Moody's Announces That France's Debt Metrics Have Deteriorated And Are Now The Weakest Of All Aaa-Rated PeersSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/17/2011 - 17:34
This is not what Europe needed, 6 days ahead of the G20 ultimatum's expiration for Europe to somehow fix itself, and hours after Deutsche Bank said the rating agencies may go ahead and put France on downgrade review. Just out "Moody's notes that the government's financial strength has weakened, as it has for other euro area sovereigns, because the global financial and economic crisis has led to a deterioration in French government debt metrics -- which are now among the weakest of France's Aaa peers." As for the timing... "Over the next three months, Moody's will monitor and assess the stable outlook in terms of the government's progress in implementing these measures, while taking into account any potential adverse economic or financial market developments."
You know the drill: every time the TOTUS says "pass this bill" => shot, and 5 shots for every instance of "win(ning) the future." And if he actually says "the 1%", you have to finish the entire bottle. May the most cirrhotic man, woman or child win.
Fidelity Loses $50 Million In Seconds On Its Brand Spanking New Investment, As Crocs Plunges On Guidance Cut: 2007 Redux?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/17/2011 - 16:51
To anyone who is neither too young to recall, nor just got their first ever Bloomberg terminal a few days ago, CROX holds a special place in the heart since this perpetual momo stock, was without doubt the best coincident indicator of the market top back in 2007: the stock peaked just two weeks after the all time high in the S&P in October of 2007, only to collapse and never recover. Lightning may just have struck twice. Following an announcement that CROX cut guidance from $0.40, which was also the street's consensus, down to $0.31-0.33, the stock was halted for 30 minutes, only to reopen and plunge as much as 38% lower. The biggest loser? Not Paulson (for once), but Fidelity, which as the following chart from CapIq shows, decided to add 6.3 million shares in the Q2 quarter (having held nothing before), making it the second biggest holder. Oh well. There goes $50 million and some analyst's job. The biggest question, whether CROX part two is the same market peak signal that is was back in 2007 remains to be answered.
Putting the cherry on top of an ugly day for bulls comes global tech vanguard IBM, which did not use the DVA wildcard and still saw its earnings beat already reduced expectations of $3.22, printing at $3.28... but... it did miss the consensus top line of $26.34 billion by just under $200 milllion, at $26.16 billion. Since this the first time in probably forever that Big Blue has not beat the top line, the stock is certainly not too happy after hours. That this is happening despite the company's boost to its EPS forecast is quite troubling.
First we have Credit Suisse saying 66 European banks will fail the 3rd stress test, and will need hundreds of billions in fresh capital, something the market ignored entirely last week but may want to reevaluate now that the idiocy appears to have subsided. And now, inexplicably, we have Deutsche Bank warning that France may well be put on downgrade review by year end. "We highlight in this note that the French corporate sector is already financially stretched, with poor profitability and large borrowing requirements. We consider that the deterioration in economic conditions is now creating a distinct risk that France could be put under “negative watch” by the rating agencies before the end of this year. We think that France has the wherewithal to react to such an outcome and could avoid an outright downgrade by taking corrective measures quickly, but this naturally would be a very sensitive political decision a few months before a major election." Why either Credit Suisse or Deutsche Bank would jeopardize their own existence by telling the truth, we have no idea. If either of these two banks believe they can survive a vigilante attack on French spreads, and the subsequent shift of contagion to none other than Germany, we wish them all the best. Yet that is precisely what will likely happen, especially now that the market can no longer pull the trick it did for the past two weeks, and stick its head deep in the sand of complete factual avoidance.
Obama's Attempt To Use #OWS As A Diversionary Smoke Screen Fails: 56% Believe Washington To Blame For Crisis And RecessionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/17/2011 - 15:21
Zero Hedge is the last to cut Wall Street, with its rampant criminality, conflicts of interest, and corruption, any slack - in fact we are often the first to expose it. That said, we have long found it surprising that popular anger is focused on this particular group of individuals, instead of targeting the just as, if not far more, culpable for the current economic collapse enabling focal point known as Washington D.C. As has been discussed previously, it is no surprise that none other than the president has been quick to embrace the Occupy Wall Street movement and its offshoots as his own: after all it cleanly and efficiently deflects attention from his own near-3 year performance as president. Surely Obama is neither the first (nor last) to recognize that the scapegoating of a "minority" group (as the Wall Street "1%" clearly is) and use it as a catalyst for class warfare, is a historically very successful tactic. Well, while thousands of people may express their displeasure with their plight openly before the traditional symbols of Wall Street, it would appear that Obama is failing in his attempt at global diversion from the place where popular anger should truly lie: Congress, Senate, and of course, the White House, without whose (and by 'whose' here we clearly envision Tim Geithner, Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke) blessings Wall Street would not exist in its current form. Yet it does, and many have figured that out. According to a brand new poll by The Hill, "in the minds of likely voters, Washington, not Wall Street, is primarily to blame for the financial crisis and the subsequent recession. The movement appears to have struck a chord with progressive voters, but it does not seem to represent the feelings of the wider public. The Hill poll found that only one in three likely voters blames Wall Street for the country’s financial troubles, whereas more than half — 56 percent — blame Washington. Moreover, when it comes to the political consequences of the protest, voters tend to believe that there are more perils than positives for Obama and the Democrats." Sorry Obama, your attempt to demonize bankers (who richly deserve the public pariah status they have achieved, not least of due to the in vitro world they occupy, where anything less than $1 million is pocket change) has failed, and the people recognize that real social change, one that must and will impact Wall Street, has to begin with the commodity most often purchased by Wall Street: politicians... such as yourself.
