Rosenberg, Ryding, Zandi, Arbess, Zuckermann And Rickards All Chime In On The Future Of The EurozoneSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/27/2011 - 16:49
When six out of five economists (thanks to the magic of Keynesianism... and self promotion from general counsel to general expert) all agree on the same topic, and the very definition of groupthink is that the Eurozone will survive, the glaringly obvious call is precisely the opposite. If there was ever an argument to say that 2012 is the year the Eurozone finally dies, the below video is it.
Nine weeks after its bankruptcy, the general public still hasn’t quite realized the implications of the MF Global scandal. Our own sense is, this is the first tremor of the earthquake that’s coming to the global financial system. And how the central banks and financial regulators treated the “Systemically Important Financial Institutions” that had exposure to MF Global—to the detriment of the ordinary, blameless customer who got royally ripped off in its bankruptcy—is both the template of how the next financial crisis will be handled, and an accelerator that will make the next crisis happen that much sooner. We critics of the current, corrupt state of affairs also sometimes confuse the SIFI’s with the system itself, whenever we say, “The whole system is corrupt!” But the system is not corrupt—it’s the regulators and SIFI’s who are corrupt. If nothing else, the handling of the MF Global bankruptcy has proven that, once and for all. That’s why we’re pulling out our money now—while we still can. Because once the general public catches on to what we already know . . . oh boy.
While it might be a little premature, we thought an early reflection on the day's moves in commodities worthwhile. As COMEX copper closes -1.7%, its biggest one-day drop since 12/14, Gold and Silver are suffering similarly weak performances - even as the USD weakens. Oil, on the other hand, has staged its largest 5-day rally since 10/27. It seems the reasoning behind all of these moves is beyond mere mortal investors as newsflow is irksomely flip-floppish. We have seen bigger moves and more volume obviously but on a day with little real newsflow and macro data that is mixed at best, these moves are notable.
Following the fireworks from this weekend in which Anonymous hacked and exposed thousands of Stratfor clients and millions of confidential emails, it may be time to pay some more attention to the hacker collective, and specifically a document that was released a few weeks ago titled "Survival Guide for Citizens in a Revolution." As Anonymous itself says, "This is a snapshot of what Anonymous thinks will be useful for your survival in case of a violent revolution in your country. As most of Anonymous works, it will be constantly changed, reused, improved etc. So watch for newer releases." Because all it takes for complete chaos to erupt in addition to the unwind in the financial system, is for one or two major hacks at system critical institutions to precipitate all out social panic. And who knows - while the financial system will self destruct on is own, perhaps Anonymous itself will do this or that vis-a-vis the latter.
The past several years have seen a growing backlash against "paper" investments as more and more investors consider hard assets to be a safe haven against the implications of central bank money printing. But as the global economy visibly slows, this question arises in many minds: Are commodities, which have been on a tear since the March 2009 bottom, finally topping out? The question requires both a fundamental economic response as well as a technical chart analysis. We can start by observing the common-sense connection between demand for commodities such as copper, cement, steel,etc. and economic expansion. When demand rises faster than supply, prices rise. Since supplies of commodities face all sorts of restraints in terms of extraction rates, energy costs, and declining reserves, increased demand quickly pushes prices higher.
Last week, we presented an equity "valuation" analysis based on Austrian economics, which concluded that the only thing that matters for the economy and for asset prices in general, is the amount of credit money moving one way or another at the margin, ie how active global central banker printers are. Unfortunately, in this economy of record correlations, and in which alpha creation is now impossible, this may well be the only approach to capital markets that works any more. Today, Tradition Analytics takes this analysis from the micro the macro level, explaining why the US, and global, economy is now like a shark - cash has to move (inward) or else the economy will suffocate. Naturally, nothing could make Bernanke happy- according to Tradition, "To sustain the up-cycle banks will have to pump out net new credit probably in the order of about $1 trillion in the coming 8-10 months, even larger than the $700 billion pumped out in the previous 8-10 months." Alas there is a problem with this, very much along the lines of what we discussed last week, which is that the new crude baseline is now a triple digit number, not one in the $30s or even $60s: "it is going to be difficult to sustain this level of credit expansion, not only due to the sheer gravity of the inflation problem that would follow, but also simply due to the fact that it is always increasingly difficult to extend more credit at the margin, and this time into an economy that is already steeped in credit."
