27 Things That Every American Should Know About The National Debt

The U.S. government has stolen $15,876,457,645,132.66 from future generations of Americans, and we continue to add well over a hundred million dollars to that total every single day day.  The 15 trillion dollar binge that we have been on over the past 30 years has fueled the greatest standard of living the world has ever seen, but this wonderful prosperity that we have been enjoying has been a lie.  It isn’t real.  We have been living way above our means for so long that we do not have any idea of what “normal” actually is anymore.  But every debt addict hits “the wall” eventually, and the same thing is going to happen to us as a nation.  At some point the weight of our national debt is going to cause our financial system to implode, and every American will feel the pain of that collapse.  Under our current system, there is no mathematical way that this debt can ever be paid back.  The road that we are on will either lead to default or to hyperinflation.  We have piled up the biggest debt in the history of the world, and if there are future generations of Americans they will look back and curse us for what we did to them.  We like to think of ourselves as much wiser than previous generations of Americans, but the truth is that we have been so foolish that it is hard to put it into words.

Whenever I do an article about the national debt, Democrats leave comments blaming the Republicans and Republicans leave comments blaming the Democrats.

Well you know what?

Both parties are to blame.  Both of them get a failing grade.

If the Republicans really wanted to stop the federal government from running up all this debt they could have done it.

If the Democrats really wanted to stop the federal government from running up all this debt they could have done it.

So let’s not pretend that one of the political parties is “the hero” in this little drama.

The damage has been done, and both parties will go down in history as being grossly negligent on fiscal issues during this period of American history.

Sadly, neither party is showing any signs of changing their ways.

Neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney is promising to eliminate the federal budget deficit in 2013.  They both talk about how the budget will be balanced “someday”, but as we have seen so many times in the past, “someday” never comes.

I didn’t mean to get all political in this article, but the truth is that the national debt threatens to destroy everything that previous generations have built, and our politicians continue to give us nothing but excuses.

The following are 27 things that every American should know about the national debt….

#1 It took more than 200 years for the U.S. national debt to reach 1 trillion dollars.  In 1986, the U.S. national debt reached 2 trillion dollars.  In 1992, the U.S. national debt reached 4 trillion dollars.  In 2005, the U.S. national debt doubled again and reached 8 trillion dollars.  Now the U.S. national debt is about to cross the 16 trillion dollar mark.  How long can this kind of exponential growth go on?

#2 If the average interest rate on U.S. government debt rises to just 7 percent, the U.S. government will find itself spending more than a trillion dollars per year just on interest on the national debt.

#3 If right this moment you went out and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.

#4 Since Barack Obama entered the White House, the U.S. national debt has increased by an average of more than $64,000 per taxpayer.

#5 Barack Obama will become the first president to run deficits of more than a trillion dollars during each of his first four years in office.

#6 If you were alive when Jesus Christ was born and you spent one million dollars every single day since that point, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.

#7 The U.S. national debt has increased by more than 1.6 trillion dollars since the Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives.  So far, this Congress has added more to the national debt than the first 97 Congresses combined.

#8 During the Obama administration, the U.S. government has accumulated more new debt than it did from the time that George Washington became president to the time that Bill Clinton became president.

#9 If Bill Gates gave every single penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days.

#10 As Bill Whittle has shown, you could take every single penny that every American earns above $250,000 and it would only fund about 38 percent of the federal budget.

#11 Today, the government debt to GDP ratio in the United States is well over 100 percent.

#12 A recently revised IMF policy paper entitled “An Analysis of U.S. Fiscal and Generational Imbalances: Who Will Pay and How?” projects that U.S. government debt will rise to about 400 percent of GDP by the year 2050.

#13 The United States already has more government debt per capita than Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain does.

#14 At this point, the United States government is responsible for more than a third of all the government debt in the entire world.

#15 The amount of U.S. government debt held by foreigners is about 5 times larger than it was just a decade ago.

#16 The U.S. national debt is now more than 22 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.

#17 It is being projected that the U.S. national debt will surpass 23 trillion dollars in 2015.

#18 Mandatory federal spending surpassed total federal revenue for the first time ever in fiscal 2011.  That was not supposed to happen until 50 years from now.

#19 Between 2007 and 2010, U.S. GDP grew by only 4.26%, but the U.S. national debt soared by 61% during that same time period.

#20 The U.S. government has total assets of 2.7 trillion dollars and has total liabilities of 17.5 trillion dollars.  The liabilities do not even count 4.7 trillion dollars of intragovernmental debt that is currently outstanding.

