Duration In Pimco's Total Return Fund Soars To Near Record, Highest Since 2007 In Anticipation Of QE3Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/12/2011 - 16:16
Bill Gross came, saw, and i) stopped shorting govvies, and ii) doubled down on QE3, after, as he himself said, he did not anticipate how bad the US economy would get. As the just released latest monthly Total Return Fund data indicates, PIMCO now has a substantial net long position in Government Related securities, at $51.5 billion (net of swaps), a more than 100% increase from the $22.1 billion in July (and a far cry from the $9.6 billion short in April). As a reminder, Gross skepticism was predicated by the concern of who would buy bonds in an inflationary environment coupled with the end of QE2. Well, since then the bottom fell out of the market, and the Fed is about to re-enter the securities market to prevent the latest re-depression with Operation Twist if not much more. So while it no longer makes sense to be short bonds (as Gross has figured out the hard way), what makes sense is to be very, very long duration, since this is what the Fed will be buying in Operation Twist/Torque. Enter Exhibit A - the chart of maturity/distribution of PIMCO holdings, of which most notable is the explosion in average holding duration, which from 4.56 in July, has soared to 6.27 in August, the highest since 6.23 in October, and possibly the highest on record (that said our records only go back to 2007). As part of this expansion, Gross has seen his Mortgage Securities soar to $78.5 billion, the highest since February, when Gross was actively reducing his MBS holding profile, and now is doing the opposite, and is accumulating Agency paper hand over fist in an attempt to extend duration. Bottom line: Pimco is now balls to the wall in the QE3 camp, first to be manifested by Operation Twist, and then, likely by outright Large Scale Asset Purchases. Look for numerous other copycat investors to expand the duration of their fixed income holdings from 4-5 to over 6.
The following picture from William Banzai does a good job of summarizing why today the victory may not have been for the bulls, courtesy of a strategically placed and timed rumor, it surely allowed Angela Merkel's euro contagion band to survive one more day. In the meantime, we expect rumor #4 of 2011 that China will bailout Italy (after it was buying Greek bonds, and then Portuguese, then actually balked at buying Italian bonds) to squeeze everyone, and then to fall apart as these things always do in a concerted global Ponzi scheme.
On one hand we have FT "reporting" about Chinese Italian bond purchasing ambitions citing "unidentified Italian officials" one day ahead of a major Italian bond auction (wink wink nudge nudge). On the other hand, we have Reuters, citing a real live Italian Finance Minister (though not for long) Giulio Tremonti, who tells us a slightly different story, which, gasp, cites real live people: "Italian Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti said on Thursday that Asian investors are reluctant to buy Italian bonds because it sees they are not being bought by the European Central Bank."
How many times can the idiotic market keep falling for the same old rumor over and over and over again? Yes, for those wondering what caused this epic surge in stocks on massive volume look no further than the following FT headline which is precisely the same as what we have seen every single other "Chinese white knight" time, namely that Italy is in talks with China Investment to buy bonds, assets (it also makes it perfectly clear who the real "IMF" is). That said, this is at least the 4th time that China has "bailed out" Europe in 2011. We give this latest rumor a 15 minute half life.
If you feel like the market took one sniff at the much anticipated Obama, cue horns, bassoons and oboes, "American Jobs Act", and threw up all over this latest Keynesian abortion, you are not alone. Here is David Rosenberg explaining how, unlike Goldman which thought the plan is more than expected, is actually nothing more like a tiny flatulent wind in a feces-storm. He summarizes it best: " I'll put it to you this way. Assuming (i) that the House Republicans do not accept the Obama spending measures, and (ii) half of the tax relief goes into savings and debt reduction, then we are talking about the grand total of $35 billion of net new stimulus from this "jobs plan". That's principally because so much of it is merely extending what is already in the system. At an annual rate, that is a 0.2% boost to baseline GDP growth. In other words: much ado about nothin'. It doesn't even come close to offsetting the ongoing drag from the retrenchment at the state and local government levels." So anyone looking for an explanation why the market is down 4.3% since Thursday, here it is. And what is more disturbing, not even rumors of additional QE on top of the widely priced in Operation Twist, have had any impact. In other words, the time for another Hugh "I suggest you panic" Hendry soundbite is nigh.
