With the EUR imploding following the recent note out of witchhunt target extraordinaire Egan-Jones, and the apparent inability of the ECB to handle the sandtrap on the 18th (they were supposed to announce the magical mystical bailout announcement 20 minutes ago), it makes sense to check up on the most recent InTrade odds for a [Insert first two letters of a peripheral European country]-xit, or, technically, the odds"Any country currently using the Euro to announce intention to drop it before midnight ET 31 Dec 2012." As of minutes ago, this number was 40%. This, however, appears to be a simple Fibonacci retracement to the all time high of 60% seen last November. And while we don't have an opinion one way or another, this level certainly provides pair trade opportunities: recall that according to Buiter, Greece is out by January 1, 2013, so technically a 100% probability, while the ECB gives 0% odds of a Grexit, ever. In other words, two pair trades of Buying ECB while Shorting InTrade, and Buying InTrade while Shorting Citi, virtually guarantees profits.
A $29 handle and elevated volume. Chart still shows distinct support level at zero. Time to flip coins.
UPDATE: EURUSD at 1.2478 as we post.
While European, US, and commodity markets (ex-Spain) were enjoying the hope/hype of ECB rumors and QE chatter, Egan Jones just burst the bubble. back to reality. Within minutes of their downgrade of Spain, EURUSD was plunging faster than Facebook and along with that cornerstone of correlated risk markets, gold, silver, oil, copper, and US equities had smashed lower.
The little rating agency (or is that former, now that it is public knowledge that Egan-Jones missed a comma in their NRSRO application?) that just refuses to go away, has done it again, and downgraded Spain from BB- to B (negative outlook of course), and on the edge of the dreaded triple hooks, mere days after it cut it from BB+ to BB-.
Perhaps we can finally dismiss the decoupling myths and hopes and dreams as nothing but the natural economic lags we were so clear about during the first quarter elation this year. As is clear from Citigroup's Economic Surprise Indices, Europe and the US are once again in sync from a macro-economic cycle perspective (both in terms of missed expectations and deteriorating data). What is more worrisome is the very close similarities between the last year or so evolution of the macro picture in the US and Europe with what occurred in 2008 (as is clear from the red and green ovals). We heard again and again then (as now) that markets would decouple but as the markets began to roll-over they reinforced one another in the downward spiral and we know how that ended.
The game for the Swiss National Bank seems to have changed completely. Again the central bank had increase money supply, as measured by deposits at the SNB by local banks and by the Swiss confederation, this time even by 13219 mil. francs (source). This money printing implies that the SNB had to buy in Euros in similar quantities in order maintain the floor. We have speculated that the SNB will double or triple the Forex reserves before it gives in and the floor will break. At the current speed of 13 bln per week, this will result in 676 bln. CHF per year, i.e. they will have tripled money supply and currency reserves in one year. This sum exceeds slightly the Swiss GDP, implying that a break of the floor from 1.20 to 1.10 (about 10%) on the basis of 50% Euros in the SNB reserves would result in a loss of around 5% of GDP at the central bank. Moreover, in the week ending in May 25th, nothing really extraordinary happened, what would happen in case of a Greek euro exit?
Whether the market is expecting more significant deterioration with the European debacle or somewhat perversely a rapid-response by the ECB (with its flood of EUR overwhelming USD), it appears the USD-denominated Germany CDS spreads are once again pricing in notable devaluation in the EURUSD exchange rate. Given the US and (almost explicitly given its dominance) Germany are more currency issuer than user, default risk is not the main driver of the CDS spread but currency re-/de-valuation (some might call it inflation) is much more of a factor. After EURUSD and German CDS being tightly coupled for months, last summer-to-fall's Eurocalypse disconnected them as the CDS market led exchange-rate lower. It seems with the current dislocation that USD-denominated (and EUR paying) German CDS are expecting EURUSD at around 1.1750 - or a 6% devaluation of the EUR. With today's dismal confidence data seeming enough bad data to spark QE3 hopes over here, we can only imagine the relative size of print-fest the two central banks will need to create in order for CDS to be correct.
Back on the 11th of May something very curious happened: the ECB's line item 5.2 from its "Consolidated financial statement of the Eurosystem", or in other words, the LTRO money handed out to various European banks, dropped by €10.8 billion. There is one problem with this: this number is not allowed to decline. Or technically, if it does, it means something is wrong.
