As we expected last night, G-Pap's latest round of commentary was certain to set off fireworks in today's bond arena. Sure enough, at last check the 10 Year spread to Bunds had blown out by 40 bps to almost 400 bps, this is approaching the record wides seen during the duration of the entire crisis. As usual, the collateral damage is a drop in the ASE which was about 2% lower for the day, as well as Greek banks, mostly in the red. The primary source for the weakness was Moody's (which is now about 4notches behind Fitch) statement that "there is a 50% chance that Greece's credit rating could receive another downgrade in the next 12 to 18 months if fiscal consolidation falls short of goals. If Athens falls short of perfection, the Greek rating will be downgraded, a Moody's spokesman said" as reported by the WSJ. Additionally, a new round of strike is once again paralyzing the country. And confirming our observations that the half-life of any good news out of Greece is now less than 24 hours is Brown Brothers Harriman, which sent out a note to clients saying: "The afterglow of yesterday's Greek T-bill auction has faded." Lastly, CDS are back over 400 bps. The "speculators" are closing in on the kill... or at least the formal announcement of the bailout mechanism's activation by G-Pap. The loaded fire extinguisher is about to become a loaded gun, to be used shortly in a fatal game of Greek roulette (Russian roulette variation, where all the chambers are loaded).
From the Census Bureau: "The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for March, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $363.2 billion, an increase of 1.6 percent (±0.5%) from the previous month and 7.6 percent (±0.5%) above March 2009." The biggest component to the increase in March was the traditionally noisy and excluded Motor Vehicle and Parts Dealers, which increased from $53.4 billion to $69.9 billion. What we find surprising is that in light of all the rage over tech, sales at Electronic and Appliance Stores declined by -1.3% from $8.4 billion to $8.3 billion. How this is possible with ever increasing "strategic" mortgage defaults is beyond us. We can't wait to see the latest consumer savings ratedata.
- Market should prepare for autumn rate "exit" (Reuters)
- In the meantime, using the diagonal curve, JP Morgan net rises 55% on fixed income, provision cut (Bloomberg, Investor Presentation)
- CIT bond comeback sets stage for debt sale (Bloomberg)
- Unless pension costs can be brought under control, the city may face bankruptcy (LA Times)
- Contrarian alert: everybody hates Treasuries (Barrons)
- German roots of Greek crisis remain (Guardian)
- Yes 47% of households owe no taxes (NYT)
Reuters reports that according to two "sources" the Chinese economy grew at a 11.9% rate in Q1, compared to expectations of 11.5%. Of course, the rate of growth is 10 bps below where the economy is considered to be in the official redline, and rates hikes become inevitable. And even as the economy surges, inflation is somehow supposed to come in under expectations: "Consumer price inflation in March was roughly 2.4 percent, one of the sources said. That would be a deceleration from the 2.7 percent rate in February and below forecasts of 2.6 percent." As the source of the leak appears to have been greenlighted by China, we should expect the daytrading algos which trade only on leak catalysts, to have a field day frontrunning each other on all Chinese issues, as they leave the Ambac corpse behind. "The numbers heard by Reuters matched those reported earlier on Wednesday by China Business News, a Chinese-language newspaper which cited an unidentified source."
- China to increase gasoline and diesel prices by as much as 4.6 percent starting today.
- China’s property prices rose 11.7% - record pace in March.
- China's Hu rebuffs Obama on yuan, says Beijing will act in line with domestic interests.
- Nikkei rises 0.4% as Intel boosts tech stocks.
- Singapore Dollar surges, Asian stocks climb as global growth accelerates.
- Singapore unexpectedly revalued its currency, after govt raised forecasts for economic growth and inflation.
- US economy will probably expand at a moderate pace for the rest of this year -Lacker
- Yen weakens for 5th day versus Euro on global recovery signs.
RANsquawk 14th April Morning Briefing - Stocks, Bonds, FX
And why not - after all it's all the rage among those waiting in line for iPads so they can be first to buy "The Steve Jobs Guide for Deadbeat Dummies Trying To Learn To Read Good." Now that Obama has given his blessing to an entire generation of Americans to tear up contracts (very appropriate coming from a contract law professor), the follow up to moral hazard is resulting in not just individuals and companies, but entire nations simply opting out of paying their dues. Evans-Pritchard reports that after today's ludicrous rates on 3 and 6 month Bills the tide may be turning in Greece, with both parties in the country finally realizing its creditors will do everything in their power to bleed it dry, at "usurious" rates. With economic growth negative for a decade and debt interests quite certainly positive, the marginal difference will destroy not only economic output, but sink Greece ever more in debt, as existing creditors fund capital shortfalls at maturity (or default) by ever increasing interest rates. Greece has the option to stop funneling domestic capital to Germany later (inevitable) or sooner (if it finally makes the right decision).
