India Sets Off For Naval Showdown With China

As if global geopolitics were not tempestuous enough, it seems China's increased military presence near Indian state-run explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp's (ONGC) Nam Con Son basin operations near Vietnam are sparking India's navy into action. India's Navy Chief Joshi according to Reuters, said it was prepared to act, if necessary, to protect its maritime and economic interests in the region. He added that "When the requirement is there, for example, in situations where our country's interests are involved, for example ONGC... we will be required to go there and we are prepared for that." While the Straits of Hormuz seem to get most of the world's attention, the growing trouble in the South China Sea is troubling since it "is one of the most important international waterways and freedom of navigation there is an issue of utmost concern to India," because a large portion of India's trade is through the South China Sea. Noting that the modernization of China's Navy is "truly impressive", Joshi concluded:  "...are we preparing for it? Are we having exercises of that nature? The short answer is yes!" The Chinese are not making any friends as The Phillippines also condemned China's actions.

European Stocks Start Catch-Down To Credit

Supposed progress on the Greek buyback (which as we noted earlier has merely served to line the pockets of the short-term traders) and misunderstandings over Spanish bailout requests (amid mixed PMIs) was enough to drive European stocks up and sovereign bond spreads down as the morning progressed. EURUSD strengthened. Then around 8ET things changed (as the bailout request was realized for what it was): European stocks reverted lower in a hurry (catching down to a less robust credit market), Sovereign bond spreads bled notably wider off the day's tights, and gold fell notably. EURUSD seemed to manage a completely uncorrelated levitation (repatriation?) even as broad risk assets fell into the European close - ending at their lows. A weak close to a hope-full day.

Guest Post: Pursuing Opportunities Of The Past

If we had to summarize the global effort to reflate various debt and asset bubbles to "restart growth," we might say the Status Quo is pursuing opportunities of the past. However, as is becoming all too clear, pursuing opportunities of the past only speeds the dissolution of any Status Quo that depends on spent models of growth.

GM Channel Stuffing WTF!?

Those who have been reading our 2+ year series tracking the ridiculous "bottom-left to top-right" trend in GM dealer inventory channel stuffing, know all there is to know about the modern day equivalent of AOL (in which the purchases of modern equivalents of "dial up connections" are funded by loans from the US government itself), in both (non government backstopped) business continuity terms as well as in channel stuffing notoriety. Which is why we will present the November update of total dealer "inventory" (which rose to a record for the fresh-start company 788,194, or a record 99K increase in two months) a without commentary, except to say: WTF!?

Howard Marks On Why USA Is Not Greece (Yet)

Oaktree Capital's Chairman Howard Marks went on a rather more politically-positioned rant in his latest missive (pdf here) but one section caught our eye more than others given the current imbroglio:

The bottom line is that if we don't want to be Greece, we can't act like Greece. Something has to be done... and soon. Every year in which we add another trillion dollars to the national debt (and tens of billions to the annual interest bill) - and every year the excessive entitlement promises are allowed to compound - makes it harder to solve the problem.

A dismally honest reflection follows...

JPM Cuts Q4 GDP Forecast to 1.5%, Now Sees iPhone Sales Contribute 33% Of Growth Upside

Remember Michael Feroli? The JPM economist who "predicted" US Q4 GDP would be boosted by 0.5% due to iPhone sales (don't laugh: yes, US GDP, not that of China where the iPhone is actually produced, but the US where the consumer merely incurs more record student loans to be able to afford it)? Well, the same JPMorganite has now cut his Q4 GDP expectation to 1.5% for all the same reasons why we penned the second Q3 GDP revision: namely ugly internals, a surge in hollow government and inventory contributions to "growth", and a collapse in the purchasing power of the US consumer (who somehow is still expected to boost Q4 GDP with iPhone sales). And while there is no mention of the iPhone in his just released downward revision, he still believes the cell phone will provide a boost to Q4 GDP. In other words, of the 1.5% in GDP growth in Q4, the iPhone will account for 33% of this! One really can not make this up.

