The Euro is up sharply today on news of a “solution” that allegedly involves “voluntary” rollover of Greek bonds by private investors.

The whole world knows there is nothing voluntary about it. Moody’s has even stated it will not be considered voluntary. However, such details do not stop stubborn fools like ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet and French president Nicolas Sarkozy from insisting they can dictate solutions to the market.

On the “news” which everyone knew was coming, 2-year Greek bonds fell to 27.52% from 29.69% but are now trading at 28.03%.

Merkel Wimps Out

As we all knew she would Merkel caved in to demands from Sarkozy and the ECB. Whether or not the German parliament will go along remains to be seen.

Bets are also off if Greek Prime minister George Papandreou does not survive an upcoming “vote of confidence”. If Papandreou hangs on, it will be by 1-3 votes out of 300, hardly confidence inspiring.

One way or another, Papandreou will not survive this fiasco. The only question is whether he is booted out sooner rather than later.

Please consider Merkel Agrees to Voluntary Greece Bondholder Role

Chancellor Angela Merkel retreated from German demands that bondholders be forced to shoulder a “substantial” share of a Greek rescue, saying she’ll work with the European Central Bank to avoid disrupting markets.

“We would like to have a participation of private creditors on a voluntary basis,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin today at a joint press conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. This “should be worked out jointly with the ECB and there shouldn’t be any dispute with the ECB on this.”

Merkel declined to give a date for the package to be worked out, saying the matter must be resolved “as quickly as possible.” European finance ministers next meet on Greece in Luxembourg on June 19-20, followed by a Brussels summit of European Union leaders on June 23-24.

“The aim is involvement of the private sector on a voluntary basis and for that the Vienna Initiative, as it’s called, is a good basis,” Merkel said. “I think we can achieve something on this basis.” A rollover involves reinvesting the proceeds from maturing bonds in new securities.

Echoing the Vienna plan, used during the financial crisis of 2009 for eastern European units of banks to maintain their exposure, would involve encouraging creditors to roll over expiring bonds, buying time for Greece until its austerity program shows results or until a permanent ESM rescue fund kicks in from mid-2013.

“This is a breakthrough,” Sarkozy said. “Finally we have found a solution for an involvement of the private sector on a voluntary basis,” he said. “What we decided just now is precisely in the spirit of what was decided in Vienna.”

Merkel now faces the task of convincing her own coalition and the public that private investors can be swayed to share the burden in Greece with taxpayers. After a pounding in five state elections this year and facing another two votes in September, ruling lawmakers have shown little appetite for backing down.

Four Things to Expect

  1. Expect the market to call another can-kicking bluff as early as next week.
  2. Expect more pompous foolery from Trichet and Sarkozy.
  3. Expect Merkel to take another well-deserved election pounding in September.
  4. The main thing to expect is for the market to start demanding involuntary haircuts on the debt of Portugal, Ireland, then Spain and Italy.

Nothing Solved by Pompous Foolery

It is amazing to watch German chancellor Merkel wimp out time and time again to French president Sarkozy.

Not a damn thing has been solved by this exercise in pompous foolery by Trichet and Sarkozy. The structural problems all remain.

Running Greek Recap

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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