#21 U.S. households are now actually receiving more money directly from the U.S. government than they are paying to the government in taxes.

#22 The U.S. government is wasting your money on some of the stupidest things imaginable.  For example, in 2011 the National Institutes of Health spent $592,527 on a study that sought to figure out once and for all why chimpanzees throw poop.

#23 If the federal government used GAAP accounting standards like publicly traded corporations do, the real federal budget deficit for last year would have been 5 trillion dollars instead of 1.3 trillion dollars.

#24 The Federal Reserve purchased approximately 61 percent of all government debt issued by the U.S. Treasury Department during 2011.

#25 At this point, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.

#26 If the federal government began right at this moment to repay the U.S. national debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 480,000 years to completely pay off the national debt.

#27 The official government debt figure does not even account for massive unfunded liabilities that the U.S. government will be hit with in the years ahead.  According to Professor Laurence J. Kotlikoff, the U.S. government is facing a future “fiscal gap” of more than 200 trillion dollars.

As the U.S. economy continues to crumble, even more Americans are going to become financially dependent on the federal government.

For example, spending on food stamps has doubled since 2008.  Millions of Americans have lost their jobs and have needed some assistance from the government.  Since Obama became president the number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to 46 million.

But the Obama administration believes that a lot more Americans should be enrolled in the food stamp program.  The Obama administration is now spending millions of dollars on ads that urge even more people to sign up for food stamps.  In fact, their efforts to get even more Americans to sign up for food stamps have become very creative….

The government has been targeting Spanish speakers with radio “novelas” promoting food stamp usage as part of a stated mission to increase participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps.

Each novela, comprising a 10-part series called “PARQUE ALEGRIA,” or “HOPE PARK,” presents a semi-dramatic scenario involving characters convincing others to get on food stamps, or explaining how much healthier it is to be on food stamps.

I’m all for helping those that cannot feed themselves, but do we really need to run ads urging more people to become dependent on the government?

Of course Obamacare is going to cause our debt to balloon in size as well.  It is being projected that Obamacare will add more than 2.6 trillion dollars to the U.S. national debt over the first decade alone.

So where are we going to get all this money?

We can’t keep spending money that we do not have.  We have got to prioritize.  Every single category of government spending needs to be cut.

But instead we feel like we can keep ripping off future generations of Americans and that we will always be able to get away with it.

What we have done to our children and our grandchildren is beyond criminal.

The truth is that we should have listened to the warnings of our founding fathers about government debt.  For example, Thomas Jefferson once said that if he could add just one more amendment to the U.S. Constitution it would be a complete ban on all borrowing by the federal government….

I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.

Where would we be today if we had taken the advice of Thomas Jefferson?

That is something to think about.

8 Reasons Why The Greek Debt Deal May Not Stop A Chaotic Greek Debt Default

The global financial system is not a game of checkers.  It is a game of chess.  All over the world today, news headlines are proclaiming that this new Greek debt deal has completely eliminated the possibility of a chaotic Greek debt default.  Unfortunately, that is simply not the case.  Rather, the truth is that this new deal actually “sets the table” for a Greek debt default.  When I was studying and working in the legal arena, I learned that sometimes you make an agreement so that you can get the other side to break it.  That may sound very strange to the average person on the street, but this is how the game is played at the highest levels.  It is all about strategy.  And in this case, the new debt deal imposes such strict conditions on Greece that it is almost inevitable that Greece will fail to meet some of them.  When Greece does fail, Germany and the other northern European nations may try to claim that they “did everything that they could” but that Greece just did not “live up to its obligations”.  So does this mean that we will definitely see a chaotic Greek debt default?  No.  What this does mean is that the chess pieces are being moved into position for one.

The following are 8 reasons why the Greek debt deal may not stop a chaotic Greek debt default….

#1 Greece Is Being Set Up To Fail

The terms of this new debt deal impose some incredibly harsh austerity measures on Greece and from now on the Greek government will be subject to “permanent monitoring” by EU officials.

In other words, they will be under a microscope.

Any violation of the terms of the debt deal could be used as a pretext to bring down the hammer and cut off bailout funds.  Potentially, this could even happen just a few weeks from now.

It has become obvious that there are many politicians in Europe that would very much like to kick Greece out of the euro.  In a recent column, the International Business Editor of The Telegraph summed up the situation this way….

