Beware Greeks Baring Gilts

Ok, one of many bad Greek puns in financial headlines today. I want to get your attention: this news item could hammer markets when it comes to fruition. Greek sovereign bonds are now baring to the financial world an impending financial debacle in Euroland.

Greek sovereign bonds (Treasuries to the US, Gilts to the Brits) are falling off the cliff, and Greece may default within days. This chart from ZH shows the CDS (credit default swap, or insurance premium if you like) spread has gone to 400 bps, and it kept going after this chart was posted to 420 bips. Just a few days ago it was 320, which is also awfully high, but to change this fast means the end is nigh. At this rate it will close the 55 bp gap with Dubai in hours. (In comparison, Treasuries are at 43 and Gilts at 84.)

This is the tip of a huge iceberg. The PIIGS spreads are now higher than BRIC spreads. The ECB has tried to hold value in the Euro as all other major countries (including the US) race to the bottom. One of the many incredulous promises of Obama last night – the AP found 10 other whoppers – is to double US exports. How to live up to that promise? Debase the USD by half? Hard to do, especially if the ECB does not sacrifice Euroland and instead joins that race to bail out the PIIGS, one by one.

The ECB is Titanic in search of that iceberg, and it may be about to hit it.

The Greek prime minister did the obligatory “we are in fine shape” and “rumours can cause problems.” ZH’s take is it sounded a lot like Lehman the night before – or Cramer in 2008 on Bear Stearns! The IMF may need to step in and lead the bailout, or it comes from the ECB, which starts the debasing of the Euro. The prime minister had done the obligatory call to the world’s lender of last resort – no, not the US, nor the IMF – China! China is likely to pass, although Goldman is trying their best to package the deal. (For all of Obama’s bashing of bankers last night, Goldman can be really useful at times like this.) The Greeks denied the involvement of Goldman. More fools they. The Chinese put is neatly: the Greek bonds are “more risky than US Treasuries.” Ouch!

Where this may end is a breakup of the EU. That seems a ways away. Where this starts is with a continued sharp rise of the USD and the beginnings of the next global financial crisis. Problems in PIIGS-land may quickly spillover to emerging markets. Bet on the Dollar, or even the Yen right now.

About Duncan Davidson 228 Articles

Affiliation: NetService Ventures

Duncan is an advisor to NetService Ventures, where he focuses on digital media and the mobile Internet.

Previously he was at four start-ups: Xumii, a mobile social service based on a Social Addressbook; SkyPilot Networks, the performance leader of wireless mesh systems for last-mile access, where he was the founding CEO; Covad Communications (Amex: DVW, $9B market cap at the peak), the leading independent DSL access provider, where he was the founding Chairman; InterTrust Technologies ($9B market cap at the peak), the pioneer in digital rights management technologies, now owned by Sony and Philips, where he was SVP Business Development and the pitchman for the IPO.

Before these ventures, Duncan was a partner at Cambridge Venture Partners, an early-stage venture firm, and managing partner of Gemini McKenna, a joint venture between Regis McKenna's marketing firm and Gemini Consulting, the global management consulting arm of Cap Gemini.

He serves on the board or is an adviser to Aggregate Knowledge (content discovery), Livescribe (digital pen), AllVoices (citizen journalism), Xumii (mobile social addressbook), Verismo (Internet settop box), and Widevine (DRM for IPTV).

Visit: Duncan Davidson's Blogs

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