RANsquawk European Morning Briefing - Stocks, Bonds, FX – 13/01/11
Is there a VIX index of climatic and/or geologic activity? Cause in 2011 it is off the charts. Breaking News shares pictures showing that the Etna volcano has just erupted. As of now, it is unclear if millions of birds, crabs, or fish have fallen out of the sky surrounding Vesuvius. Conveniently this occurs hours after we presented Nigel Farage rather glass half emptyish outlook on Italy's prospects.
It must be that 0% Chile unemployment leading to zero economic slack, and resulting in surging inflation that is the reason for the most recent deadly escalation borne from surging prices. Because otherwise it would mean that the chairman was either blatantly lying when he said he was 100% confident global inflation would not run out of control, or, as usual, the Princeton academic with no real world experience had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. From Business Week: " Protests over gas price increases of 17 percent are intensifying in
far southern Chile. Already, two women protesters have been killed and a
baby was among those injured when a truck smashed into a barricade and
knocked them into a bonfire. About 21 people have been arrested. Police say the trucker fled the scene in Punta Arenas early Wednesday. He had been driving without lights on. The protests are the first major political challenge to face
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera this year. He made a campaign promise
that gas prices wouldn't rise, but the state-owned petroleum company
has had trouble maintaining supplies. Chile imports 93 percent of its
Today, some Fed member, arguably of a Dovish persuasion, made headlines by saying that inflation was tame in all but food and energy. We are confident he is right. So for all those readers who are lucky enough to not have to eat, fill up with gas, or heat their homes, the following video from the NIA on suddenly surging prices in virtually every vertical, is probably irrelevant. All others may be advised to watch it...
In the latest stunner of disclosure in what goes on just below the murky surface of the biggest scam market in the world (that would be the multi-trillion residential debt market), we learn that a Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court judge, Peter Sikora, who is facing foreclosure on his million dollar (8 room) home. But that is not what makes him unique: after all the story of your average American who buys iPads and garter belts with money that should be going into mortgage payments is all too well known by now. What is amazing, however, is that the reason for his 12 month delinquency is that according to JP Morgan, who service the loan, the only way Sikora would be eligible for loan modification would be if he were in delinquency, which is what they advised him to do. That's right - a bank formally told a client to willfully default on a mortgage. Now obviously no institution in its right mind would ever tell a counterparty to stop paying it for a service it is providing. Which begs the question: how is it that there is an opportunity cost for JP Morgan that is lower than a person paying a set mortgage, which involves both the cessation of payments and the lowering of payment rates. If there is any smoking gun that JP Morgan makes up for mortgage delinquency shortfalls by dipping in the GSE piggy bank of infinite taxpayer capital, this is it. And since in the aftermath of Ibanez ever more mortgages are about to see a freeze on their payments, it begs the question: just how profound will the Fannie and Freddie rape this year be, if the GSEs end up having to fund hundreds of billions in capital shortfall for the Too Parasitic To Fail?
Think gold is a bubble driven only by animal spirits and speculation? We think not and have consistently maintained the fundamental driver of gold has been the massive accumulation of foreign reserves by global central banks and their need for diversification. Nothing illustrates this better than the chart below. We have included the table to illustrate how much gold China and Brazil would have to buy to get to the same proportional gold position as their fellow BRICs, India and Russia.
Crude oil prices were higher on Wednesday and printed new two-year highs as traders reacted to news that it will require at least five days to build a bypass around the affected portion of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. The actual construction is forecast to take four days and then it should take another 36 hours to install the bypass. In the meantime, the pipeline will resume limited operation. It will be a temporary restart to prevent tanks from filling completely along the route, which would halt movement altogether. The pipeline also needs to restart temporarily to keep the sections from icing over. This was not the solution that most expected and is more complicated.
Goldman's Henry Bowe recaps today's key action in equities, vol, FX, rates, corporates and commodities. Also, a glance at tommorow's action, and a detailed analysis of the most interesting trading market for 2011: currencies.
What should rates be? My view is that short term rates should be closer to 2%. I'm not Mr. Market so I can't give the exact number. KC Fed chief and long-time critic of the current policy has called for the Fed to reset the short term rates to 1%. Economist Steve Hanke of John's Hopkins suggested 2%. I think even 1% is low because that still doesn't bring the real cost of money above zero. That brings cash onto the balance sheets of banks. That leads me to one of the misconceptions in this crisis. Banks are not just sitting on a ton of cash, they are also sitting on a ton of potential bad debts. They are not cash rich, they are cash poor. The effect of raising rates brings the real interest rate above zero and actually incentivizes people to start saving again. More savings means more cash on bank's balance sheets. Not until we solve the banks balance sheets will they be willing to invest once more.
Now this is just hilarious. After ICI just revised the last two data points of 2010 which were originally inflows, even if modest, to one outflow and one minimal inflow, more importantly it has disclosed the first flow of funds in 2011. And as we predicted looking at last week's inflows in taxable bond funds, the year starts with an equity outflow, confirming that the retail lemmings are really not as stupid as the Fed and the Primary Dealers believe they are. And what an outflow: at $4.2 billion, this was the largest one week outflow since early October! And yes, bond inflows have resumed as we speculated, even as the scariest indication that things are really not well persists: namely that outflows from that next domino to drop, municipal bond funds, accelerate. And when munis go, it is either a wipe out or QE3. Our money is on the latter. Oh yes, for those who have questions on who may have been buying stocks now that it is confirmed that the inflow was a fluke, please address them to Mr Frost, 9th Floor, Liberty 33, the 10th Circle of Hell (reserved for legendary market manipulators).