It is clear that Berlin, Helsinki, and the Hague have taken the decision to eject Greece from the euro whatever the country now does. Even if Greece complies to the letter with the impossible terms of the EU-IMF Troika, it will not make any difference. A fresh pretext will be found.

#2 The Next Greek Election Could Bring An End To The Bailout Deal Overnight

The next national Greek elections are scheduled for April.  Political parties opposed to the bailout have been surging in recent polls.  It is becoming increasingly likely that the next Greek government will abandon this new deal entirely.

The following is what hedge fund manager Dennis Gartman told CNBC about what is likely to happen after the next elections….

“A new government is going to come to power following elections that shall take place sometime this spring, and if anyone anywhere believes that the next Greek government shall do anything other than abrogate all the agreements made with the ‘troika,’ then we have a bridge we’d like to sell them at a very high price”

With each passing day anger and frustration inside Greece continue to rise, and those that are currently holding power in Greece are becoming very unpopular.

One current member of Greek Parliament recently talked about what he thinks will happen in the aftermath of the next election….

“If we achieve a Left-dominated government, we will politely tell the Troika to leave the country, and we may need to discuss an orderly return to the Drachma”

#3 This Bailout Deal Is Going To Make Economic Conditions In Greece Even Worse

In a previous article, I listed some of the new austerity measures that are being imposed on Greece by this new agreement….

The EU and the IMF are demanding that Greece fire 15,000 more government workers immediately and a total of 150,000 government workers by 2015.

The EU and the IMF are demanding that wages for government workers be cut by another 20 percent.

The EU and the IMF are demanding that the minimum wage be slashed by more than 20 percent.

The EU and the IMF are also demanding significant reductions in unemployment benefits and pension benefits.

The austerity measures that have already been implemented over the past few years have already pushed Greece into an economic depression.

These new austerity measures will deepen that depression.

At the moment, the Greek national debt is sitting at about 160 percent of GDP.

We are being told that these new austerity measures will reduce that ratio to 120 percent by 2020, but already there are many in the financial world that are calling such a goal “comical“.

Even with this new deal, the Greek national debt is still completely and total unsustainable.  A “confidential report” produced by analysts from the European Central Bank, the European Commission, and the International Monetary Fund says the following about what this new debt deal is likely to accomplish….

There are notable risks. Given the high prospective level and share of senior debt, the prospects for Greece to be able to return to the market in the years following the end of the new program are uncertain and require more analysis. Prolonged financial support on appropriate terms by the official sector may be necessary. Moreover, there is a fundamental tension between the program objectives of reducing debt and improving competitiveness, in that the internal devaluation needed to restore Greece competitiveness will inevitably lead to a higher debt to GDP ratio in the near term. In this context, a scenario of particular concern involves internal devaluation through deeper recession (due to continued delays with structural reforms and with fiscal policy and privatization implementation). This would result in a much higher debt trajectory, leaving debt as high as 160 percent of GDP in 2020. Given the risks, the Greek program may thus remain accident-prone, with questions about sustainability hanging over it.

The GDP of Greece fell by 6.8 percent during 2011.

2012 was already expected to be even worse, and all of these new austerity measures certainly are not going to help things.

And every time the Greek economy contracts that makes a chaotic debt default even more likely.

#4 The Greek Parliament Must Still Vote On This Bailout Deal

It is anticipated that the Greek Parliament will vote on this new agreement on Wednesday.

It is expected to pass.

But when it comes to Greece these days, there are no guarantees.

#5 The Greek Constitution Must Still Be Modified

Under the terms of this new agreement, Greece is being required to change its constitution.

The following is how an article in The Economist describes this requirement….

Over the next two months Greece has promised to adopt legislation “ensuring that priority is granted to debt-servicing payments”, with a view to enshrining this in the constitution “as soon as possible”. These arrangements may not amount to the budget  “commissar” once threatened by some creditors, but the effect may be pretty much the same.

So will this actually get done?

We will see.

Forcing a sovereign country to modify its constitution is a very serious thing.  If I was a Greek citizen, I would be highly insulted by this.

#6 Several European Parliaments Still Need To Approve This Deal

The German Parliament still must approve this new agreement.  This is also the case for the Netherlands and Finland as well.

Many politicians in all three nations have been highly critical of the Greek bailouts.

It is expected that all of these parliaments will approve this deal, but you just never know.

#7 Private Investors Still Have To Agree To This New Deal

Private investors are being asked to take a massive “haircut” on Greek debt.  The following is how the size of the “haircut” was described by a USA Today article….

