Some may accuse us of simply recycling the same post over and over, with pictures of what appears like periodic violent rioting in Athens. Trust us: these are brand new, and the main reason why there is a seemingly massive media blackout of the events in Greece is because the journalists themselves are on strike. Luckily, the WSJ has compiled the following selection of pictures showing just how ugly the reality in an otherwise civilized European country has become. And since much of the proposed next round of austerity spending cuts would come from reducing wage costs in the public sector, cuts in operating expenses at state-owned enterprises, and reduced defense and health-care spending, the vicious cycle of more violent demonstrations will continue as even more cuts are implemented.
Greece Stages Another 24 Hour Strike (Complete With Teargas) As European Officials Arrive To Enhance Austerity: Live Webcam From Constitution SquareSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/11/2011 06:33 -0500
On the one year anniversary of its first bailout, things in Europe's basket case are getting much worse once again. Even as senior EU and IMF inspectors arrived in Athens on Wednesday to press Greece to shore up its finances, workers walked off the job to protest against austerity-induced recession, culminating in a 24 hour strike which sees both airports and journalists taking a break from hard work. Oddly ironic this: the "bankers" arrive to make austerity even more aggressive (so there is more value left over to senior bondholders when the bankruptcy commences), just as the country experiences a deja vu moment of strikers on one side and teargas lobbing policemen on the other. Those who wish to follow the protests live, which so far the mainstream media has refused to show, can do so here.
Gold and silver have extended their recovery and may be headed for the fourth day of gains due to the continuing European sovereign debt crisis, Chinese inflation (+5.3%) and the real risk that rising oil and commodity prices are leading to an inflation spiral internationally and stagflation. German inflation data this morning was worse than expected jumping to 2.7% from 2.3% due to surging energy costs and despite recent strength in the euro. This has led to the euro falling against all currencies and especially against gold. The precious metals are likely to be supported later today when US trade deficit data is expected to be poor with still high oil prices leading to a very large expected deficit of $47.7 billion. This should see the dollar come under pressure and support gold. Stagflation or low economic growth, high unemployment and rising inflation is a clear and present danger to the UK, EU and U.S. economies and other economies internationally. This is especially the case in the UK where house prices have begun to fall again and may be set for sharp falls. Internationally, we are seeing significant debt deflation where the value of goods and assets bought with debt are falling (cars, property etc) while the value of finite, essential goods such as food and energy are rising. Safe haven and inflation hedging diversification into gold is likely to continue as inflation is deepening and there is a distinct whiff of stagflation in the air. It is too early to tell whether the recent sell off is over and a further correction is possible however global macroeconomic conditions suggest that gold and silver bull markets are very much intact. This is especially the case due to continuing Asian demand with gold again being bought on all dips in China, India and the rest of Asia.
Equities outperformed credit today, prompting a re-entry in our relative-value ETF position but while indices show improvement, rotation across sectors, quality cohorts, and capital structures suggest risk appetite is sorely lacking.
When you wonder what kind if idiots would be buying 10-year notes at 3% when a gallon of gas was $1.40 ten years ago and now $4 - that idiot is you.
With so much of the attention once again focused on Europe's periphery (which somehow the efficient market could not be bothered with for about 4 months, even though it was all there, staring people in the face all along), it may be time to recall the Europe's core is just as troubled as everything else. Some may recall that back on December 14, S&P came out with a bit of a stunner (which in retrospect looks rather tame following the now forgotten warning on the US Debt): "And so European contagion is back as S&P, now clearly with a mandate
to remind that Europe is in a heap of trouble every month or so, puts Belgium on Outlook negative, saying that it is basically just a matter of time before the country loses its AA+ rating. The bogey: 6 months, which likely means that around May of next year, just like a year prior, we will see the same fireworks out of Europe, only this time not from Greece, but from the very heart of what is left of a solvent continent. "If Belgium fails to form a government soon, a downgrade could occur, potentially within six months. Should a government be formed but is, in our opinion, ineffective in its fiscal stance or devolution, we are likely to consider rating action within two years." Well, it is now 6 months later, and Belgium still has no government. Time to pull the switch?
SocGen provides a very informative chart on the dramatic dislocation between the EURUSD and PIIGS risk levels, as demonstrated by Greek CDS prices. Whereas in the past the two correlated very strongly, since early 2011, the pair has diverged dramatically, leading many to speculate that just like in the case of Japan, the G-7 did another coordinate intervention to push the EUR higher in 2011 at the expense of the USD and other currencies. Is it time for a "correlated" snapback? SocGen muses: "After reaching a 17-month historical high of 1.4940 last Wednesday, the EUR/USD fell towards 1.4250. The risk of a further drop cannot be excluded short term given today’s climate, even though the 1.4250 support zone appears solid (50-day moving average) and breaking through this level would open the door to a rate of 1.4000."
