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Bank of America Drops To $5.01; Lowest Since March 2009

As of minutes ago, BAC stock hit the nearly 3 year low value of $5.01 which immediately set off algorithmic defense programs, because as has been explained previously, should the stock trade under $5.00 during regular hours, instead of the After Hours session, when it hit $4.90 a few weeks ago, it will most likely set off numerous selling programs from plain vanilla funds which despite what pundits claims, have a hard floor of $5.00 (these are the same "pundits" who believe a downgrade of the EuropeAAAn club will have no impact on asset vallue) for held stocks.The result would be unpredictable so it is better to eat losses on algo all bid programs than to find out what would happen when the stock has  $4 handle.



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Time To Trim Q1 GDP Forecasts: Boehner Expects House To Reject Payroll Tax Extension

As we noted earlier, in his live statement, Boehner just said that the House will reject the Senate-proposed 2 month payroll tax extension, via BBG:

  • HOUSE SPEAKER BOEHNER EXPECTS HOUSE TO DISAGREE WITH SENATE
  • BOEHNER: 'IT'S TIME TO STOP THE NONSENSE' ON SHORT EXTENSION
  • BOEHNER: HOUSE PASSED A 'REASONABLE BILL' ON TAX-CUT EXTENSION
  • BOEHNER SAYS HOUSE WILL VOTE ON SENATE PAYROLL TAX BILL TONIGHT
  • BOEHNER SAYS HE EXPECTS HOUSE-SENATE CONFERENCE ON TAX CUT

It is time to cut those Q1 GDP forecast as time is running out, and the GOP obviously is hell bent on making the Obama economy as ugly as possible heading in the election year.



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Guest Post: Three Charts That Blow The Doors Off Any Hope Of A 2012 Rally

A good way to generate hate mail is to question 1) Santa's "guaranteed year-end rally" and 2) the notion that market rallies always resume soon enough because of the Federal Reserve's backstop/intervention. If we step back from the latest shuck-and-jive data from the Ministry of Propaganda, a.k.a. the Status Quo managing perceptions, and take a longer view of the economy, money, credit and the stock market, we get an extremely troubling set of insights. Courtesy of this site's Chartist Friend from Pittsburgh, here are three charts that completely undermine the fantasy that central planning/intervention can "save the market" once again in 2012 and beyond.



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As Liquidity Swap Impact Fades, ECB Is Back To Propping Up Peripheral Bond Markets In Size

Last week, in the aftermath of the global coordinated liquidity swap facility expansion (OIS+100 to OIS+50) from November 30, with the added benefit of the contemporaneous Chinese RRR cut, bond yields plunged on short-term hope that the Fed's action would be a long-term solution for the Eurozone. It wasn't. But not before the ECB received a brief respite from manipulating bond markets. As a result of the November 30 action, the ECB proceeded to buy just €635 million of Peripheral (read Italian) bonds as the BTP yield plunged. Days later, following the realization that this is nothing but yet another band aid mechanism, yields once again soared, and depending on the benchmark used, pushed beyond 7% once again. In the meantime, the story of the ECB's 3 year LTRO rescue, lost in the aftermath of the Fed action, was resurrected, and is now attributed by some as being some pseudo bazooka that will rescue the ECB. It won't as was explained yesterday. And sure enough, one week after the knee jerk reaction from the liquidity intervention, the ECB was once again out in full force picking up pennies in front of the steamroller, buying up €3.361 billion in bonds in the week ended December 16, which brings the total purchases at €211 billion (net of maturities).



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Will Congress Kill The Payroll Tax Extension - Advance Look At Today's 6:30PM Vote

Tonight at 6:30 pm the House is set to vote on the Senate’s payroll tax cut/unemployment insurance bill. As it stands right now, it appears likely that the vote will fail due to lack of support by Boehner and other house leaders. Furthermore, Senate has said it will not present an alterantive bill (as of yet). Which means that with a major portion of Q1 GDP at stake (non-renewal of payroll cuts means up to 1% of GDP being cut in Q1 2012), the futures market will be very focued on newsflow after the close. Here is Goldman's rundown of what to expect tonight in DC.



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Did GLD And Other Gold ETFs Kill Gold Stocks?

