default

On 'Silly Season' And The Danger Of European Politicians

The coincidence of comments from Germany - both the Bundestag's Hasselfeldt "If a country is not in a position to fulfill its obligations, or is unwilling to, then it must leave the Euro zone"; and vice-Chancellor Philip Roesler (of the FDP) to the effect that the dangers associated with a Greek exit had faded - and the IMF (which has been suspect for a while in its 'steadfastness' with regard Greece, seem to suggest as UBS notes, that there is notable suspicion of collusion among the politicians to apply pressure to the Hellenic Republic. Against becoming too concerned there is the Realpolitik of the Euro area. Decisions about the direction of the Euro project are taken by a very small coterie of political leaders within the Euro area, and we should be concerned not necessarily because of the specifics of the comment or the associated “hardball” bargaining stance, but because politicians still feel that comments like this can be made at all without fear of repercussions. As silly season is set to begin, we should prepare for the impact of politicians need to hear themselves speak.

All The World's A Stage

The European Union has been, in a very real sense, like a masquerade ball. The intricately painted masks covering manipulated stress tests, hiding inaccurate debt to GDP ratios, falsified accounting practices, glossing over any sort of contingent liabilities as if the scars were not there and double counting assets however, like all extravaganzas of this type, is about to reach a conclusion. The night has been long and the hour is late but one by one the masks are being removed and the characters are seen for what they are; a less than pretty sight. There are negative yields in the short maturities for Germany, France and the Netherlands which might soon be found in the United States. We are not sure what Mr. Bernanke will make of institutions paying him to leave their money with the United States government but it will be a classic example of a point in time where “Return OF Capital” became much more important that “Return ON Capital” but as we have asserted time and time again, given the 36% loss of wealth during the American Financial Crisis, that “Preservation of Capital,” are manifestly the byword of the Faith at present.

Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: July 23

Risk-off trade is firmly dominating price action this morning in Europe, as weekend reports regarding Spanish regions garner focus, shaking investor sentiment towards the Mediterranean. The attitudes towards Spain are reflected in their 10yr government bond yield, printing  Euro-era record highs of 7.565% earlier this morning and, interestingly, Spanish 2yr bill yields are approaching the levels seen in the bailed-out Portuguese equivalent. As such, the peripheral Spanish and Italian bourses are being heavily weighed upon, both lower by around 5% at the North American crossover.

The "Blacklist" - Ten Italian Cities On Verge Of Financial Collapse

Last week when we wrote about the imminent default of Sicily which Mario Monti tried to sweep under the rug by demanding the local governor resign for not masking the situation with lies, and doing all he can to prevent the advent of reality, we noted, rather sarcastically, that the "resignation of Sicily Governor Lombardo will somehow allow all those who care about the fundamentals of Italy to stick their heads in the sand... at least until Sicily is followed by Calabria, Campania, Lazio, Abruzzo, Tuscany, Lombardy, Umbria, Liguria, Veneto and so on. At least the governors of those respective provinces now have an advance warning what the endgame is." Sure enough, now that this particular floodgate has also been opened, it is only fitting that in the aftermath of this weekend's main news that a total of 6 Spanish regions will demand bailouts, that Italy follow suit with its own blacklist, and as La Stampa has reported, there are now ten major Italian cities at risk of an imminent financial collapse, yet another factor pushing Italian yields well on their way to the country's own 7% rubicon, now at 6.34%.

The Russian Default Scenario As Script For Europe's Next Steps

Russia and the southeast Asian countries are analogs for Greece, Spain, and Cyprus, with no particular association between their references within the timeline.  The timeline runs through the Russian pain; things begin to turn around after the timeline ends. This is meant to serve as a reference point: In retrospect it was clear throughout the late-90s that Russia would default on its debt and spark financial pandemonium, yet there were cheers at many of the fake-out "solution" pivot points.  The Russian issues were structural and therefore immune to halfhearted solutions--the Euro Crisis is no different.  This timeline analog serves as a guide to illustrate to what extent world leaders can delay the inevitable and just how significant "black swan event" probabilities are in times of structural crisis.  It seems that the next step in the unfolding Euro Crisis is for sovereigns to begin to default on their loan payments.  To that effect, Greece must pay its next round of bond redemptions on August 20, and over the weekend the IMF stated that they are suspending Greece's future aid tranches due to lack of reform.  August 20 might be the most important day of the entire summer and very well could turn into the credit event that breaks the camel's back.