UPDATE: And then Dallas Fed manufacturing misses (at -3.0 vs +4.8 expectations) as expectations for future finished goods plunge as do current inventories.
As if we needed yet further evidence of the dichotomous macro data that seems to provide as much bearish fodder as bullish decoupling confidence, today sees a near-record two-month jump in conference board confidence at the same time as S&P/Case-Shiller prints at a seasonally-adjusted 103 month low. With the Richmond Fed also missing expectations (though positive), we remain in the miasma of CONfidence uninspiring macro data as the underlying sub-indices of the conference board data show little to no shift in purchasing decisions despite some seemingly incredulous ramp in confidence that incomes will rise more than they decline in the next six months.
America Maxes Out Its Credit Card Again - Treasury To Raise Debt Limit By Another $1.2 Trillion On December 30Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/27/2011 - 11:22
You didn't think US consumer confidence could be bought for free now did you?
- U.S. TREASURY SAYS DEBT LIMIT TO BE RAISED BY $1.2 TRILLION
- U.S. DEBT TO BE $100 BLN WITHIN LIMIT ON DEC. 30, TREASURY SAYS
- STEPS FOR INCREASING DEBT LIMIT UNDER 2011 BUDGET CONTROL ACT
And the piece de resistance that 100% debt to GDP brings:
- OBAMA ON DEC. 30 LIKELY TO ASK CONGRESS TO RAISE DEBT LIMIT
Just as we thought the circus was over if only for a few weeks. Also, this means that in a few days, the US debt ceiling will be raised from $15.194 trillion to $16.394 trillion. As a reminder, US GDP was just revised down to $15.176 trillion.
Readers often ask me to post something hopeful, and I understand why: doom-and-gloom gets tiresome. Human beings need hope just as they need oxygen, and the destruction of the Status Quo via over-reach and internal contradictions doesn't leave much to be happy about. The most hopeful thing in my mind is that the Status Quo is devolving from its internal contradictions and excesses. It is a perverse, intensely destructive system with horrific incentives for predation, exploitation, fraud and complicity and few disincentives. A more human world lies just beyond the edge of the Status Quo. I know many smart, well-informed people expect the worst once the Status Quo (the Savior State and its corporatocracy partners) devolves, and there is abundant evidence of the ugliness of human nature under duress. But we should temper this Id ugliness with the stronger impulses of community and compassion. If greed and rapaciousness were the dominant forces within human nature, then the species would have either died out at its own hand or been limited to small savage populations kept in check by the predation of neighboring groups, none of which could expand much because inner conflict would limit their ability to grow. The remarkable success of humanity as a species is not simply the result of a big brain, opposable thumbs, year-round sex, innovation or even language; it is also the result of social and cultural associations that act as a "network" for storing knowledge and good will--what we call technical and social capital.
Despite it being a holiday shortened week, and volume already abysmal, there still are some robotic kneejerk reaction inducing economic datapoints, both today and Thursday. Here is what the consensus expects today, even as US economic data is once again irrelevant as Italy has taken front and center following the Zero Hedge report that ECB deposit facilities hit an all time record, leading to Italian BTPs widening to over 7% yet again, an a margin hike by LCH imminent.
Thanksgiving Day Massacre: Sears Slaughtered On Collapsing Margins, To Shutter Hundreds Of Stores, Provides Revolver UpdateSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/27/2011 - 07:24
That retailer Sears, aka K-Mart, just preannounced what can only be described as catastrophic Q4 results should not be a surprise to anyone: after all we have been warning ever since the "record" thanksgiving holiday that when you literally dump merchandize at stunning losses, losses will, stunningly, follow. Sure enough enter Sears. What we, however, are ourselves stunned by is that as part of its preannouncement, Sears has decided it would be prudent to provide an update on its credit facility status... and availability. As a reminder to anyone and everyone - there is no more sure way of committing corporate suicide than openly inviting the bear raid which always appears whenever the words "revolving credit facility" and "availability" appear in the same press release. Just recall MF Global. And here, as there, we expect shorting to death to commence in 5...4...3...
