The “deal that was designed to fail” has already begun to unravel. The IMF, which was expected to provide a big chunk of the financing, has indicated that it may walk away from the deal unless Greece is granted extensive debt relief. This is something that the Germans and their allies have resolutely refused to do. Meanwhile, outrage is pouring in from all over Europe regarding what the Greek government is being forced to do to their own people. Most of this anger is being directed at the Germans, but the truth is that without German money the Greek banking system and the Greek economy will completely and utterly collapse. So even though Greek Prime Minister Alex Tsipras admits that this is a deal that he does not believe in, he is attempting to get it pushed through the Greek parliament, and we should know on Wednesday whether he was successful or not. But even if the Greek parliament approves it, we could still see either the German or the Finnish parliaments reject it. It seems as though nobody is really happy with this deal, and these negotiations have exposed very deep divisions within Europe. Could this be the beginning of the end for the eurozone?
The Germans appear to believe that they can push the Greeks out of the eurozone and that everything will be okay somehow. This is something that I wrote about extensively yesterday, and it turns out that a lot of other prominent voices agree with me. For example, just consider what Paul Krugman of the New York Times had to say about this. I am kind of amazed that he finally got something right…
Suppose you consider Tsipras an incompetent twerp. Suppose you dearly want to see Syriza out of power. Suppose, even, that you welcome the prospect of pushing those annoying Greeks out of the euro.
Even if all of that is true, this Eurogroup list of demands is madness. The trending hashtag ThisIsACoup is exactly right. This goes beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief. It is, presumably, meant to be an offer Greece can’t accept; but even so, it’s a grotesque betrayal of everything the European project was supposed to stand for.
Greece desperately wants to stay in the euro, and they desperately want money from the rest of Europe to keep coming in. At this point, they will agree to just about anything to keep from getting booted out of the common currency. That is why the Germans and their allies had to make the deal so horrible. They were attempting to find some way to make things so harsh on the Greeks that they would finally choose to walk away.
And to a certain extent it seems to be working. Even some members of Syriza are publicly declaring that they are going to vote against this package. The following comes from the Washington Post…
Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, who leads a hard-line leftist faction within Syriza, said in a statement Tuesday that the country’s creditors had “acted like cold-blooded blackmailers and economic assassins.”
Yet he also took indirect aim at Tsipras, calling on the Greek prime minister to reverse himself and tear up the agreement, which he described as a violation of the party’s ideals.
Even if Tsipras can pass the deal in Parliament, as he is expected to do, Lafazanis vowed that the Greek people would “annul it through their unity and struggle.”
Right now, the vote looks like it could be quite close. Even though Greek Prime Minister Alex Tsipras has publicly admitted that this is a deal that “I do not believe in“, he is really pushing hard to get the votes that he needs. In fact, according to Reuters he has been actively reaching out to opposition parties to secure votes…
Having staved off a financial meltdown, Tsipras has until Wednesday night to pass measures tougher than those rejected in a referendum days ago. With as many as 30-40 hardliners in his own ranks expected to mutiny, Tsipras will likely need the support of pro-European opposition parties to muster the 151 votes he needs to pass the law in parliament.
But even if this deal gets through parliament, it is highly questionable whether Greece will actually be able to do what is being required of them. For instance, the 50 billion euro “privatization fund” seems to be something of a pipe dream…
Privatisation agency Taiped has put out to tender assets with a nominal value of 7.7 billion euros since 2011, but has cashed in only just over 3.0 billion euros, according to 2014 figures.
On June 26 even the International Monetary Fund (IMF), one of Greece’s creditors, raised eyebrows over the idea of raking in lots of money from privatisations.
It stressed that the sale of public banking assets was supposed to raise tens of billions of euros but it was “highly unlikely that these proceeds will materialise” considering the high levels of nonperforming loans in the banking system.
It said that realistically only 500 million euros of proceeds were likely to materialise each year — at which rate it would take around 100 years to reach the 50 billion euro goal.
For the moment, though, let’s assume that the Greek parliament agrees to these demands and that by some miracle the Greek government can find a way to do everything that is being required of them.
And for the moment, let’s assume that this deal is approved by both the German and Finnish parliaments.
Even if everything else goes right, this deal can still be killed by the IMF…
The International Monetary Fund has sent its strongest signal that it may walk away from Greece’s new bailout programme, arguing in a confidential analysis that the country’s debt is skyrocketing and budget surplus targets set by Athens cannot be achieved, reports FT.
In the three-page memo, sent to EU authorities at the weekend and obtained by FT, the IMF said the recent turmoil in the Greek economy would lead debt to peak at close to 200 percent of economic output over the next two years. At the start of the eurozone crisis, Athens’ debt stood at 127 percent.
In order for the IMF to participate in this new Greek bailout, the IMF must deem Greek debt to be sustainable. And at this point that does not appear to be the case…
Under its rules, the IMF is not allowed to participate in a bailout if a country’s debt is deemed unsustainable and there is no prospect of it returning to private bond markets for financing. The IMF has bent its rules to participate in previous Greek bailouts, but the memo suggests it can no longer do so.
But the Germans made it very clear that there would be no bailout unless the IMF was involved.
