Moral Hazard

The Ultimate Moral Hazard: 70% of Greek Mortgages Are In Default

Just as we warned earlier in the year, total uncertainty about the future of Greece has enabled a growing sense of moral hazard as "if the nation doesn't pay its debt, why should we" sweeps across the troubled nation. As Greeks' tax remittances to the government, which were almost non-existent to begin with, have ground to a halt, so The FT reports, so-called 'strategic defaults' have become a way of life among Greece's formerly affluent middle-class..."I still owe money on the car and motorboat I can’t afford to use. Even a holiday loan I’d forgotten about...I’m living with my mother looking for work and waiting for the bank to come up with another restructuring offer."

Should Students Voluntarily Default On $1.3 Trillion In Debt?

"Over the last couple of decades, we have been engaged in an enormous national experiment, taking impressionable and often ignorant teenagers and young adults and seeing just how much student loan debt they can handle.There is a practical question at hand for people who feel as if they are in over their heads: Is it ever a good idea to try to beat the system by openly defying it and refusing to repay the debt that you willingly took on?"

IMF Says It Will Continue Lending To Ukraine Even After A Default, And Why This Is Bad News For Greek Gold

As we enter Sunday and what may well be the last possibility to get deal done before the "accidental" Grexit scenario is put in play, we thought our Greek readers would be interested to learn that while Lagarde's "apolitical" IMF is digging in tooth and nail against giving Greece even the smallest amount of breathing room, the equivalent of half an our of a typical daily Fed POMO notional amount, yesterday the same Lagarde said that the IMF "could lend to Ukraine even if Ukraine determines it cannot service its debt."

The Definition Of An Unfree Market

"Only if the economy is powered by the marginal borrower who will no longer borrow after a 0.25% hike, does it make sense to believe a hike will derail the economy.  Comparisons to 1937, where a hike pushed the US into recession, are incomparable and groundless.  On the other hand, maybe the FOMC is worried that the ‘no free lunch’ concept makes them suspicious of the possibility of a meaningfully deleterious market reaction which could have a negative impact on the broader economy.  However, under this logic, delaying a hike would only exacerbate such a response."

Portugal's "Left-Wing" Forces Threaten Troika Revolt

"Europe faces the risk of a second revolt by Left-wing forces in the South after Portugal’s Socialist Party vowed to defy austerity demands from the country’s creditors and block any further sackings of public officials", The Telegraph reports. In sum, the reason why concessions (any concessions) to the Greeks are a non-starter in Athens' negotiations with creditors is that the IMF, the European Commission, and most especially Germany, want to send a clear message to any other 'leftist radicals' who may be thinking about using the "one move and the idea of EMU indissolubility gets it" routine as a way to negotiate for breathing room on austerity pledges, will get exactly nowhere and will have a very unpleasant time on the way.

The Fed Has Created A "Clockwork Orange" Market

Stanley Kubrick's highly-disturbing film-version of A Clockwork Orange takes place in a dystopian futuristic London and exposes the extreme battle of good versus evil. Extracting out the violence, we can’t help but notice the symbolic similarities of the motif-ridden story with the 2008 financial market fallout and subsequent attempts at economic rehabilitation. The film forces us to consider how much liberty we are willing to give up for order, and how much order we are willing to give up for liberty.  The central idea of the film has to do with the freedom of the individual to make free choices, but free choice becomes problematic when it undermines the safety and stability of society. It reminds us of the markets price discovery mechanisms (or lack thereof).

China's Banks Obscure Credit Risk, Face "Insolvency" In Property Downturn, Fitch Says

As data on non-performing loans at Chinese banks shows the biggest sequential increase on record in Q1, Fitch wonders if perhaps the data actually obscures a far larger problem. Official figures on China's NPLs are obscured by a number of factors and may be grossly understated the ratings agency suggests. Furthermore, Fitch says "a protracted downturn in property markets could threaten the solvency of Chinese banks, given their modest loss-absorption capacity."

If QE Is So Great, Why Stop Printing Now?

Chair Yellen frequently reminds us how effective and innovative QE is as a monetary policy tool. She even referred to the monetary actions, of her former boss, as heroic at a commencement speech this past spring. Literally…QE has saved the financial world. So, why are we, the citizens of this great country, no longer worthy of the almighty, far ranging and omnipotent QE? Ms. Yellen, don’t you stop this money printing anytime soon. Just erase that thought from your mind just like you can simply erase away all my financial worries with that great machine of yours. We, the ignorant public, are so relying on you. As we see it there is just no downside to any of this money printing.

CLO Volume Hits Record As PE, Wall Street Look To Stay Ahead Of New Rule

March was a record month for CLO issuance with $15.2 billion in deals coming to market, bringing the YTD total to $29 billion and making Q1 2015 the best first quarter in history for CLO new issue volume. And while a JPM analyst who spoke to Bloomberg says managers “want to get deals done early before risk retention kicks in,” we're confident that it’s all about keeping credit flowing to deserving borrowers and not at all about a desire to keep exposure to 5% of a collateral pool littered with loans to “companies that are of lower credit quality or that do not have a third-party evaluation of the likelihood of timely payment of interest and repayment of principal” off of the books.

Today's Money Regimes Are Doomed To Failure

Centrally issued money centralizes wealth and generates systemic inequality. This is equally true of all centrally issued currencies.  But the inequity that is intrinsic to this system is politically, socially and financially destabilizing, and so this system is unsustainable.

Guaranteed Financial Security Is A Fantasy

Guarantees based on extracting higher taxes, borrowing trillions of dollars and creating trillions more out of thin air only guarantee eventual systemic implosion.

BofA's Modest Proposal For Greece: "A Negative Shock May Be Necessary"

Either Greece will stop trying to save the failed past and look into the future, treating the crisis and the adjustment program as opportunities to finally implement urgently needed reforms, or the country will be eventually forced to exit the euro, in our view.  Economics 101 teaches us that an economy can survive within a monetary union only if it has fiscal policy room and structural flexibility to respond to asymmetric shocks. In our view, Greece had none and has none. We see no solution for Greece within the Eurozone without reforms.