Archive - Oct 11, 2010
It was a quiet day on the Street as the bond markets and federal offices were closed to celebrate one of the greatest threesomes of all time, and no, Money McBags isn't talking about the Three Stooges, the Dahm triplets or that scene in Meggann and Hanna love Manuel, he's talking about the voyage of the Nina, Pinta*, and Santa Maria as today was Columbus day so hopefully you all coughed in to a blanket and handed it to your neighbor in order to celebrate.
In a profession where you are only as good as your last trade, the question arises of what to do now? I look at moves like these and my inner trader says “run, Forest, run!” Mean reversion has the nasty habit of taking profits away. Is QEII (the monetary kind) already priced in, but may not happen? What’s a poor trader to do? Better to lock in that performance, keep you powder dry, and live to fight another day.
Is Ireland About To Impair Bank Senior Debtholders (And Boldly Go Where America Was So Terrified To Venture)?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/11/2010 22:27 -0500
The biggest piece of news this evening is, surprisingly, not the latest monsoon season suddenly to hit Manhattan, but comes from a few thousand miles to the East, out of Ireland to be specific, where we learn via the FT that the country "has opened the door to a renegotiation with senior bondholders of its two nationalised banks despite previously opposing any such move for fear of drawing the wrath of creditors around the world." This would be a huge change in strategy, and if effectuated, would mean that Ireland (for lack of an alternative) would be forced to do what the US was terrified of doing when Citi, Fannie and all the other still-bankrupt companies were on the brink. While the US never impaired the senior debt, for fear of enraging creditors (mostly China) who would have experienced their first capital loss on US-debt, it seems the dominoes are about to topple for Ireland as Irish eyes are about to stop smiling and take their bitter medicine, which our own Uncle Sam will avoid until well past the bitter end. Alternatively, this would also mean the end of the strong EUR regime once again, as the ping-ponging burden of proof of solvency shifts once again to Europe.
Of the 67 or so people who own homes in our group of “average Americans,” 16 (roughly 24%) of them are “underwater,” meaning they owe the bank more money on their mortgage than their homes are actually worth. Another five out of this 67 have lost their homes to foreclosure since the Depression began in 2007. Add to all of this the facts that Americans’ second most common source of wealth (stocks) haven’t returned anything in over a decade and that incomes today are 5% lower than they were in 1999 and you’ve got a pretty bleak picture for the US economy and Americans’ quality of life.
By now it should be common knowledge to everyone that in American society, the top wealthiest 1 percentile controls all the political power, holds half the wealth, and pays what is claimed to be the bulk of the taxes (despite mile wide tax loopholes and Swiss bank accounts). The rest of the population is merely filler, programmed to buy every latest self-cannibalizing iteration of the iPad/Pod while never again paying their mortgage and brainwashed to watch 2 hours of prime time TV commercials to keep it distracted from the fact that the last time America was a democracy was around the time the Wright brothers were arguing the pros and cons of frequent flier programs. So far so good. But what about the rest of the world? How is wealth stratified in a global perspective? Where do the "rich" live? What kind of wealth is controlled by various countries? Where are the Ultra High Net Worth people? For answers to all these questions, and much more, confirming that just like in America, the wealthiest 0.5% control over 35% of world wealth, Credit Suisse has compiled and released its latest "Global Wealth Report." The findings are summarized here.
