Germany Demands "Managed" Greek Default And 50% Bond Haircuts In Exchange For Expanding EFSF, Peripheral "Firewall"
Back on July 21, the same day as the Greek bailout redux hit the tape, we speculated that the biggest weakness in the Second Greek Bailout is that the EFSF would have to be expanded to well over the current E440 billion (which even at its current size has not been fully ratified in Europe, and based on recent events may not be implemented until 2012 thanks to Slovenia and Finland), or about E1.5 trillion (and possibly as much as E3.5 trillion). The reason this is a "problem" is that it would have to come exclusively at the expense of Germany which would have to pledge anywhere between 50% and 133% of its GDP (as France would have long since been downgraded and hence unable to participate in the EFSF at a AAA rating). We also assumed that the debt rollover with a 21% haircut would not be an issue as it should have been a formality: on this we were fatally wrong - the debt rollover plan has imploded and means that the entire Greek bailout has collapsed as some had expected. And now that it is clear that contagion is threatening to sweep through the core, it is back to Germany to prevent the gangrene, no longer contagion, from advancing beyond the PIIGS. However, in order to prevent a full out revolution, Germany's economic elite has said it would agree to an EFSF expansion and hence installation of European firewall, but at a price: a "controlled" default by Greece and 50% haircuts for private bondholders (as German banks have long since offloaded their Greek bonds).
This means that "Lehman" is indeed here: just like back in 2008 Paulson et al thought they could contain the adverse effects of a Lehman bankruptcy, while the financial system ground to a halt 4 days later when money market funds broke the buck, so now Greece is somehow expected to remain in the eurozone even as it files bankruptcy. How or why they think the market will buy any of this is beyond stupefying, but we are sure all those armies of lawyers who never have a practical sense of what actually ends up happening in the real world, and who are poring over tomes of EU and EUR charter to see if they can file Greece without expelling it from the Eurozone, certainly has something to do with it.
So as part of this new strategy, here are the three key components of the plan to "firewall" contagion, via the Telegraph.
Sources said the plan would have to be released as a whole, as the elements would not work in isolation.
First, Europe’s banks would have to be recapitalised with many tens of billions of euros to reassure markets that a Greek or Portuguese default would not precipitate a systemic financial crisis. The recapitalisation plan would go much further than the €2.5bn (£2.2bn) required by regulators following the European bank stress tests in July and crucially would include the under-pressure French lenders.
Officials are confident that some banks could raise the funds privately, but if they are unable they would either be recapitalised by the state or by the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) – the eurozone’s €440bn bail-out scheme.
The second leg of the plan is to bolster the EFSF. Economists have estimated it would need about Eu2 trillion of firepower to meet Italy and Spain’s financing needs in the event that the two countries were shut out of the markets. Officials are working on a way to leverage the EFSF through the European Central Bank to reach the target.
The complex deal would see the EFSF provide a loss-bearing “equity” tranche of any bail-out fund and the ECB the rest in protected “debt”. If the EFSF bore the first 20pc of any loss, the fund’s warchest would effectively be bolstered to Eu2 trillion. If the EFSF bore the first 40pc of any loss, the fund would be able to deploy Eu1 trillion.
Using leverage in this way would allow governments substantially to increase the resources available to the EFSF without having to go back to national parliaments for approval, which in a number of eurozone countries would prove highly problematic.
The arrangement is similar to the proposal made by US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to the eurozone at the September 16 EcoFin meeting in Poland. Gathering turmoil in financial markets has convinced Germany to begin work of some kind of variant of the US plan, despite having initially rejected the notion as unworkable as threatening to compromise ECB independence.
In other words, Germany will be humiliated to appear weak after conceding to Geithner's proposals even after everyone in Europe already took turns at mocking the tax cheat. Which is why Germany has decided in turn to humiliate Greece, and in the process initiate a chain of events that will bring the end of the Eurozone, albeit, mercifully, much faster.
The proposal would be hugely sensitive in Germany as its parliament has yet to ratify the July 21 agreement to allow the EFSF to inject capital into banks and buy the sovereign debt of countries not under a European Union and International Monetary Fund restructuring programme. The vote is due on September 29.
As quid pro quo for an enhanced bail-out, the Germans are understood to be demanding a managed default by Greece but for the country to remain within the eurozone. Under the plan, private sector creditors would bear a loss of as much as 50pc – more than double the 21pc proposal currently on the table. A new bail-out programme would then be devised for Greece.
And with incompetent hubris bringing us here, we are happy to see said hubris is still front and center. Because if Europe really thinks there is such a thing, quadrillion sin USD FX swap lines notwithstanding, as a "managed" bankruptcy, then it fully deserves to ride into the sunset, battling the windmills of evil shorters and vile bloggers, on the much suffering back of Don Quixote's Rossinante.