Goldman: "Greece Post PSI"

That Goldman would have "thoughts" on the Greek PSI deal and European life in the aftermath, is no surprise: just be sure to take these with a pound of salt. After all Goldman is a key member of the ISDA's European Determination Committee (and co-chairman with JPM of our very own Treasury Borrowings Advisory Committee). Not to mention that Goldman is the firm that allowed the Greek default to happen in the first place, by allowing it to hide its unprecedented debt accumulation far beyond what was allowed by the Maastricht treaty. In either case, here is a summary of what Goldman sees happening next: "After the finalization of the PSI process, only small residual transactional uncertainty remains. The new Greece package ensures low funding costs that under certain assumptions could even be sustainable in the long term. Moreover, the exposure of the Greek private sector to the Greek government declines very substantially… …while the exposure of the European official sector rises to substantial levels. Late-April elections will be a risk; but polls suggest a pro-EUR government is the most likely outcome. The new government will be tasked with creating a better growth environment. Using our GES score, we observe key areas of structural improvement for Greece’s growth environment… …among others, the creation of a more business friendly environment, the establishment of conditions for increased openness to trade and a more effective rule of law." We will shortly present a far more realistic, and far less conflicted.

Greek Creditors Don't Get the Courtesy of a Reach-Around

Only in Greece, can you wipe out €100 billion of debt, and have the new debt that replaces it trade at 20% of face value.  So 85.8% of Greek law bonds “participated”.  The government intends to use the Collective Action Clause to force the holdouts to participate.  It is unclear if the government has actually used the clause already, or just intends to.  Once they use the CAC, that will be a Credit Event for the CDS. English law bonds saw participation less than 70%.  The deadline has been extended until March 23rd.  As discussed all along, the English Law bonds gave some protection to holders and that clearly gave them the confidence to hold out.  Given the Event of Default covenants, and the right to accelerate, some bondholders may push to accelerate after the Greek law bonds get CAC’d. The market now knows that the PSI will be “successful” and a massive amount of debt will be wiped out, but the new bonds are being quoted “when and if issued” at prices ranging from the high teens to mid twenties.   Why are the new bonds so weak?  SUBORDINATION

Goldman's February NFP Forecast: +200,000, 8.2% Unemployment Rate

If a Greek default is not enough for the compulsive speculators out there, as a reminder today we have that all important February NFP number release, which on one hand we have ADP as indicating in line with expectations of a +210,000 print, on the other we saw both Gallup, Initial claims and the ISM as well as various diffusion indices as pointing to a weaker print. Here is Goldman, which has come in slightly below expectations, with a forecast of 200,000 offset by a further reduction in the unemployment rate to 8.2%. Of course, as we noted last month, once the US participation rate hits 58%, the unemployment rate will actually mathematically go negative. And strangers years have happened in an election year...  From Goldman: "We expect tomorrow's employment report to show solid nonfarm payroll growth of 200,000 in February after 243,000 in January. Although unseasonably warm weather should again boost payroll growth in February, we expect a moderation in the rate of job creation due to (1) a likely payback in manufacturing employment; and (2) mixed labor-market news since the last report. Uncertainty around the extent and timing of the weather effect and manufacturing payback suggest risks are probably tilted to the downside of our forecast. We expect the gain in employment to push down the unemployment rate by 0.1 point to 8.2% in February."

Has Japan Run Out Of Cans To Kick?

Japan's Trade and Current Account imbalances appear to be hitting some kind of terminal velocity and while neither JGBs nor CDS seem to reflect the ensuing chaotic recognition that perhaps the can that has been so faithfully kicked down the "Nishi-no-michi" or the West Road may have plunged over the lip of Mount Fuji (conjuring images of Mordor), FX markets recent and abrupt weakness brought on by yet more printing (a topic we discussed in great detail recently as the chosen heretical method du decade) may well be coming face to face with reality. We assume Azumi is faithfully watching these market moves but we wonder at what point the quasi-intentional weakening of local currencies flares into a full-blown currency war - and instead of merely encouraging simpleton FX-carry strategies chasing momentum and leverage - quickly becomes the hyperinflationary super nova that many have been waiting for over the last decade. Dismal demographics aside, we wonder how long before Koo prescribes yet more of the same medicine for this constant state of deflation and at what point does inverted-Apple-looking charts for Trade and Current Account balances become simply too hot to handle...