Goldman on Greece: "We do not see a ‘haircut’ as a viable solution, particularly at this juncture, for a number of reasons: 1. The risk of potential financial ramifications (‘domino effects’) seem too large; 2. the level of debt that is sustainable will be guesswork until growth has stabilized and a primary surplus achieved; 3. the incentives for pursuing adjustment (in Greece and elsewhere) may wane if the debt stock is aggressively reduced; 4. finally, private-sector funding is unlikely to flow back at sustainable levels any earlier than under the current approach of conditional financial support....We still do not expect to see sovereign liability management exercises in Ireland and Portugal. Bonds in these two sovereigns will, however, likely remain subject to higher volatility, reflecting decisions taken on Greece in coming weeks, in addition to local events (e.g., the Portuguese elections, approval of the support package, etc.)."
- Eurozone gesteht Athen weitere Milliarden zu (Handelsblatt) always remember: German is the official language of the Weimar Republic
- Japan's Prime Minister to give up salary until nuclear crisis over (CNN), while Tim Geithner will give up nothing until debt ceiling crisis solved
- Mississippi crests in Memphis at nearly 48 feet (AP)
- New Greek Deal Possible by June (WSJ)
- Merkel Says No Aid Decisions Until Greek Assessment Reports (Bloomberg)
- Japan Unlikely to Get In Yen's Way (WSJ)
- Pressure Put on Pakistan Army (FT)
- Trouble in Syria Sets off Alarm in Tehran (FT)
- Military Draws Up Afghan Exit Plan (WSJ)
Total Confusion Rages Over Greece Which [May|May Not] Get A New Bailout Package, [And|Or] [Kept|Kicked Out] Of EurozoneSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/10/2011 06:27 -0500
This morning the news wires are filled with the now usual contradictory, and full of lies propaganda about a Greece imminent [restructuring|golden age]. Since very likely all are wrong, we will focus on what appear to be the most credible ones: we will start with the Dow Jones story which has been official refuted by Greece, thus giving its extra validity. As Reuters reports: "News agency Dow Jones, citing a senior Greek government official, reported that Athens expects to receive a new aid package totalling nearly 60 billion euros . Greece denied it was discussing a new package..."It's certainly positive for peripheral sentiment and is assisting in the unwinding of some yesterday's safe-haven flows into Bunds," said Rabobank rate strategist Richard McGuire. Senior euro zone policymakers acknowledged on Monday that Athens will need a second bailout package soon to avert a disorderly overhaul of its debt obligations but rating agencies said more drastic measures may be necessary." Of course, this news comes out strategically and just in time for Greece to auction off a fresh 26-week T-Bill for €1.625 BN at a new record yield of 4.88% (compared to 4.80%) before an an even lower bid to cover of 3.58 vs. 3.81 previously. One can only imagine what a flop the auction would have been without the latest rumor (and even China appears to have given up on Greece: "Foreign take up in Greek 6-month T-Bill sale 34.2% vs. Prev. 41%, according to debt agency chief.") Bottom line as some trader summarized it: "It's very difficult to trade as there are so many conflicting headlines about a restructuring being the only way forward or not. Something will have to give." Exactly - here is a hint: a restructuring, in the city square, with a Molotov Cocktail... and damn soon.
Gold and silver continue to rebound from their sell offs as Euro zone periphery worries intensify with real risks of defaults and possible contagion. Gold has risen from €1,010/oz to over €1,057/oz since Friday. The long period of correction and consolidation may soon see a break out above resistance at record nominal highs of €1,072/oz - less than 1.5% below the current price. The recent strength of the euro looks set to end as sovereign debt risks come to the fore again. This will likely see the euro fall versus most currencies and especially against gold. There has been the usual misinformed and non evidence based assertions that the gold and silver markets were ‘bubbles’ and that they have burst. The same simplistic assertions were made after the sharp price corrections seen in 2008 and were proven badly wrong.
This weekend’s not so secret meeting was the first step towards what could be a rapid end game of Greek debt restructuring. The lenders are unlikely to give Greece the exact same terms as Portugal and seem intent on demanding collateral against future loans. Greece must resist providing collateral since it now realizes it will not be able to pay back all the debt. Greece will push hard for better terms, but if collateral is required, it will be in Greece’s best interest to restructure sooner rather than later. Since the sovereign restructuring process is a negotiation without much ability to use the courts, Greece will find a way to minimize the damage to itself and its citizens while creating a debt structure that is sustainable. This will all be done while retaining the Euro as its currency. Greece may be looking at re-introducing new Drachmas, but this round of restructuring will still be in Euros.
Speaking of spending money we don't have - $23Bn of POMO money will be handed out to the IBanks in the first 3 days of the week as the Government props 'till we drop.
When I say that much of the EU is lying about their financial prospects and Greece (among other countries) will restructure or default, you may or may not listen (quite possibly to your detriment). When the ratings agencies (who are always accurate and timely) say restructuring is on the horizon (a year after me) and the head of the Euro-zone finance ministers finance ministers outright says 'Of course we're lying', then what do you do?