International Monetary Fund
At one time it was the tough that got going when things started to get rough. Now, it’s just the money-minded that look, watch, and act before you know what has hit you.
As noted on Friday, the Greek soap opera, in which Europe pretends to bail out Greece when it is just bailing out its insolvent banks by not touching the status quo, and Greece pretends to reform and comply with austerity reforms, is about to enter its third act. Yesterday, Greek Kathimerini reported that the reason why the Troika has put Greece on ice and has is behind in the implementation of 153 actions demanded by its lenders, according to a timetable compiled by the Finance Ministry. "Of the outstanding actions, 57 are the responsibility of the Finance Ministry, 17 fall to the Development Ministry, another 17 to the Labor Ministry and eight to the Administrative Reform Ministry. The rest are divided among other ministries. A number of the actions have yet to be completed as the government remains in discussions with the troika about the measures. Inspectors are expected to return to Athens later this month but a date has not yet been fixed." In other words, the bulk of the conditions agreed to as part of the second bailout have yet to be met by Greece. So what happens next? Why a third Greek bailout of course.
Argentina has now burned through $2 billion in less than two weeks, the fastest outflow since 2006, and a trend which if sustained (and we see no reason why it would change), means it has just over half a year left of reserves projecting a linear decline. However, since the lower the amount of reserves, the faster the withdrawals will come, it is safe to predict that the endgame for Argentina will come far sooner, just as its suddenly crashing bonds seem to have realized. Which is perhaps why, as Argentina's La Nacion reports, the country is suddenly, and long overdue, scrambling to raise $10 billion to "counter the flight of capital" from the country.
Greece Is Back: Germany, France, Creditors Hold Secret Meeting Due To Greek Bailout "Mounting Concerns"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/31/2014 11:43 -0400
There was a time - roughly between May 2010 and the spring fall of 2011 - when all the world had to worry about was Greece. Then the realization finally dawned that since a Grexit from the Eurozone would kill the EUR and the European integration dream with so much "political capital" invested, crush Deutsche Bank, and bring back the much dreaded (by German exporters) Deutsche Mark, it became clear that there is no fear that Greece, which is now a decrepit shell of a country with a collapsed economy and society in shambles, has now become a slave state to European bureaucrats, business and banks (in Nigel Farage's words), will never be formally kicked out of Europe and only an internal coup would allow it to finally break free from the clutches of unelected European tyrants. And then the world moved on to more important things: like Japan, China Emerging Markets and how they are all enjoying the Fed's taper. Sadly, we have to report, that Greece is once again baaaaack.
What a difference half a year makes. It seems like it was yesterday when Blackrock head Larry Fink, when discussing the future of capital markets with the now defunct money honey, uttered these infamous words about any and all possible risks: "it doesn't matter." Suddenly, it matters. Speaking in Davos, Fink warned there is 'way too much optimism' in financial markets as he predicted repeats of the market turmoil that roiled investors this week. As Bloomberg reports, Fink warned a Davos panel that "the experience of the marketplace this past week is going to be indicative of this entire year... We’re going to be in a world of much greater volatility."
As the saying goes, ‘desperate times call for desperate measures.’ The phrase is bandied about so frequently, it’s generally accepted truth. But I have to tell you that I fundamentally disagree with the premise. Desperate times, in fact, call for a complete reset in the way people think. Desperate times call for the most intelligent, effective, least destructive measures. But these sayings aren’t as catchy. This old adage has become a crutch – a way for policymakers to rationalize the idiotic measures they’ve put in place...
Following last night's surprise event, which was China's HSBC PMI dropping into contraction territory for the first time since July, which in turn sent Asian market into a tailspin, the most relevant underreported news was a speech by International Monetary Fund Deputy Managing Director Naoyuki Shinohara who said that "As long as steady progress is being made toward the 2% target, we do not see a need for additional monetary accommodation in Japan." He added that while exit from unconventional monetary policy "is still very likely some way off for the euro area and Japan, I believe that the moment to start planning is now." This warning - an echo of prcisely what we said yesterday - promptly roiled the Yen, sending it far higher and sending the EMini futures sliding by over 10 tick in no time: a drop from which they have not recovered yet.
What are you afraid of, exactly? ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes we all have our phobias and fears, some logical and anchored in reality and others irrational but still powerful; but for the capital markets currently it seems there is no fear. The CBOE VIX Index started the year at 14.2 and has fallen to a close of 12.9 today. That move, Colas adds, has dragged the IVs of everything from U.S. large cap energy stocks to gold to corporate bonds lower in its wake. Even expectations for Emerging Markets equity volatility are in retreat as we start 2014. But, when near term historical or implied volatility becomes this complacent, it seems appropriate to spend a little more time pondering what might go wrong. Markets, after all, have the entire “What should go right” side of the trade well understood and reflected in current prices. In that spirit, here is the "Top 10" list of what might take us off the rails of complacency in 2014.