For all its criticisms, if there is one thing one can say about Goldman, is that unlike their pathetic TBTF cousins in the US financial industry (JPMorgan, Citi, and shortly Morgan Stanley and Bank of Countrywide Lynch), it can report a loss like a man. Which, in less than 24 hours, it may have to do, for only the second time since its 1999 IPO. As Bloomberg notes, tomorrow the market expects the vampire squid to announce at 8:00am Eastern that it had a loss driven by lower revenues and debt and equity marks. Also, unlike the "others", we are confident Goldman will not hide behind such blatant accounting gimmicks as DVA and loan loss reserve releases (the second because the firm never got into the lending business... on the other hand, the FDIC-insured bank also has yet to open any ATMs, making one wonder just why it continues to have taxpayer backing as a bank holding company, but we digress). Here is what to expect tomorrow from Viniar and Blankfein, courtesy of Bloomberg. Naturally the one thing nobody expects is the announcement of a succession event at the top. Considering the recent step function in popular "appreciation" of financial innovation, we believe a Blankfein phase-out announcement could be in the works. One thing is certain: Ferrari dealerships will not be happy come Christmas as bonuses this year will be poor to quite poor, if any.
Hark - either the end is nigh, or we are about to see one of the biggest market melt-ups in history: the man who conceived, developed, and distributed the Birinyi Ruler to a Comcast financial comedy cable channel near you, and to late night comedy in financial circles everywhere, is no longer a Bull. He is merely a bull, which is the also the first word one may apply to another very appropriate word to describe his predictions from early on in the year. For those who have their ultrasound babel fish on, here it is: "The S&P 500 has been perilously close to a 20 per cent decline in recent weeks which would, by definition, terminate the bull market which began in March 2009. Given the economic circumstances and the continuing political turmoil on both sides of the Atlantic, most commentators believe it is only a matter of time before such a landmark is reached. Having been bullish, I am – as expected – disappointed but not undaunted. I remain bullish if only now with a lower case “b”. Some months ago I conceded that making market forecasts was increasingly difficult as they entailed an understanding of American politics, Chinese monetary and financial policy, Greek and Italian attitudes, German elections in addition to the usual economics, corporate developments and actions and comments by the Federal Reserve Board." Obviously, all these are superfluous 'things' that a man of Birinyi's intellect should not need to be concerned by. After all, what is good is the 'ruler' for if not to predict the future? But before you go ahead and pledge a 4th lien on your 3rd born to go all in stocks, here is the Notorious BIGGS, who bottom ticked the market a few weeks back with laser-like precision : "Barton Biggs Increases Bullish Bets in Traxis Macro Fund to 65%." Needless to say, every time Biggs has done something, the market has done the opposite. So for all those confused what they should do when two of the market's most hilarious permabulls say the opposite things, fear not - i) you are not alone, and ii) just buy a collocated vacuum tube-based algo, and watch as the High Frontrunning Trading algo makes you rich beyond your wildest dreams.
While there may be a time when gold becomes protection against hyperinflation -- indeed, the nature of hyperinflation is ultimately behavioral, triggers quickly, and is hard to forecast, in my opinion -- I think Krugman is quite correct in pegging the outperformance of gold to the dearth of other investment opportunities. The present dearth of other investment options is illustrated by very low interest rates in nominal terms, negative interest rates in real terms, and a highly volatile environment, not only for equities but for most global currencies, thus rendering gold a least-worst investment option. Krugman's view matches my own that gold is a winning investment in a period of economic -- nay, systemic -- decline. Contrary to the misguided view that gold is in a bubble, gold actually becomes, and is continuing to become, the more stable asset in an investment universe that has entered secular contraction. It is the deflating of the credit bubble and the instability this presents on a chronic basis to the financial system that have attracted capital to gold.
While Europe was only kidding that it has a plan of a plan in the past two weeks, stocks and the EURUSD were both soaring higher, even as European core spreads were leaking ever wider fully aware that the equity market headfake was predicated primarily by FX repatriation by troubled US banks. Now that the post smooth talking euphoria has worn off, and it is Coyote Ugly time, stocks are not too happy, while spreads continue to push ever wider. Case in point is the Waffle-Bund spread, which as of a few minutes ago hit an all time wide spread of 235 bps, and rising. And as Peter Tchir pointed out earlier, the moves tighter in CDS is driven entirely on fears that any minute now Europe will ban all naked sovereign CDS. The immediate result of this will be to force hedging and negative sentiment to move to cash and lead to even bigger cash bond blow ups. But Europe's idiot regulators will find this out the hard way, just like the discovered that the best way to blow up your financial system is to ban all short selling in perpetuity.
