Frequent Zero Hedge readers may recall that back in the spring of 2009, when the market needed a desperate boost by any and all insivible hands, we exposed one of the methods of ramping stocks as being stock custodians, in this case State Street and Bank of New York, generating a wholesale squeeze by pulling borrow, or in other words retrieving lent out shares so those who are short are forced to cover. Many laughed assuming this was merely yet another deranged rant. It wasn't. Fast forward to today, when we learn that the Consob, Italy's market regulator and SEC equivalent, has "recommended to stakeholders who have lent shares in Italian companies to retrieve them" - i.e., playbook artificial short squeeze 101. This is two days after the Consob banned naked short selling: a move which had disastrous consequences after the market continued plunging and would have collapsed entirely had it not been for the ECB and/or China buying Italy bonds before yesterday's Bill auction. ""Yes, we've exercised moral suasion by asking all those who have lent shares to retrieve them," Consob Chairman Giuseppe Vegas told journalists on the sideline of a conference." And now you know how to generate a market-wide short squeeze.
A snapshot of the European Morning Briefing covering Stocks, Bonds, FX, etc.
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Rating Agency Wars 2: The New Evil Empire Strikes Back - Dagong Says Likely To Downgrade US Even If Debt Limit RaisedSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/12/2011 - 23:59
When on July 4 we reported the patriotic decision by Moody's to suddenly discover that up to 10% of China's GDP is concentrated in previously undisclosed bad debt, we suggest that "Dagong downgrades the US to junk status in 5, 4, 3..." Well, it's one and a half. China Daily has just reported that according to the notorious abovementioned Dagong rating agency, "The US' sovereign credit rating is likely to be downgraded regardless of whether the US Congress reaches an agreement on raising its statutory debt limit. "If the debt limit is raised and the public debt continues to grow, it will further damage the US' debt-paying ability, which is a key factor in Dagong's evaluation, and we will consider lowering its ratings accordingly," said Guan Jianzhong, chairman and CEO of Dagong. "If the raised limit fails to pass and the US faces default, the rating will be immediately and substantially downgraded," he said. According to Guan, the downgrading is really just "a matter of time and extent". And if Europe is suffering now, after Moody's has discovered religion and is slapping ratings downgrades at each and every PIIG, just wait until the global Nash equilibrium collapse in the rating agency Ponzi preservation prerogative goes trans-Pacific. Because following the imminent Dagong downgrade, Moody's and S&P will retaliate yet again, this time likely throwing Japan into the fray yet again, until such time as virtually the entire overleveraged world declares any and all rating agency employees persona non-grata.
By some accounts, Chongqing is the largest metro area in the world with a population of some 32 million. They ought to call it the largest construction site in the world. This is a place that, if you believe the official numbers, posted 17% GDP growth in 2010. It doesn’t take too long to figure out how that happened. Driving around town, I found that Chongqing is in such a building frenzy, they’re actually tearing down perfectly good (and reasonably new) buildings and infrastructure, and rebuilding them. To give you an example, next to my 45-story downtown hotel was a building site where the constant drone of jackhammers signaled to me that there was some breaking of concrete going on. The new tower under construction had reached the 11th floor, but then they decided to tear it down and start all over again with something even bigger (102-stories).
- China 2Q GDP rises 9.5% y/y vs est. 9.3%; rate is slowest since 3Q 2009.
- 1H GDP rises 9.6% vs est. 9.5%.
- June industrial production increases 15.1% y/y vs est. 13.1%, rose 13.3% in May; June IP up 1.48% q/q
- 1H IP up 14.3% y/y vs est. 13.9%
- June retail sales rise 17.7% y/y vs est. 17.0%; 1H retail sales rise 16.8% vs est. 16.7%
- 2Q GDP up 2.2% q/q vs 2.1% in 1Q
- 1H fixed asset investment exc. rural rises 25.6% vs est. 25.7%
- NOTE: GDP grew 9.7% y/y in 1Q.
