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Bunga Bunga Era Is Over: Italian Parliament Approves Budget Reform, Paving Way For Berlusconi Resignation

The Italian Bunga Bunga era is now over. Last week, after losing the vote of confidence, Berlusconi said that he would resign the minute the parliament voted through the 2012 budget reform. As of minutes ago, this has just happened, after 380 parliamentarians effectively voted to kick Silvio out. As per Reuters: "The Italian parliament gave final approval to a package of economic reforms in a vote on Saturday which clears the way for the resignation of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the formation of an emergency government. Berlusconi, who failed to secure a majority in a crucial vote on Tuesday, promised to resign once parliament passed the law, demanded by European partners to restore market confidence in Italy's strained public finances. He is expected to hand in his resignation to President Giorgio Napolitano later on Saturday. Former European Commissioner Mario Monti is expected to be given the task of trying to form a new administration to face a widening financial crisis which has sent Italy's borrowing costs to unmanageable levels." Of course, if Monti is unable to get the required majority of support, the country will proceed with general elections, which will throw the BTP yields into yet another maelstrom. And even if Monti succeeds in forming a technocratic "consensus" government, the question still remains: just how will he succeed in implementing the required austerity where Silvio failed?



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Guest Post: Euro Double-Bind: Both Paths Lead to Disintegration

Is there anything that hasn't already been said about the Eurozone's structural flaws and the absurdity of the half-baked "solutions" tossed together by its frenzied, fumbling leadership? Perhaps not, but we can fruitfully boil the mess down to a simple double-bind. The double-bind can be stated thusly: 1. If the European Central Bank (ECB) tries to save the private banks and bondholders by printing trillions of euros to buy up the mountain of hopelessly impaired sovereign bonds, then Germany will rebel and renounce the euro as an act of self-preservation. Germany knows that money-printing robs savers and the productive via the stealth theft of inflation, and its people will not stand idly by while their wealth is destroyed by ECB euro-printing. 2. If the ECB renounces money-printing, then the only economy solvent enough to fund the 3-trillion-euro bailout with actual cash is Germany, which will rebel against this debt-serfdom by renouncing the euro. There are only two paths, and they both lead to the same end-state: dissolution of the euro and the EU's monetary union.



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Weekly Chartology : "Investors Uncertain About Lower Uncertainty"

Many wonder why hedge funds underperformed the market as dramatically as they did in October: simple - few, if any, had any conviction in the rally, and only those with an already abysmal Sharpe ratio and a penchant for risky beta chasing threw themselves headfirst into the turbulent short-covering riptide. David Kostin summarizes it best with the title of his latest weekly chartology: "Investors uncertain about lower uncertainty." - and indeed they are, as intuitively all know that nothing has been fixed and the only reason the market lurches from one extreme to another is the fear that a career rally will leave many of them with no LPs, if only to be faced with even worse news tomorrow, and suffer an even greater loss to AUM. Which is why those that are outperforming the market to date have battered down the hatches and are enjoying the sluaghter from the sidelines, knowing full well they will be able to pick off stocks at Greece-like valuations. As for the others: all the best, as the volatility experienced in the past few days will certainly persist through year end: "Investors are generally skeptical about the pace and magnitude of the market recovery. We expect uncertainty and below-trend growth to persist..."



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Weekly Bull/Bear Recap: Veteran's Day Edition

The most comprehensive and concise summary of the events in the week just passed.



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David Rosenberg On The Depression, The ECB, MF Global As A Canary In The Coalmine... All With A Surprise Ending

Consuelo Mack has just released a long overdue interview with David Rosenberg, in which the former Merrill strategist is allowed to speak for 27 whole minutes without commercial interruptions of manic depressive momentum chasers cutting off his every sentence, demanding he tell them what stocks he is buying right this second! In addition to the traditional now discussion of America's depression (see attached extended walkthru by Rosie), probably the more interesting part in the interview starts at minute 11 when the conversation shifts to MF Global which to Rosie is a canary in the coalmine, and is merely the 2011 version of Bear Stearns as there is "never just one cockroach." Then the Q&A shifts to Europe, the ECB's next steps and the future of the Eurozone and Germany in particular. Mack concludes with some thoughts on what bond rates indicate about the future of the word, how the 7% output gap as a % of GDP will drive deflation (although in a vacuum: there is little accounting for the Fed's and global central bank kneejerk reaction), and how the corporation is now more powerful than the sovereign, courtesy of more pristine corporate balance sheets than those of actual countries, all of which are on the verge. Will the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, Planet Starbucks take over when Europe and the US finally tumble? Oh, and like a good M. Night Shyamalan movie, there is a surprising twist ending.



