Euro Area

 

Greek Citizens Vote “No” on a Bailout Offer that no Longer Exists

An exercise in futility has just ended in Greece, with its population voting down an offer that has expired almost a week ago already. Given the futility of the referendum, its outcome was actually irrelevant from a formal perspective – once the verdict was in, Greece and its creditors would be exactly back where they were half a year ago already: at square one.

In one sense the referendum’s outcome was of course not futile: It has solidified the current Greek political leadership’s grip on power. It merely hasn’t brought it any closer to a solution. Greek voters want Greece to retain the euro, but they cannot vote on how much money governments (or rather, taxpayers) of other countries should hand to Greece or under what conditions. They can also not vote on whether the ECB should resume lending to technically insolvent banks.

 

yes and noFutile exercise

Cartoon by Ilias Makri

 

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So Far So Good in Greece

On Wednesday, U.S. stocks ended in the green. Investors bent over to pick up a few pennies in the stock market. They didn’t notice the huge steamroller headed their way. The Dow rose 138 points – or about 1% – after the mainstream media reported that “macroeconomic obstacles” in the ongoing Greek drama were being removed.

 

steamroller

 

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When the ATMs Went Dark …

There’s a time for calm, rational behavior … and a time to panic. On Tuesday, investors in U.S. stocks decided not to panic. Monday’s sell-off halted. But it did not reverse.

And it left the street with its worst half-year performance since 2010. Gain for 2015 so far? Zilch. But have we seen the top? We will have to wait to find out.

Fox News reports that Greeks are eyeing Bitcoin to protect their savings. At midnight Tuesday night, the Greek government defaulted on a €1.5-billion loan repayment to the IMF. And it has imposed a 60-euro-a-day limit on cash withdrawals.

 

50As of today, depositors reportedly only get 50 euro per day, because the banks have run out of 10s and 20s.

 

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Latest Developments

Alexis Tsipras has sent a letter to Jeroen Dijsselbloem of the euro-group (you can download the letter here, pdf), in which he requests a separate bailout from the ESM, essentially proposing that the ESM take over Greece’s liabilities for a period of two years. Unsaid, but implied, is that this would result in the referendum being recalled. More likely it is just a ploy to enhance Syriza’s chances of obtaining a “no” vote in the referendum.

 

Image via dreamstime.com

 

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Nothing to Worry About …

It was clear that stock markets would sell off and US treasuries would catch a bid on the news of the failure of negotiations between the former “troika” and Greece. What was less clear was that gold would actually fail to catch a bid, but we are putting this down to the fact that another surprise event occurred: the euro, after initially declining, actually ended the trading day slightly higher.

Some of this has to do with positioning: there were already lots of speculative shorts in the euro, and speculators added some 24,000 contract to their long position in gold futures ahead of the weekend. When a big move higher failed to make an appearance, some of these positions in gold were evidently sold again, while euro shorts welcomed an opportunity to cover on a dip caused by widely unexpected news.

 

warning-there-is-nothing-to-worry-about

 

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Capital Controls Have Arrived …

This is an “Amber Alert” day in the markets. “Greeks Line Up at Banks; ATMs Run Dry” was the headline over at the Drudge Report. Versions of it ran throughout the financial media.

Greece is the canary in the coal mine for what could one day happen to your savings. You’ll recall our prediction: In a crisis, banks will move fast to block access to your money.

First, they will limit withdrawals. Then they will either close their doors or run out of cash. That’s what’s happening in Greece right now…

 

CanaryInACoalMineWhen the canary dies, you know the air is poisoned …

Photo via forbes.com

 

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Tsipras Takes Door Number Three

Late last week, Greece’s creditors offered a bailout extension of several months, in the course of which Greece would have received sufficient funding to make all payments due during this time period. In order to receive this package the Greek government would have had to sign a final offer made by the creditors. If one looks at the details of the negotiations, only a tiny difference remained between the Greek offer and the offer made by the creditors in the end, reportedly amounting to approximately €100 million. This makes the Mr. Tsipras’ assertion that the final offer tabled by the creditors was an “affront to Greek dignity” not especially credible. It should be noted in this context that these arithmetic games are complete nonsense anyway. In light of €360 billion of public debt, does anyone really believe it will make an iota of difference whether the retirement age in Greece is increased in 2022 or 2025, or whether the small VAT exception for the tourism industry is revoked or not? We believe there are far more important reforms Greece needs to implement.

 

image1In the meanwhile, somewhere in Athens …

Photo via allaksogolies.gr

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France Is Dead

“Aaeee!”

“EEEEiiii!”

We were down in the subway in Paris last night. At about midnight. At the École Militaire station. All of a sudden, we heard screaming. Girls. Shrieking more than screaming. Not in trouble. But not laughing either.

 

artworks-000086852589-4ni3t8-t500x500Photo credit: Getty Images

 

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Regime Change Option on the Table?

It has been clear from the beginning that Greece and its creditors were in a “Mexican standoff” situation. We already pointed this out shortly before Syriza won the election (see: Grexitology: A Mexican Standoff). 1. the “institutions” (formerly known as the “troika”) couldn’t possibly let Greece go, but could also not possibly give in and climb down from their demands and 2. Mr. Tsipras was in essentially the same situation; he couldn’t cross Syriza’s aptly named “red lines”, but defaulting and leaving the euro zone is likewise not palatable to him.

 

road closed

Moving too far to the left is unlikely to end well

Cartoon by Lisa Benson

 

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J.C. Juncker Sets Out to “Wake Up Liquidity”

In a recent article on the never-ending Greek Kabuki theater, we have come across parts of an interview EU budget commissioner Kristalina Georgieva has given to AFP, in which she explains J.C. Juncker’s cunning plans to “kick-start” the European economy by pumping €300 billion he doesn’t have into infrastructure projects and other assorted white elephants (we have previously discussed this Stalinesque plan, as well as what usually happens when even some of the “best stewards of EU funding” are “investing in in infrastructure” – see The EU’s Ghost Airports for the ghastly details). The interview contained the following gem:

 

“The Juncker plan is to wake up the liquidity sleeping in our financial system, to give courage to our money, to pump investment into the real economy,” Georgieva said.

 

Liquidity
The always open spigot, spitting out what is apparently valiumed money.

 

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