We Aren't In Kansas Anymore

Tyler Durden's picture

Via Mark J. Grant, author of Out of the Box,

While the citizens of Athens rioted and threw Molotov Cocktails outside of their Parliament the elected officials narrowly passed the new austerity measures demanded by the Troika last night. They have a budget vote left, likely to be passed, and then the focus will shift to the IMF and the European Union and whether they will fund and how it will be done. The Greek government says it will run out of money on November 16 and the country has debt payments to be made on November 21. Last night’s vote in Athens was only the first page in the current chapter and there are a number of open questions left. Prepare for the European 'fiscal cliff'...


Will the IMF fund?
The International Monetary Fund has said that they will not unless it appears that the Greeks can pay back their debt. With an actual debt to GDP ratio now around 800% I think it can be said with certainty that the task is impossible even as the Troika says the same ratio is 190%. The difference between my number and their number is just what is counted. I count in exactly the same fashion as IBM or GE tallies up their balance sheet. I include all of the liabilities of the nation and then divide by them by their steeply declining GDP or revenues. I include the direct sovereign debt, bank debt guaranteed by Greece which is mostly used as collateral at the ECB. I count their $90 billion in guaranteed derivatives and I include the corporate debt in Greece that is guaranteed by the country along with their regional debt that is Federally backed. When all is said and done you arrive at my number by simple arithmetic and then division. The IMF has suggested that the ECB and the EU should take losses on their holdings, which both have refused to do to date,  and so the IMF may refuse to fund either their part of the next tranche or provide any new money for the two year extension that has been asked for by Greece.
Will the European Union Fund?
Several countries such as Austria, Finland and the Netherlands have stated publically that they will not use any more of their country’s money for Greece. We shall see. Then there is the two year extension of payments asked for by Athens which would require another $40-50 billion in additional money and who is going to pick up this bill remains an open question. We may have reached the point in the road where new debt to pay off old debt coupled with a total increase in the debt burden is no longer politically acceptable to some nations and so gets quashed as Freya and Athena are locked in mortal combat. The tranche payments plus the extension payment total $78-88 billion and I expect a significant pushback from a number of nations. The PSI card has been played, the shove it under the rug card has been played, the hide the bacon card has been played, the band of brother’s card has been waved around and now, like at the end of a long drawn out dinner; who is going to pick up the tab?
Cliff Hanging
Make no mistake; we are caught between three cliffs at present. Each of them presents a systemic challenge. The first is Greece because with a total of $1.5 trillion in debts a default would be cataclysmic. The next abyss is labeled “Spain” because they will be forced to the wall and the total price tag will amount to around $400-500 billion in my estimation. This includes bank debt guaranteed by the nation, their sovereign debt plus the regional debt that has been guaranteed by the nation. The actual debt to GDP ratio for Spain is about 245% and not the 90% number concocted by the EU to give the illusion of a prettier party dress. So much for all of the pledged money in the ESM fund; all gone and thanks for all the fish. Finally we have the “Fiscal Cliff” in the United States where some combination of entitlement’s reduction and new taxes will get implemented hopefully. These three and quite clear “Cliffs” should be bringing you back to Grant’s Rules 1-10: “Preservation of Capital” because if anything goes amiss on any of these dangerous walks then systemic shock could develop and your portfolios could take massive losses. Coupling the “Cliffs” with a stark recession in Europe and its contagion, a significant slow-down in China, declining earnings in America and you can begin to see the seriousness of our economic and markets position now; a lot of risk!
“There she stood discussing financial prudence with the Munchkins. The road did not need to be yellow and money could be saved by leaving the bricks in their natural state. The Lollipop Guild did not need to have any more galas and the Lullaby League needed to cancel their annual dinner. She was shouting and waving her wand like the silly scarecrow trying to ward off the crows and then Dorothy’s house fell on her head. Had she only looked up; the Wicked Witch of the East would have been alive today. Always remember to look up!”
                     -The Wizard
A Simple Solution
I am a conservative fellow by nature; my Kansas City roots I suppose. I am good with some risk positions but I also want to go to bed at night without undue worries spilling over into my sleep and creating unpleasant dreams. I will forego certain opportunities to achieve a good night’s sleep. No matter which way we turn now we are faced by three rocky cliffs that cannot be ignored and any one of them could send the equity markets into a tizzy which is why I suggest bonds and senior debt as a much more comfortable place to park your cash. We have seen a tremendous compression in bonds by the way during the last four months so that the combination of the coupon and the appreciation has performed equally well, if not better, than the performance of the stock markets. In the case of America there is also the possibility and the odds are at about 90% here that many people and perhaps institutions are going to be faced with higher taxes. If you consider this carefully and toss in the comparison of “A” to “AAA” rated securities on an apples-to-apples basis then you have to look at Municipal Bonds as maybe the best answer to the use of money now as many yield significantly more than their taxable counterparts even without including the tax implications. There is decent liquidity in the Muni Markets and some of the balance sheets, especially of the States, are far superior to the balance sheet of the nation. If the $600 billion “Fiscal Cliff” of the United States is to be solved then I think you will see a substantial amount of compression in Municipal Bonds as people and institutions recognize the significant value of their safety and of their yield. Think what you like but present circumstances force the quote from the Wizard of Oz:
“Toto, I’ve got a feeling we aren’t in Kansas anymore.”