No More Mr. Nice Guy As IMF Set To Kick Out Greece

It appears that following the resignation letter fiasco from Friday, the venerable IMF is trying to regain some level of credibility in the world. In a note obtained by SPIEGEL, senior IMF officials patience has clearly come to an end and has decided that, with Greece likely to go bust by September, it is no longer willing to provide additional Greek aid (we assume in light of the push-backs on the promised cuts that the aid was based upon). Pointing to this now being a euro-zone problem, their cessation of Greek aid is even more critical since both Holland and Finland pledged support because the IMF was involved. August 20th marks an important short-term hurdle as Greece is required to pay back EUR3.8bn to the ECB - and with collateral being withdrawn, we wonder how long before the ECB pulls the plug entirely - even on Greek T-Bills. Whether this is sabre-rattling before the delayed TROIKA visit or the IMF (and the rest of the TROIKA) indeed deciding enough is enough and realizing finally that more debt (or even maturity extensions) does not solve the problem of too much debt - only default will do that!

Burkhardt's picture

Strength is fading. Parity is visible. Reform is the only option. European markets are tumbling and the euro has slipped to record lows against several major currencies. The market is in reaction mode responding Spain and Greece in the headlines.

Ray Dalio's Bridgewater On The "Self Re-Inforcing Global Decline"

The world's largest hedge fund is not as sanguine about the hope that remains in the markets today. The firm's founder, Ray Dalio, who has written extensively on the good, bad, and ugly of deleveragings, sounds a rather concerned note in his latest quarterly letter to investors as the "developed world remains mired in the deleveraging phase of the long-term debt cycle" and has spread to the emerging world "through diminished capital flows which have weakened their growth rates and undermined asset prices". Between China, Europe, and the US, which he discusses in detail, he sees the lack of global private sector credit creation leaving the world's economies highly reliant on government support through monetary and fiscal stimulation. The breadth of this slowdown creates a dangerous dynamic because, given the inter-connectedness of economies and capital flows, one country's decline tends to reinforce another's, making a self-reinforcing global decline more likely and a reversal more difficult to produce. After discounting a relatively imminent return to normalcy in early 2011, markets are now pricing in a meaningful deleveraging for an extended period of time, including negative real earnings growth, negative real yields, high defaults and sustained lower levels of commodity prices. Lastly he believes the common-wisdom - that the Germans and the ECB will save the day - is misplaced.

Are Postal Workers About To Go Postal On Imminent USPS Benefits Default?

So far the beyond insolvent US Postal Service has been able to avoid outright bankruptcy simply because no major cash outflows were required by the organization. That is about to change in just under two weeks when the USPS is due to make a $5.5 billion payment for retirement accounts. The problem: the USPS does not have the money and needs a bailout. The bigger problem: the USPS needs Congressional action to authorize this latest and so far greatest USPS bailout, however with Congressional recess imminent this won't happen. So are several hundred thousand postal workers about to go postal once they realize that (earmuffs time for all those who love chanting ideological slogans, but have yet to graduate to the abacus) math matters, and every "welfare-funding" entity in the US is ten times broke over? And maybe most importantly: just how will the postal labor union vote in the upcoming election if indeed they suddenly are denied what they had been lied to for years is rightfully theirs?

The Reign In Spain May Soon Be Over

Recently two noted Spanish economists were interviewed. One was always an optimist and one was always a pessimist. The optimist droned on and on about how bad things were in Spain, the dire situation with the regional debt, the huge problems overtaking the Spanish banks and the imminent collapse of the Spanish economy. In the end he said that the situation was so bad that the Spanish people were going to have to eat manure. The pessimist was shocked by the comments of his colleague who had never heard him speak in such a manner. When it was the pessimist’s turn to speak he said that he agreed with the optimist with one exception; the manure would soon run out.