Back when Dexia was nationalized in the fall of 2011, one of the running jokes was that it was the bank that had one of the highest grades in the European Stress Test conducted just months prior. Here is another joke: we now know that Spain's Bankia is the next major financial institution which is being nationalized, and whose bailout costs are literally growing by the hour. Was Bankia one of the Stress Test 2011 failures? Why of course not... But 5 other Spanish banks were.
We have discussed the realities of Spanish (and Italian and Portuguese and Greek) debt to GDP data relative to the official estimates a number of times over the past few months and just as Mark Grant tells Rick Santelli today, the sugar buzz of self-financed sovereign bond buying hides the truth - until now when that liquidity is fading. From inaccurate data to LTRO ineffectiveness, 'Grantelli' sum it up nicely as the 'Bond Run' we have seen over the past few months (as professionals flee European banks and sovereigns) has now trickled down to the man-in-the-street and their equivalent - the bank-run.
Is this the overwhelming exodus of 'real-not-synthetic' Euros finding safety? Or just an aberration? It seems yet another event-risk-driven divergence is occurring as different asset-classes seem to be disagreeing over who will do the printing (when, not if, they print) and whether the mattress or barbarous relics offer most protection.
In celebration of the one-week anniversary of FaceBomb's ultimate #Fail, Bloomberg TV is reporting that Facebook's first week of trading is the worst large IPO performance in a decade (aside from the BATS debacle -which lasted nanoseconds and potentially never really IPO'd) - well played Margin Stanley, well played! And for those that like to see the spectacle in all its glory, NANEX has provided a graphical view of the chaos as FacePlant came and went last Friday...
From around two minutes into this CNBC clip, Marc Faber brings the conversation back into sharp focus. Noting that "whenever everybody focuses on just one thing - Greece and Europe in this case - there are other things that are far more important - such as a meaningful slowdown in India and China - going on that are being ignored". But remaining on the topic of Europe, Faber consistently opines that the next event risk will be the Greek exit - even though Faber suspects strongly that Germany will cave to Eurobonds eventually - as he comments that the longer the delay of a restructuring/default/exit/euro-bonds takes the higher the probability of a gigantic systemic failure. This subject brings up (at around 3:30) an interesting perspective that the European market would be oddly relieved (not plunging 50%) if Greek exited the Euro as there would be some clarity (though Faber adds that bank and insurance stocks would likely be crushed). At five minutes in though, Faber ramps up the rhetoric noting that while stock indices are not performing terribly, there are many economically sensitive (and luxury) stocks that are down very significantly - which suggests to him that the huge asset price run of the last decades in come to an end prompting the question of the day from CNBC's Cramer-stand-in "You're not looking for a recession in the US are you?" Faber, in his calm, thoughtful way responds, "I think we will have a global recession late this year, early next year", to which a stunned Wapner asks for odds (surely 30%, 50%?) of this recession - "100% certainty" comes the reply to leave Wapner throwing in the towel on any positive spin as Faber suggests the only 'investment' in this case is 'Cash USD' and investors must own some gold.
Best if read in the context of the "Nigeria gets out of Dodge" post from earlier.
If according to S&P recently nationalized Bankia is junk, what does that imply about Spain?
Whether it was Captain America's roadshow or Uncle-Sam 'wanting' your help, the US always seemed to maintain some semblance of class when propagandizing its citizens into buying its government bonds. Whether for patriotic or xenophobic reasons, it appeared to work. Japan, though, with its increasingly desperate demographic situation, deficits, downgrades, and well, general malaise of Koo/Keynesian-stuffed economic stagnation has turned to the next best thing - the all-girl band AKB48. As The Telegraph notes today, the all-female pop group will headline a summer campaign for "reconstruction bonds" aimed at financing projects in regions hammered by last year's quake-tsunami disaster. The debt campaign will see AKB48 - comprising about 90 performers, ranging in age from early teens to mid-20s - joined by sumo wrestling's champion Hakuho and female football star Homare Sawa, Japan's Jiji press agency reported. The group's bubblegum pop and synchronized dancing has proved a huge hit with young girls. Perhaps more disturbingly (and why Japan chose them maybe?) - running the gamut from girl-next-door to sultry temptress, the band also has a substantial male following - many of whom are older - who support a vast merchandising industry. Japan has the industrialized world's worst public debt, amounting to more than twice its gross domestic product - topping hard-hit eurozone countries including Greece, which have drawn fire from foreign investors over their fiscal management. All of this makes us wonder - Forget AKB48, how long until AK47 in musical, or primarily otherwise, format is used to encourage lending to sovereigns all around the "developed" world?
