July 24th, 2012
There was a time when regulators caught red-handed abusing their privileges, aka, doing nothing in the face of glaring malfeasance, would quietly fade away only to even more quietly reappear, sans press release, as a third general counsel or some other C-grade menial role paying a minimum 6 figure compensation to the individual for years of doing nothing. This is no longer the case: it appears that the best such exposed "regulators" can hope for going forward is to get media positions. Such is the case with John Ewan. Who is John Ewan? None other than the director "responsible for the management of the setting of Libor" at the British Bankers' Association. In other words, the man whom The Sun of all non-captured publications (oddly enough, tabloids sometimes have more journalistic integrity than Reuters and the FT as we will shortly find) has dubbed Mr. Libor. The Sun continues: "In a staggering profile on the internet Mr Ewan reveals he joined the BBA in 2005 to “put Libor on a secure commercial footing”. That year Barclays traders began fiddling the figures they submitted for the Libor calculations. On the LinkedIn networking site Mr Ewan boasts of generating a “tenfold” increase in revenue from licensing out the Libor rate." He adds: “I introduced new products and obtained EU, US and Japanese trademarks for BBA Libor. "I successfully negotiated contracts with derivatives exchanges and all of the major data vendors." Well, in the aftermath of Lieborgate surely Ewan is going to someone receptive to his permissive and highly profitable tactics over the years, such as Barclays. Actually no: instead of a bank, the only place that is willing to accept Ewan is media conglomerate Reuters. And not just as anyone: "Thomson Reuters confirmed that Ewan has joined the company as head of business development for its fixing and benchmark business." We wonder how much revenue Mr. Ewan generated for Reuters?
It's hard to know what the world wants but for sure those looking for massive stimulus-driving intervention by the PBoC will be sadly disappointed by the better-than-expected data out of China. With HSBC's China Flash Manufacturing PMI printing with a ninth month of contraction, at a five-month high, but with the Manufacturing Output index at a nine-month high, it would appear that goal-seeked Goldilocks struck again in the soft-landing being engineered across the Pacific. Converging up towards China's 'real' PMI data at the magic 50-mark, HSBC's Asia Economist suggests (via Markit) that "the earlier easing measures are starting to work." With input and output prices slowing, does this disinflationary move provide more room for easing - given that the headline PMI (which implies slowing demand) is still contractionary (as are critical segments like New Orders and Employment). Market reaction is flatline for now with AUD (and implicitly ES) managing a small bump that has now been retraced.
“The euro is irreversible,” said ECB President Mario Draghi just as a whiff of panic began sweeping over the Eurozone.
From spearheads to shells, this Government-issue 1947 "Know Your Money" clip explains that "none of these met all the requirements of good money". From such trying historical experience, Gold and Silver emerged as the most durable, most convenient, and most satisfactory money. Luckily, governments took over the management of good money and saved us all the bother of worrying about credibility...
California, which imports over 25% of its electricity from out of state, is in no position to lose half (!) of its entire nuclear power capacity. But that’s exactly what happened earlier this year, when the San Onofre plant in north San Diego County unexpectedly went offline. The loss only worsens the broad energy deficit that has made California the most dependent state in the country on expensive, out-of-state power. Its two nuclear plants -- San Onofre in the south and Diablo Canyon on the central coast -- together have provided more than 15% of the electricity supply that California generates for itself, before imports. But now there is the prospect that San Onofre will never reopen. Will California now find that it must import as much as 30% of its power? The problem of California’s energy dependency has been decades in the making. And it’s not just its electrical power balance that presents an ongoing challenge. California’s oil production peaked in 1985. And despite ongoing gains in energy efficiency via admirably wise regulation, the state’s population and aggregate energy consumption has completely overrun supply. Essentially, California, like the rest of the country, has built a very expensive system of transport, which is now aging along with its powergrid.
Who will produce all the energy that California will need to buy in the future?
Sigtarp: “Americans Should Lose Faith In Their Government ... Only With This Appropriate and Justified Rage Can We HopeSubmitted by George Washington on 07/23/2012 18:23 -0400
High-Level Government Insider Speaks Truth to Power ...
Visitor volume to Las Vegas is the highest since 2007, despite rising hotel rates, but gaming revenues are near flat. Online gambling is popular with Europeans – the Brits and Greeks in particular – yet it has slowed over the past 3 months. ConvergEx's latest off-the-beaten-path economic indicator – gambling – shows an increasing global reluctance to leave household finances at the whims of blackjack and poker tables, be they in actual casinos or online betting parlors. Discretionary spending behavior is reliant on consumer sentiment and economic outlook; gambling is the ultimate “luxury item” because there’s absolutely no guaranteed return, so gambling behavior is a near real-time indicator of changes in consumer confidence. Our gambling indicators, both domestic and abroad, show what feels a lot like recessionary behavior and point to another leg down in the latter half of 2012.