The Best Performing Assets In November And 2012 YTD

Remember when fundamentals mattered? Neither do we, and why should they: the New Normal market has long since stopped pretending to be able to discount a future that is entirely politically driven, and thus irrational, and the only thing that matters is being able to respond as fast as possible to blinking red headlines. This explains the best performing asset classes on November: at the very top, something one would never expect to see - the Nikkei, which soared on "hopes" the return of politician Shinjiro Abe would mean the nationalization of the BOJ, 3% inflation targeting, and a surge in monetization. And while this is good for Japanese equities, it would crush all local banks who hold the bulk of their assets in JGBs, which would in turn plunge, and likely result in another bank sector bailout, no to mention annihilate pension funding for tens of millions. But such is the new normal.

Manufacturing ISM Plummets To Lowest Print Since July 2009

So much for the 3rd Recovery (or is that 4th?) in the current depression: following the Chicago PMI which posted a solid beat on horrendous internals, today's Manufacturing ISM came in just as expected, at least by those skeptical of all the sugar high economic data the US population was spoon fed in the past few weeks. At 49.5, the headline PMI print was the lowest since July 2009, the biggest miss to expectations of 51.4 in 5 months, and down from 51.7. Also, as most know, as sub-50 print indicates a contraction in the manufacturing space, usually a precursor to overall recession. Particular data points of note: Employment down from 52.1 to 48.4; New Orders slide from 54.2 to 50.3, and in the worst news for GDP Exports declined, Imports rose and Inventories plunged - which was to be expected after a huge inventory build up in Q3 pushed GDP much higher in the period. Expect even more downward GDP recessions on today's ugly data. Finally, while the bulls would love to blame the collapse on Sandy, it was not mentioned anywhere in the release and the ISM's Holcome said just one respondent even mentioned Sandy in the release, which means the manufacturing reality will only get worse as the full impact of Sandy is internalized.

How A Hard Landing For China Became A Helicopter Eject Seat For Brazil

Depending on what market or macro indication you choose to believe in, China is doing terribly badly or is on a sustainable path to a more domestic consumption-based economy. This weekend's PMIs show the economy is barely limping higher but Industrial Output is dismally low; HSI is ripping higher while SHCOMP is at multi-year lows. What is more critical, as Bloomberg's Michael McDonough points out today, is China’s growing role as a transmission mechanism between the economies of the developing and developed world. China’s economic rise has been accompanied by a surge in its appetite for imports - especially raw materials - even as global demand has been slow to recover. This introduces new stresses for many export-oriented countries by reducing the diversity of their trade relationships as they become more and more dependent on China in particular, creating substantial risk for those economies, which account for an increasing share of global GDP. Russian, Brazilian and Indian trade volumes have become heavily dependent on China at 10.6 percent, 17.5 percent and 9 percent, respectively. An economic crisis in Brazil would have a minimal impact on the Chinese economy, while a slowdown in China would likely crush Brazil’s external sector and domestic economy.

U.S. Eagle Gold Coins Strongest Since 1999 – HNWs Taking Possession

November sales of U.S. American Eagle gold coins are on track to be the best in 14 years as uncertainty surrounding the U.S. fiscal cliff and the election of President Obama led to safe haven buying. Buyers timing the market also increased coin sales by buying during sharp price movements that occurred in the beginning and end of November, coin dealers noted. Bullion dealers in the U.S. report an influx of high net worth individuals that are buying gold coins in volume and taking physical possession of their bullion. Month to date 131,000 ounces of American Eagles sold, that tripled last year's November sales and is the strongest November since 1998, data from the U.S. Mint's website shows. In October, the U.S. Mint sold 59,000 vs 50,000 ounces the previous year, while November marked its 2nd successive monthly rise. Coin banks have come in to buy the stock as the mint usually ends 2012 coin production in early December so it can begin minting the 2013 coins.

