- Germany shifts, gives Spain more time on deficit (Reuters)
- Europe must prepare an emergency plan (FT)
- EU Spain reveals €100bn capital flight (FT)
- Spain’s Guindos says future of Euro at stake in Spain (Bloomberg)
- ECB, EU officials warn euro’s survival at risk (Reuters)
- China can ‘cope’ if Greece exits Euro, NDRC Researcher says (Bloomberg)
- Japan Warns Against Rising Yen (WSJ)
- Global stocks investors head for exits (FT)
- Hot Copper Shorts Burning Commodity Firms (Caixin)
Just about an hour before the US non-farm payroll number is expected to print, and finally resolve the lingering question whether the Chairman will print in 3 weeks, things in Europe have gone from horrible to zombie. A series of horrendous economic reports out of Europe including record Eurozone unemployment, a confirmation of the final European PMI plunge including the second largest monthly decline on record in UK manufacturing, and various soundbites from Syriza's Tsipras, have pushed the EUR to fresh two year lows, Spanish CDS to new all time wides German 2 Year bonds joining Switzerland in negative terriroty, and finally, Bloomberg, as noted earlier, to be "testing" a placeholder for a post-Euro Drachma. As BBG summarizes: "European markets fall, led by consumer & tech stocks with the German market underperforming. The euro falls against the dollar and German 2-yr yields drop into negative territory. Chinese manufacturing PMI data below expectations, though above the 50 level; European manufacturing PMI in line with expectations, below 50. Euro-zone unemployment met expectations and seems likely Irish voters endorsed the EU fiscal treaty. Commodities fall, led by oil & natural gas. U.S. nonfarm payrolls, unemployment data due later." In summary - all data today fits with Raoul Pal's less than optimistic presentation from yesterday.
Short of the complete destruction of a fiat currency, there is nothing that can demonstrate beyond doubt the shallowness of the promise to protect purchasing power that is being made on any day. There is no bright line separating performance from talk. With a gold standard, deception is much more difficult. Creating too much money will lead to redemptions that drain away the official gold stockpile. Everyone can see the inventory shrinking. If it shrinks to zero, then the managers of the system have failed, period. There is no ambiguity about it, and the politicians in charge at the time have little room for denial. The formal adoption of a gold standard holds no magic. It's just another promise. But it is a promise that carries an assured potential for egg-on-face political embarrassment if it is broken, and the only way for the people in charge to avoid that embarrassment is to refrain from recklessly expanding the supply of cash. That's why a gold standard protects the value of a currency, and that is why the politicians don't want it.
Color us not stunned at all. China's Manufacturing PMI finally reverted to the reality that HSBC's Manufacturing PMI has been arguing for and fell for the first time in six months. The drop is the largest since February 2010. While still above 50 (though the lowest level of expansion in five months), or 50.4 technically, down from 53.4, and missing expectations of 52.0, it seems another engine of global growth just sputtered finally - as the real impact of a European depression and fiscally challenged US hit home.
Was it just a week ago that we suggested buying Burlington Northern CDS (credit protection) as the cheapest Black-Swan bet against Buffett and Bernanke's ebullience? The answer is yes. And from the start of May the cost of protection has doubled from around 15bps to just over 30bps - quite a surge as it seems more than a few funds thought this a worthwhile trade to tuck in the back pocket at a minimal carry cost. At 32bps mid (31/34), it remains cheap still from a carry perspective and while we are approaching the initial profit target, the reason for buying this low cost, long vol trade is the huge convexity upside should things go a little more pear-shaped for the Octogenarian-of-Omaha - or more specifically for the US equities in general. We do note that if this keeps pushing past our other profit-targets then some should be covered since counterparty risk will rapidly become an issue (unless the Fed officially becomes a CCP).
If Raoul Pal was some doomsday spouting windbag, writing in all caps, arbitrarily pasting together disparate charts to create 200 page slideshows, it would be easy to ignore him. He isn't. The founder of Global Macro Investor "previously co-managed the GLG Global Macro Fund in London for GLG Partners, one of the largest hedge fund groups in the world. Raoul came to GLG from Goldman Sachs where he co-managed the hedge fund sales business in Equities and Equity Derivatives in Europe... Raoul Pal retired from managing client money in 2004 at the age of 36 and now lives on the Valencian coast of Spain, from where he writes." It is his writing we are concerned about, and specifically his latest presentation, which is, for lack of a better word, the most disturbing and scary forecast of the future of the world we have ever seen....
And we see a lot of those.
When Iran's nuclear facilities were publicly crippled in 2011 by what then was considered a revolutionary computer virus which destroys physical equipment, many immediately assumed the virus originated in Israel for obvious reasons. They were wrong. In what can be described as the first presidentially-mandated and condoned act of cyberwarfare, one circumventing the War Powers Act of course, the NYT informs us that the order to physically impair Iranian sovereignty came from none other than the Nobel Peace prize winning president: Barack Obama.
Here we go again. Back in July 2011 we wrote an article entitled "The Real Banking Crisis" where we discussed the increasing instability of the Eurozone banks suffering from depositor bank runs. Since that time (and two LTRO infusions and numerous bailouts later), Eurozone banks, as represented by the Euro Stoxx Banks Index, have fallen more than 50% from their July 2011 levels and are now in the midst of yet another breakdown led by the abysmal situation currently unfolding in Greece and Spain.... Although the last eight months have not played out the way we would have expected for gold, they have played out the way we envisioned for the banks. The question now is how long this can go on for, and how long gold can remain under pressure in a banking crisis that has the potential to spread beyond Greece and Spain? So much now rests on the policy responses fashioned by the US Fed and ECB, and just as much also rests on what's left of European citizens' confidence in their local banking institutions. Neither of these things can be precisely measured or predicted, but we continue to firmly believe that depositors in Greece and Spain will choose gold over drachmas or pesetas if they have the foresight and are given the freedom to act accordingly. The number one reason we have always believed gold should be owned, and why we believe it will go higher, is people's growing distrust of the banking system - and we are now there. We will wait and see how the summer develops, and keep our attention firmly focused of the second phase of the bank run now spreading across southern Europe.