US, at 500%+, it is, you guessed it (sorry Joseph Stiglitz), game over, but since we have the printers, it will simply take a little longer. Following up on yesterday's popular post on prevailing delusions as captured by Albert Edwards' colleague Dylan Grice, we present Albert's latest outlook. Please don't read this if you want to keep believing there is any hope left for the (developed) world.
Pimco's Michael Gomez, who recently shared the floor with Hugh Hendry, Marc Faber and Nassim Taleb, and who was likely the key voice in Pimco's recent decision to accumulate German Bunds, shares insights on the euro, Greece and new investment opportunities. Based on this Bloomberg TV interview, it is likely that PIMCO will soon be accumulating a variety of Polish and Brazilian sovereign bonds, as well as corporate bonds in Brazil, Mexico and Russia, with an emphasis on the first. With tens of billions in dry powder, PIMCO will likely have an increasingly risky EM exposure as it departs from its traditional MBS/UST portfolio.
EU Announces Immediate And Highly Indeterminate "Action" To Be Taken On Greece, No Disclosure What It IsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/11/2010 09:04 -0400
The non-bailout bailout is here. Or is it? They really should have used Larry Summers. Van Rompuy says "determined and coordinated action if needed" will be provided. Uh, it is needed. But what is the deal? And what are the details? Greek 2s10s 40 bps steeper to +93 bps as 2 Year trades 56 bps lower to 4.97%.
As just stated, the action of the last four trading days presents a few challenges. One scenario suggests that the rescue rally runs out of steam today or tomorrow. It then could reverse sharply to the downside, retesting or penetrating Friday’s intra-day lows.
A second scenario suggests that the rally hangs on, consolidating as it again tests the 1105/1110 area. There are also a variety of chart patterns that may be forming. The S&P looks to have a budding head and shoulders showing up on the napkins. Robert McHugh sees a potentially ominous wedge topping formation in the S&P. For today, the napkins suggest resistance in the S&P sits at 1083/1088 and then 1094/1099. Support looks like 1058/1063." - Art Cashin
Goldman is not making any friends today (to be expected - Greece likely does not need Goldman's creative swap accounting anymore - after all, they (Greece, not Goldman) are bankrupt right? Why else would they need a bailout). Earlier we first reported about Goldman's novel read of the "revised" Greek budget. It appears Greece is not too happy with this and is already blaming Goldman for data misinterpretation. We await Erik Nielsen's mea culpa.