After trading higher in trading overnight, it looked like we might have another day higher in the energy complex on Monday. In the early trading in Asia and then in Europe, equities had followed the DJIA’s inspirational close over 11,000 on Friday and built on it. Resources companies led the advance in China long before the sun rose over European markets. The euro was holding its own in early morning trading, and it looked like equities, currencies and commodities were set to start yet another week using the same carefully rehearsed script. Oil prices did open higher on Monday, but a suddenly stronger us dollar brought selling into commodities and managed to press crude oil prices into negative territory by the day’s settlement. - Cameron Hanover
In his latest letter Van Hoisington cuts through the bullshit and asks the number one question (rhetorically): why are bank excess reserves (aka the ugly, liability side of Quantitative Easing) still so high. He answers: "Either the banks: 1) are not in a position to put additional capital at risk because their balance sheets are shaky; 2) are continuing to experience large write-downs on commercial and residential mortgages, as well as on a wide variety of other loans; or 3) customers may not have the balance sheet capacity or the need to take on additional debt. They could also see no expansionary prospects, or fear an uncertain regulatory future. In other words, no viable outlets exist for banks to loan funds." Which leads him to conclude quite simply that while risk assets may hit all time highs courtesy of free liquidity, the economy, also known as the middle class, will be stuck exactly where it was before QE2... and QE1. Van also looks at that other critical variable: velocity of money - "Velocity is primarily determined by the following: 1) financial innovation; 2) leverage, provided that the debt is for worthwhile projects and the borrowing is not of the Ponzi finance variety; and 3) numerous volatile short-term considerations." As an uptick in velocity is critical for any wholesale reflation (as opposed to merely hyperinflation) plan to work, this is one metric Van is unhappy with. Lastly, Hoisington also looks at the fiscal headwinds facing the country (which more so than anything terrify the Goldman economics team), and presents his vision on the bond-bubble argument.
Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, claims that Android is making money and envisions a potential $10 billion market. However, despite the impressive Android number, keep in mind that the free open source means zero revenue for Google. So in order to evaluate if Android will be the next big revenue stream for Google, one needs to get past the initial excitement arising out of the handsets growth projection.
As if we needed more warnings that the US is rapidly losing its position as the world's superpower and wealth aggregator, is the following chart from Credit Suisse, which ranks the top 10 countries in the world in terms of average wealth per adult. While the US was #1 10 years ago, due to an abysmal growth rate of only 23%, by far the lowest of all the ranked countries, the US has now dropped from first to seventh, falling behind such countries as Sweden and France. At the top - such perennially voted "top places to live" as Switzerland and Norway. Hopefully the US can fix its ever-expanding black hole of problems soon, as once the wealthiest decide they have had it here and move away, look for this number to drop ever faster until the US drops out of the ranking altogether.
FINRA not only failed, but the question that needs to be fully explored is whether it acted on material, nonpublic information as it liquidated its ARS bonds in 2007, at the expense of the investors it was supposed to be protecting.
RANsquawk Market Wrap Up - Stocks, Bonds, FX etc. – 11/10/10
I'm sorry, but I don't see anyway out of this. With fraud absolutely everywhere in our banking system, like some advanced metastatic cancer, financial metabolism comes to a sickening stop. Nobody can buy or sell property. Nobody can trust any American financial institution. Money can't circulate. Nobody will be able to get any money. It won't be long before that translates into nobody getting any food. We may be a nation of clowns, but as Lon Chaney famously observed a while ago - when explaining his technique of horror movie-making - "...there's nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight...." - James Howard Kunstler
The ratio between VIX (implied vol as determined by 1 month out SPX options) and VXV (3 month Implied Vol) has just dropped to the lowest it has been since the end of 2006. After hitting a post-Lehman high of just under 1.3, VIX/VXV has plunged to 0.7917, a steep drop of 0.07 in just one day, as near-term equity vol is being aggressively sold, even as forward implied vol remains resistant to day to day changes in the market. Whether or not this is predicated by the QE2 event occurring somewhere inbetween the 2 term points is unknown, and irrelevant, but traders certainly seem to be far more comfortable with 1 month volatility and are selling much more of it than its longer-dated cousin. However, as Chris Cole pointed out earlier, this could be a very dangerous underestimation of the possibility for an exponential jump in near-term vol, in a time when correlations are near all time highs.
PART DEUX. President Obama is a victim AGAIN of the robosigning phenomenon that has taken the financial industry by storm... And it has been happening for OVER A DECADE behind the veil of MERS... Next up, how to look up the records for your local representatives and judges so you can show them that they have been affected by these crooks too...
Chris Cole of Artemis Capital Management submits the following very interesting observations on a unified risk theory, which posits a unified connection between QE, cross-asset correlations, and the historically steep vol surface. As Chris suggests: "higher cross-asset correlations and vol curves are the unintended consequence of aggressive monetary expansion in developed economies. If this recovery was healthy correlations would be dropping and the volatility surface flattening, not the opposite!! Both are omens that profound systemic risk is building underneath the surface of this market." Must read material for our new "QE normal."