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orangedrinkandchips's picture

I know, I know, it's just me....



IndicaTive's picture

They'd better come up with a plan. Quick!

MillionDollarBogus_'s picture

This is like an endless soap opera....

The actors change, but the story line goes on...

El Viejo's picture

There's a storyline?? I thought they were ad-libbing.

Manthong's picture

“Unusual weather we're having, ain't it?”

-Cowardly Lion (upon noticing the "snow" falling on the poppy field)

ACP's picture

Here's some evidence...Walmart opening 8pm Thanksgiving night in order to cannibalize from other retailers:


tbone654's picture

they say it's because their customers want to go to bed early...  I appreciate their effort.

tbone654's picture

The problem is, only about 2% of the electorate know that we are fucked...  The rest are playing with their iPhones and watching MSNBC...

I used to own a trucking company... When things got bad I stopped paying my bills and started going to the casino every day instead...  I knew I was fucked, but I still had to try, so I became that desparate.  Instead of paying for fuel, I bought myself one last fling.

Someone else I know threw their kid a HUGE birthday party with the last "grand" in her checking account.  Great party, but we all knew she couldn't afford it...  But she wanted her kids to remember that party if she was going "busted"

that's what we're doing... and Tuesday nights results were one last party...  Cell phones for everyone...

El Viejo's picture

When I was in school I lived with a couple of friends. We were all unemployed and we asked each other how much money we had. It totalled up to about 20 dollars. So we bought a bottle of wine and fixings for spaggetti. After the meal we retired to the front porch. In the driveway drove a guy looking for someone to do some work for him. He had heard about the work we did for someone else. Tell me there's no God.

tbone654's picture

Our old nanny and her husband took their last $20 and went to Panera for coffee...  they prayed and cried (4 kids) for an hour...  She claims I called her and told her I had the $400 I owed her for setting up a trade show for me, and could I drop it off...  She had faith that God would take care of it.  Tell me there's no god...

infotechsailor's picture

i dont understand the old man's story, but TBONE that's a perfect analogy, this is exactly what's going on .. not just in the US but in Europe as well.

One last hurrah before the music stops

tbone654's picture

I know the Irish are doing it for sure...  Then getting in line for their bailout...  The MoneyBall Lewis guy wrote a second book about Iceland, Greece, Irish, etc.  scary as all get out...

When I bankrupted my company it was easy... been telling everyone to do it before all their neighbors beat them too it and THEY are the ones holding their dicks in their hands...   First in... First out...  I went busted, and now just 2 years later I have a house thats NOT underwater, no debt, 2 six figure salaries, plus a hotdog cart just in case things get bad again...  How's that bad?  First in... First out...

sad but true...  it's the system... 

Mad Mohel's picture

Well, did you win at the casino?

tbone654's picture

yes but not enough...  I needed about $12,000 a month to make my nut...  bankrupted the company...

