Many have been scratching their heads over just why the EURUSD hit a multi-month high of over 1.33 in the overnight session after once again, nothing was resolved in Greece, and in fact Greece has come begging to the finmin meeting in Brussels hoping the Troika would simply let it slide with open issues relating to pension cuts. That scratching promptly came to an end some minutes ago after the EU's Altafaj said there would be no deadline extension, somewhat illogically since there is no deal yet and the deadline has already passed, but some are finally starting to grasp that putting the ball back in the Troika's court is actually not a good thing since it is Germany's desire at this point merely to have the smallest excuse to part ways with Greece. The EURUSD has thus dipped by 60 pips back to levels seen last night, yet levels that are still 250 pips rich to the 1.30 seen three days ago before the relentless rumor (and hope)-driven ramp up commenced. Should there be nothing favorable to come out of the FinMin meeting today look for that difference to promptly close, now that there are just 40 days left until the heard Deadline of March 20, and a bond exchange offer needs an absolute minimum of 30 days before results are tabulated, and holdouts (yes there will be many billions in holdouts) are calculated.
6 am in Greece and Venizelos is about to board a plane to Brussels. According to The Guardian a deal was going to be done for sure before his take off. You know - any minute now... The Guardian was wrong. From Bloomberg:
- VENIZELOS SAYS TIME OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR ALL
- VENIZELOS SAYS STILL ISSUES THAT MUST BE DETERMINED
- VENIZELOS SAYS ALL ISSUES AGREED EXCEPT FOR ONE
And here it is:
- VENIZELOS SAYS HOPES EUROGROUP WILL TAKE POSITIVE DECISION
Because hope is just so much more efficient than prayer when it comes to strategic planning for one's insolvent population.
US To Settle Fraudclosure For $25 Billion Even As It Channels Fake Tough Guy In Meaningless Lawsuit Against Very Same BanksSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/08/2012 - 22:08
Remember robosigning and the whole fraudclosure scandal? In a few days you can forget it. Because in America, the cost of contractual rights was just announced, and it is $25 billion: this is the amount of money that banks will pay to settle the fact that for years mortgages were issued and re-issued without proper title and liens on the underlying paper, courtesy of Linda Green et al. Why is this happening? Because staunch hold outs for equitable justice (at least until this point), the AGs of NY and California folded like cheap lawn chairs (we can't wait to find what corner office of Bank of America they end up in), but not before the one and only intervened. From the WSJ: "The Obama administration made a full-court press over the past four days to secure the support of key state attorneys general, including those from Florida, California and New York." Nothing like a little presidential persuasion to help one with overcoming one's conscience. Because in America the push to abrogate the very foundation of contractual agreements comes from the very top. But wait, there's more - just to wash its hands of the guilt associated with this settlement which shows once and for all that the Democratic administration panders as much if not more to the banking syndicate as any republican administration, as it announces one settlement with one hand, with the other the US will sue banks over the mortgage reps and warranties issue covered extensively here, in the most glaringly obtuse way to distract that it is gifting trillions worth of contingent liabilities right back to the banks, not to mention discarding the whole concept of justice. From the WSJ: "Federal securities regulators plan to warn several major banks that they intend to sue them over mortgage-related actions linked to the financial crisis, according to people familiar with the matter. The move would mark a stepped-up regulatory effort to hold Wall Street accountable for its sale of bonds linked to subprime mortgages in 2007 and 2008. At issue is whether the banks misrepresented the poor quality of loan pools they bundled and sold to investors, the people said." Wait, let us guess -that particular lawsuit will end up in a... settlement? Ding ding ding. We have a winner. All today's news succeed in doing is finally wrapping up any and all legal loose ends, so that banks can finally wrap all outstanding litigation overhangs at pennies on the dollar. And if at the end of the day, they find themselves cash strapped, why the US will simply loan them more cash of course.
