When back in May 2010 Greece was bailed out for the first time, the corrupt authorities and the conflicted media said this is the beginning of a new beginning, and soon everything would be fixed. Nothing has been fixed and everything has gotten far worse. Back then we were among the few to point out that the "bailout" was a travesty and that you can't fix an excess debt problem with more debt, yet that has been precisely the methodology of every bailout ever since the first. Unfortunately, the world is caught in a Keynesian paradigm where this is the only recourse to kick the can, unfortunately the strength of every kick is getting weaker and weaker until one day, the can refuses to move, and it is game over. Looking back at this historic period which sealed the fate of the Keynesian system, nobody has caught the paradoxes of the current broken economic and financial model better than Kyle "Nickels" Bass. Below, for everyone's must read pleasure, we once again present his May 11, 2010 letter titled "The Pattern is Set ? Betting the Bank on a Keynesian Free Lunch" which fuses everything that has happened in Europe since then on the fiscal side, and is about to happen on the monetary one. "From now on, it seems everything will be deemed to be a liquidity crisis that will be met with more "bail?outs" and debt financed spending. This will eventually break traction in a violent way and facilitate severe inflation or even hyperinflation. The one thing the EU taught us this weekend is that paper money will be worth less (maybe much less) in the future." And indeed it will, because more than anything, money is increasingly and rightfully seen as the symbol of the free lunch that Keynesian economics promises, after that "just one final debt hit." Is there much or any hope? Not really, but being prepared while watching the inferno blazes get higher and higher is the best we can all do.
Pick the odd one out of the following 7 banks, while in the process pointing out what they have in common: Bank of America Corp, Citigroup Inc, Deutsche Bank AG, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Jefferies Group Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc. As it so happens 6 of the 7 are Bank Holding Companies, and have access to the Fed's various emergency facilities. The seventh, Jefferies, which a few years ago, boasted that it is now the largest remaining true investment bank after all its competitors had converted to BHC status, may soon regret it said that and did not join its peers. Why? For the same reason why on November 1, the day after MF Global filed for bankruptcy, we tweeted: "Here is why Jefferies is in deep doodoo: http://1.usa.gov/uNBhzq" The reference of course is to the now legendary prospectus for the MF Global 6.25% notes of 2016 that had the infamous Corzine key man event: "interest rate applicable to the notes will be subject to an increase of 1.00% upon the departure of Mr. Corzine as our full time chief executive officer due to his appointment to a federal position by the President of the United States and confirmation of that appointment by the United States Senate prior to July 1, 2013." At this point the only appointment Obama may give Corzine is that of a presidential pardon for a criminal felony offense (assuming of course Corzine brings a sleeping bag to Zuccotti square: the only offense for which he may ever be arrested). Alas, Jefferies, and the 6 other banks, do not have that luxury: as of late this afternoon, all six were sued by pension funds "who said the bonds' offering prospectuses concealed problems that led to the futures brokerage's collapse." Precisely as Zero Hedge expected. And unfortunately for Jefferies, this may well be the final nail in the coffin - because while the market had punished the bank for its Exposure, the biggest unknown in the past 2 weeks was whether and when it would be sued precisely for its MF Global liability. That time is now: next up - every single entity that was impaired in part or in whole as a result of the MF Global bankruptcy will follow suit and sue the same 7 banks... of which only Jefferies does not have the benefit of an infinite backstop.
