The Fool's Game: Unravelling Europe's Epic Ponzi Pyramid Of Lies

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.

Just Add Minotaur - The Greek Balance Sheet Labyrinth In All Its Insane Glory

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.

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

Going into the US open, European equity markets have carried across some risk appetite from last night’s Wall Street news that 15 out of 19 major US banks had passed the Fed’s stress test scenarios. This risk appetite is evident in Europe today with financials outperforming all other sectors, currently up over 2%. Data released so far today has been relatively uneventful, with Eurozone CPI coming in alongside expectations and Industrial Production just below the expected reading for January. Taking a look at the energy complex, WTI and Brent crude futures are seen on a slight downwards trajectory so far in session following some overnight comments from China, highlighting the imbalance in the Chinese property market, dampening future demand for oil. Looking ahead in the session, the DOE crude oil inventories will shed further light on the current standing of US energy inventories.

Phoenix Capital Research's picture

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?

OpenEurope Verdict On Greek PSI - Pyrrhic Victory Sowing Seeds Of A Political And Economic Crisis In Europe

Minutes ago we presented Goldman's twisted and conflicted take on Greece in a post PSI world. Needless to say, virtually everything goldman says is to be faded. Which is why not surprisingly, the next analysis, a far more accurate and realistic one, does precisely that. In a just released report from Europe think tank OpenEurope, the conclusion is far less optimistic: "The deal sets the eurozone up for a political row involving Triple-A countries. At the start of this year, 36% of Greece’s debt was held by taxpayer-backed institutions (ECB, IMF, EFSF). By 2015, following the voluntary restructuring and the second bailout, the share could increase to as much as 85%, meaning that Greece’s debt will be overwhelmingly owned by eurozone taxpayers – putting them at risk of large losses under a future default. This deal may have sown the seeds of a major political and economic crisis at the heart of Europe, which in the medium and long term further threatens the stability of the eurozone."

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

Guest Post: Our "Let's Pretend" Economy: Let's Pretend Financialization Hasn't Killed the Economy

Being an intrinsically destabilizing force, financialization led to the global financial crisis of 2008. Central banks went into panic mode, printing and injecting trillions of dollars of new infectious material into the global economy in the hopes of sparking a new even grander cycle of financialization. But you can't create a new cycle of plague when the hosts are either dead or already infected. The world has run out of sectors that can be financialized; that plague has already killed or infected every corner of the global economy. Ironically, all the central banks' attempts to reinflate the speculative leverage-debt bubble are only hastening the disease's decline and collapse. The global markets are cheering today because the plague-riddled corpse of Greek debt has been turned into a grotesque marionette that is being made to "dance" by the European Central Bank before an audience that has been told to applaud loudly, even though the ghastly, bizarre spectacle is transparently phony. Greek debt is already dead; it can't be reinfected and killed again, and neither can the debts of Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy et al. Housing is also already dead, though the still-warm body is still twitching in certain markets around the world.

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.

Reggie Middleton's picture

Not many websites, analysts or authors have both the balls/temerity & the analytical honesty to take Goldman on. Well, I say.... Let's dance! This isn't a collection of soundbites from the MSM. This is truly meaty, hard hitting analysis for the big boys and girls. If you're easily offended or need the 6 second preview I suggest you move on.

Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: March 6

Markets are exhibiting very risk-averse behaviour ahead of the US open, with European equity markets making heavy losses across the board with flows into the safer assets. This follows Greece dominating the headlines once again, with a report from the IIF warning of dangerous ramifications for Europe should Greece default. These reports got the European session off to a bad start, with losses made throughout the morning. Market talk of a delay in the Greek debt swap deal deadline has also been circulating, however this was swiftly denied by the Greek Debt Agency chief as well as the Greek Finance Ministry, although this failed to reassure markets and they continue on a downward trend into the US open. Eurozone GDP data released earlier in the session showed a contraction in the last quarter of 2011, although expected, this has reignited concerns of a recession in Europe. The ECB have recorded yet another record level of deposits from European banks in its overnight lending facility, with institutions depositing EUR 827.5bln on Monday night.

On Contagion: How The Rest Of The World Will Suffer

Insolvency will keep dragging the Euro-Area economy down until sovereign and bank balance sheets are repaired, but as Lombard Street Research  points out: eliminating the Ponzi debt without fracturing the entire credit system is impossible. The Lehman default occurred 13 months after the US TED spread crossed 100 basis points. The European equivalent crossed 100 basis points in September 2011, so its banking crisis would occur this autumn if a year or so is a normal incubation period. A Greek or any other significant default will precipitate a European banking crisis in the foreseeable future. Markets are already speculating on Portuguese negotiations for haircuts and Ireland can’t be far behind and the contagion to US (and global) banking systems is inevitable given counterparty risks, debt loads (and refi needs), and capital requirements (no matter how well hidden by MtM math). The contagion will likely show up as a risk premium in the credit markets initially as we suggest the recent underperformance of both US and European bank credit relative to stocks is a canary to keep an eye on.

Phoenix Capital Research's picture


We’re fast approaching the end of the line here. It’s clear that the EU is out of ideas and is fast approaching the dreaded messy default they’ve been putting off for two years now. Indeed, Greece is just the trial run for what’s coming towards Italy and Spain in short order. NO ONE can bail out those countries. And they must already be asking themselves if it’s worth even bothering with the whole economically crushing austerity measures/ begging for bailouts option. Which means… sooner or later, Europe is going to have to “take the hit.”