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Bank Of America Is A Fiver Again

They are, however, together with Morgan Stanley, Jefferies and all the other banks that have a gag order on Comcast, perfectly hedged... In other news, clueless copy and paste journalists turned financial pundits will still call bottoms.



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ECB Member Tells The Truth: Debt Monetization Is The Beginning Of The End

We will present the following quick note Bloomberg without any commentary because it could well come from any post we ourselves could have written.

ECB Governing Council member Yves Mersch said that monetizing government debts "is tantamount to inflation" and "not feasible." To use inflation to lower the fiscal burden "would reduce incentives for governments" to tackle their debt burdens and "would raise the risks of even higher future inflation and greater output volatility. Uncontrollable wage-price spirals would be likely." Mersch said in a speech in Frankfurt today. He also added that you can not make the ECB as a "lender of last resort for governments" and that governments must live up to own responsibilities.

And scene.



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Asset Swaps Are Adding To The Problem

“Asset Swaps” make it more difficult for banks to sell. Banks will often buy a fixed rate bond and enter into an interest rate swap to “effectively” turn it into a floating rate asset.  It should come as no surprise that banks that rely the most on rolling over short term debt are the ones most likely to asset swap bonds – yes the “weak” banks are the ones that hold bonds in this form.Asset swaps work fine so long as the underlying bond never becomes a “credit” problem.  So long as it moves more in line with rates than with credit it is a sensible strategy.  As Italy and Spain have become credit problems, they are no longer moving with rates, and these positions are adding to the problem.



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Goldilocks Economic Data Dump Attempts To Resurrect Flawed US Decoupling Thesis

So with Europe threatening to bury the world again, here is today's "decoupling" attempt to pull the world out by the bootstraps courtesy of the US with what is naturally better than expected data, just like China last week.

  • US Empire Manufatruing (Nov) M/M 0.61 vs. Exp. -2.00 (Prev. -8.48), above zero for the first time since May; Prices Paid Index lowest since Novembever 09 at 18.29 down from +22.47 in Oct  - source
  • US Advance Retail Sales (Oct) M/M 0.5% vs. Exp. 0.3% (Prev. 1.1%), ex Autos +0.6% - source
  • US PPI ex-Food & Energy (Oct) M/M 0.0% vs. Exp. 0.1% (Prev. 0.2%) - source
  • US PPI (Oct) M/M -0.3% vs. Exp. -0.1% (Prev. 0.8%)  - source

Europe entering recession, China stagflating, and the US soaring. Rrrrright. And now, back to the European meltdown.



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French CDS Hit Escape Velocity

Remember how prohibiting the use of naked sovereign CDS was supposed to make the CDS market tame as a docile lamb? Well, as it turns out, the bulk of the marginal moves were not CDS driven, but simply basis traders putting on, and taking off hedges. Ignoring the fact that many desks have experienced "Boaz Weinstein" like events in the past month (perhaps even Mr. Basis "$4.7 billion AUM" Trade himself), it seems that CDS is now simply tracking moves in cash. And those moves, if you are France, are not pretty. As the chart below shows, French CDS have just hit 88 MPH and are about to go back to a calmer, more peacful time, when everyone could buy and sell stuff using the French Franc...



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Paulson Sells Gold ETF – Buys Physical Bullion? Soros Not Gold Bearish

