While it seemed somewhat inevitable given the trend, the dismal reality from Europe has sent investors scurrying for the 'safety' of the US Treasuries overnight. The entire yield curve has fallen to all-time record lows with 10Y trading below 1.40% and 30Y below 2.48%. 7Y - the seeming cusp of Twist - is below 90bps now and 2Y below 20bps. The shortest-dated T-Bills still trade around 4-6bps (as opposed to the deeply negative rates in Switzerland and Germany this morning with FX risk premia expectations, and Twist+, affecting this differential). Not a good sign at all - and definitely not yield curve movements on the basis of renewed QE as we see stock futures plunging to the old new reality (as those pushing dividend yields as the 'obvious move here may note that since Friday's highs, you've lost half a year's dividend as equity capital has depreciated 2%). Perhaps the sub-1% 10Y we noted yesterday is not such a crazy idea after all...
Risk-off trade is firmly dominating price action this morning in Europe, as weekend reports regarding Spanish regions garner focus, shaking investor sentiment towards the Mediterranean. The attitudes towards Spain are reflected in their 10yr government bond yield, printing Euro-era record highs of 7.565% earlier this morning and, interestingly, Spanish 2yr bill yields are approaching the levels seen in the bailed-out Portuguese equivalent. As such, the peripheral Spanish and Italian bourses are being heavily weighed upon, both lower by around 5% at the North American crossover.
Here we go again: just like the summer of 2011, when it achieved absolutely nothing but succeeded in increasing the panic to a fever pitch, Italian regulator Consob has just reintroduced a selling ban for financial stocks. Supposedly, it will last only a week. Last year it was also supposed to be short-term but was only removed after the LTRO fooled everyone (well, not everyone) into believing Europe was fixed. It wasn't. Expect a modest blip higher, followed by the inevitable flush lower as every other European country follows suit, starting first with Spain.
Last week when we wrote about the imminent default of Sicily which Mario Monti tried to sweep under the rug by demanding the local governor resign for not masking the situation with lies, and doing all he can to prevent the advent of reality, we noted, rather sarcastically, that the "resignation of Sicily Governor Lombardo will somehow allow all those who care about the fundamentals of Italy to stick their heads in the sand... at least until Sicily is followed by Calabria, Campania, Lazio, Abruzzo, Tuscany, Lombardy, Umbria, Liguria, Veneto and so on. At least the governors of those respective provinces now have an advance warning what the endgame is." Sure enough, now that this particular floodgate has also been opened, it is only fitting that in the aftermath of this weekend's main news that a total of 6 Spanish regions will demand bailouts, that Italy follow suit with its own blacklist, and as La Stampa has reported, there are now ten major Italian cities at risk of an imminent financial collapse, yet another factor pushing Italian yields well on their way to the country's own 7% rubicon, now at 6.34%.
Gold edged down on Monday due to the pressure from a stronger dollar, as worries about the Eurozone debt crisis grew after Spain looked like the next candidate for a sovereign bailout. Spain has two regions seeking aid from the central government and El Pais reported that six Spanish regions may ask for aid from the central government while Spanish bonds yields continue to rise. As the 4th largest economy in the Eurozone Spain looks likely to follow Greece, Portugal and Ireland seeking an international bailout. Greece’s creditors meet this week as many doubt they will meet their bailout commitments. German Vice Chancellor Philipp Roesler said he’s “very skeptical” that European leaders will be able to rescue Greece. China’s economic expansion may fall for a 7th straight quarter to 7.4% in the three months to September, said Song Guoqing, a member of the People’s Bank of China monetary policy committee.
- Greece should pay wages in drachmas - German MP (Reuters)
- Greece Seeks More Cuts as Deadlines Loom (WSJ)
- Greece Back at Center of Euro Crisis as Exit Talk Resurfaces (Bloomberg)
- Berlusconi seeks return to liberal roots (FT)
- For brokers like Peregrine, from bad times to worse (Reuters)
- Japan Sees More ‘Widespread’ Global Slowdown With China Cooling (Bloomberg)
- China Central Bank Adviser Forecasts Growth Slowdown to 7.4% (Bloomberg)
- London Out to Prove It's Still in the Game (WSJ)
- Stockton Reveals Bondholder Offers From Mediation (Bloomberg)
- US lawmakers propose greater SEC powers (FT)
The last time a sovereign bond issue was imploding at this rate without the ECB's intervention, Silvio Berlusconi was about to be forcibly retired. This time, however, we fail to see what the assorted globalist elements will benefit by having Rajoy displaced: after all he has been a studious and versatile pawn of the status quo, who squawks repeatedly and whenever needed that Spain is solvent and that its banks are not in need of a bailout. That said, stick a fork in Spain, and all those newsletter writers who were saying to buy its bonds, or equities: at last check the IBEX was down nearly 5%, after falling by the same amount on Friday. This is the equivalent of the Dow Jones tumbling by just about 600 points. The catalyst - the 10 Year which touched on 7.565% minutes earlier, as virtually all hope is now lost - it is now every country and region for himself, and he who panics first, panics best.
