Despite all the money-printing, bond-buying, ponzi-scheming; the looming reality of a possible Greek default is spreading rapidly across the rest of peripheral European bonds. Greek 3Y bond yields are up 167bps, breaking over 23% today. The last week has seen Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish bond risk rise 12-16bps - a dramatic move off such low Q€-driven bases. Already there is chatter that Spain's resurgent Podemos party will look to negotiate restructuring their debt, which merely confirms the fact that for all the bluster, EU leaders are scared stiff of the implications of 'allowing' Greece to exit...
Life and happiness in this life under any political system directly depend upon how much our individuality (versus the crowd) is retained and to what extent we throw off manipulated illusions. Fewer and fewer people have any cognitive imperative to question the system because hypnosis and learned behavior are transferred from one generation to another. False beliefs are self-perpetuating and feed upon one another. The more generations accepting myths, the more reinforcing they become. The creation of the mass mind and/or mass consciousness is the secret weapon of the ruling elite.
The new normal is a global faith in inexorable technological advancement as a cure-all to every predicament we face. In many ways, it's become the dominant religion of the 21st century. Sadly, there are a growing number of threats for which 'improved' technologies actually exacerbate the risks (particularly in regards to depleting critical resources) -- but society refuses to acknowledge this, as it runs counter to the tech-as-savoir meme so many are pinning their hopes on...
Think the market is overvalued? Believe US equities are artificially propped up by corporate buyback plunge protection? Wonder if a complete disconnect between stocks and economic fundamentals portends troubled waters ahead? Well, it will cost you to express your opinion via long puts, because as Bloomberg reports, S&P index downside protection is now the most expensive it's ever been relative to long calls.
Update: as always is the case in Europe, nothing is confirmed until it is officially denied by officials, so here you go: GREEK GOVT OFFICIAL DENIES FT REPORT GREECE PLANNING DEFAULT
It should hardly come as a surprise that after the latest round of Greek pre-negotiation negotiations with the Troika, in which the Greek representative was said to behave like a taxi driver, who "just asked where the money was and insisted his country would soon be bankrupt" and in which the Eurozone members "were disappointed and shocked at Athens' lack of movement in its plans, and in particular its reluctance to talk about cutting civil servants' pensions" that the next Greek step is to fall back - yet again - to square zero: threats of an imminent default. Which is precisely what, according to the FT, has happened "Greece is preparing to take the dramatic step of declaring a debt default unless it can reach a deal with its international creditors by the end of April."
Who could have seen that coming? With Treasury yields pressing lows of the day since the US open, and AAPL in the red; the stop-hunt in stocks this morning is now starting to fade back into reality as Crude oil prices gave up gains and went red and reports appear that Greece is preparing to default... The Dow and S&P are now red on the day.
While today's macro calendar is empty with no central bank speakers or economic news (just the monthly budget (deficit) statement this afternoon), it’s a fairly busy calendar for us to look forward to this week as earnings season kicks up a gear in the US as mentioned while Greece headlines and the G20 finance ministers meeting on Thursday mark the non-data related highlights.
“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” ? George Orwell
“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you mad.” ? Aldous Huxley
Giving up the spotlight is never easy. The United States, like many aging celebrities, is struggling to share the stage with new faces, especially China. The upcoming meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank – two institutions dominated by the US and its Western allies – provide an ideal opportunity to change that. The US must come to terms with the reality that the world has changed. The longer the US remains in a state of denial, the more damage it will do to its interests and its global influence, which remains substantial, if more constrained than before.
GE’s announcement that its getting out of the finance business should be a reminder of how crony capitalism is corrupting and debilitating the American economy. The ostensible reason the company is unceremoniously dumping its 25-year long build-up of the GE Capital mega-bank is that it doesn’t want to be regulated by Washington as a systematically important financial institution under Dodd-Frank. Oh, and that its core industrial businesses have better prospects. We will see soon enough about its oilfield equipment and wind turbine business, or indeed all of its capital goods oriented businesses in a radically deflationary world drowning in excess capacity. But at least you can say good riddance to GE Capital because it was based on a phony business model that was actually a menace to free market capitalism. Its deplorable raid on the public purse during the Lehman crisis had already demonstrated that in spades.
Mohamed El-Erian's comments this week caused a stir among the status quo-huggers, as they were clearly a valuation call on the financial markets suggesting that currently having capital invested was likely to yield substantially lower or negative return in the future. This is an extremely important concept in understanding the "real value of cash." Not unlike the rhetoric of the late 1990’s or mid-2000’s, there is no shortage of rationalizations for why such currently extraordinary valuations are reasonable and justifiable. The fact remains firmly in place, stocks are expensive. Of course, since Wall Street does not make fees on investors holding cash, maybe there is another reason they are so adamant that you remain invested all the time.
The Middle East’s ongoing descent into chaos and China’s impending ascendancy to the status of global superpower are just two of the many threats that the US, European Union and Russia all share. Each of these issues should certainly occupy a higher position on their respective agendas than the breakup of Ukraine or the insolvency of Greece. Leaders of all three governments would be well-advised to set aside their differences, or at least to prevent those differences from obstructing cooperation on more important issues. Unlike its predecessor, the Second Cold War will not be bilateral. Today’s world is far more chaotic, kinetic and dangerous than it was fifty years ago.
We simply don’t see any time in the future that would see Americans start spending again at a rate anywhere near what would be required for an economic recovery. However, that is by no means a generally accepted point of view in the financial press; and so these issues must be addressed time and again until people begin to understand, and quit making the wrong decisions for the wrong reasons. People have a right to know what’s truly happening to their lives, and their societies. And they’re not nearly getting enough of it through the ‘official’ press.