In a follow-up to Liesman's earlier rebuttal, CNBC's Rick Santelli just reiterated his earlier sentiment that the comments that Mr. Bernanke made earlier were indeed the "Libor Smoking Gun". While Bernanke tried to eschew the matter by claiming the low-level Fed employee was clueless (which from the transcript she was seemingly clued in enough to understand the rate was not 'accurate'). As Rick notes in Bernanke's own words: "the manipulation of rates was a little bit low by certain banks but they just wanted to show they were healthy during the crisis" - unbelievable! "What are regulators for?", Santelli exclaims: "manipulation is manipulation!" Indeed, Rick, indeed.
Today's market movement was/is remarkable in its clarity. One glance at this chart and it will become brutally clear that once 1340 was hit, the 'tickle-algo' was triggered and a de minimus volume press on the bid-offer stack limped us all the way back to the day's highs - considerably above VWAP. Whether we see the institutional selling blocks hit now is still undecided but if there was ever any doubt about who is selling and who is buying this chart should clarify...
There are a number of cultural and governmental impediments to prosecuting WCCs. One of which is the corrupting influence of money to neuter regulations and to co-opt politically appointed regulators and prosecutors. Another is perception. Wealth in our country is equated with royalty or a high station in society, so people have a hard time seeing the white collar criminal as the deviant that he is. People have a hard time wanting to punish someone who looks nice, has nice clothes, drives a nice car, lives in a good neighborhood, went to a prestigious school, belongs to exclusive clubs, etc. vs. someone who does not have those things. If you're poor in this country, that's almost a crime in and of itself to some people. Conversely, rich people have all sorts of credibility, whether its deserved or not. Why should I listen to an actor about a topic that's not related to acting? Sure, he may have some interesting things to say, but he shouldn't be given automatic credibility on the subject and yet many people do just that. Romney became rich bankrupting companies and selling their assets and yet people look to him to "run our economy"? What politician can ever say that they can run an economy? The Soviets tried to do just that and look what happened to them.
Another reason WCCs may not be prosecuted is that individuals, organizations, governments, and even society at large may be vested in the criminal activity either wittingly or unwittingly.
As S&P 500 e-mini futures (ES) slumped this morning as Bernanke appeared to disappoint (and the rest of the risk-on asset classes all tumbled with it), we saw heavy volume and relatively large average trade size. Once the edge of glory from Friday at 1340 was hit, it seemed the magic Potter-esque fairy was back at play. Immediately, VIX was hammered from 17.5% to 16.1% - its lowest in almost 3 months as the bottomless pit of capital that feels comfortable selling vol (or perhaps using a levered approach to ramping stocks) drive ES back up an impressive 14 points on low volume and low average trade size. Yes, we crossed VWAP, yes we crossed unch, and now we are testing highs back above the 50DMA. It seems VIX once again is the ramping tool - and now is significantly dislocated from any equity or credit sense of reality. We presume that OPEX will clean up some of this exuberance but for now, it is the tail wagging everything's dog.
Sicily Is San Bernardino: With First Italian Region On Verge Of Default, Montius Pilate Washes His HandsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/17/2012 - 11:43
Buried deep in the newsflow from Ben Bernanke is the following piece of very critical news for anyone who is still long Italian bonds: namely that Italy may not be Spain, or Uganda, but Sicily is about to become San Bernardino. From Reuters: "Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Tuesday he expected the governor of Sicily to resign following a growing financial crisis that has pushed the autonomous region close to default." Because the resignation of Sicily Governor Lombardo will somehow allow all those who care about the fundamentals of Italy to stick their heads in the sand... at least until Sicily is followed by Calabria, Campania, Lazio, Abruzzo, Tuscany, Lombardy, Umbria, Liguria, Veneto and so on. At least the governors of those respective provinces now have an advance warning what the endgame is.
Quickly following up on Rick Santelli's epic rant (which CNBC decided not to publish) on the 'smoking gun' reality of Bernanke's testimony this morning: that they knew that rates were being manipulated but it was for the good of the people - and asking rhetorically, we assume, "Why Do We Have Regulators? Manipulation Is Manipulation!"; Steve Liesman has been brought out to relay the party line to the citizenry - that there is no smoking gun. Furthermore, Liesman sees a 1-2bps compression in Treasury yields as signalling the market's belief that NEW QE is indeed still on and the drop in stocks is merely a lack of instant gratification. It seems to us that Santelli's perspective that Bernanke knows he is at his limit with regard to efficacy of measures seems much more realistic than Liesman's re-iteration of the Fed-Watcher's desires and his own incredible cognitive dissonance - just what happens if the Fed is not omnipotent?