Russia and the southeast Asian countries are analogs for Greece, Spain, and Cyprus, with no particular association between their references within the timeline. The timeline runs through the Russian pain; things begin to turn around after the timeline ends. This is meant to serve as a reference point: In retrospect it was clear throughout the late-90s that Russia would default on its debt and spark financial pandemonium, yet there were cheers at many of the fake-out "solution" pivot points. The Russian issues were structural and therefore immune to halfhearted solutions--the Euro Crisis is no different. This timeline analog serves as a guide to illustrate to what extent world leaders can delay the inevitable and just how significant "black swan event" probabilities are in times of structural crisis. It seems that the next step in the unfolding Euro Crisis is for sovereigns to begin to default on their loan payments. To that effect, Greece must pay its next round of bond redemptions on August 20, and over the weekend the IMF stated that they are suspending Greece's future aid tranches due to lack of reform. August 20 might be the most important day of the entire summer and very well could turn into the credit event that breaks the camel's back.
While many have discussed the extreme analogs of the last few years in equity market performance, few have looked at the relative performance of the most explicitly impacted asset class of Central Bank largesse - the US Treasury bond market. Based on the almost perfect correlation between 2010, 2011, and this year's yield movements over the past few months, traders could be forgiven for considering that the 10-year yield will be below 1% by the end of August - no matter how many times they are told "but rates cannot fall any more" or this time it's different. One has to wonder just how long the Fed can control this herding of cats (by forcing everyone to front-run it) and what the hyper-inflating solution to asset-deflation expectations will look like this time.
The week ahead brings a batch of Q2 GDP prints, which will provide guidance on the strength of activity in that quarter, as well as a bunch of business survey data which will offer insights into the strength of momentum at the start of Q3. Starting with the GDP data, the main attraction is likely to be the print from the US. Goldman expects a below trend print of 1.1%qoq, vs the consensus at 1.5%qoq. The Q2 print from the UK is expected to be negative. While only a few Q2 prints have been published so far, only China has recorded a recovery on Q1. The consensus expects soft prints for the business surveys out this week. The Euroland flash PMIs are expected to be unchanged, leaving them at levels consistent with a continued contraction in activity. The German IFO is expected to fall slightly, as is the Swiss KoF. There are no consensus expectations for the China flash PMI, however if it does not pick up from current levels around 48, questions over the extent/effectiveness of stimulus in China will remain.
The euro has depreciated to its lowest level in nearly nine years when measured in trade-weighted terms. Common wisdom is to assume that this might trigger a GDP forecast upgrade for the common currency area. UBS says "no", while at first sight, this 'devaluation' should boost output, the exchange rate response is simply part of the bigger, well-known picture of economic stress in the common currency region. Simply put, the currency has depreciated on fear and risk aversion - and economic growth tends to suffer rather than flourish in that environment - and furthermore, the two structural measures that help determine the outlook for the currency - the internal balance (output gap) and the external balance (current account) - point to further weakness.
EURUSD is down over 50 pips from Friday's close, about to test a 1.20 handle for the first time in over 25 months, as headlines pour from the beleaguered disunion. The AP reports of the German vice-chancellor's "more than skeptical" view that Greece can fulfill its obligations; after which "there can be no further payments" seemingly confirms our earlier note on the IMF's reluctance (and dismisses any hope that the IMF's call for more ECB 'assistance' will go unheeded. More worrisome is the Athens News story on Alexis Tsipras (leader of the Greek Syriza party) forecasting that the government will "soon present a return to a national currency (drachma) as a national success." He went on to state rather honestly for a politician that any payment extension (of the already re-negotiated TROIKA deal) is "essentially a longer rope with which to hang ourselves." The elite-perpetuating status-quo-sustaining unreality is summed up perfectly as he notes the Greek finance minister is the definition of a finance minister that the TROIKA would have chosen. Germany's Roesler adds a little fuel to the conflagration by adding that "for many experts,... a Greek exit from the eurozone has long since lost its horror."