• Tim Knight from...
    09/01/2014 - 12:24
    Although I never thought it was possible, it makes me angry to write this book review. I'm not angry because I don't like the book. On the contrary, this is the best economics book I've ever...

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Spain Is Now Officially Europe's Broke(n) Gramophone

It was only yesterday that we noted that Spain (and its 23% unemployment) had tipped its cards to expose its utter desperation, when its PM basically begged for a Euroepan bailout. As a reminder, his words: "We support a rescue mechanism, the bigger the better, for it to act as a dissuading element for certain things that we've been going through lately," Rajoy told reporters after meeting his Portuguese counterpart, Pedro Passos Coelho." Certain things such as... a collapsing economy and the threat that neighbor Portugal may soon be in freefall bankruptcy? That said, we have no clue how to describe the escalation that just took place as Spain has once again indicated it is not only on the ledge, but one foot now off it. It probably is a gramophone (it's like an iPod only not made by children). Just not sure if Broken or Broke is the right adjective.

  • Rajoy Says Spain Wants Europe Rescue Fund to be Bigger

 



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Gold Extending Gains On Realization Fed's Only Option Is CTRL+P

Update: $1700

Presented with little comment, Gold is now at $1693, about to take out $1700 and the best performing asset class of the year: YTD: Gold +8.2%, S&P +4.9%, 30Y TSY price -1.44%. Furthermore, since this FOMC statement implies more easing imminent, it simply delays full blown LSAP so its "effectiveness", read max Russell 2000, peaks with Obama's reelection campaign.



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FOMC Statement Market Reaction

UPDATE: Stocks leaking back now, Financials lagging, Utes leading

TSYs are 5-10bps lower in yield (aside from 30Y), ES (and credit) rallying but underperforming on a beta basis to TSY/EUR, EUR stronger at 1.3050 now (USD weaker), and precious metals jumping (Gold back up to $1685).



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No QE3; ZIRP Extended Thru 2014 As Jeffrey Lacker Objects - Full December-January Statement Comparison

Little of note in the statement: no QE3 explicitly in the form of LSAP, which an S&P over 1300 and crude at $100 made prohibitive. Instead the Fed is extending ZIRP through 2014, from 2013, which as commentarors, primarily Goldman had expected, and which means sub-3 year rates will never be above zero again. Our prediction for a €100 trillion 1 week MRO is not looking quite as insane anymore. Since this is incremental easing, the reaction in gold says it all.

Summary:

  • FED EXPECTS TO MAINTAIN `HIGHLY ACCOMMODATIVE' MONETARY POLICY
  • FED SEES `EXCEPTIONALLY LOW' RATES THROUGH AT LEAST LATE 2014
  • FED TO KEEP REINVESTING HOUSING DEBT INTO MORTGAGE SECURITIES
  • FED SAYS INFLATION `SUBDUED'
  • FED SAYS HOUSING `REMAINS DEPRESSED'
  • FED REITERATES `SIGNIFICANT DOWNSIDE RISKS'

Lacker objects as he "preferred to omit the description of the time period over which economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate." Complete redline comparison attached.



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Where Are The Emerging Market Risk Bombs?

As European bank deleveraging continues, Middle East tensions rise, and oil prices (Brent and Crude alike) oscillate from headline to headline, we thought it intriguing that the entities with net notional outstandings in CDS markets at or near their largest in history are China (and Chinese banks), LatAm Oil companies, Abu Dhabi, and Israel. Quite a crop of potential risk bombs that at least credit traders appear to demand protection on more than others.



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Just How Much Control Over Central Banks Do The People Have?

Formal central bank independence is increasingly under pressure as societal preferences for a lender of last resort savior grow ever stronger (and more priced into nominal risk markets) as do demands for politicizing the monetary authorities under the pretext that they should more politically independent. Morgan Stanley takes on the question of constitutionality among the G3 Central Banks and rather unsurprisingly finds the mandates, targets, and prohibition treaties to be 'flexible' at best and 'practically meaningless' at worst. We-the-people appear to have little if any remit to constrain - even if our collective call for more printing leads to 'be careful what you wish for' reactions, as Michael Cembalest noted yesterday, "first prize in the Central Bank balance sheet expansion race is not necessarily one you want to win".



