Greece Says That It Will Default On June 5th, And Moody’s Warns Of A ‘Deposit Freeze’

Greece Euro - Public DomainThe Greek government says that a “moment of truth” is coming on June 5th.  Either their lenders agree to give them more money by that date, or Greece will default on a 300 million euro loan payment to the IMF.  Of course it won’t technically be a “default” according to IMF rules for another 30 days after that, but without a doubt news that Greece cannot pay will send shockwaves throughout the financial world.  At that point, those holding Greek bonds will start to panic as they realize that they might not get paid as well.  All over Europe, there are major banks that are holding large amounts of Greek debt and derivatives that are related to the performance of Greek debt.  If something is not done to avert disaster at the last moment, a default by Greece could be the spark that sets off a major European financial crisis this summer.

As I discussed the other day, neither the EU nor the IMF have given any money to Greece since August 2014.  So now the Greek government is just about out of money, and without any new loans they will not be able to pay back the old loans that are coming due.  In fact, things are so bad at this point that the Greek government is openly warning that it will default on June 5th

Greece cannot make an upcoming payment to the International Monetary Fund on June 5 unless foreign lenders disburse more aid, a senior ruling party lawmaker said on Wednesday, the latest warning from Athens it is on the verge of default.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s leftist government says it hopes to reach a cash-for-reforms deal in days, although European Union and IMF lenders are more pessimistic and say talks are moving too slowly for that.

Of course this is all part of a very high stakes chess game.  The Greeks believe that the Germans will back down when faced with the prospect of a full blown European financial crisis, and the Germans believe that the Greeks will eventually be feeling so much pain that they will be forced to give in to their demands.

So with each day we get closer and closer to the edge, and the Greeks are trying to do their best to let everyone know that they are not bluffing.  Just today, a spokesperson for the Greek government came out and declared that unless there is a deal by June 5th, the IMF “won’t get any money”

Greek officials now point to a race against the clock to clinch a deal before payments totaling about 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) to the IMF come due next month, starting with a 300 million euro payment on June 5.

“Now is the moment that negotiations are coming to a head. Now is the moment of truth, on June 5,” Nikos Filis, spokesman for the ruling Syriza party’s lawmakers, told ANT1 television.

If there is no deal by then that will address the current funding problem, they won’t get any money,” he said.

But the Germans know that the Greeks desperately need more money and can’t last much longer.  The Greek banking system is so close to collapse that Moody’s just downgraded it again and warned that “there is a high likelihood of an imposition of capital controls and a deposit freeze” in the months ahead…

The outlook for the Greek banking system is negative, primarily reflecting the acute deterioration in Greek banks’ funding and liquidity, says Moody’s Investors Service in a new report published recently. These pressures are unlikely to ease over the next 12-18 months and there is a high likelihood of an imposition of capital controls and a deposit freeze.

The new report: “Banking System Outlook: Greece”, is now available on www.moodys.com. Moody’s subscribers can access this report via the link provided at the end of this press release.

Moody’s notes that significant deposit outflows of more than €30 billion since December 2014 have increased banks’ dependence on central bank funding. In our view, the banks are likely to remain highly dependent on central bank funding, as ongoing uncertainty regarding Greece’s support programme continues to compromise depositors’ confidence.

Unfortunately, when things really start going crazy in Greece people might be faced with much more than just frozen bank accounts.  As I wrote about just a few days ago, there is a very strong possibility that we could actually see Cyprus-style wealth confiscation implemented in Greece when the banks collapse.

In fact, the Greek government is already talking about the possibility of a special tax on banking transactions

Athens is promoting the idea of a special levy on banking transactions at a rate of 0.1-0.2 percent, while the government’s proposal for a two-tier value-added tax – depending on whether the payment is in cash or by card – has met with strong opposition from the country’s creditors.

A senior government official told Kathimerini that among the proposals discussed with the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund is the imposition of a levy on bank transactions, whose exact rate will depend on the exemptions that would apply. The aim is to collect 300-600 million euros on a yearly basis.

Fee won’t include ATM withdrawals, transactions up to EU500; in this case Greek govt projects EU300m-EU600m annual revenue from measure.

Sadly, most people living in North America (which is most of my audience) does not really care much about what happens on the other side of the world.

