I think we are entering a new crucial phase in the problems in Europe as quarter end reports will drive a notional reduction. During parts of 2007 and 2008, CEO's of banks and other financial institutions, did not want to show any exposure to sub-prime, or to certain banks, or to leveraged loans, etc. The CEO's in particular were convinced that they needed to show ZERO net exposure to the asset classes most in question. As part of the "window dressing", their risk management departments were told to be short and told to reduce notional exposures. It was no longer just an economic decision it had become a "what's best for the share price" decision. The reality, is making money is best for the share price, but that notion gets thrown out the window once CEO's panic. I believe we are there, and there are some real repercussions from that. The main problem is that we will see credit curves flatten and possibly invert. As short dated paper to the current "culprits" (sovereigns and financials) matures, the lenders will not want to roll over the positions.
Gold Reaches $1,900 Again - Supported by Risk of U.S. Recession, German Euro Risk and Wikileaks China Gold CablesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/05/2011 - 08:02
Gold’s London AM fix this morning was USD 1,896.50, EUR 1,341.13, and GBP 1,174.67 per ounce. The gold fix was higher than Friday’s in all currencies (USD 1,854.00, EUR 1,301.23, and GBP 1,143.81 per ounce). Despite continuing denial, a recession in the U.S. is inevitable; the question is only with regard to how deep the recession is and to the nature of the recession – inflationary, stagflationary, hyperinflationary or deflationary. The consensus, especially amongst Keynesians, is that deflation is most likely. However, given the degree of currency debasement being seen internationally stagflation is also a risk. Hyperinflation, as being experienced in Belarus today, is the macroeconomic and monetary ‘black swan’. There are growing concerns that the Eurozone crisis might degenerate again soon due to the Greek debt crisis and risk of default. Over the weekend talks between Greece, the IMF and ECB representatives over new bailout funds broke down. The euro has fallen and the German local elections have added to concerns over Greece.
Despite some better-than-expected macro data overnight (admittedly marginal), investors continue to retreat from any European exposure as sovereign stress leads to financial stress and drags non-financials into an austerity-driven slowdown. The snaps wider in credit markets are very reminiscent of crises past when being hedged at any cost was more important than any short-term trade opportunity.
Guest Post: Why The Full Faith And Credit Of Governments Is Inferior To Real Assets And How We Can Fix It Once And For AllSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/04/2011 - 20:26
I used to think like a statist, and I used to agree with them. It's appealing to redistribute wealth, especially when it's not fairly achieved. But what I've realized is that the solution to creating distortions in the market is not to create more distortions by attacking the symptoms. What ends up happening when you do that is that you create a hugely complex set of rules and regulations that hinder the market, make it inefficient and most importantly makes it ripe for abuse via regulation in favor of those who make the right campaign donations to the right politicians. This is the situation we find ourselves in now: A very broken market setup to benefit those who've made the right political moves. On the other hand, you can simply end the sole cause of the problem to begin with. That sole problem is bad monetary policy. You might say that we should replace everyone in charge of the Federal Reserve with the "right" people. But even if you were able to do that, it's really a temporary fix. So how do we fix this? Sound money, debt forgiveness and a truly free market that isn't guided by the hand of the government and is instead determined by what the aggregate investor pool thinks is the right direction. Gordon Gecko was wrong overall, but he was right that greed is good. The profit motive is the key to good decisions and long-term thinking. That doesn't mean we need to be miserly dickheads who only care about ourselves, but self-enrichment and the unfettered ability to be as successful as possible is the only route to a truly higher standard of living.
The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Fear Itself... And Governments Telling Us What To Fear: Why The Beginning Of The End Started With FDR's...Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/04/2011 - 19:34
As is well-known by now, following America's collapse in the first Great Depression back in 1929, one of the first decisions undertaken by president FDR, not even a month following the first of four inaugural speeches (in which he notably said that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself") was to respond to the rolling bank runs and shutdowns, by doing something unprecedented: confiscating the gold of American citizens. And then he logically followed up by doing the only thing that insolvent governments know how to do: he debased the US Dollar overnight by 40% by changing the official exchange ratio of the USD to gold from $20.67 per ounce to $35.00 per troy ounce. Alas, since exchanging such gold would be impossible until 40 years later, nobody could take advantage of this generous offer. It is this point in history that to William Buckler of the famous Privateer newsletter marks the transition of American government from republican (on behalf of the people) to being authoritarian (in control of the people). It also begs the question: what did FDR offer in return for gold confiscation - after all if gold confiscation is not "something to be feared" then there is a quid pro quo. Why he gave us Social Security and the Welfare state. The same "welfare" state whose unfunded obligations amount to roughly $80 trillion, and whose increasingly tangible insolvency is precisely the reason why ever more capital is shifting right back to, you guessed it, gold. Perhaps FDR should have added that in addition to fear itself, the one other thing everyone should fear is governments believing they they know what they are doing when transitioning to central planning an an authoritarian regime based on nothing but faith.
