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.
Will 2015 be a year of financial crashes, economic chaos and the start of the next great worldwide depression? Over the past couple of years, we have all watched as global financial bubbles have gotten larger and larger. Despite predictions that they could burst at any time, they have just continued to expand. But just like we witnessed in 2001 and 2008, all financial bubbles come to an end at some point, and when they do implode the pain can be extreme.
"Oil is incredibly important right now. If oil falls to around $40 a barrel then I think the yield on ten year treasury note is going to 1%. I hope it does not go to $40 because then something is very, very wrong with the world, not just the economy. The geopolitical consequences could be – to put it bluntly – terrifying."
We will readily admit that one cannot know with certainty whether the bubble in risk assets will become bigger. However, it seems to us that avoiding a big drawdown may actually be more important than gunning for whatever gains remain. We don’t think it is a good idea to simply “take the blue pill” and rely on the idea that the effects of the money illusion will last a lot longer. It is possible, but it becomes less and less likely the higher asset prices go and the more money supply growth slows down. If no-one can say when, then the “blue pill” strategy has a major weakness. It means that things could just as easily go haywire next week as next year.
Hugh Hendry's Eclectica Fund has had a great Q4 (up 3.3%, 4.0%, and 5.0% in the last 3 months) despite portfolio risk being quadruple his 'old normal'. How did he achieve this? He begins... "There are times when an investor has no choice but to behave as though he believes in things that don't necessarily exist. For us, that means being willing to be long risk assets in the full knowledge of two things: that those assets may have no qualitative support; and second, that this is all going to end painfully. The good news is that mankind clearly has the ability to suspend rational judgment long and often... He who hangs on to truth has lost. The economic truth of today no longer offers me much solace; I am taking the blue pills now."
"It becomes tempting to take on too much leverage, use financial wizardry to reward shareholders or even stretch accounting principles. S&P 500 profits are 86% higher than they would be if accounting standards of the national accounts were used, Pelham Smithers Associates notes. And the gap between the two measures is widening, the research firm finds." - Blackrock
The rank economic cheerleading in the guise of “news” printed by the Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the rest of the financial press never ceases to amaze. But on the heels of Congress’ pathetic capitulation to Wall Street over the weekend you have to wonder if even the robo-writers who compose the headlines are on the take. How could anyone in the right mind label this weekend’s CRomnibus abomination “A Rare Bipartisan Success for Congress”? Apparently, that unaccountable plaudit was bestowed upon Washington by the WSJ solely because it avoided another government shutdown.
Remember when that absolute disaster of a Q3 GDP print hit Japan and the world of talking-heads proclaimed... "yeah, but.. capex revisions and stuff and things will make it all better" or some such nonsense? Well that's exactly what it was - utter nonsense. Going entirely the opposite direction to expectations of a revision up to -0.5% QoQ, Japanese GDP was revsied even lower to -1.9% QoQ (from -1.6% QoQ initial) confirming the quadrupled-dip-recession. Add to that the fact that Abenomics has ushered in record bankruptcies this year as small- and medium-sized businesses have been crushed by soaring import costs amid the collapsing JPY and you have a recipe for domestic disaster... and having rallied in anticipation of the exuberant revisions in Friday's US session, Japanese stocks are sliding quickly off the 18,000 level.
In the great fiscal scheme of things, October 22, 1981 seems like only yesterday. That’s the day the US public debt crossed the $1 trillion mark for the first time. It had taken the nation 74,984 days to get there (205 years). What prompts this reflection is that just a few days ago the national debt breached the $18 trillion mark; and the last trillion was added in hardly 365 days.
1. Heightened uncertainty over the achievability of fiscal deficit reduction goals and containing debt
2. Economic growth policy uncertainties and challenges in ending deflation
3. Erosion of policy effectiveness and credibility could undermine debt affordability
Here are a couple of reasons why Keynesian economists are truly a menace in today’s bubble ridden and debt-impaled world. It seems that both Harvard’s Kenneth Rogoff and Princeton’s Paul Krugman are on the global advice circuit, peddling what amounts to sheer snake oil to desperate politicians and policy-makers who have already buried themselves - so far to no avail - in unprecedented waves of fiscal and monetary “stimulus”.
Since this is the season for giving thanks in the US, we might give some consideration to the unsung heroes who have been underwriting a big chunk of our economic recovery of late. Actually, we literally owe our future to them - in more ways than one. Since there are no free lunches in economics (that we all must agree on), somebody has to pay for this. And it should be obvious by now who that will be: our children and grandchildren (and at this rate, probably their children and grandchildren too).
"My premise hasn’t really changed since I published my paper explaining why I had become more constructive towards risk assets this time last year. That is to say, the structural deficiency of global demand continues to radicalise the central banking community. I believe they are terrified: the system is so leveraged and vulnerable to potentially systemic price reversals that the monetary authorities find themselves beholden to long only investors and obliged to support asset prices. However, I clearly confused everyone with my choice of language. What I should have said is that investors are perhaps misconstruing rising equity prices as a traditional bull market spurred on by revenue and earnings growth, and becoming fearful of a reversal, when instead the persistent upwards drift in stock markets is more a reflection of the steady erosion of the soundness of the global monetary system and therefore the rise in stock prices is something that is likely to prevail for some time."