The somewhat amusing part of this entire transaction is that the debt of Greece has been INCREASED. Greece and the EU handed private holders $138Bn in write-offs but with the addition of the new loan, $171Bn, the gross debt for Greece increased by $33Bn and this is if all of the legal challenges favor Greece. The total debt of Greece (sovereign, municipal, corporate and bank) has just increased from $1.20 Trillion to $1.233 Trillion and all accomplished by this brilliant plan that did nothing except to tag investors and ramp up the debt load for the country. Take this and add in the austerity measures and perhaps demands for more coming later today as the EU has its summit and an economy that is quickly sinking into the sea and unemployment that is surging and then you can visualize that the absurd has become the impossible and quickly conclude that more Greek loans will have to be forthcoming; or not with some form of Greek exit. The much bandied about notion that all of this will reduce the Greek debt to GDP is little more than a joke. For the past two years there has not been one, one, accurate projection for Greece concocted by the IMF/EU/ECB and I see no end to this now. Some quick math on my part indicates, in 2020, a debt to GDP ratio exceeding 170% and that is being kind and using optimistic assumptions. Just this morning the new numbers released for Greece showed a 7.50% deficit increase as opposed to the projected -5.50% number. This is one more case of quite inaccurate projections and a worsening economy for the country.
While everyone is focused on AAPL, or tech names, or energy sector growth, or multiple expansion as the driver of the next leg up in stocks, we take a slightly different tack. US equities are back above the highs of last year while US investment grade credit markets are still well below their best levels of last year. Until credit markets come along for the exuberant ride, and buy into the recovery/growth/no-tail-risk story we will not see a sustained rally (no matter how much fiat currency devaluation is undertaken) and as BARCAP notes today, there are 18 names that account for more than 50% of the discrepancy between equity's ebullience and credit curmudgeon-ness. Of these 18 names, 13 are financials (unsurprisingly) and indeed these are among the most liquid credits traded. So if you are bullish on a sustainable recovery, buying these credits seems the best high beta 'value' trade while bears should continue to watch the lack of confirmation of USD/fiat-numeraired equity market enthusiasm by risk-based credit markets.
Once again European credit and equity markets flip-flopped intraday from a gap up open (yay, the PSI deal is done) to a modest financial-led selloff on weak data, to a non-financial-led small rally (with equity beating credit post US NFP) to a slide weaker into the European close. Financials (most notably senior unsecured) were the worst performers on the day as stocks managed small gains and credit bigger losses. European sovereign spreads also leaked wider all day after some initial excitement with Italian 10Y spreads 15-20bps off their best levels of the week into the close (and Portugal also leaking wider). US Treasuries continued to selloff as US equities limped higher but EURUSD is pushing back to the week's lows near 1.31 as JPY is also deteriorating (which is modestly stable for carry FX and implicitly risk). Commodities surged (seemingly on Goldman's GDP cut implying great er hopes of QE?) with Gold up over $1710 and almost unch for the week as WTI nears $108 again. As Europe closes, there is a modest derisking across all asset classes (with US and European financials the most obvious rollers). The Precious metals rip and Treasury weakness makes us wonder how much is QE-driven (especially given the sterilized propositions) and how much is simply a rotation to a different kind of safety or quality collateral? The LTRO Stigma is around 8bps (or 10%) higher on the week while Senior-Sub spreads are stable for now.
According to the doctrine of pre-emptive war, Iran can be attacked based on its alleged desire to develop nuclear weapons, just as Iraq was attacked in 2003. In fact, Congress is currently debating whether a nuclear capability alone (which Brazil, Japan, and other countries enjoy) could justify the 'preventive' attack. I believe it is time to negate this doctrine by postulating that Iran in fact has a right, as a sovereign nation, to a nuclear capability. Having traveled to Iran recently, I can attest to the Joint Chiefs' General Dempsey's reference to Iran as a 'rational' actor. The Iranians have no interest in destroying America, or Israel, at the expense of one of the oldest continuous civilizations in the world, dating back about 2600 years. Iran is currently surrounded by over 40 U.S. military installations, not counting Israel's still-unaccounted nuclear arsenal. To assert that Iran would jeopardize its culture for a one-shot nuclear attack is a complete miscalculation of the Iranian spirit; that spirit gave rise to a revolution in 1979 against what they perceived as Anglo-American imperialism in the form of the Shah, much as our own revolution opposed British imperialism.
Minutes ago, the Greek cabinet formally announced that it has approved CAC use on Greek debt, which was the final milestone that ISDA was waiting for before making its determination. Most overjoyed by this appears to be gold, which has moved by nearly $40 from this morning's post-NFP (no "inflationary" QE3?) lows and was testing $1715 moments ago. Oh, and silver too. In other news, Zero Hedge is happy to sell CDS insurance on every bar of gold purchased by anyone, anywhere. Under UK, Greek or whatever alien law that will be needed in 2-3 years to bail out the world.
Following continued strength in earnings (and analyst upgrades), Smith & Wesson is up 23% this morning (near three year highs). It seems all those freshly printed temporary workers are spending their hard-earned minimum wage on 'defense' instead of iPads.
*SMITH & WESSON BOOSTS REV. FORECAST :SWHC US
*SMITH & WESSON 3Q EPS CONT OPS 8C, EST. 4C :SWHC
Moments ago we tweeted that today's surge in the trade deficit will force banks to start cutting GDP forecasts. Sure enough, Goldman as usual, is the first to set the tone, by cutting its ultra real time GDP forecast from 2.0% to 1.8%.