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Another $35 Billion In US Debt Added: 5 Year Bonds Price As Bid To Cover Jumps

Today's early (due to the FOMC statement and press conference) $35 billion in 5 year bonds auction was another uneventful issue of debt. Pricing at 0.899%, or well inside of the 0.915% When Issued, today's latest addition to the US $15.3 trillion in debt came at a 3.17 Bid To Cover, the highest since May 2011. The fact that BTCs continue to rise consistently even as yields decline makes lots of sense in some parallel universe, or in this one, when one considers that the bulk of the paper promptly makes its way to the repo market where it is quickly swapped for cash. The reason for the jump in implied demand was primarily the Direct Bid which took down 15.1% of the final allotment, the most since November 2010. The Indirect Bid was in line at 43.4%, compared to the TTM average of 43%, while Dealers saw a modest drop in their take down, coming below the average of 45.8% at 41.5%. This leave just tomorrow's $29 billion in 7 Year bonds in the weekly issuance docket, even without a formal debt ceiling raise. Net of all auctions that have taken place while the debt ceiling has not been increased, total US debt is now well in the $15.3 trillion bucket.



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Live Webcast From Davos: Opening Of The Annual Meeting 2012 With Angela Merkel

The Davos theater, where the only thing that matters is to see and be seen, while wontonly spending someone else's money to hobnob with a status quo elite which is rapidly becoming irrelevant and obsolete, is opening. Watch the Annual Meeting 2012 opening webcast. Most importantly, the guest of honor, Angela Merkel, is here.



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Guest Post: What Have We Learned In the Past 13 Years?

If we learn nothing, then we deserve to lose. This is not a popular concept in America at this point in its history, when monumental errors are denied, excused, rationalized or quickly absolved by those who committed them. As a small-fry investor, when I veer away from my discipline and system, I predictably lose money. As I sift the ashes of the trade, I always remind myself: if I learn nothing from my studies and experience, then I deserve to lose. What exactly has America learned since January 1, 1999, 13 years that included two stupendous financial/credit bubbles, two hot wars and an explosion in public and private debt? If we examine the policy changes and institutional changes since the 2008 global financial meltdown, then we have to conclude that we've learned a very few things...



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Koo Concerned Keynesian Class Contracting

The fear of 'turning-Greek', which is now apparently worse than 'turning-Japanese', is the anchoring bias that seems to be driving more and more countries to dramatically adjust their fiscal affairs. However, Nomura's Richard Koo (whose blood pressure was already elevated last week at the ignorance of many nations to his balance sheet recession diagnosis and treatment protocol) points out in a note this week that Greece's problems stem from fiscal profligacy, a lack of domestic savings, and dishonest reporting by the government (it does kind of ring a bell). His point being that the rest of the eurozone - not to mention Japan, US, and the UK - are suffering balance sheet recessions (unlike Greece), which occur when the collapse of an asset price bubble drives sharp increases in private savings. His problem is that traditional economists are not taught of a situation in which private sector deleveraging (which we discussed last week also) leaves fiscal stimulus as the only way to stabilize an economy and in the currrent environment of deficits being watched and denigrated by any and all politician, market participant, and talking head, Koo's borrow-and-spend 'all deficits are good deficits' medicine is hard to swallow. Koo believes that the post-Lehman world was saved by fiscal stimulus, that Greece is different, and that the anti-Koo austerity actions have 'thrown a large wrench into the works of many world economies' and while the UK is coming around to the notion that austerity is not working, he worries on recent actions in the US and Japan at a time of excess private saving. It seems to us that his argument boils down to - given the system's fragility - an Austrian solution to the broken Keynesian problem is unworkable (without depression), and he hopes that the growing doubts (recessions popping up left, right, and center) about an overriding focus on fiscal consolidation will bring people back to Keynesian (Kooian) fold. He concludes with a worrying reflection on his countrymen in the MoF that seem to have learnt none of his lessons as they look to raise the consumption tax and Japan's rising sun sets.



