MF Global 2 is now official. At least one can never accuse ex-Goldmanite, and current head of the CFTC Gary Gensler, as being behind the curve:
- U.S. COMMODITIES REGULATOR SUES PEREGRINE FINANCIAL GROUP
- FIRM HAS $200 MILLION CUSTOMER FUND `SHORTFALL', CFTC SAYS
- CFTC LAWSUIT FILED ONE DAY AFTER FIRM ANNOUNCES NFA PROBE
Hopefully, the CFTC's now meaningless action will help all those farmers whose money has just vaporized. Luckily, they can make it all up on record corn profits.
Earlier today, when futures were soaring, we rhetorically asked whether "A German Constitutional Court Delay Today Cripple The EUphoria?" a delay which "could have “serious economic consequences” for the Eurozone as well as Germany, and in turn would risk placing the entire euro project “in question,” Schaeuble warned." Specifically, in terms of timing we said "Judges during the hearing suggested a two-part decision was likely, first on the injunction in about three weeks, and then in early 2013 on the broader constitutional question." Moment ago, according to CNBC's Sylvia Wadhwa, the court has announced the delay could be as great as large as three months, which in turn would put the Schauble scenario into play.
Last Tuesday we suggested that "Now The Fed Gets Dragged Into LiEborgate" when we observed that "Barclays also cited subsequent research by the New York Federal Reserve staff members that, according to the lender, concluded that banks’ Libor quotes were systematically below their borrowing rates by 39 basis points after the Lehman bankruptcy. “Barclays own submissions for tenors of 1 month to 1 year Libor were higher than actual Barclays trades on 97% of the occasions when Barclays had actual trades during the financial crisis,” the lender said." It seems that unlike the BOE, which had no idea of any Barclays problems and was merely calling up Diamond now and then to make sure the bank's money market risk mechanisms were operational and to chit chat about the weather (as per the BOE at least), the Fed has decided to take the high road and openly admit it was well aware of Barclays' LIBOR "problems." And like that the Senatorial circus just got exciting, while that popping noise is bottles of Bollinger going off at every class action lawsuit legal firm.
It seems increasingly the European leaders themselves (absent the self-referential peripheral political paeons) are getting the joke in Europe. Following Buba's Weidmann's rational comments this morning (via Bloomberg):
- *WEIDMANN SAYS CAN'T SOLVE EURO CRISIS WITH EVER BIGGER FUNDS
- *WEIDMANN BANK FINANCING (Bailout - kicking the can) COULD WORSEN WITH EURO CRISIS
Now, Poland's deputy finance minister is pulling back dramatically from their desire to enter the European union:
- *POLAND PLANS `OPPOSITE OF ACCELERATION' IN EURO DRIVE: DOMINIK
- *POLAND SAYS EURO-AREA STABILITY IS NEW CRITERION FOR EURO ENTRY
It seems there is some rational thinking occurring in Europe - no matter how algos react to recycled headlines.
The MF Global playbook is playing out step by step:
- JEFFERIES HAS BEGAN AN ORDERLY LIQUIDATION OF PFG’S POSITIONS
- JEFFERIES DOESN'T EXPECT TO INCUR ANY LOSS IN RESPECT OF PFG
- JEFFERIES ALREADY LIQUIDATED SUBSTANTIAL PORTION OF POSITIONS
- JEFFERIES SAYS PFG POSITIONS SECURED BY CASH HELD IN MARGIN ACC
- JEFERIES TO KEEP PFG LIQUIDATION PROCEEDS IN SEGREGATED ACCOUNTS
If we look at the global economy with unclouded eyes, we reach this conclusion: "This whole thing is about leverage." If leverage doesn't increase, the system implodes. But since collateral is disappearing from the global economy like sand castles in a rising tide, and disposable income has stagnated, there is no foundation for more leverage. As a result, the State/finance cartel has only one choice: increase leverage by whatever means are left. There are only two:
- Allow banks to claim phantom assets as capital/reserves
- Lower interest rates so stagnant income can leverage ever greater quantities of debt
The State/finance Empire and its army of academic toadies (economists) must cloak this reliance on leverage from the citizenry, lest they grasp the precariousness of the entire financial system. As the economic Establishment is discredited by reality (that their sputtering reflation policies have come at an unbearable cost is now undeniable), their attempts to discredit their critics become increasingly comic: only PhD economists in the employ of the Empire are qualified to comment on the Empire's policies, etc.