RANsquawk EU Market Re-Cap - 3rd December 2012

Greek Government Bonds Jump 12% As Buyback Means Early Christmas For Hedge Funds

Greek Government Bonds (GGBs) jumped by over 12% today to over EUR40 - by far the highest post-PSI - as fast money floods the limited size illquid market to front-run the Greek buyback. Every day that goes by means less and less benefit for the Greek people as the discounted price of buying back the debt - with all of the money that Greece doesn't have, goes up. This is a perfect example of greater-fool-theory at work as everyone knows that if this price gets too high, the Greek government (via Troika) will (should) reneg on the buyback which will cause GGB prices to plunge back towards zero. What many misunderstand is that the buyback crystalizes the losses for banks that currently carry this worthless paper on their books at Par and garner the carry (and accruals) and thus in true European fashion, the unintended consequence of this action lines the pockets of fast-money hedge funds along for the short-ride and drains any pretense of capital from the Greek banking system.

This Is How Credit Suisse Informs Clients Their Cash Is No Longer Welcome

Back in June, the Danish Central Bank set a New Normal precedent by being the first bank to impose NIRP, after it lowered its deposit rates to a negative 0.20% for everyone, in other words anyone wishing to keep cash with the bank would have to pay 20 bps for the privilege. NIRP just moved south to Switzerland, only this time not with a central bank decree: after all the SNB is already engaged in capital controls via the 1.20 EURCHF peg. After all it would seem unsportmanlike if the central bank would admit it needs more currency warfare to halt the influx of CHF into its system, as it would also imply that not only is the Eurozone not fixed, but the exodus of EUR-denominated accounts is relentless, and only the BIS is the marginal buyer of the currency. Instead, Swiss megabank, Credit Suisse, whose assets are orders of magnitude greater than Swiss GDP, in what will be a precedent copied by all other Swiss banks, just imposed negative credit rates on cash clearing balances after December 10 as per the message sent to clients below. In other words, "your CHF-denominated cash is no longer welcome at Credit Suisse, please convert it into that joke of a currency EUR post haste, K thx bye."

Former Greek PM G-Pap's 89 Year Old Mother Said To Have $700 Million In Swiss Bank Account

There was a time when Swiss bank secrecy was the passion of every tax-challenged oligarch in the world. Then things changed, Obama made it s badge of honor to rat out anyone you know who has a bank account in Zurich or Geneva, lists of previously ultra-secret account holders started "leaking" and from an asset, Swiss bank accounts promptly became a liability to everyone involved. Such as the matriarch of the legendary Papandreou family, former Pasok Greek PM G-Pap's mother, Margaret, also wife of former PM Andreas, who according to The Telegraph has been revealed as having a €550 million ($700 million) Swiss bank account (she will hardly be happy to learn that Credit Suisse just instituted a negative interest on CHF deposits) in the Geneva branch of HSBC. Obviously lots of hard work by M-Pap went into building up that particular nest egg.

Swiss Capital Controls Escalate As Credit Suisse Sets Negative CHF Deposit Rates

In a world that already makes little sense to most, Credit Suisse just pushed the envelope a little further. The bank has just announced that going forward it will be charging for firms to hold a CHF cash balance - i.e. the bank, given the already-negative Swiss government bond yields, has moved to its own NIRP for its clients. The need to do this suggests an overwhelming desire for short-term safety that flies in the face of the seeming level of complacency that exists in the European bond (and stock markets). As we have warned before, it seems that the currency wars that appear to have escalated have now started the 'capital control' wars as CS (and implicitly the SNB) adds this negative interest rate 'charge' to its already pegged currency in the vain hope that of managing the unmanageable flow of safe-haven-seeking cash.

  • *CREDIT SUISSE INFORMS BANK CLIENTS OF NEGATIVE RATES ON CHF FROM DEC. 10
  • *CREDIT SUISSE INFORMS CLIENTS IN SWIFT NOTICE, CONFIRMED BY BNK

Frontrunning: December 3

  • Union solidarity rubs up against slow economy in LA port strike (Reuters)
  • Geithner predicts Republicans will allow higher tax rates (Reuters). And "no risk" of a US downgrade, "no risk"
  • Geithner takes hard line on fiscal cliff (FT)
  • Narrowing LDP lead points to Japan post-election confusion (Reuters) - not to mention, USDJPY plunges if LDP loses
  • Vietnam Says China Must Avoid Trade Weapon in Maritime Spat (Bloomberg)...  and real one, one hopes
  • Greece unveils bond buyback plan (FT)
  • ECB Can’t Deliver Spain Spread Rajoy Wants, Wellink Says (Bloomberg)
  • UK’s euro trade supremacy under attack (FT)
  • Merkel Signals Debt Write-Off Possible as Buyback Begins (Bloomberg)
  • ECB's Noyer Says Bond-Buying Plan 'Is Bearing Fruit' (WSJ) - as long as just plan, and not execution.