El Viejo's picture

Years after school I was layed off from a small computer company. I had just bought my first house and was low on cash. I sent out 70 resumes in March. By November I had $200 in my checking account and my payment next month was over $700. A friend told me about some work for a technical company. They paid me a couple of thousand for the work and I made my house payment. In December I was walking in Home Depot and ran into a former boss who asked me if I was doing anything and when I said no responded with We need someone right now. Tell me there's no God.

tbone654's picture

my wife was volunteering at little league concession stand...  Someone said Hi to her, and she responded Hi Mary...  had not seen her in 5 yerars...  Mary went to work and said "hey I just saw Deb at little league, how about her?"...  3 weeks later my wife was making 6 figures again.  thank goodness she remembered her name at little league...  Tell me there is no God.

I'm an IT contractor now... 50+ year old white guy who knows everything...  can go long periods without a gig...  At the time my wife got this job I couldn't catch a cold.  Grabbed my laptop and a perl book, and started writing trading models again...  While she was paying the bills, I was building up my trading account...  Whew! that was close...  All good again, and back to the casino...  Tell me there is no God...

But I can't see ever having employees again...  I'll buy contractors before I do that again...  Which usually means everyone else is thinking the same thing...  Family businesses are the future...  and thinking like a cheater...

El Viejo's picture


The US government’s major concern at the end of the Second World War was to maintain the full employment that had been achieved thanks to the tremendous war effort. It also wanted to guarantee that there would be a trade surplus in relations between the US and the rest of the world. |2| But the major industrialized countries that could import US commodities were literally penniless. For European countries to be able to buy US goods they had to be provided with lots of dollars. But how? Through grants or through loans?

To put it simply, the US reasoning line went as follows: if we lend European countries on our side the money they need to rebuild their economy, how are they going to pay us back? They will no longer have the dollars we lent them since they used them to buy from us. So there are only three possibilities. First possibility: they pay us back in kind. Second possibility: they pay us back with dollars. Third possibility: we give them the money so that they can recover.

In the first hypothesis, if they pay us back in kind, their goods will compete with ours on our home market, full employment will be jeopardized, profits will fall. This is not a good solution.

In the second hypothesis, they cannot use the dollars they received on loan to pay us back since they have used them to buy our goods. Consequently, if they are to pay us back, we have to lend them the same amount (which they owe us) again, with interest added. The risk of being caught in an infernal cycle of indebtedness (which puts a stop or slows down the smooth running of business) is added to the risk attached to the first possibility. If Europeans try not to accumulate debts towards us they will try and sell their goods on our home market. They will thus get some of the dollars they need to pay us back. But this will not be enough to rid them of their debts. And it will lower the rate of employment in the US. |3|

We are left with the third possibility: rather than lend money to Europeans (via the World Bank or not) it seems appropriate to give them the amount of dollars they need to build up their economy within a fairly short time. Europeans will use the donated dollars to buy goods and services from the US. This will guarantee an outlet for US exports, hence full employment. Once economic reconstruction is achieved Europeans will not be riddled with debts and will be able to pay for what they buy from us.

The US authorities thus concluded that they had better proceed by grants, and therefore launched the Marshall Plan.

Above from: http://cadtm.org/The-Marshall-Plan-and-the-Debt

Also see: http://cadtm.org/Greece-Germany-who-owes-who-Part-2

NotApplicable's picture

What's the problem here? Just sell more bonds, duh.

eclectic syncretist's picture

That can't be done so indiscriminately that the general populace begins to understand the built-in unamerican unfairness of the Government/Central Bank business model that imagineers money for the unfettered benefit of a few at the cost of economic enslavement of many.

Anyway, trading volume is back big time so banks revenues should be up, and downgrades to US debt could result in increased interest payments to banks for interest on the national debt.  They're still in control.

But you're right, sell more bonds (read "imagineer more money") they will.

GCT's picture

+1 MDB I am glad to see your coming around to our way of thinking. You are indeed correct TPTB do provide us with and endless soap opera.  I am proud of you for so elequently putting it that way.

Not too many actors changed though.  You missed that call.  I am glad your understanding more and more everyday you read ZH!

Silver Bug's picture

Greece just get it over with! Save yourselves from the IMF, keep something real before they completely try to hollow you out and then you have to default anyway!



El Viejo's picture

Duh what's wrong with the Icelandic solution?


bidaskspread's picture

The Icelandic solution only works if you remove the bankster's d!ck out your ass first.

madcows's picture

and that only works if they haven't bought your government first.

To Iceland, where integrity still survives.

Chaos_Theory's picture

and some of the most beautiful women you will ever see!  Bjork being the wierd exception.

