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ECB Preparing To Close Liquidity Spigot?

With the hopes and dreams of every long-only manager and beta-chaser now resting on the broad shoulders of nominal-wealth-creators at the European Central Bank and its LTRO 2 offering, today's news from Reuters that 'powerful members of the ECB's council are privately hoping demand will fall well short of the EUR1tn that many expect' confirms their hope that it will be the last. Critically, as we have discussed before, markets are becoming used to the pump and will expect endless LTRO (especially given the moves in bank stock prices - while credit has underperformed significantly in the last week or two) and central bank sources tell Reuters 'they are worried that banks will become too reliant on ECB funds'. This is exactly the unintended consequence we warned about as the banks will become less incentivized to lend and create credit to drive the real economy (even as the nominal economy - or equity market) surges. The implicitly hawkish stance increasingly being taken by the ECB as Weidmann warns of the 'too generous' supply of cheap/free-money should prompt concerns that the ECB will close the liquidity spigot sooner than consensus hopes and as is evident from last April/May's tightening and the exuberant expectations priced into stocks for more printing, perhaps credit's recent weakness signals that asset prices are overdone here (especially as there is no sign of credit creation in the real economy and ECB reserves continue to rise).



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Greek FinMin Dispenses Words Of Advice On Fixing Greece

The only soundbite of note from the prandially inaustere finance minister's speech in Athens this afternoon.

  • VENIZELOS SAYS MUST REBUILD GREECE WITH WORK, WORK, WORK -BBG

Oddly, there was no mention whether or not said said work leads to freedom.



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Gold Surges As Market Remembers Definition Of "Dilution"

Yesterday, when charting the global multi-trillion central bank stealth reliquification (aka the primary driver for the market to surge 20% in the past several months, and since "the market, or Russell 2000 is the economy" just as the ChairSatan, to result in what naive commentators define as an economic bounce), we said "As a reminder, when gold was at $1900 last summer, central banks had pumped about $2 trillion less into the markets. We expect the market to grasp this discrepancy shortly." With gold about $30 bucks higher, the market is finally starting to "grasp it", and is now back to $1755, as silver passes $34. 



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Same Time, Same Place - Greek Labor Unions Waste No Time In Scheduling Tomorrow's Athens Protest

That didn't take long. From Athens News: "Greece's two biggest labor unions, GSEE and ADEDY, on Tuesday announced plans for a protest rally on Syntagma Square on Wednesday. Starting at 4 p.m., the protest march is scheduled to coincide with a vote in Parliament on an emergency bill aimed at slashing state spending further through cuts to pensions and salaries, to which Greece is bound by its most recent bailout agreement." Parliaments is planning on further spending cuts? To what? Zero? Negative? And one can bet their bottom dollar, the tax collectors, already urged to increase their efficiency by 200%, will be present, and certainly not tripling their work output while peacefully consuming lungfulls of tear gas.



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The Eurogroup Statement - Some Thoughts And Questions

It is hard to read the document without a sense that the Troika is no longer “helping” Greece, but running Greece. You think they would have chosen not to specifically use the phrase “permanent presence on the ground in Greece” given the connotation of “boots on the ground”. Then there is the focus on the “escrow” account.  Why is there a need to pre-fund each quarters debt service payments. Add to this the Eurosystem 'profit' distribution, the PSI and CA changes, and the NCBs not charging interest on GGBs? We will now see what the market has “priced in” but we think it has priced in too much, and there will be roadblocks to this deal going through, with PSI in particular being a potential problem.



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Meanwhile, China Moves From Currency Wars To Trade Wars

As markets replay the same identical reaction to the same identical Greek news that we saw back on July 21, 2011 (and we all know where that went), something else entirely and more troubling is going on behind the scenes. Because as the world was transfixed on regurgitated news out of Greece, which will without a shadow of a doubt end up with a far worse 2020 debt/GDP scenario than the IMF's downside case per the sustainability report (first posted in its entirety here on Zero Hedge last night, and which assumes just a 1% decline in Greek 2013 GDP), China just escalated currency wars into outright trade wars. Because as China Daily reports, "Chinese exports are set to get a tax boost." Translated: even as China pushes the CNY higher in infinitesimal and irrelevant increments to appease US Congress, it has just taken out the trade stimulus bazooka. Why? "Export tax rebates will be increased this year in response to an export decline triggered by the European debt crisis. The move, which Commerce Ministry officials said will be implemented when the time is appropriate, will be the first increase since 2009." Still think Europe is fixed? China's answer: nope.



