Europe's Funding Scramble: Peeking Below The Calm Surface Waters Of French Bank Liquidity (And Lack Thereof)Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/28/2011 - 23:14
That European wholesale, and particularly dollar, funding has been "problematic" in past weeks is an understatement. One merely needs to look at the Fed's recent expansion in its transatlatnic swap lines to figure out that someone, somewhere is struggling to meet their USD-denominated obligations. However, is it just one bank, as recent data out of the ECB suggest, or is this merely a symptom of a far more acute underlying cause? Alas, as Barclays' Joseph Abate confirms by looking at the transformation in funding patterns within that most fulcrum of European banking systems - that of France - the threat is far more prevalent than has been speculated. In fact, based on the rapid transition in funding from unsecured to secured lending markets within French banks in general, and one name in particular, it seems that while SocGen stock may have avoided its daily rout courtesy of the extension in the short selling ban, there is a far greater concern for the bank: one of maintaining orderly daily operation funding. And there is little that European stock market regulators can do to restore liquidity, aka confidence, once it starts evaporating. Which it has... although mostly in unsecured markets... for the time being. Should secured funding (ABCP and Repo) wilt next, then it gets really, really bad. To wit: "Bank funding worries have flared up again with the news that the Federal Reserve’s currency swap line with other central banks has been tapped at least twice this month. The trivial amounts borrowed belie significant wholesale funding stresses for some institutions in dollar markets." Let's take a look at what "some" means...
Since this chart from the WSJ sums up petty much everything about the "efficient market hypothesis" or whatever it is those wacky Chicago PhD's call their multi-variable, self-similar, Lorenzian "strange attractor" equations that describe human irrationality to the dot, there is little need for commentary (those who wish to do so, can read more about it at "Fed Faces Old Foe as Hazard Returns")
What we do have to note is the most recent parabolic run away from the 20EMA created an abnormal spike never before seen in history with a reading of 2718 or price closing $271.8 away from the 20EMA. So the next logical question becomes what do we make of this and is it the end of this massive uptrend? Our view is this is unlikely, considering the historical relationship to the 20EMA as noted before (8% of time below). In fact, we may consider a pullback to the 20EMA to be a healthy thing as it will put Gold through a re-distribution phase and allow the order flows behind it to start another run higher. But, the extreme nature of this suggests price is likely to pullback to the 20ema within the next 2mos or by year end. Across most instruments, price rarely has this kind of extreme or unstable relationship to the 20EMA and usually means the orders behind such movements have to normalize a bit before starting another run. Keep in mind, this does not have to happen with a violent sell-off and could be the result of price hanging around the $1700-$1900 range while the 20EMA catches up to current price levels.
German Coalition Partner CSU To Propose Bankruptcy Procedure To Kick Out Chronic Eurozone Debtor NationsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/28/2011 - 15:51
The news out of Europe just keeps getting worse. While earlier we described how the squabbling within Merkel's own party could scuttle her political career, not to mention hopes for ongoing German funding of European bailouts, next we learn that she has not only outright rejected Finland's demands for loan collateralization out of Greece (which would in turn make Greece a selective Debtor In Possession lender, or, in other words, a prepack bankruptcy candidate 101), a move which Finland will likely balk over and very likely unilaterally exit from the second Greek bailout (remember that whole "Greek Bailout #2 is Dead on Arrival" from June 5?), but what is worse, according to Der Spiegel, tomorrow CDU coalition partner CSU will likely propose several "explosive ideas" which not only reject a common "economic government" for the eurozone (thereby slapping Sarkozy fully across the face), but also consider "creating a bankruptcy procedure to kick out of the euro countries that aren't willing to stick to the debt limits laid out in the euro zone's Stability and Growth Pact." In other words zero steps forward, and as many steps back as it takes to get us to before not only the July 22 Greek bail out, but all the way back to the beginning of the year. Only this time, the market is fully aware that both Italy and France are also on the hook: that can not be unwound with any paper.
Update: sure enough, here is Ambrose Evans-Pritchard with his own perspective on just this topic, which is oddly comparable to Zero Hedge's: "Mrs Merkel's aides say she is facing "war on every front". The next month will decide her future, Germany's destiny, and the fate of monetary union."
