Today the Australian reported that Municipal authorities in Greece have begun writing contracts for “payments in euros or any national Greek currency” in anticipation of “Grexit” as the government admitted yesterday that the country was running out of cash.
Gabriel Sakellaridis, the government’s spokesman, sounded the alarm as Athens begged the European Central Bank to ease restrictions on the treasury’s ability to finance itself. He said: “Liquidity is a pressing issue. For us it is very important that liquidity is freed up as soon as possible. There is no more liquidity in the Greek economy.”
Greece has been “running out of cash” for a long time now but it seems like this time they mean it—they don’t have any more money. The socialist experiment is finally hitting the default road. Even if Greece does receive a few billion from Moscow or manages to unlock the short-term funds needed from the Troika, the writing is still on the wall. There is no way Greece can pay its debts. Default is inevitable and therefore an exit from the Eurozone is inevitable.
So if we accept that premise, what happens next? It seems to me investors should be looking forward to the currency markets in attempt to read the tea leaves of how a Grexit will impact markets globally. Right now we have a world where the dollar is king in a classic, knee-jerk, flight to quality stampede. The euro is weak due to a possible Greek exit and as a result of the ECB’s quantitative easing program. The Chinese yuan is gaining favor and respect but is weak due to China’s own internal problems and desire to help their own economic future.
So what’s an investor to do in this scenario?
I would say follow the old Wall Street adage, buy on the rumor, sell on the news. It seems to me that whether Greece pulls a rabbit out of the hat in the current round of negotiations, or if they actually exit the Eurozone, it is already priced in. It’s not like anything is going to surprise anyone. What could surprise the markets is if something is actually settled and the uncertainty is removed from trader’s minds. In short, in either scenario, the current risk-off trade in the euro could unwind once the markets can discern a glimpse of the future for Greece. Funds will flow out of the dollar and back into risk-on currencies.
For investors looking to attempt to front-run these currency moves, I’ve said before, at these low levels, it’s time to sell the dollar and buy the euro. A percentage of your wealth in yuan wouldn’t hurt either. Perhaps the Chinese would love to devalue the yuan further but they are attempting to stimulate their own internal consumption market and don’t want to risk losing the new-found support the international community is giving the Chinese currency by most likely including it in the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights basket.
CAD and AUD also seem to be good buys here and a place to put funds that come out of dollars. Investors putting all their eggs into the dollar could actually be taking on more risk in a bid to de-risk their portfolios. There is nowhere for the dollar to go but down. The other commodity driven currencies and the euro have been beaten up.
I like buying things when they’re on sale.
L.Todd Wood is a former emerging market debt trader with 18 years of Wall Street and international experience. He is also an author of historical fiction thriller novels. His first of several books, Currency, deals with the consequences of overwhelming sovereign debt. He is a contributor to Fox Business, Newsmax TV, and others. LToddWood.com