Nothing surprising in the premarket action with ES open for trading despite Labor Day, down about 9 points at its worst, following weekend concerns of yet another European apocalypse. Elsewhere, gold is enjoying the fact that the only bearish downside is potentially a technically overbought formation and is surging right off the bat passing $1890 on the kneejerk then reconfirming slowly. As a reminder, a nervous Japan arrives on the scene in 2 hours, followed by an insolvent Europe, and no US-based HFT available to rescue the world tomorrow.
ABN Amro Complains About Interbank Liquidity Crunch, As CEO Says End Of Euro Would Make 1930s Seem Like "A Trifle"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/04/2011 - 15:58
As we have been writing for a while now, it is not in the arcania of shadow banking that one needs to look to find increasing signs of the collapse in interbank lending. No: something as simple as Libor, especially its USD variant, which is so crucial to USD-crunched European banks, is more than sufficient to determine that not just Greece, or the PIIGS, but now the entire Eurozone is becoming completely dependent on the dollar generosity of the ECB, and the various other regional central banks. This by implication means that the Fed will once again be forced to step in, "in size" and bail out the world, only this time it is far more debatable if the world believes that even the Fed alone is sufficient to prevent a rising global insolvency tsunami. And confirming how bad it is, we now have none other than ABN AMRO's CEO on the tape, complaining loudly about liquidity: this is and always has been a move of total desperation as the last thing a bank wants to do is give any indication of funding weakness. Furthermore, since ABN Amro is not a USD LIBOR reporting bank, we can safely say that the dollar liquidity crunch has spread far and wide from the 18 BBA member banks, where it is hardly any easier to procure the former reserve currency.
That Zero Hedge has a jaded outlook on the world is pretty much clear by now. But even our cynicism is amateur hour compared to that exhibited by some of our readers. Below we present one outlook by reader Joseph, on how the FHFA "lawsuit" against the banks, a development that as we noted before stinks to high heaven from a purely (lack of ) logical standpoint, could be nothing less than Res Judicata in sheep's clothing, whose purpose is simply to facilitate the case for QE (banks tumble), then settlement of the settlement (banks soar), but not before the crony communists have built up a solid equity position in the names, QE3 is firmly in place, and Obama is seen as the crusader against the hated banks. Is it possible? Who knows. We will find out as the affidavits start trickling in.
Earlier today Jim Quinn rhetorically asked why the price of oil hasn't collapsed despite the contraction in the global economy. Well, in a completely unrelated letter, Grant Williams of Things That Make You Go Hmmm, answers not only the question of why Brent and WTI continue to disconnect (must read for anyone interested in the oil market), but also Grant's underlying quandary (as rhetorical as it may be): "As stock markets plummeted in August, one thing that was noticeable was the resilience of both ‘the oil price’ (in the shape of Brent Crude, of course) and that of copper - two bellwether indicators of any slowdown in growth that can be relied upon to flash signals when a recession is nigh. To be sure, the data reported in August was dreadful. In the US we saw a slew of appalling regional manufacturing reports, (the Philly Fed and Empire numbers could genuinely be described as ‘shock- ers’), shattered consumer confidence numbers and rising inflation all topped off with a big fat goose egg in the NFP report last Friday, while in Europe, as the periphery continued to confirm just how week their economies continue to be, the real shocks came from the region’s perennial powerhouse economy, Germany. So why doesn’t ‘the oil price’ reflect this likelihood? Simple: 1. China has a LOT of paper money and is happy to swap it for hard assets that it knows will ulti- mately be far more beneficial in the long run as Western governments continue to debase their currencies. 2. Western governments continue to debase their currencies."
