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Greece: Before And After

In one of the most fascinating psychological shifts, there has been a massive shift in the perspective of the Greek electorate since the election two weeks ago. Almost as if the size of the actual votes for Syriza, the far-left anti-bailout party, gave citizens 'permission' to be angry and vote angry. The latest opinion polls, as per Credit Suisse, show the center-right New Democracy party crashing from 108 seats to only 57 as Tsipras and his Syriza colleagues soar from 52 seats to a hugely dominant 128 seats. Is it any wonder the market is pricing GGBs at record lows and 'expecting' a Greek exit from the Euro as imminent given the rhetoric this party has vociferously discussed. On the bright side, the extreme right Golden Dawn party is seen losing some of its share. As UBS notes, "expressions of frustration in debtor countries have their analogue in creditor countries as well. No one is happy with the status quo." Still, how Europe's political leaders address voters' grievances will go a long way to determining the fate of the Eurozone and, quite possibly, the course of European history in the 21st century. Europe's politicians will undoubtedly prevaricate and deny. The troika will, with minor modifications, probably insist on 'staying the course'. Yet it seems to us that ignoring clear voter demands for change might well be Europe's worst choice.

How To Make A 135% Annualized Return In 4 Months

Update: the expected next step: "GREEK 2023 BOND PRICE FALLS TO 14.51 PERCENT OF FACE VALUE" - but it was a "no brainer" trade... a "trade of the year" trade... Tough break for Greylock. As we said "Um, distressed bond expert guys - the bonds you should have bought are the old UK-law bonds which may return par...at least you had some covenant cover." Oh well - at least it is "other people's money."

Back on January 22, (Subordination 101), we advised readers that the one virtually sure way to make a killing in the bond market is to i) buy up a fulcrum Greek piece of debt, i.e., international/UK-law bond with strong covenant protection ahead of the country's restructuring, ii) refuse participation in the cramming down PSI, which was nothing but a GM-type exercise in covenant stripping, and iii) sit back and enjoy the money trickle in. Back than the €450 million bond of May 15, 2012 traded at ~75. Today, that same bond is about to generate a 31.26% cash on cash return, or 135% annualized, as it is Greece that has blinked, and according to the FT, has decided to make a full bond payment on this issue to avoid an out of control sovereign default, even though by doing so, it reduces its cash holdings by a third to just over €1 billion as discussed yesterday, and risks pushing both the PSI participants and its citizens into a murderous rage, as instead of complying with its mouthing off during and after the PSI, that not one bondholder would get a par repayment (nor apparently use the cash for public proceeds such as paying salaries), the one entity who ended up having all the leverage was those bondholders, who went against the grain, and held to their covenant rights. Just as we suggested. End result...

Irony 101 Or How The Fed Blew Up JPMorgan's 'Hedge' In 22 Tweets

Many pixels have been 'spilled' trying to comprehend what exactly JPMorgan were up to, where they are now, and what the response will likely end up becoming. Our note from last week appears, given the mainstream media's 'similar' notes after it, to have struck a nerve with many as both sensible and fitting with the facts (and is well worth a read) but we have been asked again and again for a simplification. So here is our attempt, in 22 simple tweets (or sentences less than 140 characters in length) to describe what the smartest people in the room did and in possibly the most incredible irony ever, how the Fed (and the Central Banks of the world) were likely responsible for it all going pear-shaped for Bruno and Ina. The key factor is that if systemic risk had remained in even a 'normal' range of possible regions based on history, then the JPM CIO office would have had no need to over-hedge their tail-risk hedge position, no greed-driven need to press the momentum, and no need for such an epic collapse as we are seeing now. The point is - this was a trader/manager with a good idea (hedge tail risk) that was executed poorly (and with arrogance) but exaggerated by the unintended consequences of the Central-Banks-of-the-world's actions (and 'models behaving badly' as Derman would say).

Must Read: "Another Perspective"

Explaining why and how the global monetary system is failing, why it is too late to stop, what will come next, and why the crisis is only financial – not commercial.