The Gooch's picture

Dust in the wind, bitchez.

silverserfer's picture

Answer: Theocracy delivered to you by Skynet with robot religous police and scanned barcodes for money.

TeamDepends's picture

The Beast is all talk.  Can't wait to smash his teeth into his brain.

ptoemmes's picture

An imaginary chat between Greece and the rest of the world: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyPFQKpRnd0

sdmjake's picture

Thanks...The election season left me feeling a bit like Daffy.

madcows's picture

Make the debt big enough, and no level of austerity will fix it.

That's where America is now.  Monetization won't fix it.  Extend and pretend won't fix it.  Only bankruptcy will fix it.  Prepare accordingly, that is where we are headed.

NotApplicable's picture

Which is why bankruptcy will never, EVER be allowed. One doesn't create these strangleholds in order to allow them to be fixed out of existence.

madcows's picture

no.  the banker's goal would have been to keep us in debt without it reaching the level it is at.  That would have ensured their perpetual income.  But, the politician's kept borrowing in order to secure power.  now, we have reached the point of no return.  the bankers won't get their money back.  that's why bernanke has gone all in with QEInfinity and beyond.  a day late and 16 trillion dollars short.  she ain't coming back.  this ship has set sail.  the die is cast.  all that is left is the collapse.

Zadok's picture

That's ok because it's not really money. They just strip the genuine assets while we trade deflating paper until its done.

Pretty good one, not just a ponzi but perpetrated with counterfeit money as well.

Evil genius at work.

youngman's picture

What no Gold or Silver mentioned.....

Aguadulce's picture

If you make a molotov cocktail with an Ouzo bottle, does it refuse to work?

kralizec's picture

Greece just doesn't know how to run Obamanomics right, jeesh, pikers!

NEOSERF's picture

I expect as soon as Reid and Boner come out with smiles, handshakes and hugs congratulating themselves on the delay of austerity they will concoct that Moody's and Fitch immediately downgrade the US.  Similarly, I would expect that France is taken down the same week to put pressure on the EU to do something quick...this game is in overtime minutes now.

cooperbry's picture

Is this Greek revenge against Germany or something?  I mean, if Europe is stupid enough to keep giving Greece more money, Greece would be stupid not to take it.  Sometimes, you just can't fix stupid.

Yen Cross's picture

 "The Greek government says it will run out of money on November 16 and the country has debt payments to be made on November 21." 

No worries, the Greeks can start the ultimate casino and issue IOUs...

leadingmarkets's picture

The system is going down. Making as much money as I can before the collapse. Stocks from these guys have helped me out a $$$$ http://orbitstocks.com

Vegetius's picture

I was looking at the rioting in Greece last night. Serious step up in the type petrol bombs being used. Good to see that people are using their education in a positive and constructive way. Looked like blast type bombs were also used, next stop pipe bombs and then the all-time favourite of the Proletariat, Car bombs. 



A Lunatic's picture

Have they tried holding a toga party/beer summit yet.........?

machineh's picture

So much for all of the pledged money in the ESM fund.

Several tens of billions of pledged capital contributions were due on Oct. 21st.

Wonder whether anyone actually paid up? Or is ESM just treating those pledges as 'accounts receivable'?

scatterbrains's picture

Could it be possible that a 1+ % yield on the 10yr in the face of 9% real inflation (shadow stats version) that  the 10yr is and has been telling us that yes we are going off the cliff bitchezz and gdp is about to tank hard ?  Could it be right there in front of our faces yet completely ignored by equities ?

Yen Cross's picture

ES approaching the 200day. Ahhoooga! Blow the tanks on this U-Boat> dive... dive...

   [1378.51] simple on my futures platform.

ebworthen's picture

CNBC doing a "Rise Above" campaign to encourage the red pill and blue pill teams to come together (collude) and give the American middle class another enema.

"The banks must not fail!"

"Bonuses must continue!"

"The markets must not fail!"

"Government must not fail!"

A Lunatic's picture

Too bad the average Joe will never have a 'rise above' campaign of his own and throw off the shackles of greed and complacency and tear off the hand that feeds him.

monopoly's picture

Please tell me this shit will not last another 4 years. And I don't know if I can take 4 more years of Obama's speeches. Make it end, please.