One year on from the "whatever it takes" speech and all appearances suggest Draghi's all-in move with the imaginary OMT 'worked. European sovereign spreads have compressed dramatically, European stock indices are near their highs, European financials are doing great. Of course, record unemployment rates, record loan delinquencies, record drops in house prices, and record deposit outflows can all be ignored because no matter what, Draghi will do "whatever it takes." Except, as JPMorgan notes, the excess cash in the Euro area banking system continues to decline reaching EUR230bn, closer to the so-called inflection point at which money market rates, i.e. EONIA and repo rates, are responding more pronouncedly to changes in the excess cash. Bank funding is becoming increasingly volatile since the 2nd LTRO repayment and the trend shows no sign of abating. We suggest Mrs. Merkel will be on the phone telling Mr. Draghi to "get back to work," - at least until September 23rd anyway.
Despite consumer confidence at a six-year high, the latest AP survey of the real America shows a stunning four out of five U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, are near poverty, or rely on welfare for at least parts of their lives amid signs of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream. Hardship is particularly on the rise among whites, based on several measures. Pessimism among whites about their families' economic futures has climbed to the highest point since at least 1987.
It's almost August, the month everyone in Europe takes off on holiday to forget their troubles. This year may be different, though, as not only can many not afford a vacation, but Europe's troubles loom so large that forgetting them won't be easy... a quick spin through many of the countries there reveals much instability.
China is preparing to admit that the level of problem Local Government Financing Vehicle debt is double the 10.7 trillion yuan first reported just two years ago, something many suspected but few dared to voice in the open. But not only that: since the likely level of Non-Performing Loans (i.e., bad debt) within the LGFV universe has long been suspected to be in 30% range, a doubling of the official figure will also mean a doubling of the bad debt notional up to a stunning and nosebleeding-inducing $1 trillion, or roughly 15% of China's goal-seeked GDP! We wish the local banks the best of luck as they scramble to find the hundreds of billions in capital to fill what is about to emerge as the biggest non-Lehman solvency hole in financial history (without the benefit of a Federal Reserve bailout that is).
Following up on yesterday's essay comparing Walter Bagehot to a modern-day shadow banker, we have received numerous requests for more information on this fundamentally critical financial topic. So without further ado, we present a full and unabridged map of the modern shadow banking system.
With the bloodiest weekend since the ouster of Mubarak, it seems the supposed coup-less people's revolution appears to be edging ever closer to civil war. Egypt lies at the heart of the Arab revolution, even if the original spark occurred in Tunisia. But Egypt – with its strategic location, stable borders, large population, and ancient history – has been the principal power of the Arab world for centuries, defining the movement of history there like no other. This implies that the overthrow of Egypt’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, will have much broader repercussions. Europe's bloody revolutions of the 19th century changed the status quo forever and while the Arab world might not be so deeply affected, the near future there will certainly be neither peaceful nor stable.
While everyone's attention is focused on the Detroit bankruptcy, and just what assets the city will sell in lieu of raising a DIP loan, perhaps it is time to refocus attention to the city 300 miles west: Chicago. According to the Chicago Sun Times, Obama's former right hand man, Rahm Emanuel, closed the books on 2012 with $33.4 million in unallocated cash on hand — down from $167 million the year before — while adding to the mountain of debt piled on Chicago taxpayers, citing year-end audits. In addition to a liquidity problem, Chicago may also be quite insolvent as the city's total long-term debt soared to nearly $29 billion. That’s $10,780 for every one of the city’s nearly 2.69 million residents. More than a decade ago, the debt load was $9.6 billion or $3,338 per resident. Of course, in a world in which debt is "wealth", this is great news... at least until debt becomes "bankruptcy."
...as long as one ignores the reality of the following chart...
"At all times, ultimate collateral and ultimate money remain crucial reference points in modern financial markets, but the actual instruments are important only in times of crisis when promises to pay are cashed rather than offset with other promises to pay.... Our world is organized as a network of promises to buy in the event that someone else doesn’t buy. The key reason is that in today’s world so many promised payments lie in the distant future, or in another currency. As a consequence, mere guarantee of eventual par payment at maturity doesn’t do much good. On any given day, only a very small fraction of outstanding primary debt is coming due, and in a crisis the need for current cash can easily exceed it. In such a circumstance, the only way to get cash is to sell an asset, or to use the asset as collateral for borrowing."