Every time we discuss the futility of the nth bailout of [Greece\PIIGS\Europe\the Euro] we make it all too clear (most recently here and here) that the trade off between Germany onboarding ever more peripheral financial risk in one after another all too brief attempt to prevent the implosion of European capital markets and its currency, is not only a relentless creep higher in German default risk (and lower in the German stock market, as August has so violently demonstrated) but increasing political discontent, which after claiming countless political regimes across the world, has finally settled down on one that truly matters: that of German chancellor Angela Merkel. And as Reuters reports, Merkel's disappointing response to an ever escalating set of crises, both domestic and international, means that the beginning of her end (and by implication of the Eurozone, and of the Euro) may be as soon as September 23, when the vote over the expansion of the latest and greatest European bailout lynchpin, EFSF, will take place.
The consumer driven recession has begun. Keeping it very simple of the four GDP components (consumer, fixed investment, government and net trade) the consumer has simply rolled over. In Q1 2011 the consumer contributed 1.46% to the 0.4% total GDP. In other words if it was not for consumer growth or even if .5% of that growth was removed the economy contracted in Q1 2011. Fast forward to Q2 where the consumer component is now 0.3%. In other words the trend of the consumer is deteriorating. Representing roughly 70% of total GDP the consumer is the economy. Confidence drives the consumer, the consumer drives demand and demand drives the economy. Well judging by the epic fall in University Of Michigan Sentiment, now at multi year lows the economy is in serious trouble. To get a sense of the economic reality facing the US look at the historic correlation between sentiment and real GDP.
The NYSE has just announced that precisely zero vacuum tubes were inconvenienced by the biggest climatic let down since global warming.
Paul Woolley: "The Market Has Become Dangerous For Humanity...It Isn't Reaching Equilibrium, It Is Falling Into Chaos"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/28/2011 - 11:46
For anyone who is still confused why the tail-wags-dog reverse relationship of the stock market as a leading indicator to the economy, and to western civilization in general, can be a problem for said civilization (not to mention the former) once the current iteration of central planning loses control over everything, as it always does, here is an interview between German daily Spiegel and Paul Woolley, a one time fund manager, and currently head of the LSE's center for Capital Market Dysfunctionality (sometimes affectionately known as the Princeton Economics department) who explains why things are on the edge of a precipice. His message for anyone who thought that Irene may have been a risk: you ain't seen nothing yet. "The developments in recent weeks have made it quite clear that the markets don't function properly. Things are spinning out of control and are potentially dangerous for society. Only a fraternity of academic high priests connected to the finance markets is still speaking of efficient markets. Still each market participant is pursuing their own selfish interests. The market isn't reaching equilibrium -- it's falling into chaos."
For awhile now, the market has loved to talk about risk-on or risk-off. Occasionally a few outliers exist, but by and large that pattern of everything risky up or down together has been holding. It felt like that is potentially starting to fall apart this week. The first thing that caught my eye, was the difference in performance between credit and stocks. The CDX IG16 index was actually wider on the week. It closed at 123 the prior week and finished this week at 126.25. That is not a major move, but is in sharp contrast to the SPX which was up 4.7% on the week.
That relative out performance of stocks left many investors scratching their heads. For all the talk about "credit" leading stocks, or warning signs in the credit markets, they were all ignored this week, at least in U.S. Stocks. Good luck, and hopefully the simplicity of risk-on or risk-off will return, otherwise I suspect this will get very messy as so many trading strategies have depended on it.
There was a time when being short was a bad idea. Not anymore. As David Kostin' summarizes in his latest weekly chart packet, the level of 3 month S&P and sector correlation is now at a 20 year high, an environment which never leads to good outcomes for long-only whales, and which has led to sizable outperformance for hedge funds due to their recent loading up on short positions. To wit: "S&P 500 three-month correlation is 0.73, the highest in at least the past 20 years, and up from just 0.44 at the start of August. Sector correlation is similarly high, with all major S&P sectors experiencing realized correlation above their 95th percentile since the late 1980s. While it is difficult to specify a cause for higher correlation, a spike in S&P futures and ETF trading volumes and parallel reduction in open interest held by institutional and levered funds as reported by the Commodities and Futures Trading Corporation (CFTC) indicate significant de-risking in August." What does that mean for recent performance? Nothing good if one is a mutual fund: "Elevated correlation is generally considered a poor environment for long-only fundamental investors. In highly correlated sell offs the market does not discriminate based on company fundamentals, reducing the value of stock picking. Recent performance trends support that case." As a result hedge fund LPs are doing ok: "The typical hedge fund has generated a 2011 YTD return of -1% through August 19 compared with a -10% decline for the S&P 500 and an -11% return for the average large-cap core mutual fund." Alas, if the hedge fund in question is Paulson & Co., this average statistic is very misleading.
