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This is curious statement....

“It’s urgent,” Draghi told reporters in Washington on Saturday during meetings of the International Monetary Fund. “We all want Greece to succeed. The answer is in the hands of the Greek government.”

Urgent for.... exactly who?

See, here's the ugly little ditty -- Greece's debt is sitting somewhere, and I bet a lot of the "somewhere" went through the LTROs.

That means that in some form or fashion the ECB is sitting on it either directly or indirectly.

Of course Jack Lew (our Treasury Secretary) doesn't like this either, because should Greece tell everyone to go stick it where the sun doesn't shine (and they should, by the way) the next obvious question is "why should anyone allow the US Government, or anyone else for that matter, to borrow at what amounts to a below-market-cost structure?"

The answer is "nobody should" and then there's a wee problem that arises among those who think that writing hot checks is a good idea.

Here's my recommendation for Greece: Start buying up rope, boiling it, and earmarking lampposts.

Officially and with the auspices of (Greek) law, of course.

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Heh heh..... I wonder what they're going to find.....

The Greek Parliament concluded a vote Tuesday early morning with the passing of the SYRIZA government’s proposal for an investigative committee to look into the circumstances surrounding the signing of the country’s two memoranda with its international lenders. Out of the 300 Greek MPs, 156 voted in favor of establishing the committee.

Before the vote, there was a long debate in which all party leaders spoke at the Greek parliament.

SYRIZA leader and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that his government is “seeking clear answers on how Greece signed these international agreements.”

“Greece is not a liegeman whose lenders can play games on its back,” notes PM Tsipras.

Samaras was opposed, of course.  I wonder if there's something really kinda ugly in there that Samaras is worried about being exposed?

I suspect there will be some very interesting findings that come out, provided the committee report ever sees the light of day.  I would recommend to all members of the committee that they stay far away from things like light aircraft, hot tubs and other similar dangerous places since unfortunate events seem to visit those probing the "masters of finance" on a curiously-frequent basis.

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You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours....... but if you try to take my money (as opposed to that of the peasants) I'll bend you over the table and.....

(Reuters) - The European Commission is considering an investigation into whether Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain have illegally underwritten banks which have accumulated assets considered low-quality in the rest of the euro zone, the Financial Times reported.

The EC is currently studying the information requested from member states to decide if a full probe is required, the FT said, and a "conversation" was in progress between the member states and competition regulators in Brussels, according to people familiar with the matter.

This is how it works folks.

In fact, in an upcoming article (queued and ready to go) I discuss what I believe is the reason that there have been no prosecutions among banksters since the S&L crisis.  At its root the same thing that appears to have gone on here is in play.

I'll give you a tease:

In order to deficit spend governments need banks to cooperate both implicitly and explicitly.  If they don't then rates will rise as debt levels go up and deficit spending gets cut off because it becomes impossible to sustain.  This is the natural balance of business and is supposed to be the check and balance on government overspending exactly as it should be on your overspending.

If you spend more than you make it will not be long before creditors realize this and start hiking your interest rate for more borrowing.  Soon all you have available to you is the payday lender on the corner with his 500% annual interest rates; other than him (or a loan shark, with the only difference being that one's legal and the other is not) you're forced to live within your earnings.

Governments face the same constraint but there's a very efficient way to get around it: Buy off the people who would otherwise stop it.

This should be interesting to watch but my expectation is that this alleged "investigation" will be quietly dropped.

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Stand by to receive our transmission...

“We are a Left-wing government. If we have to choose between a default to the IMF or a default to our own people, it is a no-brainer,” said a senior official.

One would hope so.

I don't think this is a question of "concessions" per-se.  The fact is that the Eurogroup intentionally lent to a bankrupt nation (as did the IMF.)  They did so with the express intent of attempting to force the nation and its citizens into vassal status.

This is an inherently improper act and since the "government" that agreed to this has been fired by the people the Greek people have no obligation to honor that "pledge."

If you think this resolves with Greece knuckling under (again) to the Troika (whatever they wish to call it this week) I suspect you need to check your premise, as I doubt very much that is how all of this will work out over time.

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I have to chuckle.

The U.S. and international negotiators announced the hard-fought framework for an Iranian nuclear deal Thursday, capping days of exhaustive and tense talks that blew past their original deadline. 

The plan, containing dozens of provisions, would effectively require Iran to wind down or suspend parts of its nuclear program that could be used for nuclear weapon development in exchange for sweeping sanctions relief. The preliminary agreement allows all sides -- the U.S., Iran and five other world powers -- to continue working toward a final deal by a June 30 deadline. 

