Notes From Underground: The Emptiness of the Chattering Classes, Opining On Everything With Vacuous Thought

The main political news of the weekend was the falling electoral support of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the three regional elections. The refugee issue continued to be the theme of voter discontent, according to the script presented by the nattering nabobs of nonsense. I have written that the financial repression foisted upon the German saving class was going to be a problem for Chancellor Merkel as insurance and pension funds were being punished in an effort to bail out the peripheral banks and ultimately the heavily indebted governments of the non-German core countries. Unlike the U.S., which has some political input on the role of the Federal Reserve, the German electorate is subjugated to a central bank over which it has no authority.

Under Mario Draghi, the ECB’s enhanced QE and TLTRO plan is being loaded with a massive amount of debt of which the Bavarian Burghers are the ultimate guarantors. The question that nobody asks Draghi: What if the debt on the ECB’s balance sheet cannot be supported by the credit authority in Brussels for there is no harmonized fiscal authority and thus no EUROBOND (only the individual bonds of a multitude of sovereign authorities)? The ECB has the ability to print money and the only thing standing behind the authority of Draghi are more barrels of ink. The refugee crisis is one of the SPARKS TO IGNITE A PRAIRIE FIRE FUELED BY THE NEGATIVE INTEREST RATE POLICY of the ECB.

David Marsh, the world’s authority on the history of the Bundesbank, also posited this thesis today in an article published on Market Watch titled, “German Right Wing Tells Mario Draghi: This May Be the Last Time.” Marsh notes that Merkel may find some solace in knowing that her coalition partners, the SPD, fared worse than the Christian Democratic Union leaving Merkel without a strong challenger. But Marsh is quick to note that, “Chancellor Angela Merkel has leeway to defend the ECB President against the domestic criticism of unpopular measures on negative interest rates and government bond purchases, seen as undermining savers and monetary soundness.” This will be the issue facing the Germans: Who guarantees the soundness of our money.

What’s perplexing for investors is why the EURO currency has rallied in response to the ECB’s aggressive monetary ease and the political difficulties facing Chancellor Merkel. In my OPINION, investors are rushing to buy up corporate debt and some non-performing loans in the belief that TLTRO (targeted long-term repurchase operation) will provide a backstop for hedge funds and private equity groups looking to purchase some debt and be secure that the ECB will backstop the outcome. On Friday, the Greek 2/10 yield curve steepened 144 basis points as investors and the ECB rushed to buy Greek two-year notes yielding more than EIGHT percent. The Greeks cannot come to terms with the Troika over its bail out. Portugal is a political mess. Spain cannot form a government. Italian banks have at least 17% of non-performing loans. And France is suffering economic and political malaise. The QUESTION REMAINS: WHO GUARANTEES DRAGHI?

A question arises from this weekend’s Financial Times. There was an article detailing out the French utility EDF being unable to afford the planned project of a massive nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in the U.K. The nuclear facility is projected to supply up to 7 percent of the Britain’s electricity and it is a project backed by the political powers of both nations. But Thomas Piquemal, finance director of EDF, told his bosses that the company ‘s finances were to fragile and could implode if the project experienced cost overruns or failed to deliver the anticipated results. The financial report was badly received and Mr. Piquemal resigned. There are many questions about the technology used in the planned reactor, European Pressurized Reactor, which has experienced massive time delays and costs overruns at other construction sites.

EDF employs 110,000 people in France so the French government is eager to protect the firm’s solvency (the state also owns 85%  of the company). The 20 billion-plus EURO project could easily be financed by the ECB as these types of BONDS are currently investment grade and not bank debt. This fits the perfect profile for Draghi’s TLTRO. Does anybody see the logic of financing this program with Germany’s credit card? There is no question that this project gets financed by Draghi money and that will be regardless of the vote on Brexit. There is nothing like living on OPM: other people’s money.

