It appears that today's +3.5% jump in IBEX (from decade-lows) is being heralded as some kind of indication of a bottom or turning point in stress in Spain. By way of context though, Spanish 10Y bond yields remain above 6% (and spreads at 450bps near record wides), Spanish 5Y CDS are unchanged at record wides over 500bps, and the banking bailout remains woefully small relative to the size of the hole they are trying to fill (and all of that is funded by a sovereign that only retains access to the public debt markets thanks to its circular banking system's bid). To be more clear, the last time IBEX increased by +3 sigma marked the very top last July before Europe fell apart and IBEX plummeted 23% in just 2 weeks. Anchoring bias can be a dangerous thing and dead cat bounces are often misleading when selling-fatigue is all around.
When we presented the latest chart of the Bundesbank's record TARGET2 imbalance last night we had one simple message: we hope Germany is prepared for the rout its central bank will soon experience once the Eurozone's members start dropping like flies. Today it appears that Germany has decided to go with the flow, and in what Spiegel classifies as a "turning point in monetary policy" notes that Germany, in an abrupt shift to its Weimar-impacted history, is getting ready to embrace inflation. What this likely means is that the ECB is about to set off on its most aggressive monetization experiment ever, which also explains why all of Europe is trading diggy limit up this morning: it is not on the latest batch of horrible news - it is on the return of speculation that the ECB is, with the Bundesbank's blessing, baaaack.
The implications of a nation leaving the Euro (and its contagion effects) are becoming clearer but are by no means discounted by the market. The risk of an interruption in the Greek adjustment program has increased significantly - and as Goldman notes - is the most likely eventual outcome for Greece and fears of the missed interest payment in June continue to concern many. The tough decision and dilemma for the international community remains between a rock (of acquiescence and just funding a belligerent member state) and had place (ECB deciding to let Greek banks go) with an odd middle ground seemingly the most likely given Europe's tendency for avoiding the hard decisions. There is no doubt that the near term implications from such an unfortunate turn of events would be profound for markets; fiscal risk premia would widen, the EUR would decline in value and European equities would underperform. The true question though, is how much lasting damage such a situation can do and whether, in the long run, systemic risks can be contained. In principle, to the extent that no other country chooses to go down the same path as Greece, there is no political or practical hurdle for the ECB to crucially safeguard the stability of the Euro area with unlimited liquidity provisions. A liquidity driven crisis can be averted in that sense. Whether risk premia stay on a higher tangent after such an event is a separate and complicated question but game-theoretically it strengthens the renegotiating position of Ireland, Portugal, and obviously Spain with the ECB (and implicitly the Bundesbank) being dragged towards the unmitigated print-fest cliff.
Same Trick Different Week: "Initial Claims Decline Following Revision"; Deficit Surge Pushes Q1 GDP To 1.5%Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/10/2012 - 08:44
Stop us when this sounds familiar. Last week's 365K number has been revised to 368K, which is where the expectations for this week's print were. Instead, we got 367K claims this week, a 1K beat to expectations, which will be a 2K miss next week of course, but at least the pre-election propaganda media has their headline: "Initial Claims improve by 1,000." And scene. Naturally, the same thing happened for continuing claims, which beat expectations of 3275K, printing at 3229K, with the last week's print revised to 3290K from 3276K. The more disturbing form an end demand standpoint data, is that yet another 40K dropped off extended claims and EUCs. Finally in what is the best new for the market, and worst for the Economy, is that the March trade deficit soared to $51.8 billion, on expectations of -$50 billion, which was the biggest trade balance drop in 10 months. What this means is that Q1 GDP which already is tracking at 1.9%, just got lobbed to 1.5%. Yes: the Q1 GDP first revision will likely show the 2.2% number is now in the low to mid 1% range.
