With Greece teetering on the edge of insolvency and forced to raid pension and most other public funds, ahead of another month of heavy IMF repayments which has prompted even the ECB to speculate Greece should introduce a parallel "IOU" currency, a white knight has appeared out of nowhere for Greece, one who may offer $5 billion in urgently needed cash. The white knight is none other than Vladimir Putin.
A large number of European countries have effectively quarantined Greece in a bid to minimize the consequences on their credit systems in case of a Greek "accident." As ekathimerini reports, the actions are being taken in order to shield themselves and minimize the danger of contagion in case the negotiations between the Greek government and the eurozone do not bear fruit. This has sparked broad-based selling across global risk assets but particularly in Europe. Stocks from Germany to Spain are having their worst day of the year, European sovereign bond risk is exploding higher (contagion Mr. Schaeuble?), and Greek bank bonds and stocks are getting crushed.
It is quite obvious that Russia cannot substitute the West and in particular European countries with someone else. It is impossible for historical and cultural reasons, the abundance of industrial relations, geographical proximity and so on. Moscow can however substantially weaken such dependency through the strengthening of political, military, financial and economic relations with other countries which are friendlier and less susceptible to pressure from Washington. Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) holds a special place amongst countries friendly to the Russian government, and strategic dialogue is being actively developed with it.
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."
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.
Beijing has reportedly threatened to shut down Sina Weibo which China’s internet czar claims is disseminating false information, providing a platform for terrorists, questioning the “facts,” not exercising enough censorship, and, much like the townsfolk of colonial era Salem, “propagating heresy”.
Gold “Going Higher” and “A Big Buy Here” ...
"The April 7th, 2015 power outage in Washington DC is curious to say the least. Virtually instantaneously, the government declare it was not a terrorist attack. After all, how could that possibly be when the NSA guards the country. If there was an attack on the power-grid, then the NSA would have to answer for their failure. So clearly, if it was an attack, they would never admit it."
Gold prices jumped overnight on initial rumors and again in the last hour as Indian officials note that March Gold imports surged to 125 tons (more than double last March's 60 tons). As Reuters reports, Gold imports in the fiscal year 2014/15 ended March 31 jumped to 900 tonnes, up 36% from a year ago. Surging imports are helped by a falling price since the beginning of the year combined with the relaxation of government (capital control) import restrictions, and despite further efforts by the government to "monetize gold."
- Nikkei tops 20,000, Europe hits 15-year high (Reuters)
- GE to sell real estate holdings, sets $50 billion share buyback (Reuters)
- Iran’s Middle Class Plans for Life After a Deal (BBG)
- Walgreens to Close 200 Stores as It Expands Cost Cuts (WSJ)
- Hillary Clinton expected to announce presidential run as soon as this weekend (Reuters)
- It will cost $1.5 billion to keep Deutsche Bank Libor Manipulators out of prison (USA Today)
- Police Cameras Bring Problems of Their Own (WSJ)
- Obama says concerned China bullying others in South China Sea (Reuters)
- Investors Revive Appetite for Asian Junk Bonds (WSJ)
While Germany has pre-emptively, and somewhat defensively, come out proclaiming Russian aid to Greece as 'no big deal' - a "routine event" - we suspect the signal that it would send would not be entirely great for the EU (and Obama's) 'Russia is evil' meme. Nonetheless, as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras meets Russian President Vladimir Putin today - just one day before The IMF loan repoayment is due, topics for discussion vary from lifting sanctions (bilaterally) or bankrolling a bailout to gas discount from Gazprom. Here's a summary...
For a second time within a couple of weeks, Greek Defense Minister and leader of coalition government junior partner Independent Greeks, Panos Kammenos warned that if the European Union keeps undermining the coalition government and the country exit or is forced to exit the Euro “waves of migrants: will stream from Turkey to Europe and among them there would be ISIS “radicals.” Speaking to THE TIMES, Kammenos said: “The gross meddling into [Greek] domestic affairs isn’t just unheard for European standards, it’s unethical and it’s dangerous. If Greece goes, then a lot more than financial stability and the euro is at stake.” “If Greece is expelled or forced out of the eurozone, waves of immigrants without papers, including radical elements, will stream from Turkey and head towards the heart of the West."