After demanding major concessions from its creditors but running into a brick wall, Greece has agreed to accept a four-month extension mere days before the expiration of the bailout agreement. In return for promising to implement reforms, Greece will be eligible for loans through June. The country would still have to show overseers that it’s making good on its promises in order to unlock payment installments, but at least it now has a lifeline. Without the extension, Greece would have run out of money within weeks. Read more about Temporary Accord Extends Hellenic Saga 02-25-15
It wasn’t that long ago that investors scrutinized the Fed’s every word for clues when it might begin to taper (once a term that dominated financial headlines). Now that QE has gradually ended as planned, the new key question is when the Fed will first increase the federal funds rate from its current rock-bottom level, where it has sat since the financial crisis in late 2008. Read more about Fed Officials Don't Want to Jump the Gun 02-18-15
With the expiration of the 2010 bailout deal looming, top European officials convene this week in Brussels, with Greece atop the agenda. The Greeks want to reduce austerity requirements levied on the country to return for loans and want a sizeable portion of their debt forgiven. Its international creditors—led by Germany—are not willing to budge. They insist that Greece press ahead with promised reforms in order to continue to receive the lifeline. On its own without international help, Greece would run out of money within weeks. Read more about Greek Drama Unfolds 02-11-15
The wave of spending cuts across the oil patch forced by oil’s deep decline continues. Just this week, international behemoths CNOOC (China), BP (U.K.), and Gazprom (Russia) have all announced significant multi-billion-dollar reductions to their 2015 capital expenditure (capex) budgets. These are just the latest on top of moves by other majors like ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell, and Occidental Petroleum. Even my own favorite oil-servicer, Schlumberger (SLB), recently announced it would lay off 9,000 employees. Read more about Expect More Price Swings But Limited Downside 02-04-15
Last week, in a widely-anticipated move, the European Central Bank announced that beginning in March it will expand its asset purchase program to €60 billion per month through at least September 2016, for a total purchase of approximately €1.1 trillion.
The exact details of how the program will work have yet to be announced. It’s likely that the ECB felt under such pressure to do something that it was forced to announce the program before all details were finalized. Read more about The Fed Stays the Course, the Market Blinks 01-28-15