Now in the curious world we live in today; this only came out in public as the answer to a question raised in the German Parliament. Some reflection on the nature of these guarantees, that the European Union had decided not to tell us about, causes me to think of them as “Ponzi Bonds.” These are the seeds of a great scheme that has been foisted upon us. Bonds of a feather that have flocked together and arrived with the black swans one quiet Wednesday afternoon. The quoted and much ballyhooed sovereign debt numbers are now known to be no longer accurate and hence the lack of credibility of the debt to GDP data for the European nations. Stated more simply; none of the data that we are given about sovereign debt in the European Union is the truth, none of it. According to Eurostat, as an example, the consolidated Spanish debt raises their debt to GDP by 12.3% as Eurostat also states, and I quote, that guaranteed debt in Europe “DO NOT FORM PART OF GOVERNMENT DEBT, BUT ARE A CONTINGENT LIABILITY.” In other words; not counted and so, my friends, none of the data pushed out by Europe about their sovereign debt or their GDP ratios has one whit of truth resident in the data.
Want to keep the minotaur perpetually lost? Forget the labyrinth: just let him loose in the epic disaster that is the Greek post-PSI balance sheet. Because anyone who still harbors quaint notions of pari passu sovereign debt is about to get an epileptic fit. As the BNP chart below shows, following the "successful" completion of the PSI, where we expect quite a few billion in UK-law holdouts to present a substantial headache to Greece as noted yesterday, the country will have not one, not two, not even three distinct debt classes of debt, but a whopping seven! Yup - one country, seven tranches of debt, in order of seniority: 1) EU-IMF Loans; 2) EFSF Loans; 3) SMP GGBs; 4) New GGBs; 5) T-Bills; 6) Old GGBs and 7) Other loans. So when that dealer sells you sovereign bonds from now on, we suggest getting some color on tranching, subordination, ranking, priority, security, guarantee, collateral, and in general everything else that is now forever gone in a post-pari passu world. And this is certainly not just Greece. With all of Europe undergoing the same stealthy "unsecured" debt-to-taxpayer higher lien restructuring, the same will happen in Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy, and eventually every other country, as the only real source of cash to keep the European once dream now nightmare alive are taxpayers, who directly have to fund out of pocket any hope of a residual welfare state... which incidentally at a hundred trillion or more in unfunded liabilities, is far more insolvent than Greece ever could be.
Portugal is near guaranteed to default/restructure, so why is everybody so tolerant of so-called "smart people" saying otherwise? OK, let's do this math thingy...
Quiet trading so far with some risk off episodes in Europe (Monte Pasci halted after dropping 5%), and total confusion in the Greek bond market, with old bonds, new bonds, and CDS all trading as nobody has a clue just what is eligible for trade and what isn't (one thing is certain - GGB2s continue to trade well wide of Portugal, yielding around 18-20% for the 10 year spot). Here is how BofA sees the trading session so far.
Injection will have its desired affect.
Germany just launched a €480 billion fund that it will use to backstop its banking system should a Crisis hit. And in the fine print, which no one has caught,... the fund will also allow German banks to dump their EU sovereign bonds... as in German banks' PIIGS/ EU exposure disappearing in an instant. So... why would Germany do this?
As Portugal gets jealous of Greece's ability to just not pay bills, insurance portfolios will suffer greatly as the FIRE sector burns! The first domino has fallen, yet the MSM is taking this as a non-event!
After reading this, everyone should have a fairly good grasp of what happened not only today, but ever since the great (and quite endless) European financial crisis took center stage, and what to look forward to next...
The somewhat amusing part of this entire transaction is that the debt of Greece has been INCREASED. Greece and the EU handed private holders $138Bn in write-offs but with the addition of the new loan, $171Bn, the gross debt for Greece increased by $33Bn and this is if all of the legal challenges favor Greece. The total debt of Greece (sovereign, municipal, corporate and bank) has just increased from $1.20 Trillion to $1.233 Trillion and all accomplished by this brilliant plan that did nothing except to tag investors and ramp up the debt load for the country. Take this and add in the austerity measures and perhaps demands for more coming later today as the EU has its summit and an economy that is quickly sinking into the sea and unemployment that is surging and then you can visualize that the absurd has become the impossible and quickly conclude that more Greek loans will have to be forthcoming; or not with some form of Greek exit. The much bandied about notion that all of this will reduce the Greek debt to GDP is little more than a joke. For the past two years there has not been one, one, accurate projection for Greece concocted by the IMF/EU/ECB and I see no end to this now. Some quick math on my part indicates, in 2020, a debt to GDP ratio exceeding 170% and that is being kind and using optimistic assumptions. Just this morning the new numbers released for Greece showed a 7.50% deficit increase as opposed to the projected -5.50% number. This is one more case of quite inaccurate projections and a worsening economy for the country.
Greece defaults & if it works, what makes anyone with a thirdof a synapse think that Portugal/Ireland will NOT jump in line to stiff creditors? This is more the end of the beginning than the beginning of the end of the crisis.
Once again European credit and equity markets flip-flopped intraday from a gap up open (yay, the PSI deal is done) to a modest financial-led selloff on weak data, to a non-financial-led small rally (with equity beating credit post US NFP) to a slide weaker into the European close. Financials (most notably senior unsecured) were the worst performers on the day as stocks managed small gains and credit bigger losses. European sovereign spreads also leaked wider all day after some initial excitement with Italian 10Y spreads 15-20bps off their best levels of the week into the close (and Portugal also leaking wider). US Treasuries continued to selloff as US equities limped higher but EURUSD is pushing back to the week's lows near 1.31 as JPY is also deteriorating (which is modestly stable for carry FX and implicitly risk). Commodities surged (seemingly on Goldman's GDP cut implying great er hopes of QE?) with Gold up over $1710 and almost unch for the week as WTI nears $108 again. As Europe closes, there is a modest derisking across all asset classes (with US and European financials the most obvious rollers). The Precious metals rip and Treasury weakness makes us wonder how much is QE-driven (especially given the sterilized propositions) and how much is simply a rotation to a different kind of safety or quality collateral? The LTRO Stigma is around 8bps (or 10%) higher on the week while Senior-Sub spreads are stable for now.
D.C. is fudging the books big time according to the CBO.
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!
While anyone (as we did) with an abacus and five-minutes of spare time from hitting the buy-button could have figured out that post-PSI 'new' GGBs would trade down hard, it is perhaps worth looking at some sensitivity analysis on both the shape of the Greek curve and the level (as well as the value of GDP warrants) before jumping on any bid from BNP in the grey. Of course, excitement over 80-90% participation rate rumors are somewhat irrelevant as CACs are as inevitable as hearing the phrase 'money-on-the-sidelines' on CNBC every day and whether its 77% or 97% is largely irrelevant - despite our equity market's ebullience. Morgan Stanley provides some color on the new GGBs, which they expect to trade at least 200bps wide of Portugal and with an inverted curve expecting prices to stabilize in the mid-20s (with technicals in the short-term pushing prices below 20). The GDP warrants are estimated at a fair-value around 1c and if the Argentine framework is any evidence, this will be heavily discounted (read ignored) by the market. All-in-all, not exactly positive but still buy stocks because 90% sounds like a good number!