No real news out of the Geithner meetings. Schaeuble and Geithner offer up the same vapid phrases but interesting that the Geithner/Draghi meeting in Frankfurt yielded no news and it seems to be a blackout. Geithner and Draghi are two very verbose policymakers but as of yet … nothing. This evening though the S&Ps have regained all of today’s losses, which is very minor as the day was unusually quiet. The month end is tomorrow so fund managers will probably window dress as the S&Ps attempt to hold on to a 2% gain for the month.
Posts Tagged ‘Geithner’
The financial markets have been suffering the whiplash that resulted from the uncertainty of the Greek elections. It is no surprise to the readers of this blog that politics would provide a problem for those “WHO ASSUMED A CAN OPENER.” The eurocrats and European financial elite are so vested in the EURO and the politics of the EU project that they assumed all citizens of Europe would fall in line. Every referendum that did not pass was reissued under threat of a curtailment of Euro funds from Brussels. Now that the bill is coming do for all the promises. The angry electorate is saying NEIN to more AUSTERITY through the ballot box and financial markets and Europe’s bankers are quaking.
It seems that the Greek politicians know that the fear of GREECE not “honoring” its previous commitments is a powerful tool to use in negotiations with the powers in Brussels. GREECE HAS NOTHING TO LOSE IS THE OPERATIVE MINDSET OF THE SYRIZA AND ITS LEADER, ALEXIS TSIPRAS. It is the BANKS, ECB and IMF who are on the hook for a great deal of money. It is the ultimate moment of the PRISONER’S DILEMMA.
Yes, the GREEKS know they owe a great deal of money, but your banks own the paper. Also, if the Greeks were to turn violent at the continued threats from the ECB and the GREEK election results were overturned through the impact of interference from Brussels, there would be fallout from the other European nations searching for relief from austerity. I warn all readers to be leery of the nonsense that continues to be written about the politics of Europe as the SYCOPHANTS WANT TO PAINT A BETTER POLITICAL PICTURE.
A danger to the Greeks leaving the EURO would be that the drachma would be reinstated at a very depreciated level, leading to a massive resurgence in Greek tourism and other service industries, which would come at the expense of the Spanish and French tourism industries. A “liberated” Greece has the potential to create all types of economic turmoil for the other periphery nations. Just threatening the Greeks is not as simple as many optimists want to believe.
Today, Bloomberg ran a piece by a noted Financial Times journalist, Clive Crook, “Hollande Must Betray His Supporters to Save Them.” The writer notes that Mr. Hollande cannot betray the left until after June’s Parliamentary elections but then, “Whether it’s sooner or later, Hollande will be forced to acknowledge reality, and the disillusionment of the French left will be terrible.” Here again, the elite want their wishes to prevail over any sense of the PUBLIC WILL. Mr. Crook goes on to say, “Wisely, Hollande’s campaign was more about posture than specifics. We know he’s against austerity and for taxing the rich–but he hasn’t drawn up a budget.”
This is the view of the status quo within the EU at all costs camp, but if the Greeks play their HAND OF NOTHING TO GREAT ADVANTAGE THE POLITICS OF EUROPE WILL BECOME VERY VOLATILE. This afternoon it was learned that Greece will receive its next TRANCHE OF BAILOUT MONEY tomorrow. See, NOTHING CAN BE A VERY GOOD HAND.
The problem for the policymakers in Brussels is that all the other debt-stressed nations are watching closely to see if the banks and the EURO GROUP cave in for fear of a CREDIT CRISIS emanating from the Greek’s decision to soften the BAILOUT AGREEMENT. Crook ends his article with this warning: “But Hollande can’t be a good thing without letting his supporters down. That’s a hard truth to contemplate in your first week in office.” This is a major dilemma for the financial and political elite of Europe. Let’s ASSUME A CAN OPENER.
Quick Hitter: The two-year Schatz dropped to a record low 6 BASIS POINTS. Again, the rush to safety added to China’s need to invest its EUROS is playing havoc with the world’s DEBT MARKET. Finnish two-year notes dropped to 18 BASIS POINTS and the Netherlands to 28 BASIS POINTS. The demand for safety and the need for quality collateral is causing massive dysfunction in credit markets. PRICE IS NOT A BAROMETER OF QUALITY POLICY. This is causing many hedge funds to place bets on the short side of the DEBT MARKETS. They are right that the risk/reward is certainly a temptation. It will just depend on your time horizon.
A CAVEAT FOR CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: BEN, you are opening up the Pandora’s box of the FISCAL CLIFF. The world’s financial markets and commodities are starting to be very concerned about the FISCAL CLIFF that Bernanke warned about at his last press conference .This is a problem as he has alerted investors that CONGRESSIONAL and presidential failure to deal with the fiscal problem can result in a 2 1/2% to 5% negative impact on GDP in 2013. Added to this is the possibility of an increased tax on dividends. The S&Ps and DOW are nervous as a major hit to the U.S. economy coupled with the EUROPEAN MORASS can send the GLOBAL ECONOMY into a massive deflationary spiral.
