Ireland

Chris Martenson: "We Are About To Have Another 2008-Style Crisis"

Well, my hat is off to the global central planners for averting the next stage of the unfolding financial crisis for as long as they have. I guess there’s some solace in having had a nice break between the events of 2008/09 and today, which afforded us all the opportunity to attend to our various preparations and enjoy our lives.

Alas, all good things come to an end, and a crisis rooted in ‘too much debt’ with a nice undercurrent of ‘persistently high and rising energy costs’ was never going to be solved by providing cheap liquidity to the largest and most reckless financial institutions. And it has not.

Guest Post: The Fabled Greek Mega-Bailout

At various stages in the last two years everyone from China, to Germany, to the Fed to the IMF, to Martians, to the Imperial Death Star has been fingered as the latest saviour of the status quo. And so far — in spite of a few multi-billion-dollar half-hearted efforts like the €440 billion EFSF —  nobody has really shown up. Perhaps that’s because nobody thus far fancies funnelling the money down a black hole. After Greece comes Portugal, and Spain and Ireland and Italy, all of whom together have on the face of things at least €780 billion outstanding (which of course has been securitised and hypothecated up throughout the European financial system into a far larger amount of shadow liabilities, for a critical figure of at least €3 trillion) and no real viable route (other than perhaps fire sales of state property? Sell the Parthenon to Goldman Sachs?) to paying this back (austerity has just led to falling tax revenues, meaning even more money has had to be borrowed), not to mention the trillions owed by the now-jobless citizens of these countries, which is now also imperilled. What’s the incentive in throwing more time, effort, energy and resources into a solution that will likely ultimately prove as futile as the EFSF?

The trouble is that this is playing chicken with an eighteen-wheeler.

Greece: Before And After

In one of the most fascinating psychological shifts, there has been a massive shift in the perspective of the Greek electorate since the election two weeks ago. Almost as if the size of the actual votes for Syriza, the far-left anti-bailout party, gave citizens 'permission' to be angry and vote angry. The latest opinion polls, as per Credit Suisse, show the center-right New Democracy party crashing from 108 seats to only 57 as Tsipras and his Syriza colleagues soar from 52 seats to a hugely dominant 128 seats. Is it any wonder the market is pricing GGBs at record lows and 'expecting' a Greek exit from the Euro as imminent given the rhetoric this party has vociferously discussed. On the bright side, the extreme right Golden Dawn party is seen losing some of its share. As UBS notes, "expressions of frustration in debtor countries have their analogue in creditor countries as well. No one is happy with the status quo." Still, how Europe's political leaders address voters' grievances will go a long way to determining the fate of the Eurozone and, quite possibly, the course of European history in the 21st century. Europe's politicians will undoubtedly prevaricate and deny. The troika will, with minor modifications, probably insist on 'staying the course'. Yet it seems to us that ignoring clear voter demands for change might well be Europe's worst choice.

Dart 1: Greece 0; And Just Desserts For Lemming PSI Participants

Two months ago, to much fanfare, Greece and the IIF announced what a smashing success the forced cram down that was the Greek PSI (memories of GM and Chrysler should be flooding back here) was. The thinking went that Greece avoided bankruptcy, co-opted lemming creditors avoided pursuing what is rightfully theirs in exchange for a 75% haircut, hold out hedge funds would be blown out of the water for daring to not go with the herd of 96.6%, but most importantly, Europe was saved! Today, Europe is no longer saved, and all those hedge funds that folded like cheap lawn chairs in agreeing to Europe's extortion are getting annihilated, because as the chart below shows, the NEW Greek bonds have now seen their dollar price cut in half since the PSI. Which means that total looses on original Greek debt, for those who did agree to the PSI's arm-twisisting terms are now about 90%. Just desserts. But what happened to those other few who followed our advice, bought UK-law bonds, and told the group to shove it? Here's what...

Is Spain In Danger Of An Imminent LCH Margin Hike?

The Greek new-election news this morning pushed sovereign spreads wider across the board in Europe. Spain and Italy have leaked back off those high spread levels in the last hour (while Portugal has not) but critically, Spain is rapidly approaching a very significant Maginot Line, as noted by Bloomberg's chart-of-the-day today. In the past (in the case of Portugal and Ireland) when the bond spread on European sovereigns relative to AAA-rated European debt has reached 450bps, the LCH has slapped on significant margin hikes. At a time when cash/collateral is in extremely short-supply (as indicated most obviously by the rapid deterioration in EUR-USD basis swaps recently), Spanish 10Y spreads are perhaps a day or two of weakness away from the point of no-return. When Portugal broke this level it rapidly accelerated from 450bps to over 800bps in less than three months.

It's Official: Greece To Pay May 15 Bond Maturity

Earlier, we reported on media speculation that this was a done deal. We now get confirmation.

