The latest gambit used by the Eurocrats is that should Greece dare to not follow their sage advice, and leave the EMU, it will burn in hell for perpetuity, where famine and pestilence will join in making Greeks regret they ever dared to not listen to their Keynesian overlords. The only problem is that despite what econo-pundits everywhere claim, the Argentina case study (as well as the Iceland and the Southeast Asian) is a rather optimistic one of what Greece can expect to occur after it finally "just says no" to the biggest vanity experiment in European history. And as JPM's Michael Cembalest shows without any doubt, "there is a morning after." The far bigger problem is that there will be a "mourning after" for all those who are threatening Greece will hell and damnation right about now. Which brings us to a very critical question: why is the IMF not doing what it should be doing, and promising to assist the Greek decision, even if it means exiting the Euro. As JPM's Cembalest says "If the IMF did what it is supposed to do and lend into a devaluation/ structural adjustment (instead of financing a German and French bank rescue), Greece just might have a shot. Within the Euro, they don’t." Which begs the question: just how many pieces of silver did it take for the IMF to join the bandwagon of sell out and rehypothecate its soul, and charter, to the highest bidder?
The catastrophe that is Greece that has spawned the term 'Grexit' for its likely self-abdication (or dismissal) from the Euro remains a long way from being solved. Should the next elections go the way the opinion polls suggest, it seems highly likely that a government vehemently opposed to its own bailout terms and further austerity will stretch the patience of its 'core'-supporters to a breaking point - even though they know the gun they hold is squarely pointed at their own forehead. However, Deutsche Bank's economics team see the potential for a third path - that of running a Greek parallel currency to the Euro (which they dub "GEURO") to represent government issued IoUs to meet current payment obligations. This would enable, in DB's view, Greece to engineer an exchange rate devaluation without formally exiting the EMU. With Greece unlikely to meet primary budget surplus targets envisaged by the TROIKA, and political will inside Greece hardly making an effort to do so - perhaps this is the 'compromise' that meets everyone's needs (in a strange way). Initially there would be a large depreciation (which Germany could use politically to claim - see 'they suffered' - and maintain circular support for the financial system implications of GREXIT) but at the same time Greek authorities would reclaim some semblance of control to stabilize or even strengthen (over time) their own GEURO against the EURO - leaving the door open to a return to the Euro at some point.
Ten months ago, as the latest Grand Plan was being announced, we wrote in detail on just how angry Zee German people might get once they realized what was going on. With the weight of the world increasingly burdened on their shoulders, Michael Cembalest of JPMorgan asks "will Germany spend its accumulated national wealth to save the Eurozone (at least temporarily), and how much might it cost them?" Notably, for the better part of a century, the tendency for conflicts in Europe to coincide with Germany's relative economic might is astonishing, but between backstopping the Periphery, a non-inflationary ECB solution, and five years of support to finance the departure of foreign capital - avoiding social collapse in Greece for example - Cembalest estimates the cost to be around 1 trillion Euros. What is more astounding is that he then goes on to compare this cost to re-unification (over the past 20 years) and notes that even if Germany had to pick up half the trillion-euro tab, its debt-to-GDP ratio would rise above 100% (well over the 90% 'This Time It's Different' tipping point). Just how much does this mean to Germany and Europe? IMF Managing Director Lagarde gave a speech last week in which she highlighted the historical importance of Europe and how the concept of the Euro dates back to Charlemagne in the 800s. True, perhaps; but that has not prevented other European monetary unions from failing in the interim. You can ignore economics, but it will not ignore you.
When it comes to clear, concise, comprehensive forecasts of the future, nothing beats Art Cashin... even when his crystal ball is admitted a little cloudy.
The policy responses and hints of policy responses are starting to come out. What will they be, how big will they be, and what will they accomplish remains to be seen, but the market is due to rally on almost anything. We expect some announcements out of Europe. A policy shift towards “growth” and some new ECB plans. We don’t think they will work well, especially if they don’t address the root of depositor fear in Spain, Ireland, Portugal, and Italy, but with so many indicators pointing to oversold conditions, the markets could snap back, and that is the way Peter Tchir of TF Market Advisors is leaning.
Gold Has Fallen Due To:
- Gold’s recent weakness is in large part due to a period of recent dollar strength. While gold in dollar terms has fallen by 25% ($1,920 to $1,540), gold in euro terms is only down by 14% (from €1,374/oz to €1,210/oz).
- Oil weakness – since the end of February, oil has fallen from $111 a barrel to below $95 a barrel (NYMEX) today. Gold and oil are often correlated and many buy gold to hedge inflation that comes from higher oil prices.
- Gold’s weakness may also have been due to wholesale liquidation in all risk markets due another bout of "risk off" which has seen global equities and commodities all come under pressure.
- Physical demand from retail investors in the western world has slowed down as did demand from India in recent weeks due to the increase in taxes on bullion (since removed).
- Much of the selling has been technical in nature – whereby more speculative elements on the COMEX who trade gold on a proprietary basis have been selling gold due to the recent price weakness and the short term trend clearly being down. This has led to speculative longs now having their smallest positions since December 2008.
At the beginning of the week, European equities are seen modestly higher in the major indices with underperformance noted in the peripheral markets. Markets have sought some solace in the G8 summit over the weekend, with leaders agreeing that the optimal scenario would be Greece remaining within the European Monetary Union, and have furtively agreed that further measures may be necessary to return Europe to growth. The disagreements, however, continue to rollover as leaders fail to commit to a specific growth strategy. The tentative risk sentiment is reflected in the fixed income markets, with the German Bund remaining in negative territory for much of the session and 10yr government bond yield spread between the periphery and the German benchmark tighter on the session. Touted bids by domestic accounts helped support BTPs (Italian paper), especially in the short end of the curve, where the spread between the German equivalent is trading tighter by around 3bps. From Tokyo, comments from Fed’s Lockhart have drawn attention, who commented that with the downside risks emerging from the Eurozone, it would be unwise to take QE3 off the table.
