As Europe flails helplessly in the waves of insolvency, its leadership has tossed it a life preserver. Too bad it's plutonium, and will take Europe straight to the bottom. Plutonium is of course one of the most toxic materials on the planet, and the "rescue" cooked up by the EU leadership is the financial equivalent of plutonium. Stripped of propaganda and disinformation, the "rescue" boils down to this: something for nothing. In essence, the EU is claiming that its illusory "something for nothing" magic will turn lead into gold. Abracadabra....oh well, close; it's heavy, it's metallic--oops, it's plutonium. No wonder France was so anxious for the ECB to crank up the euro printing press: they wanted-- just like everyone else involved--something for nothing. The best way to understand the EU's current situation is to imagine an astoundingly dysfunctional family of deep-in-denial-addicts, screaming co-dependent parents, and grown-up grifters acting like spoiled brats, all trapped in a rat-infested, flooded flat that's had the gas turned off for lack of payment--and there's a plutonium life preserver glowing in the knee-high water. Admittedly, this analogy is imperfect, but it does capture the essential psychology of the end-game being played out.
After today's ridiculous move in the market, which brings back memories of either August 2007, March 2008, the reaction after the Tarp vote (the successful one), August 2011, when the market gyrated by 400 points on a daily basis, and many more bear market rallies, we hope to restores some semblance of normalcy by presenting the following series of clips all from Hugh Hendry speechs at the LSE's Alternative Investments Conference earlier this year. Must watch, because when everyone loses their mind, listening to some common sense is the best remedy.
Remember the bear market? The 20% drop from the July highs to August and most recently October 4th lows has seen a major retrace in the last 3 weeks as we managed to gain 20.7% from the 10/4 lows to the highs of today. Risk was definitely on today though it felt much more like capitulation - especially in credit - than new longs being laid out. Everything was bid today so an end of day comment is somewhat redundant but we would note that HYG underperformed HY and equities (hedges being laid out again?), quality IG new issues were active (but not HY), and commodities tore higher. TSY yields smashed higher (especially post a weak auction) with everyone's favorite carry trade (2s10s30s) jumping once again. The EUR dominated FX markets with FX carry driving ES to a huge day but interestingly (for once), despite the huge up day in stocks, HY and IG credit outperformed - narrowing that gap. IG was the best performer (beta adjusted) overall - dramatically outperforming with a 14bps compression (over 5bps rich to fair-value). The similarities to both price action and sentiment from the March 2008 period are undeniable as investors once again decide whether the status quo has ben restored by more promises or is a larger and more scary reality being created.
GMO Does The Euro Bailout Math, Finds That Arithmetic Of "Sovereign Debt Crisis Is Daunting, But Not Insuperable"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/27/2011 - 15:55
In a much needed white paper just released by GMO's Rich Mattione, title "Et tu, Berlusconi? The daunting (but not always insuperable) arithmetic of sovereign debt" the author does just that: an overdue deep dive into the maths of the European, and global, sovereign bail out. "Much needed", because everything we have heard over the past month leading to a 20% surge in the market in the past 23 days, has been full of broad strokes and completely absent of any details. Cutting to the chase, Mattione's conclusion is that "the arithmetic of Europe’s sovereign debt crisis is daunting, but not insuperable." Which means it can be done, at least in theory, but at great costs, and will need something that Europe has never demonstrated until this point: proactive planning and tackling problems before they develop into full blown systemic crises. How does he get there? Here are his key observations...
For some reason, investors' goldfish-like brains forget every quarter that time and again around 70% of names beat expectations and this fact is used as reason to buy buy buy. Certainly this time around, earnings beats are well within historical norms and furthermore are simply beating significantly lowered expectations. However, that is backward-looking and no matter what metric you use for valuation, the only one that really counts is how expectations are priced into the market. With regard to this, 12Month forward EPS expectations have started to roll-over quite significantly for the S&P 500 (at around a -8.5% annualized clip) - the last time we saw this was Q4 2007 and we know how well that ended.
