Investors started off 2015 with a slow global economy, low oil prices, a strong Dollar, and a deflationary Europe with great uncertainties on the progress of the US economy and the recent launch of Europe’s quantitative easing. The question is, what opportunities lie ahead? This article highlights the main topics covered in an interview between Mr. Frank Suess, CEO and Chairman of BFI Capital Group, with the globally renowned Swiss fund manager, Mr. Felix Zulauf. Mr. Zulauf currently heads Zulauf Asset Management, a Switzerland-based hedge fund and has forty years of experience with global financial markets and asset management. He has been a member of the Barron’s Roundtable for over twenty years.
Felix Zulauf, Swiss fund manager and long-standing member of the Barron’s roundtable
Frank Suess: Felix, first I would like to thank you for taking the time to speak to us. You are a renowned investor and fund manager with a solid track record over the past 40 years. In those 40 years, you’ve encountered many highs and lows in financial markets and business cycles. What do you think about the current cycle we are in?
Felix Zulauf: The current cycle is very unusual, because never before have we seen authorities, central banks in particular, intervening on such a large scale and pumping so much money into global financial markets. Hence, global financial markets are more distorted than ever before and accordingly, the risks are very high. Investing becomes very difficult in such an unprecedented environment, as it can’t be compared to previous situations.Continue reading »
“More on Greece vs. Eurozone………………. appears the Greeks are not getting any more money. Add in “worsening deposit flight” the politically correct version of bank runs………..their language is beyond belief………and the fact all capital (funds) are vanishing.”
Esteemed reader Kittie Kittie mentioned that today the ECB opened its new headquarters in Frankfurt (seen above). Lots of Jews showed up at the opening ceremony, including Salomon Korn, Head of the Jewish Community Frankfurt.
I discussed the following matter in the “Truth About Money” series, but I wish to do it again here, in simpler terms.
If you can understand the following items, then you will understand more about euro-zone economics than do most “experts.” Instead of your eyes glazing over when you read some financial commentary, you will see through the lies, and declare “bullshit!”
Please ask questions if the material is not clear, or is poorly worded.
The Tower of Evil in Frankfurt is the headquarters of the euro scam, which works like this… Continue reading »
It’s not just Greece which is protesting the utter lack of reforms enabled by the ECB known as “austerity” – as of today so is Germany itself with the so-called #Blockupy movement. According to local media reports, the start of anti-austerity rallies in Frankfurt coincided with the European Central Bank opening its new headquarters, whose occupants are now besieged by tens of thousands of protesters, so perhaps #OccupyQ€ would have been more appropriate. Police said they expect around 10,000 anti-capitalist protesters, marching under the banner of leftist alliance Blockupy, to attend the rally, with a march through the city planned for later in the evening. The result is what according to a police spokesman “is one of the biggest deployments ever in the city.”
As the photos below shows, several police cars have been set on fire, with windows being smashed and demonstrators throwing stones at police ahead of the massive demonstration on Wednesday, and as riots break out across Frankfurt even as thousands of police respond with water cannon, pepper spray and mass arrests.
Repeat after us: the biggest threat facing Europe’s banking system is not a Grexit, is not the Austrian “bad bank” black swan (although it is pretty bad), it is the trillions in non-performing loans on the balance sheets of European banks, which Europe has no idea how to and which continue to multiply in the process threatening to impair depositors with bail-ins (see Cyprus). It is also why, after years of debate, the ECB finally agreed to flood European banks with what it hopes will be over €1 trillion in excess reserves a la the US (of course, if Zero Hedge, and now JPM, is correct, the ECB will break the bond market long before it achieves its goal) in order to mitigate the relentless cash demands of a constantly rising NPLs.
And unfortunately for the third largest issuer of sovereign bonds in the world, Italy – the country all eyes will focus on once Greece and/or Spain exit the Eurozone – when it comes to NPLs things are going from bad to worse because as Reuters reported earlier, citing ABI, gross bad loans at Italian lenders continued to rise, totaling 185.5 billion euros ($196.5 billion) in January from 183.7 billion euros a month earlier.
As the chart below shows, Italy now has over 10% of its GDP in the form of bad debt.