Friday Night Irony: According To The Fed, Just Over One More Year Of ZIRP Will Lead To 38.36% Annual InflationSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/18/2011 - 20:54
Everywhere you look these days, it seems that ZIRP, or the Fed's Zero Interest Rate Policy, is the panacea to all the world's problems. In fact, ask any tenured economy Ph.D. what inflation is and you will get a stare down, be told you are a moron, that banks need to print more, more, more and that we are really roiling in deflation, with some latent mumblings about buying their economics textbook for the inflationary price of $124.95. Everywhere, that is except the Fed itself. Because in an extremely ironic twist, it is none other than the San Francisco Fed, which operates the "Be Fed chairman for a day" simulation, where you try to keep both unemployment and inflation within the "price stabeeleetee" barriers, that reveals the reality of ZIRP. The laughter really begins when one recreates precisely what the Fed is doing: namely the policy of Zero Interest Rates, now well in its third year, that things take a turn for the surreal. We challenge any reader to play the Fed simulation game, and to do what Bernanke has done: namely lock the Fed Funds rate at the legal minimum: between 0.00% and 0.25%. In our personal experience, we were dismissed as Fed Chairman after annual inflation literally went off the charts and hit 38.36% following 4 years of ZIRP. And according to the Fed, inflation would now, 2.5 years into ZIRP, realistically be running at about 17%. Which incidentally is exactly where it is, at least for those who have not mutated sufficiently to be able to metabolize iPads and fly to and from work using their own pair of wings. Of course, every hyperinflation has a silver lining: US unemployment will be just 1.5%. Granted everyone will be making pitchforks and rope, but they would be employed.
#1 In Tentacle Selection: 300,000 People Applied To Goldman Sachs In The Past Two Years; 4% Were HiredSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/18/2011 - 20:06
It may not be quite the entire 1% but it is close. In his presentation to Bank of America on Tuesday, when discussing "talent (or tentacle) retention, Lloyd Blankfein disclosed this whopper: "Almost 300,000 individuals applied for full-time positions at Goldman Sachs for 2010 and 2011. We hired fewer than 4% of that population, and, though most had multiple offers, nine out of ten people offered a job with us accepted." In other words, it is more difficult to get into Goldman than Harvard. As a reminder, the US labor force has 140 million people at last count (or, coming from the BLS, rough propaganda guess). In other words, more than 0.2% of the entire US employed workforce (because let's face it, Goldman won't hire anyone without prior experience) applied to work at Goldman Sachs. And by the retention rating, it seems that the number one dream for every job seeker in the US is to get the fat letter from Goldman HR. Speaking of training, we also get this pearl from Lloyd: "This year, we expect to provide 800,000 hours of training to our people, an average of 25 hours per person." Just what is it that these people are taught so intensely?
The global dominant narrative about China is wrong, claims Gordon Chang. Don't expect it to be the 'pocketbook of last resort' that will rescue world markets from their current malaise. And don't expect its remarkable economic growth to continue. In fact, expect a "hard landing" for China - and soon. Gordon sees the first real signs of slowdown in China's economic growth looking at the year-over-year numbers for the past several months as the inevitable harbingers of a coming collapse in China due to excessive stimulus policies the government undertook starting in 2009. The bubbles and malinvestment created by this stimulus have not been addressed, and increasing weakness and transitions inside the political system are making it less likely they will be before market forces intervene.
Presenting, with little comment but complete and utter bewilderment, the latest margin hike and ETF changes. Direxion ETFs just changed the 'fund' mandates from 2x to 3x on a number of their more popular products - which of course, given the extra vol, will mean significant margin hikes from any broker you trade with...curiouser and curiouser.
The middle of the week appeared to be the storm before the quiet of today before the potential storm of next week with aggressive action by the ECB this morning seeming to calm fears (and raise hopes of more) as risk assets were generally calmer today. Amid dismally low volumes, ES ended the day very marginally lower (led by Tech and Energy), commodities were mixed, IG credit outperformed TSYs and HY credit, and FX vacillated back to unchanged in general capping another week of strengthening USD vs the Majors (except JPY). US equities shrugged off a broad risk-off shift early in the day (driven by Oil and TSYs mainly) as OPEX seemed the focus of controlling intraday vol with CONTEXT and ES closing the week in almost perfect agreement (leaving cash S&P -3.3% YTD vs Gold +21.3% YTD).
As the hopes and prayers of every European central banker (and long-only manager) rest on age old battles; 'good vs evil', 'woman vs man', 'Germans vs the-rest-of-us', we found today's helpful note from The House Of Squid very amusing. Goldman, in their puppet-masterly way, suggest (in an ever so logical manner) that perhaps Mrs. Merkel should allow for the print-fest and provide their right-hand man Draghi with the ammo he needs to have that discussion.