The Immortal Bard must have been referencing Madrid when penning these lines or, if not, would likely approve of their application this morning. The nationalization of Bankia, the third largest bank in Spain, is not some isolated event that is singular and alone in nature regardless of the expected dampening and muted words and phrases issued by the Spanish government. The cancer has been identified but not isolated and you may be assured that it remains in the lymph nodes of the two major banks in Spain. Fortunately, during America’s financial crisis, many of the sub-prime mortgages were securitized and no longer resided on the balance sheets of the American banks. In the case of Spain we find not only the majority of the mortgages resident at the Spanish banks but we find an added dimension which is a huge amount of money lent to Real Estate developers which is impaired and still on the books of the Spanish banks. Further, in my opinion, none of these loans have been accurately accounted for and they are being carried at whimsical valuations by the banks or pledged as collateral at the ECB where the Spanish bank funding jumped 50% in one month and now stands at $294 billion. Following the bouncing ball; there is now so much encumbrance of assets between pledged collateral and covered bond sales that the actual worth of the two major Spanish banks is now someplace between “not much” and “De minimis” should the situation deteriorate to the point of impairment.
European equities continue the downward trend throughout the morning, despite opening slightly higher. Similarly to yesterday the moves are not data-driven, however the ECB have revised their forecasts for Euroarea growth downwards to -0.2% this year from -0.1% and have revised their inflation outlook upwards to 2.3% from 1.9%. The focus remains on Greece as the PASOK leader Venizelos grabs the baton and now attempts to form a stable coalition. Commentary from Greece so far has not been revelatory; Venizelos has reiterated that he wishes to remain within the Eurozone and affirmed that his party has not changed its policy with respect to the bailout. Flight to quality is observed throughout the markets, with the German Bund already testing yesterday’s highs several times and the major cash equities seen lower throughout the continent.
- Game Changer: China Starts Drilling It Own Rig Wells (China Daily)
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- How a Radical Greek Rescue Plan Fell Short (WSJ)
- Spain takes 45% stake in Bankia (FT)
- Facebook admits to mobile weakness (WSJ)
- FDIC Would Seize Parent, Allow Units to Operate While Mess Is Cleaned Up (WSJ) - Good luck
- AT&T Fast Network a Work in Progress in Race With Verizon (BBG)
- Pointed Spat Over World Trade Spire (WSJ)
Goldman maintains “constructive” 6-month forecast, says case for higher prices remains in place. Goldman stands by its forecast for a rally in gold this year, saying that the precious metal will advance to $1,840/oz over six months as the U.S. central bank embarks on a third round of stimulus in June. The precious metal remains the “currency of last resort,” according to analysts led by Jeffrey Currie in a report released yesterday. Goldman’s gold forecast implies a 15% return in 6 months. “In early 2009, we suggested that gold had become the currency of last resort, overtaking the U.S. dollar’s status due the rising risk of sovereign default and debasement concerns,” Currie wrote in the report. Even as the U.S. currency advanced and gold fell on the European crisis in recent months, “it is too early for the dollar to reclaim this status,” they wrote. “The case for higher gold prices remains in place,” the analysts wrote. “U.S. economic and employment data has now disappointed for several weeks, European election results point to further stress in the euro area, while anecdotal data suggests that physical gold demand remains resilient.”
There was no good news overnight: CSCO (a rather prominent DJIA member) imploded on global demand weakness, China posted a larger than expected trade surplus which however was due to a greater than expected drop in imports, European industrial production was slightly better in Italy but offset by worse than expected news out of France (as for Greece - forget it), while all the attention continues to be focus on how the Greek endgame plays out, and now Spain too. Still, futures are on the cusp of greenness simply because following 6 days of declines stocks are oversold, and will desperately try to rally into any good news: such as initial claims later today, which will once again be spun as "declining" following a bigger upward revision to last week's number, making this week's appear to drop... at least until next week. As usual be on the watch for any erroneous headlines based on spurious rumors out of Greek developments: these tend to more the EURUSD, and thus ES, quite violently.
