Euro crisis: “by the fifth instalment producers have to ramp up the violence and special effects.”

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There have been some choice quotes flying around as the Greek government neared the 8pm deadline for securing sufficient private sector creditor involvement in their bond swap deal [and convincing Frau Bundeskanzlerin - Ed].  Like this quote from the Guardian live-blog at 6.59pm

“if it closes at more than 90% its a triumph,” one well-briefed government official said. “If it’s above 75% its relatively good, if it’s lower than that we’re fucked,” he added saying the effects on market psychology would be terrible.

Indeed.  As it is, the indications are that the 75% level has been reached.  Although they won’t be able to confirm the actual level until some time tomorrow…  Guardian live-blog again

Greek officials say they expect to be kept up most of the night counting participation rates in the public bond swap offer. By 8am local time tomorrow (6am GMT) the finance ministry will be in a position to announce “preliminary results” as agreed with the Euro Group of finance ministers and Institute of International Finance [IIF] representing private holders of Greek government debt.

“The percentage [of participation] will be announced but we are not going to give any details about categories of the bond holders involved,” one official said confirming that the atmosphere is “very positive”, adding:

“Whoever gives percentage rates now is naive. There are only four or five people on the planet who know the exact percentage and those who claim to know are just guessing.”

And then there are the more technical decisions to be made

“The ministers will decide whether the collective action clauses [CACS] should be activated or not,” the insider said. “If it is higher than 90% we will consider it near universal participation [a voluntary swap] and there will be no need for CACS. The big question is what happens if it is between 75% and 90%. The call could last anywhere between one and five hours.”

The BBC’s Robert Peston [and still everyone's hero! - Ed] is praying for a Greek default

However, tomorrow the Greek government may well announce that it is coercing those who don’t wish to swap old bonds for new into doing so, by activating “collective action clauses” that were retrospectively inserted into the bonds’ terms and conditions.

Were this to happen, just under $69bn gross (yes dollars), and $3.2bn of net CDS contracts written against Greek government bonds would be activated.

Which is enough to cause comfort or pain to individual banks and financial institutions, depending on whether they are buyers or sellers of the insurance, but not enough to bring the financial system to its knees.

By contrast, if the Greek CDSs were not triggered, Houston there may be a problem.

Read the whole thing.  However, it still may not be enough…

Dario Perkins, analyst at Lombard Street Research, said the expected agreement would buy Greece “some additional time, maybe a few months, but it is unlikely to change the end result. Ultimately – as we may have mentioned once or twice before – we expect Greece to default ‘properly’ and leave the euro area.”

And the Guardian’s Nils Pratley adds that - “Dario Perkins of Lombard Street Research makes a fair point when he says the crisis ‘is starting to feel like the fourth or fifth instalment of a horror movie series that is rapidly running out of ideas and credibility. It’s Halloween 5 or Jaws IV.’””

But what, actually, will have changed? In terms of the big picture, not much. The Greek government is still being told to make cuts in spending that will undermine economic growth for years. The ambition of reducing Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio to 120% by 2020 will still seem incredible. A third bailout or a bigger default and Greek exit from the euro will still be on the cards.

Lombard Street predicts the latter and asks what would happen next. Will investors attack Portugal? Or Italy again? Those possible plotlines still haven’t disappeared.

As Perkins puts it, by the fifth instalment producers have to ramp up the violence and special effects.

In the meantime, as I may have mentioned, “the political trilemma” remains unresolved [and under-discussed? - Ed].  Which is where that recent Irish Times editorial came in…

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  • Greenflag

    It closed at 86% and the Greeks get to reduce their debt by 100 billion euros . Not a bad return for several weeks of rioting etc . Will it be enough ?

    Perhaps the election of French Socialist Monsieur Hollande in April will upset the ‘austerity ‘ hawks . French Socialists have been meeting with German and others of like minded views to formulate a different response to this never ending story .

  • Zig70

    The reports on Greek derivatives and ISDA credit events is hard for me to make head or tail off. Lots of examples of previous credit events that ended in default anyway but they had leaders, Greece is being managed by a committee. Once the focus is off Greece and the market looks for instability elsewhere, who will be next? If it is the banks (which my money is on), will the sovereign governments underwrite them again?

  • Greenflag

    ‘Once the focus is off Greece’

    The focus will soon enough be back on Greece with elections in the offing and the rising tide of Left and Right extremists and the established politicians bot socialist and conservative who are now seen by increasing number of Greeks as ‘irrelevant ‘ if not ‘useless’. It’s a rerun of Weimar days and I guess we can all be relieved that it’s only a small country like Greece disintegrating politically and not say a Germany or France or Italy or Spain – well yet anyway .

    http://www.npr.org/2012/03/19/148886392/greek-bailout-fuels-rise-of-extreme-politics

    Looks like this time more of the police are with the Greek people instead of with the stooges of ‘financial services ”dictatorship i.e the Greek establishment and its main political parties.

  • Alias

    GF, why do you now rely on nations to assert their sovereignty over supranational authority when you have consistently supported the systematic undermining of their sovereignty that has led them to be powerless in opposition to its clientelist agenda?

    The European nations are now comprehensively post-sovereign and by default post-democratic, so don’t rely on them now to assert an authority that they no longer possess.

    As Lennie said, “Everybody knows the war is over/Everybody knows the goods guys lost.”