Banks, pension funds and other private investors are being asked to forgive some €107 billion ($142 billion) of the total €206 billion ($273 billion) in devalued Greek government bonds they hold.

There is absolutely no guarantee that a solid majority of private investors will agree to this.

In the end, probably the only thing that is guaranteed is that litigation regarding this “haircut” is likely to stretch on for many years to come.

#8 The Global Financial Community Still Expects Greece To Default

Almost all of the analysts that were projecting a chaotic Greek debt default are still projecting one today.  Yes, many of them believe that “the can has been kicked down the road” for a few months, but most of them are still convinced that a default by Greece is inevitable.

The following comes from a Bloomberg article that was released after the Greek debt deal was announced….

“The danger of Greece saving itself into economic depression and having to default and exit the common currency zone remains substantial,” said Christian Schulz, an economist at Berenberg Bank in London. Jennifer McKeown of Capital Economics Ltd. repeated her forecast that Greece will quit the euro by the end of the year.

The odds that this agreement will survive for very long are not great.

It will be nearly impossible for Greece to meet all of the conditions being imposed upon it by this new deal.  All of the politicians in northern Europe that are just itching to cut off aid to Greece will soon have the excuse that they need for doing so.

And the Greek people could decide to bring all of this to an end very quickly.  If they elect a new government in April that does not support this bailout agreement, the game will be over.

So don’t be fooled by all the headlines.

A chaotic Greek debt default has not been averted.

The truth is that a chaotic Greek debt default is now closer than ever.

Ack! They Are Actually Going To Let Greece Default!

I wish that I had an “aha moment” to share with you today, but instead all I have is an “ack moment” to share.  As I was analyzing all of the info coming out of Europe in recent days, I came to the following realization: “Ack! They are actually going to let Greece default!”  The only question is whether it is going to be an orderly default or a disorderly default.  Of course the EU (led by Germany) could save Greece financially if it wanted to.  But Germany has decided against that course of action.  Many in the German government are sick and tired of pouring bailouts into Greece and then watching Greek politicians fail to fully implement the austerity measures that were agreed upon.  At this point a lot of German politicians are talking as if a Greek default is a foregone conclusion.   For example, Michael Fuchs, the deputy leader of Angela Merkel’s political party, recently made the following statement: “I don’t think that Greece, in its current condition, can be saved.”  But that is not entirely accurate.  Greece could be saved, but the Germans don’t want to make the deep financial sacrifices necessary to save Greece.  So instead they are going to let Greece default.

Many prominent voices in the financial world that have been watching all of this play out are now openly declaring the Greece is about to default.  Moritz Kraemer, the head of S&P’s European sovereign ratings unit, made the following statement on Bloomberg Television on Monday: “Greece will default very shortly. Whether there will be a solution at the end of the current rocky negotiations I cannot say.”

You might want to go back and read that again.

One of the top officials at one of the top credit rating agencies in the world publicly declared on television that “Greece will default very shortly.”

That should chill you to your bones.

If the EU allows Greece to default, that would be a signal to investors that the EU would allow Italy, Spain and Portugal to all default someday too.

Confidence in the bonds of those countries would disintegrate and bond yields would go through the roof.

Right now, confidence in government debt is one of the things holding up the fragile global financial system.  Governments must be able to borrow gigantic piles of very cheap money for the system to keep going, and once confidence is gone it is going to be incredibly difficult to rebuild it.

That is why a Greek default (whether orderly or disorderly) is so dangerous.  Investors all over the world would be wondering who is next.

At the end of last week, negotiations between the Greek government and private holders of Greek debt broke down.  Negotiations are scheduled to resume Wednesday, and there is a lot riding on them.

The Greek government desperately needs private bondholders to agree to accept a “voluntary haircut” of 50% or more.  Not that such a “haircut” will enable the Greek government to avoid a default.  It would just enable them to kick the can down the road a little farther.

But if Greece is able to get a 50% haircut from private investors, then why shouldn’t Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland all get one?

Once you start playing the haircut game, it is hard to stop it and it rapidly erodes confidence in the financial system.

This point was beautifully made in a recent article by John Mauldin….

So our problem country goes to its lenders and says, “We think you should share our pain. We are only going to pay you back 50% of what we owe you, and you must let us pay a 4% interest rate and pay you over a longer period. We think we can do that. Oh, and give us some more money in the meantime. And if you refuse, we won’t pay you anything and you will all have a banking crisis. Thanks for everything.”