The stock market is wearing a T-shirt that reads, "I broke a downtrend and all I got was this lousy pennant." Having just returned from nine glorious days camping in Washington State, I have no idea what "news" has effected the markets ("news" in quotes because the news is managed for its PR effect--the real news is what has been suppressed lest it undermine the Status Quo's carefully cultivated propaganda campaign), and so I have marked up the chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) and the U.S. dollar without the "benefit" of the news flow. What pops out is a big fat pennant in both charts. Pennants can be continuation patterns--mere way points in a continuing up or down trend--or they can indicate points of trend reversals. The key feature of a pennant is the compression of price into a narrowing channel, as the relative indecision of buyers and sellers alike causes price to fluctuate less and less.
Wikileaks Reveals Early Chinese Warning Of Domestic Asset Bubbles, Overcapacity, Bashing Of "Copy And Paste" Educational SystemSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/27/2011 - 19:16
Wikileaks' threat to expose Bank of America came and went, and yet all it took for the bank to implode was reality, a little time, and an independent media. That said, Wikileaks has not yet been completely relegated to the compost heap of one time fads. In a blast submission of several thousand cables, Julian Assange tries to regain his one time star status. While we have to go through the bulk, one that caught our attention was a cable from the US delegation in Chengdu, China, where a counsel met with a local representative of the World Bank's International Finance Corporation, for some candid one on one. While the bulk of the exposition, which took place in December of 2009, is not surprising, there are some frank admissions about the emergence of a Chinese bubble, long before the topic was mainstream (and only fringe investors would consider it), observation that urban housing prices are "here to stay for the coming few years as they are an unavoidable, long-term aspect of the nationwide, structural shift in the population from rural area to urban centers", the realization that the solar industry is plagued by overcapacity and due for a restructuring (many "solar" longs would have been delighted to know this well in advance of the recent decimation in the Chinese solar stock space), but most notable is the Chinese admission that "China will remain a "poor country" for years to come, and can expect to emerge as a "respectable mid-level" country only in another 10-20 years" in order to grow its service sector from the current 30-40% of the economy to a US-comparable 75%, many structural shifts will have to take place. And while such shifts "are already happening to some extent in places like the Pearl River Delta", and "Chinese companies increasingly setting up factories overseas" the biggest impediment is China's "terrible educational system" which "promotes copying and pasting over creative and independent thought." Explaining further, "the normal process undertaken by students when writing as essentially collecting sentences from various sources without any original thinking. He compared the writing ability of a typical Chinese Phd as paling in comparison to his "unskilled" staff during his decade of work with the IFC in Africa." Well, if China's education system is worse than that of the US, we can probable stop worrying about the dollar relinquishing its reserve status. On the other hand, we would be the first to point out that China, which does not admit defeat, is probably in the early stages of the next bubble: that of importing teachers, educators, professors and generally Ivy League Ph.D.'s. Which is great: take as many as you want. The average tenured Ivy League (not to mention MIT and NYU) professor has already done enough damage to the US - it is only fair that they destroy China next.
The financial press has been inundated with articles comparing what is happening in global markets now to events in the latter part of 2008. Sure enough, the surge in Treasurys from 100 to 143 in the last two months of 2008 following the Lehman bankruptcy is most comparable to the move in the same security from 122 to 140 in the two months since the beginning of July 2011. What is disturbing is that the bulk of this move has happened after the August 2 debt deal, and after the announcement of QE2.5 or "ZIRP through mid-2013" by the Fed on August 9. Additionally, stocks have also traded in a pattern very reminiscent to what happened during the first round of the Great Financial Crisis, but the lock up in capital market liquidity, especially in Europe, may be the most obvious parallel between the two time periods. That said, there is one key difference between 2008 and 2011. Bill Buckler, in the latest edition of his Privateer, demonstrates what it is...
Over the past x months, one thing has become all too clear in FX land: the EURUSD must stay rangebound between 1.40 and 1.50, even though as Goldman's John Noyce presents in his latest "not-for-retail" packet, the fair value of the European currency continues to be higher than where it should be. Whether this is a simple case of the tail wagging the dog, whereby the ECB and China are terrified of the downstream effects should the European currency trade under the psychological barrier of 1.40, is unclear. What is clear is that every country in the world has skin in the game, and is forced to keep the EUR in Goldilock rangebound territory: not too low to spook European investors, and not too high to accelerate the German double dip. Some other risk assets correlations observed include the AUD vs 2 year swap spread basket, the VIX vs the S&P, and lastly, on the until recently massively overstretched CHF. Noyce tops it off with some technical perspectives on US govvies and the 2s10s, which is once again diving, although unclear if due to a bullish or bearish flattening.