Tuesday, 23 March 2010


Once again: who are the evil specuLOLtors pushing up CDS prices?
George MUPPET Romaios blamed "the Anglo-Saxons". The Great Statesman, Pagkalos, (admire him here) blamed German banks. Everyone and their dog blamed Goldman, including people who couldn't get the bank's name right.

Of course, it should have been known all along that the CDS market was being moved by buyers of CDS, not bond shorts. We also know that the major players, buyers or sellers, in the market for Greek sovereign debt CDS were, and always will be, Greek banks.

What we didn't know what just how explicitly this was done. Well it turns out the sleepy but state controlled Ταχυδρομικό Ταμιευτήριο (Postal Bank of Greece) apparently controlled 15% of the entire Greek CDS market just before selling the lot after being ordered to when the new government took over. They made a hefty profit out of the deal too!

The original article here and reported abroad here.

Who profited from this? Oddly enough, the Greek state.

Well done assholes.

Sunday, 21 March 2010


Our latest Labour Force Survey Data are in and my, is it rich pickings or what.

Only about 54% of our population of working age is actually working. Of the 4.5m. that are working, half a million are directly employed in the public sector. Let's say for now that this is everyone on the public payroll. This means that 4m suckers have to pick up the tab for another 7m who are either children, retired, unemployed or working in the public sector. Except of course they don't because we're running a massive deficit that finances much of this. So it's the 4m and their kids. But it's a useful ratio nonetheless.

Unemployment is at 10.3%, a total of  514,000 souls. Most of these are victims of our perverse labour market and our structurally depressed economy. However, the LFS also suggests that 9.9% of our unemployed received an offer of employment in the last three months and turned it down - quite rich really, as vacancies are like golddust right now.

Of these 51,400:

  • 11,300 didn't like the money
  • 9,700 thought the job was too far to travel
  • 9,500 didn't like the hours.
Now, presumably, you tend to check these things out before an offer comes in, so the mind truly boggles at what my workshy compatriots are thinking.

The government should also note that these happy-go-lucky folk cost us a whopping EUR18.7m per month based on current rates of unemployment benefit - or 224m, projected on an annual basis. That is, of course if they are single, because this rises by 10% for each dependent. Let's suppose 0.3 dependents per person - the bill rises to EUR298m per annum.

Now, I know this is not entirely accurate as many of our unemployed do not claim benefits - but even assuming only half of the workshy claim (based on the fact that our social expenditure is only about half what the unemployment rate suggests, the total expense implied rises to a full 5% of our projected benefits expenditure for 2010.

Even if that is the case, then presumably the other EUR149m is coming out of somewhere else - almost certainly some poor old bastard's savings. Even with our pretty chronic loan-to-deposit ratio of 81.3%, this means that those of the workshy being subsidised by the Bank of Mom and Dad (the unofficial Greek Central Bank)  are keeing EUR121m out of the market. With the median small-to-medium-sized business loan in Greece at ca. EUR100,000 (according to this survey), this could give a good 1,200 SMEs a much-needed loan, keeping possibly twice that number of people in employment, or it could pay for about half that number of hefty mortgages, fueling a 12% rise in construction permits.

Well done assholes!

Sunday, 14 March 2010


Despite assurances to the contrary, Greece's public sector was still hiring quite substantial numbers of people as of the third quarter of 2009, with ca. 5,300 vacancies open.

This of course is far from the worst we've ever done. Public sector vacancies have always accounted for at least 10% of all vacancies before the global financial crisis (assuming this started in Q2 2007) and have, at times, reached truly dizzying proportions. For instance, in Q2 2005 (that was the good years, by the way) just over half of all vacancies were in the public admin sector. Note that this is by no means the total of our public sector - probably around half of the direct public sector payroll in fact.

Things are improving in at least one way, however. Further analysis of that rare beast, detailed data from our national statistics agency, suggests that our current batch of public sector vacancies are 52% professional or technical. I know that's not much, but compare it to the heady days of mid-2005, when only about 15% of vacancies were of a professional or technical nature, and we can all breathe a bitter sigh of relief.

... or can we? Perhaps the public sector is simply out to soak up staff in whichever occupations happen to not be in demand at the time. Note that when the percentage of professional and technical vacancies isn't around 50% it is around 20%. Surely a big change for a country that is not experiencing massive upheaval. Or - even worse - it is the political cycle at play.

My stats tell me that public admin vacancies tend to be more professional or technical in nature when they account for a smaller percentage of total vacancies. The correlation is even tighter if instead of looking at the share of public admin vacancies we look at their absolute number. Simply put, when it is looking to hire only a few people, the public sector hires managers and professionals, while when it is hiring en masse, i.e. in the bad times, it hires clerks and other administrative occupations. The best fit for the relationship, based on Excel's modest capabilities, appears to be an exponential equation. Ouch!!!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


I must apologise for the long radio silence on this blog. I have been busy with other things but have not lost track of events in the Greek fiscal drama, I promise you.

Try this for a quick taster.

Our Government is out to get the evil specuLOLtors who have first helped us fudge our numbers and then used their inside knowledge to short our debt. To show them the error of their ways, we have banned them from our latest debt offering.

You guessed right, this is another EPIC FAIL for Yorgo.

To see why this is the case, consider how serious our threat is... to ban people from our future debt offerings. The seriousness of the threat is directly proportionate to the expected value of our debt offerings. This means that the worse our fiscal position gets, the more we implicitly punish the evil specuLOLtors. That will show them not to signal to other people that our fiscal situation is bad.

That's cutting off our hairy noses to spite our hairy faces.