Thursday, March 8, 2012

Market Knee-Jerk Response to Greek Deal is a Bullish One

Though there has been no official announcement, apparently, market participants believe that the Greek restructuring of their private debt (a 53.5% haircut for bond-holders) is a done deal.

This was always assumed to be the case, as nobody wanted a credit event and a triggering of the collective action clauses (though that WILL happen) and thus, force payouts of CDS as if Greece actually did default (which it of course did, which is why it suddenly changed its laws regarding bonds).

If all of this sounds too fantastic or incomprehensible is because all reporting today was based entirely upon rumors. The actual tally of how many and what percentage of the private bond holders agreed to the deal won't be known until 1:00 am ET at the earliest and probably not until 8:00 am ET, when the group arranging the deal will hold a news conference.

As usual, the most measured and unbiased reporting is being done by the Christian Science Monitor which has as its headline, Greece to investors: take a haircut so we can get our bailout and includes this little gem a few paragraphs into the article:
According to the deal the Greek government negotiated with the Institute of International Finance (IIF), which represents most of Greece's private sector creditors, investors will write off 53.5 percent of debt – which amounts to a waiver of 74 percent when the loss in future interest is taken into account – and exchange the rest of bonds they are holding into new papers which are worth less, have a longer maturity, and pay less interest.
So, according to equity market participants, having private bondholders - mostly banks and hedge funds - take a 74% loss on their investments - only to repackage a new deal to the same defaulting party - is better than having a country actually default on its debt and start over. Plus, this agreement paves the way for Greece to take on more debt that it can't possibly repay, ensuring that we'll reprise this particular farce all over again somewhere down the road.

If that is what passes for good news these days, then there's little wonder why most individuals are not invested in the stock markets, nor want to be. It also serves as a prime example of why most people don't trust banks, governments or the media, because instead of having debtors who can't pay back loans default, the prevaricators of this particular brand of financial suicide actually prefer pretending and replaying the same canard over and over again (like the US government and the Fed did with the too big to fail banks in 2008-09), all along adding even more debt, more derivative bets (CDS) and more equity market euphoria to the calculus.

It's a dangerous game, one in which any individual large player could pull the rug out from beneath everyone else at a moment's notice, although that's a scenario unlikely to occur because it would be the equivalent of playing Russian roulette with all chambers loaded.

If today's good news is that Greece isn't defaulting - at least not today - and the markets respond positively, one must ponder what would happen if there was some actual good news. Recalling images of the late Great One, Jackie Gleason, from the Honeymooners, "to the moon, Alice, to the moon."

Dow 12,907.94, +70.61 (0.55%)
NASDAQ 2,970.42, +34.73 (1.18%)
S&P 500 1,365.91, +13.28 (0.98%)
NYSE Composite 8,082.36, +102.58 (1.29%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,620,493,125
NYSE Volume 3,442,931,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4295-1323
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 199-30
WTI crude oil: 106.58, +0.42
Gold: 1,698.70, +14.80
Silver: 33.83, +0.25

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