The reason given by Reuters why the FinMin is in the hospital is due to an adverse reaction to a new medicine. While we wish Schaeuble all the best, his the timing could not possibly have been worse: the whole world is watching with baited breath to see what happens in Europe before 6pm eastern tonight. Anything less than an "ironclad" bailout program will result in a total market wipeout tomorrow.
The story of financial markets in the past twelve months has not been one of organic growth. It has been a central bank accommodated liquidity story. This melt up will end in melt down when unsustainable liquidity policy is insufficient to address deleveraging and default. Macro trade positioning needs functional measures of liquidity. As has been said before, liquidity will always be around until you need it.
Given the explosion of financial product innovation, international capital flows, and leverage some measures of liquidity are not as informative as they once were. New ones are needed. Further, thinking through liquidity phenomena to their essence is really about understanding connections to market-maker and/or seller distress, manifested in the bid-ask. So measures that exhibit a myopic view on credit risk of market players in some ways serve as a function liquidity measures.
Yes, it is really happening. After years and years and years of market manipulation, JPMorgan is about to realize there is only so far you can push your luck against the criminal envelope.In other news, when silver doubles shortly, Andrew Maguire is about to become a patron saint to generations of long-suffering gold and silver "bugs" the world throughout.
Greek blog DosePasa has released several smoking gun documents in which Boston-based Hayman Private Equity (no relation to the Kyle Bass firm, at least none that we can find), discloses it intention to offer a E20 billion loan through a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding to Greece at roughly LIBOR+125bps in February 2010. If the documents are proven legitimate, and with a plethora of executive-level signatures it appears they would be difficult to forge, Athens will likely now demand G-Pap's head on a platter, or at least a coherent explanation why he refused to do this transaction at massively beneficial to Greece terms, which most importantly, did not involve the IMF's austerity measures, which have been the source of so much consternation to date, not to mention a proximal cause for the biggest market drop in history.
While none of the below information will come as news to regular Zero Hedge readers, as we have been discussing the European debt maturity cliff for over 5 months, here is a simplified representation of why anything and everything that the EU, ECB and the IMF can do now is simply delay the inevitable disintegration of the eurozone and the upcoming eventual debt payment moratorium.
Call it Lehman 2.0, sovereign risk flare up, or plain old money run, the liquidity crunch from last week almost killed the US equity market, has generated an unprecedented swing in FX pairs, and is starting to move into key credit indicators and spreads. The "big bail out" from the weekend has come and gone (unless Trichet is preparing to release something at 5:59pm Eastern tomorrow), and if Goldman is correct will have no material impact on markets... Which means that the downward path of least resistance will continue. And with equity markets not only decoupling from the rest of the world, but from the credit market as well, as they migrate to a plane of existence of their own, replete with unicorns, rainbows and spittoons full of hopium, keeping an eye out on early stress indicators from the credit markets is critical - credit is and has always been a far better early warning of market health, or lack thereof, than the HFT controlled, rebate-driven trading action in the shares of C, FNM, FRE, AIG, and other bankrupt pennystocks which account for up to 40% of daily trading volume. Earlier today, we touched upon some of the key early warning indicators to watch for in determining if the European contagion is going airborne. Below, we share a presentation from Morgan Stanley's Jim Caron, Measuring Risk: Extracting Market Sentiment from the Interest Rate Markets, in which the credit strategist provides a much more detailed framework of what critical credit signals are and how to interpret them. We recommend that all those still trading, either with their own, or other people's money, familiarize themselves with this 27-page overview.
...the former Fast Money lead man is actually pretty spot on. And for all you retail investors who think this market is anything but a two-tiered playground built now exclusively for Wall Street to fleece you every single day, our advice is to get the hell out. Everyone else already is... Except of course for the banks and the various 3-3,000 man quant operations, which are the only market participants left. We hope they cannibalize whatever is left of each other and blow themselves all up in the process. Whatever is left will have infinitely more credibility than the busted mockery of capital markets we have now.
We now know that the European Union, as part of its most recent ridiculous idea for a global eurozone bailout, is planning on soon issuing its own bonds and thus becoming a defacto Treasury. How the hell it plans on doing this is simply beyond comprehension, but it certainly involves a lot of "financial innovation"... ergo - enter Goldman Sachs, from whom it would need a ringing endorsement to proceed with its plan. Alas, the just released note from Erik Nielsen is anything but favorable: "All in all this is good news, but it is unlikely in itself to calm markets; its all too “slow-burner” stuff." (and yes title is a ref: Douglas Adams - the EU has the answer, if only they could find the question now).
And now for today's bombshell - lietarlly at the very end of Moody's 10-Q filed last night, we find this stunner:
On March 18, 2010, MIS received a “Wells Notice” from the Staff of the SEC stating that the Staff is considering recommending that the Commission institute administrative and cease-and-desist proceedings against MIS in connection with MIS’s initial June 2007 application on SEC Form NRSRO to register as a nationally recognized statistical rating organization under the Credit Rating Agency Reform Act of 2006.
Well at least it took Moody's under two months to report this massively material development, which while we are not positive on how to read the C&D action on the NRSRO registration, could mark the beginning of the end for the rating agency. If the firm is enjoined from providing additional rating research should the SEC action find fault and proceed with a lawsuit, it would mean game over for the business. Egan-Jones: it's IPO time.
We will be shocked, shocked we tell you, to find that Mr. Buffett has sold out his entire position in MCO when BRK's next 13-F is filed.