Last week, Zero Hedge first brought to readers the infamous UBS report, which has since made the global rounds, and which essentially laid out the binomial tree for Eurozone survival as follows: either the EUR survives, or we get Civil war. In keeping with the schizophrenia of the TBTF banks whose number one goal is to cover their ass by predicting the two opposite possible outcomes, so as to avoid being sued by sovereigns once the dominos start falling, here is the firm's much respected economist George Magnus, who in his latest release of "By George", does a comprehensive framing of the agenda in the Eurozone. His conclusions: don't believe the European bureaucrat PhDs - there is much more here than meets the eye. To wit: "The dilemma over where to draw the lines between integration and sovereignty lies at the core of the fiscal union debate. The policy agenda has to recognise this, and not assume that fiscal union, one way or another, is eventually a ‘gimme’, even though logic would say it should be. Parallel to the logic are the politics and vested interests, the German Constitutional Court notwithstanding, which say fiscal union only one theoretical outcome, and maybe a long shot. Most likely, the political limits to fiscal integration have not yet been reached, but if there are further moves towards but not reaching this goal, they will most certainly be on German, and therefore, limited, terms. We may conclude that while the Euro system is not about to break up, its viability as it stands is far from assured." Maybe not "about" - give it a few weeks though...
One justification for bailing out Wall Street was that it would ultimately help Main Street. ast time we looked at the diamond price index for 1-ct diamonds. Today we investigate the effects of QE2 on that most Main Street of businesses--the high-end diamond retailer. At the prices quoted, a single diamond of this size would set you back about $110,000. Hopefully she's worth it. There are two significant periods of rising prices--early 2010, and November 2010 to June 2011, during which time prices rose about 30%. The official CPI (excluding food and energy) was 1-2% over the same interval. We note that this last interval corresponds approximately with the timing of QE2, and congratulate the Federal Reserve for aiding Main Street business.
Earlier today we reported that 3 Month USD Libor hit a year high of 0.343%, jumping from 0.338% on Friday. The reason we bring this up is that the US Treasury just priced $32 billion in 3 Year Bonds (chart 1 below) at a yield that is below that of 3 Month Libor. As for what that means we leave the explanation to anyone who believes that a 0.000% on the 30 Year (which courtesy of Operation TurboTorque we may soon see) is perfectly normal. For those who prefer empirical evidence, the last time this spread inverted was back in early 2009 before the Fed bailed out the world for the first time (chart 2 below). Now, on the question who bails out the world this time around, with all the central banks "all in" already, we are not too sure. Either way, completing the auction details, was a Bid to Cover of 3.148, slighly lower than recent averages, a Dealer take down of 53.7%, or more than half, and Indirects accounting for 35.7% or about their average. The non-eventfulness of the auction was confirmed by the lack of tail, with the When Issued trading at 0.34% at 1pm.
With the US economy in free fall, European liquidity imploding, NASA on beneficially inclined and extremely solvent extraterrestrial life alert (someone has to bailout the world after all), at least we have political circuses, if not so much bread... or cake. Here is what DC has in store for us over the next five days. Luckily, we can forget our trials and tribulations tonight when 8 pm brings with it the second Republican presidential address in which Ron Paul will once again be the undisputed winner and will be largely ignored by everyone in the mainstream, financially-funded media.
We now know that the US is an Onion Republic, which leaves open the question: what is Greece... because we are getting very vegetably challenged here. According to the Bank of Greece, household and corporate deposits declined for the 7th month in a row, dropping by €1 billion euros in the July. Since January 2010, total deposits have declined from €233 billion to just €187 billion, or €46 billion, or 20% of the entire deposit base. Once again, we make it very clear that no matter what the government does with sovereign tax collections, spending cuts and stop gap liquidity boosts, as long as the deposits outflow continues, nothing else matters. And speaking of tax collections, according to Dow Jones, completing the unbelievable Greek farce, is the news that tomorrow in addition to the now standard customs officials and taxi drivers, among those striking will be the country's tax collectors as well. So.... just how will Greece collect those so very precious taxes it needs to pretend it is in compliance with the Troika's demands for deficit cut compliance in order for the country to get the next IMF tranche which will stave off bankruptcy for one more month. As a reminder, Greek cash runs out on October 17.
The irony could.not.possibly.be.any.damn.funnier; Just as Sgt. Obama had the not so lonely unemployed club band huddled around him to tell America to "PASS THIS BILL", literally that very minute Bank of America released a statement it is sacking 30,000. Because Banana republic is so 2010, we are now officially an Onion republic.
Just after the FTSE Mib announced it is in process of breaking once again, we get notification that the Italian banks are resuming their rolling halts as predicted earlier this morning, with Intesa the first to go offline after plunging 7.9%. What next: any selling will be punshiable by death? Or will the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to the Status QuoTM not go that far?