Not even the usual monthly futures panacea (which in fact manages to fool the entire centrally-planned market twice every month, all the time), the always rising German ZEW Economic Sentiment survey, which mysteriously did not come at an all time high, but still rose from February's 48.2 to 48.5, despite expectations of a decline to 48.1, has managed to push the EUR higher in overnight trading, as a result keeping a lid on any of the generic no-volume futures levitation we have all grown to love. The reason is not that concurrently with the German data we got abysmal Eurozone Construction Output data, which plunged -7.3% Y/Y, the most in four months, following a slump in French and Spanish activity offsetting the German "confidence-boosting economic miracle" but simply because there continues to be no clarity whatsoever on events in Cyprus, where as noted earlier, the parliament may vote as soon as 6 hours from now to veto the proposed deposit confiscation "bailout/in" plan, which could lead to the first Eurozone banking system collapse, and the first expulsion of a member Eurozone nation, setting the wheels in motion for the unthinkable.
So much for the credibility of Reuters' Greek FinMin "unnamed" source. After the newswire presented the latest Eurogroup statement as if it was one where all deposits under €100,000 will be tax exempt, which was not the case, CNA reported a little while ago that the government has submitted a revised bill according to which only deposits under €20,000 would be exempt, and everything between €20K and €100K would still see the previous 6.75% levy. The parliamentary economic committee would discuss the bill ahead of plenary a debate scheduled for 6 p.m. Cyprus time. However, now as MarketNews reports, that is likely moot.
- CYPRUS PRESIDENT: PARLIAMENT BELIEVES BAILOUT PLAN UNJUST, GOVERNMENT MAKING OTHER PLANS.
- CYPRUS PRESIDENT: PARLIAMENT WILL REJECT BAILOUT PLAN –MNI
Of course, as we said nearly a day ago, if there is no consensus on the term of the bail-in, it is assured that there will be no vote today either, and possibly none tomorrow, and so on, which means that with both banks and stock markets closed through Friday, Cyprus may end up in permanent stasis indefinitely.
The relativity relationship that Grant Williams discusses in his latest 'Things That Make You Go Hmmm' newsletter is far simpler to understand than that proposed by Einstein (and far, far less likely to win him any prizes of a scientific nature, but we can live with that). Ladies and gentlemen, we are proud to unveil to you, for the first time: 'Williams's Theory of Disconnectivity' After long and painstaking research, I have distilled my theory down to the following equation: OS+ps2?R (where OS is 'official statistics', ps2 is 'political spin' (squared) and R is 'reality'. We must be missing something because, try as we might, we are having a hard time understanding the bull case right now. It seems to be predicated largely on the thesis that we should buy things 'because they are going up'. (Japan is the poster child for this curious strategy, as those terrible results from Sony demonstrated a few weeks ago. Despite them, Sony stock is back to where it was before the company laid out, in no uncertain terms, just how poorly it was doing. In every single division.) Yes, we understand that, in nominal terms, money printing is good for stocks 'just because'; but sooner or later, reality is going to reassert itself (painfully, we might add).
While the Cypriot Parliament may be dragging its feet on a proposed rescue plan for Cyprus' banks, the country ultimately faces a choice between Brussels' bitter pill... and bankruptcy. Cyprus' newly-elected President, Nicos Anastasiades, has quite accurately summed up the situation: "A disorderly bankruptcy would have forced us to leave the euro and forced a devaluation." Yes, Brussels and the IMF have finally decided to come to the aid of the tiny island, which accounts for just 0.2% of European output -- to the tune of roughly $13 Billion. But, this bailout is different. Still, the question lingers: Why now? The sorry state of Cyprus' banking system is certainly no secret. One reason can be found by taking a look at the composition of Cyprus' bank deposits...