While the catalyst for much of the recent rally in risk assets seems to have been on the back of Europe clambering back from the edge of the abyss (and admittedly hope for better global growth and US decoupling), JPMorgan's Michael Cembalest notes that Europe remains very much an Achilles Heel going forward. With former ECB member Stark's recent comments on the already 'shocking' quality of the ECB's balance sheet, it is the outflows (or net balance of payments) from the periphery that means the ECB will simply have to keep printing. ECB funding of Spanish and Italian banks is still a relatively small part of their liabilities and should we see even a crack in the resilience of these knife-sitting nations, the retail depositors, bondholders, and non-local wholesale/retail money is unlikely to stay put (especially if there is the continued lack of growth that seems inevitable). The latest Spanish data is dreadful, as Cembalest notes, but the economic situation in France remains weak and while JPM's analysis looks for a gradual closure of the periphery's current account deficit by 2015, the ECB's need to finance the gap in the interim raises a critical question. Since the ECB's printing has boosted the US stock market primarily, will the Fed now take the lead and return the favor (QE3 or more) to help its European partners grow their (net trade) way out of this hole?
It is not shocking that the worst of the worst rating agency has downgraded Greece to "Restricted Default" following the imposition of coercive measures to generate a "voluntary" restructuring. It is very shocking that Fitch had Greece at C until now...
While not shocking to most, the jump in temporary workers that we cited earlier is perhaps the biggest indicator of job 'quality' gains. As we discussed here last month, the US market economy remains mired in a low quality (“first-fired, first-hired categories rather than the type of core hiring that would build a stronger foundation for income growth,” as FTN's Jim Vogel describes it) recovery. About 160k of private jobs added in Feb are 'low-paying work' which left average hourly earnings up only 0.1% (notes David Ader at CRT) - hardly the recipe for a sustainable recovery and perhaps the slow leak in stocks post the number is the rude awakening to that reality. As w enoted before, "not only is America slipping ever further into a state of permanent "temp job" status, but that a "quality analysis" of the jobs created shows that the US job formation machinery is badly hurt, and just like the marginal utility of debt now hitting a critical inflection point, so the "marginal utility" of incremental jobs is now negative"
While NFP dominated the headlines, the US Trade Balance (deficit) limped out and dropped far more than expected. At a $52.565bn Deficit, this is the worst trade balance since October 2008. Perhaps more shocking is the fact that the 3 month drop (rise in deficit) is the largest ever on record, dropping $9.4bn in that period. Unsurprisingly, the bulk of this drop is in the 'Petroleum' trade balance which has accelerated the most in the last 3 months (coincidentally dropping the most since last March and we know how that ended).
NFP 227,000 on expectations of 210,000; Previous revised from 243K to 284K; Unemployment Rate (U-3%) at 8.3%, U-6 at 14.9%. While for the first time in a long time those not in the labor force declined (from 87,874 to 87,564) and the participation rate rose as a result from 63.7% to 63.9%, here is what the market is focusing on currently: "Professional and business services added 82,000 jobs in February. Just over half of the increase occurred in temporary help services (+45,000)." Also, that Birth Death added 91K is also taking away from the lustre of the headline which is diamtetrically opposite of what Gallup found yesterday. The market reaction is one indicative of the realization that QE3 may have been delayed once again, and this time substantially.
Going into the US open, markets are digesting the news that the Greek PSI deal has been completed, with the announcement being made at 0600GMT. The Greek Finance Ministry have announced that 85.8% of bondholders have agreed to the swap, and with CACs enforced, the participation rate can rise to 95.7%. However it should be noted that the Greek government have not enacted the CACs as yet. This has prompted a muted market reaction as participants await any further news from European officials. In the next few hours, the Eurogroup are holding a conference call concerning the recent activity in Greece, and the ISDA are also meeting to determine whether a Greek credit event has occurred. International market focus will now shift towards the key US Non-Farm Payrolls data, due at 1330GMT: US Change in Non-Farm Payrolls M/M (Feb) Exp. +210K (Prev. +243K, Dec +200K). Chinese demand for US Treasuries could slow for a second year as the country as well as others find themselves holding fewer USD to use on US debt. This could see yields moving higher in 2012, according to analysis by Bank of America.
OpenEurope Verdict On Greek PSI - Pyrrhic Victory Sowing Seeds Of A Political And Economic Crisis In EuropeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/09/2012 - 07:35
Minutes ago we presented Goldman's twisted and conflicted take on Greece in a post PSI world. Needless to say, virtually everything goldman says is to be faded. Which is why not surprisingly, the next analysis, a far more accurate and realistic one, does precisely that. In a just released report from Europe think tank OpenEurope, the conclusion is far less optimistic: "The deal sets the eurozone up for a political row involving Triple-A countries. At the start of this year, 36% of Greece’s debt was held by taxpayer-backed institutions (ECB, IMF, EFSF). By 2015, following the voluntary restructuring and the second bailout, the share could increase to as much as 85%, meaning that Greece’s debt will be overwhelmingly owned by eurozone taxpayers – putting them at risk of large losses under a future default. This deal may have sown the seeds of a major political and economic crisis at the heart of Europe, which in the medium and long term further threatens the stability of the eurozone."