No, there will be no double dip. It will be a lot worse. The world economy will soon go into an accelerated and precipitous decline which will make the 2007 to early 2009 downturn seem like a walk in the park. The world financial system has temporarily been on life support by trillions of printed dollars that governments call money. But the effect of this massive money printing is ephemeral since it is not possible to save a world economy built on worthless paper by creating more of the same. Nevertheless, governments will continue to print since this is the only remedy they know. Therefore, we are soon likely to enter a phase of money printing of a magnitude that the world has never experienced. But his will not save the Western World which is likely to go in to a decline lasting at least 20 years but most probably a lot longer. - Egon von Greyerz, Matterhorn Asset Management
The attempt to gun stocks despite a battery of bad news is so far succeeding, as risk is now diverging completely from yields and no correlations hold any longer. Those tempted to test whether any human correlation traders remain may play the convergence trade, but with this unprecedented amount of central planning in the market now, it would appear unduly risky. Yet one place where there is most certainly risk, is for job prospects of all those on the steepener bandwagon: the 2s10s has just hit 208 bps, as the steepener trade and the thousands of lemmings behind it are getting slaughtered. We eagerly anticipate the latest life support note from Jim Caron.
Today's Treasury International Capital data had some unpleasant disclosures about the flow and size of international capital flows. The gross headline number of inflows was as expected higher, coming in at $44.4 billion, consisting of $33.9 billion in net foreign purchases of long-term securities ($16.6 billion purchases by private investors and 17.3 billion by official institutions), as well as $10.4 billion in sales of foreign securities by US individuals. This brought total foreign holdings of US securities to just over $4 trillion for the first time ever, or $4,009 billion. So far so good, however looking at the composition of purchases, it appears that foreigners were frontrunning the Fed already in June - they bought $33.3 billion in LT Treasuries, and $18.2 billion in agencies, precisely the categories that the Fed would be monetizing, even as they sold $13.5 billion in corporate bonds (the highest amount since January 2010), and $4.1 billion in corporate stocks, the most since July 2008. What are foreigners seeing that all the mutual funds are also seeing (with 14 straight outflows from domestic equity funds), yet the HFT, Primary Dealer group is so stubbornly ignoring? Most importantly: Chinese Treasury holdings dropped to a 1 year+ low of $843.7 billion, following reductions in both long-term and short-term treasurys. China now has almost $100 billion less in USTs compared to the peak of $940 billion in July 2009. One wonders what China is buying with the sale/maturity proceeds.
Deflation talk has the markets spooked during these last couple weeks. Since Bullard's comments (preparing the ground for QE2) and Bernanke's promises to combat deflation through treasury purchases, even the CNBC talking heads are discussing it. Editor's Contrarian note: Probably time to consider unwinding your bond longs if T.V.'s equivalent of your shoe shine boy is telling you deflation is coming. In deflation, Gold should be the tallest pygmy. Even If it drops 40% in a deflationary depression, it will still stand tall among the financial wreckage that is defaulted debt and worthless equity. But, if the Fed succeeds in combating this event (preemptively or after the fact), Hyperinflation becomes a high risk and we know what that portends for fiat currency.
The Empire State Mfg index rose modestly from 5.08 to 7.1, yet still missed expectations of 8.0. In a nutshell, price indexes fall, the employment indexes climb, and most critically, as this is a survey after all, the degree of optimism continues to weaken.
- China Overtakes Japan as World's Second-Biggest Economy (Bloomberg)
- US banks get securities buy-back window - $118bn of high-cost ‘Trups’ can be redeemed over 90 days (FT)
- Yield Curve as Harbinger (WSJ)
- It Takes a Tea Party to Start a Tax Revolution (Bloomberg)
- Evans-Pritchard: Ireland can withstand the euro's ordeal by fire, but can Southern Europe? (Telegraph)
- Workers Let Go by China’s Banks Putting Up Fight (NYT)
- Goldman Undercuts Rivals in GM IPO as It Loses Top Role (Bloomberg)
- Is This Normal? The uncertainty of our economic uncertainty (NYMag)
- Mark Zandi oped: The Tax Cut We Can Afford (NYT)
- China favors Euro over Dollar as Bernanke alters path.