As noted earlier this week, while the theater of Greek elections serves as a convenient distraction from the epic depression the country of 10 million is undergoing, the reality is that very soon it won't matter at all who is left to govern this ruined country. Because if previously we demonstrated the collapse in two primary drivers of government tax revenue, namely tourism and commerce, today we show the logical follow through to economic flatlining: jobs and industries. Sadly, both are getting trounced. As Reuters reports, "Greece's jobless rate hit a new record in February, underscoring the pain austerity policies required by the EU and IMF have inflicted on the debt-laden country which is struggling to form a government. More than one in five Greeks and one in two youths are out of a job, statistics service ELSTAT data showed on Thursday. The unemployment rate hit 21.7 percent from a revised 21.3 percent in January. In the 15-24 age group, joblessness stood at a record 54 percent." It also appears that Greece has been getting ideas from the BLS: an 11 million population, and a pool of employed at a record low 3.87 million! "Nearly 1.1 million people were without a job, 42 percent more than in the same month last year, the data showed. The number of those in work declined by 8 percent over the same period to a record low 3.87 million." In other words, less than 4 million people are working to pay off the country's bailout package and debt which at last check was about 200% of GDP? At least of all indicators, the GDP is collapsing the fastest. Very soon Greece will be treated to a merciful #Div/0 when attempting to calculate its debt to GDP ratio. We can't wait to see the IMF's face then.
Charles Biderman (CEO of TrimTabs) is not shocked that "Europeans who have been getting something for nothing, want to continue getting something for nothing" as they chant that Austerity is evil. Charles provides context for the revolt that the Europeans find themselves fulfilling as he looks back at how they/we got here. Briefly covering the key aspects of the last 25 years, of why and how various parabolic growths (be it stocks, real estate, the internet, or debt) have led us to believe we "deserve something for nothing"; he vehemently argues that the European mess will not resolve itself until the fundamental belief that we all deserve to be taken care of from cradle-to-grave dissolves. In one of his best rants, the BLS-belittler explains how Europe has started the endgame and why the end of this year could well see the US move front-and-center in the crisis. Harsh but fair, in a little under 4 minutes, summarizes all that is wrong with societal values and suggests catalysts for next steps - dismal next steps.
Investors should be questioning their positive assumptions after the events of the past two weeks. Things have changed a great deal and rumors abound on how the authorities plan to support the market now. At the end of last month, only ten calendar days ago, the perky US equity market, the placid foreign exchange scene, calm credit spreads and rock-bottom volatility implied to us and anyone paying even cursory attention that the world was happy with the way things were turning out in 2012, no matter what the Mayan calendar might be saying. But now, after the Socialist victory in France, the Greek electoral disintegration, the poor US employment numbers and the disastrous European PMI readings the market is very uncertain with the EUR/USD below 1.30, Spanish 10-year Bonds back over 6.00% and equity markets down sharply around the world. Our cyclical analysis finds this weakness very appropriate as we should be in a decline. What makes the ground so uncertain beneath our feet is the reality of our current position: interest rates are at zero, fiscal budgets are stretched to the maximum, total national financial liabilities are at a breaking point and national monetary bases are a multiple of the highest they have ever been. Quite simply, there are no good borrowers. No one wants to loan anyone any money.
Two weeks ago, we showed that when it comes to parabolic charts, Europe sure has a variety to choose from. Yet none are quite as parabolic as the chart enabling it all: the Bundesbank's TARGET2 claims toward the rest of the Eurosystem, or as we have repeatedly explained (and as Jens Wiedmann confirmed), the sunk cost that Germany will have to foot once the Euro experiment ends, and the EMU falls apart.. which judging by recent developments in Greece, and now Spain, could be as soon as in a few weeks. The number as of April 30? €644,182,010,456.05, which is exactly 25% of German GDP, and an increase of €28.6 billion in April and €181 billion in 2012 alone! Putting this number in perspective, imagine that the Fed had "assets" totalling $3.85 trillion that everyone knew are totally worthless, and meant that it would have to print a like amount in fresh money as replacement "capital" when D-Day came. This "money" represents a receivable that the Bundesbank will never, repeat never, get back, once Greece exits the Eurozone, and sets a precedent for all the other insolvent European countries, leading to the end of the European monetary experiment. It also means that the asset base backing the liability side of the Bundesbank will soon get obliterated. So the real question is: do German taxpayers feel like sinking costs which will never be repaid, and which serve merely to preserve the myth of viable German export markets, thereby keeping the illusion that the German intra-Eurozone export industry is alive and well, while in the process obliterating the balance sheet of their far more prudent central bank? Or will the German population say "genug" and force the Bundesbank to stop funding the current account deficit ways that it has been enabling for years? The choice is theirs. Just don't come crying to the Fed when this number is 100% of GDP and everything falls apart.