Italy Prices €7.5 Billion In New Bonds At Unsustainable Yields, Market Rejoices If Only For A Few MinutesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/29/2011 - 07:02
Confirming just how much the market has lost it, at just after 5 am Eastern when the news of today's Italian auction as announced, the EURUSD soared by almost 100 pips on news that the auction had not failed. Apparently the lack of day to day bond issuance failure is now good enough for Europe. In the meantime, one look at the actual auctions that made up today's action show just how unsustainable Italian debt yields have become. The Italian Treasury priced 3, 9 and 11 year BTPs at yields that were simply laughable, and are completely non-sustainable in the long run. Specifically, the Tesoro sold €3.5bln in 6.00% Nov'14 bonds at a bid/cover 1.502. The yield was a mindboggling almost 8% or 7.89% compared to 4.93% on October 28 - a 3% increase in 1 month; it also sold €1.499 bln of 4.00% Sep'20 bonds at a 1.538 B/C vs. Prev. 1.49 and a yield of 7.28% vs. Prev. 5.470% a month earlier, and lastly €2.5 billion in 5.00% Mar'22 bonds, at a bid/cover 1.335 vs. Prev. 1.27 and a yield 7.56% vs. 6.060% previously. Yup, the 3 years were nearly 8%! Yet as noted earlier the fact that anything priced was enough for a quick kneejerk reaction higher in prices on the benchmark 10 Year BTP... If only for one hour. As the chart below shows, the BTP has sold off aggressively post the realization that the "successful" auction was almost as bad if not worse than a failure, as that at least would have kicked the ECB into monetizing.
We have been strong proponents of various relative-value (RV) trades as this highly volatile and increasingly binary world infers more Knightian uncertainty than any normal strategist, talking-head, fringe blog can cope with. What is frustrating nevertheless is the degree of confidence that many economists and strategists forecast directional bets only to fail miserably (and rapidly). Refreshingly, Citi's European credit research team take a similar perspective to ours on the current policy uncertainty and expect nothing less than spreads to keep oscillating wildly in 2012 (between depression and muddle-through). Their crucial insight is to tie the evolving crisis to the Kubler-Ross stages-of-grief and recognize that expecting a decoupling (or lower correlations between and within asset classes) is only for those in denial - trade the phases of the crisis instead (focusing on exploiting the asymmetries and dislocations as opposed aggressive directional bets). Only when there is a credible lender-of-last-resort with public funds enough for Italy and Spain will it be safe to get long and earn carry once again. Falling back on strong fundamentals and balance sheets becomes moot in their eyes (and we agree) as there are simply too many linkages from sovereign stress - "Strong corporate fortifications...are built on shaky sovereign foundations".
Ron Paul lays it out: "We know what to do - we did it once after the Civil War period, we went from a paper standard back to the gold standard, and the event wasn't that dramatic. But today the big problem is that both the conservatives and liberals have an big apetite for big government for different reasons, therefore they need the Fed to tie them over and monetize the debt. So if you don't get rid of that appetite it's going to be more difficult, but the transition isn't that difficult. You have to get your house in order; you have to balance the budget, you have to not run up debt, and you have to promise not to print any more money... I would like to have a transition period and just legalize gold money, gold and silver as legal tender, and work our way back... We want to legalize the use of gold and silver as the constitution dictates, rather than punishing the people who try to do that... I am quite convinced that the system we have will not be maintained - that's what these last 4 years was all about, and that's what the turmoil in Europe is all about. The question is are they going to move toward a constitutional form of money. or are we going to go another step further into international money - instead of having an international gold standard based on the market, are we going to go toward a UN, IMF standard where they are going to control with the use of force another fiat standard. I consider that a very, very dangerous move." And precisely due to that piece of phenomenal insight which nobody else in the GOP or Democratic roster is even parsecs away from grasping, is why Paul can never be allowed to be elected, why he must be mocked and ridiculed by a co-opted ADHD media which focuses on how many mistresses some other idiotic presidential candidates has, instead of focusing on the one person who grasps the big picture: the status quo can not be held accountable to a political leader who understand not only how the system is rigged, but why it is broken to begin with and that there actually is a way out. However, to the "status quo's" chagrin, one that involves the wiping out of generations of plundered middle class wealth to keep the richest denizens of 'extremistan' ever richer.
We won't focus too much on the reasons why Deutsche Bank just cut its forecast for European 2012 GDP from +0.4% to -0.5%: needless to say it is yet another ploy to force the ECB's hand to print, and not even DB is ashamed to admit it: "The good news is that the worse the economic outlook becomes, the more likely it is the ECB will have to take more aggressive steps to deal with a compromised monetary transmission mechanism and the growing downside risks to price stability." So now that that is out of the way (and those who wish to read the whole thing can do so here), we can focus on what is actually relevant: the full event calendar from tomorrow until the end of the year, not only for sovereign bond issuance (there is plenty), but for all major sovereign events.
As usual, the bond market has already an idea on how this will pan out. Looking at various yield curves we get the following picture:
- Greece is “off the chart” (in the “toast” zone)
- Portugal will not make it as debt and interest is not sustainable and the EFSF struggles to raise bailout funds.
- The “soft Euro-zone” could survive by aggressive monetarization of debt by the ECB – once the German hardliners quit. Inflation would probably follow in a few years, but that is another question.
- The “hard Euro-zone” would consist of Germany and the Netherlands. They unilaterally quit the Euro-zone and introduce a pegged currency pair.
- France is really the only unsolved question in this puzzle. Bond yields have peeled away from Germany a bit too far. Historically, France was a “soft” currency country with frequent realignments of exchange rate under the European ERM (Exchange Rate Mechanism). Given the strong political ties France will probably be forced to stay married to Germany, but it will be an unhappy marriage, with an eventual break-up at a later date.
