Budget Deficit

If Greece Exits, Here Is What Happens

Now that the Greek exit is back to being topic #1 of discussion, just as it was back in the fall of 2011, and the media has been flooded by groundless speculation posited by journalists who have never used excel in their lives and are merely paid mouthpieces of bigger bank interests (long live access journalism and the book sales it facilitates), it is time to rewind to a step by step analysis of precisely what will happen in the moment before Greece announces the EMU exit, how the transition from pre to post occurs, and the aftermath of what said transition would entail, courtesy of one of the smarter minds out there, Citi's Willem Buiter, who pontificated precisely on this topic last year, and whose thoughts he has graciously provided for all to read on his own website. Of course, take all of this with a huge grain of salt - these are observations by the chief economist of a bank which will likely be swept aside the second the EMU starts the post-Grexit rumble.

Europe Blinks: Troika Willing To Change Terms Of Greek Bailout Deal

And so it all begins anew: "The so-called troika of the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank is willing to make six important changes to Greece’s financial aid agreement if a pro-European government is formed in the country, Real News said.  The Troika is willing to extend by one year to end 2015 the time for Greece to cut its budget deficit as well as to proceed with a restructuring of loans, the Athens-based newspaper reported in its Sunday edition preleased today, citing “well informed” sources at the European Commission."

Greece Next Next Steps

With the Greek tempest-in-a-teapot about to hit Whale-size, as Tsipras says he will not join the coalition and Venizelos says that Syriza's participation is a prerequisite (via Bloomberg), it seems now would be an opportune time to look forward (not backward at the GGB2s dropping below EUR17 for the first time ever!). As we were among the first to state that their would be a second (if not more) election in Greece, we look at the schedule of events in Europe over the next few weeks (including the payments due on the PSI holdout bonds), and discuss the scenarios and consequences of a Greek exit (for both Greece living without Euro support and the Euro-zone coping with a Lehman-event).

Frontrunning: May 11

  • China Industrial Output Growth Slows Sharply In April (WSJ)
  • Indian industrial output shrinks unexpectedly (AFP)
  • China’s Inflation Moderates, Adding Room for Easing (Bloomberg)... a nickel for every "imminent RRR-cut" prediction
  • Drew Built 30-Year JPMorgan Career Embracing Risk (Bloomberg)
  • Spain Offered Time to Curb Deficit (FT)
  • France Entrepreneurs Flee From Hollande Wealth Rejection (BBG)
  • Venizelos Eyes Unity Deal After Agreement With Democratic Left (Ekathimerini)
  • Berlin Reaches Out to the Periphery (FT)
  • Bernanke Speaks About Risks From End of Pro-Growth Plans (Bloomberg)

Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: May 10

European equities continue the downward trend throughout the morning, despite opening slightly higher. Similarly to yesterday the moves are not data-driven, however the ECB have revised their forecasts for Euroarea growth downwards to -0.2% this year from -0.1% and have revised their inflation outlook upwards to 2.3% from 1.9%. The focus remains on Greece as the PASOK leader Venizelos grabs the baton and now attempts to form a stable coalition. Commentary from Greece so far has not been revelatory; Venizelos has reiterated that he wishes to remain within the Eurozone and affirmed that his party has not changed its policy with respect to the bailout. Flight to quality is observed throughout the markets, with the German Bund already testing yesterday’s highs several times and the major cash equities seen lower throughout the continent.

"Once A Liar, Always A Liar": The Incredible (Un)Truth About Italy, Greece, And The Birth Of The Euro

In response to a request by Germany's SPIEGEL, the German government has, for the first time, released hundreds of pages of documents from 1994 to 1998 on the introduction of the euro and the inclusion of Italy in the euro zone. They include reports from the German embassy in Rome, internal government memos and letters, and hand-written minutes of the chancellor's meetings. The documents prove what was only assumed until now: Italy should never have been accepted into the common currency zone. The decision to invite Rome to join was based almost exclusively on political considerations at the expense of economic criteria. It also created a precedent for a much bigger mistake two years later, namely Greece's acceptance into the euro zone. Many of the euro's problems can be traced to its birth defects. For political reasons, countries were included that weren't ready at the time. Operation "self-deception" began in December 1991, and culminated with a plausibly deniable comment of 'not without the Italians' by Kohl who needed them to bring the French along to the Euro party to ensure his successful re-election. A few weeks before the launch of the common European currency, Stenglin's assessment of the situation took on a dramatic undertone, when he wrote: "The question arises as to whether a country with an extremely high debt ratio doesn't risk gambling away the success of its consolidation efforts to date, thereby harming not only itself, but also the monetary union." It was a prophetic remark. Of course, financial data doesn't play much of a role when it comes to war and peace. Italy became a perfect example of the steadfast belief of politicians that economic development would eventually conform to the visions of national leaders.

