It seems to us that the entire global financial system continues to walk the tight-rope of public-confidence in fictional reserve banking. Where it is European (or Chinese) bank runs or mega losses at US bank non-proprietary businesses, it appears the credit market has been becoming more and more fearsome of the endgame since last Summer's US downgrade when S&P made the impossible possible. While not all of the US financials have active CDS, the dependence between stocks and credit had remained high with current CDS levels inferring a drop of over 60% in XLF as the top 30 globally most systemically important financial entities reach their March 2009 peak in riskiness once again.
Marc Faber brought his typical sense of reality and truthfulness to CNBC's Squawk Box this morning and in doing so managed to stop Jeremy Siegel saying long-term-buy-and-hold for more than 7 minutes. Siegel represented the 'new-hopers' with his insight that if the ECB would just guarantee all euro-wide deposits then all would be well in the world. Faber comes over-the-top in his gentle European accent reminding the academic that "it is hard to guarantee something you have no control over". Faber then proceeds to state his view that Europe is in a deepening recession and more importantly that China is growing at a far lower pace than official statistics would infer. Reminding viewers that about 40% of US corporate profits are from outside the US and the 'vicious spiral chain reaction' from slowing demand in China for industrial commodities has lagged effects on producing countries and then aggregate demand globally, Faber fears broad-based risk sell-offs but remains notably less sanguine on US Treasuries.
JP Morgan's Tom Lee has been getting a lot of airtime lately. We hope this ends soon, as anyone who has listened to this person in the past has consistently lost money. Here is Tom Lee from May 2, 2011 explaining the reasons for hiking his 2011 year-end S&P forecast to 1475. As a reminder, the year ended at 1250, or 16% away. In any other job, this would be ground for termination, and terminal discrediting within the industry. But apparently not on sell-side Wall Street, where being wrong constantly and consistently merely leads to ever bigger bonuses. It also allows comedy financial channels to plug empty airtime with idiotic soundbites.
In all the recent talk of economic gloom and doom, not to mention JP Morgan rehearsing for its role as Federal Reserve and failing miserably, some forgot that Jon Corzine still walks free. That may change soon if James Giddens, trustee for the liquidation of MF Global has his way. In a report filed today, Gidden says: "As attempts were made to transform MF Global into a full-service global investment bank, management failed to add to its Treasury Department and technology infrastructure, which was needed to meet the demands on global money management and liquidity." He continues: "My investigation has concluded that management’s actions, along with the lack of sufficient monitoring and systems, resulted in customer property being used during the liquidity crisis to fund the extraordinary liquidity drains elsewhere in the business, including margin calls on European sovereign debt positions." So someone was at fault: who? "I have determined there may be valid claims against individuals and entities. In my capacity as Trustee, I will make every effort to ensure that such claims result in the greatest possible returns to customers in an efficient and fair manner, whether those claims are pursued by my office or others." And specifically from his list of recommendations: "Provide for civil liability for officers and directors in the event of a commodities segregation shortfall." Well, we know there is a shortfall. So... why is Jon Corzine still walking free? Oh wait, Valukas said there were "colorable claims" against Lehman management too. Last we checked Dick Fuld is still out there... somewhere. But generally yes: it just has not been JPMorgan's year so far.
We suggested that Goldman would trim its Q2 forecast following the abysmal Factory orders number earlier. Sure enough, here it comes. To our surprise, however, the cut was on 0.1%. This can only mean that Hatzius has left more dry powder for further GDP cuts as more and more high frequency economic "misses" rise to the surface.
The reality that the global Status Quo has fixed absolutely nothing in four years is finally coming to roost in the global economy. Though there is an endless array of complexity to snare the unwary, the source of instability is both visible and easily understood: too much debt that will never be paid back. Making matters much worse, much of the money that was borrowed--by sovereign governments, local governments, households and private enterprises--was squandered on consumption or malinvestments, and so there are precious few assets or collateral underlying the debt. Even when there is an asset--for example, a vacant house in a vacant development in Spain, or a Greek bond--the market value is considerably lower than the purchase price. The reality is that trillions of dollars, euros, yen and renminbi in phantom wealth will disappear when the losses that have already taken place are finally recognized. Everyone in the world with exposure to the global economy will become poorer in terms of abundant money floating around buying goods and services as credit dries up and deleveraging wipes out trillions of dollars, euros, yen and renminbi of phantom wealth.
Sad to say, it looks like we were right last week when we pointed out the coincident ripfest on Thursday that ended perfectly at a previous VWAP close and enabled heavy volume to exit into month-end (and on those weekly option expiries). With a $26 handle once again and having traded as low as $26.57 this morning (40% from the $45 IPO-day highs and 30% from its IPO level), FakeBoom truly is the gift that keeps on giving... losses.