Who would have thought that Ron Paul's ideological ally in his quest to take down the Chairsatan would be none other than the Russian dictator-in-waiting (or rather, in actuality), Vladimir Putin. In a speech before the of economic experts at the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Russian prime minister had the following to say: "Thank God, or unfortunately, we do not print a reserve currency but what are they doing? They are behaving like hooligans, switching on the printing press and tossing them around the whole world, forgetting their main obligations." What appears to have angered the former KGB spy is the end of QE2. According to RIAN: "Putin's comments came in the wake of the completion of the US' quantitative easing (QE) 2 program on June 30, in which the Federal Reserve bought $600 billion worth of its Treasury bonds. The Fed's first round of QE, which ended in March last year, amounted to less than half the size of QE2." We can't wait to hear what expletive Putin will usher once Bernanke launches QE3.
A year ago we discovered that several European countries only managed to squeeze into the Eurozone by misrepresenting their total debt courtesy of Goldman Sachs facilitated currency swaps which misrepresented the true state of said countries' finances. Yesterday it was revealed that at least one Spanish region had been openly lying about its economic performance and underrepresented its budget deficit by about 50%. Today we go deeper into the rabbit hole, after a WSJ report discloses that European banks 'may' have been openly and frequently lying by misrepresenting to others about the amount of third party demand at any given bond auction. Think of it as the same BS that a bulge bracket bank in the US will use to sucker retail momo investors into a hot IPO. "A European self-regulatory body is looking at whether that perennial optimism might have at times been misleading for investors in the European debt markets, according to people familiar with the matter. The International Capital Market Association, or ICMA, is examining whether banks have been improperly exaggerating the amounts of investor demand they are seeing in certain bond sales, including for debt issued by European governments, these people say." Where does the rabbit hole lead next: someone discovers that the Bid To Cover ratio in all US bond auctions over the past several years have really been 50% lower than represented publicly? As for Europe: does anyone believe anything coming out of that continent anymore following the whole Jean-Claude Juncker fiasco? The Eurozone and the euro are both doomed and everyone knows it. But all is fair in love and perpetuating doomed ponzi pyramids (which is not to say that the US is any better).
We think what’s happening is almost comical. Most Western governments are in a race to the bottom to get their currencies as low as possible. This is an attempt to cheapen their debt by debasing their currencies. Every time the dollar spikes it must make Bernanke pull the hair he has left out of his head. Every time the euro weakens the Fed does what it can to strengthen it. One way is by opening swap desks with the European banks to give them all the dollars they need. Another way is to say the magical phrase QE3. While the timing of this news is in many respects a coincidence (because the minutes are released weeks after the event) we do recognize that Western economies must devalue their debt. We are in a race to the bottom and the euro is winning, hence the rally in gold. Gold goes up for two reasons now. The first is obvious: gold is a dollar-denominated asset and as the dollar weakens it will increase in value. The second is sovereign or default risk, which is actually deflationary. Europe and the U.S. will continue taking turns driving gold higher with the Chinese chasing it all the way up.
Continuing our exploration of why small business isn't expanding and hiring: here are four more deeply pernicious structural dynamics crushing small business. Yesterday I addressed this issue in Here's Why Small Business Isn't Hiring, and Won't be Hiring; Part II covers three other three systemic issues: 1. The real estate bubble completely mispriced/overvalued commercial real estate; 2. Financing is cheap to global Corporate America and costly to nonexistent to startups and expanding small businesses; 3. Crony capitalism doesn't like competition; it seeks monopoly or a shadow cartel, imposed and maintained by the regulatory agencies of the Central State;
4. Overlapping regulation designed to suppress competition, benign neglect/hostility from government bureaucracies obsessed with self-preservation and lack of financing make it impossible to scale up a success business in the real world.