But they should care.

If Greece defaults and the Greek banking system collapses, stocks and bonds will crash all over Europe.  Many believe that such a crash can be “contained” to just Europe, but that is really just wishful thinking.

In addition, the euro would plummet dramatically, which would cause substantial financial problems all over the planet.  As I recently explained, the euro is headed to parity with the U.S. dollar and then it is going to go below parity.  Before it is all said and done, the euro is going to all-time lows.

Of course the U.S. dollar is eventually going to totally collapse as well, but that comes later and that is a story for another day.

According to the Bank for International Settlements, 74 trillion dollars in derivatives are directly tied to the value of the euro, the value of the U.S. dollar and the value of other global currencies.

So if you believe that what is happening in Greece cannot have massive ramifications for the entire global financial system, you are dead wrong.

What is happening in Greece is exceedingly important, and it is time for all of us to start paying attention.

11 Signs That Time Is Quickly Running Out For The Global Financial System

Are we rapidly approaching a moment of reckoning for the global financial system?  August is likely to be a relatively slow month as most of Europe is on vacation, but after that we will be moving into a “danger zone” where just about anything could happen.  Historically, a financial crisis has been more likely to happen in the fall than during any other time, and this fall is shaping up to be a doozy.  Much of the focus of the financial world is on whether or not the euro is going to break up, but even if the authorities in Europe are able to keep the euro together we are still facing massive problems.  Countries such as Greece and Spain are already experiencing depression-like conditions, and much of the rest of the globe is sliding into recession.  Unemployment has already risen to record levels in some parts of Europe, major banks all over Europe are teetering on the brink of insolvency, and the flow of credit is freezing up all over the planet.  If things take a really bad turn, this crisis could become much worse than the financial crisis of 2008 very quickly.

All over the world people are starting to write about the possibility of a major economic crisis starting this fall.

For example, a recent article in the International Business Times discussed how some economists around the globe are fearing the worst for the coming months….

The consensus? The world economy has entered a final countdown with three months left, and investors should pencil in a collapse in either August or September.

Citing a theory he has been espousing since 2010 that predicts “a future lack of policy flexibility from the monetary and fiscal side,” Jim Reid, a strategist at Deutsche Bank, wrote a note Tuesday that gloated “it feels like Europe has proved us right.”

“The U.S. has the ability to disprove the universal nature of our theory,” Reid wrote, but “if this U.S. cycle is of completely average length as seen using the last 158 years of history (33 cycles), then the next recession should start by the end of August.”

The global financial system is so complex and there are so many thousands of moving parts that it is always difficult to put an exact date on anything.  In fact, history is littered with economists that have ended up looking rather foolish by putting a particular date on a prediction.

But without a doubt we are starting to see storm clouds gather for this fall.

The following are 11 more signs that time is quickly running out for the global financial system….

#1 A number of very important events regarding the financial future of Europe are going to happen in the month of September.  The following is from a recent Reuters article that detailed many of the key things that are currently slated to occur during that month….

In that month a German court makes a ruling that could neuter the new euro zone rescue fund, the anti-bailout Dutch vote in elections just as Greece tries to renegotiate its financial lifeline, and decisions need to be made on whether taxpayers suffer huge losses on state loans to Athens.

On top of that, the euro zone has to figure out how to help its next wobbling dominoes, Spain and Italy – or what do if one or both were to topple.

#2 Reuters is reporting that Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos has suggested that Spain may need a 300 billion euro bailout.

#3 Spain continues to slide deeper into recession.  The Spanish economy contracted 0.4 percent during the second quarter of 2012 after contracting 0.3 percent during the first quarter.

#4 The unemployment rate in Spain is now up to 24.6 percent.

#5 According to the Wall Street Journal, a new 30 billion euro hole has been discovered in the financial rescue plan for Greece.

#6 Morgan Stanley is projecting that the unemployment rate in Greece will exceed 25 percent in 2013.

#7 It is now being projected that the Greek economy will shrink by a total of 7 percent during 2012.

#8 German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble says that the rest of Europe will not be making any more concessions for Greece.

#9 The UK economy has now plunged into a deep recession.  During the second quarter of 2012 alone, the UK economy contracted by 0.7 percent.

