Ratings Agencies

The Unwind Begins: Eurogroup President Juncker Redirects From A Broke Europe By Throwing US And Japan Under The Insolvency Bus: "The Debt Level Of The USA Is Disastrous"

The first rule of media (especially when dealing with an idiot audience that has a 7 second attention span): when all else fails, redirect. That's precisely what Eurogroup president, and certified, sanctimonious, pompous liar, Jean-Claude Juncker just did today, as it is becoming increasingly clear that nobody in Europe has any clue just what the Greek bailout #2 will look like now that the ECB and Germany are at polar opposites on how to proceed, the ECB thinks it is a rating agency and can dictate what an Event of Default is, and German bankers are willing to cede to private involvement in the bailout, but in a way that is voluntary. The problem is that these three are very much mutually exclusive. So what does Juncker go ahead and do - he redirects to highlighting the problems of the US: "The debt level of the USA is disastrous," Mr. Juncker said. "The real problem is that no one can explain well why the euro zone is in the epicenter of a global financial challenge at a moment, at which the fundamental indicators of the euro zone are substantially better than those of the U.S. or Japanese economy." That may well be the defining moment: by now everyone knows that the global economy is a massive pyramid scheme. Yet to this point, those in control have at least kept their mouths shut. However, when in order to explain one's insolvency, those at the very top of the control pyramid have no other choice than to point out just how broke others are (when in reality it is all one big, interconnected, "globalized" and truly insolvent Ponzi), then the unwind has begin.

IMF Says Is Open To Delaying Greek Bailout Loan Repayments

The soap opera begins early today (at least in the US), after the Irish Times reports that the IMF is open to delaying Greece's repayment of its international loans but believes a major restructuring of its debt would create untold problems in the euro zone, a senior IMF official said today. "Athens has made progress in tackling its debt crisis but cannot afford to relax the pace of reforms, Bob Traa, the International Monetary Fund's senior representative in Greece, told a banking conference. "If you want a debt restructuring that will really make a difference, it will need to be very large. Such a large debt restructuring would create untold problems not just in Greece, but also in the euro zone," Mr Traa said. But he did hint that the IMF was open to other solutions. "Stretching out payment terms, for instance in loans from euro area partners and the IMF, is a reasonable thing to think about because we have amortisation right at the end of the programme. This is a technical issue we can think about," he said." Unfortunately, as the rating agencies have made clear by now, such a move would be considered a technical default, and thus is unworkable as the very simple matter at the heart of the whole eurozone crisis is the forced marking of debt from mythical par levels (where the ECB has it) to market values (around half): a development which would lead to the insolvency of the ECB, something discussed minutes ago. All Europe wants is a phase transition that allows it to keep marking Greek bonds at par, and how this is achieved is irrelevant.

Don Coxe On Everything From The Markets Rolling Over, To Persistent Food Inflation, To The Coming US Sovereign Debt Crunch

There is a plethora of original insight in Don Coxe (BMO Capital Makets) among them observations on sovereign risk moving from east to west, state finances (or lack thereof), the ongoing correction in financial stocks which portends nothing good for the equity investors, the ongoing violence in MENA, why this inflationary spike in food may last far longer than previous ones, and naturally, some very spot on thoughts on gold, which conclude with: "The only gold bubble likely to burst is the bubbling ridicule of gold."

Guest Post: On The Ethics Of Mortgage Loan Default

Is it ethical for the American homeowner whose mortgage has been securitized to default, even If they are not financially distressed? First, consider it is unlikely that marketable, fee simple, insurable title can be obtained as a result of fulfilling the obligations of the related promissory note. On the contrary the titles to some 60 million homes in America are badly clouded. Secondly, encouraging investment in an asset class that has been artificially inflated, then deliberately destroying the price of the asset, as part of a separate profit making scheme is unethical, and any agreement based on this type of fraud is grounds to consider the original debt instrument used in the agreement null and void. Fortunately these grounds are unnecessary, as increasingly US courts are ruling that these mortgages are already invalid for numerous other reasons.

Reggie Middleton's picture

I called it the coming RE Depression in 2007! I put MY money where my mouth was and sold off all of my investment real estate. I put YOUR money where my mouth was and shorted all that had to do with real estate (REITs, banks, builders, insurers). I called almost every major bank collapse months in advance. I warned the .gov bubble blowing does not = organic economic recovery. Now I'm saying we need to, and will, continue what's left of the crash of 2009, with ample global company. There will be no RE recovery this year, and there will be a crash. OK, you heard it here!

Moody's Warns Of Greek Default Spillover As Greece Opposition Leader Rejects New Austerity Package

The Greek bankruptcy, pardon, sovereign liability management exercise, pardon reprofiling, is once again front and center in the news this morning, after Moody's had some words of caution about a broad spillover effect in Europe should Greece file. From Reuters: "A Greek debt default would hurt other peripheral euro zone states and could push Portugal and Ireland into junk territory, Moody's said on Tuesday, warning it would classify most forms of restructuring as a default.  "A Greek default would be highly destabilising and would have implications for the creditworthiness of issuers across Europe," Moody's Investors Service's chief credit officer in the region, Alastair Wilson, told Reuters in a telephone interview. "This would result in more highly polarised credit worthiness and ratings among euro zone sovereigns, with the stronger countries retaining very high ratings and the weaker countries struggling to remain in investment grade." And yet a Greek bankruptcy seems increasingly more inevitable after a brand new fissure has now appeared in the government, after the chief opposition, New Democracy, party leader Antonis Samaras said he would oppose the latest round of austerity which, nonetheless, must pass in order for Greece to not run out of funds in 2 months, as we previously reported, and finally set off the dominoes. While the political bickering will likely hit fever pitch, and result in new and increasingly more violent protests in Athens, it is likely that austerity will pass as western banks are licking their chops at acquiring Greek "privatized" assets, at least when it comes to infrastructure and real estate, banks not so much, at below cost prices.