So what would satisfy the IMF?
The IMF study seems to indicate that massive debt relief for Greece would be required. The following comes from Reuters…
The study, seen by Reuters, said European countries would have to give Greece a 30-year grace period on servicing all its European debt, including new loans, and a dramatic maturity extension. Or else they must make annual transfers to the Greek budget or accept “deep upfront haircuts” on existing loans.
Needless to say, those kinds of concessions are anathema to the Germans. There is no way that anything like that could ever get through the German parliament.
But to be honest, the Germans never intended for this deal to be successful anyway. Just consider what German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble told reporters on Tuesday…
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble made clear in Brussels on Tuesday that some members of the Berlin government think it would make more sense for Athens to leave the euro zone temporarily rather than take another bailout.
This is what Schauble and his allies have wanted all along. This entire “deal” was crafted with the intent of creating conditions under which Greece could be forced out of the euro.
By this time tomorrow, we should know what the Greek parliament is going to do. However, that won’t be the end of the story. One way or another, the Germans are going to get their wish. But once they do, I think that they will be quite surprised by the chaos that is unleashed.
Greece is saved? All over the planet, news headlines are boldly proclaiming that a “deal” has been reached which will give Greece the money that it needs and keep it in the eurozone. But as you will see below, this is not true at all. Yesterday, when I wrote that “there never was going to be any deal“, I was not exaggerating. This “deal” was not drafted with the intention of “saving Greece”. As I explained in my previous article, these negotiations were all about setting up Greece for eviction from the euro. You see, the truth is that Greece desperately wants to stay in the euro, but Germany (and allies such as Finland) want Greece out. Since Germany can’t simply order Greece to leave the euro, they need some sort of legal framework which will make it possible, and that is what this new “deal” provides. As I am about to explain, there are all kinds of conditions that must be satisfied and hurdles that must be crossed before Greece ever sees a single penny. If there is a single hiccup along the way, and this is what the Germans are counting on, Greece will be ejected from the eurozone. This “deal” has been designed to fail so that the Germans can get what they have wanted all along. I think that three very famous words from Admiral Ackbar sum up the situation very well: “It’s a trap!”
So why is this “Greek debt deal” really a German trap?
The following are three big reasons…
#1 The “Deal” Is Designed To Be Rejected By The Greek Parliament
If Germany really wanted to save Greece, they would have already done so. Instead, now they have forced Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to agree to much, much harsher austerity terms than Greek voters overwhelmingly rejected during the recent referendum by a vote of 61 percent to 39 percent. Tsipras has only been given until Wednesday to pass a whole bunch of new laws, and another week to make another series of major economic changes. The following comes from CNN…
Greece has to swiftly pass a series of new laws. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has until Wednesday to convince Parliament to pass the first few, including pension cuts and higher taxes.
Assuming that happens, Greek lawmakers have another week, until July 22, to enact another batch of economic changes. These include adopting European Union rules on how to manage banks in crisis, and do a major overhaul to make Greece’s civil courts faster and more efficient.
Can Tsipras actually get all this done in such a short amount of time?
The Germans are hoping that he can’t. And already, two of Syriza’s coalition partners have publicly declared that they have no intention of voting in favor of this “deal”. The following is from a Bloomberg report…
Discontent brewed as Tsipras arrived back in the Greek capital. Left Platform, a faction within Syriza, and his coalition partners, the Independent Greeks party, both signaled they won’t be able to support the deal. That opposition alone would wipe out Tsipras’s 12-seat majority in parliament, forcing him to rely on opposition votes to carry the day.
The terms of the “deal” are not extremely draconian because the Germans want to destroy Greek sovereignty as many are suggesting. Rather, they are designed to provoke an overwhelmingly negative reaction in Greece so that the Greeks will willingly choose to reject the deal and thus be booted out of the euro.
And this is what we are seeing. So far, the response of the Greek public toward this deal has been overwhelmingly negative…
Haralambos Rouliskos, a 60-year-old economist who was out walking in Athens, described the deal as “misery, humiliation and slavery”.
Katerina Katsaba, a 52-year-old working for a pharmaceutical company, said: “I am not in favour of this deal. I know they (the eurozone creditors) are trying to blackmail us.”
On Wednesday, the union for Greek public workers has even called a 24 hour strike to protest this “agreement”…
Greece’s public workers are being called to stage a 24-hour strike on Wednesday, the day their country’s parliament is to vote on reforms needed to unlock the bankster eurozone plan agreed to by Greek Prime Minster Alex Tsipras.
Their union, Adedy, called for the stoppage in a statement issued today, saying it was against the agreement reached with the eurozone.
The Greek government is not guaranteed any money right now.
According to Bloomberg, the Greek government must pass all of the laws being imposed upon them by the EU “before Greece can even begin negotiations with creditors to access a third international bailout in five years.”
The Germans and their allies are actually hoping that there is a huge backlash in Greece and that Tsipras fails to get this package pushed through the Greek parliament. If that happens, Greece gets ejected from the euro, and Germany doesn’t look like the bad guy.