As we come to terms with the new reality (or perhaps same old reality) that governments will do anything to maintain the status quo, Goldman Sachs took a step back this morning to consider what is worth focusing on in the medium-term. Obviously the European Summit proceedings impact their perspective, but less positively than one might expect as they expect slower global growth, a possible European recession, refocus on US data, Chinese policy responses, currency wars, and a balanced portfolio approach to risk. It certainly seems like Goldman remains less sanguine than an exploding US equity market might suggest and we tend to agree that ignoring the fact that the EU Summit conclusions leave more questions than answers, it may allow us to focus once again on the fundamentals and those fundamentals are not a rosy as many would have us believe.
Buying stocks with the confidence that all has been resolved and all open questions have been answered? Or just doing it because everyone else is doing it, and there is "career risk" for those who actually sit to think what the events over the past 24 hours mean? It's ok if it is the latter: everyone else is in the same boat. After all the whole purpose of today's rally is to get everyone exposed the same way, so when it all crashes again, nobody can be singled out for having been contrarian. Why are we so sure? Because when even Goldman Sachs has at least 10 outstanding questions on not only the structure of the European bailout, but the layout of the revised EFSF, it is safe to assume that few have the answers (which, incidentally, don't exist). So in between chasing VWAP ever higher, it may be worthwhile to read these 10 questions which nobody has the definitive answer to. At least not yet. And whose answer is assumed will be a satisfactory one...
China Lays Out Conditions Under Which It Will Bail Out Europe; Does Not Want To Be Seen As "Source Of Dumb Money"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/27/2011 - 14:12
Back in September we noted that "Wen Jiabao Says China Willing To Extend Help To Europe... For A Price" the price in question being that, among other things, the EU should recognize China's market economy status, and to split Europe with the US on the topic of Chinese currency manipulation. Naturally, being the biggest import partner for China's goods, the topic of providing vendor financing to Europe has always been a critical one. Well, as was made clear overnight a key part of the European rescue effort is to get China on the same page, and to have it allocate capital to the EFSF. As the FT reports this may have happened, although with more or less the same conditions that China delineated 6 weeks ago. Only this time China has all the leverage. According to the FT: "China is very likely to contribute to the eurozone’s bail-out fund but the scope of its involvement will depend on European leaders satisfying some key conditions, two senior advisers to the Chinese government have told the Financial Times." So what are the conditions: "Any Chinese support would depend on contributions from other countries and Beijing must be given strong guarantees on the safety of its investment, according to Li Daokui, an academic member of China’s central bank monetary policy committee, and Yu Yongding, a former member of that committee." Obviously, Europe will promise the latter. As for the former it could be a tad problematic because as observed previously Brazil has voiced against rescuing Europe in the form of non-IMF participation. But there are more conditions: "It is in China’s long-term and intrinsic interest to help Europe because they are our biggest trading partner but the chief concern of the Chinese government is how to explain this decision to our own people,” said Professor Li. “The last thing China wants is to throw away the country’s wealth and be seen as just a source of dumb money.” Alas, that is precisely how the entire world sees China. As for the final condition: "He added that Beijing might also ask European leaders to refrain from criticising China’s currency policy, a frequent source of tension with trade partners." And this is how you declare political check mate and shut up all voices that threaten to protest against mercantilist policies. And since it is only a matter of time before China will have to rescue the US, we hope Senate enjoys the time remaining in which it can debate whether or not China manipulates the CNY. That time is about to end.
There is no shortage of hatred for the biggest banks. Indeed, the Occupy Wall Street movement is leading a national revolution against these byzantine, powerful Goliaths for the economic devastation they have caused. This makes it difficult to choose the worst of the bunch. That said, a strong case can be made that Bank of America deserves the title of the nation's most despised bank. Here are ten reasons to take your money out of Bank of America - and park it at a credit union or community bank near you. (And yes, that may be near impossible if you have a mortgage with them, as refinancing away from any big bank nowadays is a nightmare.)
