One of the problems with the Hispanic Pandora's box unleashed by a now insolvent Bankia, which as we noted some time ago, is merely the Canary in the Coalmine, is that once the case study "example" of rewarding terminal failure is in the open, everyone else who happens to be insolvent also wants to give it a try. And in the case of Spain it quite literally may be "everyone else." But before we get there, we just get a rude awakening from The Telegraph's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard that just as the bailout party is getting started, Spain is officially out of bailout money: "where is the €23.5 billion for the Bankia rescue going to come from? The state's Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring (FROB) is down to €5.3 billion."... And in an indication of just how surreal the modern financial world has become, none other than Bloomberg has just come out with an article titled "Spain Delays and Prays That Zombies Repay Debt." We can only surmise there was some rhetorical humor in this headline, because as the past weekend demonstrated, the best zombies are capable of, especially those high on Zombie Dust, or its functional equivalent in the modern financial system: monetary methadone, as first penned here in March 2009, is to bite someone else's face off with tragic consequences for all involved. What Bloomberg is certainly not joking about is that the financial zombies in Spain are now everywhere.
It is rather amazing what one finds when a company which previously had allegedly posted a profit of €41 million, somehow becomes insolvent, needs a nationalization to avoid a full out liquidation, and gets bailed out by the state. One of the first things one finds is that the profit pitched to that particular class of gullible idiots, known as shareholders, was an outright lie. And yes, on that one very rare occasion when an auditor refuses to sign off on a bank's financials, in this case Deloitte, run far, and run fast. Instead what one finds is a massive loss. From Reuters: "BFA, the parent group of nationalized Spanish bank Bankia said on Monday it had restated its 2011 results to reflect a 3.3 billion euro loss, rather than a 41 million euro profit, following a bailout from the state. In a statement to the stock exchange regulator, BFA said the restated loss reflected a review of its loan portfolios and capital needs after a new audit and as part of the clean-up plan implemented by the government." Well, duh, something "new" better be reflected, or else the general public may just get the impression that banks are merely pulling numbers out of their glutes, that the entire balance sheet, income and cash flow statements are just a jumble of utter BS, and that keeping one's deposits in a system predicated on lies and fraud may not be the smartest thing. But no: that would imply one is inciting a bank run, and that is frowned upon by the very same government which does everything in its power to facilitate just the data manipulation that magically results in a profitable bank being on the verge of liquidation. But that's not all. According to Spain's Expansion, the total loss could be far worse, more than double the just reported, to a total of €7 billion. Indicatively, the move from a profit to a €7 billion loss, in a US context, is roughly the same as if US bank holding company X were to go from being profitable to posting a nearly $100 billion loss.
Some thought that German chancellor Angela Merkel would quietly take the abuse heaped on her, and her program of "austerity" (or deleveraging as we call it, but that just does not have quite the negative connotations of a word that has become symbolic for all that is wrong with a massively overlevered world) by the new French president and Germany's increasingly more insolvent "partners", without much of a fuss. That changed over the weekend, following a Spiegel article titled "Merkel prepares to strike back against Hollande." Now, as Bloomberg reports, the German retaliation is picking more speed, following a thinly veiled threat from the former German finance minister, who basically said that French bonds are unlikely to continue seeing the flight to safety bid they have been enjoying recently, once the rating agencies cut France even more from its one vaunted AAA rating, where Moody's and Fitch still have the country (following the S&P downgrade to AA+ in January), but likely not for long now that Germany has spoken.
Despite closed US stock markets today, FaceBook stock still managed to decline, while Europe dipped yet once again on all the same fears: Greece, Spain, bank runs, contagion, etc. Shortly Europe will reopen, this time to be followed by the US stock market as well. While in turn will direct market participants' attention to a shortened week full of economic data, which as Goldman says, will likely shape the direction of markets for the near future. US payrolls and global PMI/ISM numbers are expected to show a mixed picture with some additional weakness already fully anticipated outside the US. On the other hand, consensus does expect a moderate improvement in most US numbers in the upcoming week, including labour market data and business surveys. As a reminder, should the Fed wish to ease policy at its regular June meeting, this Friday's NFP print will be the last chance for an aggressive data-driven push for more QE. As such to Zero Hedge it is far more likely that we will see a big disappointment in this week's consensus NFP print of +150,000. Otherwise the Fed and other central banks will have to scramble with an impromptu multi-trillion coordinated intervention a la November 30, 2011 as things in Europe spiral out of control over the next several weeks. Either way, risk volatility is most likely to spike in the coming days.