Reggie Middleton's picture

Hey, on the positive side, LinkedIn is better off that Facebook. You see, Facebook will have to register the whole computer capable populace of the world to justify the Au plated, Goldman Goldilocks fairytale other wise known as marketing materials. LinkedIn will just have to grow revenues 300% or so for about about a decade to make this JPM/MS fairytale have a happy ending. No matter what, I betcha there will be a moral to these stories for investors, though!

Reggie Middleton's picture

Last night, I spent an interesting time with the esteemed and world reknown macro economist, entrepreneur, NYU professor and strategist, Dr. Nouriel Roubini. Nouriel is a very, very bright guy. He has to be, he agrees with many of my viewpoints :-) On a more serious note, this article is the first installment of the valuation of real world, real assets and properties that are actually up for sale. I plan to walk my readers through the potential absurdity that is investing in a bubble that has not finished popping.

Paul Ryan Speaks On The "Catastrophic Trajectory" Of US Debt

I’ll come to the point. Despite talk of a recovery, the economy is badly underperforming. Growth last quarter came in at just 1.8 percent. We’re not even creating enough jobs to employ new workers entering the job market, let alone the six million workers who lost their jobs during the recession. The rising cost of living is becoming a serious problem for many Americans. The Fed’s aggressive expansion of the money supply is clearly contributing to major increases in the cost of food and energy. An even bigger threat comes from the rapidly growing cost of health care, a problem made worse by the health care law enacted last year. Most troubling of all, the unsustainable trajectory of government spending is accelerating the nation toward a ruinous debt crisis. This crisis has been decades in the making. Republican administrations, including the last one, have failed to control spending. Democratic administrations, including the present one, have not been honest about the cost of the tax burden required to fund their expansive vision of government. And Congresses controlled by both parties have failed to confront our growing entitlement crisis. There is plenty of blame to go around. Years of ignoring the drivers of our debt have left our nation’s finances in dismal shape. In the coming years, our debt is projected to grow to more than three times the size of our entire economy. This trajectory is catastrophic.

"Act As If" - Greece vs America Edition

The most memorable scene from the movie Boiler Room is when the character of Ben Afleck tells the room full of wannabe brokers to "Act As If" (and in the tangent regarding male genitalia, the head of the IMF would have been wise to take the advice instead of opening his fly and disproving it). Who would have thought that a few short years later, it would be none other than insolvent countries taking this advice: specifically, America acting as if it wasn't insolvent, and Greece acting as if it was beyond saving. The irony, as William Buckler observes in his latest edition of the Privateer, is that while US debt continues to trade (if no longer be accepted) as the "Rock of Gibraltar" and Greek paper is trading with a certainty of bankruptcy, it is Greece that has taken proactive steps in taxing and spending policy, while the US has merely retrenched its profligate ways, and while much political theater takes place, nothing ever really changes. For some of the more perverse consequences of this bizarro world inversion, read below.

Reggie Middleton's picture

Anybody who has been following me since 2006 knows me to be a real estate bear. I was massively bullish from 2000 to 2005, after which I started selling off my investment assets. No, it wasn’t perfect timing, intellect, luck or a gift from God. It’s called a spreadsheet. Simply do the math and the truth will be self-evident!

Reggie Middleton's picture

When I say that much of the EU is lying about their financial prospects and Greece (among other countries) will restructure or default, you may or may not listen (quite possibly to your detriment). When the ratings agencies (who are always accurate and timely) say restructuring is on the horizon (a year after me) and the head of the Euro-zone finance ministers finance ministers outright says 'Of course we're lying', then what do you do?

Mike Krieger Exposes "The Big Lie"

"I feel completely blessed to be alive right now. To be a witness and participant in a moment in human history that will be written about and passed down in tales for as long as humanity remains on this planet. We are currently observing the evaporation of what Nazis referred to as “The Big Lie.” In very basic terms the concept of The Big Lie is that if you are going to lie you may as well lie big. So big in fact that the majority of well meaning citizenry could never imagine anyone lying on such a grand scale (particularly not their government “officials”) so that they don’t even question the basis of their own reality. In the case of the United States the Big Lie is that we have a free market capitalist economy. Instead we have a corporatist/fascist economy that enriches three main groups. Wall street financiers, the military industrial complex and large multi-national corporations that don’t pay taxes. So that begs the question, how can the American people be so brainwashed into thinking they live in this false reality? It’s very easy. It’s all about the money." Mike Krieger

Guest Post: When Does "Managed Perception" Become Reality?

When the current stock market bubble pops, the last shreds of the Fed's legitimacy will be blown away. Strip away all the distractions, and the Fed's entire campaign to "restore confidence" and "animal spirits" so that the "recovery" magically becomes "self-sustaining" is based on one thing, and only one thing: the current stock market rally. The equities rally is the only metric of "success" the Fed can point to that isn't risible. Once the rally implodes, so too does whatever remains of the legitimacy of the Fed and the Federal agencies which have aided and abetted the Fed's unprecedented propaganda campaign to replace economic reality with happy-happy "managed perceptions." The "news" is always good, because who knows what the people might do if the flimsy official facades sway in the breeze of truth and then collapse in a heap? They might demand new leadership and systemic changes that would disrupt the cozy Status Quo partnership of cartel-crony Capitalism, Wall Street and the Central State fiefdoms.