Bailed-out but un-restructured. And now Fiat-Chrysler CEO is crying for help as EU car sales crash.
Just as the CEO of Total had predicted last December—talking his book.
Germany just launched a €480 billion fund that it will use to backstop its banking system should a Crisis hit. And in the fine print, which no one has caught,... the fund will also allow German banks to dump their EU sovereign bonds... as in German banks' PIIGS/ EU exposure disappearing in an instant. So... why would Germany do this?
Unleash the lawyers, um, ... soccer players.
German leaders, particularly Merkel and Schäuble see the writing on the political wall: that both Greece and France are likely going to find themselves with new leadership that is pro-socialism, anti-austerity measures, and most certainly anti-taking orders from Germany. Thus, Germany must be aware (as the EU, IMF, and ECB are to some degree) that it is ultimately fighting a losing battle by participating in the bailouts. Indeed, Schäuble even went so far as to recently call Greece a “bottomless pit” where money is wasted (having just participated in Greek bailouts that exceed the entirety of Greece’s GDP, I have to admit he does have a point here). So while a “deal” may have officially been struck for Greece, there are deep underlying tensions that could bring proceedings to a crashing halt at any point.
Gang of Four against François Hollande. The Eurozone is becoming brittle.
Despite groundless media reports that French president Sarkozy, who is up for reelection in April, is gaining on his challenger Hollande who has promised to undo virtually all the European fiscal pacts attained through blood, sweat, tears and countless contradictory headlines (more here), it seems that Sarkozys' appreciation by his fellow citizens has hit rock bottom. As AP reports, "Several hundred angry protesters have booed President Nicolas Sarkozy, forcing him to take refuge in a cafe protected by riot police as he campaigned in France's southwest Basque country." It appears that the European discontent is finally seeping rather aggressively into the core, and the political overhaul which many assume will take the Greek model of bloodless technocratic coups by banker appointed puppets may just not work too well elsewhere. In other news, the French now surrender to the French.
Et tu, Brute!
Will Germany go “all in” on the Euro experiment? I doubt it. In fact I’ve found the “smoking gun” the little known act that Germany has recently implemented that proves the country has a Plan B that involves leaving the Euro with minimal damage.
A few days ago, before the latest breakout in crude sent Brent to all time highs in GBP and EUR (and Asian Tapis in USD just shy of all time highs), we said that "we hope our readers stocked up on gasoline. Because things are about to get uglier. And by that we mean more expensive. But courtesy of hedonic adjustments, more expensive means cheaper, at least to the US government." This was due to recent news out of Iran "where on one hand we learn that IAEA just pronounced Iran nuclear talks a failure (this is bad), and on the other Press TV reports that the Iran army just started a 4 day air defense exercise in a 190,000 square kilometer area in southern Iran (this is just as bad). The escalation "ball" is now in the Western court." We were not surprised to learn that the "Western court" has responded in precisely the way we had expected. The WSJ reports: "The Pentagon is beefing up U.S. sea- and land-based defenses in the Persian Gulf to counter any attempt by Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. military has notified Congress of plans to preposition new mine-detection and clearing equipment and expand surveillance capabilities in and around the strait... The military also wants to quickly modify weapons systems on ships so they could be used against Iranian fast-attack boats, as well as shore-launched cruise missiles" Which means the escalation slider was just shifted up by one more level, as Iran will next do just what every actor caught in an Always Defect regime as part of an iterated prisoners' dilemma always does - step up the rhetoric even more, as backing off at this point is impossible. Which means that crude will go that much more higher in the coming days, as now even the MSM is starting to grasp the obvious - from the Guardian: "The drumbeat of war with Iran grows steadily more intense. Each day brings more defiant rhetoric from Tehran, another failed UN nuclear inspection, reports of western military preparations, an assassination, a missile test, or a dire warning that, once again, the world is sliding towards catastrophe. If this all feels familiar, that's because it is. For Iran, read Iraq in the countdown to the 2003 invasion." And the most ironic thing is that the biggest loser out of all this, at least in the short-term is.... Greece.
A lesson to be learnt from the individuals who continue to buy European Debt
Now that the bipolar market has once again resynced general risk appetite with the EURUSD (high Euro -> high ES and vice versa), everything in the macro front aside from European developments, is noise (and the occasional reminder by data adjusting authorities in the US that the country can in fact decouple with the entity responsible for half the world's trade. This will hardly come as a surprise to anyone. In fact, the conventional wisdom as shown by Goldman's latest client poll has European sovereign crisis worries far in the lead of all macro risks. Behind it are Iran and nuclear tensions, China hard-landing, the US recovery/presidential election and the Japanese trade deficit/record debt/JGB issues. Which for all intents and purposes means that the next big "surprise" to the market will be none of the above. What are some of the factor not listed as big macro risks? According to David Kostin 'Risks that clients did not mention include late March US Supreme Court review of health care reform (implications for 12% of S&P 500); mid-year deadline to implement Dodd-Frank financial reform (14% of market); and the French Presidential election on April 22nd where polls show incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy trails opposition candidate Francois Hollande." Oddly enough, one very crucial item missing is once again surging inflation courtesy of trillions in stealthy central banks reliquification, sending crude to the highest since May 2011, and the most expensive gas price in January on record.
At least, Premier Wen Jiabao didn’t kick out the conniving scoundrels.
Everything you always wanted to know about LTRO but were afraid to read.