The debate around San Bernardino County’s proposed program to use eminent domain rights to seize ownership of underwater mortgages has continued to heat up since we first wrote about it here last week. As Barclays notes, the county (along with two other cities in the area) has formed a joint powers authority, which would not need permission from the respective city councils unless they need public money. There are conflicting reports of the path that such an authority would take and the role of private investors. However, the most likely path seems to be that the authority is funded by private investors and it uses this money to buy current loans that are underwater at a "fair price" and then refi the borrower into a new private or more likely into an FHA mortgage. So, this program, if implemented, is likely to be a transfer of wealth from existing investors in these loans to the city governments and the newer investors led by venture-capital firms. Barclays does note though that there are many challenges to such a program including the legal issue of whether eminent domain can be used to seize financial assets in this fashion, especially if the primary beneficiaries are private investors at the expense of existing investors, which include, among others, pension funds and mutual funds and the fact that new mortgage origination is likely to suffer with new mortgagees bearing the costs of such a program in the form of higher mortgage rates/less credit availability.
Just out from Bloomberg, where we find that our own corrupt politicians have just discovered that gambling went on for years and years, and nobody had the faintest clue!
- SENATE BANKING COMMITTEE TO ASK GEITHNER, BERNANKE ABOUT LIBOR
Surely the wristslapping will be so profound, Geithner is already soaking his arm elbowdeep in vaseline. In other news, go long AMZN as Senate (and soon Congress) just bought out Amazon's entire inventory of "Libor for corrupt morons"
Following months of ever higher Chinese imports, no doubt predicated by stockpiling and hoarding reserves, in June Chinese crude oil imports plunged from over 25 million metric tons to 21.72 MMTs, the lowest since December, or about 5.3 million barrels a day, down over 10% from the previous month's record import. While the number was still quite higher than the 19.7 million tons, the sudden drop is concerning, especially since the price of Brent slid materially in June, and if anything should have resulted in even more imports if indeed China was merely stockpiling crude for its new strategic reserve facilities. Which begs the question: was the demand actually driven by the economy, and just how bad is the economic slowdown over the past month if not even stockpiling at preferential prices can offset the drop in end demand?
June macro data is giving a 'cleaner' picture of the economic state of our great nation. With seasonal affectations (unusually warm weather and the rebound in auto production) out of the way, June macro data has very much surprised consensus to the downside as BofAML's economics team notes that 14 of the last 20 June indicators has come in below expectations. Over the next several weeks we will get more 'hard' data for June. The most important will be retail sales, industrial production and the durable goods orders report. Retail sales look likely to disappoint as weak chain store sales offset the modest tick higher in auto sales. And given the collapse in the ISM, we expect manufacturing production and durable goods orders to be soft. This data will determine if the FOMC has enough ammo to ease aggressively on August 1st (or wait til September 13th) which we expect to only be an extension of forward rate guidance to mid-2015 from late-2014 (and not the panacea of NEW QE). BofAML remains more concerned with the consensus outlook for H2 - particularly Q4 (with 14% YoY EPS growth expected despite just a 1% GDP growth rate) - as the recession in Europe and high level of uncertainty ahead of the US fiscal cliff will likely lead to slowing growth in H2. And for those hanging their hats on the housing recovery, it will not be enough to save the rest of the economy - Housing construction is now only 2.3% of GDP compared to more than 6% prior to the crisis. This means we need a decisive turn to significantly matter for GDP growth. In addition, we believe it would take a sustained period of price increases to reverse the negative wealth and confidence effects of the housing collapse. Households remain skeptical about the home as a store of wealth or an investment.
The global economy is an entangled affair, make no mistake in your calculation here, and the numbers from around the globe are telling and will affect both the U.S. bond and equity markets. Much of the financing for the Emerging Markets was provided by the European banks and as they pull back and reorganize based not just on Basel III but based upon problems of the sovereign where they are domiciled the situation exacerbates. Two of the world’s financial axises are slowing and troubled and to not think that this will not affect America will lead you to conclusions causing you to play the Great Game badly. What did the meeting of the European Finance Ministers accomplish; not much. They nodded to the Spanish banks and agreed to inject $30 billion by the way of the sovereign, increasing the debt of Spain, with veiled promises of a new ESM fund which would lend money directly to the banks at some point in the future and this point is highly subjective depending upon to whom you listen. The Spanish claim within days or weeks while the Germans indicate it may be sometime next year. There is now a “maybe-maybe” timeline in Europe for almost anything as the weaker nations prod the stronger nations for more money.
Engine of growth?; job creators?; Obamacare sufferers?; the sad reality is that small business in the US has just rolled over. From a slow leak higher in confidence this year, Small Business Confidence has just plunged by its largest in 24 months to its lowest level since October 2011. Seems like perfectly timed for a fall election.
European equities are seen firmly in the green at the North-American crossover, with outperformance noted in the peripheral bourses. Overnight news from the Eurogroup has confirmed that the EFSF/ESM rescue funds will be given the powers to intervene in the secondary bond markets, easing sentiment towards the European laggard economies. Gains are being led by a particularly strong technology sector, with the riskier financials and basic materials also making solid progress. Asset classes across the board in Europe are benefiting from risk appetite, with the Bund seen lower and both the Spanish and Italian 10-yr yields coming below their key levels of 7% and 6% respectively. The moves follow a spurt of activity in Europe with a number of factors assisting the way higher.