- China's stocks rally on economic outlook, led by shippers, energy shares.
- Crude oil trades near a one-month low after Japan's economic growth slows.
- HK govt tightened mortgage lending rules, to increase supply of land to help cool prices.
- Japan economy surpassed by China as GDP is less than estimated.
- Japanese economy slows unexpectedly; annualised growth for quarter only 0.4%.
- Wheat futures advance, erasing losses, as Russia lowers harvest estimate by 38%.
It's starting again. Japan 10 year JGBs just dropped to fresh 7 year lows of 0.95%, as UST 10 years are down at 16 month lows of 2.65% and German 30 Year yields are down to record lows of 3.09%. Maybe the Fed should just let deflation run its course to get ever closer to the target UST curve which we noted before. And while Japan is ravaged by a fresh bout of deflation, Europe is starting to crumble once again now that (lack of) vacations are generally over: the Greek/Bund spread has just hit the widest level since May 10, at 811 bps, while the Irish/German spread is at its widest ever of 303 bps, a move of 10 bps on the day. European weakness is resuming now that CPI came in at expectations (as opposed to beating them as has been the tradition for the past month) at 1.7%. The export-driven golden age, as we noted, is over. Elsewhere, the Telegraph posted rumors that the BoE is preparing to join the Fed and is about to commence a fresh round of QE as a new wave of global monetary easing is about to hit.
RANsquawk European Morning Briefing - Stocks, Bonds, FX etc. – 16/08/10
Willem Buiter's Game Theoretical Explanation Of The Interaction Between Central Banks And TreasuriesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/16/2010 - 00:12
Despite missing this most recent paper by Buiter at its first publication three weeks ago, it represents the bedtime reading for this evening as it is just as relevant now as it was then. In it, the Citi strategist asks "who will control the deep pockets of the central bank?" and does so from the perspective of a game of "chicken" in a prisoner dilemma context. Buiter summarizes the problem as follows: "As long as neither the monetary authority nor the fiscal authority gives in, the deficit is financed by public debt issuance. With the public-debt to GDP ratio rising without bound, an eventual catastrophe occurs: the sovereign defaults and banks holding large amounts of sovereign debt may collapse, triggering a financial crisis and a deep slump. Following default, the fiscal authority loses access to the government debt markets, at least for a while. The resulting need to instantaneously balance the government’s primary budget means sharp public spending cuts and tax increases. This would be the "collision" outcome. The outcome where the monetary authority gives in and monetises public debt and deficits is called Fiscal Dominance. Monetary dominance is the outcome where the fiscal authority gives in and cuts public spending and/or raises taxes to stabilise or reduce the public debt to GDP ratio to prevent a sovereign default." Buiter does a dramatic deconstruction of this theoretical principal to the practicality of Europe, in a truly fascinating and must read analysis. His conclusion is that the "analysis emphasises that the Eurosystem can absorb much larger losses without risking its solvency or undermining the effective pursuit of its price stability target. We don’t, however, argue that the resources of the Eurosystem should be used in this quasi-fiscal manner. Openness, transparency and accountability suffer when the central bank is used/abused for quasi-fiscal purposes, and the legitimacy of the institution can be undermined." Alas, this only means that fiscal stimulus fundamentalists like Krugman will now start pushing for monetary replacements to traditional policy. And with that QE2 (and its myriad of imminent associated alphabet soup programs) is even more of a certainty.
Our religulous readers at theStreet.com decided to take a stab at Zero Hedge over the weekend due to our discovery, first among all media, that the Hindenburg Omen had struck this past Thursday. We take this opportunity to teach theStreet a few of the key rules of blogging etiquette.