Yesterday when we discussed the surprising non-cut in the Australia cash rate, we asked "is China re-exporting the lagging US inflation it imported over 2011? " and said that "It means that Chinese inflation continues to be far higher than what is represented... and wonder: did the RBA just catch the PBOC lying about its subdued inflation?" Lastly, we concluded: "Furthermore, the PBOC did 26 billion yuan in repos, meaning it is set to conduct a net liquidity withdrawal for this week according to Credit Agricole. Withdrawing liquidity when the market expects RRR cuts?" Sure enough, as usually happens when assuming sentiment manipulation by a centrally planned powerhouse such as the US, and in far lesser degree these days, China, we were right. The news just out of China is that January inflation soared far beyond expectations, with CPI printing at 4.5% Y/Y, compared to estimates of a decline to 4% from December's 4.1%. This was the highest inflation since October. We will simply repeat our conclusion from yesterday, which while speculation then is now confirmed: "Chinese easing is a long way off... and in a market defined solely by hopes for central bank intervention this is not good." Practically, this means that the PBOC just told the world that no easing will come from China in a long time, and that the Fed and the ECB are alone in reliquifying the market. It also means that one can kiss the Chinese growth dynamo story goodbye, and once the US finally recouples with the rest of the world, the only hope will be a new announcement of QE in March so it hits its maximum efficiency in time for Obama's reelection campaign.
A few months ago, the Mayor of Newark, NJ announced a similar program designed to reward citizens for snitching on gun owners. According to the mayor, “We don’t even have to have a conviction,” for an informant to get paid a cool $1,000 cash. Rat out your neighbor, get paid. Simple. (As an aside, police in neighboring East Orange, NJ have rolled out a new pre-crime surveillance system. In the words of Police Chief William Robinson, “The police are observing you. The police are recording you. And the police are responding.” Big Brother is clearly watching.) In the financial system, there are droves of civilian agencies that have been coerced into becoming government spies. As we discussed a few weeks ago, everyone from bankers to brokers to gold dealers are obliged to submit ‘suspicious activity reports’ to the federal government. They even have minimum quotas. What’s more, these so-called “SARs” must remain top-secret. It’s a crime for your banker to inform you that you were the subject of a suspicious activity report. Yesterday, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the federal agency which oversees the legions of unpaid government spies, added a few more businesses to the list. Now non-bank mortgage lenders and originators must ‘assist law enforcement’ by submitting suspicious activity reports.
Another day, another delay, and still nothing is done.
- GREEK PREMIER SAYS OUTSTANDING ISSUE NEEDS FURTHER WORK
- GREEK PREMIER SAYS DISCUSSION TO CONTINUE ON OUTSTANDING ISSUE
- PAPDEMOS SAYS AIMS TO CONCLUDE LOAN TALKS AHEAD OF THURSDAY'S EUROGROUP MEETING
And on the off chance that Greece, gasp, does not actually get something done by the deadline, it means that at tomorrow's meeting the only topic of discussion will be the calorie content in the taxpayer funded pastries. In the meantime, some semblance of reality is creeping back into the EURUSD.
Bloomberg reports that at almost 1 am local time, the Greek government meeting has broken up, and the head of LAOS is speaking, and by the looks of things, is not going along with the program:
- KARATZAFERIS SAYS HE DID NOT HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO STUDY MEASURES
- KARATZAFERIS SAYS HE NEEDS LEGAL ASSURANCES ON MEASURES
- KARATZAFERIS SAYS HE MIGHT CONTINUE TO SUPPORT THE GOVERNMENT DESPITE NOT AGREEING TO DEAL
- KARATZAFERIS SAYS HE MADE HIS POSITIONS CLEAR EARLY IN MEETING
- KARATZAFERIS SAYS HE APPRECIATES THE PREMIER'S EFFORTS
- KARATZAFERIS SUPPORTED ND LEADER ON ISSUE OF PENSIONS
Translation: no deal. And, dum dum dum, another headlines says that the Troika is now back in Papademos' office. The suspense builds.
And so the legend of the once invincible "hedge fund titan" Phil Falcone, often the target of mockery and ridicule on the pages of Zero Hedge, ends, after his now irrelevant hedge fund which peaked in the tens of billions back in 2006/2007 is forced to borrow a secured loan from Jefferies at a 15% rate. The reason - the firm's all in gamble in satellite communication company LightSquared, which is also pretty much finished following today's announcement by airline carriers who said that LightSquared would "ruin US aviation." That, and pretty much everything else that Falcone invested in in the past 5 years. Check and mate. This also answers our question from August 2010 "Is Phil Falcone's Mega Bet On [LightSquared] Going To Be His Last?" It is.