I really wish people would stop with the lies.

Let's put the basics of nuclear weapons out there.  These are facts, and if you doubt them (and you should) go check 'em with someone else who knows what they're talking about.

Fact: Uranium-235 and Plutonium-239 are both equally-suitable for atom bombs.  Uranium is a naturally-occurring element.  Plutonium (of any isotope) is not.

Fact: Uranium requires isotopic separation (that is, centrifuges or similar) because it, and Uranium-238, which is vastly more common, does not fission and thus will not explode, are the same element and thus cannot be chemically separated.  As a result you must turn them into a gaseous form and then use their differing mass to separate one from the other.  This is difficult and expensive (thus the centrifuges.)

Fact: Uranium-235 (and/or Plutonium-239) in about a 5% concentration is used in a common power-generating reactor (either BWR or PWR.)  There is no reason to use a higher percentage, and a lot of reasons not to.  Since naturally-occurring uranium ore is less than 5% concentrated isotopic separation (the aforementioned centrifuge system) is necessary if you are going to fabricate your own fuel.

Fact: For a compact reactor design (such as will fit in a ship or submarine) highly-enriched fuel is necessary.  This same fuel is usable to make into a bomb.

Fact: If you put nuclear fuel into a reactor that has as its "inert" component Uranium-238 (and that typically is what the "inert" 95% is) you will inherently get some Plutonium produced as the fuel is consumed.  This is just how nuclear fission works and cannot be avoided, even if your reactor is not specifically designed and optimized to produce Plutonium.

Fact: Plutonium is chemically (easily) separable since it is a different element.  Howeverthe longer the fuel is in the reactor the more of the Plutonium (naturally) produced by it is Plutonium-240 and not 239.  Plutonium-240 is extremely undesirable in a nuclear weapon because it causes a weapon to "fizzle" (that is, not make a very big boom) instead of explode as designed.  This is just one of those "gotchas" in nuclear physics; even-number isotopes tend to aggregate because odd-number ones are more-likely to fission when hit with a neutron.  Basically, if you leave fuel in a reactor until "most" of it is burned up you get Plutonium but it's not useful for weapons -- only as a component in recycled fuel.  Fuel made from a mixture of Uranium and Plutonium is called "MOX" (or mixed-oxide.)  Since shutting down a power reactor means it doesn't make any electricity (money) while it is shut down longer fuel cycles are preferred in reactors that are intended as a means of electrical energy production.

Fact: Reactors for research and medical use use short fuel cycles because the elements they are trying to produce (for medical purposes, as an example) are often optimized in production on a short fuel cycle.  Unfortunately short fuel cycles also optimize the production of Plutonium-239.

Fact: Making a nuclear device that will explode is very easy; you need only take a larger-than-critical mass that is configured in such a way (e.g. two pieces separated by some space) that the reaction is not self-sustaining and change its configuration so that it is.  Yes, this is harder than it sounds -- but it's not that hard.  However, making a nuclear bomb small and light enough to put on a missile is much more difficult.  Therefore, if the point is to get something that will go "boom" you simply have to manage to get your hands on enough Uranium-235 or Plutonium-239 and have people who know enough about nuclear physics so they don't put all the material in the wrong configuration while assembling things.  (Incidentally when our scientists were figuring this out several of them killed themselves accidentally; it's quite easy to do if you don't have access to previously-learned lessons and have to figure them out on your own!) It is when you want to make a (relatively) small and light bomb that you have to go to a lot more trouble and need more knowledge of other people's work -- or testing to figure it out yourself.

Combine all of this together and what you have is the fact that any nation-state that desires to acquire something that goes "boom" and has any sort of functioning nuclear program can almost-certainly do so.  The only means of absolutely prohibiting that from happening is to bar all nuclear research and development activity in the nation and to enforce that with whatever means are necessary (which, in the face of determined opposition, means waging war on them.)

Now it's up to you whether you think that Iran (or any other nation) should have nuclear weapons, and whether your disapproval (assuming you do disapprove) of a particular nation having them leads you to believe that the nation in question should be sanctioned or have military action taken against it.

But this much I am quite certain of:

Any nation with any sort of nuclear program whatsoever that desires to acquire at least a crude nuclear weapon can do so and in order to prevent that with any degree of certainty you're going to have to get them to remove all of their nuclear program or prevent them from setting one up -- irrespective of the claimed purpose for same.

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