"There are no easy choices and it would have been, no doubt, better if the ECB had never got in the position it is in now. But the current situation demands a careful weighing of the risk involved with any decision taken. The inflationary risk thereby seems to be getting an unduly high weight in the consideration of German policy makers."
As the super-committee seems more and more likely to hit a brick-wall, we present with no comment, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma's 'helpful' prose.
Americans are generous and do not want to see their fellow citizens go without basic necessities. Likewise, we expect everyone to contribute and to demonstrate personal responsibility. Government policies intended to mainstream wealth redistribution are undermining these principles. The tragic irony is the wealth in these cases is trickling up rather than down the economic ladder. The cost of this largess will thus be shared by those struggling today and the next generation who will inherit $15 trillion of debt that threatens the future of the American Dream. These consequences are the results of shortsighted spending and tax policies like those outlined in this report that should be eliminated.
Imagine you are Ben Bernanke, or on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. The time frame is July and August of 2011 and the price of gold is on a tear. Commodities inflation has been persistent and is breaking out everywhere. Your prediction that inflation “is contained” and is a “temporary phenomena” are beginning to look absurd. What do you do? Simple. Hint that QE3, the primary drive of inflation, is coming and then fail to deliver at the September FOMC meeting. That takes care of the price of gold and the gold stocks. Ah, but those pesky commodities speculators keep making money and trading against what you want the markets to do. So what is to be done there? Hey Jon Corzine, how about you tank the largest broker for the small commodities punters in the world, and we let them twist in the wind? That will serve them right. Teach them to bet against the government approved scenario.
CLWR faces $474mm in interest expense for the next 4 years so 'skipping' this interest payment shouldn't be a problem, right? $7.93bn in principal and interest and a $1.5bn market cap (well before today that is) - all is well in the HY wireless broadband market. Paging ISDA...
Not only is Germany at the epicentre of the Italian-Spanish-French save-us 'discussion', they have now managed to add Ireland to their 'Uber Alles'. Reuters is reporting the leak of confidential Irish budget information by German lawmakers and Irish parliamentarians are seething - viewing the leak as 'incredible' and 'unprecedented'. Given the new laws, Germany now has the right to be fully informed about bailout countries' progress before new tranches of funds are paid out. As the Irish Daily Mirror put it perfectly "Germany is ourt new master." It is evidently clear that sovereignty is indeed blurring at the edges - cue Nigel Farage.
Dramamine market got you down? You are not alone. David Rosenberg explains: "Yesterday's trade was rather telling. The Nasdaq dropped 2% and not only did volume rise but the breadth was awful with losers beating winners by a 5-to-2 margin (9-to-2 on the NYSE). The fact that the Nasdaq sliced below support of 2,600 and dipped below its 50-day moving average for the first time in six weeks is a bit ominous to say the least; while the S&P 500 undercut its lows of the past four weeks (even though it has managed to hold above the 50-day m.a. of 1,205). But between the slide in equities, commodities, oil and gold, coupled with the rally in Treasuries, yesterday had a certain eerie 2008 feel to it. And did you see the huge 70 point rally in the Dow just in the last couple of minutes? The volatility is incredible. Look at the charts below — they look the same, but one is the Dow's closing level each day this year and the other is the minute to minute ticker on any random session (we chose October 7th out of the hat). The new normal is seeing a year's worth of volatility bunched into 6 ½ hours!"
It is no surprise that everyone's attention, hopes and dreams, are now on the shoulders of a principled and sensible Bundesbank as they fight-the-good-fight against a torrent of seemingly-sensible print-baby-print commentators (and politicians). Of course, if they did the equity markets would rally (despite the circular EUR weakness, correlated equity weakness, equity strength on we-are-all-saved, EUR strength game theory response) and the trade would be equity to outperform credit (as we've seen before). The pragmatist might argue that this is not a solution, but interestingly Dylan Grice of SocGen, suggests that as opposed to prospectively common-knowledge (and Germany's anti-Weimar reputation), the notion to devalue first, does best and maybe it is time for the ECB to take that plunge. This is somewhat opposed to his previous views on the path to hyperinflation (as akin to being half-pregnant) and our perspective remains that once the ECB starts, how will they ever stop?