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First Greek Bailout Snag - Local Bankers Refuse To "Voluntarily" Participate In Critical Bond Buyback

Those who have been following the recent developments over the Greek distressed debt buyback, which in any normal universe would have been considered an event of default but certainly not in "special cases" such as Greece where the country's official default would start the Lehman-like domino collapse as apparently getting a 70 cent haircut in 8 months is a "voluntary" event, have been quite confused by the internal dynamics. On one hand the sole beneficiary of the transaction are those hedge funds who bought the GGB2 bonds when they tanked to lows just barely in the double digits as a % of par; on the other, there is absolutely no benefit to the Greek people as a result of this sub-par prepayment, as the only fund flow benefits hit the bondholders (and it is up to Greece to figure out how to grow its GDP by over 4% per year over the next 8 years). Then let's not forget that nobody has any clue yet where the funding for said buyback will come from. And finally, as Kathimerini just reported, we learn that one group that has just vocally declared against the buy back are the very people who are supposed to be benefiting from the Greek bailout: i.e., the country's bankers.



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Goldman Wins Again As European Union Court Rules To Keep ECB Involvement In Greek Debt Fudging A Secret

Three years ago, a hard fought landmark FOIA lawsuit was won by the great Bloomberg reports, the late Mark Pittman, in which the Fed was forced to disclose a plethora of previously secret bailout information, which in turn spurred the movement to "audit the Fed" and include a variety of largely watered down provisions in the Frank-Dodd bill. This victory came despite extensive objections by the Fed and the threat that the case may even escalate to the highly politicized Supreme Court, which lately has demonstrated conclusively that not only is justice not blind, but goes to the highest ideological bidder. Moments ago, Europe just learned that when it comes to secrecy of its supreme monetary leaders, in this case all originating from Goldman Sachs and defending data highly sensitive to the same Goldman Sachs, the European central bank's secrecy is not only matched by that of the Fed, but even more engrained in the "judicial" system of the Eurozone, after the European Union General Court in Luxembourg just announced that the European Central Bank will be allowed to refuse access to secret files showing how Greece used derivatives to hide its debt. Why? Simple: recall that it was Goldman Sachs who was the primary "advisor" on a decade worth of FX swaps-related deals which allowed Greece to outright lie about both its fiscal deficit and its total debt levels, and that it was a Goldman alum who became head of the same Greek debt office just before the country imploded. And certainly the ECB was involved and knew very all about the Greek behind the scenes shennanigans. And who happens to be head of the ECB? Why yet another former Goldman worker, of course. Mario Draghi.



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Overnight Futures 'Fat-Finger' $750mm Notional In One Minute

UPDATE: 0143ET - entire ramp has been retraced

First we saw some shenanigans in Gold and Silver this morning, followed by some very jerky moves in S&P 500 futures off the lows. Tonight while everything was gliding along quietly, someone in their infinite wisdom decided that 0005ET was the perfect time buy around 11,000 S&P 500 e-mini contracts (or around $750mm notional exposure); instantly devouring the entire stack of orders. This move was not in any way followed by any other asset class (EURJPY twitched a little at it) and as far as we can see there was/is absolutely no news to accompany the flash-smash. That is all...



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Hump-Day Humor: 4 Fun Facts On 2012/2013 Earnings

It's that time of year when 2013 outlooks and strategy pieces bog down an otherwise already overloaded inbox. Some are wise; some not so much. We thought the following four wise fun facts noted from Morgan Stanley's Adam Parker would brighten-up an otherwise dull Wednesday evening. Full details below but: just 10 S&P 500 stocks accounted for 88% of 2012 EPS growth; those same 10 will account for only 34% of the growth next year; 5 stocks are projected to account for one-quarter of the entire S&P 500's EPS growth in 2013; and of the 20 firms expected to grow earnings faster in 2013 than in 2012, 8 of them will be swinging from major slumps to miraculous gains. It seems that once the fiscal cliff is behind us then the whole world is fixed, equities can initiate ramp-mode, and analysts' expectations have a chance of coming true. Parker, however, like us remains more stoic of reality with his 1434 end-2013 S&P 500 target (with downside 1135 possible).



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How Do the Chinese View the Gold Market?

Have you ever wondered what the typical Chinese gold investor thinks about our Western ideas of gold? We read month after month about demand hitting record after record in their country – how do they view our buying habits? Since 2007, China's demand for gold has risen 27% per year. Its share of global demand doubled in the same time frame, from 10% to 21%. And this occurred while prices were rising. Americans are buying precious metals, no doubt. But let's put the differences into perspective.



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The Top Ten 'Fiscal Cliff' To-Do List

The schizophrenia in US equity markets (and by correlation all risk markets) is nowhere better highlighted than the last 24 hours of 2% swings in the S&P 500 on nothing more than boiler-plate comments from DC. However, as BofAML's Ethan Harris notes, "the year-end fiscal challenges in the US are more like an 'obstacle course' than a 'cliff' - politicians must navigate about 10 major policy decisions before year-end." We continue to expect a messy multistage deal on the cliff - with some wishy-washy  partial deal late December and more complete resolution (as it will be called) late Spring. We agree with BoFAML's view that until then, we suggest that investors fade the likely “press fakes” of an imminent deal, and brace for downside volatility. It seems to us that the negotiations remains stuck at square one.



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Guest Post: BRICS: The World's New Bankers?