The latest monthly breakdown from PIMCO's Total Return Fund is out. Among the key findings for June are that the total AUM declined modestly by $400 million to $242.8 billion, well below the all time highs of $256 billion in October 2010. More notably, it appears that Gross has gotten tired of being mocked by CNBC for his Treasury short position and has raised his cash Treasury bond exposure by 3% to 8%, though even with that move he is still net neutral courtesy of a 1% Agency cash position and -9% in synthetic swap exposure, unchanged from May. Therefore Gross is no longer short on a net basis. He also reduced his IG exposure from 18% to 17%, offsetting an increase in emerging market corp bonds by 1%. Where he did however invest quite a bit of money in are Non-US Developed market: i.e. European sovereigns: arguably Italian names, as per the announcement of PIMCO's Bosomworth on Bloomberg TV last night. However, since this report is for June, and since the increase in bond exposure occurred before the massive rout in July, it probably means that Gross did not time his increase in European debt exposure quite as well as he had hoped. Lastly, and just as interesting, is the increase in the effective duration of the TRF, which rose from 3.73 to 4.37, the second highest in 2011, and a steep rise from the near record low 3.42 in April. At least Gross can now saw that he is no longer largely underweight duration. Lastly, the fund still has gobs of cash, at just over $70 billion.
Just like right after Fukushima the USDJPY waited for the illiquid 5pm session to collapse, here comes part two. Have the FX HFT algos now completely taken over? A 100 pip move is catastrophic for most levered FX desks. It is time someone figured out what is casuing these periodic plunges. Sure enough, someone will gobble this up and hopefully make some money, unless there is actual news that just sent the Yen to near all time record highs.
DoubleLine's Jeff Gundlach has released his latest presentation on the economy and the markets, titled, cryptically enough, "Now What?" Zero Hedge readers can access it below. For those who wish to hear Gundlach cover the key topics live, can do so in real time here (registration required) as he is currently holding a Q&A on the key topics presented.
Something troubling happened in D.C. today, where it seems that the Senate Republican leader basically just folded like a cheap suit in the ongoing farscial standoff on the debt ceiling (which luckily should bring the whole comedy to an end and the nation can progress with its previously scheduled ponzi collapse). In essence, as Bloomberg says, according to McConnell's proposed 3-Stage plan, "The debt-ceiling increase could occur without the companion spending cuts, McConnell said." Ironically, when we observing comparable posturing by Boehner from two days ago we said "in two weeks we get news of no tax hikes, and no deficit reduction, which will be spun by the great diversionary media machine as the great compromise, and, of course, leading to a $2.5 trillion debt ceiling hike. Win, win for everyone." It seems precisely this is on the agenda. Details on McConnell's plan to basically let the President do whatever he chooses: "Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell proposed a “last choice option” for increasing the U.S. debt limit in three stages in case President Barack Obama and Congress can’t agree on a deficit-reduction plan. McConnell’s plan would let the president raise the limit, while accompanying it with offsetting spending cuts, unless Congress struck down his plan with a two-thirds majority. Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, said the plan would allow Obama to raise the debt limit while putting the onus on him and congressional Democrats for any failure to cut spending." Surely the president would be shaking in his boots knowing that if he were to cut spending the "onus" would be on him. Here is how the Republican justifies this betrayal: "The proposal is “not my first choice,” McConnell said, adding that he wanted to show the financial markets that the U.S. will not default on its debts. He said he continues to seek a broader deal to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit with congressional Democrats and the White House." Funny: this is the same logic that Jean-Claude Juncker used when validating outright lying to the media, and general public. It appears there are little if any differences between politicians in Europe and the US when it comes to lies.
Art Cashin, the skeptical floor veteran, and always practical and easy-spoken observer of market moves and developments, shares his latest set of views on the happenings in Europe. Granted this is backward looking, as things in Europe change from one total mess to another in minutes, but still a good summary for new entrants into the utter chaos that is a EUR-driven market with 1.000 correlation to the European currency.
Who would have thought a few years ago that Moody's would be one of the biggest supporters of the gold bulls..."Moody's Investors Service has today downgraded Ireland's foreign- and local-currency government bond ratings by one notch to Ba1 from Baa3. The outlook on the ratings remains negative. The main driver of today's downgrade is the growing likelihood that participation of existing investors may be required as a pre-condition for any future rounds of official financing, should Ireland be unable to borrow at sustainable rates in the capital markets after the end of the current EU/IMF support programme at year-end 2013. Private sector creditor participation could be in the form of a debt re-profiling -- i.e., the rolling-over or swapping of a portion of debt for longer-maturity bonds with coupons below current market rates -- in proportion to the size of the creditors' holdings of debt that are coming due."