#2 Even If The “Deal” Miraculously Gets Through The Greek Parliament, It May Not Survive Other European Parliaments
The Greek parliament is not the only legislative body that must approve this new deal. The German and Finnish parliaments (among others) must also approve it. According to USA Today, it is being projected that the German and Finnish parliaments will probably vote on this new deal on Thursday or Friday…
Thursday/Friday, July 16/17: Eurozone parliaments must also agree to the plan for Greece’s $95 billion bailout. The biggest tests may come from Finland and Germany, two nations especially critical of Greece’s handling of the crisis. Berlin has contributed the most to Greece’s loans.
Either Germany or Finland could kill the entire “deal” with a single “no” vote.
Finnish Finance Minister Alexander Stubb has already stated that Finland “cannot agree” with a new bailout for Greece, and it is highly questionable whether or not the German parliament will give it approval.
I think that the Germans and their allies would much prefer for the Greeks to reject the deal and walk away, but it may come down to one of these parliaments drawing a line in the sand.
#3 The Deal Makes Implementation Extraordinarily Difficult
If Greece fails to live up to each and every one of the extremely draconian measures demanded in the “deal”, they will be booted from the eurozone.
And if you take a look at what is being demanded of them, it is extremely unrealistic. Here is just one example…
For instance, the Greek government agreed to transfer up to 50 billion euros worth of Greek assets to an independent fund that will raise money from privatization.
According to the document, 25 billion euros from this fund will be poured into the banks, 12.5 billion will be used to pay off debt, and the remaining 12.5 billion to boost the economy through investment.
The fund will be based in Greece and run by the Greeks, but with supervision from European authorities.
Where in the world is the Greek government going to find 50 billion euros worth of assets at this point? The Greek government is flat broke and the banks are insolvent.
But if they don’t find 50 billion euros worth of assets, they have violated the agreement and they get booted.
This whole thing is about setting up Greece for failure so that there is a legal excuse to boot them out of the euro.
And it actually almost happened very early on Monday morning. The following comes from Business Insider…
As the FT tells it, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras rose from their chairs at 6 a.m. on Monday and headed for the door, resigned to a Greek exit from the euro.
“Sorry, but there is no way you are leaving this room,” European Council president Donald Tusk reportedly said.
And so a Grexit was avoided.
For the moment, Greece has supposedly been “saved”.
But anyone that believes that this crisis is “over” is just being delusional.
The Germans and their allies have successfully lured the Greek government into a trap. Thanks to Tsipras, they have been handed a legal framework for getting rid of Greece.
All they have to do now is wait for just the right moment to spring the trap, and it might just happen a lot sooner than a lot of people may think.
There never was going to be any deal. All along, Germany has been seeking to establish conditions that would never be met so that they could force Greece out of the eurozone. But the Germans had to do this subtly so that they would end up looking “reasonable” and would not turn the rest of the eurozone against them. So why does Germany want to get rid of Greece? Well, to be honest, it is because the Germans are sick and tired of paying for Greek mistakes. In Germany, there is an obsession with having a balanced budget. They even have a term for it – “the black zero“. So it absolutely infuriates the Germans that the Greeks can never seem to get their act together and that German citizens have to keep paying for it. At this point, the amount of money that Germany has already poured into Greece breaks down to more than 700 euros per citizen, and now Greece is going to need a new bailout of somewhere between 82 billion and 86 billion euros over the next three years. Needless to say, the Germans are fed up with pouring money down a financial black hole, and they know that if they keep bailing Greece out that it is only a matter of time before they will have to bail out Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, etc.
So, no, it hasn’t been the Greeks holding up a deal all this time.
It has been the Germans.
And now that we have reached the endgame, the Germans are pushing for what they have always wanted from the very beginning…
The German government has begun preparations for Greece to be ejected from the eurozone, as the European Union faces 24 hours to rescue the single currency project from the brink of collapse.
Finance ministers failed to break the deadlock with Greece over a new bail-out package, after nine hours of acrimonious talks as creditors accused Athens of destroying their trust…
Should no deal be forthcoming, the German government has made preparations to negotiate a temporary five-year euro exit, providing Greece with humanitarian aid while it makes the transition….
The Germans are sick and tired of having the Greeks be so financially dependent on them. So the Germans would really like to cut them off and have them go fend for themselves.
So that is why the EU laid out such draconian conditions for the Greeks over the weekend. The following is how Zero Hedge summarized where things currently stand…
For those who missed today’s festivities in Brussels, here is the 30,000 foot summary: Europe has given Greece a “choice”: hand over sovereignty to Europe or undergo a 5 year Grexit “time out”, which is a polite euphemism for get the hell out.
As noted earlier, here are the 12 conditions laid out as a result of the latest Eurogroup meeting, which are far more draconian than anything presented to Greece yet and which effectively require that Greece cede sovereignty to Europe, this time even without the implementation of a technocratic government.
- Streamlining VAT
- Broadening the tax base
- Sustainability of pension system
- Adopt a code of civil procedure
- Safeguarding of legal independence for Greece ELSTAT – the statistics office
- Full implementation of autmatic spending cuts
- Meet bank recovery and resolution directive
- Privatize electricity transmission grid
- Take decisive action on non-performing loans
- Ensure independence of privatization body TAIPED
- De-Politicize the Greek administration
- Return of the Troika to Athens (the paper calls them the institutions… for now)
Greece has been given until Wednesday to pass all of the legislation necessary to implement all of those conditions.