Previous lows from last week's pre-market action have just been broken as market-makers adjust to options trading on the IPO of the decade which just printed $30.10 - or all-time lows - now down 33% from its post-IPO highs. Volume is a little higher than the last couple of days but remains significantly below the first few days' exuberant exiting. Put volume is outpacing Call volume by around 1.5-to-1 with $25 strike Puts among the most active.
Just as expected, with the June FOMC coming in fast and furious, the data better start coming in bad to quite bad. Sure enough, here is consumer confidence (not from UMich, but from the Confidence Board, because we need at least two indicators for every economic data point to maintain the Schrodingerian Baffle With Bullshit illusion long and strong) setting us off on the right, er, wrong path, with a 3 sigma miss to expectations of 69.6, dropping precipitously from 69.2 to 64.9, the lowest since January, the third miss in a row, and undoing all the "gains" from the recent bipolar UMichigan consumer confidence which in turn soared for no reason whatsoever. Finally, 12 month inflation expectations drop from 5.8% to 5.6% - not good for a central bank hoping to get consumers to spend or gamble. This is either good or bad for stocks.
I don’t have a problem with Obama — or anyone else — smoking dope. As far as I am concerned, consenting adults have the liberty to do whatever they like so long as they don’t hurt others, or take their liberty or property. I don’t have a problem with Obama — or anyone else — defining themselves by smoking dope.
I have a problem with hypocrisy.
Exit from the Euro would be very painful for Greece. Cut off from the ECB’s liquidity facilities, the Greek banking system would face collapse. And, as foreign lenders cut their credit lines to Greece and depositors struggled to extract their deposits ahead of the banks’ failure, the Greek financial system – and with it the Greek economy – would seize up. Given the costs of exit for both Greece and other Euro area countries, a powerful incentive exists for the two parties to reach a compromise that permits continued Greek membership of the Euro area but in the meantime the pan-European game of chicken continues and with each iteration of this game, the political cost to the two parties involved has increased. Goldman sees three key scenarios from this: Muddle Through (this is their 'Goldilocks' base case and implies continued Greek EMU membership, and ECB funding for Greek banks, but also continued pressure on Greece to reluctantly implement reforms while at the same time the remaining Eurozone countries very gradually deepen their policy integration) - which is modestly positive (though likely more range-bound) for equities and bonds with weak growth and Fed QE3 potentially pushing EURUSD up to 1.40; a Fast Exit (the least likely and most bearish scenario with Greece walking away unilaterally potentially knocking 2 percentage points of Euro-area GDP - even assuming substantial central bank counter-measures - and if the firewall were ineffective, a Euro-unraveling and an associated double-digit fall in Euro-area GDP); and a Slow Exit (Greece excluded once firewalls are in place - with pan-European deposit guarantees now front-and-center as opposed to simple banking bailouts to avoid the now-critical bank-run's contagion - which constitutes modest GDP impacts and compression in risk premia - and appears to what the market is discounting as likely). Simply put CB counter-measures are assumed to save any dramatic downside unless Greece surprises unilaterally.
Following the now long-gone LTRO induced risk ramp through March, many of the C-grade economists out there predicted that housing would bottom in March (this time for real) and it would be smooth sailing from there. Alas, the just released March Case Shiller data puts this latest speculation very much in doubt (once again), following a miss of consensus expectations in the Top 20 Composite of a 0.20% increase, printing at half that, or 0.09%, and more importantly, a decline from the February rate of increase, which was 0.15%. The non-seasonally adjusted number declined by 0.03%, the 7th consecutive drop in a row. All this begs the question: did housing just quadruple dip, with a February local extreme in the Sequential rate of change. As the chart below shows, we had comparable peaks in the summer of 2009, in April 2010, and again in April 2011, following which the downward slide resumed every single time once the temporary benefits of monetary and fiscal easing subsided. Also, recall that March was the last month receiving benefits of a record warm winter: in effect a mini demand pull program. And now comes the hangover. Bottom line: based on a broad index, housing is about to decline once again, and make a total joke out of all those who, yet again, made "bold" annual housing bottom predictions.