#10 The Dallas Fed index of general business activity fell dramatically to -13.2 in July.  This was a huge surprise and it is yet another indication that the U.S. economy is rapidly heading into a recession.

#11 As I have written about previously, a banking crisis is more likely to happen in the fall than at any other time during the year.  The global financial system will enter a “danger zone” starting in September, and none of us need to be reminded that the crashes of 1929, 1987 and 2008 all happened during the second half of the year.

So is there any hope on the horizon?

European leaders have tried short-term solution after short-term solution and none of them have worked.

Now countries all over Europe are sliding into depression and the authorities in Europe seem to be all out of answers.  The following is what one eurozone diplomat said recently….

“For two years we’ve been pumping up the life raft, taking decisions that fill it with just enough air to keep it afloat even though it has a leak,” the diplomat said. “But now the leak has got so big that we can’t pump air into the raft quickly enough to keep it afloat.”

The boat is filling up with water faster than they can bail it out.

So what is the solution?

Well, some of the top names in economics on both sides of the Atlantic are urging authorities to keep the debt bubble pumped up by printing lots and lots more money.

For example, even though the U.S. government is already running trillion dollar deficits New York Times “economist” Paul Krugman is boldly proclaiming that now is the time to print and borrow even more money.  He is proud to be a Keynesian, and he says that “you should be a Keynesian, too.

Across the pond, the International Business Editor of the Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, is strongly urging the ECB to print more money….

Needless to say, I will be advocating 1933 monetary stimulus à l’outrance, or trillions of asset purchases through old fashioned open-market operations through the quantity of money effect (NOT INTEREST RATE ‘CREDITISM’) to avert deflation – and continue doing so until nominal GDP is restored to its trend line, at which point the stimulus can be withdrawn again.

But is more money and more debt really the solution to anything?

In the United States, M2 recent surpassed the 10 trillion dollar mark for the first time ever.  It has increased in size by more than 5 times over the past 30 years.

Unfortunately, our debt has been growing much faster than GDP has over that time period.

For example, during the second quarter of 2012 U.S. government debt grew by 274.3 billion dollars but U.S. GDP only grew by 117.6 billion dollars.

Our problem is not that there is not enough money floating around.

Our problem is that there is way, way too much debt.

But this is how things always go with fiat currencies.

There is always the temptation to print more.

That is one of the big reasons why every single fiat currency in history has eventually collapsed.

Printing more money will not solve our problems.  It will just cause our problems to take a different form.

In the end, nothing that the authorities can do will be able to avert the crisis that is coming.

A lot of people are starting to realize this, and that is one reason why we are seeing so much economic pessimism right now.

For example, according to a new Rasmussen poll only 14 percent of all Americans believe that children in America today will be “better off” than their parents.

That is an absolutely stunning figure, but it just shows us where we are at.

Our economy has been in decline for a long time, and now we are rapidly approaching another major downturn.

You better buckle up, because this downturn is not going to be pleasant at all.

The Biggest Financial Scandal In History?

We always knew that the financial markets were rigged, but this is getting ridiculous.  It is now being alleged that 20 major banks have been systematically fixing global interest rates for years.  Barclays has already been fined hundreds of millions of dollars for manipulating Libor (the London Inter Bank Offered Rate).  But Barclays says that a whole bunch of other banks were doing this too.  This is shaping up to be the biggest financial scandal in history, and criminal investigations have been launched on both sides of the Atlantic.  What those investigations are likely to uncover could shake the financial markets to their very core.  In the end, this scandal could absolutely devastate confidence in the global financial system and it could potentially bring down a number of major global banks.  We have never seen anything quite like this before.

What Is Libor?

As mentioned before, Libor is the London Inter Bank Offered Rate.  A recent Washington Post article contained a pretty good explanation of what that means….

In the simplest terms, LIBOR is the average interest rate which banks in London are charging each other for borrowing. It’s calculated by Thomson Reuters — the parent company of the Reuters news agency — for the British Banking Association (BBA), a trade association of banks and financial services companies.

Why Does Libor Matter?

If you have a mortgage, a car loan or a credit card, then there is a very good chance that Libor has affected your personal finances.  Libor has been a factor in the pricing of hundreds of trillions of dollars of loans, securities and assets.  The following is from a recent article by Maureen Farrell….