Even as the immediate factor for the 1000 point drop in the Dow is investigated for the next several months by the SEC, a process which will likely not come to any reasonable market structure regulatory recommendation before the SEC is forced to analyze the next subsequent (and even greater) crash, the one primary fundamental cause for the sell off in stocks this week was the ever deteriorating situation in Europe. As the euro tumbled on Thursday afternoon, which we noted 20 minutes before the stock market crash began in earnest, as implied correlation algos went berserk, and as viewers were witnessing the near-warfare in Athens live, things just got too real for speculators (investors is so 20th century). Various computerized trading platforms merely kicked on (or rather, off) after the initial panic had already set in, and liquidity evaporated, leading to the implosion in the market. And the primary reason for the initial market pessimism early on Thursday was the fact that even as the whole world was listening to Jean-Claude Trichet to say soothing words after the ECB's rate decision, the central bank president once again did not realize the gravity of the situation. And to speculators, long habituated to Bernanke's endorsement of infinite moral hazard and speculative mania, the fact that someone refused to play "ball" and leave open the possibility that failure is still permitted in our day and age was the last straw. Now, 48 hours later, we learn that the rumors, which we reported about the ECB preparing a bailout fund, were indeed true. Our sense is that at this point the ECB's action is "too little, too late" as contagion fear has already crept deep within the fabric of various overt and shadow funding/liquidity mechanisms. Additionally, the world is now convinced that Europe can only deal with problems retroactively, and who knows how big and unfixable the next problem will be: the ECB, which has lost most of its credibility after "inviting" the IMF to do a heavy part of the bailout, is about to become the laughing stock of global central banks. Trichet is seen merely as a powerless bureaucrat, caught between Merkel's electoral struggles and Bernanke's demands for contagion interception and implicit Fed supremacy over Europe. The contagion from the "isolated" Greek fiasco is rapidly spreading. Here are some of the ways in which markets are about to be affected.
Nothing can curb the endless bullishness and enthusiasm of Joseph Cohen's successor, not even a 1000 point drop in the Dow in 5 minutes, and the realization that markets are nothing than the backdoor opium smoke-filled gambling den of a few mutually front-running algorithms. In the latest Weekly Kickstart, Goldman's David Kostin, tries to fill the Goldman trading axes, and begins with the following: "Fundamentals ignored as US equities gripped by contagion fears; we see 1250 by year-end." Of course, those who have done the opposite of what Kostin has preached (i.e., Goldman Sachs itself) are the only ones outperforming the market: "Our recommended sector weightings have generated -12 bp of alpha YTD. Our overweight recommendations (Energy, Materials, Info Tech) have generated -32 bp of alpha while our underweight positions (Health Care, Consumer Staples, Utilities, Telecom) have generated +20 bp of alpha." We will soon refresh the Goldman "CONviction Buy List" YTD P&L. That one should be fun. In the meantime, enjoy some pretty charts from 200 West.
A few days ago we reported, quite stunned, that the US Treasury had redeemed nearly $600 billion in Bills in the month of April. Alas, the side-effects of an massively short-maturity heavy bond curve will be here to haunts us for a long time: according to today's DTS, in the first 4 business days of May alone, the UST has redeemed $144 billion in Bills. Annualized this number is surely something that even Richard Feynman would not joke about. We have gotten to the point where the roll issue is not a monthly concern, but is becoming a weekly funding threat, and even daily. Of course, as we speculated in December, what better way to raise demand for Treasuries than to stage an equity selloff. Well, we got our selloff, and the 10 Year was trading in the lower 3% range today. However, the risk now is how the sovereign fire will spread through the periphery and into the core. Already, we are seeing that CDS traders are massively betting on a collapse of the UK as the next bastion of sovereign spending lunacy. And when the UK goes, Germany is next, shortly to be followed by Japan and the US. At that point the only buyer of US debt will be the US itself. Which will lead to the final outcome of massive consumer deflation as economic collapse finally strikes home, coupled with asset price hyperinflation, as a gallon of oil hits $10 (and helping the Dow hit 36,000). And as this is not an equilibrium state, the outcome will be, as it always is in these situations, war. Hopefully the US is good as it historically has been at finding its "deserving" opponent, WMDs aside. Otherwise, things may be a little rough for the great declining American civilization after the next 5 years.
Spreads were broadly wider today with breadth very negative as single-names caught up to the index underperformance from yesterday. Despite what appeared a better-than-expected jobs print, derisking was rife once again and European financials led the way. High beta single-names underperformed low-beta dramatically and curves generally flattened at the short-end and steepened at the long-end (though liquidity out from 5Y was less than average).
As an aside, it may be time for IG accounts to take a look at NRUC again. May be getting ready to blow again
Computerized trading platforms and various algos are entering the biggest frenzy over assorted technological gimmicks since the October 1987 crash. And the public demands their blood. Or as the case may be, Lithium Hydride. Alas, the agency that is supposed to protect investors from abuses of HFT and various other newfangled technologies is woefully stupid to be able to deal with this great issue. Nonetheless, Senators Ted Kaufman (D-DE) and Mark Warner (D-VA) on Friday proposed an addition to the Senate’s Wall Street reform bill that would direct the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to report to Congress on several key issues surrounding the May 6, 2010 market meltdown, which sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbling dramatically in minutes. High-frequency-trading algorithms have been the initial focus of questions concerning the collapse. We hope Kaufman is successful. On the other hand, the most likely product of the SEC's work product will be a 1 million page printout of all the jpegs in www.underagetransvestitesforregulators.com, better known in SEC circles as due diligence output. As usual, we hope we are wrong. As usual, we suspect we aren't.
The only trend that seems unlikely to abate at this point is Gold's bullish trend. We seem to be set to take out the highs and further accelerate from here. The only danger to the trend is a wave of defaults which would be massively deflationary in theory, but at this points it is unlikely politicians will let that happen. They will only make everyone wait painfully to come up to the obvious conclusion that they will bend and provide the liquidity needed and thereby cause damage to the system. - Nic Lenoir