Fiscal Cliff Headline Manic Depression Set To Continue

Today's "trading", in a repeat of what has become a daily routine, can be summarized as follows: flashing red headline about Fiscal Cliff hope/optimism/constructiveness out of a member of Congress who bought SPY calls in advance of statement: market soars; flashing red headlines about the inverse of Fiscal Cliff hope/optimism/constructiveness out a member of Congress who bought SPY puts in advance of statement: market plunges. Everything else is noise, as is said hope/expectations/constructiveness too since it is increasingly likely nothing will happen until the debt ceiling hike deadline in March, but stop hunts must take place in a market which nobody even pretends is driven by fundamental newsflow. Such as the bevy of PMIs released last night, the key of which was the China HSBC PMI as reported previously, which beat expectations by the smallest of possible increments, at 50.5, but rising to expansion territory and the highest in 13 months, which sent the EURUSD spiking and has kept it in the 1.3030 range for the duration of the overnight session. Sadly, those on the ground in China hardly felt the number was a bullish as EURUSD trading algos around the world, sending the Shanghai Composite to a fresh post-2008 low, closing down over 1% at 1,960. But let's just ignore this inconvenient datapoint shall we?

Greece Announces Terms Of Bond Buyback, Repuchase Prices Higher Than Government Indicated Previously

It may still be unclear just where Greece will get the ~€10 billion in cash needed to buyback up to 20 various tranches of the post-restructuring GGB2 bonds (full CUSIP list below), but what the Greek Public Debt Management Agency announced today was the sound of money in the ears of the hedge funds that had bought up Greek bonds in the low teens several months ago, if not so much Greek banks many of whom may still have this debt market at up to par, as no matter which particular group of taxpayers ends up funding this "buyback" - a process that will have zero benefit to the Greek population who will see not one penny of the buyback proceeds (as described before) - it is the hedgies that benefit, who also have clearly controlled the process from the beginning as the announced tender prices were well above the levels Greek bonds eligible under the buyback closed at on Nov. 23, even though Greece's lenders last week said they did not expect the bonds to be purchased for more than the closing price on that date. In other words, the Greek government lied to its people again for the benefit of wealthy financial interests yet again.

Next Up For A "Recovering" Europe: A 30-50% Collapse In Wages In Spain, Italy And... France

Europe is supposedly fixed and/or well on the path to being competitive and "rebalanced." Or so they say every day. What they don't say, is that to complete the process of rebalancing, in the absence of external devaluation mechanisms under a currency union, is that wages in countries such as Spain, Italy and even France, will have to drop by another 30%-50% for internal imbalances between the Eurozone's nation states to be evened out. What they certainly don't say is how this could ever possible be achieved...

Futures Test Friday Highs As Avalanche Of PMIs Begins With China Beat

UPDATE: PMI Score: Up 19 - 9 Down; 15 nations contracting now vs. 19 Contracting last month

Good is 'good' it seems once again - though we do remember just a few short weeks ago when the world and his pet rabbit were hanging on every word from the Chinese leaders and their next epic embarkation on the stimulus highway. Not necessary now though; as HSBC's China Manufacturing PMI confirms Friday's NBS version that China is 'expanding' once again (though marginally). The highest print for the HSBC number in 14 months - makes perfect sense given the way the world is behaving with world trade collapsing and the mercantilist nation's key customer (that would be the USA) seeing spending slowing. Nevertheless, it's enough to run to late Friday highs in S&P 500 futures and flush out those nascent stops.  We just hope this 'expansionary' print is not a false hope as it was in October 2011... An evening full of PMIs has begun (see below)...