Back in January, when European stocks were only starting their unprecedented QE ramp, we presented the “Driver Behind The European Stock Surge” in which we showed that ever since Mario Draghi’s “whatever it takes” speech in July 2012, European equity prices were up 50% (even higher now) even as corporate earnings had actually declined by 7%. Continue reading »
We already know that the Bank of Japan will monetize 100% or just over of all Japanese gross sovereign bond issuance (source). As for Germany, on a run-rate basis, and assuming allocation based on the abovementioned capital key, it means that for the next 12 month period, assuming no major funding changes in Germany, the ECB will swallow more than a whopping 140% of gross German issuance! Or, said otherwise, the entities who will buy more than all gross German and Japanese issuance for the next 12 months, are the ECB and the Bank of Japan, respectively. Continue reading »
Having been shamed what seems like numerous times now by the Eurogroup in recent weeks, Greece suffered its greatest humiliation today. First, the farcical renaming of ‘Troika‘ to ‘Institutions’ was summarily dismissed as “semantics,” as France played good cop (asking for the group not to call it Troika) while Germany’s bad-cop Schaeuble used the T-word four times in one interview. And second, Eurogroup chairman Dijsselbloem stated that “technical teams will begin considering Greek reform plans on Wednesday,” adding that some of the negotiations will have to take place “in situ in Athens.” So instead of discussing reforms with institutions in Brussels, the Varoufakis-defined “cabal of technocrats” Troika will be back on Greek soil to straighten out the nation. Continue reading »
There was one reaction by the Eurogroup following the (delayed) submission of the Greek 7-point reform proposal – which includes the brilliant idea to use foreign tourists as wired, part-time tax spies - in advance of the latest Monday finmin meeting: laughter.
Financial Times reports that the reaction from eurozone officials to the tourist plan was received with humor. They thought the proposal was hilarious and even laughed when they read it. “It’s quite hilarious, if it were not so tragic, that this is what a government in an industrialised country comes up with,” said one eurozone official involved in the talks.
There will be little laughter in cash-strapped Greece, however, if the Sunday Times is correct in its report that the “Eurogroup finance ministers are to reject radical reform proposals from Greece at a meeting in Brussels tomorrow.” Continue reading »
The Fed and the ECB know exactly that it is totally insane what they are doing, unless you want to destroy the middle class and the entire financial system, which is exactly what they are doing and deliberately so.
In short, the entire citizenry of the euro area has already become poorer due to the efforts of the ECB. The explicit goal of the central bank is now to make them even more so. What is the point of such a policy?
There is of course a point to this seeming lunacy: it is all done to support the profligate governments of Europe’s welfare states and keep the formation of the socialistic super-state in Europe on track. Whether this is seen as good or bad by the average citizen is not even up for debate: it is simply what the political and bureaucratic elites have long ago decided is good for the citizenry, since they think they know best. One might say that it is up to said citizens to elect someone who would do things differently, but that runs into the practical problem that many, even most, of the political groups offering an alternative are even bigger etatistes than the current elite. Whether they are of the socialist or the nationalist (more precisely, national socialist) variety matters little in this context. One would have to expect them to implement even more central economic planning.
The ECB may succeed in increasing economic activity and prices in Europe (especially the latter) by stepping up the pace of monetary pumping even more. However, this will not create any new wealth and will ultimately only sow the seeds of the next crisis. Since many economic regions in Europe are already very poor structural shape, it is also possible that that not even the illusion of economic growth can be created anymore. Bondholders should however be happy, as they can now unload the debt of governments that are up to their eyebrows in debt that will never be repaid in real terms on a buyer with unlimited buying power.
Perhaps echoing two entire nations’ frustration, one reporter loses his cool when Mario Draghi explains how everyone else in Europe gets free money except Greece and Cyprus…
Having explained that The ECB’s Bond-Buying program wil lnot include Greek and Cypriot bonds, “feisty” veteran Greek journalist Aristidis Vikettos unloads on Draghi… “You’re Biased…” he exclaimed, leaving Draghi speechless
Mario Draghi was left speechless on live television when a feisty veteran journalist accused him of bias during really tense moments at a press conference, following the conclusion of the ECB Governing Council meeting in Nicosia. Continue reading »
The European Central Bank will kick off its monthly €60 billion purchases of government bonds and private sector assets next Monday, said the head of the ECB Mario Draghi.
“Following up on our decisions of 22 January 2015, we will, on 9 March 2015, start purchasing euro-denominated public sector securities in the secondary market. We will also continue purchasing asset-backed securities and covered bonds, which we started last year,” Draghi said in a press-release published Thursday after a news conference in Cyprus.
The programme will last till September 2016, Draghi confirmed. The €1.14 trillion package is hoped to avert deflation and save the eurozone from a triple-dip recession.Continue reading »
The Greek government is currently locked in a life and death struggle with the elite which dominate the banks and political decision-making centers of the European Union.What are at stake are the livelihoods of 11 million Greek workers, employees and small business people and the viability of the European Union. If the ruling Syriza government capitulates to the demands of the EU bankers and agrees to continue the austerity programs, Greece will be condemned to decades of regression, destitution and colonial rule. If Greece decides to resist, and is forced to exit the EU, it will need to repudiate its 270 billion Euro foreign debts, sending the international financial markets crashing and causing the EU to collapse. Continue reading »
1. Completion of the current review – Greece has basically agreed to conclude the current bailout. Any funding is conditional on such a process:
Only approval of the conclusion of the review of the extended arrangement by the institutions in turn will allow for any disbursement of the outstanding tranche of the current EFSF programme and the transfer of the 2014 SMP profits. Both are again subject to approval by the Eurogroup.