Paulson & Co. sold a third of the their SPDR holding which is quite a large liquidation. However, Paulson remains bullish on gold as was seen in positive comments he made recently so it would seem likely that this sale may have been an effort to raise cash after his fund suffered sharp losses in the last quarter. Some hedge funds sold the ETF to cover losses during a rout that erased $7.8 trillion from the value of global equities since May. Soros Fund Management LLC held 48,350 in the SPDR Gold Trust as of Sept. 30, compared with 42,800 shares at the end of the second quarter. The increase in Soros gold holdings are meager at some $10 million worth but suggest that Soros is not as bearish on gold as the multitude of news headlines, regarding his comments regarding gold being “the ultimate asset bubble”, would suggest. Soros added 145,000 call options and 120,000 puts in SPDR Gold in the third quarter. This confirms that Soros is not as bearish on gold as some would have us believe. There is also the real possibility that Soros’ fund, like other hedge funds, may have opted to own allocated bullion rather than a gold trust. Some hedge funds have opted for allocated gold bullion due to it being more discreet with a lack of disclosure (no quarterly filings), due to the lower long term costs and due to allocated accounts having less counter party risk than a trust with many indemnifications. Steven Cohen’s SAC Capital Advisors LP and New York- based Touradji Capital Management LP established gold positions in the third quarter. SAC Capital, which manages $14 billion and is based in Stamford, Connecticut, held 184,601 shares in the SPDR Gold Trust as of Sept. 30. Paul Touradji had 45,000 shares compared with none on June 30, the filings show.



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Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: November 15

  • Debt turmoil and political uncertainty in Spain and Italy witnessed widening of the Spanish/German and Italian/German 10-year government bond yield spreads, despite decent T-Bill auctions from Spain. Also, yield on the Italian 10-year government bond breached the key 7% level to the upside
  • According to the ZEW, there will be at least one negative quarter in Germany, most likely in Q1 2012
  • BoE's King said he expects inflation to fall back sharply in the next 6 months, and will reach around the BoE’s target by the end of 2012
  • SNB’s Jordan said that the SNB would act if the economic outlook and deflation trends demand


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Today's Economic Data Docket - Lots Happening

In addition to the usual headline barrage from a broke continent, the first of many, we have a very busy data schedule, highlighted by October retail sales.



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Frontrunning: November 15

  • Monti faces resistance on cabinet as market honeymoon turns sour (Bloomberg)
  • Papademos urges Greece to commit to bail-out terms (FT)
  • New York police evict anti-Wall Street protesters (Reuters)
  • Power price hike looms in China amid plants' whopping losses (Xinhua)
  • Scalia and Thomas dine with healthcare law challengers as court takes case (LA Times)
  • Loan Backer's Cash Runs Low (WSJ)
  • UBS names Ermotti CEO to reassure investors (Reuters)
  • IMF warns on Chinese financial system (FT)
  • Risks may blunt tough U.S. talk on China (Reuters)


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ECB Intervenes: Briefly Brings Italian Yields Under 7%... And Sends French Yields To Fresh Record Highs

ECB is back to playing Whack-a-mole. Just as BTPs seemed poised to collapse to new all time records, and yields reenter the stratosphere, the ECB stepped in aggressively bringing the yield to just under 7%, at 6.996% last, however briefly. The problem, as pointed out previously, is that now the vigilantes will simply focus on those bonds where the ECB can not spoil the party. Such as France. French OATs just hit a fresh all record yield, and low price as technocratic NWO is scrambling to find a third Mario, who just so happens to be is a Goldman and Fed alum, to take over Sarko and head France.



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Italian Yields Back Over 7%, CDS Passes 600, Futures Tumble On Abymal Spanish Auction, Lack Of Monti Government Consensus

It took Europe two days to go from fixed to fully broken all over again. Those curious why they are waking up to a see of red, Italian 10 Year yields back over 7%, stock futures tumbling, the EUR/$ sliding, Italian, French and Belgian CDS at fresh records, and a record scramble for Bund short-dated bonds (2 Year under 0.030%) is due to two main things: a failed Spanish auction now that contagion is back to sleepy Iberia, which sold €3.2 billion of bills, below the €3.5 billion target, with the yield soaring to 5.02% from 3.61% at Oct. auction leading to Spanish 2-, 10-yr yield spreads to Germany both significantly wider to records.  The second main factor is the realization that Mario Monti is not the second coming and will in fact face major resistance to form a government. Bloomberg reports: "Monti, a former European Union competition commissioner, struggled to get political parties to agree to participate in his so-called technical Cabinet during talks in Rome yesterday. A government lacking political representation will find it harder to muster support from the parties in parliament to pass unpopular laws. Monti said he’ll conclude his talks today." And if Monti can't do it, nobody can. Which explains why the fulcrum European security, the Italian 10 year BTPs, just fell off a cliff, and is now yielding back over 7% at a euro price of under 85 cents. This could well be crunch time: there are no more magic rabbits in the hat, or deus ex prime minister resignations in the hat for Italy.



