Throughout history, political, financial, and military leaders have sought to create empires. Great Britain owned the 19th century but lost its empire due largely to costly wars. The US took over in the 20th century and, like Rome, rose as a republic, with minimal central control, but is now crumbling under its own governmental weight. Invariably, the last people to understand the collapse of an empire are those who live within it. Americans remain hopeful that the dramatic decline is a temporary setback from which they will rebound...Not likely.
Greek short-term default risk jumped over 300bps today putting the odds of a restructuring at 50-50 within the next year as the warnings we issued last week with regard Greece's imminent default on its IMF loan loom. Seeking to reassure its lenders (and avoid yet more capital flight), Reuters reports the Greek government said it was "exploring solutions," including delaying payments to suppliers or try to raise up to 3 billion euros by borrowing from state entities such as pension funds. We are sure the Greek people will be enthused when they find out what the 'radical left' has in store for their funds...
"Ultimately... it would be very hard for Greece to introduce a viable new currency unilaterally."
- Goldman Sachs
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- Is Supreme Court's chief justice ready to take down ObamaCare? (The Hill)
- Netanyahu arrives in U.S., signs of easing of tensions over Iran speech (Reuters)
- Nemtsov Murder Fuels Suspicion, Fails to Spur Russia Selloff (BBG)
- ECB uncomfortable with leading role in Greek funding drama (Reuters)
- Video shows Los Angeles police shooting homeless man dead (Reuters)
- Iraq Military Begins Campaign to Reclaim Tikrit (WSJ)
- How Billionaires in London Use Secret Luxury Homes to Hide Assets (BBG)
Clearly if Western governments were ‘merely’ drowning in debt-to-GDP ratios of roughly 100%, then theycould still argue that attempting to manage these debt-loads was legitimate rather than treasonous. However, Germany’s government (debt-to-GDP of 188%) can no longer make that claim. Nor can:
"By lowering the cost of borrowing, QE has lowered the risk of default. This has led to overcapacity (see highly leveraged shale companies). Overcapacity leads to deflation. With QE, are central banks manufacturing what they are trying to defeat?"
The average American benefited in no way from the government/banker bailout. Their wages have deteriorated, their daily living expenses have risen, Obamacare has resulted in higher healthcare premiums, higher co-pays, more part-time jobs, less full-time jobs, and less healthcare choices for the working class, while Wall Street generates billions in risk free profits, bankers and corporate executives reap massive million dollar bonuses, and the .1% parties like its 1999. Rising wealth inequality has been systematically programmed into our economic system by bankers and their bought off puppet politicians in Washington D.C. – Corporate fascism at its finest.
The aim of the Greek bailout was not to restore prosperity to the country's people, but to save the eurozone. Given this, the new Greek government is entirely justified in questioning the terms that the country was given. As negotiations continue (Tsipras "war" vs the initial lost "battle), the single worst outcome of the current negotiations would be Greece's submission to its creditors' demands, with few concessions in return. Default and exit from the eurozone would allow Greece to begin correcting past mistakes and putting its economy on the path to recovery and sustainable growth. At that point, the EU would be wise to follow suit, by unraveling the currency union and providing debt reduction for its most distressed economies. Only then can the EU's founding ideals be realized.
As the finances of Venezuela continue to deteriorate under the collapse of crude oil prices, the government of President Nicolas Maduro is becoming more paranoid and vindictive. However, the utter bust in oil markets pulled the rug out from beneath the Venezuelan economy. Maduro is cracking down on political opponents as the country deals with the economic crisis, and his pronouncements have become more paranoid as the economy has worsened. The economic situation may only grow worse. The government’s budget breaks even with oil prices at an estimated $117.50 per barrel. With no imminent rebound in sight for oil prices, Maduro is resorting to state-sponsored repression to quell growing opposition.
As the rest of the world appears happy to assume everything is fixed in Europe (and if it's not, Draghi will buy it back to being awesome), Greece is looking unwell once again. Initial exuberance has faded dramatically in the last 3 days as IMF default warnings and a 22.5% plunge in tax revenues has sparked concerns about Greece's sustainability once again. Default (or restructuring) risk is soaring, Greek bond yields are surging, stocks sliding, and Greek banks (bonds and stocks) are getting hammered. As The Guardian's Helena Smith notes, "the country is in a strategic vacuum," and next week's T-Bill auction could be a major catalyst.
- Greece warns may default on IMF loan next week - Greek bank runs continue and deposits flee - The truth can be a scary thing sometimes … especially for those who put their head in the sand and ignore it ...
If Bild's expectation that its "Nein to more Greek bailout" campaign would lead to a near unanimous vote in the Bundestag for a Greek bailout, then it achieved its goal when a massive majority of lawmakers, some 542 of them, voted in favor of giving Greece the prenegotiated 4 month extension to its current bailout. Still, as many pointed out, of the 32 votes against, a record margin for a euro vote, or 29, came from Merkel's own CDU/CSU block. This was up from 13 voting against the second Greek bailout. Indeed, as the Guardian's Ian Traynor summarizes "Merkel's biggest majority on Greece but also biggest rebellion in her ranks while linke votes for Syriza pals, also a 1st."
One week ago, when reporting on the latest bizarre plan presented by the Pentagon, namely providing Syrian rebels (but only the moderate ones, not the jihadists like al Nusra, or, well, ISIS) with B-1B Bomber air support in their attacks on ISIS, when we wrote that this "means in the coming weeks and months look forward to a surge in false flag "attacks" blamed on the Assad regime, aiming to give Obama validation to expand the "War against ISIS" to include Syria's regime as well." We didn't have long to wait: in an entirely unsourced Time article written today by Aryn Baker, the Middle East Bureau Chief, the stage for the second attempt at invading Assad regime is finally set.
Now that the Greek topic is back to overall debt sustainability, a few hours ago Greece Kathimerini reported that the Euro Working Group "discussed Greece’s imminent funding problems on Thursday amid mounting concern about how the country will meet its obligations next months." This follows a suggestion earlier in the day by the Greek Minister of State for Coordinating Government Operations Alekos Flambouraris that "Greece might delay payment to the International Monetary Fund if it cannot find the necessary money." But wait, how does a country "delay" a debt payment? It doesn't: "According to officials familiar with the subject. such a move would constitute a “clear default,” with consequences for a large number of other loans Greece has received."
While the economy is showing some signs of impact from falling oil prices, a port strike in California, weak global demand for exports and an exceptionally cold winter; the markets are pushing all-time highs. There is much hype being placed on the ECB's plans for launching QE in March, however, much remains to be seen as to just how effective it will be in a negative interest rate/deflationary enviroment. But then again...there is always "hope."