Guest Post: JPM Chase Chairman, Jamie Dimon, The Whale Man, And Glass-Steagall

It’s 1933 and the country has undergone several years of painful Depression following the 1920s speculation that crashed in the fall of 1929. Investigations into the bank related causes began under Republican President, Herbert Hoover and continued under Democratic President, FDR. Okay, that’s pretty common knowledge. But, here’s something that isn’t: of all the giant banks operating their trusts schemes and taking advantage of off-book deals, and international bets in the late 1920s, it was an incoming head of Chase (replacing Al Wiggins who shorted Chase stock in a network of fraud) that advocated for Glass-Steagall. Indeed, despite all pedigree to the opposite (his father was Senator Nelson Aldrich architect of the Federal Reserve and brother-in-law, John D. Rockefeller), Chase Chair, Winthrop Aldrich, took to the front pages of the New York Times in March, 1933 to pitch decisive separation of commercial and speculative activity arguments.  Fellow bankers hated him. His motives weren’t totally altruistic to be sure, but somewhere in his calculation that Chase would survive a separation of activities and emerge stronger than rival, Morgan Bank, was an awareness that something more – permanent – had to be put in place if only to save the banking industry from future confidence breaches and loss. It turned out he was right. And wrong. (much more on that in my next book, research still ongoing.) Financial history has a sense of irony. JPM Chase was the post-Glass-Steagall repeal marriage, 66 years in the making, of  Morgan Bank and Chase. Today, it is the largest bank in America, possessing greater control of the nation’s cash than any other bank.  It also has the largest derivatives exposure ($70 trillion) including nearly $6 trillion worth of credit derivatives. 

Moody's Downgrades 26 Italian Banks: Full Report

Just because it is never boring after hours:

  • MOODY'S DOWNGRADES ITALIAN BANKS; OUTLOOKS REMAIN NEGATIVE

EURUSD sliding... even more. But that's ok: at some point tomorrow Europe will close and all shall be fixed, only to break shortly thereafter. And now.... Margin Stanley's $10 billion collateral-call inducing 3 notch downgrade is on deck.

Guest Post: The New European Serfdom

If the establishment is to be believed — it’s in the interests of “long-term financial stability” that creditors who stupidly bought unrepayable debt don’t get a big haircut like they would in a free market.  And it’s in the interests of “long-term financial stability” that bad companies who made bad decisions don’t go out of business like they would in a free market, but instead become suckling zombies attached to the taxpayer teat. And apparently it is also in the interests of “long-term financial stability” that a broken market and broken system doesn’t liquidate, so that people learn their lesson. Apparently our “long-term financial stability” depends on producing even greater moral hazard by handing more money out to the negligent. The only real question is whether or not it will just be the IMF and the EU institutions, or whether Bernanke at the Fed will get involved beyond the inevitable QE3 (please do it Bernanke! I have some crummy equities I want to offload to a greater fool!)

Cashin On "The Rationality Put"

Many floor types think that there is a kind of “rationality put” in the markets. It evolved in the post-Lehman chaos. The premise goes something like this: world leaders were shocked and stunned by the scope and size of the nearly instant damage from Lehman’s fall. That shock caused them to rescue AIG, a far, far bigger project than Lehman. Since then, central banks and governments have stepped in quickly as each new crisis emerged. However, as UBS' Art Cashin notes somewhat ominously, the Greek exit / Euro-breakdown risk has made it hard to exercise a “rationality put” if things turn irrational beyond your control.

Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: May 14

The failure to form a coalition government in Greece this weekend has prompted risk averse trade across the asset classes this morning with publications across Europe continuing to speculate about the potential exit of Greece from the Euro-area. As a result of this the Spanish 10yr yield touched 6.2% and the respective spreads over benchmark bunds in Spain and Italy have traded as wide as 30bps so far today. The knock on effect has been a sell-off in the financials which has seen the IBEX and FTSE MIB under perform in the equity markets with a relative safe-haven bid into the USD weighing on crude futures and precious metals. Spanish t-bill auctions and a variety of lines tapped out of Italy did stem the tide after selling around the top end of their indicative ranges but focus will remain solely on Greece given a lack of tier 1 data out of the US. Moving forward the next meeting of party heads in Greece is scheduled to commence at 1730BST, however, the head of the Syriza party has already indicated he will not be attending with the leader of the democratic left suggesting he is doubtful that a coalition can be formed.

Frontrunning: May 14

  • Default now or default later? (FT)
  • Monti warns of tears in Italy's social fabric (Reuters)
  • Fear Grows of Greece Leaving Euro (FT)
  • Greek Elections Loom as Key Bailout Opponent Defies Unity (Bloomberg)
  • Santander, BBVA to Set Aside 4.5 Billion Euros for New Cleanup (BBG) - Thank god they both passed the stress test
  • Austerity Blow for Merkel in German State Election (Reuters)
  • Apple Founder Wozniak to Buy Facebook Regardless of Price (Bloomberg) - so... another ponzi.
  • Dimon Fortress Breached as Push From Hedging to Betting Blows Up (Bloomberg)
  • Saudi and Bahrain Expected to Seek Union: Minister (Reuters)
  • Obama Pitches Equal Pay to Win Women Even as Charges Drop (BBG)

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.