For well over a year now, we have been writing about how this whole “buy to rent” investment strategy is one of the biggest disasters waiting to happen within the U.S. economy. We have repeatedly noted that these private equity clowns were crowding into these markets with reckless abandon and that this would ultimately crush their business model as there’s no way rents can rise enough to keep yields attractive in a country where most people are struggling to meet their daily expenses. Well it seems the day of reckoning may be at hand.
My how the 'over-levered and cross-collateralized debt-is-wealth' mighty have fallen. Eike Batista, Brazilian entrepreneur, was the 7th richest man in the world in 2011 but as Forbes recently noted, he is the 'biggest loser' on their list (losing an incredible $2mm per hour), ending 2012 in 100th place after his biggest holding - OGX Petroleo E Gas - slumped 80% in the last year (and a stunning 43% in 2013 alone) which means his net worth has plunged 20% YTD (according to Bloomberg). While he has the yacht, cars, speedboat, and jets to go with someone who apparently has a net worth of $9.9bn, he now has one more thing to worry about...
*BILLIONAIRE BATISTA SAID TO FACE COLLATERAL CALLS FROM BANKS
As Bloomberg notes, the billionaire faces demands from creditors to boost collateral as his other company MPX Energia saw its stock fall to record lows (as cross-collateralization leads towards a vicious circle). "Doubts about the group continue," one analyst notes as net debt at Batista's six publicly traded units more than tripled last year, "he really has to something to prove he isn't having a cash problem." On the bright side, we are sure his girlfriend will stay with him.
Still in WallStreetPro withdrawal? We may have just the methadone fix for you... "You will lose your f##king money in your bank," is how this English gentleman cabbie begins his caustic diatribe against all that is wrong with European (and in fact) the world of bankers and elites. The so-called 'artist taxi driver' has a spit-flying hand-smashing epic rant while sitting in his taxi. "They did a stress test on the banks in Cyprus 18 months ago and said it's f##king great" and now this; "this is some f##king crooked shit." "They're off their f##king nuts mate," he explains as he asks rhetorically of the bankers getting the bailouts, "how many f##king ponies do their daughters' need?" Insightfully he remarks that, "Cyprus could be the beginning of a bigger and f##king worse financial crisis," and exclaims "[Goldman Sachs and the Bankers] are looking after their own interest - who are they f##king borrowing money to in Cyprus?" His exasperation is one many can empathize with we are sure as he concludes, "We need to shut down the f##king markets... What kind of society allows the rich people to be gambling while the poor people f##king die," ending with a warning, "Wake the f##k up!"
To say that the tensions within the European "Union" are getting unbearable would be an understatement. According to Mega TV, Anastasiades is reported to have said to Rehn and Brok: “When I warned you that there would not be a parliamentary majority to pass the agreement, you didn’t want to listen. Give my regards to Mrs Merkel.” We eagerly wait to hear back what message Merkel has for the Cypriot leader now that the entire plan is falling apart.
There was a time when pervasive financial crimes would if not shock and appall people, then at least make them think for a minute or two. Sadly, now that even the biggest bank by assets is found to have misled regulators, shareholders and the broad public and its CEO is proven to have perjured himself before Congress, and absolutely nothing happens, not even one of those token SEC wristslap settlements, we are way past the point of even pretending to care. Which is why there is little we can comment on the news that Federico Buenrostro Jr., 62, the former CEO of the nation's largest pension fund, California's Calpers, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in a scheme to defraud Apollo Management, one of the biggest private equity firms in the nation, of $20 million. How is one supposed to have any faith, or worse, any hope that there is something more than mere criminality pushing the US capital markets to "new highs", and why is anyone surprised the retail investor has given up on the Fed-backstopped US "wealth creation mechanism" long ago.
One key, and very important, thing to note per the statement below, is that nowhere in the statement does the Eurogroup say that no levy will be taxed on those with €100,000 and less in deposits. What is said is the following: "The Eurogroup continues to be of the view that small depositors should be treated differently from large depositors and reaffirms the importance of fully guaranteeing deposits below EUR 100.000. The Cypriot authorities will introduce more progressivity in the one-off levy compared to what was agreed on 16 March, provided that it continues yielding the targeted reduction of the financing envelope and, hence, not impact the overall amount of financial assistance up to EUR 10bn."
