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Citi's Buiter Goes All Maya On The GRexit

While Citi's Willem Buiter believes that the new coalition in Greece removes the very short-term risk of GRexit, as he notes in an Op-Ed in the FT today that "minimum demands for relaxation of fiscal austerity by the new government will not exceed the maximum fiscal austerity concessions Germany is willing to make", he does think the TROIKA "unlikely to tolerate another failure to comply on all fronts by the December assessment" leading to an end-2012 Armageddon a la the Maya. The "willful non-compliance" with the conditionality of the TROIKA program also brings doubt on the willingness of core eurozone nations to "take on significant exposures to Spain and Italy unless it can be established unambiguously that a willfully and persistently non-compliant program beneficiary will be denied further funding". His succinct summation of the "onion-like unpeeling and unraveling" of the Euro's endgame is perfectly described as: "The greatest fear of the core nations is not the collapse of the euro area but the creation of an open-ended, uncapped transfer union without a surrender of national sovereignty to the supra-national European level" as he sees material risk of "procrastination and policy paralysis".

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Guest Post: The Master Narrative Nobody Dares Admit: Centralization Has Failed

The primary "news" narrative may be the failure of the euro, but the master narrative is much, much bigger: centralization has failed. The failure of Europe's "ultimate centralization project" is but a symptom of a global failure of centralization. Though many look at China's command-economy as proof that the model of Elite-controlled centralization is a roaring success, let's check in on China's stability and distribution of prosperity in 2021 before declaring centralization an enduring success. The pressure cooker is already hissing and the flame is being turned up every day. What's the key driver of this master narrative? Technology, specifically, the Internet. Gatekeepers and centralized authority are no match for decentralized knowledge and decision-making. Once a people don't need to rely on a centralized authority to tell them what to do, the centralized authority becomes a costly impediment, a tax on the entire society and economy. In a cost-benefit analysis, centralization once paid significant dividends. Now it is a drag that only inhibits growth and progress. The Eurozone is the ultimate attempt to impose an intrinsically inefficient and unproductive centralized authority on disparate economies, and we are witnessing its spectacular implosion. Centralization acts as a positive feedback, i.e. a self-reinforcing loop that leads to a runaway death spiral.

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Live Webcast Of Formal Spanish Bank Bailout Capital Needs Announcement

For our Spanish-speaking viewers, here is the webcast during which the final results of the Oliver Wyman et al consultancy report identifying insolvent Spanish bank capital needs will be presented. This conference is not to be confused with the July 2011 stress test which saw all Spanish banks passing with flying colors. We know very well that the cap at this conference is €100 billion even if the final need will be far higher. The only question is how much of its credibility will Oliver Wyman sacrifice to create a short term bounce in Spanish bonds by undercutting the real number, even as the real bailout needs creep ever higher.

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Europe's Economic Implosion In One Chart

The chart below, courtesy of Stone McCarthy, shows monthly exports to Europe. It says enough.

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Asia's Downside Risk And The Three Big Hopes

'Risks are all to the downside for Asia' is the view of UBS' global macro team. It appears the markets are pinning their optimism on growth and earnings over the next year on three hopes: that the US will not fall off its 'fiscal cliff'; that Europe will 'muddle through'; and that China will pull Asia out of the current morass. Duncan Wooldridge takes on each of these 'hopes' noting that he expects Asian exporters to be far more likely to pull back on investment and take a wait and see attitude than simply ride into the breach.

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Beggars Are Choosers As Greece Calls TROIKA's Bluff

Greece's newly confident coalition party has issued a list of zee-demands, via Bloomberg:


And of course TROIKA will be happy to comply, in exchange for some of that shiny yellow stuff (as we noted here). Though we have a response already:

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Guest Post: Who Destroyed The Middle Class - Part 2

The middle class has a gut feeling they are being screwed by somebody, they just can’t figure out who to blame. The ultra-wealthy elite keep up an endless cacophony of propaganda and misinformation designed to confuse an increasingly uneducated and willfully ignorant public while blurring the facts for those educated few capable of understanding the truth. They have been able to keep the masses dumbed down through government run education; distracted by sports, reality TV, Facebook, internet porn, and igadgets; lured by mass media messages of materialism; and shackled with the chains of debt used to acquire the goods sold by mega-corporations. We’ve become a society oppressed by a small faction of ultra-wealthy masters served by millions of impoverished, uneducated, sedated slaves. But the slaves are getting restless and angry. The illegally generated wealth disparity chasm is growing so large that even the ideologue talking head representatives of the elite are having difficulty spinning it. Even uneducated rubes understand when they are getting pissed on.

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Philly Fed Craters

One word to explain the Philly Fed which just printed at -16.6, or the weakest since August 2011, on expectations of an unchanged print: abysmal. Basically every subcomponent of the index was negative except for number of employees, although luckily we already know that US jobs (even part-time ones) are collapsing too. In short: if this horrendous print does not boost stocks higher, nothing can.

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What Does Oil Know That Stocks Don't?

