Given the better-than-expected ISM print earlier, one could be forgiven for believing that the US is just fine thank you very much. Our earlier discussion of the dispersion in the ISM sub-indices, and yesterday's discussion of the PMI 'catch-up' nature of the very recent pre-holiday seasonal orders given the unusual slump in October may weaken the decoupling view but strategists will extrapolate trends as normal. Whether you believe in tooth-fairies or decoupling, Goldman's Global Leading Indicator continues to accelerate downward and moved into negative territory for the first time since August 2009. Amid a broad deterioration in components their outlook for global growth remains soft, even as the US export miracle remains alive and well.
Just when you thought it was safe to go all-in buying financials, stocks, commodities, Chinese IPOs and even Tilson's fund, the last few hours of Europe's day was very disappointing. Commodities took a fairly serious plunge as the dollar strengthened (macro data? or just a reality slap). Credit and equity markets oscillated but legged down into the close and ES also slipped to day's lows as we closed. Sovereigns were on a tear, thanks obviously to a helping hand early on from ECB's SMP program, but even they started to leak back wider in spread and higher in yield into the close. It was not cataclysmic, obviously, but was hardly the follow-through risk-on day that so many had hoped and dreamed of last night and most notably, broad risk assets in general have been leaking lower since US close last night, leaving ES rich relative to CONTEXT.
The system is not unsustainable; it is already broken, and needs to be put on a path of real, concrete productivity and growth (labor, learning, creative application, quality of life, etc.), not malignant expansion of credit and debt. My argument is that debt forgiveness is an essential mover in this necessary transformation. Debt in its current ideological form, must be decisively repudiated in practice and replaced with a working system based on healthy, productive principles. This process of repudiation includes extinguishing delusional economic assumptions and practices—the parasitic “skim-scam” of “internalizing gains and externalizing liabilities” in an inherently interconnected system, and the addictive habit of leeching off the future. Transformation involves “paying forward” our talents and investment in the growth of a stronger, safer, and more solvent future. This will be discussed in the next part.
Anyone who held only cash all year, and followed our advice to do the inverse of the ridiculously overly publicized in every possible venue "Tilson trade" (as in buy GMCR and short NFLX) on November 11, can now unwind, having made not only their year, but guaranteed themselves a place in the top 0.01% performing hedge funds in the world in 2011, with a 50% return in two work weeks, and likely the opportunity to raise their AUM by billions in 2012 as everyone else still flounders with ridiculous momentum, 13F mimicry and beta chasing strategies. We can only hope and pray that Whitney makes it once again all too public what his next trade will be.
Watch Live As A Recusing Gary Gensler Tries To Explain Why The CFTC Failed Massively In Its MF Global OversightSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/01/2011 - 12:11
Nothing like watching one Goldmanite explaining why he failed to prevent another Goldmanite from (allegedly) stealing hundreds of millions in customer accounts. Linked below is the live hearing by the "Continuing Oversight of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act" in which Schapiro and Gensler are held to account for their epic failure with MF Global oversight.
