When discussing European sovereign bond purchases it is never polite to say the ECB "monetizes" when talking to "very serious people" - after all they "sterilize", or in other words, don't see an actual balance sheet expansion, as they offload the entire cumulative balance (which as of this week was €194.5 billion) onto other financial institutions. In this way, the bank supposedly does not take on interest rate risk, which in a feedback loop, is the cause and event of such modestly unpleasant monetary expansion episodes as the Weimar republic. What few discuss, however, is just where the banks get the money to actually buy bonds from the ECB. Well, as it turns out, all the money used for sterilization comes from, you guessed it, the ECB, in what is one massive several hundred billion circle jerk. In essence what the ECB does, by pretending to not monetize and pretending to sterilize, is taking on not only interest rate risk one level removed, but also bank solvency and liquidity risk! In turn, this makes the central bank even more undercapitalized in practice than it is (and at 50+ leverage, it is already pretty, pretty undercapitalized), as once the banking dominos start crumbling, it will be the ECB that is left on the hook... and thus the Fed and the US taxpayer. So perhaps while Germany is complaining every single day about the possibility of outright money printing by the ECB, it will be wise to ask itself: who is giving Europe's insolvent banks, which just borrowed a record amount of short-term cash from the ECB to be recycled precisely into such indirect monetization, their cash?
Recent years have seen a trend of gold and silver selling off aggressively in the run into options expiries. This pattern has been less marked in 2011 but was more frequently seen in recent years. Investors have complained to the CFTC about violations of law in the gold and silver markets and some have sued JPMorgan Chase & Co and HSBC Holdings Plc accusing them of conspiring to drive down prices, and reaping an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal profits. The sell off had all the hallmarks of a bear raid by concentrated leveraged shorts as the news flow was extremely gold positive – both from Europe and the US. This most recent sell off may again be completely coincidental but the CFTC might want to keep an eye on such unusual trends in the precious metal markets in order to ensure fair and free markets and protect the interests of all investors.
It has been a busy morning for the ECB already, as the central banks has been buying up Spanish short-dated bonds following yet another disastrous auction out of Spain, this time a 3 and 6 month Bill auction. Reuters reports: "Spain's Treasury paid the highest yields recorded in 14 years to issue 3 billion euros ($4 billion)of short-term bills on Tuesday, a sign that a resounding election victory for the centre-right People's Party on Sunday has done little to soothe investor nerves. The average yield on the 3-month T-bill more than doubled to to 5.11 percent from 2.292 percent one month earlier, the highest level since the bill was re-introduced in 2003. It sold 2.01 billion euros and was 2.9 times subscribed, after 3.1 times at the October auction. The 6-month T-bill saw yields jump to 5.227 percent from 3.302 percent at the last auction, selling 0.97 billion euros at a bid-to-cover ratio of 4.9 after 2.6 in October" Ironically, yesterday's pathetic attempt to mask market weakness, when Spain forced data vendors to switch their benchmark bonds, as was reported by the FT first, has not fooled the market: "Just a day after borrowing costs soared in a lacklustre auction, the yield on 10-year Spanish debt, which moves inversely to prices, dropped by about 35 basis points on Friday, mystifying traders. However, it has emerged that Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg, the main providers of government bond price data, were asked by the Spanish Treasury to change the main quoted benchmark price, from the new 10-year bond launched on Thursday back to an older one." The result: once again pervasive credit market weakness, which has since spread ot Italy, and at last check forced Draghi to also start buying BTPs. One wonders just how quickly Europe would implode if the buyer of last resort was to actually take a 24 hour vacation.
Most of the media goes along with the notion that US banks exposed to the ‘euro-contagion’ will hurt our (nonexistent) recovery. US Banks assure us, they don't have much exposure - it's all hedged. (Like it was all AAA.) The press doesn't tend to question the global harm caused by never having smacked US banks into place, cutting off their money supply, splitting them into commercial and speculative parts ala Glass-Steagall and letting the speculative parts that should have died, die, rather than enjoy public subsidization and the ability to go globe-hopping for more destructive opportunity, alongside some of the mega-global bank partners. Today, the stock prices of the largest US banks are about as low as they were in the early part of 2009, not because of euro-contagion or Super-committee super-incompetence (a useless distraction anyway) but because of the ongoing transparency void surrouding the biggest banks amidst their central-bank-covered risks, and the political hot potato of how many emergency loans are required to keep them afloat at any given moment. Because investors don’t know their true exposures, any more than in early 2009. Because US banks catalyzed the global crisis that is currently manifesting itself in Europe. Because there never was a separate US housing crisis and European debt crisis. Instead, there is a worldwide, systemic, unregulated, uncontained, rapacious need for the most powerful banks and financial institutions to leverage whatever could be leveraged in whatever forms it could be leveraged in. So, now we’re just barely in the second quarter of the game of thrones, where the big banks are the kings, the ECB, IMF and the Fed are the money supply, and the populations are the powerless serfs. Yeah, let’s play the ECB inflation game, while the world crumbles.
By now everyone knows that the Supercommittee is an official dud. But what does that really mean for the economy and the stock market? Goldman's Alec Phillips chimes in with one of the better explanations of what this means. "The fiscal super committee announced today (November 21) that it would not reach agreement, and that its deliberations had concluded. Super committee failure means that (1) there is greater risk that the payroll tax cut expires, though there is still a chance this could be attached to a year-end spending bill; (2) spending cuts in 2013 will be more severe than they would have been under a super committee agreement; but (3) spending in 2012 will remain unchanged versus previous expectations." As for the one item everyone wants to know more about, i.e., the US downgrade, here is Goldman's take: "No ratings downgrades for now, but another "negative outlook" seems possible. S&P and Moody's have indicated that they will not take negative action on the US sovereign rating due to the super committee's failure to agree. Fitch has not yet concluded its rating review, but indicated in August that the Super Committee's failure to reach agreement would likely result in negative ratings action, which most likely means moving the outlook on its AAA sovereign rating from stable to negative (this would place Fitch in an equivalent position to Moody's). Fitch has indicated it will conclude its review by the end of the November."
