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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Nothing is inevitable in financial markets — except perhaps the return of Greece as a source of concern. More than seven years since Greece’s sky-high debts first unnerved investors and stoked speculation of the end of the euro currency, the country is back in the spotlight for the same reasons.
H/t reader squodgy:
“Not long now….”
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It may – or may not – shock readers to learn that Greece is once again on the verge of collapse.
10-year bond yields shot up and stocks tumbled on Friday, a day after euro zone finance ministers acknowledged the country’s fiscal progress but once again failed to break an impasse with the IMF over the country’s future bailout targets. Early on Friday morning, the greatest Greek nemesis alive, and surely in the afterlife, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said that Greece’s creditors won’t unlock further financial aid to the country unless the government meets its reform promises, which he said it hasn’t done yet.
While most of the country has been focused on the inauguration of Donald Trump, a very real crisis has been brewing behind the scenes. Foreigners are dumping U.S. debt at a faster rate than we have ever seen before, and U.S. Treasury yields have been rising. This is potentially a massive problem, because our entire debt-fueled standard of living is dependent on foreigners lending us gigantic mountains of money at ultra-low interest rates. If the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt just got back to 5 percent, which would still be below the long-term average, we would be paying out about a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt. If foreigners keep dumping our debt and if Treasury yields keep climbing, a major financial implosion of historic proportions is absolutely guaranteed within the next four years.
In China, announcing new (and ever more ineffective) capital controls has become a daily thing.
Last week, Beijing unveiled its latest set of capital controls according to which Chinese banks would be required to report all yuan-denominated cash transactions exceeding 50,000 yuan (around 7,100 US dollars) to the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), down from the current level of 200,000 yuan. Cross-border transfers more than 200,000 yuan by individuals would also be subject to the report process.
While Venezuela CDS suggest the country’s default odds remain well over 90%, and its currency on the black market continues to plunge into the abyss of hyperinflation, something odd happened today: Venezuela’s government issued $5 billion in dollar debt for the first time in more than five years, selling bonds in an opaque transaction to the state bank Banco de Venezuela SA and the central bank, Reuters and Bloomberg report. What makes this “unorthodox operation” particularly strange, is that the government is effectively selling debt, and raising dollar funds from itself – it owns both the Banco de Venezuela and the central bank; it is also strange in that the transaction, according to Reuters, does not immediately bring in new funds for the cash-strapped OPEC nation.
One day after China’s regulator halted trading in bond futures for the first time ever, Beijing suffered another catalytic bond-market event overnight when it failed to sell all the Treasury Bills on auction Friday, for the first time in almost 18 months, as bids fell short of minimum requirements, according to traders required to bid at the auction.
As BBG reported overnight, the Ministry of Finance sold only 9.57 billion yuan ($1.38 billion) of 182-day bills in a planned 10 billion yuan sale, and 10.85 billion yuan of 91-day notes in a planned 12 billion yuan sale, according to a statement from the bond clearing house. What is notable, is that the Bills on offer paid a hefty yield: the 182-day bills sold for 2.9565%, while the 91-day bills sold for 2.8991%.
100 year Treasury bonds? You can’t make this stuff up!
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H/t reader squodgy:
“A somewhat aggressively compiled analysis of the financial mess.
Economics is neither art or science, but nothing more than theories based on possible human behaviour and response.
It has been interfered with and aggrandised as justification for tax regimes and policies, but, at the end of the day is nothing more than theoretical bullshit.”
The Credit Bubble Peak was Marked by “Totally Crazy Lending.”
Debt is good. More debt is better. Funding consumer spending with debt is even better – that’s what economists have been preaching – because the consumed goods and services are gone after having been added to GDP, while the debt, which GDP ignores, remains until it is paid off with future earnings, or until it blows up.
Corporations too have gone on a borrowing binge. Unlike consumers, they have no intention of paying off their debts. They issue new debt and use the proceeds to pay off maturing debts. Funding share-buybacks and dividends with debt is ideal. It’s called “unlocking value.”
Debt must always grow. For that purpose, the Fed has manipulated interest rates to rock bottom. Actually paying off and reducing debt has the dreadful moniker, bandied about during the Financial Crisis, “deleveraging.” It’s synonymous with “The End of the World.”