A week ago, Zero Hedge brought up the last Hail Mary available in Europe's fiscal arsenal: the Redemption Fund. Specifically we said, " There are currently three options being discussed for the Stabilittee bonds - all of which have more than short-term time horizons for any potential implementation and so we suspect, as CS mentions, that the talk of the Redemption Fund from the German Council of Economic Experts will grow louder as an interim step" and quoting Credit Suisse, " One proposal that might be able to co-exist with the Treaties as they are is the recommendation of the German Council of Economic Experts, pooling sovereign debt in a Redemption Fund as we discussed briefly last week. We are quite surprised that the idea does not seem to have generated more traction in the press since it is one of few proposals that actually provides a means for reducing debt (rather than moving it around the euro area) and is aimed not to fall foul of the German Constitution. Something based around this idea might be a contender for a precursor to permanent Eurobonds, buying time while the Treaties are changed." Sure enough here is Reuters showing that it only took Germany one week to catch up to what our readers already knew, from Reuters: "Germany will propose setting up special national funds for euro zone sovereign debt that is over 60 percent of gross domestic product to help build market confidence, the country's finance minister said on Thursday. Wolfgang Schaeuble told reporters that Germany would make the proposal at a European Union summit next week. The funds should be supported by public revenues and dismantled within 20 years, he said." In other words even Europe now admits that the EFSF as even as stop gap measure to fill the void before the ECB acquiesces to print, is dead, and is looking at the last measure available to fix the fundamental problem at the heart of the Eurozone (yesterday's liquidity band aid is just that) which is the rolling of untenable amounts of leverage. Unfortunately, the core provision of Schauble's redemption fund variation which is that the fund is national, "which would get around German concerns about the "communitarization" of debt between European states" means that the idea is hardly unlikely to pick up as it relies on already insolvent countries to fund it. If this is indeed the final backstop to be presented at the European Summit, it may be time to turn bearish on Europe all over again, today's surging sovereign bond prices notwithstanding.
In its November presentation, Hinde Capital presents some observations on why fiat money may be the latest exponential concept on its way to singularity status, with the now traditional implications of what this means for hyperinflation: "High (hyper) inflation is caused by financing huge public deficits through money creation. Even 20% deficits were behind but four cases of hyperinflation. The US government deficit is 10% of GDP, but currently the US deficit is over 30% of all government spending. The world reserve currency is in the red." He also points out the only assets not to join the exponential growth ("Global financial assets have risen 17-fold over the last 3 decades from $12.3 trillion to nearly $210 trillion") in other fiat funded assets and liabilities - gold. To wit: "Gold investor holdings stands at $2.0 trillion (Nov 2011), 0.96% of Global Financial Assets (GFA). In 2000 gold holdings were worth $227 billion, or 0.2% of GFA, but this isn’t the whole story... Today 0.2% would be worth $1.45 trillion ($1800 troy oz. Au) or 0.7% of Global Financial Assets (GFA). Therefore new investment gold only provided 0.26% increase in % gold holdings. In 1968 to 1970 % gold holdings of GFA = 5%, to attain this % at current values of gold ($1,800), $10.4 trillion dollars need to be invested. $10.4 trillion is equivalent to 5.8 billion troy oz at $1,800 or 1.2 x gold ever produced.5.8 billion troy oz. is 3.6 x known gold reserves (based on US Geological Survey). Clearly not only is public ownership miniscule, but to return to the 70s % holdings requires too much gold than these prices can handle. This transfer of gold will take place at much higher prices." And the world's central banks are doing their best to make the transfer happen faster...
We need to look at why the funding rates were cut. It is not because everything is better: Firstly this action, coming in a timely fashion, was certainly warranted and shows a new resolve to act in a banking crisis. However it is the fact it was warranted is the problem and whilst it makes Dollar funding cheaper, it remains to be seen if banks trust each other enough to lend. I am not sure about this and the situation must have been really bad for such action as it was clearly not as pro-active as they may like to suggest. A crisis was very close indeed and whilst this action eases the situation it may not be a cure. The banks still face massive headwinds from here. The RRR cut from China helped risk appetite earlier but again is a clear sign that lower growth and thus easing is on the way in China. Hard or soft landing we don’t yet know but a landing for sure as evidenced in last night’s fall in the PMI data. (China PMI came in at 49 vs 49.8 exp) The steep fall in exports was what caught my eye!
Modest beat with prices paid in line with expectations at 45, New Orders rising from 52.4 to 56.7, but the employment index mirroring the Chicago PMI decline and dropping from 53.5 to 51.8: taken in conjunction with today's Initial Claims, probably not the best way to enter the NFP number, yet we are somehow convinced the final NFP print will be 4 std devs above the mean Wall Street consensus. In other news, the headline number is the highest since June. Curiously, and as always happens in strange times, exports increased and imports decreased. One wonders just how realistic an export surge to imploding Europe or China really was in the past month really was.