"The government's debt cannot grow indefinitely at a rate much faster than the economy itself grows, so ultimately, something has got to change — either taxes are raised, spending is reduced, or the real value of the debt is eroded through an increase in inflation, an outcome the Federal Reserve is committed to preventing." - Jeffrey Lacker, Richmond Fed
The following article is the first of three examining the recent unrest in Kyrgyzstan and its implications. Part 2 tomorrow will deal with the regional fallout from the “Tulip Revolution V2.0” and Part 3 will examine in detail Washington’s highest priority in Kyrgyzstan - its ongoing access to the Manas Transit Center airbase. The extraordinary events of last week in Kyrgyzstan, which saw the overthrow of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s administration by a popular uprising and its replacement by a provisional government have been portrayed by many in the "Beltway-istan" (Washington DC) as the latest tussle betwixt Russia and the U.S. in the ‘Great Game” for influence in the post-Soviet space. The truth is considerably more complex, however, and like a set of Russian matruishka nesting dolls, the further one digs, the more the complex realities of the situation emerge. While Moscow and Washington’s rivalry for influence with the interim leader, 59-year-old former diplomat Rosa Otambaeyva’s administration is indeed paramount, there are other players watching the debacle, from local superpowers China and India to neighboring “Stans” Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Any final disposition of the problems emerging from the “Tulip Revolution - Part Two” will have to include consideration of these factors beyond the U.S.-Russian struggle for influence in the post-Soviet space.
A second whistleblower speaks. As the topic of physical delivery has gained prominent attention recently, it is crucial to complete the circle and show how this weakest link in the PM market is (ab)used by the big boys: Phibro and Warren Buffet. Pay particular attention to the analogues between the methods employed in the 90's commodity market and how the PM (and equity) market is being gamed currently. And to think that each new generation of traders believes it has discovered something new...
Greece Pushes Its Luck Again, Says Hard To Block Aid If EU/IMF Recommend, Notes Will Never Announce "Red Line" Of Aid InvokementSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/13/2010 - 17:14
G-Pap, in an interview with Greek TV has just gone all in on his bluff, and has said that 'no EU state will block Greece's potential tapping an EU/IMF aid deal if the European Commission and European Central Bank issue a positive recommendation that it should be used." This leads us to believe that European opposition is mounting and that G-Pap is merely trying to preempt the vote down on Greek aid now that it has been revealed that several countries will need to hold "referendums" on whether this aid is in fact permitted (here's looking at Italy and Germany). What is more critical is that the PM has said "that Athens would never announce a "red line" at which it would decide to invoke the mechanism." That's perfectly understandable as not only is Greece way beyond the red line as is, but in the game of sovereign chicken, it will be the bondvigilantes who will always have the upper hand in calling Greece's bluff. And with statements like these we wouldn't be at all surprised to see another blow out in GGB spreads tomorrow, to continue the widening we started to see late in the day today.
Citigroup Picks Up Where Goldman Ends: Tells Clients To Go Long EURUSD, i.e., Is Now Selling Its EUR StashSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/13/2010 - 16:48
A month ago Goldman told its clients to go long the EURUSD with a 1.35 stop. The stop was triggered within a week. Then the firm flipflopped and followed up with a diametrically opposite call. That call was also stopped within a few days. Goldman learned its lesson. But not Citi: the nationalized firm, whose stock, together with that of bankrupt Ambac, has just issued a long EURUSD call at 1.359. The call by technical analyst Aron Gera, proposes a stop at 1.349. In other words it is now Citi's turn to offload its EUR book. Gera's recommendation is based on technical analysis, which, in the form of momentum chasing, is all that seems to work these days. Aron thinks the EUR could surge to an 11-week high, even as the GBPUSD could jump as high as 1.5966 alongside EUR strength.
Company With "No Equity Value" Is Most Actively Traded Stock In The Market, Cramer Recommends You Buy It Now, "Likes Worthlessness...Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/13/2010 - 15:49
Worthless Ambac is now the most actively traded stock in the market. The other 4 stocks the complete the quintfecta of most active stocks: C, FNM, BPOP and BAC. The liquidity rebate collecting computers and momentum algos are just having a field day, toying with daytraders. In case you still haven't figured out how to trade this market, find the most bankrupt companies and load up. You can't go wrong. Obama and Bernanke said so. 25x P/E (50x if you take out the stimulus)? Who cares. Not the computers. And certainly not Jim Cramer: "The purists out there have spurned these points. I could care less about purity. I could care less that someone might be able to say Cramer likes worthlessness. But the !@#$% animal spirits have it going, and a worthless stock can be worth something if it moves up that much and starts offering equity or bonds against it."
Fox Business reports that the investigation around Lehman is intensifying. Surely the SEC, now generically equated with objects that float around in sewers in formal conversation, has realized it has to do something, anything, to find at least one scapegoat for the financial collapse. Which is why we read with little surprise Gasparino's report that "thee SEC has ramped up its inquiry into Lehman’s fall, particularly after court-appointed bankruptcy examiner Anton Valukas issued a lengthy report stating that Lehman’s top executives were “grossly negligent” in possibly hiding the risky nature of the firm’s finances during its final day." What we find much more interesting is that "yet another investigative agency, the Public Accounting Oversight Board
-- created under the 1992 Sarbanes-Oxley law to investigate and
discipline public accounting firms -- has launched an inquiry into the
role of Lehman’s auditor, Ernst & Young, following the examiner’s
report, which accused the big accounting firm of “professional
malpractice,” for its work in approving accountings techniques Lehman
used during its dying days in the summer of 2008." In the absence of any Wall Street villains, which it is now all too clear have endless diplomatic immunity from prosecution by the corrupt regulators, will the auditor, together with Dick Fuld, be made into the sacrificial lambs? Or will we continue the farce that anything even remotely related to capital markets integrity and reporting is real and valid? Judging by the nearly 60 days of no S&P downticks, the market has answered that question for us.