Friday, October 28, 2011

Ho Hum

The European "deal" is mostly a mirage. The only "real" thing that takes place in the deal is the 50% write down of Greek sovereign debt and even that write down only applies to the 60 percent of the debt that is in "private" hands, meaning mainly in the hands of commercial banks.

Buried in this deal is the possibility that CDS (credit default swap) contracts will not be triggered. That is probably a sop to the banks who are on the hook for these contracts, which, among other things, insure Greek sovereign debt. No payoff for those who took out insurance. Who would have thought?

Europe is following the American pattern of reneging on past contracts to foster the illusion that they are solving today's problems. (America continues this pattern with debt forgiveness orchestrated by the White House, invalidating legitimate private sector contracts with the hope of securing more votes for Obama in 2012).

As for the EFSF (European Financial Stability Fund), the plan for that entity is ridiculous. Somehow, someway, someone is going to give the EFSF $ 1 Trillion and then that will be used to "insure" the first twenty percent of loss on newly issued debt, presumably debt issued by Greece, Spain and Italy. Who is going to come up with the $ 1 Trillion? The short answer is no one. The long answer involves numerous future headlines about the Chinese, the Saudis, and other targets, who will play nice, but, in the end, will donate nothing at all to this silly idea.

This "deal" now gives breathing space for a further expansion in sovereign debt by the weakest members of the EU so that a year from now, problems will be much, much worse than they are now. Meanwhile, Greece can go back to running the most inefficient economy on the planet without fearing a default (in the next few weeks).

So, why did the markets go up?

Because the US economy continues to grow, albeit slowly, and business is learning how to do without employees and still make money. So stocks will continue their upward march -- at least for a while yet. A sick Europe and an ever growing sovereign debt debacle is factored into market prices already. That's why the market is cheap (but getting less cheap).