Gross Domestic Product
Simply put - the Greek economy still consumes more than it earns. Despite a 25% contraction in its economy, a plunge in domestic consumption and a sharp decline in imports, as WSJ reports, Greece is still exporting less than it imports, i.e. its current account is still negative. The reason... Shipping.
Earlier today, Greek Prime Minister Tsipras was busy not making German friends, following the latest Greek overture to confiscate German assets in response for allegedly unpaid German WWII reparations. “After the reunification of Germany in 1990, the legal and political conditions were created for this issue to be solved. But since then, German governments chose silence, legal tricks and delay. And I wonder, because there is a lot of talk at the European level these days about moral issues: is this stance moral?” Tsipras said and added that "despite the crimes of the Third Reich and Hitler’s hordes, the German debt was written off." As a result Greece is now seeking to recoup German WWII reparations which may amount to as much as 80% of Greek GDP!
"The relationship of U.S. net worth to GDP appears to have reached unsustainable heights," warns NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg, adding that a massive decline in the value of assets is "more likely" than a massive increase in GDP. Logically this seems unavoidable, unless you believe that we are truly wealthier now, even with an economy that is delivering a rather poor performance (historically weak output and sales growth) in real terms. It would seem not to be 'whether' we will adjust but when.
In a surprise move, the RBI just cut its main interest rates for the second time in two months, taking it from 6.75% to 6.50%, in what the central bank calls a “pre-emptive” policy move, but what is in reality merely a confirmation that so far in 2015 at least 20 central banks have lowered their interest rate.
While every other word from talking-heads and policy-makers relates various anecdotes (or simple lies) about US economic growth, The Atlanta Fed appears to have taken a 'data-dependent' perspective on the real economy (as opposed to smoke and mirrors). Based on their GDPNow "nowcasting" model, The Atlanta Fed projects Q1 2015 GDP growth os just 1.2% (less than half current sell-side economist consensus) and getting weaker...
Yesterday, when we observed the latest record plunge in the Ukraine currency we predicted that the imploding, hyperinflating nation will "halt currency trading any minute." Well, Ukraine has so far not fully blocked all trading... yet, however hours ago Ukraine’s central bank did the next best thing when it announced it would "boost restrictions on capital operations as it fights to quell panic that has triggered deposit withdrawals and depleted foreign-exchange reserves, Governor Valeriya Gontareva said." The punchline, almost literally, "Panic must be stopped and we are doing that now,” Gontareva said. Because there is nothing that creates more panic than warning "panic must end or else..."
When the system is set up to encourage maximizing self-interest, accountability for the whole is lost. And once accountability for the effectiveness and health of the whole system is lost, the system will degrade and eventually collapse, for the same reason that unrestricted grazing by individuals eventually destroys the commons.
A quick recap of the key implications of Friday’s Greek “deal”, and what it means for the future of the Eurozone, the common currency and capital markets.
The fact that there is a debate about a quarter-point rate hike tells us that extraordinarily low interest rates have mostly failed to deliver a robust recovery. That people opposed to even the tiniest increase in rates are resorting to hyperbole tells us that they too know this. The thinking seems to be that six years into near-zero policy, the only reason it hasn’t worked is because it hasn’t been tried long enough. Meanwhile, the dangerous side effects of year after year of artificially low rates continue to grow.
Greece Willing To Do "Whatever It Can" To Reach Deal After Greek Liquidity Situation Deteriorates RapidlySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/13/2015 09:25 -0400
"Greece will make every effort to reach an agreement with its euro zone partners at Monday's meeting of euro zone finance ministers on how to transition to a new support program, its government spokesman said on Friday. "We will do whatever we can so that a deal is found on Monday," Gabriel Sakellaridis told Skai TV. "If we don't have an agreement on Monday, we believe that there is always time so that there won't be a problem." The reason for this rapid about face? "Senior bank officials have told Kathimerini that almost all the liquidity available to Greece (59.5 billion euros) has been absorbed and that banks’ total dependence on the Eurosystem amounts to 90 billion. The rapid deterioration in liquidity conditions has been attributed to the uncertainty that arose when the snap general elections were called as well as the new government’s inability to reach a swift agreement with the country’s creditors." As usual: money threatening to walk, walks.
With tax receipts tumbling and ELA funding hitting its limit, the Greeks are up against it. On the other side, the Greek strength in the face of EU's demands (and Eurogroup's realization of the uncertainty this could lead to) has apparently led to the start of compromise. As Bloomberg reports,
*GERMAN, GREEK OFFICIALS SIGNAL COMMON GROUND ON AID DEAL
*GERMANY SAID NOT TO INSIST ALL PARTS OF CURRENT BAILOUT STAY, GREECE SAID TO BE OPEN TO SURPLUS, PRIVATIZATION DEBATE
As Merkel noted earlier, "Europe is always about finding a compromise," and it appears they are getting closer - as long as a 'program' continues. Bundesbank's Weidmann has noted that Grexit would not solve either side's longer-term problems.
US equity markets are quietly doing what they do - go up and stay up. But in the biggest markets in the world - US Treasury, Japanese bonds, and foreign exchange - something turmoily is happening. Yields are cratering today.. The USDollar is getting hammered on the back of JPY gapping dramatically stronger and EUR surging.
We are living in an era where a single statement of truth will drive a pin into the global bubble of phantom assets and debts, and the lies spewed to justify those bubbles.
Greece has the potential to be the small domino that ends up toppling much larger dominoes.