And if Greece does somehow get all that done, it still won’t get them a deal. All it will do is allow them to come back and restart negotiations.
Needless to say, the Greeks are steaming mad at this point. This new “deal” is being called “very bad” and “insulting” by Greek politicians.
But what they may not understand is that Germany does not actually want any deal to happen. Instead, they are working very, very hard to get the Greeks booted out of the euro. The following comes from the Washington Post…
The simple story is that Germany and the other hardline countries don’t trust Greece’s anti-austerity Syriza party to actually implement, well, austerity. And so rather than coughing up another 60 or 70 or 80 billion euros, they seem to want to push to kick Greece out of the common currency instead. That, at least, was the plan that leaked on Saturday. And now it’s part of the actual plan on Sunday. Indeed, it’s tentatively been included in the European finance ministers’ latest joint statement. This isn’t just what Germany is considering. It’s what Germany is trying to get the rest of Europe to go along with.
If anyone still doubts what the Germans are trying to do, here it is in black and white…
And this is not an idea that is new. In fact, some hardliners in Germany have been pushing for a “temporary Greek exit” since at least 2012…
This weekend’s events in Europe have clarified who is really running the show across the ‘union’. Hans-Werner Sinn, Chairman of the Ifo Institute for Economic Research, vehemnt euroskeptic, and head of the so-called ‘five wise men’ advising the German government and specifically Angela Merkel, confirmed his call from 2012 for a “temporary grexit from the euro.” The right wing economist previously explained “Greece and Portugal have to become 30-40% less expensive to be competitive again. This is being attempted through excessive austerity measures within the euro zone, but it won’t work. It will drive these countries to the brink of civil war before it succeeds. Temporary exits would very quickly stabilize these countries, create new jobs and free the population from the yoke of the euro.”
The Germans absolutely hate having to open up their wallets for someone else’s mess. And they know that if they endlessly bail out Greece that it won’t end there. Eventually, much of the rest of the continent will come to them for bailouts too. I think that Nigel Farage nailed it when he summed up what Germany is thinking this way…
“The German thinking is: ‘Let’s get rid of this mess,'” Farage said. Expressing what he thought Germany was thinking about other troubled peripheral euro zone economies, he added: “‘let’s send a message to Italy, France, Spain and Portugal that actually, if you’re members of this club, you got to abide by our rules.'”
But I believe that Germany is greatly, greatly underestimating the damage that a “Grexit” is going to do to Greece and to the rest of the members of the EU.
In Greece, the banking system is already on the verge of total collapse. We are being told that capital controls will remain in place “for at least six months”, and now Greek politicians are even talking about “a possible forced ‘bail-in’ of depositors”…
Capital controls will stay in place at Greek banks for at least six months, senior officials in Athens warned yesterday, as the government fights to keep lenders afloat.
Leaders of the four main banks and finance ministry officials will meet tomorrow to discuss how to save the banking system from collapse after a run on deposits.
Options under consideration include a consolidation of four main banks down to two, creation of a “bad bank” to house toxic loans, and a possible forced “bail-in” of depositors.
Hmmm – I seem to recall someone warning about this exact scenario nearly two months ago: “Are They About To Confiscate Money From Bank Accounts In Greece Just Like They Did In Cyprus?”
The economic depression in Greece is about to accelerate. But things are also going to get hairy for the rest of the continent as well. As I have warned about so many times, the euro is going to plunge like a rock, European stocks are going to crater, European bond yields are going to soar, and eventually we are actually going to see “too big to fail” banks all over Europe start to fail.
This is the big flaw in the German plan. They truly believe that they can remove the “cancer” of Greece without causing any lasting damage to the rest of the eurozone.
Sadly, they are dead wrong.
Did you notice that Greece’s creditors are not rushing to offer the Greeks a new deal in the wake of the stunning referendum result on Sunday? In fact, it is being reported that the initial reaction to the “no” vote from top European politicians was “a thunderous silence“. Needless to say, the European elite were not pleased by how the Greek people voted, but they still have all of the leverage. In particular, it is the Germans that are holding all of the cards. If the Germans want to cave in and give the Greeks the kind of deal that they desire, everyone else would follow suit. And if the Germans want to maintain a hard line with Greece, they can block any deal from happening all by themselves. So in the final analysis, this is really an economic test of wills between Germany and Greece, and time is on Germany’s side. Germany doesn’t have to offer anything new. The Germans can just sit back and wait for the Greek government to default on their debts, for Greek banks to totally run out of cash and for civil unrest to erupt in Greek cities as the economy grinds to a standstill.
In ancient times, if a conquering army came up against a walled city that was quite formidable, often a decision would be made to conduct a siege. Instead of attacking a heavily defended city directly and taking heavy casualties, it was often much more cost effective to simply surround the city from a safe distance and starve the inhabitants into submission.
In a sense, that is exactly what the Germans appear to want to do to the Greeks. Without more cash, the Greek government cannot pay their bills. Without more cash, Greek banks are going to start collapsing left and right. Without more cash, the Greek economy is going to completely and utterly collapse.
