International Monetary Fund
Will today be the beginning of the end of the Eurozone? The answer, as of this moment, is in the hands of some 9.8 million eligible to vote Greeks whose choice will determine the shape of the Eurozone in the coming days and months.
In 55BC, Cicero stood before the Senate of Rome (warning of its looming demise), spoke of the “arrogance of officialdom” and the more one studies going ons throughout history, the clearer it becomes – the story remains the same, only the actors change - history repeats because the passions of man never change. Those who may grudgingly support the ECB stimulus in the hope that it will buy time for governments to enact structural overhauls, keep praying that politicians will push aside their own personal self-interests for once and focus of the interests of the people. Such wishful thinking is foolish since history demonstrates that only takes place when the system collapses. People who do hold to this view are also worried that looser monetary policy may work against structural measures. The European Central Bank’s stimulus diminishes any incentive for governments to reform. The policy makers and specialists at Davos were divided over the effect of even that program; but where do these people get off assuming they have the ability and right to manipulate the world?
The gravy train is over for oil workers. All over North America, people that felt very secure about their jobs just a few weeks ago are now getting pink slips. Since 2003, drilling and extraction jobs in the United States have doubled. And these jobs typically pay very well. It is not uncommon for oil patch workers to make well over $100,000 a year, and these are precisely the types of jobs that we cannot afford to be losing. The middle class is struggling mightily as it is. And just like we witnessed in 2008, oil industry layoffs usually come before a downturn in employment for the overall economy.
Greece's bailout program is not working. After receiving hundreds of billions of Euros in new loans to stave off a sovereign default, Greeks are on the verge of electing a new government that may throw Eurozone politics into turmoil. How things will play out in Greece and abroad is anybody’s guess. But it is important to consider the factors which have contributed to the current state of affairs.
China's broad stock indices were flip-flopping between gains and losses from the open (although securities firms continued to get monkey-hammered on more tightening by regulators) heading into the avalanche of data that hit at 2100ET. GDP growth - which was estimated at sub-7% based on real-time hard-date - was released/leaked 10mins early - rising 7.3% YoY in Q4 (just beating expectations of a 7.2% rise) but grew only 1.5% QoQ (missing the 1.7% expectation). Then came Retail Sales - beating by the most since May 2014 with a 11.9% YoY gain (against 11.7% expectations). Industrial Production grew at 7.9% YoY (beating expectations of 7.4% by the most since July 2013). Of course the fact that Chinese GDP growth of 7.4% YoY was the weakest since 1990 was entirely ignored as the immediate reaction was Yuan and Chinese equity strength.
As 2015 begins, policymakers around the world are faced with three fundamental choices: to strive for economic growth or accept stagnation; to work to improve stability or risk succumbing to fragility; and to cooperate or go it alone. The stakes could not be higher; 2015 promises to be a make-or-break year for the global community. The new networks of influence should be embraced and given space in the twenty-first century architecture of global governance. This is what I have called the “new multilateralism.”
Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory debate. Regardless of whether you argue for it, or against, there are times when suddenly the ramifications for plausible truth are realized that overshadow the conspiracy. This is where the plot of truth can get far more sinister than the imagined conspiracy ever could.
We’re getting back to normal, and though normal’s going to hurt – and far more than you realize yet - it’s hugely preferable to upside down; you hang upside-down long enough, it makes your brain explode. The price of oil was the first thing to go, central banks are the next. And then the whole edifice follows suit. The Fed has been setting up its yes-no narrative for months now, and that’s not without a reason. But everyone’s still convinced there won’t be a rate hike until well into this new year. And the Swiss central bank said, a few days before it did, that it wouldn’t. And then it did anyway. The financial sectors’ trust in central banks is gone forever. And none too soon. Now they’ll have to cover their own bets. If anything spells deflation, it’s got to be that. But not even one man in a thousand understands what deflation is.
As the world’s number one energy consumer China is enjoying the low prices while they last. Never one to settle however, China is finding still more ways to take advantage of the dire straits gripping several oil producers...
Just two days ago we detailed the possibility that Russia could accelerate debt repayment on a $3 billion loan it granted to Ukraine that has broken its covenants. While there is no word yet from Russia on a decision whether to demand the payment, it appears, as Reuters reports, the US taxpayer - just as we warned - is quite willing to step up (thanks to their leaders in Washington) and guarantee $2 billion in loans to the world's 2nd most credit risky nation (after Venezuela).
Despite stressing time and again that the ECB cannot dictate policy within individual nation states in Europe, Reuters reports Draghi's henchmen are playing 'bad cop' to Germany's 'good cop' for now as they threaten the withdrawal of Greek financial system funding if reforms are not carried out post election. Greek stocks are falling once again (led by the banks) and default risk has soared, with 5Y CDS +250bps at 1555bps.
Mainstream Media in the US seem to emphasize the positive aspects of the drop in prices. If our only problem were high oil prices, then low oil prices would seem to be a solution. Unfortunately, the problem we are encountering now is extremely low prices. If prices continue at this low level, or go even lower, we are in deep trouble with respect to future oil extraction. The situation is much more worrisome than most people would expect. Even if there are some temporary good effects, they will be more than offset by bad effects, some of which could be very bad indeed. We may be reaching limits of a finite world.
Who owns Greece's public debt? That's the 322 billion-euro question, according to the Finance Ministry's figures from the third quarter of last year. Most of the debt has changed hands since a bailout in 2010, a second in 2012 and a restructuring involving private creditors that same year. Private owners now hold only 17 percent. The secondary market has become very thin — bear that in mind when looking at 10-year bond yields. A default would have to be absorbed instead by official creditors, holding the remaining 83 percent of outstanding loans and bonds. These include euro-area governments (62 percent), the International Monetary Fund (10 percent) through its participation in the two bailouts, and the European Central Bank (8 percent), which purchased bonds in 2010 through its Securities Market Program. The remaining 3 percent are repurchase agreements and assets held by the Central Bank of Greece. It is unclear where losses on that portion would fall.
Draghi Launches New Year With More QE Jawboning, Sending Euro To New 4 Year Low, Yields Lower, US Futures HigherSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/02/2015 07:00 -0500
The new year has officially started because it wasn't even a day in and Mario Draghi was once again out and about, jawboning the Euro to a lower level than where it was when he said back in 2012 he would do "whatever it takes" to push it higher. The reason, as Reuters reports, why the Euro sank to a nearly 5 year low against the USD, was "clear indications that the European Central Bank will soon embark on outright money-printing." Actually, it was on just more hollow rhetoric by Draghi, who told German Handelsblatt that "the risk that we don’t fulfill our mandate of price stability is higher than it was six months ago." He also added that "it’s difficult to say” how much the institution will have to spend on government-bond purchases.
Wealth inequality isn't just a political issue - it's a survival issue. When a society hits a certain level of economic disparity, it is set on a path towards destruction. It happened to the Roman Empire, and it will happen to the United States.