With West Texas Intermediate crude oil trading with an $80 handle, near two year lows, while stocks remain within a few percent of their four-year highs, one has to question just what it is that stocks believe about our bright new future of growth and demand that the all-important energy markets do not. Between Europe's recession, last night's dismal China PMI, and a significantly trending rise in US unemployment claims, it seems more likely that the global demand picture painted by the oil market is a better reflection of reality than the earnings/multiple picture painted by the nominal price of US equities. We know that bad is good when it comes to the front-running of Bernanke's print button but wouldn't bad being good raise the USD-nominal price of oil also?

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The Euro Bailout Fund (Which Does Not Exist) Is Being Delayed, As Germany Fires Back Against Broke Europe

Overnight, the WSJ had an interesting article starting with "Italy, France and Spain are trying to take a united stand against Germany in finding new ways to fight the euro-zone debt crisis." This merely confirms what Greece has been trying to tell us for months: that beggars can be choosers. Well, turns out they can't, because at the end of the day, the only thing that does matter is the Golden Rule as Mark Grant reminded us earlier. Which is why trying to force Germany to do anything will backfire massively - as a reminder: it is in Germany interest to keep Europe weak, the EURUSD low, and the periphery on the edge of insolvency (just memorize the bolded sentence - it is all you need to know about Europe). Case in point: "Germany's constitutional court said on Thursday it will need time to study the euro zone's permanent bailout mechanism after its expected approval in the German parliament next Friday, which could delay its scheduled start date on July 1." In other words, the bailout fund on which Europe's entire rescue dreams lie (and which will gladly subordinate European creditors) and which still does not exist, is now being delayed. You are welcome Europe. Love, Germany.

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RANsquawk Spanish Banking Audit Preview - 21st June 2012

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Ponzi Comes Full Circle: ECB Will Rate Sovereign Bonds It Accepts As Collateral

Two days ago we noted with muted disgust that Europe has legislated to scrap the use of rating agencies, who were everyone's best friend during the up-phase in the global ponzi, but now that deleveraging is accelerating and ratings downgrades are coming, are like the drunk guest who refuses to leave the insolvent party at 4 am. Sure enough, the time has come to enact rules to kick them out. But wait, there is much more. Moments ago Reuters reported that the European Central Bank is discussing a medium-term plan (as in indefinite) to scrap rating rules on euro zone sovereign bonds and instead set their value when used as collateral in lending operations on its own internal assessment, central bank sources said. You read that right: the ECB itself will decide what the collateral value is of pieces of paper it accepts, in exchange for other pieces of paper with the faces of famous dead people on one side (even if technically the whole operation takes place electronically). And to think that for some odd reason allowing drug addicts to write their own prescriptions is illegal. Apparently all is fair in love and breaking all rules of sinking monetary systems.

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Hedge Funds Helping, Not Harpooning, 'London Whale' Now

There are only a few funds in the credit markets who are big enough to help manage a position the size of JPM's CIO office and, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, BlueMountain (one of the biggest) has helped JPM unwind their position by entering the market to take positions that it then sold on to the bank. This agency role is helping the bank to cover its tracks (and reducing the effectiveness and transparency of any and all DTCC data in the course of it), which argues perhaps once again for the exchange trading of these instruments (but that is another topic). While we would be sure that Blue Mountain took a wider than market bid-offer out of the middle of the brokerage move, it is nevertheless clearly a backdoor bailout of the bank's position by what is likely one of its major counterparties anyway (and why not). The activity pick-up this week makes perfect sense (as we noted yesterday) given the single-name CDS roll (and index options expiration) and as Bloomberg's Childs and Harrington note "If you were to need to move a large position, there should be greater liquidity around those days than other days, all else being equal," but as we have noted it remains unclear as to whether the original tail-risk position has been taken down at all (if so then doesn't that make JPM more risky implicitly?) or just the hedge of the hedge that got so out of hand thanks to Iksil's excess.

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Initial Claims Miss For 7th Week In A Row, "Improve" From Last Week's Bogus Revised Number

And so the gaming continues: Initial Claims miss expectations of a 383K print, coming at 387K, a number which next week will be revised to 390K. This is the 7th miss in a row, and 23rd miss of the past 26 weeks. It is also the highest 4 week average since December. But the mainstream media has its soundbite: "initial claims decline by 2,000" because, lo and behold, last week's 386K print was revised to 389K. We have discussed this topic to death: little to add here. The ceremonial scripting by the BLS continues full bore. The only real data point in today's release: those collecting extended claims continue to hit the 99-week cliff, as 42K more drop off Komrade Samov's free lunch dole. Finally, judging by the somewhat muted positive market response to this latest piece of horrible economic news, the data was bad but not bad enough: we need a 400K+ print for the ES to get back to 1,400 it appears.

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Europe's Three Ring Circus

First and foremost; nothing is happening in the European Union without the agreement of Germany. They have the gold and they will make the rules regardless of the words bandied about proclaiming brotherly love and the solidarity of the European nations. This is all drivel, just politics and a subject that can be ignored as you concentrate on what is really important. When Germany speaks, on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the most important; Germany is a 10 and the only 10 on the Continent.

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