THE PORTFOLIO BALANCE CHANNEL IS BEN’S BABY, SO CHAIRMAN BERNANKE you had better gain control over the FED GOVERNORS AND PRESIDENTS who are pushing for a near-term rate increase. Bernanke and Geithner have been silent on Europe, but the phone lines are burning as U.S. policymakers are pushing Europe into a greater stimulus plan for if Europe implodes America will more than sneeze. Sometimes a walk to the FISCAL CLIFF RESULTS IN A PEEK INTO THE ABYSS.
A final note: The Portuguese 2/10 curve has exploded out to 414 BASIS POINTS. Being that the Portuguese 10-year is still yielding 11%, somebody is aggressively buying the Portuguese two-year note. It could be the use of LTRO money by private banks in an effort to enhance return but it may be the ECB adding to its purchases of sovereign debt. It is important to stay attuned to yield curve moves that indicate some action from authorities or very large investors. Could it be China chasing higher short-term yield to offset the ridiculous rates on the Schatz? Chinese buying of Euros has to be invested somewhere.
Notes From Underground: European Leaders Head to Washington for Meetings When Everyone Knows There Is No Sanity ClauseNovember 27, 2011
In one of the best Marx Brothers scenes is from A Night at the Opera, where Groucho and Chico are ripping up a contract and they finally come to the SANITY CLAUSE, in which Chico proclaims there is no SANITY CLAUSE. In tomorrow’s Financial Times, there is a story about France pushing for a Christmas gift from the ECB. The gift that the French are hoping for is a backstop for the European banks that are under severe stress because of the huge amount of EURO sovereign bonds on the banks’ balance sheets. In order for the ECB to act, there would have to be a SANITY CLAUSE invoked and the EUROCRATS would have to attain a measure of sanity. The day-to-day machinations of EUROPEAN politics has left the markets FATIGUED and in a very defensive mindset.
(AN HOUR LATER THE MARKETS WILL BE HUNGRY FOR MORE RUMORS)
Another day and another round of rumors. As the financial markets awaited the EU LEADERS’ statement, the rumor of China agreeing to buy European SOVEREIGN DEBT and EFSF paper provided a boost to a falling EURO and a BID TO the U.S. EQUITY MARKETS. It seems that the market wants to BELIEVE that the Chinese are going to ride to the rescue of the EU and provide the backstop that the Germans are so reticent to bankroll.
The G-20 meeting in Paris seemed to yield agreement that the Europeans need to come to a vibrant resolution of the Sovereign debt issue and some plan as to how to recapitalize its problem banks. The G-20 COMMUNIQUE read like an alphabet soup of global regulatory groups (IIF, YNFCCC, MDB, IOSCO, IMF, WEB, FSB, GSIFI, SIFI, BIS … you get the idea). The Communique opens: “We welcome the adoption of the ambitious reform of the European economic governance.” This is a very brazen statement for I have not read where Europe has taken any such measures, such as fiscal unification.
The communique also noted that the G-20 nations agreed, “Those with large current account surpluses will also implement policies to shift to growth based more on domestic demand. Those with large current account deficits will implement policies to increase national savings.” Coupled with this was the vacuous words: “All countries will undertake further structural reforms to raise potential growth.” The concept of growth seemed to have been the most significant issue but when you cut through the platitudes I just cannot imagine from where the growth is going to be generated. If the SURPLUS NATIONS INCREASE DOMESTIC DEMAND WHILE THE DEFICIT NATIONS INCREASE SAVINGS IT SEEMS THAT THE EFFECT TO GLOBAL GROWTH WILL BE NEUTRAL.
The KEYNESIANS in the Obama administration cannot possibly accept this at a time when the push is for greater fiscal stimulus to generate the economic growth that FED policy has been unable to do by itself. Another area of UNCERTAIN AGREEMENT is the issue of SECRETARY GEITHNER pushing for the Europeans to use the ECB as a guarantor of European sovereign bonds. Geithner continues to pursue the Henry Paulson game plan but he fails to realize that the ECB just does not have the same legal authorities as the U.S. Treasury and FED.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reported that the Geithner push was rejected out of hand. Evans-Pritchard reported that Josef Ackermann, head of Deutsche Bank and the chairman of the IIF, said plans to leverage the EFSF may be illegal. “We cannot allow a rescue fund of this magnitude. The [constitutional] court wouldn’t permit, and nor would the people.” (Sunday’s London Telegraph). The main area of agreement from the G-20 is that the IMF is going to play a very large role in the financial rescue of the peripheries and most probably Spain and Italy. Christine Lagarde was pushing for increased IMF funding but Geithner and other heads of developed nations believed that the $390 BILLION IMF was a large enough war chest to deal with Europe’s problems.