Following yesterday's shove-liquidity-down-your-throat-of-last-resort action by the Fed et al. 3M USD Libor fell, admittedly marginally, for the first time since July 25th. The 0.1bps compression was practically insignificant as only 4 of the 18 member banks actually reduced their bids - Citi, Rabobank, RBC, and UBS but we are sure headlines will crow of the impact the coordinated central bank action has had already. What is most concerning when we look at the individual Libors of each member is one bank stands out over the last few weeks. Given that we know the dollar funding market is highly stressed (USD-cross currency basis swaps), this appears to be the only efficient way to understand which bank might be under the most stress. Given Credit Agricole's notably weak Tangible Common Equity Ratio and the fact that its Libor was such an outlier recently, it is hard not to suspect the global stick-save was instigated because this $1.59tn asset-heavy bank was on the verge of failure.
First it was Goldman, now it is Barclays lamenting what is painfully obvious: what has gone up violently, will go down doubly so, once the market realizes that what the Fed and the global central banks have done is applying a band aid to a severed artery. Naturally, the disappointment will be substantial, and while Goldman is angry that its tentacles have to be retracted for a few more weeks before it can acquire the equity of some European competitors for a buck a share, Barclays is angry because it is very likely that it, together with fellow British bank RBS, will be on the receiving end of market fury. This explains the statement by Barclays' Paul Robinson who said that the "market updraft" was "exaggerated" and "it is not easy to make a case that the magnitude of the news quite justifies the magnitude of the global market reaction, in our view." That's ok - the short covering knows best... if only for a few days, because as Robinsons says, "Market participants seem as fearful of missing a market updraft as they are of getting caught in a downdraft" - in other words we are all momos now, chasing the leader and pushing the wild market swings into swings with ever greater amplitudes, until one day absolutely nobody will be able to trade the daily gyrations created by ever more frequent central bank intervention.
Reality once again creeps back in, confirming that the 4 sigma beats in the economic indicators pointed out yesterday were mostly duds, except of course for the drop in the Employment index in the Chicago PMI. After a few brief weeks with a 3 handle in initial claims, initial layoffs once again jumped over 400k, to 402,000 in the Thanksgiving shortened week. As is now par for the course of the data fudgers at the BLS, the previous number was revised higher as is 100% the case always now on a weekly basis, from 393K to 396K. As a reminder, last week's forecast had been for a 388K print, so the 5k miss certainly looked better than an 8k, or 60% higher miss. Unadjusted claims was the silver lining, declining by 69.7k following the massive surge the week prior. Continuing claims also missed expectations, rising from an upward revised 3,705K to 3,740K, on consensus print of 3,650K. Probably most notable is the surge in EUCs as over 76k people dropped off continuing claims and had to file for extended benefits. Absent a further extension in the 99 week cliff at the end of the year, many people are going to lose their continuing continuing benefits. And going back to the BS from the BLS, as John Lohman's chart below shows that in 2011 initial and continuing claims have been revised higher the week following 91% and 100% of the time, respectively. A purely statistical explanation for this phenomenon is "impossible."
According to the ECB, deposit facility usage - an indicator of capital flight in the European banking system expressed in euros not dollars, just hit the highest since June 2010, over €300 billion for the first time in 18 months, rising from €297 billion to €304 billion overnight. On its face, this is not a good indication, with the only saving grace being that this was potentially before the market open on November 30, before the central bank announcement. Marginal lending, or the ECB's discount window, also rose from €2.7 billion to €4.6 billion, the highest since October 18. Needless to say tomorrow's deposit facility update will be critical because unless there is a major drop in usage, it will confirm that in addition to a USD-funding shortage which should have been ameliorated even if very briefly, other EUR-based risks are being observed by Europe's banks, who better than anyone know what the interbank system risks are, and the Fed's USD liquidity injection will have failed to achieve anything except to ramp risk higher for a day or two.
As the market digests the European bailout and prepapres to plunge back into the abyss of the unknown, we get ISM, jobless claims, construction spending and vehicle sales