So yes, the Greeks voted for change, but the Germans still hold the purse strings.
And right now the Germans do not sound like they are in any mood to compromise. The following comes from a Reuters report that was published on Monday…
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s deputy said Athens had wrecked any hope of compromise with its euro zone partners by overwhelmingly rejecting further austerity.
Merkel and French President Francois Hollande conferred by telephone and will meet in Paris on Monday afternoon to seek a joint response. Responding to their call, European Council President Donald Tusk announced that euro zone leaders would meet in Brussels on Tuesday evening (1600 GMT).
German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, leader of Merkel’s centre-left Social Democratic junior coalition partner, said it was hard to conceive of fresh negotiations on lending more billions to Athens after Greeks voted against more austerity.
Leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had “torn down the last bridges on which Greece and Europe could have moved towards a compromise,” Gabriel told the Tagesspiegel daily.
In addition, Angela Merkel’s office released a statement on Monday that placed the onus on making a new proposal to end this crisis on the Greek government…
“It is up to Greece to make something of this. We are waiting to see which proposals the Greek government makes to its European partners,” the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe’s leading austerity advocate, said in a statement.
Just because the Greek people want the Germans to give them a very favorable deal does not mean that the Germans will be inclined to do so. The Germans know that whatever they do with the Greeks will set a precedent for the rest of the financially-troubled nations all across Europe. If Greece gets a free lunch, then Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and France will expect the same kind of treatment…
Angelos Chryssogelos, an expert on Greek politics at the London-based think tank Chatham House, said the strength of Sunday’s mandate handed to Tsipras means it will be almost impossible for the prime minister’s leftist Syriza party to make a deal with European creditors.
“The Europeans made it pretty clear where they stand, and they have been consistent,” Chryssogelos said, adding that the creditors also are unlikely to back down. “Right now, voters across the eurozone largely support the tough stance taken by the eurozone.”
Chryssogelos said Greek voters may have underestimated the resolve of the creditors to reach an accord on their terms. “If someone is seen getting preferential treatment, then someone else will want that treatment,” he said, referring to other eurozone debtors such as Ireland and Portugal.
And remember, there is a very important Spanish election coming up in December.
If Syriza comes out as the big winner in this crisis, it will empower similar movements in Spain and all over the rest of the continent.
So look for Greece’s creditors to tighten the screws over the coming days. In fact, we already saw a bit of screw tightening on Monday when the ECB announced that Greek banks would not be receiving additional emergency assistance…
In a move sure to increase pressure on Greece’s flailing banks, the European Central Bank on Monday decided not to expand an emergency assistance program, raising fears that Greece could soon go completely bankrupt.
The move put a swift crimp on Greek leaders’ jubilation after winning a landslide endorsement from their citizens to reject Europe’s austerity demands and seek a new bailout bargain. Now they must seek a bargain before the money runs out within days, which would likely force them off the euro.
Basically we are watching a very high stakes game of chicken play out. And as the cash dwindles, economic activity in Greece is slowly grinding to a halt. The following comes from the Washington Post…
The dwindling cash is sucking the life out of everything from coffee shops to taxis, as anxious Greeks economize amid fears for the future. Greek leaders also banned transfers of money abroad, meaning that very little can now be imported into the country.
Printing plants are warning that they may run out of paper to print newspapers by the end of the week. Butchers say that stocks of imported meat are dwindling.
Some are even projecting that we could see civil unrest erupt in Greece in about “48 hours” once the ATM machines run out of cash…
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras probably has 48 hours to resolve a standoff with creditors before civil unrest breaks out and ATMs run out of cash, hedge fund Balyasny Asset Management said.
Yes, the Greek people exhibited great resolve in voting against the demands of the creditors on Sunday.
But how long can they endure this economic siege?
It is inevitable that a breaking point will come. Either the Greek government will give in, or the Greeks will leave the euro and start to transition back to the drachma.
If we do see a “Grexit”, and many analysts believe that one is coming, it could set off a chain of events that could cause immense financial pain all over the planet. There are tens of trillions of dollars of derivatives that are tied to European bond yields, European interest rates, etc. The following is an excerpt from a piece authored by Phoenix Capital Research that explains what kind of jeopardy we could potentially be facing…
The global derivatives market is roughly $700 trillion in size. That’s over TEN TIMES the world’s GDP. And sovereign bonds… including even bonds from bankrupt countries such as Greece… are one of, if not the primary collateral underlying all of these trades.
Greece is not the real issue for Europe. The entire Greek debt market is about €345 billion in size. So we’re not talking about a massive amount of collateral… though the turmoil this country has caused in the last three years gives a sense of the importance of the issue.
Spain, by comparison has over €1.0 trillion in debt outstanding… and Italy has €2.6 trillion. These bonds are backstopping tens of trillions of Euros’ worth of derivatives trades. A haircut on them would trigger systemic failure in Europe.
If Greece gets a “haircut” on their debt, other European nations would want the same and that would cause massive chaos in the derivatives markets.