The person who has caused global stock markets so much consternation by daring to play chicken with Germany until the bitter end conducts a no holds barred interview with Germany's Spiegel. There is little love lost between the Syriza leader and the Germans, who were quite surprised to find a political leader who is willing to play blink with Germany, with the ECB, and the developed world until the very end, or June 17, whichever comes sooner. Tsipras' bottom line: "We're trying to convince our European partners that it's also in their interest to finally lift the austerity diktat." Alas, the European "partners", as evidenced by Lagarde's Guardian interview this weekend, have an image of Greece as a bunch of lazy tax evaders, who only seek to mooch on the German teat, resulting in 60% of Germans now pushing for Greece to be kicked out of the Euro, consequences be damned. Nothing new there. What is curious is Tsipras' answer to the question everyone wants to ask: "If Greece ultimately exits the euro, you will also bear some of the blame. You promised your voters the impossible: retaining the euro while breaking Greece's agreements with the rest of Europe. How can such a plan find success?" His response: " I don't see any contradiction in that. We simply don't want the money of European citizens to vanish into a bottomless pit...we think these resources should also be put to sensible use: for investments that can also generate prosperity. Only then will we in fact be able to pay back our debts." Yet the line that will draw the most ire out of the already exhausted German taxpaying public is the following:
"if our economic foundation is completely destroyed and the decisions of an elected Greek government are not responsible for it but, rather, certain political forces in Europe. Then they too will be guilty, for example Angela Merkel."
Well, in the US, it is all Bush's fault; in Greece, it appears to be Merkel's.
The market may be closed but that does not mean long, well, short-suffering FadeBoon longs get a respite: courtesy of FB's German tracking stock, it appears that the stock traded down another 1.7% during today's trading session. This shift (adjusted for the EURUSD) implies a 2.7% drop from Friday's USD day-session close and extends the after-hours rout that occurred. And in even worse news for FB bulls, rumor has it Europe may open tomorrow again.
The Greek equity index jumped almost 7% today, its biggest rise in 8 months, on the back of absolutely no 'real' change whatsoever (Greek opinion poll results change by the second and the stability fund payments were already known) and indeed a worsening situation across most of the rest of Europe (ex-Germany) - with chatter of growing bank runs and Bankia's epic demise. Of course, one needs to bear in mind the ASE pop is off 22-year lows before sounding that all-clear here as Bund yields collapse to all-time record lows and Spanish yields (and spreads) to Euro-era record wides (and almost all-time record highs). Broad European equities and credit gapped up at the open (as did EURUSD) but the rest of the day was spent drifting inexorably back to lows as the Euro-Stoxx ended down 0.5% (with Spain - at 9 year lows - and Italy underperforming notably also - with banks halted on and off all day). Spain and Italy saw sovereign spreads leaking (16bps and 8bps respectively) as the former broke 450bps over AAA for the first time (and 510bps over Bunds). Corporate and financial credit spreads leaked back wider from the positive start to the day and ended still modestly tighter on the day - though financials notably underperformed non-financials. EUR-USD basis swaps improved modestly but EURUSD round-tripped from a decent open to Thursday/Friday highs over 1.26 and back down towards Friday's close - with the USD -0.2% from Friday's close - as AUD strength helped exaggerate the move mildly. Commodities are following USD's lead and as it strengthens into the European close, they are losing early gains (Copper/Oil up around 0.6%, Gold Unch, Silver down 0.5%). USD and Oil weakness into the European close were the most notable micro-trends.
