Greece: Oh the Irony

“We have officially moved from a Greek tragedy to a Greek surreal comedy. After nearly a month-long scapegoating campaign in which Greek PM G-Pap said he would spit in the faces and skullf#@* all those who dared to buy Greek CDS (because as we have all been lied to by everyone who doesn’t know the first thing about CDS, it is CDS buying not bond selling that drives spreads), with the stupidity reaching as far and wide as the Spanish and German secret services, which said they would spy on CDS traders in London and New York, Greek daily Kathimerini has just uncovered that the biggest speculator, holding 15%, or $1.2 billion of the total $8 billion in Greek notional CDS, has been a firm that operates about 2 blocks away from the parliament building in Athens – the state-owned Hellenic Post Bank (TT)!”

Mrs. Dynamite says it’s getting old when I mention in every other post how I look at my calendar to see if it’s April Fool’s Day… but guess what – it’s still not April Fool’s Day – this is a real story.  In case you missed it  in the ZH rant above – the largest holder of CDS on Greece was Greece’s state owned bank. 
From the Greek paper
“The bank’s position in CDS protected the lender from its exposure in Greek bonds but also provided it with an opportunity to play a part in the global CDS market worth some 8 billion dollars last year.
With a position totaling 950 million euros, or 1.2 billion dollars, TT had the ability to shape momentum in the speculative derivatives market which the Greek government wants to be controlled.”
It almost sounds like they may be suggesting that Hellenic Post Bank was acting in a market maker  (or: manipulator!) capacity – they bought CDS so that they could sell it back into the market, and perhaps hope to manipulate prices of CDS protection lower ?!?!?  Isn’t that what “shape momentum in the speculative derivatives market which the Greek government wants to be controlled” means?    Hellenic Post bought the CDS in August of 2009, and sold them in December of 2009 after new management took over, for a EUR35mm profit.  I guess they should have held the position for a little longer – to stuff in the face of the “evil speculators.”
-KD

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