US Posts First Budget Surplus In 42 Months, And It Is Less Than Meets The Eye

This afternoon the CBO reported a number that in itself is quite remarkable: in April, a preliminary estimate of US receipts and outlays showed that the US Treasury posted its first budget surplus in 42 months, or since September 2008. At $58 billion, the surplus was nearly $100 billion more than the the $40 billion deficit from a year earlier. Unfortunately, while superficially this number would have been worthy of praise, digging underneath the surface as always reveals 'footnotes'. Sure enough, in the aftermath of February which saw a record US deficit of $232 billion and March's $198 billion in net outlays, there was a "catch." As the CBO admits: "This April, the Treasury realized a surplus of $58 billion, CBO estimates, in contrast with the $40 billion deficit reported for the same month last year. The results in both years were influenced by timing shifts of certain payments; adjusted for those shifts, the surplus in April 2012 would have been $27 billion, compared with a deficit of $13 billion in April 2011.... The federal government incurred a budget deficit of $721 billion in the first seven months of fiscal year 2012, $149 billion less than the shortfall reported during the same period last year. Without shifts in the timing of certain payments, however, the deficit so far this year would have been only $92 billion smaller." In other words, without various temporal adjustments, the April surplus of $58 billion would have been completely netted out by the cumulative $57 billion in deficit time shifts. However, in an election year, every beneficial item such as this is an extended talking point as the president will gladly take the praise for a number which is indicative of anything but the underlying US financial "health." After all, others can bother with the explanations.

Goldman Slashes April NFP To 125,000, Concerned By "FOMC’s Apparent Reluctance To Deliver"

The good days are over, at least according to Goldman's Jan Hatzius. Now that "Cash For Coolers", aka April in February or the record hot winter, has ended, aka pulling summer demand 3-6 months forward, and payback is coming with a bang, starting with what Goldman believes will be a 125,000 NFP print in April, just barely higher than the disastrous March 120,000 NFP print which launched a thousand NEW QE rumors. But before you pray for a truly horrible number which will surely price in the cremation of the USD once CTRL+P types in the launch codes, be careful: from Hatzius - "Despite the weaker numbers, we have on net become more, not less, worried about the risks to our forecast of another round of monetary easing at the June 19-20 FOMC meeting. It is still our forecast, but it depends on our expectation of a meaningful amount of weakness in the economic indicators over the next 6-8 weeks. In other words, our sense of the Fed’s reaction function to economic growth has become more hawkish than it looked after the January 25 FOMC press conference, when Chairman Bernanke saw a “very strong case” for additional accommodation under the FOMC’s forecasts. This shift is a headwind from the perspective of the risk asset markets....So the case for a successor program to Operation Twist still looks solid to us, and the FOMC’s apparent reluctance to deliver it is a concern."

S&P Cuts Spain to BBB+, Outlook Negative


Adding insult to Bayern Munich injury, we just got S&P which did the impossible and cut Spain to BBB+ from A (outlook negative) not on Friday after hours. Kneejerk reaction is a 30 pip drop in EURUSD. Oh, and most amusing, those witches among men, Egan Jones, downgraded Spain from BBB to BBB-.... a week ago. Crush them, destroy them... How dare they be ahead of the pack as usual: after all their NRSRO application was missing a god damn comma.

Gundlach Explains Biflation For The Cheap Seats

Appropos Bernanke's razor's-edge tight-rope-walk fence-sitting as the not-too-cold-not-too-hot economy reduces the Fed's ability to do anything, Jeff Gundlach of Double Line provided a succinct explanation of the the 'uncomfortable position' the place-of-confusion Fed finds itself in. Simplifying the dilemma to: the Fed cannot raise rates as the dramatic implications for the huge debt load (and implictly the interest expense saving the budget deficit) of the US Government are untenable while at the same time inflation (in the things we need - not just want) is rising notably. However the new bond-king notes rather sarcastically, that the Fed can show that there is only modest inflation thanks to housing and wage growth (and herelies 'the biflation'). The old-school-Fed's efforts at pre-emptive strikes against inflation is simply not going to happen, he states, citing an "intentional attempt to suppress national income - an attempt to stop nominal GDP growing too much - simply won't be tolerated until inflation moves into the 4-5% category".

Apple Carries The World On Its Shoulders: Market Snapshot

As we said yesterday, traders could have just slept through the entire day, ignored headlines about mad cows, auctions of European bonds maturing in a few weeks, speculation of Europe's alleged falling out favor with austerity which is very much irrelevant as all that matters is what German taxpayers/voters say, and the SEC's latest laughable scapegoating attempts, and just woken to the 4:30 pm announcement of iPhone sales in China. As expected, the entire world is now reacting. Here is Deutsche Bank's Jim Reid with the global response to the world's ongoing fascination with aspirational cell phones.

The New European Normal... Is Squiggly

Eurostat just updated their statistics for government debt to GDP for 2011, so here is an updated graph over Belgium, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, France, UK, Netherlands, Germany and Sweden and the development of their gross government debt to GDP from 1996 to 2011. Countries not matching the new Merkozy-limit of a maximum of 3% budget deficit were Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and... France. But we can forget the old euro convergence criteria of 2% deficit and at most 60% debt to GDP as instead of working back to the green 'safe' quadrant, the PIGS are heading in the exact opposite direction missing both deficit and debt convergence criteria.