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Less Than Two Months Ahead Of The Greek D-Day, Rogoff Says "Europe Is Clearly Not Ready For A Greek Default"

It is less than two months until the Greek March 20 D-Day past which there is no more can-kicking? Check. Creditor negotiations which are going "so well" they may collapse at any given moment, have had their deadline extended indefinitely just because, and in which hedge funds now have every option to put the country into bankruptcy? Check. You would think Europe is prepared for this contingency right? Wrong. Per Ken Rogoff (who together with Simon Johnson are two former IMF chief economists who have become some of the biggest bears in the world - what is it about not being shackled to one's salary, that allows one to speak the truth), Europe is "clearly unprepared for a Greek default", less than two months from the day when it very well may finally occur. He adds: "there's going to be an endgame to this and it's not going to be pretty.... If you are just printing money and you are not making fundamental change you either lose money and you will have to recapitalize with the ECB or you will get inflation." And it gets worse: "it's not just Greece. You are going to see other restructurings before this is over." He ends with what we have been saying since mid-2011: "Once you set the precedent then say Portugal are going to say 'hey, look how much you gave Greece. How come we don't get the same?'." Unfortunately, the fact that Portuguese bondholders are far more protected than Greek ones will make an in kind restructuring virtually impossible. Which is something else for Europe to ponder as it prepares for the only key catalyst event between now and March 20 - the February 29 LTRO, which as Credit Suisse already suggested could be up to a ridiculous €10 trillion to firewall not only Greece and Portugal, but all the other PIIGS. Intuitively, this does make a lot of sense.



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Why The LTRO Is Not A "Risk On" Catalyst

Over the past month, much has been said about the recent 3 year LTRO, and its function in stabilizing the European bond market. Certainly it has succeeded in causing an unprecedented steepening in European sovereign 2s10s curves across the periphery (well, except for Greece, and recently, Portugal) as by implication the ECB has made it clear that debt with a sub-3 year maturity is virtually risk free, inasmuch at least as the ECB is a credible central bank (and if it is perceived as no longer being one, there will be far bigger issues), along the lines of what the Fed's promise to keep ZIRP through the end of 2013, and today's likely extension announcement through 2014. Yet does filling a much needed for European stability fixed income "black hole" equate to a catalyst for Risk On? Hardly, because as in a new note today Brockhouse Cooper analysts Pierre Lapointe and Alex Bellefleur explains, the LTRO is "not a catalyst for a risk-on rally as the central bank is substituting itself for funding sources that have “dried up.” Sure enough - all the ECB is doing is preserving existing leverage (especially in light of ongoing bank deleveraging), not providing incremental debt, something which could only be done in the context of unsterilized bond monetization ala QE in the US. So just over a month in, what does the LTRO really mean for Europe (especially as we approach the next 3 Year LTRO issuance on February 29)? Here is Brockhouse's explanation.



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Everything You Wanted To Know About Credit Trading But Were Afraid To Ask

Markets have become far less volatile than last year, but many investors remain focused on the Credit Markets for signs and cues as to the next move.  With so many people looking to moves in credit markets and trying to determine how successful an auction has been, we thought it would make sense to go through some examples of how credit trades.  At one extreme you have a real market like for the E-mini S&P futures.  That trades from Sunday at 6pm EST until Friday at 4:15 EST.  It is virtually continuous and at any given time you can see the bids and offers of the entire market.  Then you have credit trading, which has almost nothing in common with ES futures and their incredible liquidity and transparency.



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Guest Post: President Obama's State of the Union: Ten Skirted Issues

 

In all, the President's speech was reminiscent of George Clooney’s in Ides of March. We’ve heard it all before, maybe with slightly different words: America lost 4 million jobs before I got here, and another 4 million before our policies went into effect, but in the last 12 months, we added 3 million job. We must reduce tax loopholes, and provide tax incentives to businesses that hire in America. We must reform taxes for the wealthy (though he signed an extension of Bush’s tax cuts.) We must train people for an apparent abundance of expert jobs. We need more clean energy initiatives.  We created regulations (big sigh of relief he didn’t use the word ‘sweeping’) to avoid fraudulent financial practices. We will help homeowners. Wall Street must ‘make up a trust deficit.”   Like Jamie Dimon cares. In other words, Obama gave Wall Street a pass, while waxing populace. Don’t get me wrong. I expected nothing different. I will continue to expect nothing different, when he gets a second term, given the lame field of contenders all around.



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