In 1919 the major London gold dealers decided to get together in the offices of N.M. Rothschild to “fix” the price of gold each day. While this was notionally to find the clearing price at which all buying interest and all selling interest balanced the possibility for market manipulation and self-dealing is inherently systemic in such a cozy arrangement. This quaint anti-competitive procedure continues to this day. In no other market in the world do the major players get together each day and decide on a price. Imagine if Intel, AMD and Samsung were to meet each day to “fix” the price of microchips, or if the major oil companies were to meet each day to “fix” the price of crude oil; wouldn’t there be a public outcry and a flurry of antitrust violation lawsuits? The “fix’ is not open to the public, there are no published transcripts of each fixing, and there is no way to know what the representatives of the bullion banks discuss between each other. The current London Gold Fix is conducted by the representatives of five bullion banks, namely HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Scotia Mocatta, Societe Generale, and Barclays. The “fix” is no longer conducted in an actual meeting but by conference call.
Visualizing The Past Of The Treasury Yield Curve, And Deconstructing The Great Confusion Surrounding Its FutureSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/15/2010 - 15:19
The chart below shows the UST yield curve over the past 20 years: as is more than obvious, every single point left of the 10 Year is at record tights. The only question on everyone's lips is where do we go from here. And that is where the confusion really hits. The confusion is further intensified by the sudden collapse in the 2s10s and the 2s10s30s butterfly. The odd thing here is that a flattening move as violent as recently seen in these two curves, has historically preceded a rise in the Federal Funds rate as can be seen in the chart to the right, before the Fed began tightening in 1999 and in 2004. In other words a flattening has traditionally been a leading indicator to an economic improvement (as liquidity extraction tends to go side by side with a pick up in inflation and thus economic growth). Alas, this time around, a tight monetary policy is the last thing on the Fed's mind, and the economy is only starting to demonstrate it is rolling over into a second and more violent recessionary round. In essence, the Fed's interventionist intention of purchasing the entire curve (including the long-end), as recently announced by the FRBNY, has completely dislocated all leading signaling by the curve itself. As a result, speculation is now rampant as to what may or may not happen. A case in point are the divergent opinions of Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. While the former Merrill Lynch is advocating an outright 10s30s flattener, Morgan Stanley is sticking to its guns and continues to push for a steeper curve: this in spite of the collapse in the 2s10s from a records steepeness of almost 290 bps in May, to under 220 bps as of Friday's close: the over 25% collapse is enough to blow up most of the funds who had positioned themselves for further steepness. At least Morgan Stanley is consistent. Yet both banks urge clients to hedge their trades and provide creative ways to do so, as both realize the likelihood of being wrong, now that the Fed is openly the biggest market participant, is probably higher than the inverse.
A few days ago, IRA's Chris Whalen had a good summary of why and how the next bubble is currently brewing in the Structured Notes space. For those unfamiliar with this particular product, we present a recent Bloomberg brief on the Structured Note market which has quietly grown from a side freakshow into the prime time spectacle. In brief - there has been $25.85 billion in YTD structured note issuance, and over $60 billion in global interest-linked note volumes. An amusing excerpt from the brief: "Sales of notes linked to wheat jumped this month after Russia’s worst drought in 50 years spurred a surge in the price of futures contracts on the grain. Banks including DZ Bank AG and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, issued 82 wheat-linked warrants this month, compared with a total of 159 in the first seven months of the year, according to data compiled by Scoach, the structured products trading platform run by Deutsche Boerse AG and Switzerland’s SWX Group. The listed notes, called knock-out warrants, offer investors a leveraged way to bet on the price of wheat." For all those who thought Wall Street was dormant in the post-CDO implosion vacuum, this is a rough wake up call - it appears no matter what, idiots and their money are promptly parted, and the world's foremost financial innovators will always find a way (and a product) to guarantee that. And it is very refreshing to see that Germany's DZ Bank has almost learned from the CDO bubble: the questionably solvent German bank dominates the Structured Note market with $7.2 billion in issuance to date, followed closely by such stalwarts of financial stability as Barclays and Deutsche Bank.