Just when we thought that when it comes to nonsensical announcements Europe is second to none, here comes the White House and takes the cake:
- WHITE HOUSE SAYS RISE IN GASOLINE PRICES CAUSED BY VARIETY OF GLOBAL FACTORS, INCLUDING UNREST IN SOME PARTS OF WORLD, FAST GROWTH IN OTHERS - RTRS
Uhm, would the "unrestful" parts of the world be those that have an above average US drone presence. At least we know that said price surges have nothing to do with the following chart:
The ECB needs to convert its bonds so that they can be addressed separately. So far, there is no indication on Bloomberg, which gets its bond information from trustees, that this has been done. The outstanding amounts of existing GGB and Greece (Greek and English law bonds) hasn’t changed. Greece has to implement a retroactive collective action law. With some luck, they will implement that, before the ECB actually converts their bonds. As we’ve written before, both of those actions are likely to be challenged. There are many concerns: that the PSI is such a mess, or that Greece continues to erode, or some governments fail to support the deal, and it gets cancelled and Greece actually doesn’t pay any of its bonds. Somehow no one in equity land or fx land seems to believe a failure to pay can occur, but I think bond values here, show that the credit markets are far less convinced that the can has been kicked.
Today the US Treasury quietly and efficiently auctioned off enough debt to satisfy nearly 20% of the entire second Greek bailout funding needs (thank you repo markets and multi-trillion repo custodians BoNY and State Street). Tim Geithner just sold $32 billion in 2 year bonds at a rate of 0.31%, right on top of the When Issued, which was the highest yield since August 2011, yet nothing too dramatic. Since this is the short end of the curve where Bernanke is fully in control, the range in recent auctions has fluctuated from 0.222% to 0.31%. Yet as noted last week, the biggest "beneficiary" of short-end purchases have been Primary Dealers - are they starting to choke on thier holdings? And who will they sell to this paper which yields absolutely nothing. The auction internals were a snooze - the Bid To Cover was 3.54, a drop from January's 3.75, but higher than the TTM average of 3.42. Dealers took down 54.66%, in line with the average, Indirects left holding 35.84%, and 9.5% for the direct. Overall, nothing to write home about, and the bottom line is that the US just added another $32 billion to its net debt of $15.413 trillion, or a new record high debt/GDP ratio of 101%. It is going much higher.
One of the dirty little secrets of the stock market rally is that the rising corporate profits that powered it are largely phantom profits. Why are they phantom? Because they are artifacts of currency devaluation, not an increase in efficiency or production of goods and services. Though few domestic observers make mention of it, the large, global U.S.-based corporations are now dependent on non-U.S. sales for about 40% of their revenues (50% and up for many companies) and virtually all their profit growth. Overseas sales are made in the local currency: the euro, yen, renminbi, Australian dollar, Canadian dollar and so on, and the profits are stated in U.S. dollars on corporate profit and loss statements. In 2002, 1 euro of profit earned by a U.S. global corporation equaled $1 in profit when converted to U.S. dollars. That same 1 euro profit swelled to $1.60 in 2008 as the U.S. dollar depreciated against the euro. That $ .60 of profit was phantom, an artifact of the depreciating dollar; it did not result from a higher production of goods and services or greater efficiencies.
Opting to trade commodities over Cede & Co.-owned stock certificates? Hopeful there would at least be a physical recovery if the counterparties collapse in a bilateral netting fireball of linked counterparty exposure (as long as MF Global is not involved... or its exchange... or regulator)? Then here is a simple way to gauge relative commodity strengths and weakness courtesy of Morgan Stanley's "Commodity Thermometer" which shows what products MS is bullish and bearish on, and why.
Guest Post: Scale Invariant Behaviour In Avalanches, Forest Fires, And Default Cascades: Lessons For Public PolicySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/21/2012 - 13:14
We have lived through a long period of financial management, in which failing financial institutions have been propped up by emergency intervention (applied somewhat selectively). Defaults have not been permitted. The result has been a tremendous build-up of paper ripe for burning. Had the fires of default been allowed to burn freely in the past we may well have healthier financial institutions. Instead we find our banks loaded up with all kinds of flammable paper products; their basements stuffed with barrels of black powder. Trails of black powder run from bank to bank, and it's raining matches.
Wondering why the DJIA just passed 13K again? Wonder no more: as the chart below shows it is entirely due to the nearly $7 trillion pumped by global central banks into the world stock markets just in the past 4 years. As Sean Corrigan from Diapason notes, the aggregate global central bank balance sheet has doubled in four years, after doubling in the 5 years before that. We would add that with the entire centrally planned ponzi scheme hell bent on preserving the illusion of nominal gains, global liquidity is now fungibly sloshing from one market to another with absolutely zero resistance whatsoever. At this rate, it should double again in 3 years, then 2, and so on. Will the Dow hit 52K in 5 years in that case? Why most certainly. Just ask any remaining citizens of the Weimar Republic. They know all too well about exponential stock market rises. They also know absolutely everything about the self-delusion that comes with chasing NOMINAL numbers. Oh, and before we forget, expressed in spot gold price, the central bank aggregate tally has moved from being the equivalent of 10 billion oz of gold, to just 8 billion. Guess what is 20% underpriced.