Americans have been very tolerant. We’ve handed money over for Wall Street bonuses rewarding the psychopaths who blew up our economy and created 23.9% unemployment (the real undistorted employment rate). We’ve watched silently as Bernanke lied to us about the banks being fixed—as if we’re too stupid to know that FASB is now just legalized Enron accounting. We’ve rolled our eyes and bitten our tongues when some of the psychopaths later professed to be, “Doing God’s work." We’ve watched our kids get molested by perverts hired off adds on pizza boxes, had our wives breasts exposed during these idiotic searches and ourselves been exposed to radiation while in naked body scanners that could be used in the oncology departments of hospitals. I seriously suspect that people have had enough and that it won’t be long before they break out the pitchforks and torches. Throughout history we’ve read about times when citizens were forced to resort to violence in order to restore law and order.
While we will get into the nuances of why the Austrian AAA rating is the next to go (just after Hungary is downgraded in a matter of weeks if not days, following the country's request for IMF help earlier today) an event which we described ten days ago when the news that Austria's shaky rating was about to be downgraded first broke via the FTD and has since resulted in a major spike in Austrian credit spreads and bond yields, first we wanted to show readers the one ad which explains why the seeds of Austria's credit perfection collapse were sown back in 2007. In the ad, the second biggest Austrian bank, Raiffeisen Bank, explains precisely what its "selection" criteria were to get a loan in Hungary at the peak of the credit bubble (and yes, the ad is real). The ad explains the follow up news, which is namely that Austrian bank supervisors were today told to limit their lending to Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, the horses are out of the barn, and the biggest banks in Austria are about to be at the mercy of the markets, especially once the rating agencies do the inevitable and cur the country by at least 2 notches.
There was a time when central bankers used to fight high oil prices with interest-rate hikes. But we are now in a different era with that equation, and central bankers are more likely to lament, as Ben Bernanke quipped in his spring 2011 press conference, that "the FED can’t print oil.” Yes, precisely. At the zero bound of interest rates and with debt saturation coursing through the private and public sector, the developed world faces not an inflationary restraint from oil prices, but rather an additional deflationary barrier. Welcome to the new oil cycle. In the old oil cycle, new supply of petroleum was brought online to capture rising prices. In the new oil cycle, declines from existing fields neutralize this new supply, for a net global supply gain of zero. In the old oil cycle, recessions benefited large consumer countries like the United States as oil prices fell, giving a boost to the economy. In the new oil cycle, the price of oil falls only for a short time before resuming a higher swing. In the old oil cycle, the developed world set the oil price through swings in its demand. In the new oil cycle, the developing world, with its much lower sensitivity to high prices now sets the floor on oil. Most of all, the new oil cycle caps growth in the developed world. The new oil cycle kills the economies of the OECD nations.
Anti-Tilson ETF Goes Ballistic: Netflix Plunges After Company Announces Equity Raise In Sheep's ClothingSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/21/2011 - 18:34
When we discussed the slow motion trainwreck that is the implosion of Netflix back on October 11, our only outstanding question was "when is the inevitable follow on equity offering coming?" We have the answer, and it is now. Netflix just announced in an 8-K filing that it has raised $200 million in convertible notes. The conversion price is a laughable $85.80 or just 16% above the closing price translating into 2.3 million shares of additional dilution, confirming that this is nothing short of an equity raise in sheep's clothing (on the buyer's terms at that), and indicates that the firm may have well entered a liquidity death spiral courtesy of a business model that still has to generate any substantial free cash flow. Naturally, the second investors realize this they will dump the stock in droves, which is horrendous news for Whitney Tilson, but amazing news for everyone long the Anti-Tilson ETF. In other news, it may just be time for Tilson to call it a career.
Remember the massive market ramp that came in on "news" that the Stupor committee would actually have a resolution? It is now time to fade it. Reuters reports that "The co-chairs of the U.S. Congress "super committee" will announce that their panel has failed to reach a deal on at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions, a senior congressional aide said on Monday. The co-chairs, Republican Representative Jeb Hensarling and Democratic Senator Patty Murray, are expected to release their written statement soon, aides said." Now this is not any news, but the "faux" catalyst that was used by the FRBNY to send a massive market buy to Citadel was there, and was sufficiently credible to get the vacuum tubes to jump in the buying frenzy. Now let's see the reversal, or not. After all that would make too much sense for this busted market.
ES tumbled back down to its VWAP at the close of the day session after mounting a run back towards 1200 in the afternoon. This equity move was the second total disconnect from credit markets of the afternoon and reverted back to credit's sanity though HYG was clearly the instrument of choice (once again) for credit hedgers looking for lower cost shorts or liquid hedges. The USD was modestly higher from Friday's close and Oil rallied back this afternoon to almost perfectly match the USD shift. Gold, Silver, and Copper all lost significant ground (around 2.5%) though all were well off their early European-close-liquidation lows. TSYs rather interestingly closed near the high yields of the US day-session - though well down on the day - as 2s10s30s and Oil were the main drivers of broad risk-asset strength. CONTEXT remained notably below ES all day - maintained by the weakness in Gold, 10Y, and AUDJPY as the EURJPY ripfest into the EU close helped the risk-on crowd modestly. It was a muddled day with correlations breaking down and dramatically illiquid-looking moves as the late-day drop on very large volume suggests some sense of sanity with the uncertainty we face was priced in.