Reuters Reports That Hedge Funds Have Found Greek Default Trigger Loophole

While the general market mood is one of pre-default euphoria reminiscent of that in the pre-Lehman weekend, clouds may be brewing. As Reuters reports, "Some hedge funds have found a legal loophole they believe will force Greece to repay some of its debt in full, three sources close to the matter said on Thursday, in a move that would intensify the standoff between the country and its debtors." The loophole? A tiny €412.5 million bond issued by Hellenic Railways with a clause that "allows bondholders to argue that Greece is in default if it is trying to restructure or change the terms of its debt, the sources said. The creditors could already argue that Athens has defaulted, and if they buy up a quarter of that bond -- or enough of it not to be forced into the debt swap -- they can also then demand immediate repayment, a process known as acceleration." More: "The funds are now trying to buy up enough of the bond -- issued by state-owned Hellenic Railways and guaranteed by the government -- to force Greece to repay them in full, to the tune of some 400 million euros. If Greece refuses to do so, this may trigger similar provisions on other Greek railway bonds, potentially landing Athens with a bill of about 3 billion euros, with investors demanding immediate repayment, the sources said." Things could move very fast since the PSI results are due in 7 hours: "Sources close to Greece's negotiation fear the funds could already start the acceleration process by Friday, or next week, if they find they have a big enough majority."

Greek "Fresh Start" Bonds Face Immediate 80% Loss, 98% Probability Of Redefault

As 'news' breaks of over 80% participation in the Greek PSI deal and the apparent optimism that this is somehow a good thing, we note that our analysis of what would happen from two months ago was exactly spot on. As the FT reports, "financial markets were already betting Greece would default again in the future. Grey market “when issued” pricing for the 20 new bonds were ranging from 17 to 28 cents on the euro, a highly distressed level, according to indicative quotes", which just happens to almost perfectly coincide with our view:"Which means that according to a generic bond yield calc, the price on the fresh start bonds post reorg will be... 17.9 cents of par, or immediate losses of over 80% the second these bonds break for trading from par." Given grey market bond and CDS pricing, this would imply a 98% probability of Greece redefaulting within the next few years.

Moment of PSI Truth

Today is supposedly the day. The initial deadline for Greek PSI will occur later today (unless of course it is extended somehow - but will be released here) and while CAC activation (and hence eventual 90% participation) is the consensus most likely outcome for bonds under Greek law (but not for all bonds under English law) - which the market appears to be very comfortable with given overnight trading - there are still risks, as BofA notes, that a number of low risk but high impact events unfold with extremely negative connotations. Clarifying expectations and market implications, it does seem that while BofA is a little more sanguine than us on this initial deadline, that the market's complacency is extremely high.

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Consumer spending in the Netherlands has been weaker than other countries in the eurozone for the past ten year and is currently also lower than during the severe economic crisis of the early 80s according the Dutch Central Bank (DNB). They continue that the low spending is an important factor in the recession the Netherlands is now in. Dutch spending patterns have deviated from other European countries which is noteworthy since the Netherlands had one of the highest rates of eurozone countries between 1992 and 2001.

Overnight Sentiment: Risk On

Following a busy overnight session, which saw a surprise announcement out of the Brazilian Central Bank cutting rates more than expected, and confirmation of the deterioration in the Japanese economy where January saw a record current account deficit, today we have already seen the Bank of England proceed as expected keeping its key interest rate unchanged (at 0.50%) and QE fixed at GBP325 billion. The ECB is next with its rate announcement, expected to keep things on hold. Yet the mood of the morning is set by speculation that the Greek debt swap may see a sufficient participation rate for the PSI to go through, even if that means CAC activation, as somehow a Greek default is good, and only an "out of control" bankruptcy would be bad. That coupled with renewed expectations of more QE, sterilized or not, and hopes that tomorrow's NFP will be better than expected, as somehow the Fed will pump money even if the economy is "improving", is all that is needed to send the post-roll ES contract to session highs nearly 1% higher than yesterday's close.

Manic Depressive Markets Are Back

What a difference 24 hours makes, or 48 for that matter. After an almost 2% decline on Tuesday on virtually no news, the market looks set to get all that back and more - all since about 10:30 yesterday - also on no real news. PSI results continue to come in. It looks like it will beat 75%. It seems that all banks and most regulated entities are voting in favor of PSI - as expected. It looks like Greece and the EU will discuss the results tomorrow. I expect CAC's to get done on Monday. It would be surprising, and controversial, if the don't use the CAC's and pay some holdouts at par. After Greece walks away from over $140 billion of debt, it will be hard for other countries to resist that temptation. Now that politicians realize they can make the banks do whatever they want, they will be tested to use that power.