***Tonight the Bank of Japan will announce its monetary policy decision and I doubt Kuroda will surprise the markets by any change to the present QQE levels. The G-20 severely criticized the BOJ for its decision to invoke further efforts to weaken the YEN by adding more stimulus and were warned by the Europeans not to target a weakened YEN. Tobias Harris of the Teneo group has allowed me to cite his thoughts:

“It is therefore not guaranteed that Kuroda will announce new asset purchases next week. He may, for example, prefer to wait for more clarity on wages and inflation and the outcome of the FOMC’s March 15-16 meeting. He may also prefer to avoid another 5-4 vote and could therefore choose to wait for the BOJ’s  April meeting, when Makoto Sakurai, believed to support Kuroda’s ‘reflationist’ approach, is expected to join the board.” I think this has the politics correct  from a domestic basis and the global issue of allowing the ECB’s recent effort time to be absorbed by the markets.”

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11 Responses to “Notes From Underground: The Emptiness of the Chattering Classes, Opining On Everything With Vacuous Thought”

  1. asherz Says:

    With the AfD shocking D EU tschland with its election success, ascribed mainly to the anti-immigration policies, many are prone to forget the raison d’etre of its founding. It was economic, with great skepticism and resentment of the non-competitive nature of the southern flank of the Eurozone enterprise that hard working and prudent savers in Germany were expected to support. As borders become fortified once again against the influx of unwanted refugees from the Levant, look for talk of bringing back the Mark and a move to normalizing interest rates in the next few years. If Brexit triumphs, this will accelerate the process, leaving the poor neighbors to the south in a state of No Exit.
    The Draghi Put will have less success than the Greenspan put of a decade ago, as the EU flag with its 12 circular stars begin to resemble a Polish firing squad.

  2. Chicken Says:

    Forecast:

    SPD, 23-percent
    CDU, 18-percent
    Greens, 13-percent
    Linke Party, 8-percent
    Pirates, 8.9-percent
    AfD, 17-percent

    6B euro to Turkey for a fake turmoil, AfD arrives to save the country, ECB financing nuclear power on Germany’s dime, oh boy….

  3. Alex Says:

    The QUESTION REMAINS: WHO GUARANTEES DRAGHI?

    Nobody which is why I doubt anyone in power has even thought about the question.

    The question and more so the answer is also frightening, if it were a movie it would be rated XXXXXX so it’s far easier not to ask or even think about it. In the meantime they’ll continue to do what they’ve always done, a) throw more crap at the wall, b) hope some of it sticks and c) believe their ridiculous financial forecasts.

    Get ready for them buying stocks at some time in the future. As somebody more intelligent than me recently argued the stock market is the ONLY positive thing they can show for their efforts so it’s unlikely they’ll let that domino fall.

    • yra Says:

      Alex–your points are spot on BUT THIS BLOG WILL LATCH ONTO THAT QUESTION UNTIL THE CONCLUSION OF MERKEL,HOLLANDE,CAMERON OR DRAGHI’S FLEEING TO BASEL

    • Chicken Says:

      It’s been a setup from the beginning, insiders are on the right side of the trade.

      I’m curious, has anyone noticed retail inventory depletion? Surely with container ships anchored at sea there should be some of this?

      PBOC fixed the Chinese yuan lower by 0.26%, despite claims of defending the currency?

  4. Frank C. Says:

    Kuroda’s latest jawboning.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/japan-economy-boj-idUSL3N16O16U

    • yra Says:

      Frank–this is so much crap and puts him in a very ugly position–can’t they just stop the ridiculousness of arrogance—this is not the time to keep on keeping on of doing more as the we all know—when in a hole stop digging

      • Fred Ehrman Says:

        Not unless you’re Alice diving into the Rabbit Hole but ultimately finding what was thought to be Wonderland was actually a pit full of snakes and scorpions.

    • Chicken Says:

      Driving that train, high on cocaine, Casey Jones you better, watch your speed. Trouble ahead, trouble behind,….

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