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Greek CDS Trigger Priced In

As the Greek parliament supposedly votes on the introduction of CACs into the outstanding Greek government bonds (governed under Greek law), the Greek bond and credit derivative market has reacted strongly. The price for the basis package (buying the Greek bond and simultaneously buying credit protection on that bond) has jumped to six-month highs and Greek CDS has broken to 73% upfront (record highs). Prices of some GGBs are up today - driven by technical demand for bond-CDS basis traders and also demand for some of the more liquid UK-law bonds - but most are down with the short-end suffering the greatest losses. The bottom line is this shift in the CDS and bond market for Greece suggests a very high likelihood of a credit event 'trigger' in the not-too-distant future and while net notionals are manageable and collateralized, there is always gap days (like today) which mean big cash needs for collateral managers and the unknowable impact of the daisy-chain of gross notionals to worry about.



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The Morning After Caption Contest

Because a(nother) pyrrhic victory is still a victory.



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For Greece, "Tomorrow" Has Arrived

The day dawns with a deal for Greece that is full of smoke and mirrors; lies and deceptions. It is a deal pretty much as expected and, as I have said before, now the realities are going to be confronted. Europe has spun the agreement and the Euro has rallied some and the S&P futures are up but the next few weeks, I am afraid, will hold some serious disappointments. The page turns today because now we are about to confront not what is told to us but the actuality of what has been presented to us and just what will happen as a result.



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Summarizing The Open Questions Surrounding The Second Greek Bailout

Think this time around finally the Greek deal is done? Think again. OpenEurope lists the "many" questions still surrounding the second Greek bailout that remain unanswered. We would add that this is hardly an exhaustive list, and believe the key question, to put it simply, is a CAC is a MAC? Because if the answer is yes, the deal is off.



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Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: February 21

Heading into the North American open, equities are trading lower with the benchmark EU volatility index up 1.6%, with financials underperforming on concerns that the latest Greek bailout deal will need to be revised yet again. Officials said that the deal will require Greece’s private creditors to take a deeper write-down on the face value of their EUR 200bln in holdings than first agreed. The haircut on the face value of privately held Greek debt will now be over 53%. As a result of the measures adopted, the creditors now assume that Greece’s gross debt will fall to just over 120% of GDP by 2020, from around 164% currently, according to the officials. However as noted by analysts at the Troika in their latest debt sustainability report - “…there are notable risks. Given the high prospective level and share of senior debt, the prospects for Greece to be able to return to the market in the years following the end of the new program are uncertain and require more analysis”. Still, Bunds are down and a touch steeper in 2/10s under moderately light volume, while bond yield spreads around Europe are tighter.



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Greek PSI - A First Attempt At Valuing

Depending on what yield you apply to the new Greek bonds, then the package is worth 21.5% to 26.25%. Since bonds are trading with accrued and accrued will be paid in 6 months, the real question comes down to what you believe is the value of these new bonds. If there is an amortization schedule, that would change the valuation positively... We still haven’t seen retroactive CAC clauses implemented, but assuming that they are, I’m not sure why the Troika would accept a 95% rate and not trigger, but it seems worth taking the risk. The ECB swap may be illegal. The retroactive CAC may be illegal. The Troika seems like it wants to pretend there is no default if at all possible, in spite of the write-down of more than 50% of the debt.



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Frontrunning: February 21

  • Spiegel: Stop the 130-billion bank transfer! (Spiegel)
  • Greece Wins Bailout as Europe Chooses Aid Over Default (Bloomberg)
  • Greek pro-bailout parties at all-time low, poll shows (Reuters)
  • Eurozone agrees €130bn Greek bail-out (FT)
  • Top Banks in EU Rush for Safety (WSJ)
  • Medvedev Adviser Says Kudrin Would Be Better Prime Minister (Bloomberg)
  • US and Mexico in landmark oil deal (FT)
  • McCain calls for US to support Syria rebels (FT)
  • Coal Shipments to India Overtaking China on Fuel Shortage (Bloomberg)
  • Gillard Shrugs Off Ousting Threat (WSJ)


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Goldman's Greek Deal Summary: Increased Likelihood Of CDS Trigger And CAC Use Will Lead To Volatility

While we await for Thomas Stolper to issue his latest flip flop and to go long the EURUSD again ("tactically", not "strategically"), here is Francesco Garzarelli's take on the Greek bailout.Here is the biggest issue: "Increased likelihood of CDS: Moreover, higher losses inflicted on the private sector, involving the likely activation of CACs and the triggering of CDS, represent sources of near-term volatility." Bingo. Now as we pointed out in the previous post, a "successful" and completely undefined PSI program is a key precondition to the program. However, with bondholders now certain to throw up, and the requisite 75% (forget 95%) acceptance threshold unlike to be reached, will the use of Collective Action Clauses, and thus a CDS trigger constitute a PSI failure, and thus deal breach? In other words, since we now know that the March 20 bond payment will be part of the PSI, is last night's farce merely a way to avoid giving Greece a bridge loan, and putting its fate in the hands of creditors, which as we noted back in January is a lose-lose strategy?



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