Greece Deal Will Only Last Until Next Election: Gartman

Greece’s purported deal with its creditors will last only until a new government takes over following the spring elections, hedge fund manager Dennis Gartman said Tuesday.

Dennis Gartman
Dennis Gartman

While investors hoped the deal, valued at 130 billion euros ($172 billion) would bring stability to the debt-plagued nation, Gartman said the provisions — particularly those focused on reducing the ratio of debt to gross domestic product , as well as the austerity measures imposed on Greece — have little chance of being met.

“All the authorities have been able to do is delay default by a few weeks, perhaps a few months at best,“ Gartman wrote in his investor newsletter. “Greece will default, but perhaps not under the present government in power.”

Sharp cuts in the minimum wage, health care, and pensions, among other things, never will be tolerated in the Greek street, he added. Greeks go to the polls in two months to decide their government’s future. Recent polls show leftist parties opposing the bailouts rising in popularity.

“A new government is going to come to power following elections that shall take place sometime this spring, and if anyone anywhere believes that the next Greek government shall do anything other than abrogate all the agreements made with the ‘troika,’ then we have a bridge we’d like to sell them at a very high price,” Gartman said.

The so-called troika — the European Central Bank , International Monetary Fund , and the European Commission — hammered out a deal that will cut the principal on Greek bondsand provide a substantially lower yield. Debt haircuts are likely to exceed 70 percent.

At the same time, the austerity measures aim to reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio to 120 percent by 2020, a target Gartman labeled “comical” in that it will be impossible to estimate the level of debt burden eight years from now.

Full agreement from European Union members also is far from a certainty.

Analysts at Nomura Securities questioned whether Finland and Denmark in particular would sign on.

“The fact that the agreement was reached is a positive development in that it prevents an immediate disorderly default,” Nomura said. “However, the deal still needs to be signed by euro-area parliaments. It is not a done deal and there is significant risk surrounding the Finnish and the Dutch vote.”

For Gartman, though, the risk goes further.

Recessionsoon will morph into depression, he said, as the country simultaneously seeks to grow its economy while tightening its fiscal policy, leading to a “sense of desperation” among Greeks who resent the burdens the euro nations, particularly Germany, are imposing.

One Greek tabloid ran a headline Tuesday that translated to “130 billion in chains.”

“It has come to this: Greece and Germany are effectively at war,” Gartman said.

From an investor standpoint, he is advising his clients to sell the euro, which had strengthened against global currencies earlier but turned negative as morning tradeprogressed.