These traders influenced the pricing of the London Interbank Offered Rate or Libor, a benchmark that dictates the pricing of up to $800 trillion of securities (yes trillion)

$800 trillion?

That is a number that is hard to even imagine.

Most American consumers do not even know what Libor is, but it actually plays a key role in the U.S. economy as the Washington Post recently explained….

In the United States, the two biggest indices for adjustable rate mortgages and other consumer debt are the prime rate (that is, the rate banks charge favored or “prime” consumers) and LIBOR, with the latter particularly popular for subprime loans. A study from Mark Schweitzer and Guhan Venkatu at the Cleveland Fed looked at survey data in Ohio and found that by 2008, almost 60 percent of prime adjustable rate mortgages, and nearly 100 percent of subprime ones, were indexed to LIBOR

Who Was Involved In This Scandal?

According to the Daily Mail, in addition to Barclays it is being alleged that at least 20 banks (including some major U.S. banks) were involved in this interest rate fixing scandal….

Hundreds of bankers across three continents are embroiled in the interest-rate fixing scandal that has left Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond fighting to save his job.

As pressure intensified on Britain’s highest paid banking boss to quit, MPs heard a string of other financial institutions across the world were under investigation.

At least 20 banks are believed to be under suspicion, with growing demands for a criminal investigation.

There are also indications that the Bank of England itself may have been involved in this scandal.

What Did They Do?

Employees at Barclays (and apparently at about 20 other major banks) were brazenly manipulating interest rates.  A recent Yahoo Finance article described how this worked…

To help the bank’s trading positions between 2005 and 2009, and most notably during the global financial crisis of 2007-09, the bank made false submissions to the Libor-setting committee, which agrees rates daily in London.

At the request of its own traders of interest-rate derivatives, Barclays made false submissions relating to Libor and Euribor (the eurozone benchmark rate). By doing this, Barclays personnel aimed to help their trading colleagues to profit by manipulating Libor.

Rigging the world’s leading benchmark for interest rates is pretty serious stuff. Indeed, in the words of the FSA, “Barclays’ behaviour threatened the integrity of the rates, with the risk of serious harm to other market participants”.

Many in the financial world have been absolutely horrified by the details of this scandal that have been emerging.

One recent CNN article declared that “the stench” coming from London is now “overwhelming”….

The Libor scandal has confirmed what many of us have known for some time: There is something smelly in the London financial world and the stench is now overwhelming.

But It is only when I read the Financial Services Authority report — all 44 pages of it — that is became clear just how widespread, how blatant was the fixing of the benchmark interest rate Libor and Euribor by Barclays. Brazen is the only word for it.

The emails and phone calls reveal that on dozens of occasions those who stood to gain by the decisions asked for favors (and got them) from those who helped set the interest rates.

You can read many examples of the kinds of emails that were exchanged between traders in New York and traders at Barclays in London right here.

What Does This Scandal Mean For The Future?

This scandal is making the global financial system look really, really bad.  Confidence in global financial markets has already been declining, and these new revelations are not going to help at all.  The following is how an article in the Huffington Post put it….

The ballooning interest rate manipulation scandal at Barclays, coupled with stock market instability, is likely to fuel fresh doubts about the integrity of the stock market, insiders said.

“Every time people begin to gain a little confidence, something else comes up,” said Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. “If it’s not Europe, it’s [troubled] IPOs, or JPMorgan or Barclays. Something new blows up and people say, ‘I knew it was rigged.’”

In addition, we are undoubtedly going to see a huge wave of lawsuits come out of this scandal.  Those lawsuits alone will gum up the financial system for a decade or more.

So needless to say, this is a very big deal.

Sadly, the revelations that have come out about Barclays in recent days are probably just the very tip of the iceberg.  Before this is all over, we are probably going to find out that most of the major global banks were involved.

At a time when the global financial system is already on the verge of a major implosion, this is not welcome news.

This financial scandal is just another reason to be deeply concerned about the second half of 2012.  The house of cards is starting to look really shaky, and nobody knows exactly when it will fall, but anyone with half a brain can see that things are progressively getting worse.

A “perfect storm” is rapidly developing, and when it strikes it is going to be very, very painful.

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