Diamond Foods Fires CEO, CFO After Audit Committee Finds Books Have Been "Cooked" For The Past Two YearsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/08/2012 - 16:24
First, small momo-favorite companies. Next: entire nations. Finally: the all-seeing, all-dancing central banks. Today, Diamond Foods just fired its CEO and CFO after the audit committee found its books have been cooked, only phrased more politically correct: "the Audit Committee has carefully reviewed the accounting treatment of certain payments to walnut growers. The Audit Committee has concluded that a "continuity" payment made to growers in August 2010 of approximately $20 million and a "momentum" payment made to growers in September 2011 of approximately $60 million were not accounted for in the correct periods, and the Audit Committee identified material weaknesses in the Company's internal control over financial reporting." Cue the class action lawsuits. When everything is said and done, the US investor will find that the Madoff M.O. of "doing business" has simply shifted to corporate America, where courtesy of non-GAAP BS one can report whatever the investing public wants to believe, until it all blows up. In other news, the now fired executives were stunned to discover they are not getting an extra bonus for cooking the books, last heard mumbling "double standard" under their breath. And if anyone wonders why despite the confirmed "bull market" in stocks (driven entirely by the nearly $1 trillion liquidity injection from the ECB in the past 6 months), investors just pulled $1.8 billion out of US mutual funds yet again, this is your answer.
This week, Arizona legislators are voting on a package of bills that would be “Wisconsin on steroids” – banning collective bargaining, release time and automatic deduction of union dues from paychecks. The unions plan state capitol protests this week, so things are heating up and the story has already appeared in various national publications. Since union protests are planned for the capitol tomorrow it will likely involve a lot of drama and TV coverage. Yet like every issue there are pros and cons, and government unions are a very sensitive topic to be sure. While the TV coverage will certainly focus on the favorable side of unionization (after all, what is better for the economy than more people collecting paycheks.... even if these are ever diminishing paychecks) here is an infographic from the Goldwater Institute looking at the cost side of the equation.
Rising consumer credit means more consumption which leads to stronger economic growth. Let me explain. Individuals go to work to produce a good or service for which they are paid a finite amount of money for. With that income they pay taxes which leaves them with discretionary income from which to live on. Pay the rent, utilities, insurance and healthcare, food, clothes and put gas in the car and that pretty much consumes the majority of the paycheck. Today, the situation is quite different and a harbinger of potentially bigger problems ahead. The consumer is no longer turning to credit to leverage UP consumption - they are turning to credit to maintain their current living needs. Take a look at the chart of personal consumption expenditures (PCE) versus total consumer credit. Notice in the past year as consumer credit rose you saw an increase in PCE. In the last two months consumer credit has exploded higher but there has been virtually NO increase in PCE levels on a month over month basis. Retail sales during the Christmas shopping season we disappointing and this was even with a large decrease in gasoline prices. This situation becomes even more apparent when we begin to look at the longer term trends of real disposable incomes, consumer credit and personal saving rates.
At this point everyone is so habituated to worthless updates from Greece that we are shocked Bloomberg even noticed. Either way, here is latest Greek headline tape bomb, via BBG, which looks at a leaked Troika draft report obtained by Bloomberg.
- TROIKA DRAFT GREEK ACCORD SAYS 2012 GDP TO SHRINK AS MUCH AS 5% - so make that 15%-25% realistically
- GREECE TO CUT MEDICINE SPENDING TO 1.5% OF GDP FROM 1.9% OF GDP - why not just "cull" 15-20% of the population?
- GREECE PLEDGES TO MERGE ALL AUXILIARY PENSION FUNDS - one problem - following the default, there will be no pension funds left.
- GREECE TO PLEDGE 20% CUT IN MINIMUM WAGE IN TROIKA DRAFT - and Greek citizens pledge to never work again.
- TROIKA DRAFT GREEK ACCORD RENEWS PLEDGE TO CUT 150,000 EMPLOYEE - or the US equivalent of nearly 5 million workers...
But the winner is:
- TROIKA DRAFT GREEK ACCORD SEES RETURN TO GROWTH IN 2013 - OMFG.... no, did they just... HILARIOUS
Not like it is news, but... Out of one pocket, into another, and in the mean time "things get better" as Gross explains below. That said, we hope Bill knows where Allianz of A&G fame (which just happens to be the closest comp to our own AIG) falls in the pecking order of the European house of cards.