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The Rise Of The State

The ever increasing un-invisible hand of intervention, manipulation, and disintermediation by central planning regimes around the world is an oft-quoted topic among our discussions. UBS's Global Macro Team published a thoughtful piece late last week on global political issues and the rise of the state. Governments are encroaching into more and more areas of the world economy. This is not just through political drama (as we have seen in the Euro area), nor even through the conventional mechanisms of foreign exchange intervention. Regulation (and regulatory uncertainty), sovereign wealth funds, bond market manipulation and default risks all play a role in financial markets, and all are intensely political in their nature. A more politically nuanced world raises an interesting unintended consequence for global financial markets. Directly, as a result of increased regulation, or indirectly, as a result of increased costs associated with assessing foreign political risk, investors may feel that the rise of the state will increase the home country bias of capital flows - exactly as leaders look for global burden sharing.



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Is China's New Muni Transparency A Public-to-Private Risk Transfer Trap?

For the first time since 1949, when the Communist Party took power, China will open the regional authority debt markets (muni markets) to the public. Much is being made of the fact that this first issuance - for Shanghai no less - enabled it to dramatically cut its interest expense - as investors were clearly comforted by the increasingly transparent documentation. However, we worry that that this will cause a multi-tier market to evolve very rapidly between the haves and have-nots as we suspect the more than 6000 companies set up by local governments will bifurcate just as the Chinese IPO market did in the US. Color us even more skeptical but when we read the Wall Street Journal's story on Wenzhou's Annus Horribilis this evening, even vibrant thriving (over-stretched and over-levered) city-states are feeling the recoupling pain of a European recession, US residential construction depression, and European bank deleveraging impacting credit conditions in Asia. The bottom-line is more openness is better, more transparency is better, and meeting the demands of yield hungry money managers is reasonable but we hope they go in with eyes wide open as we suspect this move is much more about $1.7tn risk transfer from the public central planner's balance sheet and on to the private capital markets of the world.



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Watch Rosenberg And Krugman Debate Larry Summers and Ian Bremmer On Whether The US Is Turning Into Japan

Minutes ago, the always delightful Munk Debate on the American economy concluded, which pitted two skeptics: David Rosenberg and (yes, he is a skeptic when it comes to his belief in the "proper" implementation of Keynesianism) Paul Krugman on the one hand defending the null motion of the debate, against Larry "Warren (watch the clip)" Summers, best known for destroying capitalism, and Ian Bremmer. The core debate topic was as follows: "North America faces a Japan style era of high unemployment and slow growth an accurate forecast of the future." Naturally, as Krugman immediately explained, by North America the organizers mean the US, simply because Canada is too small and hasn't screwed up enough (we would add that the screw up has not been perceived yet: everyone has screwed up, but luckily we have enough distractions for the time being). Either way, the progression of the debate should not come as a surprise to most, neither how each particular economist will perform: that Rosie sees Japan in every aspect of the US should not surprise anyone; that Krugman does too unless the politicians agree to being invaded by aliens, is also to be expected. On the other side, "Warren" Summers' argument can be simplified to his fallback motto of Keynesianism and Central Planning 101 in which he believes that the printing of money and job creation are sufficient to fix all US problems. No surprise there either: after all this is the man who three weeks ago said: "The central irony of financial crisis is that while it is caused by too much confidence, too much borrowing and lending and too much spending, it can only be resolved with more confidence, more borrowing and lending, and more spending."



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