February 8th, 2012
We have discussed forecasts for the second (and certainly not last ) February 29 3 Year LTRO in the past, with expectations for its size ranging from €1 trillion all the way up to a mindboggling €10 trillion. Today, Goldman has conducted a poll focusing on investors and banks, to gauge the sentiment for what has over the past 2 months been taken as the latest Deus Ex, which is really nothing than yet another bout of quantitative easing, only one in which the central bank pretend to be sterilizing 3 year loans by accepting any and virtually all collateral that banks can scrape off the bottom of their balance sheets (as a reminder, back in the financial crisis, Zero Hedge discovered that the Fed was accepting stocks of bankrupt companies as collateral - certainly the ECB is doing the same now). And once the banks get the cash instead of lending it out, or using it for carry trades, they simply use it to plug equity undercapitalization due to massive asset shortfalls on their balance sheets which are mark-to-unicornTM, yet which generate zero cash flow, even as banks have to pay out cash on their liabilities. In essence, the banks convert worthless crap into perfectly normal cash with the ECB as an intermediary: and that is all the LTRO is. Luckily, as we pointed out, even the idiot market is starting to grasp the circular scam nature of this arrangement, and the fact that it is nothing short of Discount Window usage, and because of that, the stigma associated with being seen as needing this last ditch liquidity injection is starting to grind on the banks. It is only a matter of time before hedge funds create portfolios in which they go long banks which openly refuse to use LTRO cash, and short all the other ones (read every single Italian and Spanish bank out there, and most French ones too) because at the end of the day one can only fool insolvency for so long. But once again we are getting ahead of the market by about 3-6 weeks. In the meantime, and looking forward to the next LTRO, whose cash will be used exclusively to build up "firewalls" ahead of the Greek default, here is what Goldman's clients expect to happen...
The idea that the very same economic forces that are currently plaguing Greece, et al., are somehow not relevant to the United States' circumstances does not hold water. As goes the rest of the world, so goes the US. When we back up far enough, it is clear that money and debt are there to reflect and be in service to the production of real things by real people, not the other way around. With too much debt relative to production, it is the debt that will suffer. The same is true of money. Neither are magical substances; they are merely markers for real things. When they get out of balance with reality, they lose value, and sometimes even their entire meaning. This report lays out the case that the US is irretrievably down the rabbit hole of deficits and debt, and that, even if there were endless natural resources of increasing quality available at this point, servicing the debt loads and liabilities of the nation will require both austerity and a pretty serious fall in living standards for most people.
But, but, but...
- ECB NOT YET DECIDED ON WHETHER TO CONTRIBUTE TO GREEK DEBT RESTRUCTURING - EURO ZONE SOURCES
The V-Fib pattern formerly known as the EURUSD not happy.
European FX Swap Line Usage With NY Fed Rises To Fresh Multi-Year High As More Banks Demand More DollarsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/08/2012 10:42 -0500
While the disclosure of New York Fed's FX swap line usage with the ECB continues to be between 1 and 2 weeks delayed, courtesy of our ECB friends/Goldman alumni, who post swap line usage in real time, we find that in the week starting with tomorrow's settlement, the total swap line usages has risen yet again in the past week, this time to a fresh multi-year high of $89.7 billion, an increase of $400 million compared to last week, and the highest since July 2009. The reason for the increase is that the 7 Day swap line for $3.73 billion maturing tomorrow and used by 10 banks, and at a cost of 0.59% has been replaced with a fresh 7 Day swap line for $4.13 billion and at a higher cost of 0.61% and used by 11 banks. We do realize that this fact goes 100% against the prevailing flawed meme that European bank liquidity, especially in USD, has been restored (why, just look at BBA member bank self-reported 3M USD Libor - it is declining - by Jupiter, it means all is well!). For that we apologize profusely.
DESIGNATED BEVERAGE FREE POST
While we wait, and wait, and wait for the neverending story out of Athens to finally end, we present some comic relief. Not even sure where to start with this headline du jour from Bloomberg, there is just so much 101% concentrated #win here...
- GOLD WILL RISE TO $1,250 IF EURO ZONE ENDS, ECONOMIST SAYS
Ph.D, baby. Ph.D.
The concept of social fractals can be illustrated with a simple example. If the individuals in a family unit are all healthy, thrifty, honest, caring and responsible, then how could that family be dysfunctional, spendthrift, venal and dishonest? It is not possible to aggregate individuals into a family unit and not have that family manifest the self-same characteristics of the individuals. This is the essence of fractals. If we aggregate healthy, thrifty, honest, caring and responsible families into a community, how can that community not share these same characteristics? And if we aggregate these communities into a nation, how can that nation not exhibit these same characteristics? If this is so, then how do we explain the complete corruption of America's financial and political Elites? What else can you call a nation that passively accepts financial predation, looting, robosigning, etc. by protected cartels as the Status Quo but thoroughly corrupt?