It seems that Geithner believes in the IMF‘s larger role but wants to withhold further funding until the Eurocrats come up with a COMPREHENSIVE PLAN. Geithner let it be known in a Bloomberg interview on Oct. 11 that the European debt crisis is affecting U.S. growth and the “U.S. is going to do everything we can to make it more likely that they move as aggressively as they need to.” The EU is the second largest market for U.S. exports, trailing only Canada. The Obama administration is very worried that a slowing European economy will scuttle all of its economic stimulus plans, making President Obama’s reelection possibility an uphill battle.
Clarification: Readers of Notes From Underground are very aware that I have pushed for the IMF to enhance its war chest by issuing GOLD-BACKED BONDS, thus utilizing its GOLD hoard. Presently, the IMF has 90.5 million ounces of GOLD with a market value of $164.1 billion at market prices on August 31,2011. The IMF does not carry the GOLD on its books at market prices so I am confused by the $390 billion war chest to which Geithner and Lagarde refer.
More important though, under the Second Amendment of theARTICLES OF AGREEMENT IN APRIL 1978, the “IMF DOES NOT HAVE THE AUTHORITY UNDER ITS ARTICLES TO ENGAGE IN ANY OTHER GOLD TRANSACTIONS SUCH AS LOANS, LEASES, SWAPS, OR USE OF GOLD AS COLLATERAL…” (from the IMF website). Thus, my proposal is now laid to rest unless the IMF and its member nations wake up to the 21st Century and find a way to utilize all its assets. If the IMF is to become a bigger player in the developed world it needs to become much more creative in how it looks to stabilize the world in times of great systemic risk.
An Aside: THE GERMAN/FRENCH 10-year-note spread widened to a record 92 basis points on Friday, not a healthy sign for France.
On the other side of the world the Chinese 2/10 spread was a positive 32 points and the 2/10 spread in India was +33 points. These are very flat curves in the two largest BRICS, indicating that money is too tight in both those nations. Just something else to keep an eye on as so much uncertainty exists in the world.
In a speech today, President Obama proclaimed that European inaction on its debt crisis was scaring the world, implying that the EUROCRATS were causing global growth to slow by raising fears of the a major credit debacle. It seems that the G-20 was entirely dedicated to bashing the European financial policymakers about the foot-dragging and infighting that is delaying action on the dual problems of sovereign debt and the newly discovered bank solvency issues. Rumors arose Sunday night that a package had been crafted to leverage the EFSF to almost 2 trillion euro from 440 billion euro. However, failure to verify the rumors left the markets moving up and down as confirmation was not forthcoming from European authorities.
Friday and Saturday were the days that U.S. Treasury Secretary Geithner was in Poland sitting in on an ECOFIN meeting to try to persuade the financial policy makers of the EU to come to some type of resolution on a bailout of the PIIGS, an increase in the European Financial Stability Facility, and, hopefully, some program of support for the recapitalization of the European banking sector. Geithner pressed the ECB and European Governments to increase the 440 billion EURO EFSF rescue fund by utilizing leverage in its buying of sovereign debt. The tone of Geithner’s message was that the U.S. has woken up to the huge threat the EU debt crisis poses for the American economy, and, of course, President Obama’s election chances. Mr. Geithner warned that the EU crisis was a “CATASTROPHIC RISK TO FINANCIAL MARKETS.” He advised that the conflict between European governments and its central bank must end.
The August 9 FOMC minutes from were released today and there was a great deal of discussion about the issue of leaving rates at the present level for the next two years. It seems that one of the dissenters opposed the measure for he didn’t want the FED to be locked in to a decision and thought the measure should be subject to newly released data. There was much discussion about European banks and the efforts by the ECB to calm the storm and prevent a bank run. The FED did acknowledge that the biggest drag on U.S. growth was the “efforts to rebuild balance sheets and caution on the part of households facing an uncertain economic environment.”
Austan Goolsbee, the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, announced that he is heading back to the University of Chicago to spend more time with his students. Professor Goolsbee believes that the Midway is a much safer place to be than the chaotic environs of Washington, D.C. It is better to be beloved for challenging the minds of the next generation of leaders than to lead the challenge against the economic buffoons that are generating nothing but red ink and angst. More importantly, this is the second head of the Council of Economic Advisors–and the third from Obama’s economic team (Larry Summers)–that has headed for either the lecture circuit or the safety of the classroom.
Notes From Underground: Dominique Strauss-Kahn Arrested on Rape Charges AND FOR THE FIRST TIME IT’S NOT OF A COUNTRYMay 15, 2011
Today’s NOTE‘s headline wrote itself as the history of the IMF and its relationship to stressed emerging markets is replete with acts of “nation violation” in its efforts to ensure that creditors were/are always satisfied–most recent example is Greece. All levity aside, the accusations against DSK have important implications for FRENCH domestic politics as well as the role of the IMF in the current SOVEREIGN DEBT CRISIS plaguing the EU. Last week, the ASSISTANT MANAGING DIRECTOR of the IMF, John Lipsky, announced that he was leaving, thus the leadership of IMF is really going to be in turmoil.