This is looking more and more like a modem-day depression. After all, last month alone, 85,000 Americans signed on for Social Security disability cheques, which exceeded the 80,000 net new jobs that were created: and a record 46 million Americans or 14.8% of the population (also a record) are in the Food Stamp program (participation averaged 7.9% from 1970 to 2000, by way of contrast) — enrollment has risen an average of over 400,000 per month over the past four years. A record share of 41% pay zero national incomes tax as well (58 million), a share that has doubled over the past two decades. Increasingly, the U.S. is following in the footsteps of Europe of becoming a nation of dependants. Meanwhile, policy stimulus, whether traditional or non-conventional, are still falling well short of generating self-sustaining economic growth.
In a first for Moody's, the rating agency, traditionally about a month after Egan Jones (whose rationale and burdensharing text was virtually copied by Moody's: here and here), has decided to cut Europe's untouchable core, while still at Aaa, to Outlook negative, in the process implicitly downgrading Germany, Netherlands and Luxembourg, and putting them in line with Austria and France which have been on a negative outlook since February 13, 2012.The only good news goes to Finland, whose outlook is kept at stable for one simple reason: the country's attempts to collateralize its European bailout exposure, a move which will now be copied by all the suddenly more precarious core European countries.
UPDATE: TXN misses and guides down:For the third quarter of 2012, TXN expects:
Revenue: $3.21 – 3.47 billion vs consensus Exp. of $3.53 billion,
Earnings per share: $0.34 – 0.42, vs consensus Exp is $0.43
VIX opened north of 20%, traded to 20.49%, and then it was decided that this level of premium over a recent calm realized vol period is too much and the front-end of the volatility market was crushed over 2 vols lower. While VIX closed up 2.3vols at 18.6%, the sell-off into Europe's close recovered handsomely on low volume leak back up to VWAP (thanks to HYG and VXX's stability) and then an afternoon push to last Monday's close before giving most of the afternoon gains back in a few mins after the cash close. The EUR dip-and-rip, the stick-save in the S&P whenever it tumbles with any kind of velocity, the fearless selling of short-dated vol, juxtaposes the general state of safe-haven seeking in Treasuries (and Swiss/German bonds) as the entire TSY curve saw record closing low yields amid a 3bps flattening at the long-end. Equity volume was meh, average trade size was meh - though as cash closed near day-session highs we saw heavy blocks selling, and ES traded between its 61.8% and 50% retracements of the March-to-June swoon. Broad risk assets did not play along with stocks this afternoon (though equities and gold recoupled) and neither did TRIN which remained very flat all day. The USD ended stronger by 0.2% (in line with EUR weakness) but SEK was the day's best major performer as AUD lagged (down 1% against the USD today). Volatility pulled plenty cheap to equities once again which remain notably more sanguine than credit and TSYs but the magic 1340 level in ES appears to be the line in the sand for now - though given a 10Y at 1.40%, do not expect NEW QE anytime soon - though Gold outperformed its peers on the day as WTI slid over 4% from Friday's close.
We’ve recently published a report showing investors how to prepare for this. It’s called How to Play the Collapse of the European Banking System and it explains exactly how the coming Crisis will unfold as well as which investment (both direct and backdoor) you can make to profit from it.
In what has become one of the most widely read and distributed of our posts, we first introduced the world to the intricacies of legal 'subordination' and protection among European bonds back in January of this year (and reaffirmed it specifically for Spain in early June). This strategy proved exceptionally successful in the case of Greece, and has, in recent weeks, also done extremely well in the case of Spain. Since we first noted it, the local-law Spanish 2029s are down over 14% while the non-local 'UK-law' Spanish 2029s have managed to gain 1.1% providing arbitrageurs with a massive profit on a duration-matched low-capital pairs trade. More importantly, for all the European fixed income asset managers who owe their clients as least some fiduciary duty, we can only hope they rotated to the non-domestic-law bonds before early May - when trouble really hit. While gloating on one's success at non-vaporizing cash once again is not our way, we much more critically note that one can read the fundamentals (as opaque as they are and known to everyone) or one can look at what the market is saying. What it is saying is that the differential between UK- and non-UK-law bonds has been crushed and is absolutely on a path to repeat the Greek PSI experience. There is plenty of room left for the trade since the UK-law bonds will likely be taken out at Par (just as with GGBs) while Spain's PSI is just as likely to be the 20s/30s - and any TROIKA funding will prime everyone but the UK-Law bonds.
The coincidence of comments from Germany - both the Bundestag's Hasselfeldt "If a country is not in a position to fulfill its obligations, or is unwilling to, then it must leave the Euro zone"; and vice-Chancellor Philip Roesler (of the FDP) to the effect that the dangers associated with a Greek exit had faded - and the IMF (which has been suspect for a while in its 'steadfastness' with regard Greece, seem to suggest as UBS notes, that there is notable suspicion of collusion among the politicians to apply pressure to the Hellenic Republic. Against becoming too concerned there is the Realpolitik of the Euro area. Decisions about the direction of the Euro project are taken by a very small coterie of political leaders within the Euro area, and we should be concerned not necessarily because of the specifics of the comment or the associated “hardball” bargaining stance, but because politicians still feel that comments like this can be made at all without fear of repercussions. As silly season is set to begin, we should prepare for the impact of politicians need to hear themselves speak.