The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) bloc has begun planning its own development bank and a new bailout fund which would be created by pooling together an estimated $240 billion in foreign exchange reserves, according to diplomatic sources. To get a sense of how significant the proposed fund would be, the fund would be larger than the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about 150 countries, according to Russia and India Report. Many believe the BRICS countries are interested in creating these institutions because they are increasingly dissatisfied by Western dominated institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).



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Goldman's Stolper Sets 'New' Four-Year FX Plan

This morning, Goldman announced their 10 Themes for the year. The succinct summation of them (which we will discuss later in more depth) is that: there'll be some volatility on the way but in the end it will all be unicorns and faeries (our translation). In line with these global forecasts, everyone's favorite contrarian FX strategist updated his short- and long-term FX projections. So presented with little comment are Tom Stolper's guide to stop-hunting and fading the crowd. High conviction ideas such as AUD weakness, JPY stability, and a 1.40 EURUSD stood out to us.



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Guest Post: Science And Sortilege In Today's Political Economics

Politics and economics, or the better term, political economics, for the most part rules our lives: the political activity of the nation as a collective of economic groups and super- wealthy individuals, whatever the defining orthodoxy turns out to be. As the United States enters the final days in the much-hoped resolution of its “fiscal cliff,” there are a number of prominent individuals from both present and past – politicians, economists and business leaders – who regale us with their two-cent worth of admonition and advice.  For the most part, that’s what the value is really worth. Meantime, here is the American citizenry reverting to their pre-recession days, with the highest confidence level in four and a half years, starting to spend beyond their capacity to produce thanks to that misplaced confidence, the resurgence of home equity loans, and the promise of governing politicians that things are on the mend... when they really are not, and the job market continues to decay for jobs with a living wage.



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Europe's Good, Bad, And Ugly Charts

A glimpse at stock prices, sovereign bond prices, and credit spreads and you could be forgiven for believing that (a la Juncker) Europe has turned the corner. The dismal reality is that one by one, market-based signals have been decoupled from reality by repression or plain old jawboning and squeezing. The picture of real fundamentals is considerably worse as these three charts from Bloomberg Briefs show. The Good (financial conditions index at multi-year highs) is merely a reflection of the ECB's transfer of risk and support (and is obviously hindered by the acknowledged failure of transmission mechanisms; which leads to the bad - both consumer and business confidence has decoupled (in a bad way) from markets. All this market-based hope is predicated on eventual joint-and-several-ness and an ECB backstop that seems more promise than premise; the ugly is that Germany (cash-money for the rest of the Euro-slaves) has seen six months in a row of manufacturing orders plunge and nine of the last eleven. Markets aside, fundamental realities suggest yet another hope-based rally due to be faded.



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Guest Post: The Madness Of A Lost Society

While we are very far gone at the moment as a society, never forget there are millions of people out there fighting for what is right and we will succeed in ushering in a new and more positive era for life on earth.  These 11 minutes are well worth your time.

 



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Cliff-Off; Volcker-Off; Hilsenrath-On; Equities-On But Risk-Unch

Equity indices bounced off re-coupled gold performance after Boehner's 'nothing'  led into European close pump which was supported by Obama's 'nothing' then pumped for one last stop-run over recent highs thanks to another 'nothing' from WSJ's Hilsenrath. Remarkable! A 2% rise off the day's lows moved us well above the recent Reid-top. Risk assets in general were far less exuberant as stocks really stepped up the decoupling after around 1300ET. AAPL ended red, bumped up against its closing VWAP and sold off every time; VIX traded from 17% highs to 15.5% at the close; and HYG plunged into the close to end the day unchanged (on huge volume). Today appeared very much a catch-up day for stocks to a number of asset-classes that were not sold hard yesterday - the recoupling is complete now.



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The Cost Of Kidding Yourself

Five years ago, every American would have considered a trillion-dollar budget deficit a national tragedy.  If you believe the CNBC parrot show, NOT having a trillion-dollar deficit is now a sure sign of the Apocalypse.  I speak of course of the cleverly dubbed “Fiscal Cliff,” which panicked CNBC apologists are required to mention no less than 5,000 times a day. Creating the illusion of economic growth is easy if you can print money.  It’s a prank you can play on an entire country.  Cut the value of the currency in half and the economy’s size will appear to double.  If it doesn’t, you’re in recession (whether you know it or not).   Cavemen probably understood this concept better than America’s best economic minds.



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Is This Why Gold Dumped And Stocks Pumped Today?

In the pre-market this morning, Gold had outperformed the S&P 500 by over 200bps for the month. By the close today (month-end settlement T-3) - given how synchronized gold and stocks have become - Gold and the S&P 500 will be perfectly unchanged for the month. Whether this morning's plunge in Gold (and rip in stocks) was the unwind of a major hedged position (or vice versa) is unclear - but the coincident reaction around the election suggests today's Gold move (and stock move) had a lot to do with each other - no matter how much they are blamed on cliff schizophrenia...



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Guest Post: Bureaucratic Despotism

"A great civilization is not conquered from without, until it has destroyed itself from within. The essential causes of Rome's decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars." A number of sources list this as a quote, but it is a synthesis of the Epilogue "Why Rome Fell". It is valid then as well as now. America as we know it won't collapse, but Americans have been unusually successful in dealing with "bureaucratic despotism". They will be successful again. Bankruptcy of another experiment in bureaucratic despotism will prompt a refreshing turn to reform of bullying politics. What we have now is an 'Ineptocracy'.



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