Judging by the modest rallies in what was already hugely oversold risk asset markets in a perfectly timed illiquid 'holiday' mode, it would appear that, just as MEP Nigel Farage blasts his European Parliamentary leaders, "Breakthrough? Nobody believes you". The new bailout vehicle - the ESM - is doomed before it starts as he notes "the wheels are coming off" highlighting the legal challenges in Ireland and Germany, the Estonian Justice Minister saying it won't fit their constitution, but most fun of all, the erudite Englishman barks "the Fins and the Dutch seem to have broken the agreement that was made in the middle of the night". Perhaps the "little countries" don't have a say in Europe anymore as his frustration with Barosso and Van Rompuy in their self-congratulatory smugness is clear when he jibes that "The Euro-crisis appears to be insoluble" noting that their incessant public calls that the worst is over or finger-pointing and blaming others has made them "an international laughing stock". It appears, like us, Farage does not see this as a game-changer - concluding that vacations should be put on hold as "the markets will all but guarantee we'll all be back here in August".
Fundamentals (inflation expectations, longer-term savings and investment objectives) should be driving current demand for gold coins. And, this is exactly what we are seeing. In June 2012, the US Mint sold 54,500oz of coinage gold, up on 53,000 in May 2012. Total for H1 2012, US Mint sales of gold coins in terms of total weight sold are down 41.3% on H1 2011 and it is down 49.8% on H1 2010 and 50.3% on H1 2009. Dramatic? Sure, when one disregards consideration of drivers for 2009-2011 demand for coins being coincident with extreme risks in other markets. Total H1 2012 demand was at 338,000oz still well ahead of H1 average demand for 2000-2007 period when it was 165,679oz, but down on 531,750oz average for H1 2008-2011 crisis period. Exactly the same picture - return to fundamentals - is seen in the number of coins sold. Consistent with still robust demand drivers, H1 2012 average coin sold contained 0.60 oz, while H1 2000-2007 period average was 0.51oz and H1 2008-2011 period average was 0.76oz.
After two days of solid gains, European equities continue the upward trend and are seen higher at the North American crossover, with the Basic Materials sector leading the way, followed by financials. The moves in equities follow overnight reports from Chinese press, once again calling for the PBOC to slash their RRR, as well as expectations that this Thursday both the ECB and the BoE will conduct monetary easing, possibly boosting future commodity demand. In the fixed income markets, the European 2s/30s curve continues to see bear-steepening following last night’s announcement from the Dutch Central Bank that has changed Dutch insurers’ Solvency II interest rate curve; modifying the maturities in which the firms must hold assets towards the longer-end. Today also saw official confirmation from the Irish debt agency that they are to return to capital markets with T-bill issuance on July 5th, their first return to the market since 2010. Investor reaction to this news is evident in the shorter-end of the Irish yield curve, where the 2-yr bond yield spread against their German counterpart is firmly indicating the risk of returning to the market; currently wider by around 20bps.
Objective analysis, or media spin to gauge popular reaction to Plan Z? Whatever it is, today's staff lead article in the English section of Spiegel has a piece that will likely raise more than a few eyebrows: "The common currency union was supposed to benefit the economy of the entire European Union. Now that the euro is struggling, however, it is bringing growth down with it. Germany's economy, once seemingly immune to the crisis, is now facing mounting difficulties."
Anyone wondering if the reason why Diamond resigned less than 6 hours ago is because he suddenly grew a conscience, will be disappointed. The real reasons are two: on one hand politicians were concerned he would make it public where all the bodies were buried as reported last night, in the process taking down at least half the English political establishment, obviating his departure from the public eye immediately, and, more importantly, as BBC's Robert Peston reports, the English Fed, that "impartial" and "apolitical" institution known as the Bank of England, got involved. From Peston: "I have learned that Bob Diamond's departure was encouraged by the Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King, and the chairman of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), Lord Turner."