Bottom line: it is absoutely not clear what the levy on small "insured" deposits will be, if any, and it will be up to the Cyprus government to define it: a decision which will make or break the parliamentary vote, whose passage this statement will hardly make any easier.
For a few wondrous moments around 1430ET the Dow and TRANnies were green and all was well and the world could rest assured that government stealing private property was nothing to worry about. Then it seems some odd tin-foil-hat-wearing blog did the math to figure that there is no way the Cypriots get the vote. VIX had not been partaking of the exuberance BTFD rally as it seemed evident that managers chose to 'hedge' as opposed to 'sell'. Shortly after Europe closed, it was notable that market breadth shifted decidedly weak - though the indices pushed on higher until green was reached. Risk was highly correlated across all asset-classes today but shortly after Europe closed the USD began to rise once again. Gold notably outperformed (especially given USD strength), bonds were bid, and financials underperformed all day (as homebuilders managed gains on the worst NAHB print in six months). We suspect the afternoon was a little more reality than the morning's knee-jerk and volume dominated the last hour's dump. VIX bid to 12-day highs over 13.60% (+2.3 vols).
Eurogroup Folds: Tells Cyprus To "Safeguard" Depositors Under €100,000 Euros; Angry Russians To Get Even AngrierSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/18/2013 - 16:08
Reuters headlines crossing the closing tape, supposedly out of a (very credible) Greek source, according to whom the Eurogroup will give Cyprus more flexibility on bank levy, and that Cyprus should safeguard depositors under €100,000, even as the full €5.8 billion deposit goal must still be hit. Well, at least they were not kidding with the whole plan. This was not unexpected - there are two key questions which remain woefully unanswered: i) how will Europe restore the confidence it has lost by even contemplating insured deposit impairments, and ii) a deposit haircut is still a deposit haircut, and as noted earlier, the majority of Cypriot parties have announced they would vote against any bank levy, not just that which is determined to be "fair" by 10 European bureaucrats, and supposedly only hurts those evil, evil Russian billionaires. In other words, the final word still remains with the Cypriot parties. Let the horse trading begin.
Finally, the Russian response to the discovery that haircuts on big deposits just rose from 9.9% to over 15.6% will hardly be warm and cuddly. Now may be a good time to ban gun (and plutonium) sales to angry Russian billionaire oligarchs.
The European Union had painted itself in the corner: not wanting to deal with Cyprus immediately has proven costly. The EU had hoped for a pro-euro, pro-austerity government in Italy, but the plan backfired. The idea was that by postponing the bailout it would help in the elections. It was impossible to wait until the German elections, as Cyprus has a bond maturity in June that it would have been unable to pay. As the maturity date was so close, there was no time to take the bond owners to court (the bonds were issued under English law, so a simple haircut was not possible). The only way to fund the bailout was either a gift from the EU or deposit confiscation. They did both. There are two ways of seeing this: #1 Europe just became even more dysfunctional and fragmented, or #2 it has become more unified in doing whatever it takes to protect investors’ interests. The commentary is already utterly negative, but it might take some time for the markets to realize that the upside in crisis country bonds is minimal and there are no restrictions stopping the bank jogs.
While images of burning flags in the middle-east are not unusual and we have become numb to visions of angry mobs stomping over Western flags, the sight in the clip below of the typically calm and serene Mediterraneans turned Cypriot mob climbing atop the German Embassy in Cyprus and tearing down the German flag may well be a glimpse of what is to come in the next few days as the government nears their voting deadline and banks near their re-opening...
Update: Just as we predicted - Cyprus president Anastasiades to tell Eurogroup he lacks support and votes to pass levy - Antenna