The difficult is that if our problem country A gets to cut its debt by 50%, what about problem countries B, C, and D? Do they get the same deal? Why would voters in one country expect any less, if you agree to such terms for the first country?

But if Greece is able to negotiate an “orderly default” with private bondholders, that would be a lot better than a “disorderly default”.  A disorderly default would cause mass panic throughout the entire global financial system.

One key moment is coming up in March.  In March, 14 billion euros of Greek debt is scheduled to come due.  If Greece does not receive the next scheduled bailout payment, Greece would default at that time.

But the EU, the ECB and the IMF are not sure they want to give Greece any more money.  There are a whole host of austerity measures that the Greek government agreed to that they have not implemented.

Since the Greeks have not fully honored their side of the deal, the “troika” is considering cutting off financial aid.  The following comes from the New York Times….

Officials from the so-called troika of foreign lenders to Greece — the European Central Bank, European Union and International Monetary Fund — have come to believe that the country has neither the ability nor the will to carry out the broad economic reforms it has promised in exchange for aid, people familiar with the talks say, and they say they are even prepared to withhold the next installment of aid in March.

But the austerity measures that Greece has implemented so far have pushed the Greek economy into a full-blown depression.  Greece is experiencing a complete and total economic collapse at this point.  The following comes from the New York Times….

Greece’s dire economic condition can hardly be overstated. After two years of tax increases and wage cuts, Greek civil servants have seen their income shrink by 40 percent since 2010, and private-sector workers have suffered as well. More than $75 billion has left the country as people move their savings abroad. Some 68,000 businesses closed in 2010, and another 53,000 — out of 300,000 still active — are said to be close to bankruptcy, according to a report issued in the fall by the Greek Co-Federation of Chambers of Commerce.

“It’s an implosion — it’s an endless sequence of implosions from bad to worse, to worse, to worse,” said Yanis Varoufakis, an economics professor at the University of Athens and commentator on the Greek economy. “There’s nothing to stop the Greek economy losing 60 percent of its G.D.P., given the path it is at.”

But Greece is not the only one in Europe with major economic problems.  The unemployment rate for those under the age of 25 in the EU is an astounding 22.7%.  And as I have written about previously, there are a whole host of signs that Europe is on the verge of a major recession.

Greece is just the canary in the coal mine.  The truth is that the entire European financial system is in danger of collapsing.

Today, it was announced that S&P has downgraded the European Financial Stability Facility.  It is pretty sad when even the European bailout fund is getting downgraded.

Of course most of you know what happened on Friday by now.  Very shortly after U.S. financial markets closed, S&P downgraded the credit ratings of nine different European nations.

Only four eurozone nations (Germany, Luxembourg, Finland, and the Netherlands) still have a AAA credit rating from S&P.

But even more importantly, the nightmarish decline of the euro is showing no signs of stopping.

Right now, the EUR/USD is down to 1.2650.  It is hard to believe how fast the EUR/USD has fallen, but if a major financial crisis erupts in Europe it is probably going to go down a whole lot more.

So what happens next?

Well, if there is a Greek default all hell will break loose in Europe.

But even if Greece does not default, the coming recession in Europe is going to put an incredible amount of strain on the eurozone.

Many have been speculating that Greece or Italy could be the first to leave the euro, but actually it may be the strongest members that exit first.

The number of prominent voices inside Germany that are calling for Germany to leave the euro continues to increase.

In addition, public opinion in Germany is rapidly turning against the euro.  One recent poll found that only 47 percent of Germans were glad that Germany joined the euro, and only 36 percent of Germans want “a more federal Europe”.

As this crisis continues to unfold, there will probably be even more “ack moments”.  European leaders have mismanaged this crisis very badly from the start, and there is no reason to believe that they are suddenly going to become much wiser.

Once again, it is important to emphasize the role that confidence plays in our financial system.  The entire global financial system runs on credit.  Banks and investors lend out money because they have confidence that they will be paid back.  When you take that confidence away, the system does not work.

Let us hope that the folks over in Europe understand this, because right now we are steamrolling toward a credit crunch that could potentially make 2008 look tame by comparison.

***Epilogue***

Now another of the three major credit rating agencies, Fitch, is publicly saying that Greece will default….

“It is going to happen. Greece is insolvent so it will default,” Edward Parker, Managing Director for Fitch’s Sovereign and Supranational Group in Europe, the Middle East and Africa told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in the Swedish capital. “So in that sense it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.”