Just when we thought we had run out of analogies to describe the daily stupidity in Europe, here comes UBS' senior economic advisor George Magnus who reminds us that that quintessential modern morality tale for lost causes, Monty Python, still has at least one application, in its embodiment of all that is wrong with Europe as it searches for the Holy Grail ofa Hollywood ending. To wit: "Monty Python and the Holy Grail provides a nice allegory for the search by our contemporary European knights of the euro-table for the Holy Grail of stabilising and strengthening the Eurosystem. In the movie, of course, the search was terminated abruptly by farce. In the Eurozone, it continues, and is set to reach its own Bridge of Death in the next two weeks." Unfortunately, following a moment of levity, things get serious again: "The plan soon to be announced by Euro-leaders will most likely reflect elements of much of what has been urged in recent months. Expectations are running high, recently encouraged also by reports that major emerging markets are looking to bolster the IMF’s existing lending capacity of $390 billion, specifically so it could provide additional credit lines to the Euro Area. Several major developed markets are not persuaded this is necessary or desirable, though some announcement about new stand-by credit lines is likely. We shall see what transpires soon enough....The immediate caveat is that the plan may disappoint financial markets if it seems weak or unwieldy, or provides for sovereign guarantees that don’t seem credible or likely to be honoured, or doesn’t provide for guarantees from the ECB, which is the only agency that is a credible provider. Markets may also fear adverse unintended consequences, for example, proposals to strengthen bank capital ratios that banks try to meet by accelerating the shrinkage of balance sheets. This would deepen the Eurozone’s growth crisis, and make higher capital ratio goals retreat ever further into the distance." Of course, this would merely once again shift the burden of responsibility from the legislative body, whatever that may be in Europe, to the monetary, and make life for the new Goldman Sachs head of the ECB heaven on earth, as he undoes years of JCT "prudence" and launches in the biggest money printing experiment ever. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.
So Europe is getting closer to announcing some form of ban on naked CDS. What they hope it will accomplish and what it will actually accomplish are two very different things. so what do they hope to get by banning naked shorts? They expect CDS to tighten. That will likely be the initial reaction. They expect a tightening in CDS to lead to improved purchases for bonds. That is unlikely to occur. Let's take a close look at Italy to show why their expectations are likely to be disappointed. First, it is important to remember that CDS on Italy trades in $'s and their bonds are denominated in Euros. That is a key difference. If you buy (or sell) CDS on Italy, the flows are in $'s. So as Italy widens you make money on the CDS. You would also make money being short Italy in the bond market. If the correlation between Italy widening, and Euro weakening is high, the CDS is a better way to be short. This creates a basis that is far more complex than a straightforward CDS where the CDS is denominated in the same currency as the underlying bonds. Unintended Consequences seems to have taken on a new meaning. Unintended consequences means to me, that a lot of thought went into the consequences and the end result surprised. I no longer believe that significant thought goes into the potential consequences. The analysts see what they want and get tunnel vision on the series of consequences they want to see, rather than really trying to figure out what might happen. Europe is not only behind the curve, they act like they are playing checkers with a 4 year old, when the markets are a game of chess, and they should be seriously analyzing the moves and countermoves that can occur before determining their next move. They also have to remember the risk side. So much focus is on the possible benefits of a “Grand Plan” that no resources are being devoted to what happens if that plan fails. Maybe they should strive for less potential upside to the plan in order to sure that this isn’t the last plan they can try.
SocGen Asia Strategist Has Near Fit On Bloomberg TV After Making It Clear That It's All The Blogosphere's FaultSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/17/2011 - 10:58
SocGen's Todd Martin, who is the bank's Asia equity strategist, appeared on Bloomberg earlier today to discuss the Volcker Rule and prop trading, against which the anonymous blogosphere had some very "strong views" back in 2009 before anyone had even considered prop trading. Sure enough, prop trading ended a few months later with the adoption of the Volcker Rule. Somehow, the topic of the Volcker rule shifted to the topic of whether or not Morgan Stanley is exposed to France, and its insolvent banks (ahem), and who is to blame. Take a wild guess on Mr. Martin's opinion in the matter: "For example one blog just a week ago, had a very, very strong view against Morgan Stanley. They quoted Sanford Bernstein who actually was telling people to buy the stock. And then they were quoting Gross Exposures not Net, and then concluding that Morgan Stanley had to go down and be dismembered [sic]. Now I have a serious problem with this.... If I get regulated why isn't this place regulated. It's also very dangerous because they are using psudonames [sic] and we don't know who they are. They could be the guy on the street. They could be a hedge fund dangling out information. It could be the head of a prop desk. Thing is it is supposed to be regulated. And they get their revenues from trading platforms on US soil. And I don't think it's fair. And I think the US should go and take a look and regulate the blogosphere. I think it's really, really out of control." In other words: it is all the blogosphere's fault.