  • GREEK FINANCE MINISTRY TO PAY EU435 MLN BOND
  • GREECE SAYS TODAY'S DECISION DOESN'T PREJUDICE FUTURE DECISIONS - no, just those you have to COMPLY with

In other words, just as Zero Hedge predicted in January, non-Greek law bondholders, who did not comply with the PSI, had all the leverage. And again: congratulation to all those who were not Steve Rattnered into agreeing to the PSI, and held out: the 135% annualized return is worth it. Just keep this in mind when the PSIs of Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy take places next.

"Is It One Of Those May’s Again?" - Goldman's Jim O'Neill Frazzled That Reality Refuses To Go Away

Just because it is always amusing to watch the cognitive dissonance in the head of a permabull, here is Jim 'Soon to be head of the BOE... allegedly' O'Neill's latest missive to (what?) GSAM clients. Yes, the same O'Neill who week after week, letter after letter kept on saying that 2012 is nothing like 2011, finally being forced to admit that 2012 is, as we have been saying since January 1, nothing but 2011, as the central planners' script writers prove painfully worthless at coming up with anything original. That, of course, and that the lifelong ManU fan had to suffer the indignity of interCity rivals picking up the trophy this year after a miraculous come back win against QPR. Oh, the horror...

Gold Negative YTD In Dollars But Bull Market Not Over - Morgan Stanley

While gold is now negative year to date in dollar terms, it remains 0.7% higher in euro terms. Gold prices dropped 3.7% last week and silver fell 5.1% to $28.89/oz. The smart money, especially in Asia, is again accumulating on the dip. Demand for jewellery and bullion in India has dipped in recent weeks but should resume on this dip – especially with inflation in India still very high at 7.23%. Also of interest in India is the fact that investment demand has remained robust and gold ETF holdings in India are soon to reach the $2 billion mark. This shows that recent gold weakness is primarily due to the recent bout of dollar strength.  Morgan Stanley has said in a report that gold’s bull market isn’t over despite the recent price falls. Morgan Stanley remains bullish on gold as it says that the ECB will take steps to shore up bank balance sheets, U.S. real interest rates are still negative, investors have held on to most of their exchange traded gold and central banks are still buying gold.

Complete Summary Of Next Week's Global Events And Manic Bond Issuance

Now that Europe is all the rage again, below we again summarize the key Euro-centric events through the end of the month, as well as all the sovereign bond auctions to look forward to (we use the term loosely). Finally, the squid summarizes the key events in the past week as well as the expected global catalysts in the next several days. Somehow we get the impression it will be all about the unexpected developments in the next 168 hours, especially with Spain, Italy, France and Germany coming front and center with a boatload of bond issuance as soon as 9 hours from now...

Greece Next Next Steps

With the Greek tempest-in-a-teapot about to hit Whale-size, as Tsipras says he will not join the coalition and Venizelos says that Syriza's participation is a prerequisite (via Bloomberg), it seems now would be an opportune time to look forward (not backward at the GGB2s dropping below EUR17 for the first time ever!). As we were among the first to state that their would be a second (if not more) election in Greece, we look at the schedule of events in Europe over the next few weeks (including the payments due on the PSI holdout bonds), and discuss the scenarios and consequences of a Greek exit (for both Greece living without Euro support and the Euro-zone coping with a Lehman-event).

Phoenix Capital Research's picture

The ESM funding idea is really just Spain playing for time (the ESM doesn’t actually have the funds to bail Spain out). But the fact that Germany is now making the ESM a political issue indicates the degree to which political relationships are breaking down in the EU. And once the political relationships break down... so will the Euro.

On Greece's Systemic Risk Impact

The implications of a nation leaving the Euro (and its contagion effects) are becoming clearer but are by no means discounted by the market. The risk of an interruption in the Greek adjustment program has increased significantly - and as Goldman notes - is the most likely eventual outcome for Greece and fears of the missed interest payment in June continue to concern many. The tough decision and dilemma for the international community remains between a rock (of acquiescence and just funding a belligerent member state) and had place (ECB deciding to let Greek banks go) with an odd middle ground seemingly the most likely given Europe's tendency for avoiding the hard decisions. There is no doubt that the near term implications from such an unfortunate turn of events would be profound for markets; fiscal risk premia would widen, the EUR would decline in value and European equities would underperform. The true question though, is how much lasting damage such a situation can do and whether, in the long run, systemic risks can be contained. In principle, to the extent that no other country chooses to go down the same path as Greece, there is no political or practical hurdle for the ECB to crucially safeguard the stability of the Euro area with unlimited liquidity provisions. A liquidity driven crisis can be averted in that sense. Whether risk premia stay on a higher tangent after such an event is a separate and complicated question but game-theoretically it strengthens the renegotiating position of Ireland, Portugal, and obviously Spain with the ECB (and implicitly the Bundesbank) being dragged towards the unmitigated print-fest cliff.