But if Greece does not get a deal and ends up leaving the eurozone, that will cause bond yields to go crazy all over Europe and that would also cause tremendous chaos in the derivatives markets.
So much depends on keeping this system of legalized gambling that we call “derivatives trading” stable. We have allowed the global derivatives bubble to become many times larger than the GDP of the entire planet, and in the end we will pay a great price for this foolishness.
Every pyramid scheme eventually collapses, and this one will too.
But the difference with this pyramid scheme is that it is going to take the entire global financial system down with it.
The Greek financial system is in the process of totally imploding, and the rest of Europe will soon follow. Neither the Greeks nor the Germans are willing to give in, and that means that there is very little chance that a debt deal is going to happen by the end of June. So that means that we will likely see a major Greek debt default and potentially even a Greek exit from the eurozone. At this point, credit default swaps on Greek debt have risen 456 percent in price since the beginning of this year, and the market has priced in a 75 percent chance that a Greek debt default will happen. Over the past month, the yield on two year Greek bonds has skyrocketed from 20 percent to more than 30 percent, and the Greek stock market has fallen by a total of 13 percent during the last three trading days alone. This is what a financial collapse looks like, and if Greece does leave the euro, we are going to see this kind of carnage happen all over Europe.
Officials over in Europe are now openly speaking of the need to prepare for a “state of emergency” now that negotiations have totally collapsed. At one time, it would have been unthinkable for Greece to leave the euro, but now it appears that this is precisely what will happen unless a miracle happens…
Greece is heading for a state of emergency and an exit from the euro following the collapse of talks to agree a bailout deal, senior EU officials warned last night.
Europe must be prepared to step in otherwise Greek society would face an unprecedented crisis with power blackouts, medicine shortages and no money to pay for police, they said.
In the past, the Greeks have always buckled under pressure. But this new Greek government was elected with a mandate to end austerity, and so far they have shown a remarkable amount of resolve. In order for a debt deal to happen, one side is going to have to blink, and at this point it does not look like it will be the Greeks…
The world’s financial markets are facing up to the possibility that Greece could soon become the first country to crash out of Europe’s single currency. Talks between Athens and its eurozone creditors have collapsed in acrimony just days before a final deadline for Greece to unlock the €7.2bn (£5.2bn) in bailout funds it needs to avoid a catastrophic debt default.
The Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, accused the creditor powers of hidden “political motives” in their demands that Greece make further cuts to public pension payments in return for the financial aid. “We are shouldering the dignity of our people, as well as the hopes of the people of Europe,” Mr Tsipras said in a defiant statement. “We cannot ignore this responsibility. This is not a matter of ideological stubbornness. This is about democracy.”
As we approach the point of no return, both sides are preparing for the endgame.
In Greece, members of parliament have been studying what happened in Iceland a few years ago. Many of them believe that a Greek debt default combined with a nationalization of Greek banks and a Greek exit from the euro could set the nation back on the path to prosperity fairly rapidly. The following comes from the Telegraph…
The radical wing of Greece’s Syriza party is to table plans over coming days for an Icelandic-style default and a nationalisation of the Greek banking system, deeming it pointless to continue talks with Europe’s creditor powers.
Syriza sources say measures being drafted include capital controls and the establishment of a sovereign central bank able to stand behind a new financial system. While some form of dual currency might be possible in theory, such a structure would be incompatible with euro membership and would imply a rapid return to the drachma.
The confidential plans were circulating over the weekend and have the backing of 30 MPs from the Aristeri Platforma or ‘Left Platform’, as well as other hard-line groupings in Syriza’s spectrum. It is understood that the nationalist ANEL party in the ruling coalition is also willing to force a rupture with creditors, if need be.
Meanwhile, in a desperate attempt to get the Greeks to give in at the last moment, Greek’s creditors are preparing to pull out all the stops in order to put as much financial pressure on Greece as possible…
Germany’s Suddeutsche Zeitung reported that the creditors are drawing an ultimatum to the Greeks, threatening to cut off Greek access to the European payments system and forcing capital controls on the country as soon as this weekend. The plan would lead to the temporary closure of the banks, followed by a rationing of cash withdrawals.
For a long time, most in the financial world assumed that a debt deal would eventually happen. But now reality is setting in. As I mentioned at the top of this article, the cost to insure Greek debt has risen by an astounding 456 percent since the beginning of this year…
Given these dramatic stakes, the risk of a Greek default has gone way up. One way to measure that risk is by looking at the skyrocketing price of insurance policies that would pay out if Greek bonds go bust. The cost to insure Greek debt for one year against the risk of default has skyrocketed 456% since the start of the 2015, according to FactSet data.
These insurance-like contracts, known as credit default swaps, imply there is a 75% to 80% probability of Greece defaulting on its debt, according to Jigar Patel, a credit strategist at Barclays.
The probability of a Greek default soars to a whopping 95% for five-year CDS, Patel said.
“Default is looking more and more likely,” Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group, wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday.
And in recent days, we have also seen Greek stocks and Greek bonds totally crash. The following comes from CNN…
The Greek stock market has plummeted 13% over the past three trading days, including a 3% drop on Tuesday alone.