You might think the banks have all the leverage in the world, the big secret is it's actually the opposite. Who do you think has more leverage, those who make payment on 7 trillion in securitized mortgage debt, or those who collect the payments? Who do you think is more worried? You probably make your income from a wage, they make their income from an investment, you wouldn't believe how quickly investors can become insecure, that's why your servicer doesn't want you talking to them directly, their brokers, and make a handsome living at it. Our thinking is the guy who writes the check has the leverage. After all, if you owe the bank $100,000 dollars you've got a creditor, If you owe them 7,000,000,000,000.00 we're pretty sure you've got a partner. Stop making rental payments on the home your supposed to own, then just sit back and feel the love.
When we looked at the changing composition in the US work force one month ago, we discovered, to our dismay, that since the start of the Depression, the US labor pool has transformed substantially from a full-time time to an increasingly more part-time dominated one. Specifically we found that "America has lost 10.5 million full time jobs, offset by a 2.8 million increase in part time jobs" and that "the US not only lost 478k seasonally adjusted full time workers in November but has lost full time jobs for 6 months in a row, for a total of 1.6 million job losses!" In an attempt to further refine this number, we present some TrimTabs data which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Fed's QE (1, Lite, and 2) efforts, when expressed in labor force "pick up" has been an abysmal failure. To wit: "In 2010, the BLS reports that the economy added 1.12 million jobs. Almost 60% of these jobs are in one of three relatively low-paying areas—temporary employment (308,000), leisure & hospitality (240,000), and retail trade (116,000)." In other words, of the 1.1 million private jobs gained in the last year, 650,000 or 60% are jobs that have absolutely no real wealth creation capacity, nor do they provide any real benefits. In fact, the retail jobs are becoming increasingly distressed, as more Americans shop online, leading to a job pickup... in Chinese warehousing and QC plants, and the irretrievable loss of even the lowest paying US jobs. Perhaps this is another question to add to the increasing list of lies to be justified by Ben Bernanke at earliest convenience. And the next time the teleprompter claims to have added millions in jobs, and that very inappropriately named Fed "Dove" Janet Yellen says the Fed's QE has been a tremendous job creation success, someone please ask them to break down the actual types of jobs "created."
Earlier today we presented Bill Gross on Bloomberg TV, in a segment which confirmed that while the PIMCO boss is bearish on Europe, even though literally all the world is now involved in backstopping the PIIGS, he is bullish on bankrupt states and municipalities. Per Bloomberg: Bill Gross, who manages the world’s biggest bond fund at Pacific Investment Management Co., clashed with Meredith Whitney, the banking analyst, when he said he doubted there would be many local-government bankruptcies. “Ultimately, municipal bankruptcies will be at a lower level,” Gross said today on Bloomberg Television’s “InBusiness” program. “I don’t subscribe to the theory that there will be lots of them.” Alas for PIMCO and its billions in Build America Bond holdings, the Muni market at this point couldn't care less. As the charts below demonstrate, the muni carnage is again back on the main burner. And it will only get worse with every day that a BAB replacement program is not provided. From there, to a full blown domino effect, the line is very, very thin.
The topic of how much money the Fed is gifting to the Primary Dealers via POMO comissions has to become front and center right now. While we appreciate fluff "profile" pieces in the NYT addressing the issue tangentially, and assuring us via worthless promises by people whose one purpose in life is to pad the pockets of their future employers in preparation for that inevitable day when said parasites move from faux public service to doing the hard core biddings of a vampire squid, the truth is that this is daylight robbery and it is happening in front of everyone's eyes. As a reminder, per the NYT: "As offers to sell Treasuries flash on a bank of trading screens, a computer algorithm works out which ones to accept." We contest that this algorithm is costing tapxayer billions each and every month and demand that Bill Dudley, Brian Sack, Josh Frost or one of the 20 year old henchmen traders immediately disclose just wha the operatin terms of the algorithm are, and what the slippage is. The reason: we have reason to believe that the Fed's slippage rate is up to 5%. On a monthly POMO notional total of over $100 billion, this means that the Fed hands out well over $5 billion each and every month to the Primary Dealers. This is an abortion of the Fed's fiduciary responsibility and should be criminal if proven to be in fact correct.
After a week ago Zero Hedge speculated that China Green Agriculture (CGA) may be the "next Chinese fraud" based on an extensive report by J Capital claiming the company could be shell worth about 80% less than it was trading at the time, it appears that the SEC has finally shut down its midget porn TV station and realized that the microcap market it is supposed to be policing has become a playfield of fraud and 10(b)-5 lies, and has decided to launch an inquiry into the company's operations looking at the fraud allegations. Once again, Zero Hedge is happy to have brought attention to a problem some may consider epidemic: namely pervasive market fraud and lies.