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Goldman's Jim O'Neill On "The Most Important Thing This Week"

This is Jim O'Neill in about the most pessimistic light that his genetic makeup, not to mention GSAM employment contract, will allow him: "For a couple of days this week, it actually felt as though Europe’s post-war project was nearing the end of the road and, as a result, emotions have been running high. For those that never believed it was a good idea, some have been expressing a mood of jubilance. For many involved in its creation, this has not been a good week. I got more caught up in the middle of this than usual as a result of a newspaper interview, where the headline distorted what I had actually said, claiming that we were predicting a break up. While this was not a fair reflection, I did say that some major issues were now on the table and needed to be recognized. The EMU, as created, has not really worked and needs to change. It is quite clear that many countries should not have been allowed to join. It is also clear that the Growth and Stability Pact has not worked. Policymakers need to be more open in at least acknowledging this, and then doing something about it. If all of this wasn’t enough of a challenge, Italy’s issues have become front and centre. Italy is no Greece. Indeed, although the BRICs can create another Italy in 2012, Italy is close to 4 times the combined size of Greece, Ireland and Portugal. Its total debt is close to 25 pct of the Euro Area GDP. Quite simply, Italy cannot be allowed to stay in the position it found itself this week....while I can see the case for an EMU without some others, and despite all of Italy’s complications, I can’t see an EMU without Italy. At the same time, I can’t see Italy sustaining life with 6-7 pct 10-year bond yields. So something has to give. Let’s see what Italy brings over the weekend, and how Frankfurt, Berlin, Brussels and the rest of us all react."



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S&P Is Second Rating Agency In One Day To Warn It Will Cut Hungary To Junk

Earlier today it was Fitch; now, way after the close, it is S&P's turn: the rating agency just put Hungary on junk bond watch, due an "unpredictable policy framework", and better yet, advised readers that the almost certain downgrade from Investment Grade would happen this month. Naturally, if Hungary, AAAustria is next. Then all of Eastern Europe follows quickly and Germany finds itself in a war with contagion on every single front.



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Turd Ferguson: The Inexorable March Higher For Precious Metals

Turd Ferguson is a funny guy. But there's one thing this irreverent, acerbically goofball forecaster is stone-cold serious about: the need to build personal exposure to the  precious metals. For him, it's a straightforward mathematical certainty that the global economy must collapse under the weight of the excessive (and exponentially compounding) credit amassed over the past several decades. The debt is simply too large to be serviced. As a growing number of analysts (including Chris) are predicting, Turd sees the replacement of the world's current monetary regimes as the endgame to this story. And he believes we are watching that endgame unfold in real-time now. In this interview with Chris, Turd discusses his reasons why gold and silver offer the best prospect for preserving wealth through the coming devaluation of world currencies, despite his strong conviction that the markets for these metals are heavily price-manipulated.



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1000 DJIA Points In Past 5 Days And All We Got Was A 1.5% Move In The Market

With today's volume over 30% below average (and the lightest since July), the week ended on an up note as the Dow managed to gain just over 1% having meandered well over 1000pts to get there. EUR closed off its best levels of the day but was the outstanding achiever and with credit markets closed (cash and CDS), it seemed the last hour saw major demand for high yield corporates as HYG surged (dislocating from everything) as perhaps it was the lever to try a late day ramp. Commodities surged with copper best on the day and Oil easily best on the week as Gold and Silver added around 1.5-2% on the week. The USD ended the week practically unch despite all the excitement.



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Friday Afternoon Humor: Real... Or Spam?

Dear Beneficiary,
 
I am Timothy F. Geithner. The Secretary of the Treasury under the U.S Department of the Treasury. The executive agency responsible for promoting economic prosperity and ensuring the financial security of the United States. However, by virtue of my position as the Secretary of the Treasury, I have irrevocably instructed the Federal Reserve Bank to approve your fund release via issuance of a CERTIFIED cheque drawn on Standard Chartered Bank california, USA, which is the authourized bank for your fund release.



