Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Doomed to fail...
The global financial system is not a game of checkers. It is a game of chess. All over the world today, news headlines are proclaiming that this new Greek debt deal has completely eliminated the possibility of a chaotic Greek debt default. Unfortunately, that is simply not the case. Rather, the truth is that this new deal actually "sets the table" for a Greek debt default. When I was studying and working in the legal arena, I learned that sometimes you make an agreement so that you can get the other side to break it. That may sound very strange to the average person on the street, but this is how the game is played at the highest levels. It is all about strategy. And in this case, the new debt deal imposes such strict conditions on Greece that it is almost inevitable that Greece will fail to meet some of them. When Greece does fail, Germany and the other northern European nations may try to claim that they "did everything that they could" but that Greece just did not "live up to its obligations". So does this mean that we will definitely see a chaotic Greek debt default? No. What this does mean is that the chess pieces are being moved into position for one.
The following are 8 reasons why the Greek debt deal may not stop a chaotic Greek debt default....
#1 Greece Is Being Set Up To Fail
The terms of this new debt deal impose some incredibly harsh austerity measures on Greece and from now on the Greek government will be subject to "permanent monitoring" by EU officials.
In other words, they will be under a microscope.
Any violation of the terms of the debt deal could be used as a pretext to bring down the hammer and cut off bailout funds. Potentially, this could even happen just a few weeks from now.
It has become obvious that there are many politicians in Europe that would very much like to kick Greece out of the euro. In a recent column, the International Business Editor of The Telegraph summed up the situation this way....
It is clear that Berlin, Helsinki, and the Hague have taken the decision to eject Greece from the euro whatever the country now does. Even if Greece complies to the letter with the impossible terms of the EU-IMF Troika, it will not make any difference. A fresh pretext will be found.
#2 The Next Greek Election Could Bring An End To The Bailout Deal Overnight
The next national Greek elections are scheduled for April. Political parties opposed to the bailout have been surging in recent polls. It is becoming increasingly likely that the next Greek government will abandon this new deal entirely.
The following is what hedge fund manager Dennis Gartman told CNBC about what is likely to happen after the next elections....
"A new government is going to come to power following elections that shall take place sometime this spring, and if anyone anywhere believes that the next Greek government shall do anything other than abrogate all the agreements made with the ‘troika,’ then we have a bridge we’d like to sell them at a very high price"
With each passing day anger and frustration inside Greece continue to rise, and those that are currently holding power in Greece are becoming very unpopular.
One current member of Greek Parliament recently talked about what he thinks will happen in the aftermath of the next election....
"If we achieve a Left-dominated government, we will politely tell the Troika to leave the country, and we may need to discuss an orderly return to the Drachma"
#3 This Bailout Deal Is Going To Make Economic Conditions In Greece Even Worse
In a previous article, I listed some of the new austerity measures that are being imposed on Greece by this new agreement....
The EU and the IMF are demanding that Greece fire 15,000 more government workers immediately and a total of 150,000 government workers by 2015.
The EU and the IMF are demanding that wages for government workers be cut by another 20 percent.
The EU and the IMF are demanding that the minimum wage be slashed by more than 20 percent.
The EU and the IMF are also demanding significant reductions in unemployment benefits and pension benefits.
The austerity measures that have already been implemented over the past few years have already pushed Greece into an economic depression.
These new austerity measures will deepen that depression.
At the moment, the Greek national debt is sitting at about 160 percent of GDP.
We are being told that these new austerity measures will reduce that ratio to 120 percent by 2020, but already there are many in the financial world that are calling such a goal "comical".
Even with this new deal, the Greek national debt is still completely and total unsustainable. A "confidential report" produced by analysts from the European Central Bank, the European Commission, and the International Monetary Fund says the following about what this new debt deal is likely to accomplish....
There are notable risks. Given the high prospective level and share of senior debt, the prospects for Greece to be able to return to the market in the years following the end of the new program are uncertain and require more analysis. Prolonged financial support on appropriate terms by the official sector may be necessary. Moreover, there is a fundamental tension between the program objectives of reducing debt and improving competitiveness, in that the internal devaluation needed to restore Greece competitiveness will inevitably lead to a higher debt to GDP ratio in the near term. In this context, a scenario of particular concern involves internal devaluation through deeper recession (due to continued delays with structural reforms and with fiscal policy and privatization implementation). This would result in a much higher debt trajectory, leaving debt as high as 160 percent of GDP in 2020. Given the risks, the Greek program may thus remain accident-prone, with questions about sustainability hanging over it.
The GDP of Greece fell by 6.8 percent during 2011.
2012 was already expected to be even worse, and all of these new austerity measures certainly are not going to help things.
And every time the Greek economy contracts that makes a chaotic debt default even more likely.
#4 The Greek Parliament Must Still Vote On This Bailout Deal
It is anticipated that the Greek Parliament will vote on this new agreement on Wednesday.
It is expected to pass.
But when it comes to Greece these days, there are no guarantees.
#5 The Greek Constitution Must Still Be Modified
Under the terms of this new agreement, Greece is being required to change its constitution.
The following is how an article in The Economist describes this requirement....
Over the next two months Greece has promised to adopt legislation “ensuring that priority is granted to debt-servicing payments”, with a view to enshrining this in the constitution “as soon as possible”. These arrangements may not amount to the budget “commissar” once threatened by some creditors, but the effect may be pretty much the same.
So will this actually get done?
We will see.
Forcing a sovereign country to modify its constitution is a very serious thing. If I was a Greek citizen, I would be highly insulted by this.
#6 Several European Parliaments Still Need To Approve This Deal
The German Parliament still must approve this new agreement. This is also the case for the Netherlands and Finland as well.
Many politicians in all three nations have been highly critical of the Greek bailouts.
It is expected that all of these parliaments will approve this deal, but you just never know.
#7 Private Investors Still Have To Agree To This New Deal
Private investors are being asked to take a massive "haircut" on Greek debt. The following is how the size of the "haircut" was described by a USA Today article....
Banks, pension funds and other private investors are being asked to forgive some €107 billion ($142 billion) of the total €206 billion ($273 billion) in devalued Greek government bonds they hold.
There is absolutely no guarantee that a solid majority of private investors will agree to this.
In the end, probably the only thing that is guaranteed is that litigation regarding this "haircut" is likely to stretch on for many years to come.
#8 The Global Financial Community Still Expects Greece To Default
Almost all of the analysts that were projecting a chaotic Greek debt default are still projecting one today. Yes, many of them believe that "the can has been kicked down the road" for a few months, but most of them are still convinced that a default by Greece is inevitable.
The following comes from a Bloomberg article that was released after the Greek debt deal was announced....
“The danger of Greece saving itself into economic depression and having to default and exit the common currency zone remains substantial,” said Christian Schulz, an economist at Berenberg Bank in London. Jennifer McKeown of Capital Economics Ltd. repeated her forecast that Greece will quit the euro by the end of the year.
The odds that this agreement will survive for very long are not great.
It will be nearly impossible for Greece to meet all of the conditions being imposed upon it by this new deal. All of the politicians in northern Europe that are just itching to cut off aid to Greece will soon have the excuse that they need for doing so.
And the Greek people could decide to bring all of this to an end very quickly. If they elect a new government in April that does not support this bailout agreement, the game will be over.
So don't be fooled by all the headlines.
A chaotic Greek debt default has not been averted.
The truth is that a chaotic Greek debt default is now closer than ever.