In the bond market, the yield on Greek two-year debt has skyrocketed to 30.2%. A month ago, the yield was only 20%. Yields rise as bond prices fall.
Of course if there is a Greek debt default and Greece does leave the euro, it won’t just be Greece that pays the price.
As I have written about previously, there are tens of trillions of dollars in derivatives that are directly tied to currency exchange rates and 505 trillion dollars in derivatives that are directly tied to interest rates. A “Grexit” would cause the euro to drop like a rock and interest rates all over the continent would start to go crazy. The financial chaos that a “Grexit” would cause should not be underestimated.
And there are signs that some of Europe’s biggest banks are already on the verge of collapse. For example, just consider what has been going on at the biggest bank in Germany. Both of the co-CEOs at Deutsche Bank recently resigned, and it is increasingly looking as if it could soon become Europe’s version of Lehman Brothers. The following summary of the recent troubles at Deutsche Bank comes from an article that was posted on NotQuant…
Here’s a re-cap of what’s happened at Deutsche Bank over the past 15 months:
- In April of 2014, Deutsche Bank was forced to raise an additional 1.5 Billion of Tier 1 capital to support it’s capital structure. Why?
- 1 month later in May of 2014, the scramble for liquidity continued as DB announced the selling of 8 billion euros worth of stock – at up to a 30% discount. Why again? It was a move which raised eyebrows across the financial media. The calm outward image of Deutsche Bank did not seem to reflect their rushed efforts to raise liquidity. Something was decidedly rotten behind the curtain.
- Fast forwarding to March of this year: Deutsche Bank fails the banking industry’s “stress tests” and is given a stern warning to shore up it’s capital structure.
- In April, Deutsche Bank confirms it’s agreement to a joint settlement with the US and UK regarding the manipulation of LIBOR. The bank is saddled with a massive $2.1 billion payment to the DOJ. (Still, a small fraction of their winnings from the crime).
- In May, one of Deutsche Bank’s CEOs, Anshu Jain is given an enormous amount of new authority by the board of directors. We guess that this is a “crisis move”. In times of crisis the power of the executive is often increased.
- June 5: Greece misses it’s payment to the IMF. The risk of default across all of it’s debt is now considered acute. This has massive implications for Deutsche Bank.
- June 6/7: (A Saturday/Sunday, and immediately following Greece’s missed payment to the IMF) Deutsche Bank’s two CEO’s announce their surprise departure from the company. (Just one month after Jain is given his new expanded powers). Anshu Jain will step down first at the end of June. Jürgen Fitschen will step down next May.
- June 9: S&P lowers the rating of Deutsche Bank to BBB+ Just three notches above “junk”. (Incidentally, BBB+ is even lower than Lehman’s downgrade – which preceded it’s collapse by just 3 months)
And that’s where we are now. How bad is it? We don’t know because we won’t be permitted to know. But these are not the moves of a healthy company.
For a very long time, I have been warning that a major financial crisis was coming to Europe, and for a very long time the authorities in Europe have been able to successfully kick the can down the road.
But now it looks like we have reached the end of the road, and a day of reckoning is finally here.
Nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next, but almost everyone agrees that it isn’t going to be pretty.
So you better buckle up, because it looks like we are all in for a wild ride as we enter the second half of this year.
Are you constantly tired and do you feel incredibly stressed almost all the time? Well, that means that there is a really good chance that you are a typical American worker. Even though our incomes are going down, Americans are spending more time at work than ever before. In fact, U.S. workers spend more time at work than anyone else in the world. But it was not always this way. Back in 1970, the average work week for an American worker was about 35 hours. Today, it is up to 46 hours. But there are other major economies around the globe that are doing just fine without burning their workers out. For example, the average American worker spends 378 more hours working per year than the average German worker does. Sadly, for many Americans work is not even finished once they leave the office. According to one recent survey, the average American worker spends an extra seven hours per week on work tasks such as checking emails and answering phone calls after normal work hours have finished. Other Americans are juggling two or three jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet. Americans are busier than ever and work is often pushing the other areas of our lives on to the back burner. What this also means is that “family vacations” are becoming increasingly rare in the United States. In fact, Americans spend less days on vacation than anyone else in the industrialized world. While some would applaud our “work ethic”, the truth is that the fact that we are being overworked is having some very serious consequences. In fact, as you will see below, Americans are literally being worked to death.
The following is an excerpt from a comment that one reader posted on one of my recent articles. Can you identify with what this family is going through?….
I always try and remember to be thankful and say prayers of gratitude for the blessings I have, however I can tell you that my wife and I are getting more and more exhausted.
Straight forward payroll taxes nailed us for $35k last year and the dozens of other taxes are often over-looked but also hitting us harder and harder.
My wife works 14 hour shifts at her dialysis clinic 3 days a week and every other weekend. On the Tuesdays and thursdays she has off she ends up resting half the day to give her poor feet a break since a nurse on her feet 14 straight hours of continual busyness is exhausting.
On top of that, her company has had a pay freeze for 3 years, has dropped Holidays down to just 2 per year ( Thanksgiving and Christmas of which she must work 1 of them), has canceled the reimbursement of her CEU’s ( medical professionals are required to continue to take schooling and classes for their entire career in order to renew their licenses) –also they no longer match 401k’s and her company health plan just bumped up $30 per week!!
