Over the past month, much has been said about the recent 3 year LTRO, and its function in stabilizing the European bond market. Certainly it has succeeded in causing an unprecedented steepening in European sovereign 2s10s curves across the periphery (well, except for Greece, and recently, Portugal) as by implication the ECB has made it clear that debt with a sub-3 year maturity is virtually risk free, inasmuch at least as the ECB is a credible central bank (and if it is perceived as no longer being one, there will be far bigger issues), along the lines of what the Fed's promise to keep ZIRP through the end of 2013, and today's likely extension announcement through 2014. Yet does filling a much needed for European stability fixed income "black hole" equate to a catalyst for Risk On? Hardly, because as in a new note today Brockhouse Cooper analysts Pierre Lapointe and Alex Bellefleur explains, the LTRO is "not a catalyst for a risk-on rally as the central bank is substituting itself for funding sources that have “dried up.” Sure enough - all the ECB is doing is preserving existing leverage (especially in light of ongoing bank deleveraging), not providing incremental debt, something which could only be done in the context of unsterilized bond monetization ala QE in the US. So just over a month in, what does the LTRO really mean for Europe (especially as we approach the next 3 Year LTRO issuance on February 29)? Here is Brockhouse's explanation.
Markets have become far less volatile than last year, but many investors remain focused on the Credit Markets for signs and cues as to the next move. With so many people looking to moves in credit markets and trying to determine how successful an auction has been, we thought it would make sense to go through some examples of how credit trades. At one extreme you have a real market like for the E-mini S&P futures. That trades from Sunday at 6pm EST until Friday at 4:15 EST. It is virtually continuous and at any given time you can see the bids and offers of the entire market. Then you have credit trading, which has almost nothing in common with ES futures and their incredible liquidity and transparency.
In all, the President's speech was reminiscent of George Clooney’s in Ides of March. We’ve heard it all before, maybe with slightly different words: America lost 4 million jobs before I got here, and another 4 million before our policies went into effect, but in the last 12 months, we added 3 million job. We must reduce tax loopholes, and provide tax incentives to businesses that hire in America. We must reform taxes for the wealthy (though he signed an extension of Bush’s tax cuts.) We must train people for an apparent abundance of expert jobs. We need more clean energy initiatives. We created regulations (big sigh of relief he didn’t use the word ‘sweeping’) to avoid fraudulent financial practices. We will help homeowners. Wall Street must ‘make up a trust deficit.” Like Jamie Dimon cares. In other words, Obama gave Wall Street a pass, while waxing populace. Don’t get me wrong. I expected nothing different. I will continue to expect nothing different, when he gets a second term, given the lame field of contenders all around.
The advance reading of Q4 UK GDP released today came in at -0.2%, slightly below expectations, however many market participants had feared a worse outcome for the indicator, allowing the GBP to pare the losses made in the lead-up to the GDP announcement. The Bank of England minutes released today have shown that the MPC unanimously agreed to keep the UK rate at 0.5%, and maintain the volume of the APF, however they also revealed that some MPC members saw the need for further QE in the future. Despite higher than expected German IFO Business Climate data this morning, European indices are trading in negative territory, with technology and financial stocks suffering the highest losses. This has seen asset reallocations into safe havens, which has seen Bunds outperform for the morning.
This is how Goldman sees today's events, and critical FOMC announcement, public communication overhaul and press release, unfolding.
European Stress Reemerges As Risk Off Epicenter Following Portugal Admission It Needs €30 Billion BailoutSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/25/2012 07:47 -0500
Even as the Euro-Dollar 3 Month basis swap has contracted to a nearly 6 month low at -75 bps, on residual hopes that the LTRO will do anything to fix Europe (it won't - just compare it to the €442 billion 1 year LTRO from June 2009 which worked until it didn't for the simple reason that Europe does does not have a liquidity problem), Europe has once again reemerged as a source of risk off (not least of all because the fulcrum security benefiting from the LTRO - the Italian 2 year BTP is for the first time in weeks wider by 17 bps). Why? The same reason as always: Greece, with a touch of Portugal. As BBG observes the positive sentiment in Asia earlier was retraced in the European session, with commodities, FX, equities lower, especially after ECB demurred from accepting losses on its Greek bond holdings. What that means is that as we patiently explained over the weekend, the imminent Greek default (just listen to Soros over in Davos spewing fire and brimstone on Europe for allowing the situation to get to a place where a Greek default is inevitable) will create so many subordinated junior tranches of Greek debt it will make one's head spin. But while the fate of Greece is all but sealed, and a CDS triggered virtually factored in (note: a Greek CDS trigger, in isolation, won't have much of an impact as repeated here before - in fact it will return some normalcy to the market as CDS will be a hedging vehicle once again over ISDA's corrupt trampled corpse), it is what happens to Portugal and its bonds that has the market gasping for air. Because as Zero Hedge pointed out first, a Greek default will be impossible to be enacted in Portugal in its currently envisioned format, as stupid as it may be. In fact, due to the pervasive and broad negative pledges in most medium-term Portuguese bonds, any priming Troika bailout is impossible without providing matching collateral for everyone else under UK indenture bonds!