- Winter Storm Expected to Make Northeast Commutes Harder (BBG)
- Invasion of Spanish Builders Angers France Struggling to Compete (BBG)
- Toronto mayor, caught ranting on video, admits drinking a 'little bit" (Reuters)
- IBM's Hardware Woes Accelerate in Fourth Quarter (WSJ)
- Sharp Divisions Come to Fore as Peace Talks on Syria Begin (NYT)
- Afghanistan cracks down on advertising in favor of U.S. troops (Reuters)
- Microsoft CEO Search Rattles Boards From Ford to Ericsson (BBG)
- Banks Sit Out Riskier Deals (WSJ)
- Netflix Seen Reporting U.S. Web Users Reach 33.1 Million (BBG)
- Hilsenrath: Next Cut in Fed Bond Buys Looms - Reduction to $65 Billion Could Be Announced on Jan. 29 (WSJ)
- China Workforce Slide Robs Xi of Growth Engine (BBG)
- Obama pulls the race card: Obama Says Race May Blunt Poll Standing in Interview (BBG)
- Chinese firm's IPO deal switches banks as chairman's daughter moves from JPMorgan to UBS (SCMP)
- China and Russia may hold joint naval drill in the Mediterranean (RT)
- Iran invite to Syria talks withdrawn after boycott threat (Reuters)
- Seven Chinese IPOs Halt Trading After 44 Percent Share (BBG)
- U.S. military says readying plans for Olympic security assistance (Reuters)
- Thank you Bernanke: Investors Most Upbeat in 5 Years With Record 59% Bullish in Poll (BBG)
- From His Refuge in the Poconos, Reclusive Imam Fethullah Gulen Roils Turkey (WSJ)
But fear not, dear poor people of the world, for Lloyd Blankfein, Mark J. Carney, Mario Draghi, Haruhiko Kuroda, Christine Lagarde, Jacob Lew, Shimon Peres, Larry Fink, David Cameron, Shinzo Abe, Marissa Meyer, and many others are there fighting for you. Fighting all the way...
The IMF has reported that its resident respresentative in Afghanistan - 60-year-old Wabel Abdallah - is among the 15 people killed in a coordinated assault at a Kabul restaurant by the Taliban. The upscale taverna is well-known to be frequented by foreigners and ex-pats. As Reuters reports, Abdallah had been leading the IMF's office in the Afgan capital since 2008 and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said "this is tragic news, and we at the fund are all devastated."
- NSA phone data control may come to end (AP)
- China to rescue France: Peugeot Said to Weigh $1.4 Billion From Dongfeng, France (BBG)
- China to rescue Davos: Davos Teaches China to Ski as New Rich Lured to Slopes (BBG)
- Hollande’s Tryst and the End of Marriage (BBG)
- Iran has $100 billion abroad, can draw $4.2 billion (Reuters)
- Target Hackers Wrote Partly in Russian, Displayed High Skill, Report Finds (WSJ)
- Nintendo Sees Loss on Dismal Wii U Sales (WSJ)
- Goldman's low-cost Utah bet buoys its bottom-line (Reuters)
- Royal Dutch Shell Issues Profit Warnin: Oil Major Hit by Higher Exploration Costs and Lower Oil and Gas Volumes (WSJ)
- EU Weighs Ban on Proprietary Trading at Some Banks From 2018 (BBG) - so no holding of breaths?
- Sacramento Kings to Accept Bitcoin (WSJ)
- Here comes JPM's next multibillion legal reserve: Federal Probe Targets Banks Over Bonds (WSJ)
- Mulally Bows Out of Microsoft CEO Race, Staying at Ford (BBG)
- United States sending more troops and tanks to South Korea (Reuters)
- Eurozone unemployment sticks at record high (FT)
- China-Japan 'Voldemort' attacks up ante in propaganda war (Reuters)
- Alternative Lenders Peddle Pricey Commercial Loans (WSJ)
- John McAfee: glad Intel dropping name from security software (Reuters)
- Jobless Benefits Bill Stays Alive Amid Talks on Offsets (BBG)
- Chicago Colder Than South Pole as Frigid Air Clamps Down (BBG)
- Former Miss Venezuela shot dead in attempted robbery (Reuters)
With Washington fighting over whether to stop emergency unemployment benefits in the US, the Saudi Arabian government has re-written their economic textbooks with some wonderful new logic. In an effort to encourage its citizens to seek jobs in private companies (as opposed to the majority in government jobs - which the IMF sees as unsustainable), the Saudis are introducing compulsory unemployment insurance for all citizens with jobs. As Reuters reports, "It may not be the most cost effective solution in the near term but if it helps normalise the labour market it is a price worth paying." With unemployment at 12%, and only 30-40% labor force participation, the costs could be significant.