In a just released piece by Goldman's Eugene King which explains the firm's justification for why gold will peak at over $1900 in 2012, and which we will discuss in greater detail shortly, Goldman brings up a very interesting point, namely that the ongoing weakness in gold stocks, and the broad decoupling of gold miners from gold price can be attributed to one primary thing: the emergence of synthetic means of expressing a position on the gold market and "bypassing" direct gold cost pass thru exposure in the form of gold stocks. Supposedly this is a good thing, although we would caution that this is potentially a very insidious scheme to allow the world's cash-rish entities (read banks full of those ones and zeros that these days pass for "money") to procure real gold assets at very cheap prices and valuations, even as the broader retail investors proceeds to chase paper gold in the form of "synthetic CDOs" such as GLD (which as we first noted over a week ago may well disappear when the paper claims collapse and suddenly everyone has a claim on the underlying physical), only after the fact realizing they merely used gold as a paper pass thru equivalent. In other words, as the broader population continues to realize that gold is the real safe asset, yet invests in legacy forms of exposure, i.e., paper, the real hard assets: firms that actually extract gold from the ground and process it, remain out on the auction block to be snapped up quietly by all those who want exposure to the primary source of the metal, which they can then throttle at will in order to manipulate the supply side of the equation post facto.



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IMF Loans Likely To Fall Short Of €200 Expected As UK Pulls Rescue Funding

As noted over the weekend, the UK, having vetoed the December 9 summit, has made it clear it would also likely back out of its IMF mandated contribution to save the Eurozone. In other words, the €30.9 billion that was supposed to come from the UK to rescue French and Italian banks, is now probably gone, a move which threatens to topple the latest Plan Z euro bailout in which broke countries pool money to bailout the same broke countries. Sure enough, Dow Jones confirms it:

  • EU loans to IMF likely to fall short of expected EUR 200bln according to sources 
  • Eurozone may move on IMF loans without immediate UK support according to a EU source

And while below we present the latest breakdown of IMF contribution by member countries, courtesy of Reuters, how long before populist pressure in various Eurozone (and especially non-Eurozone) countries threatens to topple governments unless each and every "joint and several" contributor country pulls a UK? Because if the UK is allowed to save taxpayer funds, why not everyone else?



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2012 Gold Averages: Goldman $1,810/oz, Barclays $2,000/oz and UBS $2,050/oz

Bullion banks remain positive on gold for 2012 with major banks predicting an average gold price of between 13% and 28% above today’s spot at $1,595/oz. It will be interesting to see if these forecasts get as much international media coverage as the poll of 20 hedge fund managers has. UBS have reiterated their bullish outlook for gold and believe gold will average $2,050/oz in 2012. This is 28% above today’s spot price of $1595/oz. Goldman Sachs said overnight that gold will average $1,810/oz in 2012 – which is 13% above today’s spot price. Barclays Capital have said this morning that gold will average $2,000/oz in 2012 – which is 25% above today’s spot price.



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Market Sentiment And Overnight Summary

Bloomberg analyst TJ Marta summarizes market developments in the last few hours since the death of Kim Jong Il pushed risk aversion, especially in Asia to an extreme, while Bloomberg's James Holloway explains why market sentiment is where it is, and what the market will be looking for today.



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Frontrunning: December 19

  • Obituary: Kim Jong-il (FT)
  • Draghi Warns on Eurozone Break-up (FT)
  • EU Ministers Seek Crisis IMF Funding Deal (Bloomberg)
  • China November Home Prices Post Worse Performance This Year (Bloomberg)
  • China Debts Dwarf Official Data With Too-Big-to-Finish Alarm (Bloomberg)
  • China opens up to offshore renminbi investors (FT)
  • Voters to Read Recovery Signs (Hilsenrath)
  • Germany May Pay Full ESM Contribution in 2012 (Reuters)
  • U.S. Housing Heals Even as its Damage Widens (Reuters)
  • S&P Cut Proves Absurd as Investors Prefer U.S.  (Bloomberg)


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BCG Presents The One Chart To Explain The Implications Of Leaving The Euro

On a day when data confirms Spanish bad loans creeping up to recent highs and deposits continuing to stream out of the periphery, Boston Consulting Group has released an excellent treatise on the "What Next? Where Next?" perspective of the impact of collateral damage in and out of the Eurozone. The critical questions for most market watchers and prognosticators remain, how likely is an exit, and what would be the implications for 'leaver' and 'left behind'? BCG offers an at-a-glance chart of the economic, social, and market expectations for the ins-and-outs and notes, in less-than-Deutsche-Bank-like mutually assured destruction language, the cost of leaving the Euro varying from EUR3,500 to 11,500 depending on weak or strong exiting country per person per year. No matter what, an exit would impact the world economy considerably and BCG strongly suggests corporate management consider a Euro-zone breakup as a possible scenario for next year, along with a muddle-through, a Japanese deflation-like evolution, or a significant inflation possibility.