This is a clear capitulation for Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who said the previous bailout was “dead” and the EU/IMF/ECB Troika is “over”.Continue reading »
Did anyone honestly not think the German finance minister would not have the final word?
GERMAN FINMIN SCHAEUBLE SAYS AS LONG AS THE PROGRAMME FOR GREECE ISN’T SUCCESSFULLY CONCLUDED THERE WILL BE NO PAYOUT GERMAN FINMIN SCHAEUBLE SAYS ‘THE GREEKS CERTAINLY WILL HAVE A DIFFICULT TIME TO EXPLAIN THE DEAL TO THEIR VOTERS’
Perhaps this explained why Greece and The Eurogroup have (reportedly) come to an agreement to avoid an actual Grexit for 4 months. As Die Welt explains that Euro-area nations will face losses of up to EUR330bn as Greek outright government debt, ECB capital needs, and TARGET2 liabilities have soared in the last 2 years since the crisis last erupted…
Just out from the Eurogroup, the final statement. Bottom line: Greece caves on pretty much everything, however it has two semantics successes: the dreaded “Troika” words has been replaced with “institutions” and “current programme” has been changed to “current arrangement” – surely nobody will notice. Sarcasm aside, Greece has just kicked the can for four months. Why four months? Because that’s just ahead of the big Greek debt maturity.
Eurogroup statement on Greece
The Eurogroup reiterates its appreciation for the remarkable adjustment efforts undertaken by Greece and the Greek people over the last years. During the last few weeks, we have, together with the institutions, engaged in an intensive and constructive dialogue with the new Greek authorities and reached common ground today.
The Eurogroup notes, in the framework of the existing arrangement, the request from the Greek authorities for an extension of the Master Financial Assistance Facility Agreement (MFFA), which is underpinned by a set of commitments. The purpose of the extension is the successful completion of the review on the basis of the conditions in the current arrangement, making best use of the given flexibility which will be considered jointly with the Greek authorities and the institutions. This extension would also bridge the time for discussions on a possible follow-up arrangement between the Eurogroup, the institutions and Greece. Continue reading »
Still negotiating Athens and the Euro-partners about new grants.Behind the scenes alternatives are already being played: The ECB is preparing by SPIEGEL information on the Greek exit from the euro before.
Frankfurt – The European Central Bank (ECB) is preparing for a Greek exit from the monetary union. To that effect, Employees by information obtained by SPIEGEL, an internal simulation games by how the rest of the euro zone could be held together.
Despite all the denials to urge the European monetary authorities the Greeks to finally introduce capital controls. According to the findings of the ECB, the Greeks have a day more than one billion euros abroad.Continue reading »
Official Greek deposit data began tumbling in December (outflows around EUR3bn), and accelerated in January in the run up to the Syriza election (proxied by JPMorgan at over EUR 12bn). During the last two weeks, however, the absence of ATM lines and visible bank runs has been curiously lacking as, at least on the surface, there appears to be no panic. However, as Dody Tsiantar reports, sources in the Greek banking sector have told Greek newspapers that as much as EUR 25bn euros have left Greek banks since the end of December with outflows surging this week. Perhaps they are getting anxious that authorities will take Cypriot advantage of the Bank Holiday that is planned in Greece on Monday.
Today, for the first time, the ECB released minutes from its historic January 21-22 meeting during which the ECB unleashed QE. While hardly containing anything earthshattering, here are the main highlights. First, from Bloomberg:
ECB MEETING ACCOUNT SHOWS POLICY MAKERS SPLIT ON QE
LARGE NUMBER’ OF COUNCIL MEMBERS IN FAVOR OF BUYING GOVT DEBT
ECB POLICY MAKERS SAW NO OPTION FOR POLICY OF `BENIGN NEGLECT’
ECB CONSENSUS WAS SOVEREIGN DEBT BUYING ONLY SUFFICIENT OPTION
ECB ACCOUNT SHOWS OFFICIALS CONSIDERED BUYING CORPORATE DEBT
ECB DECIDED TO RAISE BOND BUYING TO EU60B FROM EU50B PROPOSED
ECB POLICY MAKERS SAW DETERIORATION IN PRICE-STABILITY OUTLOOK
QE OPPONENTS SAID NO URGENT NEED FOR ACTION SEEN NOW
QE OPPONENTS SAID BUYING SOVEREIGN DEBT SHOULD BE LAST RESORT
“There is a great game of poker taking place for the future of this currency,” Nigel Farage exclaims as he deservedly takes a small victory lap over his warnings of the anti-democratic nature of the dis-union that has been created. As his warnings that “the EU will crush, and kill, and destroy nation state democracy,” have gone unheeded, this last week has seen The Eurogroup’s behavior justify everything Farage has feared… Juncker: “there can be no democratic choice against the Euro.”