How much of your future have you already spent?
Done deal in Greece? German lawmakers will have to approve the bailout funds, pass on letting the AESF guarantee ECB-held Greek bonds, and approve guaranteeing Greek bonds held by the private sector after the debt swap. They may have an agreement in principal, but the cows can't even see the barn yet. And someone's got to keep Zorba in line, too. When you get through being enthused about how far down the road the can went tumbling, tell me about Spain.
Blockade: The US sanctions against Iran have forced it to default on its payments for 200,000 tons of Indian rice. Tehran is having trouble buying rice, cooking oil and other staples to feed its 74 million people weeks before an election. Starving them into submission is far more humane than an outright attack, but don't expect it to win a lot of hearts and minds.
Ends/Means: They started it! That's Obama's justification for embracing a Super PAC to raise and spend unlimited & deniable money buying a second term. The Obama campaign explained that there was too much at stake not to behave as despicable as their opponents.
Downhill: Like Sisyphus' rock, the Italian economy is picking up speed as it goes down hill, with GDP now contracting at a 0.3% annual rate.
Unexpectedly: Closing out the year with €1.06 trillion in exports – the most ever – didn't save Germany's exports from a 4.3% decline m/m in December, as international trade slowed. Imports also fell 3.9%, unexpectedly.
Silly Question:Why do the horrific events in Syria not prompt a Libyan-style intervention by NATO? Oil, or the lack thereof, and Russians and the presence thereof.
May The Power Be With Them: Chinese electricity consumption declined 7.5% y/y, the first production decline in ten years. It is thought that this reflects a sharp slowdown in Chinese industrial production. Either that, or they celebrated Chinese New Year in the dark.
Cue Laughter & Applause: The ECB is willing to forgo profits on their holdings of Greek sovereign bonds. Profits? On Greek bonds?
Life In The Austerity Lab: If there were a typical Greek today, he or she has taken a 40% cut in pay and seen the sales tax rise to 23%. This cold winter has brought increased electricity costs and a new tax on heating oil. Gasoline is $10 a gallon and rising – assuming the Iranians keep shipping fuel. If retired, the pension has been cut. The kids are around the house all day because the schools can't pay the teachers. The local clinic's funding has been cut 40% and there are shortages of many common medicines. Do the Greeks feel gratitude to the Germans and French for rescuing them? Did the Greeks vote for thee austerity measures? Did they even get to vote for the leader installed by the EU? Do the Greeks feel proud of having to suffer now and suffer tomorrow so French banks can remain solvent? And the new bailout plan turns the screws even further?
Porn O Graph: Shy, not retiring.