Back in 2007, BP sold its Coryton refinery, one of the largest in the UK, to Swiss refiner PetroPlus for $1.4 billion. Fast forward 5 years later where we find that shortly after PetroPlus filed for bankruptcy, and was forced to proceed with a firesale of its assets, the European end demand market is so abysmal that a buyer could not be found for even a 30% off firesale. As Reuters reports, following a failure to sell Coryton for the low, low, price of $1 billion, the refinery, in dire need of CapEx investments, will be shutting down, and taking about 10% of UK refining capacity with it. "Insolvent Swiss refiner Petroplus' Coryton refinery in the UK is likely to close after its administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said on Monday that it had failed to find a buyer that could pay $1 billion for the site. Petroplus filed for insolvency in December after it could not meet its debt obligations. "The current economic environment, the challenge of raising $1 billion (£625 million) of funding for the refinery, including the $150 million capital expenditure 'turnaround' project ultimately proved prohibitive in the face of an over supplied European refinery market for both buyers and investors." The Coryton refinery has a capacity to process about 175,000 barrels of crude oil per day and additional 65,000 barrels per day of feedstock. Richard Howitt, the local member of the European Parliament said: "It's a bitter blow for the workforce...I think the process was flawed and that the government should have stepped in." It will be an even more bitter blow to the island nation's motorists who will suddenly find themselves facing with other spiking prices, a shortage of gasoline, or some combination of both.
We all know that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) signed by President Obama on New Year’s Eve contained a now-struck-down provision to authorise the indefinite detention of American citizens on US soil. But did you know that the NDAA also paves the way for war with Iran? From Dennis Kucinich:
Section (6) rejects any United States policy that would rely on efforts to contain a nuclear weapons-capable Iran. Section (7) urges the President to reaffirm the unacceptability of an Iran with nuclear-weapons capability and opposition to any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to Iranian enrichment. This language represents a significant shift in U.S. policy and would guarantee that talks with Iran, currently scheduled for May 23, would fail. Current U.S. policy is that Iran cannot acquire nuclear weapons. Instead, H. Res. 568 draws the “redline” for military action at Iran achieving a nuclear weapons “capability,” a nebulous and undefined term that could include a civilian nuclear program. Indeed, it is likely that a negotiated deal to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and to prevent war would provide for Iranian enrichment for peaceful purposes under the framework of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty with strict safeguards and inspections. This language makes such a negotiated solution impossible. At the same time, the language lowers the threshold for attacking Iran. Countries with nuclear weapons “capability” could include many other countries like Japan or Brazil. It is an unrealistic threshold.
The notion of a “nuclear weapons capability” seems like a dangerously low standard. Let us not forget that Mossad, the CIA and the IAEA agree that Iran does not have a bomb, is not building one, has no plans to build one.
While America may be experiencing the occasional zombie apocalypse breakout, probably due to the absence of easily available edible iPads, Greek retailers are preparing for the retail version. "British electrical retailer Dixons has spent the last few weeks stockpiling security shutters to protect its nearly 100 stores across Greece in case of riot. The planning, says Dixons chief Sebastian James, may look alarmist but it's good to be prepared." Why Dixons? "Europe's No 2 electrical retailer Dixons owns Greece's market leading but loss-making Kotsovolos chain, which has a 25-percent market share selling iPads and laptops as well as washing machines, televisions and air conditioning units." There we go: Bill Dudley's edible iPads. The question is what happens when this easily digestable piece of plastic is thoroughly looted after local rioters dispense with the "shutters" supposedly protecting their wares. What will be on the menu next? Sadly not booze: "Diageo, the world's biggest spirits group and the name behind Johnnie Walker whisky and Smirnoff vodka, has reacted by slashing its marketing spend in Greece, reducing stock levels and pulling cash quickly out of the country after it saw its Greek sales halve in the last three years to less than 100 million pounds." So: no food, no booze, no cheap 99 cent iPad aps: this is the way the world's most miserable monetary experiment ends.
While the Spanish government feverishly attempts to wrap up the country’s euphemistic financial system reform, the ever-expanding black holes, multiple balance-sheets restructuring with infinite amounts of public funds and reiterated calls for the need to further consolidate financial institutions seem to be setting up the stage for a self-fulfilling prophecy of Mayan proportions. Hopefully, this time around, we can learn from the not-so-ancient Mesoamericans’ hard-learnt lessons of the dangers implied in the state breaking the rules of free market capitalism when bailing out institutions and interest groups at the taxpayers’ expense. If we don’t, at least the endgame should not take anyone by surprise.