Anonymous' Barrett Brown speaks: "Stratfor was not breached in order to obtain customer credit card numbers, which the hackers in question could not have expected to be as easily obtainable as they were. Rather, the operation was pursued in order to obtain the 2.7 million e-mails that exist on the firm's servers. This wealth of data includes correspondence with untold thousands of contacts who have spoken to Stratfor's employees off the record over more than a decade. Many of those contacts work for major corporations within the intelligence and military contracting sectors, government agencies, and other institutions for which Anonymous and associated parties have developed an interest since February of 2011, when another hack against the intelligence contractor/security firm HBGary revealed, among many other things, a widespread conspiracy by the Justice Department, Bank of America, and other parties to attack and discredit Wikileaks and other activist groups. Since that time, many of us in the movement have dedicated our lives to investigating this state-corporate alliance against the free information movement. For this and other reasons, operations have been conducted against Booz Allen Hamilton, Unveillance, NATO, and other relevant institutions."
LTRO "Bazooka" Is Epic Disaster As Banks Scramble To Redeposit "Free Carry" Cash With ECB, Lose Money On "Inverse Carry"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/27/2011 - 05:54
When on Friday we penned "And This Is Where The LTRO Money Went" we said that the final nail in the "Carry Trade" theory was that instead of using the LTRO "Bazooka" cash to collect meaningless pennies in front of a steamroller, Europe's banks turned around and deposited it right back with the ECB after the bank's deposit facility soared to a 2011 record €347 billion, €82 billion more than the day before. Today, any residual doubt of where the LTRO cash proceeds went is eliminated, as the ECB has just confirmed that what goes out of one pocket comes back in the other, as the ECB's deposit facility has just exploded to not a 2011 record, but an all time record high €412 billion, a €65 billion increase overnight, and €167 billion higher in the past two days alone, which effectively accounts for practically all of the LTRO's free €210 billion... But the biggest slap in the face of Sarkozy is that instead of banks pocketing the "guaranteed" 2-3% in carry trade between the 1% LTRO rate and the soveriegn bond yield, banks are losing 75 basis point on this inverse carry trade, where they take LTRO cash and deposit it with the ECB where it yields... 0.25%!
It appears the PBoC is stepping up the monitoring and management of their gold reserves. Headlines, via Bloomberg, suggest controls tightening on the trading of gold away from official channels:
- *CHINA TO INCREASE MANAGEMENT OF GOLD TRADING, PBOC SAYS
- *CHINA GOLD TRADING RESTRICTED TO SHANGHAI EXCHANGES, PBOC SAYS
- *CHINA ORDERS UNAUTHORIZED GOLD TRADING PLATFORMS TO STOP: PBOC
- *PBOC ASKS SHANGHAI GOLD, FUTURES EXCHANGES TO BOOST MANAGEMENT
Despite more ramblings from Juncker this morning, the overnight session in Asia saw comments on downside risks from the BoJ drive risk assets modestly lower. Led by Japan, Asia-Pac equities were down around 0.3%. While EURUSD is higher by 25pips or so from Christmas Eve's close (and implicitly USD weaker), commodities are broadly underperforming with Copper worst (-1.3%), Gold (under $1600) and Silver in line -0.8%, and Oil just underwater from 12/23 close. European credit markets just started trading and are a smidge tighter - though liquidity is questionable for now - but sovereigns are leaking wider in spread with Italian 10Y worst for now +13bps (and BTP yields now breaking 7% again). US TSYs are 1-2bps lower in yield from the afternoon surge on Christmas Eve's discorrelated action. Given the markets that are open so far, CONTEXT (a broad risk market proxy for where ES - the e-mini S&P futures contract - should trade) is practically unchanged, which given the late-day surge on 12/23, leaves us looking for modest weakness when it re-opens later today.