Now that many are convinced we've moved into totally unjustifiable extremes of complacency in risky assets, we are having a look at some historic stock market breaks and how they have unfolded. In that light, the current setup is rather ominous. Saxo Bank's John Hardy likes to look at historic patterns, particularly when the past might provide a historic parallel for the present situation. In this case, we're interested in what many historic major equity chart tops look like in a technical sense now that if feels like we've entered into a blow-off territory technically. Somewhat to our surprise, we found that many major market tops had remarkably similar traits as the one we have just posted.
Pardon this brief tangent from the hypnotic, sclerotic, quixotic, Cypriotic situation which will get no resolution today, or tomorrow, and may at best be resolved on Sunday night following yet another coordinated global bailout, (although our money is on a last, last minute resolution some time on Monday when Cyprus is closed but the European markets are widely open), but as it highlights a key follow up to our article from two days ago, "Dr. Copper's Deja Vu" it is worth being aware of a rather particular problem in Asia right now. A rather well-known problem for those who have tracked the warehousing woes of assorted industrial medals in China as an indication of the true state of the Chinese economy: as of right now, the stocks of copper in Asia (as determined by deliverable LME CLS and Shanghai copper) are at an all time high and up 90% from the previous three year average.
Moments after the last Hopium and Optimism driven surge in the EURUSD, we asked a simple question:
So what happens when Cyprus is not fixed "within hours"
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) March 22, 2013
...we just got our answer, courtesy of the perfectly expected ECB rejection, which this time waited a whopping 40 minutes before showing Cyprus who's boss
EURUSD (and implicitly the algo-connected S&P 500 futures market) is surging on the basis of optimism (for the new 'deposit tax plan') from the head of the party that abstained from the previous 'deposit haircut vote':
*CYPRUS'S NEOFYTOU SAYS SITUATION IS DIFFICULT; EXPRESSES CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM
It seems 'cautious optimism' is contagious but the irony of this politician's two-faced hypocrisy driving any market reaction is mind-numbing. EUR has broken above 1.30, Italian and Spanish bonds are rallying, and Italian stocks are now green for the week.
It seems that the Cypriot government is going full circle on its plans to save its nation and its people. As UK Think Tank Open Europe notes, "it now seems we have come all the way back round to the deposit levy as a solution in Cyprus. Overnight, the EU/IMF/ECB Troika rejected the plans for a Cypriot solidarity fund, particularly one based on pension assets and gas reserve revenues (which German Chancellor Angela Merkel specifically spoke out against)." The new - Plan 'D' - (Plan A - Haircuts; Plan B - Beg Russia for Bailout; Plan C - Solidarity Fund) appears to be moar haircuts and double-dip on the large depositors (seemingly what Brussels wants anyway). Plan 'D' - a restructuring and bigger deposit levy (a 12.2% tax on deposits above €500,000 or a 9.46% deposit on deposits above €100,000 would yield the necessary €3.5bn) - "may amount to trying to burn the larger depositors twice," as the plan to shift bad assets to a bad bank (along with the large uninsured depositors) and wound down (meaning 20-40% losses) and still face the initial large-deposit-tax - leaving the Russians large depositors with 50%-plus losses. As the FT notes, "that may make sense in the medium term, but in itself does not create new money"
Europe's paymaster - that would be Germany for those who have not paid attention to events over the past four years - is not used to being snubbed. It certainly is not used to being snubbed by what every empty chatterbox and their kitchen sink will tell you is a "small and irrelevant" country (all the more so in the aftermath of last summer's embarrassing defeat in its head on confrontation with the ECB, in which the Bundesbank showed that sometimes the best offense is a gracious retreat). It most certainly is not used to not being invited to discussions involving the future of its precious mercantilist European union, especially when said union may no longer exist as we know it in 48 short hours. And Germany is angry.
Sometimes a picture paints a thousand words and with markets treading water ahead of any news out of Cyprus, Russia, or Brussels, we thought some brief levity (if not irony) was in order. Here are a number of excellent cartoons on the Cyprus situation from how we got here to where we are going...
One of the most interesting issues of what has happened in Cyprus is where was the problem three weeks ago? There was not a mention, not a hint of anything that was wrong. All of the banks in Cyprus had passed each and every European bank stress test. The numbers reported out by the ECB and the Bank for International Settlements indicated nothing and everything reported by any official organization in the European Union pointed to a stable and sound fiscal and monetary policy and conditions. The IMF, who monitors these things as well, did not have Cyprus or her banks on any kind of watch list. In just two weeks' time we have gone from not a mention of Cyprus to a crisis in Cyprus because none of the official numbers were accurate. Without doubt, without question, if this can happen in Cyprus then it could happen in any other country in the Eurozone because the uncounted liabilities are systemic to the whole of Europe.