- I have included Hungary just out of curiosity, since their love-hate relationship with the IMF is slightly entertaining.
Perhaps this helps explain the significant underperformance of European and US bank credit today as tonight we get the full downgrade watch treatment for all European bank subordinated debt. Moody's will review 87 banks in 15 countries with the view that average downgrades will be two notches for sub debt. The initial premise for the actions is the removal of government guarantees as they believe systemic support for subordinated debt is more uncertain. The greatest number of ratings to be reviewed are in Spain, Italy, Austria and France. The EURUSD is down around 20 pips on the news and ES 4-5pts.
Japan is starting to heat up a little in terms of risk and we hope that Noda is watching carefully. While the strengthening trend in USDJPY and JGBs has been a long one, the last few days are starting to worry some traders and most notably, Bloomberg points out that not only are FX options the most USD bullish-biased (JPY-bearish) in seven years, swaptions (bearish rate bets) have screamed to their highest in over seven months at 54bps. The growing concern that the European crisis will spread to Japan is extremely evident in these option bets, supporting the sentiment of S&P's recent 'downgrade' chatter, Bass's grave concerns, and the IMF's decidely negative perspective on fiscal sustainability as Japan's 'savior' trade-surplus is expected to drop significantly. Perhaps the sad inevitability of the real endgame of Richard Koo's balance sheet-recessionary view of Keynesianism is closer than many believe.
That the American and global economies are being transformed by the forces of globalization, demographics, and over-indebtedness is self-evident. What is less self-evident is the impact this transformation will have on the future of work, earned income, and financial security. The key question an increasingly vulnerable workforce is asking is: What skills will be in demand once this transition occurs? In order to answer this question, it's necessary to understand the macro trends that will shape the nature of employment in this new era. In our previous look at The Future of Work, we focused on the US economy’s dependence on debt as a driver of growth and found that debt saturation was correlated with declining employment. But there are many other long-term dynamics influencing the economy, and no survey of the future job market would be complete without considering these other factors.
For our French speaking readers, this makes it all too clear: "Selon plusieurs sources contactées par La Tribune, l'agence de notation Standard & Poor's pourrait préparer la France à la perte de son "triple A"."
UPDATE: Post Fitch's US outlook change, TSYs are unch and Gold is +$7 (more likely on our SocGen QE3 post)
30Y Treasuries rallied 14bps from high to low yield today peaking at the US equity day session open and troughing just prior to the late day vertical ramp-fest that managed to turn what was heading to be a mediocre day into a headline-grabbing risk-fest. Unfortunately, stocks were the only asset class enjoying this exuberance as Oil lost over 2.5% from its highs, AUDJPY and FX in general drifted lower all day and copper and silver slid after Europe's close. The huge burst in volume which ripped us back to VWAP in ES and several of the financials (as BAC was heading towards a $4 handle) was very notable and dragged ES back away from a critically risk-off performance day in CONTEXT. Credit notably underperformed equity and did not partake in the screaming reach for risk in stocks at the close with financials actually much more aggressively net sold in corporate bond land and high-yield bonds seeing selling pressure also.
SocGen has released its much anticipated Multi Asset Portfolio Scenario/Strategy guide titled simply enough "Patience: bad news will become good news" where, as the insightful can guess, the French bank makes the simple case that the worse things get, the stronger the response by global central banks will be. Here is the key quote for those worried that : "A major liquidity crisis should not occur this time, as we think we are on the eve of major QE in the UK, US and (a bit) later on in the EZ." We don't disagree and if there is anything that can send BAC higher it will be the announcement of QE3. Of course, BAC will first drop to a $2-3 handle so question is who has the balance sheet to hold on to the falling knife. The next question is "How big will QE3 be"? Well, according to SocGen, the Fed will preannounce it in the January 2012 FOMC statement, the monetization will last from March 2012 until the end of the year, and will buy a total of $600 billion. We believe the actual LSAP total (not to be confused with the "sterilized" QE3 known as Operation Twist) will be well greater, probably in the $1.5 trillion range as the Fed will finally say "enough" to piecemeal solutions. As to what to do, besides going long some financial stock and hoping it is not the one that is allowed to fail, SocGen has some simple advice: "Buy gold ahead of QE3 as money creation has a strong impact on prices" - in other words just as we suggested yesterday courtesy of the Don Coxe correlation chart. Why gold and not BAC? Because, "Gold is highly sensitive to US QE, as every dollar of QE goes into M0, triggering the debasement of the USD. Gold = $ 8500/Oz: to catch up with the increase in the monetary base since 1920 (as it did in the early 80s). Gold = $1900/Oz: to close the gap with the monetary base increase since July 2007(QE1+QE2)." So go long a bank that may well go bankrupt and return nothing before it at best doubles, or go long a real asset, which will always have value and may quadruple in short notice? The answer seems simple to us...
French Fitch strikes back at the US for not pushing the Fed to do more to bail out Europe. Now it is US Moody's and S&P's turn..." The Negative Outlook indicates a slightly greater than 50% chance of a downgrade over a two-year horizon. Fitch will shortly publish its revised economic and fiscal projections for the U.S. and will conduct a further review of its sovereign ratings in 2012. However, in the absence of material adverse shocks, Fitch does not expect to resolve the Negative Outlook until late 2013, taking into account any deficit-reduction strategy that emerges after Congressional and Presidential elections."
Presented with little comment - except to say, financials are down more than twice as hard as any other sector from one minute after the open and healthcare is outperforming. Risk On?