Nobody could have predicted that today's April Durable Goods number (and key component of where Q2 GDP is headed) just over two weeks from the FOMC's June 20 meeting, will be a slaughter. NOBODY. Printing at -0.6%, the number was a huge miss to expectations of a 0.2% rise, and is the 3rd drop in the last 4 months. The previous number was also revised lower from -1.5% to 2.1% so at least it rose. Still, this was miss number 5 out of the past 7 reports. Excluding transportation, new orders plunged 1.1%, after falling another 0.7% in march.. The main reason for the headline collapse: a 21.5% plunge in defense orders. As Bloomberg's Rich Yamarone said, "Crummy" start for 2Q investment component of GDP report as shipments of nondfense capital goods ex-aircraft fell 1.5%. Expect Q2 GDP forecast cuts from Goldman et al within minutes: we expect Hatzius to trim his 2.1% Q2 GDP estimate to about 1.8%.
Just in case the epic collapse in the NY ISM (an indicator virtually nobody had heard of until today) which tumbled from 61.2 to a 49.9 contraction, was not enough of a hint that the economic virtuous cycle is a myth, and that CTRL-P'ing will be required, here comes the latest rumor via Reuters:
- G7 FINANCE MINISTERS AND CENTRAL BANK GOVERNORS TO HOLD PHONE CALL ON EUROPE TUESDAY MORNING - CANADA FINANCE SPOKESWOMAN
Will they discuss just any old plan, or DAS MEISTER PLAN? Stop talking about and just do it already. It's not like anyone expects it.
For those who missed Obama's post-NFP sermon on Friday, here is a summary of the Keynesian-in-Chief's latest plan to fix the country: $3000 for everyone to buy "thingamajigs." We wish this was a joke.
We have recently witnessed a boom-and-bust cycle in Real Estate in Europe that overcame the banks of several nations including Ireland and Portugal. Now Spain is about to show up to be counted in my view. The issue all across Europe is that the sovereign does not have enough assets or capital to bailout their banks and many European banks are impaired; make no mistake. The first move was to lay off a lot of non-performing assets in securitizations at the ECB but the price always gets paid which will either be severe losses at the ECB requiring re-capitalization or the ECB handing back the collateral to the various banks which would probably bankrupt some of them especially in Spain, France and Italy. The ECB maneuver brought early success but now, as loans become due and as non-performance builds and losses must be recognized; the real truth forces itself upon balance sheets. There is a day when the auditors say, “Show me the money” and when it isn’t there the infamous “Oh My God” moment begins. Now Bubba, when you use the screwdriver and release the air from the tires it causes all of those little lights on the dashboard to begin to flash and then if you try to drive the car it goes “bump-bump” down the road. No Bubba, get off of your knees and get your mouth off of the thingy; you cannot blow air back into the tires that way.
While the Mutually Assured Destruction game is playing out economically in Europe as Spain (et. al.) square off with Germany, it seems we just ticked a minute closer to midnight on the doomsday clock globally. In a somewhat stunning report from Der Spiegel, Israel is arming up to six new German-made submarines with nuclear weapons. These subs are being built in Germany and it turns out the helpful German government has known of this Israeli nuclearization for decades - despite official denial (more lying when it matters we presume). In one of the more ironic comments, according to extensive research carried out by the magazine, Israel is equipping submarines that were built in the northern German city of Kiel and largely paid for by the German government (Not only is Berlin financing one-third of the cost of the submarine, around €135 million ($168 million), but it is also allowing Israel to defer its payment until 2015) with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. The missiles can be launched using a previously secret hydraulic ejection system. Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak told Spiegel that Germans should be "proud" that they have secured the existence of the state of Israel "for many years." Vendor-financing for WWIII FTMFW.
The first step toward the terminal McClendon ouster is here, because as a reminder, broken management teams are fixable, as we explained last week. Not surprisingly, stock is up 5% in the premarket. Next steps: a big balance sheet suitor? Carl C. Icahn, Chesapeake’s second largest shareholder, said, “We appreciate the Board’s willingness to listen to shareholders and to respond appropriately. Under Aubrey’s leadership, Chesapeake has assembled great assets and I am confident I can help the Company create significant shareholder value from these assets. We enjoyed a very good relationship when I acquired almost 6% of the Company’s stock in late 2010 and I look forward to a similarly constructive relationship now.”
While we do not agree that anything will happen on Wednesday (or pre-Greek-election to be more precise) - aside from perhaps a small bump in BoE LSAP, Peter Tchir provides a useful update to our original 'full central bank menu' two weeks ago. Markets and economies are teetering across the globe. More and more people are coming to the conclusion that a Greek Exit would be catastrophic. Central banks won’t want to act as though they are panicking, but neither will they want to wait much longer to act. Tchir believes investors will be extremely disappointed if nothing happens and expects markets to decline rapidly. If central bankers do take some policy actions, it is key to figure out which ones are practical, which are merely symbolic, and which are just a dream and not an action. Who says what is just as important in some cases as what they say. When Merkel says something, we all need to listen. When anyone from the EU in Brussels says something, it will be the same thing they have said over and over and is completely self-serving and should be ignored. Anything Draghi and Bernanke might say is critical to listen to, because in this weird world, they have the most power to do something meaningful in a short period of time.