Excessive monetary stimulus and low interest rates create financial bubbles. This is the biggest debt bubble in history. It is a potent deflationary force and central banks are forced into deploying increasingly aggressive (offsetting) inflationary forces. The avoidance of a typical deflationary resolution to this economic long (Kondratieff) wave is pushing the existing monetary system beyond the point of no return. The purchasing power of the developed world’s currencies will have to bear the brunt of the “adjustment”. Preparations for this by the BRICS nations, led by China, are advancing rapidly. The end game is an inflationary/currency crisis, dislocation across credit and derivative markets, and the transition to a new monetary system. A new “basket” currency is likely to replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. The “Inflationary Deflation” paradox refers to the coming rise in the price of almost everything in conventional money and simultaneous fall in terms of gold.
It is nearly impossible to convince people that an economic ending is likely, perhaps inevitable. It is beyond anything they have seen or can imagine. We attribute that to a normalcy bias, an inherent weakness of experiential learners. For many, accepting something that has not occurred during their time on the planet is not possible. The laws of economics and mathematics may shape history but they are not controlled by history. The form of cataclysm and its timing is indeterminable. Political decisions continue to shape both. The madmen who are responsible for the coming disaster continue to behave as if they can manage to avoid it. Violating Einstein’s definition of insanity, they continue to apply the same poison that caused the problem. These fools believe they can manage complexities they do not understand. We are bigger fools for providing them the authority to indulge their hubris and wreak such damage. The political class in America, either via misguided economic policies or a deliberate attempt to hide the true condition of the country, has put us here. They will continue to employ whatever policies they believe will keep things going for a while longer. The tragic ending has been cast. Economics cannot trump mathematics.
Positive demographic cycles have been one of the key components in the strong growth trends for a number of Asian countries. As Morgan Stanley note in their most recent 'China Deleveraging' discussion, the decline in the ratio of the non-working (elderly and children) to working-age (15-64 years) population has coincided with periods of economic boom for various countries in Asia in the past 50 years. But... as Nomura's Richard Koo notes - having experienced the very same unstoppable shift in Japan - "demographics will cease to be a positive for China’s economic growth and start to have a negative impact." Fundamentally, Koo adds, this means "the nation will grow old before it grows rich." Demographics, capital accumulation and productivity are the three most important drivers of potential growth, and these three factors are intertwined to a certain extent. China has already entered its first stage of demographic challenge, with its GDP growth slowing on the back of all three contributors of growth. Given the lessons of Japan and the Asian Tigers, China is set to suffer notably from this demographic drag - and its entirely foreseeable.
Liquidity Update: Record High Deposits, Fed Reserves And Foreign Bank Cash; Fed Owns 31% Of Treasury MarketSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/27/2013 - 13:39
Bored with the constant daily speculation about who may be the Fed's next head (short answer: whoever Goldman says), and more interested with the actual liquidity dynamics that the next Chairman (or Bernanke, as his departure is far from certain) will have to deal with? Here is the latest.
The storm that caused chaos across financial markets since May should not dissipate any time soon. As such, we retain a short bias towards China and an outright short in EM currencies. If world trade remains weak and local inflation keeps on gaining momentum, the currencies of several EM countries (ex-China) may remain under pressure. Such weakness may be exacerbated by tightening liquidity.
Nearly a month after the Egyptian military coup (that wasn't a coup according to the US), the celebrations over the democratic overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood's president Morsi (according to John Kerry) continue with hundreds of protesters killed and injured in the latest overnight violent breakout. The reports are obviously conflicting with the Muslim Brotherhood claiming 120 were killed in violent protests with police near Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque, describing events as a "massacre", alternatively the government's Ministry of Health says only 38 dead arrived at hospitals so far. The tragic deaths were a logical outcome of protests which according to the head of Egypt's Central Statistics Bureau General Abu Bahar Jundi, saw as many as 35 million people taking to the streets Friday on both sides of the ideological divide. Egyptian army officials put the number at around 30 million.