Be Honest – The European Debt Deal Was Really A Greek Debt Default

Once the euphoria of the initial announcement faded and as people have begun to closely examine the details of the European debt deal, they have started to realize that this “debt deal” is really just a “managed” Greek debt default.  Let’s be honest – this deal is not going to solve anything.  All it does is buy Greece a few months.  Meanwhile, it is going to make the financial collapse of other nations in Europe even more likely.  Anyone that believes that the financial situation in Europe is better now than it was last week simply does not understand what is going on.  Bond yields are going to go through the roof and investors are going to start to panic.  The European Central Bank is going to have an extremely difficult time trying to keep a lid on this thing.  Instead of being a solution, the European debt deal has brought us several steps closer to a complete financial meltdown in Europe.

The big message that Europe is sending to investors is that when individual nations get into debt trouble they will be allowed to default and investors will be forced to take huge haircuts.

As this reality starts to dawn on investors, they are going to start demanding much higher returns on European bonds.

In fact, we are already starting to see this happen.

The yield on two year Spanish bonds increased by more than 6 percent today.

The yield on two year Italian bonds increased by more than 7 percent today.

So what are nations such as Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland going to do when it costs them much more to borrow money?

The finances of those nations could go from bad to worse very, very quickly.

When that happens, who will be the next to come asking for a haircut?

After all, if Greece was able to get a 50% haircut out of private investors, then why shouldn’t Italy or Spain or Portugal ask for one as well?

According to Reuters, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is already trying to warn other members of the EU not to ask for a haircut….

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday it was important to prevent others from seeking debt reductions after European Union leaders struck a deal with private banks to accept a nominal 50 percent cut on their Greek government debt holdings.

“In Europe it must be prevented that others come seeking a haircut,” she said.

But investors are not stupid.  Greece was allowed to default.  If Italy or Spain or Portugal gets into serious trouble it is likely that they will be allowed to default too.

Investors like to feel safe.  They want to feel as though their investments are secure.  This Greek debt deal is a huge red flag which signals to global financial markets that there is no longer safety in European bonds.

So what is coming next?

Hold on to your seatbelts, because things are about to get interesting.

Around the globe, a lot of analysts are realizing that this European debt deal was not good news at all.  The following is a sampling of comments from prominent voices in the financial community….

*Economist Sony Kapoor: “The fact that a deal has been agreed, any deal, impresses people. Until they start de-constructing it and parts start unravelling.”

*Economist Ken Rogoff: “It feels at its root to me like more of the same, where they’ve figured how to buy a couple of months”

*Neil MacKinnon of VTB Capital: “The best we can say is that the EU have engineered a temporary reprieve”

*Graham Summers of Phoenix Capital Research:

First off, let’s call this for what it is: a default on the part of Greece. Moreover it’s a default that isn’t big enough as a 50% haircut on private debt holders only lowers Greece’s total debt level by 22% or so.

Secondly, even after the haircut, Greece still has Debt to GDP levels north of 130%. And it’s expected to bring these levels to 120% by 2020.

And the IMF is giving Greece another $137 billion in loans.

So… Greece defaults… but gets $137 billion in new money (roughly what the default will wipe out) and is expected to still be insolvent in 2020.

*Max Keiser: “There will be another bailout required within six months – I guarantee it.”

The people that are really getting messed over by this deal are the private investors in Greek debt.  Not only are they being forced to take a brutal 50% haircut, they are also being told that their credit default swaps are not going to pay out since this is a “voluntary” haircut.

This is completely and totally ridiculous as an article posted on Finance Addict pointed out…

We now know that private holders of Greek bonds will be “invited” (seriously–this was the word used in the EU summit statement) to take a write-down of 50%–halving the face value of the estimated $224 billion in bonds that they hold. This will help bring the Greek debt-to-GDP ratio down from 186% in 2013 to 120% by 2020. The big question–apart from how many investors they will get to go along with this, given that they couldn’t reach their target of 90% investor participation when the write-down was only going to be 21%–is whether this will trigger a CDS pay-out.

That this is even up for discussion is mind-boggling. These credit default swaps are meant to be an insurance policy in case Greece doesn’t pay the agreed upon interest and return the full principal within the agreed timeframe. If they don’t pay out when bondholders are taking a 50% hit then what’s the point?

European politicians may believe that they have “solved” something, but the truth is that what they have really done is they have pulled the rug out from under the European financial system.

Faith in European debt is going to rapidly disappear and the euro is likely to fall like a rock in the months ahead.

The financial crisis in Europe is just getting started.  2012 looks like it is going to be an extremely painful year.

Let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.

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