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North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il Has Died Aged 70, South Korea On Emergency Footing

Just out on Yonhap:

  • North Korea says its leader Kim Jong-il has died.
  • N. Korean leader died of fatigue at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 17 during train ride: KCNA

And Reuters confirms:

  • NORTH KOREA STATE TELEVISION SAYS KIM JONG IL HAS DIED

Great. More geopolitical uncertainty. Because as the Arab Spring has shown us there is nothing quite as stable as a transitory military government to fill a power vacuum (also see Thermidorian reaction during the French Revolution).

As expected the South Korean response is immediate.

  • S. Korean gov't shifts to emergency footing on news of N.K. leader's death


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Psssst France: Here Is Why You May Want To Cool It With The Britain Bashing - The UK's 950% Debt To GDP

While certainly humorous, entertaining and very, very childish, the recent war of words between France and Britain has the potential to become the worst thing to ever happen to Europe. Actually, make that the world and modern civilization. Why? Because while we sympathize with England, and are stunned by the immature petulant response from France and its head banker Christian Noyer to the threat of an imminent S&P downgrade of its overblown AAA rating, the truth is that France is actually 100% correct in telling the world to shift its attention from France and to Britain. So why is this bad. Because as the chart below shows, if there is anything the global financial system needs, is for the rating agencies, bond vigilantes, and lastly, general public itself, to realize that the UK's consolidated debt (non-financial, financial, government and household) to GDP is... just under 1000%. That's right: the UK debt, when one adds to its more tenable sovereign debt tranche all the other debt carried on UK books (and thus making the transfer of private debt to the public balance sheet impossible), is nearly ten times greater than the country's GDP. To call that "game over" is an insult to game overs everywhere. So here's the bottom line: France should quietly and happily accept a downgrade, because the worst that could happen would be a few big French banks collapsing, and that's it. If, on the other hand, the UK becomes the center of attention (recall this is the same UK that allows unlimited rehypothecation of worthless assets, and the same UK that unleashed the juggernaut known as AIG-FP's Joe Cassano - after all there is a reason why the UK has 600% its GDP in financial liabilities - financial innovation always goes there where it is least regulated), then this island, which far more so than the US is the true center of the global banking ponzi scheme, will suddenly find itself at the mercy of the market. At that point the only question is whether the vigilantes will dare to take down the UK, as said take down will result in an implosion in the very fabric of modern finance, much more so than what even a full collapse of France could ever achieve, or if due to the certain Mutual Assured Destruction that would follow a coordinated UK onslaught, the market will simply very quietly proceed to ignore the elephant in the room.



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Fed May Inject Over $1 Trillion To Bail Out Europe

As first reported here, two weeks ago European banks saw the amount of USD-loans from the Fed, via the ECB's revised swap line, surge to over $50 billion - a total first hit in the aftermath of the Bear Stearns failure prompting us to ask "When is Lehman coming?" However, according to little noted prepared remarks by Anthony Sanders in his Friday testimony to the Congress Oversight Committee, "What the Euro Crisis Means for Taxpayers and the U.S. Economy, Pt. 1", we may have been optimistic, because the end result will be not when is Lehman coming, but when are the next two Lehmans coming, as according to Sanders, the relaunch of the Fed's swaps program may "get to the $1 trillion level, or perhaps even higher." As a reference, FX swap line usage peaked at $583 billion in the Lehman aftermath (see chart). Needless to say, this estimate is rather ironic because as Bloomberg's Bradely Keoun reports, "Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke yesterday told a closed-door gathering of Republican senators that the Fed won’t provide more aid to European banks beyond the swap lines and the discount window -- another Fed program that provides emergency funds to U.S. banks, including U.S. branches of foreign banks." Well, between a trillion plus in FX swap lines, and a surge in discount window usage which only Zero Hedge has noted so far, there really is nothing else that the Fed can possibly do, as these actions along amount to a QE equivalent liquidity injection, only denominated in US Dollars. Aside of course to shower Europe with dollars from the ChairsatanCopter. Then again, before this is all over, we are certain that paradollardop will be part of the vernacular.



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