Auction Which Sends US Debt To Over $15 Trillion Has Very Weak Reception; Drags Treasury Complex LowerSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/27/2011 - 13:18
Today's epic risk rally has been punctuated by something probably not all that surprising: a very weak $29 billion 7 Year auction, which has since dragged the entire bond curve even lower. The bond priced at a high yield of 1.791%, a notable 3 bps tail to the When Issued which was trading at 1.76 at 1 pm. But the internals are again where the action is: the Bid To Cover of 2.59 was the lowest in the series since the 2.26 back in May 2009! Additionally it appears that foreigners, either China or Europe, had very little desire to load up on this paper, with just 33.9% in Indirect Take Down, and a corresponding 86.9% hit ratio on the Indirects. So while Indirects came at the lowest since June, so the Primary Dealers took down the most since that month, at over half of the entire auction, or 54.15%. Directs also stepped up, bidding up 11.95% of the whole, compared to 8.95% last twelve auction average. And as the chart below shows, the disappointing auction has dragged the entire treasury complex lower in price. As a reminder, this bond auction brings total US debt to over $15 trillion, a number which would have resulted in a 100%+ debt/GDP using the Q2 GDP. As it sands, following today's update, the market has about $160 billion in capacity before that threshold is breached again.
It has been long in coming but finally the credit market is noticeably refocusing its attention to the two countries that are supposed to carry the burden of bailing out the world on their shoulders: Germany, and, that perpetual placeholder for global rescues, China. As noted yesterday, while following today's anticipated ISDA decision to effectively make price discovery in CDS null and void, and in the process also put the whole premise of sovereign debt insurance into doubt, CDS still provides a very useful metric courtesy of the DTCC, namely open interest, or said otherwise, gross and net notional outstanding in the CDS. And while we will reserve the observation that not only did ISDA kill sovereign CDS, but in the process it also ended bilateral netting effectively pushing up net CDS to the level of gross, we will highlight that as of the last week, net notional in both German and China CDS has hit a record, of $19.6 billion and $9.3 billion, respectively. This is occuring as notionals in the two most active countries to date, France and Italy, have been declining. In essence, what the CDS market is telling us is that while the easy money in French and Italian default risk has been made, it is now finally the turn of China and Germany to defend their credit risk and sovereign spreads. We expect that if China is indeed confirmed to be the backstopper of Europe through funding the EFSF in whole or in part, that while its CDS may or may not surge, net notionals will continue to increase as it means that ever more are laying insurance, as hobbled as it may be, on the country which recently was forced to bail out its own banking system, let alone Europe. Keep a close eye on China, which while the bulk of the market is taking for granted as the global rescuer of last resort with hard money, the smart money is already positioning itself for the next big disappointment.
Jed Rakoff is well known to frequent readers of Zero Hedge: he is the judge who nearly brought down the SEC settlement with Bank of America over the whole bonus non-disclosure issue two years ago, and where Bank of America effectively acted under the duress of Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke. Granted at the end of the day he sided with the status quo., but this may be his chance to redeem himself. Just out from Bloomberg:
- CITIGROUP'S $285 MILLION SEC SETTLEMENT QUESTIONED BY JUDGE
- CITIGROUP JUDGE ASKS PARTIES TO JUSTIFY FAIRNESS OF SETTLEMENT
- SEC CLAIMED CITIGROUP MISLED INVESTORS IN $1 BILLION CDO
When we witness the clash between the Austerity and Stimulus camps, on the surface there is the appearance that a true debate is taking place between diametrically opposed economists. For example, Austerity folks correctly note that our economy has been badly weighted towards consumption for some decades. They want to clear out the excesses, let the malinvestments fail, and elect an overall path of acute economic pain in order to reset the system. Stimulus advocates find such plans completely unnecessary, if not downright masochistic. Armed with a more humanistic approach, Keynesians want the government to run large deficits to help the private sector deleverage, which of course could take years....A rather serious problem in the ability of Developed Economies to coherently allocate resources started showing up well before the 2008 crisis. This status quo, made in part by policy mistakes, credit creation, and the energy limit, still remains today. Crucially, neither stimulus nor austerity will dislodge this status quo. Unless, of course, by austerity we mean to intentionally collapse the system, or if by stimulus we mean to engender a runaway inflation that will eventually yield the same result.
Presented without comment - except to say the 11% rise in Silver since Friday (and 16.7% rise since last Thursday's lows) is the highest 4-day move since 7/18/11 and is over 2 standard deviations on a long-run mean.