It was May in 2010 that Greece suffered its first bailout by its Eurozone peers. At that moment it effectively went bankrupt, however it took nearly three years for reality to set in. Yet it wasn't until months later that Greece's smaller (as we are constantly reminded) neighbor was first downgraded from its legacy "pristine" status, by the jokes that are the "Big 3" credit rating agencies. That downgrade unleashed an "waterfall of reality", shown exquisitely on the chart below culminating with yesterday's S&P cut of the island nation to CCC from CCC+, which is only comparable to the boom to bust ratings of CDS issued in early 2007 only to see full loss a few months later. How long until one or more agencies push the country to the dreaded "D" line?
- Cyprus targets big depositors in bank plan (FT)
- Merkel Vents Anger at Cyprus Over Bailout Plan as Deadline Looms (BBG)
- Russia rebuffs Cyprus, EU awaits bailout "Plan B" (Reuters)
- Russia Rejects Cyprus Bid for Financial Rescue as Deadline Looms (BBG)
- Cyprus unveils shake-up as the clock ticks (FT)
- Remember Italy? Italy’s stalemate unnerves investors (FT)
- Credit Suisse CEO pay jump to fuel banker bonus debate (Reuters)
- Kuroda Rebuts Reflation Naysayers as BOJ Action Looms (BBG)
- Fund Manager Says 'Whale' Trade Was a Bet (WSJ)
- House averts government shutdown, backs Ryan budget (Reuters)
- Hong Kong Homes Face 20% Price Drop as Banks Raise Rates (BBG)
Yesterday, when we described the latest Cyprus bailout proposal being (belatedly) debated by the Cyprus parliament and soon to be voted, we wondered how long before the Troika rejects it outright. After all the "Solidarity Bailout" Plan C (or whatever it is) did not do what Germany more than anything wanted to accomplish - punish Russian depositors as this entire farce has been nothing but a political gambit dictated by Germany from the onset. And so while GETCO's entire army of algos awaits the flashing red headline with a touch of optimism to unleash robotic buying of ES and EURUSD, we fast forward to the inevitable denouement, which is, not surprisingly, bad news for Cyprus, because as the FT reports, confirming our initial skepticism, "European officials rejected Cyprus’ plans for an alternative package to save its banking sector and remain in the euro, starting a fresh round of talks with the island nation’s government on Friday."
As Europe wakes up to what could be a tumultuous day, Handelsblatt reports that the ECB has decided that, due to the "great danger" of a bank run once they reopen next week, it will enforce capital controls independently of Cypriot (elected) officials. With perhaps a nod towards negotiating some ELA funding for Cypriot banks next week (if the government accepts this ECB-enforced 'program'), the rather stunning restrictions on people's private property include:
- Freezing Savings - no time-frame (it's not your money anymore)
- Make bank transfers dependent on Central Bank approval (a money tzar?)
- Lower ATM withdrawal limits (spend it how we say?)
The capital controls will be designed "so that citizens have access to sufficient cash to go about their lives." So, there it is, a European Union imposed decision on just how much money each Cypriot can spend per day. Wasn't it just last week, we were told Europe is fixed?
The wave of social unrest that rumbled across Europe between 2008 and 2011 has become less intense. This has come as a cause for relief in financial markets, as it has helped to underpin the marginalization of ‘tail risk’ already addressed by the ECB and the Greek debt restructuring. And yet the latest crisis over the Cyprus bail-out/bail-in not only shoots an arrow into the heart of the principles of an acceptable banking union arrangement, if it could ever be agreed, but also signifies the deep malaise in the complex and fragile trust relationships between European citizens and their governments and institutions. Some people argue that protest, nationalist and separatist movements are just ‘noise’, that the business of ‘fixing Europe’ is proceeding regardless, and that citizens are resigned to the pain of keeping the Euro system together. UBS' George Magnus is not convinced, even if public anger is less acute now than in the past, it is far from dormant, and its expression is mostly unpredictable. So is the current lull in social unrest a signal that the social fabric of Europe is more robust than we thought, or (as we suggested 14 months ago) is the calm deceptive?
Last November, in an act of sheer monetary desperation, the ECB issued an exhaustive, and quite ridiculous, pamphlet titled "Virtual Currency Schemes" in which it mocked and warned about the "ponziness" of such electronic currencies as BitCoin. Why a central bank would stoop so "low" to even acknowledge what no "self-respecting" (sic) PhD-clad economist would even discuss, drunk and slurring, at cocktail parties, remains a mystery to this day. However, that it did so over fears the official artificial currency of the insolvent continent, the EUR, may be becoming even more "ponzi" than the BitCoins the ECB was warning about, was clear to everyone involved who saw right through the cheap propaganda attempt. Feel free to ask any Cypriot if they would now rather have their money in locked up Euros, or in "ponzi" yet freely transferable, unregulated BitCoins. And while precious metals have been subject to price manipulation by the legacy establishment, even if ultimately the actual physical currency equivalent asset, its "value" naively expressed in some paper currency, may be in the possession of the beholder, to date no price suppression or regulation schemes of virtual currencies existed. At least until now: it appears that the ever-benevolent, and always knowing what is "in your best interest" Big Brother has decided to finally take a long, hard look at what is going on in the world of BitCoin... and promptly crush it.