H/t reader squodgy:
“This is the first Chancellor to admit the country is in a terrible mess. Strange how the MSM let it fly under their radar. It isn’t just in a terrible mess, it is TOTALLY BANKRUPT, INSOLVENT and WORTHLESS.
Under Thatcher on instructions from the ‘elite’, the UK diversity was crushed, manufacturing decimated, agriculture ‘monocultured’, and national assets disposed of to foreign conglomerates. At that time North Sea Oil was carrying UK.
Now, no oil, no manufacturing, no agriculture. Just a greedy and corrupt Financial sector currently in a death spiral thanks to bad investment gambling when a slump was clearly on the horizon.
Fucking incompetence, bad management & treason.”
High treason, indeed.
At least they have applied the “best” policies to “jumpstart the (now almost non-existent) economy” …
UK finance minister Philip Hammond has warned that high debt has tied the government’s hands, in a time when the country needs a “watertight” economy to cope with years of “uncertainty” that lie ahead.
In an interview with the BBC on Sunday, Hammond said the country’s first budget plan since the vote to leave the European Union (EU) in July was constrained by “eye-wateringly” high debt and had to be carefully planned to minimize possible damages by Brexit.
“Over the next couple of years we are going to face some uncertainty over the economy,” he said, pointing to the difficult negotiations with the EU that, according to Prime Minister Theresa May, would take at least two years to complete.
Britain’s public debt hovers around £1.6 trillion, which equals 84 percent of the country’s economic output last year and is the highest over the past 50 years.
Since Donald Trump’s victory on election night we have seen the worst bond crash in 15 years. Global bond investors have seen trillions of dollars of wealth wiped out since November 8th, and analysts are warning of another tough week ahead. The general consensus in the investing community is that a Trump administration will mean much higher inflation, and as a result investors are already starting to demand higher interest rates. Unfortunately for all of us, history has shown that higher interest rates always cause an economic slowdown. And this makes perfect sense, because economic activity naturally slows down when it becomes more expensive to borrow money. The Obama administration had already set up the next president for a major recession anyway, but now this bond crash threatens to bring it on sooner rather than later.
For those that are not familiar with the bond market, when yields go up bond prices go down. And when bond prices go down, that is bad news for economic growth.
H/t reader squodgy:
“Brave Lady, and very logical. No more than ONE YEAR LEFT.
Of course, if the banksters hadn’t printed helicopter money, it would have been 2009, but hey, it’s anyone’s guess, and the real truth (rather than the newspeak) tells anyone with a modicum of common sense to keep preparing.”
Not much time.
Since early July, the 30-year US Treasury Bond Price Index has plunged 8.3%. It’s now called “the rout” in longer-dated government bonds. One of the specters is rising inflation at a time of ultra-low yields.
What has become the number one predictor of a bear market in stocks over the past many decades? The US Treasury yield curve. It drives bank lending – which can strangle the economy. But this time, the risks are much higher, and the potential economic consequences steeper.
One month ago, when we last looked at the Fed’s update of Treasuries held in custody, we noted something troubling: the number dropped sharply, declining by over $27.5 billion in one week, the biggest weekly drop since January 2015, pushing the total amount of custodial paper to $2.83 trillion, the lowest since 2012. One month later, we refresh this chart and find that in the latest weekly update, foreign central banks continued their relentless liquidation of US paper held in the Fed’s custody account, which tumbled by another $22.3 billion in the past week, pushing the total amount of custodial paper to $2.805 trillion, another fresh post-2012 low.
Then today, in addition to the Fed’s custody data, we also got the latest monthly Treasury International Capital data, which showed that the troubling trend presented last one month ago, has accelerated. Recall that a month ago, we reported that in the latest 12 months we have observed a not so stealthy, in fact quite massive $343 billion in Treasury selling by foreign central banks in the period July 2015- July 2016, something truly unprecedented in size and scope.
“From a growth rate perspective, the speed of credit expansion is alarming. The current pace of credit growth in China is realistically in a range between 19% and 20%, well above the reported official TSF growth of 12.4% and new loan growth of 13.0% in September. Relative to GDP, China’s credit-to-GDP ratio currently in a range from 260% to 275% of GDP as of September 2016″ – Barclays