Aside from Spain (-0.3%) and Greece (-11.8%), European equity markets are ending the week green - albeit marginally - as we can only assume the hopes and prayers of every banker are being discounted into the price of corporate liabilities (an 'event' will happen but don't worry as the ECB/Germany will cave). Corporate and financial credit markets also ended the week tighter - with financials the high beta players on the week, hugely outperforming on Tuesday but fading into today's close. Today was not a pretty end to the week in credit though as both sovereigns, corporates, financials, all peaked early in the day and pushed to near their lows by the close. Senior financial bond spreads actually closed wider on the day - at their wides - and Spanish sovereign bond spreads exploded over 35bps wider from earlier tights to end at theu widest since April 1995. Italian bond spreads also jumped 32bps wider from their morning tights but end the week -9bps and France gave back almost half its sovereign bond gains of the week today. EURUSD remains the story, breaking below 1.2500 for the first time since early July 2010 as it seems the FX markets remain much less sanguine of the endgame here than do equity markets (with sovereign credit getting closer to FX's world view and corporate credit closer to equities but fading today). Europe's VIX remains above 30% (though our VIX-V2X compression trade is performing well as US VIX elevates).
Yesterday, when looking at recent naval developments in the Arabian Sea, we suggested that things involving Iran had gotten quiet. Too quiet. It appears that it may indeed have been the lull before the storm. Just out from Bloomberg and Reuters:
- IAEA SAYS URANIUM PARTICLES ENRICHED UP TO 27% AT FORDOW SITE, HIGHER THAN REPORTED LEVEL
- IRAN DOUBLED 20% URANIUM OUTPUT IN QUARTER, IAEA SAYS
- IAEA INSPECTORS SAY NO GUARANTEE ALL NUCLEAR MATERIAL PEACEFUL
- IRAN TELLS INSPECTORS THAT 27% URANIUM A TECHNICAL GLITCH
As a reminder, Uranium enriched over 20% is considered "Highly Enriched." The only question we have is whether the enrichment level will increase the closer we get to the November presidential election, and whether there is a threshold rating in someone's popularity, pardon, in the enrichment level, which will trigger the Iranian invasion by one or more powers, now that WTI is safely in 9X handle territory and sliding.
That much of the "news" is artifice and propaganda is a given. How can a society make good decisions about its future when the "facts" such as the unemployment rate are massaged and manipulated, and so many of the "reforms" are simulacra designed by the very wolves supposedly being tamed? Answer: it can't. The same question can be asked of a society in which the "editorial" side of the mainstream media is dominated by an "Argument Industry" that pours gasoline on every conflict and avoids solutions like a vampire avoids the Cross and garlic. Finding solutions would decimate the "Argument Industry" and slash profits. That leaves us with the same question: How can a society make good decisions about its future when every challenge is conflated into extremes that cannot abide compromise or even recognize "outside the box" solutions? Answer: it can't.
It seems the clarion call for central bank intervention to save us all is growing louder as following Citigroup's imploring letter earlier in the week, SocGen has done its homework on the impact of a Greek exit from the Euro and finds Euro Stoxx could drop by 50% under a contagion scenario. They believe the reason why the eurozone market is holding up relatively well - despite the rising risk of a Greek exit - is that contagion has not really spread yet, which is then 'discounted' away based on expectations of a central bank put to save the world. In the case of a disorderly break-up (the only kind there can be realistically in our view), they expect eurozone profits to decline for two years, a rise in bond yields (raising cost of funds), a rising equity risk premium, and the implicit drop in P/E multiples. A Greek exit alone (with no contagion) would likely knock 10% off Euro Stoxx but the significant rise in correlations across the euro-zone suggests the idiosyncratic becomes systemic very rapidly.