- The next Enron: JPMorgan at centre of power market probe (FT)
- Former Brokers Say JPMorgan Favored Selling Bank’s Own Funds Over Others (NYT)
- Ex-JPMorgan Trader Feldstein Biggest Winner Betting Against Bank (Bloomberg)
- Finland Firm On Collateral As Spain Aid Terms Discussed (Bloomberg)
- Heatwave threatens US grain harvest (FT)
- Wall Street Is Still Giving to President (WSJ)
- Greenberg Suit Against U.S. Over AIG To Proceed In Court (Bloomberg)
- Crisis forces "dismal science" to get real (Reuters)
- Hope continues to be as a strategy: Asia Stocks Rise On Expectation Of Monetary Policy Easing (Bloomberg)
A bottle of Bollinger has brought down Bob. This is just the beginning, because one knows Barclays by definition was not alone. Many, many more banks will emerge, hopefully their bankers were not quite as dumb as Barclays' henchmen to discuss in retainable, email format their plans for interest rate manipulation, although we doubt it. In which case many more executives will fall as all those "conspiracy theorists" over the past 4 years are proven right once again, and as politicians scramble to cover up all loose ends which may expose them as instrumental (and bribed) in the fact that the "market" is once big farce. In the meantime, courtesy of the WSJ, here are the shocked, nay stunned, reactions to Bob Diamond's resignation.
First the Chairman Marcus Agius, and now both Barclays' CEO Bob Diamond and the COO del Misser are quitting. Full sweep.
It's escalating. Following the resignation of Barclays' Chairman this morning, the government announced a twin probe into the Libor system and banking standards; and Bob Diamond (Barclays CEO) is threatening, according to the FT, to reveal potentially embarrassing details about Barclays' dealing with regulators if he comes under fire at a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday over Lie-borgate. Unlike his almost-namesake Jamie Dimon who suffered through the indignity of a congressional probing, Bob has gone all Mutually Assured Destruction with confrontational tactics that could further aggravate the fraught relations between the bank and the authorities. "If he is attacked, he will fight back" seems to be well understood and the key aspect - as we have pointed out - is that if this is pursued too vehemently then the whole house of cards could come down as [regulators and politicians] "likely knew perfectly well those rates were not the ones where banks were prepared to lend to each other". So much was made at the time of several of these short-term liquidity measures as indicative of 'no' stress to the ignorant investing public when credit market participants were well aware of the dismal state of interbank reality - perhaps it is worth a glance at the current levels of Lie-bor (especially relative to EUREPO and CDS curves) to get a sense of just what could happen if the truth was ever allowed out into the public eye. M.A.D. indeed.
Mike Krieger is relieved. Another terrorist attack thwarted. Another protest crushed. Take that Al Qaeda!
Agents on scene claimed a backpack abandoned on a sidewalk was a “suspicious package,” closing the Pennsylvania Avenue pedestrian mall in front of the White House, and the adjoining Lafayette Park, from protesters and tourists. All pedestrian traffic, including media, was forced to retreat to side streets.
You know the Obama goons couldn’t stand this photo. You know, since their only rebuttal to any criticism to the fact this entire Administration appears to be complete and total criminals is to yell “racist!”
Let’s face it – Europe is a cool place. In addition to being cool, Europe is also without a doubt the most creative and imaginative place outside of Middle Earth. Its ability to consistently baffle itself certainly warrants valuable space in IceCap’s global market outlooks. Financially speaking, Europe is broke - it no longer works. Figuratively speaking, Europe has entered its golden age. Unworkable solutions dreamt by an unworkable political system is consuming all real and electronic ink known to mankind. A day doesn’t go bye where local newspapers are not bursting with news on Greece, Spain and their Euro-cousins. This sudden love-in with Europe has surely removed America from the global spotlight. But, be patient as this will change later during the year. To demonstrate the absurdity of this place called Europe, one has to understand nothing else except the legalities behind Europe’s rules for selling cabbage to each other.
Here’s a really wild hypothesis: if the LIBOR rate was under manipulation in 2008, is it not possible that the inter-bank lending rate spike (and resultant credit freeze) was at least partly a product of manipulation by the banking cartel? Could the manipulators have purposely exacerbated the freeze, to get a bigger and quicker bailout? After all, the banking system sucked $29 trillion out of the taxpayer following 2008. That’s a pretty big payoff. LIBOR profoundly affects credit availability — and the bailouts were directly designed to combat a freeze in credit availability. If market participants were manipulating or rigging LIBOR, they were manipulating a variable directly tied to the bailouts.