I put in so many hours at times that when I get home I am too tired to eat. I come home, change clothes/shower and go straight to bed–this is not living. I try and keep up with my volunteer work and rounds at our local nursing home but something is going to have to give. My caseloads are growing and growing and people are making appts 2-3 weeks in advance. I never had a schedule so filled in advance before. I usually have more long-term pt’s with needs of stroke, Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injuries..but now ortho pt’s are scheduling surgeries as to when I’ll have slots for hip replacement and knee replacement rehab time.
I’m ground down and in the mean time everything is getting more expensive, they keep taking more of my money I earn and we are having all of our benefits cut or completely stopped.
All over this country, millions of hard working men and women are slowly being worn down by jobs that are sucking the life out of them. Working way too many hours for an extended period of time can have dramatic consequences for your health, your family and just about every other area of your life.
But for some Americans, there is simply no other choice. There are millions upon millions of Americans that live on the edge of financial disaster these days. According to one recent survey, 77 percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time, and the middle class in the United States has been shrinking at a very steady pace in recent years.
Many Americans are not working 60 or 70 hours per week because they want to.
Many are doing it because that is what they must do just to survive.
For example, a recent article posted on Economy In Crisis profiled a mother of four up in Michigan named Lisa Bosworth who can’t make ends meet for her family despite working three jobs….
Bosworth remarried but her current husband, Ray, was forced onto medical disability when a prescription medication caused health problems. The couple, who had a fourth child together, struggle to support their family on Lisa’s meager income.
Bosworth’s gross monthly income from working as a classroom aide in Reeths-Puffer schools and doing two Chronicle newspaper routes is $1,900. That amounts to $22,800 annually, nearly $5,000 below the poverty level for a family of six.
When they run out of money near the end of each month, Lisa and Ray Bosworth line up at one of several food trucks that visit Muskegon each month.
Earlier this month, the couple and three of their children waited in line at a food truck at Calvin Christian Reformed Church in Norton Shores. Lisa Bosworth had just finished her two newspaper routes and was clearly fatigued after another 70-hour work week. “I’m tired,” she said.
Today, there are more than 100 million Americans on welfare, and a significant percentage of those people actually do have jobs. In fact, some are working two or three jobs.
Working class Americans are working harder than ever, but at the same time many of them are making less money than they once did.
This is putting an incredible amount of stress on working class families.
In fact, it appears that a lot of Americans are literally working themselves to death.
And as a recent CBS News article described, this is particularly true for poor Americans that do not have much education….
Overall life expectancy has dropped for white Americans who have less than a high school diploma to rates similar to those of the 1950s and 1960s, new research finds.
The study found non-Hispanic white men without a diploma lived on average until 67.5 in 2008, three years less than they did in 1990. The drop in lifespan was even bigger for non-Hispanic white women with low education: They live five years shorter than 1990 rates, from 78 years old to just 73.5.
This is a sign that our society is going backwards. Working class Americans are actually living significantly shorter lives than they used to.
Of course the garbage that passes for “food” these days certainly is not helping matters any, but that is a topic for another article.
Sadly, those that are working themselves to death consider themselves to be the “lucky ones” in our society today.
There are countless millions of other Americans that are sitting at home right now without a job.
The mainstream media is trying to convince us that the unemployment rate has been falling, but that is a lie. If the labor force participation rate was the same today as it was back when Barack Obama first took office, the unemployment rate in the United States would be 11.2 percent right now.
But that doesn’t sound nearly as good as 8.1 percent sounds, right?
And the percentage of working age Americans with a job is actually lower today than when the last recession supposedly ended.
In this economic environment, most people are scared to death of losing the jobs that they currently have because they don’t know if they will be able to get another one.
During the month of August, the unemployment rate actually increased in 26 different U.S. states, and yet we are supposedly in the midst of “an economic recovery”.
But the truth is that we are not better off than we were back during the last recession. In fact, there are a whole host of statistics that indicate that things are getting worse.
Unfortunately, much of the time people tend to forget that the horrible economic numbers that we are seeing have very substantial real life consequences.
People that cannot find work and people that work very long hours for a very long period of time tend to be much more depressed than the population as a whole.
And depression can often lead to suicide. According to a recent Daily Mail article, more Americans now die from suicide than from car accidents….
Suicide is the cause of more deaths than car crashes, according to an alarming new study.
The number of people who commit suicide in the U.S. has drastically increased while deaths from car accidents have dropped, making suicide the leading cause of injury death.
Suicides via falls or poisoning have risen significantly and experts fear that there could be many more unaccounted for, particularly in cases of overdose.
That is incredibly tragic, because there is never a reason for anyone to commit suicide. One of the things that I have learned in my own life is that there is always a way for things to be turned around.
Yes, life can be very hard when you don’t have much money, but our lives should not be about chasing material things anyway. Our lives should be about so much more than that.
If you are currently feeling overly tired and overly stressed because you have been working too much, I encourage you to take a vacation.
We are only given one life to live. We shouldn’t spend it working ourselves to death.
So what do you think about all of this? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….
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.
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.”