In case one was wondering how the Goldman trading team was axed in Apple, we now know that they are pushing their inventory of stock in the name out of the door and to clients harder than ever, having just released a forecast with a $600 price target. However, with nearly 200 hedge fund holders in the name, and pregnant to the teeth in the stock, we fail to find who the incremental buyer of GS' AAPL stock will be.
- Angela Merkel casts doubt on saving Greece from financial meltdown (Guardian)
- Germany Rejects ‘Indecent’ Call to ECB on Greece, Meister Says (Bloomberg)
- Obama Calls for Higher Taxes on Wealthy (Bloomberg)
- Fed set to push back timing of eventual rate hike (Reuters)
- Recession Looms As UK Economy Shrinks By 0.2%, more than expected (SKY)
- King Says BOE Can Increase Bond Purchases If Needed to Meet Inflation Goal (Bloomberg)
- When One Quadrillion Yen is not enough: Japan's first trade deficit since 1980 raises debt doubts (Reuters)
- Sarkozy to quit if he loses poll (FT)
- U.S. Shifts Policy on Nuclear Pacts (WSJ)
- ECB under pressure over Greek bond hit (FT)
As the title of this essay suggests, a loan is an exchange of wealth for income. Like everything else in a free market (imagine happier days of yore), it is a voluntary trade. Contrary to the endemic language of victimization, both parties regard themselves as gaining thereby, or else they would not enter into the transaction. In a loan, one party is the borrower and the other is the lender. Mechanically, it is very simple. The lender gives the borrower money and the borrower agrees to pay interest on the outstanding balance and to repay the principle. As with many principles in economics, one can shed light on a trade by looking back in history to a time before the trade existed and considering how the trade developed. It is part of the nature of being a human that one is born unable to work, living on the surplus produced by one’s parents. One grows up and then one can work for a time. And then one becomes old and infirm, living but not able to work. If one wishes not to starve to death in old age, one can have lots of children and hope that they will care for their parents in their old age. Or, one can produce more than one consumes and hoard the difference.
Brevan Howard Made Money In 2011 Betting On Market Stupidity, Sees "Substantial Dislocation" In 2012Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/24/2012 23:53 -0500
While Paulson's star was finally setting in 2011, that of mega macro fund Brevan Howard was rising, and has been rising for years by never posting a negative return since 2003. The $34.2 billion fund, now about double the size of John Paulson's, returned 12.12% in a year marked by abysmal hedge fund performance. But how did it make money? Simple - by taking advantage of the same permabullish market myopia that marked the beginning of 2011, and that has gripped the market once again. "The Fund’s large gains during the third quarter were due predominantly to pressing the thematic view that markets were ignoring clear signs of economic slowdown and were not correctly pricing the probability of central bank accommodation, particularly the reversal of the ECB rate hikes in April and July." Not to mention the €800 billion ECB liquidity accommodation that started in July and has continued since. So yes: those betting again that the market correction is overdue, will once again be proven right Why? Because "we are about to witness an unprecedented policy move. In the US, Eurozone and UK, fiscal austerity is being prescribed as the cure following the bursting of the credit bubble and to overcome the malaise following a balance-sheet recession. Unfortunately, there is no historical example of when this approach has been successful." As for looking into the future, "we continue to believe that markets remain at risk of substantial dislocation."
Former member of the Bundesbank and the ECB: The case of Greece is hopeless, a fiscal union won’t work, and they all know it.
SOTU Post Mortem:
The best news possible: "Nothing will get done this year, or next year, or maybe even the year after that." Barack Hussein Obama
The worst news: Everything else.
Here is the text of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address as prepared for delivery at 9 p.m. ET. "Jobs" 33 vs. "Fat Cats" 0, Rich 3 vs Poor 1, Hope 2 vs Unicorns 0, Change 9 vs Tooth-Fairy 0, Mortgages 5 vs Apple 0, Main Street 1 vs Wall Street 3, China 4 vs Europe 1; DEBT CEILING 0
While watching the live-stream of Obama's third State Of The Union speech here, why not enjoy the 'p(o)ints game'? Thanks to BNP's Bricklin Dwyer for the 'game' and for noting that Obama's approval rating is 44% (approval has tracked the stock market/GDP higher since October's sub-40% trough) versus a disapproval rating of 47%.
Humans are a flawed species. Our minds are easily manipulated. We don’t like pain. We prefer instant gratification. We are susceptible to mass delusion. We will often choose hope over critical thought. Those with higher IQs will regularly attempt to take advantage of those with lower IQs. Fear and greed are the two motivations used by the minority in power to control and manipulate the majority. The American people have been led astray by a small group of powerful men. We were herded through a door in the wall of perception that promised an American dream of material goods, entitlements and pleasure with no obligations or responsibility to future generations. There is only one choice that can save this country from ruin. Each individual must make a choice to either to continue supporting the manipulative, corrupt status quo or coming back through the Door in the Wall.
“The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less sure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend” – Aldous Huxley