- Is Insider Trading Part of the Fabric on Wall Street? (NYT) ... uhm, next question
- Nasdaq Says Glitches Affected Millions of Shares; IPO System to Be Redesigned (WSJ)... it's all the robot's fault... And the weather... And Bush
- Special Report: The algorithmic arms race (Reuters)
- Barclays to Sell Entire BlackRock Stake (WSJ) ... but they don't need the money... and it's not a market top.
- BoE's Posen: some European banks need more capital (Reuters)... some?
- Limbo on Bankia Undermines Confidence in Spain's Handling of Crisis (WSJ)
- JPMorgan CIO Risk Chief Said to Have Trading-Loss History (Bloomberg)... a guy called Goldman, blowing up JPM... the irony
- Pentagon's tone softens on Chinese military growth (China Daily)
- EU summit to raise pressure on Merkel (FT)
- Romney Super PAC raises less, still tops Democrats (Reuters)
- JPMorgan’s Home-Loan Debt in Europe Increases Anxiety: Mortgages (Bloomberg)
In continuing with the 2011 deja vu theme which has become the norm at this point, nearly half way into 2012, the key overnight events driving sentiment and futures higher (if not the EURUSD which despite a record number of shorts appears to have once again decoupled with the US stock market), were a statement following the latest G-8 summit (penned in the brief time when the world leaders were not watching soccer) that Greece should stay in the Eurozone (as opposed to?), and yet another promise from China's Wen Jiabao that the world's fastest growing economy would focus on growth (what a truly radical shift in policy for the country which needs GDP growth over 8% just to avoid riots and civil unrest). And in continuing with the "summit" theme so well exhausted back in 2011, and mocked by David Einhorn (see below), let's recall that there is yet another summit on May 22, this time where the European heads of state will sit down and also decide that, shockingly, they want Greece in Europe, in response to which stocks will surge, then be very confused just why they surged, and promptly tumble. Sadly, by now we have seen it all since 2012 continues to be a carbon copy replica of last year. We can only hope the powers that be infuse at least some originality before we are forced to start recycling headlines from the summer of 2011. In the meantime, futures are green, especially since Dennis Lockhart unleashed the QE bomb hours ago in Tokyo, saying that more easing should not be ruled out amid European risks. Wink wink.
The last time we looked at the Greek tourism industry or what's left of it, ironically so very reliant on German tourists, we observed that receipts from this very critical to Greek tax receipts industry would likely drop to under €10 billion - a big hit to government revenues just when they are most needed. Needless to say, ongoing political chaos, a rise in anti-German sentiment, and a resurgent neo-nazi political power are not helping things. Sure enough Ekathimerini reports that German bookings continue to be in free fall: "German bookings for holidays in Greece have slumped by almost a third so far this year, a German Sunday paper quoted a Thomas Cook executive as saying. "By the beginning of the Summer season, booking numbers for holiday in Greece in the German travel industry have been 30 percent below the year-earlier figures," Euro am Sonntag cited the head of tourism at Thomas Cook's German unit, Michael Tenzer as saying in an excerpt of an article made available to Reuters on Saturday."
This is where we stand right about now.
Taxation is theft. There is no denying this. If I and a few brutes appeared at the door of an unsuspecting individual and demanded monetary compensation less we drag him off to jail, this would be a clear cut case of robbery. It is a common tactic used by mobs or street gangs to offer protection with the barrel of a gun. The only difference between shakedowns by private thugs and those employed by the state is the badge. The badge legalizes extortion and imprisonment. With that being said, it has been three years since the financial crisis and governments around the world are still reeling in the lesser Depression. Tax collections are down while public expenditures have skyrocketed in a vain effort to stabilize the economy. Much of this mass orgy in spending has been financed by central banks printing money and the suppression of interest rates down to artificially low levels. This is the Keynesian remedy to recession. Spend what you don’t have via the printing press. Have central bankers create paradise on Earth through counterfeiting.
So far it hasn’t worked.
A three-pronged attack on reason. Obama's reelection is at stake....
A rare moment of optimism from David Rosenberg: "I've said it once and I'll say it again. And believe me, this is no intent to wrap myself up in stars and stripes. But there is a strong possibility that I see a flicker of light come November. The U.S. has great demographics with over 80 million millennials that will power the next bull market in housing, likely three years from now. After an unprecedented two straight years of a decline in the stock of vehicles on the road, we do have pent-up demand for autos. I coined the term "manufacturing renaissance" back when I toiled for Mother Merrill and this is happening on the back of sharply improved cost competitiveness. Oil production and mining services are booming. Cheap natural gas is a boon to many industries. A boom in Chinese travel to the U.S. has triggered a secular growth phase in the tourism and leisure industry. The trend towards frugality has opened up doors for do-it-yourselfers, private labels and discounting stores.... Few folks saw it at the time. But it's worth remembering, especially now as we face this latest round of economic weakness and market turbulence. It is exactly in periods of distress that the best buying opportunities are borne...and believe it or not, when new disruptive technologies are formed to power the next sustainable bull market and economic expansion. Something tells me that we are just one recession and one last leg down in the market away from crossing over the other side of the mountain. And believe me, nobody is in a bigger hurry to get there, than yours truly. At the risk of perhaps getting too far ahead of myself, but you may end up calling me a perma-bull (at that stage, I must warn you, folks like Jim Paulsen will have thrown in the towel)."