Three charts that perhaps will calm the nominal euphoria as Dow 13000 screams across the screens. Since May 2008, the Dow is unchanged in price and down 50% in 'real' gold terms. The picture is just as disheartening from the start of 2011 and 2012. Next stop Dow 20,000 and Gold 20,000?
With the hopes and dreams of every long-only manager and beta-chaser now resting on the broad shoulders of nominal-wealth-creators at the European Central Bank and its LTRO 2 offering, today's news from Reuters that 'powerful members of the ECB's council are privately hoping demand will fall well short of the EUR1tn that many expect' confirms their hope that it will be the last. Critically, as we have discussed before, markets are becoming used to the pump and will expect endless LTRO (especially given the moves in bank stock prices - while credit has underperformed significantly in the last week or two) and central bank sources tell Reuters 'they are worried that banks will become too reliant on ECB funds'. This is exactly the unintended consequence we warned about as the banks will become less incentivized to lend and create credit to drive the real economy (even as the nominal economy - or equity market) surges. The implicitly hawkish stance increasingly being taken by the ECB as Weidmann warns of the 'too generous' supply of cheap/free-money should prompt concerns that the ECB will close the liquidity spigot sooner than consensus hopes and as is evident from last April/May's tightening and the exuberant expectations priced into stocks for more printing, perhaps credit's recent weakness signals that asset prices are overdone here (especially as there is no sign of credit creation in the real economy and ECB reserves continue to rise).
The only soundbite of note from the prandially inaustere finance minister's speech in Athens this afternoon.
- VENIZELOS SAYS MUST REBUILD GREECE WITH WORK, WORK, WORK -BBG
Oddly, there was no mention whether or not said said work leads to freedom.
Yesterday, when charting the global multi-trillion central bank stealth reliquification (aka the primary driver for the market to surge 20% in the past several months, and since "the market, or Russell 2000 is the economy" just as the ChairSatan, to result in what naive commentators define as an economic bounce), we said "As a reminder, when gold was at $1900 last summer, central banks had pumped about $2 trillion less into the markets. We expect the market to grasp this discrepancy shortly." With gold about $30 bucks higher, the market is finally starting to "grasp it", and is now back to $1755, as silver passes $34.
That didn't take long. From Athens News: "Greece's two biggest labor unions, GSEE and ADEDY, on Tuesday announced plans for a protest rally on Syntagma Square on Wednesday. Starting at 4 p.m., the protest march is scheduled to coincide with a vote in Parliament on an emergency bill aimed at slashing state spending further through cuts to pensions and salaries, to which Greece is bound by its most recent bailout agreement." Parliaments is planning on further spending cuts? To what? Zero? Negative? And one can bet their bottom dollar, the tax collectors, already urged to increase their efficiency by 200%, will be present, and certainly not tripling their work output while peacefully consuming lungfulls of tear gas.
It is hard to read the document without a sense that the Troika is no longer “helping” Greece, but running Greece. You think they would have chosen not to specifically use the phrase “permanent presence on the ground in Greece” given the connotation of “boots on the ground”. Then there is the focus on the “escrow” account. Why is there a need to pre-fund each quarters debt service payments. Add to this the Eurosystem 'profit' distribution, the PSI and CA changes, and the NCBs not charging interest on GGBs? We will now see what the market has “priced in” but we think it has priced in too much, and there will be roadblocks to this deal going through, with PSI in particular being a potential problem.
As markets replay the same identical reaction to the same identical Greek news that we saw back on July 21, 2011 (and we all know where that went), something else entirely and more troubling is going on behind the scenes. Because as the world was transfixed on regurgitated news out of Greece, which will without a shadow of a doubt end up with a far worse 2020 debt/GDP scenario than the IMF's downside case per the sustainability report (first posted in its entirety here on Zero Hedge last night, and which assumes just a 1% decline in Greek 2013 GDP), China just escalated currency wars into outright trade wars. Because as China Daily reports, "Chinese exports are set to get a tax boost." Translated: even as China pushes the CNY higher in infinitesimal and irrelevant increments to appease US Congress, it has just taken out the trade stimulus bazooka. Why? "Export tax rebates will be increased this year in response to an export decline triggered by the European debt crisis. The move, which Commerce Ministry officials said will be implemented when the time is appropriate, will be the first increase since 2009." Still think Europe is fixed? China's answer: nope.