Gold Increased In Value In Both Extreme Inflationary And Deflationary Scenarios - Credit Suisse & LBS ResearchSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/08/2012 09:42 -0500
Mohamed El-Erian, CEO and co-chief investment officer of bond fund giant PIMCO, said investors should be underweight equities while favoring "selected commodities" such as gold and oil, given the fragile global economy and geopolitical risks. Over the long term gold will reward investors who own gold as part of a diversified portfolio. Trying to time purchases and market movements is not recommended – especially for inexperienced investors. New research from Credit Suisse and London Business School entitled ‘The Credit Suisse Global Investment Returns Yearbook 2012’ continues to be analysed by market participants. The 2012 Yearbook investigates data from 1900 to 2011 and looks at how best to protect against inflation and deflation, and how currency exposure should be steered. The chief findings are that bonds do well in deflation and benefit from currency hedging, and equities are not a perfect inflation hedge, but benefit from international diversification. The report shows that gold offers a timely inflation hedge and long term holders of gold should expect a positive correlation to inflation – gold is one of only two assets since 1900 to have positive sensitivity to inflation (of 0.26). Only inflation-linked bonds had more - 1.00, as expected. By contrast, when inflation rises 10%, bond returns have fallen an average 7.4%; Treasuries fell 6.2%, and equities lost 5.2%. Property fell by between 3.3% and 2%. Importantly, gold managed to increase its value across both extreme inflationary and deflationary scenarios. The academics from LBS analysed 2,128 individual years in 19 major countries (1900-2011), finding gold rose 12.2% in the most deflationary years - when average deflation was 26%.
Yesterday we dedicated a quick post to the glaringly obvious - the complete decimation-cum-implosion of the Greek economy. Today we learn that the obvious apparently continues, following a Reuters report that according to an Italian source, Q4 GDP declined more than the 0.2% drop in Q3, and that there was no improvement in Q1 of 2012. In other words, Italy's economy is now contracting at an at least 0.3% annualized run rate. More as we get it, but it's not like any details will make the news any less bulllish, because this is obviously great news: the accelerating recession is far better than the "priced in" apocalyptic depression that the market was expecting. In other words, by simple inversion worse than expected is better than unexpected. Or something.
Think the ECB announcement to do undergo a pseudo OSI impairment is a done deal? Not so fast - Germany may yet throw a wrench in there. According to Bloomberg, next week German lawmakers will conduct three votes on Greece among which:
- the €130 billion Greek bailout package... Wasn't it €145 billion by now?
- the empowerment of the EFSF to guarantee Greek government bonds held by the ECB
- the guarantee of Greek government bonds held by private sector after the debt swap
So while according to "sources" the ECB has already reached an "agreement in principle" to provide Official Sector debt relief, Germany may once again come out of left field with a blocking veto after German taxpayers realize that once again the ECB is throwing money down the drain on its Greek bond holdings, because as pointed out earlier, someone sure is taking a loss on those very same Greek bonds, no matter how convoluted the ECB-EFSF non-arms length and incestuous relationship.
This chart from Credit Suisse cuts through all the propaganda BS like a hot knife through butter.
European stocks advanced today following reports that the ECB is said to be willing to exchange Greek bonds with EFSF. In addition to that, although a vast majority of officials remain adamant that no haircuts will be applied, WSJ report indicated that the concession by the ECB will contribute to the Greek debt reduction, and the concession depends on the overall debt agreement being set. However it remains to be seen what effect using the EFSF for such spurious purposes will have on the demand for EFSF issued bonds in the future. Still, the renewed sense of optimism that debt swap talks are nearing an end depressed investor appetite for fixed income securities, which in turn resulted in further tightening of peripheral bond yield spreads. The stand out was the 10-year Spanish bond, amid a syndicated issuance from the Treasury. Going forward, Greek PM is scheduled to meet party leaders on a loan deal at 1300GMT, while other reports have suggested that the Troika is keen on meeting Greek parties individually. There is little in terms of macro-economic data releases today, however the US Treasury is due to sell USD 24bln in 10y notes.
Setting a precedent of official sector losses would raise huge questions over whether Portugal and Ireland will request similar treatment. However there are now no easy options. The current course of a second Greek bailout could just as easily have knock-on effects in the form of a second round of taxpayer-backed rescues. We have always argued strongly against taxpayers taking losses but, unfortunately, this is one of the few plausible options we’re now left with.
While hardly new to anyone who actually has been reading between the lines, and/or Zero Hedge, in the past few months, the Greek endspiel is here, and as a note by Goldman's Themistoklis Fiotakis overnight, the Greek timeline, or what little is left of it, "allows little room for error." Furthermore, "Due to the low NPV of the restructuring offer it is likely that part of this investor segment may be tempted to hold out (particularly owners of front-end bonds). How the holdouts are treated will be key. Paying them out in full would probably send a bullish signal to markets, yet it would be contradictory to prior policy statements about the desirability of high participation both in practical terms as well as in terms of signalling. On the other hand, forcing holdouts into the Greek PSI in an involuntary way would likely cause broad market volatility in the near term, but could be digested in the long run as long as it happens in a non-disruptive way (as we have written in the past, avoiding triggering CDS or giving the ECB’s holdings preferential treatment following an involuntary credit event could cause much deeper and longer-lived market damage)." Once again - nothing new, and merely proof that despite headlines from the IIF, the true news will come in 2-3 weeks when the exchange offer is formally closed, only for the world to find that 20-40% of bondholders have declined the deal and killed the transaction! But of course, by then the idiot market, which apparently has never opened a Restructuring 101 textbook will take the EURUSD to 1.5000, only for it to plunge to sub-parity after. More importantly, with Greek bonds set to define a 15 cent real cash recovery, one can see why absent the ECB's buying, Portugese bonds would be trading in their 30s: "Portugal will be crucial in determining the market’s view on the probability of default outside Greece... Given the significance of such a decision, markets will likely reflect concerns about the relevant risks ahead of time." Don't for a second assume Europe is fixed. The fun is only just beginning...