One of the recurring themes on Zero Hedge ever since the announcement of the EFSF is that in addition to onboarding contagion fears by transferring financial risk from the PIIGS to itself, Germany's ruling party, and particularly Frau Chancellor Merkel, has been on the receiving end of ever increasing popular anger at putting German wealth at risk in order to rescue lying, thieving countries like Greece and Italy, which have proven beyond a reasonable doubt, they will do none of the fiscal reforms demanded of them, yet promise the world in exchange for yet another bailout tranche, or more ECB-backstopped purchases of their debt (even Sean Corrigan would be proud of that sentence). Sure enough, today we get the latest confirmation that as national elections loom ever closer, as does the specter of a government crisis following the EFSF expansion vote some time in late September (it is fluid), the ruling CDU continues to take on water. Per Reuters: "Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right bloc suffered another defeat on Sunday in a regional election in Germany's poorest state, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, with both her conservatives and their Free Democrat allies losing support. A first projection by the ARD network at 1615 GMT showed Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) falling to 24 percent from the 28.8 percent won in the sparsely populated state on the Baltic shore in 2006. It was the CDU's worst result ever there."
Americans pay 43 cents in taxes out of the $3.70 they pay at the pump for a gallon of gasoline. A driver in the UK is paying $4 per gallon in taxes out of the $9 per gallon cost. Gasoline costs between $8 and $9 per gallon across Europe today. The extreme level of gas taxes certainly reduces car sizes, consumption and traffic. Too bad the mad socialists across Europe spent the taxes on expanding their welfare states and promising even more to their populations. Maybe a $6 per gallon tax will do the trick. Forcing Americans to drive less by doubling the gas tax is a quaint idea, but it is too late in the game. Europe is still made up of small towns and cities with the populations still fairly consolidated. Biking, walking and small rail travel is easy and feasible. The sprawling suburban enclaves that proliferate across the American countryside, dotted by thousands of malls and McMansion communities, accessible only by automobiles, make it impossible to implement a rational energy efficient model for moving forward. We cannot reverse 60 years of irrationality. Even without higher gas taxes, the price of gasoline will move relentlessly higher due to the stealth tax of currency debasement.
Presenting Goldman's Six Bullet Point Forecast Of Global Policy Intervention To Prevent The Re-DepressionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/04/2011 - 11:48
While the bulk of his weekly parable is primarily about the Swiss Franc (certainly worth the read coming from an old FX trader), the subtext is far more nuanced, and as usual, presents what "next steps" will be in terms of policy response from the G-20 to prevent the end of the Status QuoTM. For all those who ridiculed us about consistently presenting what Goldman believes is in the economy's "best interest", we have only one thing to say: QE3 is coming. Just as Hatzius demanded it several months ago (as predicted by us back in January). Indeed, the instruction flow never errs: from Goldman to the Fed; from the Fed to the SecTres and teleprompter; from theteleprompter and out of taxpayers' pockets. So speaking of flow charts, here is what the world should expect, tongue in cheek, in terms of G-20 intervention over the next several months, to prevent a swift plunge into the mother of all depressions. 1. Clear, credible, targeted action from President Obama and Congress to create US jobs and stimulate domestic investment; 2. If not more QE from the Fed, an ongoing clarity about their bias; 3. A quick resurrection of a credible budget in Italy; 4. A move towards an interest rate cut from the ECB. There is no inflation problem and the Euro Area economy has weakened a lot; 5. Some indication by German Chancellor Merkel that as part of a more fiscally coherent EMU, Germany would accept the principle of Euro Bonds; 6. A clear signal from Beijing that once inflation has peaked, monetary tightening is finished. In other words: not just more of the same, but much, much more of the same. In yet more other words: insanity defined.
When one thinks of gold crashes, one typically visualizes a trading floor from the 1980s onward, predicated by Nixon's nixing of Bretton Woods 40 years ago, which removed gold from the list of accepted currencies and converted it into a government-manipulated pariah, whose core function was to be suppressed in an ongoing (failed) attempt to make the dollar the undisputed reserve currency (something even China comprehends). Well, readers may be surprised to discover that one of the first, and probably biggest on a relative basis, documented gold crashes was not 3 weeks ago, nor back in October 2008, nor any time since the advent of Nixon, or even the Federal Reserve, but over 140 years ago, on September 24, 1869 when a massive gold price manipulation scandal created a financial panic. That day, also known as "Black Friday", was the culmination of an attempt to corner the gold market following the latest, however brief, termination of the gold standard, when during the reconstruction period following the US Civil War, the US dollar was backed not by gold, but simply by credit (sound familiar). The result was a surge, and then collapse in gold.