Yes, Chuck Schumer just said "Get to work, Mr. Chairman" right after saying that "The Fed is the only game in town... You have to take whatever actions are necessary to ensure a strong recovery." What he really meant is that my biggest donors demand a solid bonus for 2012. Who are these donors you may ask? Here they are.
Treasuries seemed to shrug off the QE-on trade from yesterday in the lead up to this morning's big disappointment from Bernanke. Gold lost it first and then as the statement came - with no mention of hyperinflation, helicopters, or new printers - so equities dumped - gapping down to converge with the rest of risk assets. The USD rallied as its cloests relative neighbor in disaster the EUR legged lower and the USD strength exaggerated commodity weakness further (Silver and Copper worst but all falling). ES is back to the post-ramp open on cliff on Friday at the magic 1340 level but momentum is not in its favor now and Treasury yields are reverting lower now also. Financials were the early laggards and have extended losses with GS back in the red and JPM down notably.
We said to expect nothing from the Chairman today. We were right (and those "strategists" who said to look for a negative IOER announcement were dead wrong). And now, here is Goldman with its Humphrey Hawkins post-mortem.
It appears that The Bernank has followed his central banking peers around the world and passed the torch on to someone else (since perhaps he has realized his own lack of omnipotence - or more simply he knows the market has become self-aware of QE and needs to reset expectations to have any hope of a QE impact). It's not the first time he has vociferously noted the impact of the fiscal cliff but this time, based on the following word-cloud prominence of the word 'fiscal', it is front-and-center as while he did leave the door open for further policy action - he clearly checked to his congressional co-conspirators.
Ben Bernanke will deliver the semiannual report on monetary policy to the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday. The market is hoping and praying that the Chairsatan will make it rain. He won't. In fact, as explained earlier, it is likely that Ben will say absolutely nothing of significance today and in a world in which only the H.4.1 matters, this is not going to be taken well by the market. Of course, if Benny does crack and promises to push the S&P to 1450 just in time for the re-election, all bets are off.
Animal Farm rears its European head, where we learn that some bailout agreements are more subordinated than others. Bloomberg brings us the details of the just completed collateral deal between Finland and Spain, which has terms identical to that of Greece, where there was absolutely no debate about whether bailout loans were senior to public and private sector debt. Following this deal the semantics of the ESM subordination, implied or explicit, should also end.
- Collateral deal bilateral between Finland, Spain, Finnish Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen spoke to reporters.
- Deal structured as Greek collateral was
- Other countries not asking for collateral - YET!
- Collateral to come from deposit guarantee fund
- Negative pledges mean deal can’t be directly with state
The can has been kicked. The austerity has been implemented. The revenues have fallen. And as we see in the chart below, the pace of local government distress is accelerating. As has been made so clear in the past, defaults cluster; and sure enough it is starting, as tensions between unions and city managers become irreconcilable.
While there was little surprise in today's Industrial Production report, which rose 0.4%, on expectations of a 0.3% rise, however offset by last months' revision from -0.1% to -0.2%, it was the critical Capacity Utilization data that has some analysts concerned. But first, and continuing with the theme of "housing has bottomed", it is worth noting that of all the major market groups contributing to the overall index, only Construction saw a decline in June industrial production, dropping by 0.3%, following another drop of 1.4% in May. As for Capacity Utilization, it missed expectations materially, printing at 78.9% on expectations of the first 79%+ print (post revision) in 2012. In other words, the June number is the same as February's, following full year revisions that have taken down the maximum to 78.9 reached in February and April, and now June. In yet other words, even as the US continues stocking up on record amounts of inventory month after month, the business verticals are simply unable to expand. So with Cap Utilization having plateaued, will all the excess LIFO inventory be remarked to fair value? And what happens to corporate equities when a valuation allowance is taken to finally reflect reality?
There are various reasons why not only we at Zero Hedge are big fans of Hugh Hendry. One of them of course is his uncanny ability to not only tell the truth, but to bash his competitors faces into it (as Joseph Stiglitz so vividly recalls), even if it means running squarely against the consensus. The other reason are self-aware statements such as this one via the FT today: "What I found was that when I speak in person, and especially when it’s television and timing is so acute, it gives the impression that I am cavalier and, if you will, full of myself,” says Mr Hendry, speaking by phone from his office in Bayswater, central London." Hendry was obviously discussing his self-imposed media blackout which unlike other prominent financiers is not being used for book sales promotion purposes but appears quite genuine. It also means he won't get to collect $200/appearance fees as a guest contributor on CNBC but we digress. "The danger when people look at that from a distance is that they try to align that with the guy that they’ve just given $50m or $75m to and it’s not the same person." iI is sad that none of the other talking muppet heads and "daily pundits" who appear on financial comedy TV to merely blow smoke up assorted holes and talk their books, don't share Hendry's revelations a little more often.