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Even JP Morgan Is Staying Out Of This "Frightening, 10 Sigma" Market

A note by JP Morgan released today contains the following gem: "The quite frankly frightening volatility in the Italian bond market this week together with the rapid pace of political developments (nascent new governments in Greece and Italy) confirms not only a new, more extreme phase in the European crisis, one in which the very irrevocability of the euro is now up for discussion, but also the disconnect that now exists with the currency markets. Yes EUR/USD dropped but the worst daily decline was a 3-sigma move compared to the 10 sigma surge in BTP yields Wednesday followed by the 6-sigma drop today. European developments are not only dominating all other idiosyncratic fundamentals in the currency markets and leading to an extreme lack of differentiation in currency performance (chart 1), they are  generating volatility without meaningful or tradable direction. We have steered clear of any substantive cash positions in recent weeks and make no excuses for staying sidelined, especially as liquidity is likely to tail-off quicker into this year-end period than is normal in view of the degree of frustration many investors fell with their performance and the market’s volatility." So, aside from all the rearview mirror pros on twitter and various chatboards, if even JPM is staying out of this sad yoyo excuse for a market who is actually trading?



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Morgan Stanley Issues Goldman Mirror Image Call: Says To Sell EURUSD With 1.30 Target

And so the two most "credible" investment banks have had their say on the EURUSD as a result of today's 250 pip surge in the EURUSD: while Goldman earlier said to buy, buy, buy (i.e., sell) every EURUSD pip until 1.40, here is Morgan Stanley with the mirror image call.

Today we entered a short EUR/USD trade at 1.3750. While Italian 10-year bond yields have tightened from the highs reached earlier this week, we believe yields still well above 6% are unsustainable for a debt market of 1.9tr EUR (third largest in the world). This means that Italy will need to spend nearly 10% of its annual GDP on interest payments alone. Meanwhile, political uncertainties add to concerns in the Eurozone, with new regimes in Greece and Italy. We remain fundamentally bearish on EUR, and believe it will retest 1.30 as Italy runs the risk of being “too big to save.”

Confused yet? Why bother. Maybe Goldman can just skip the foreplay, dump its entire EUR inventory to Morgan Stanley and spare everyone else the drama and paternity tests.



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"Sold To You": European Banks Quietly Dumping €300 Billion In Italian Debt

While the market is ripping today on absolutely nothing (earlier we noted the rotation of muppet X with muppet Y - this changes nothing but who cares), BTPs are soaring, and confusion is prevalent, one thing is certain: we now know who is not buying Italian bonds. As IFR reports, "European banks are planning to dump more of the €300bn they own in Italian government debt, as they seek to pre-empt a worsening of the region’s debt crisis and avoid crippling writedowns – a move that could scupper the European Central Bank’s efforts to bring down soaring yields. Still reeling from heavy losses on money they lent to Greece, lenders are keen not to make the same mistake twice.Then, under the pressure of governments and a hope that credit default swaps would protect them against heavy losses, they held on until it was too late to sell." And for our European readers who may be wondering who the dumb money will be as this tsellnami unleashes, we have one word: you. "With the ECB providing a bid for Italian bonds that might not otherwise exist, board members at some of Europe’s largest bank say now is the time to accelerate disposals. Many are also reversing long-standing policies of buying into new Italian bond issues, denying Rome an important base of support." And there you have your explanation for today's action - yet another headfake to get the idiot money foaming at the mouths while the insolvent banks quietly dump everything, sending the EURUSD once again higher as EUR repatriation resumes, this time with feeling.



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Italy Or USA - Where Would You Put Your Money?

While at a glance this may seem like a straightforward question with a simple and obvious answer, troubled Italian bank UniCredit has released a ponderous article comparing and contrasting the two heavily indebted, politically challenged, and growth-retarded nations. Comparing debt-to-GDP ratios and trajectories, GDP growth, and unemployment (as well as funding needs), the answer actually becomes a little less obvious and boils down to the central bank (as does every trading decision in the world currently). Furthermore, their (admittedly biased) perspective leaves one wondering whether to invest in a country that hopes things will miraculously improve on its own, or in a country that has realized that reforms are needed and that has shown the willingness to take the painful steps in the right direction? Or c) none of the above.



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Guest Post: Austrian Central Bank Strikes Exotic Deal with PBoC While Entangled in Alleged Kickback Scandal

Austria's central bank, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB) delivers headlines ranging from opaque to criminal these days.
Market observers scratch their heads about a secretive agreement between the OeNB and the People's Bank of China (PBoC) that makes Austria the first non-Asian country permitted to engage in Renminbi investments with its Chinese counterpart as the intermediary. Further media inquiries were stonewalled.



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