Update: it's over - the going rate for votes was met and Silvio got 316 to 301. The Bunga Bunga shall continue until morale improves and Italy is broke.
Just out from Bloomberg: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi won enough votes in the first round of balloting to survive a confidence vote today in parliament, an opposition official who attended the vote said. Berlusconi won 315 votes in the first round, the party official said. Lawmakers are still voting in the second round of balloting. Not surprisingly, just like in America, Italians completely deserve the politicians who lead then.
- S&P downgraded the long-term sovereign rating of Spain by one notch to AA- from AA with a negative outlook
- Fitch placed five major European commercial banks – namely, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale - on credit watch negative
- Strong corporate earnings from Google boosted appetite for risk during the European session
- The French/German 10-year government bond yield spread widened to a record level on concerns surrounding the impact of an EFSF leveraging on the French sovereign ratings
- Market participants keep a close eye on the outcome of the confidence vote in the Italian Parliament. In latest news, according to ANSA, Berlusconi has enough votes to win the confidence vote
Don't tell the stock and EUR momo squeeze-based melt up, but even as European funding markets continue to be completely snarled up, default risk has taken a big step wider today. As usual, expect the HFTs which now thoroughly control both equity and FX markets, to be the last to get the memo. Most notable: Belgium CDS have just soared to over 300 bps, a 15 bps move wider on the day (and a welcome boost to anyone still holding on the Dexia-Belgium compression trade), and are about to invert.
- China inflation dips to 6.1% in September (FT)
- G-20 Said to Weigh Boosting IMF Lending Power to Stem Europe Debt Crisis (Bloomberg)
- German Bankers Argue Against Capital Plans (WSJ)
- State Revenue Under Forecasts to Produce Cuts From New York to California (Bloomberg)
- Germany’s Banks Said to Prepare for Greece Debt Losses of as Much as 60% (Bloomberg)
- Bank’s Bean says will do more QE if needed (FT)
- Banks’ Paths Vary in Greek Write-Downs (WSJ)
- ECB warns against private role in bail-outs (FT)
- China Inflation Wen’s Scope for Easing (FT)
While the euro has been gloriously soaring higher over the past nine days, to much pomp and circumstance, with the move now 3.2% on the week - the biggest 5 day gain since the beginning of the year, and European bureaucrats overeager to point out that there is no way the currency could be on the verge of implosion if it is in fact soaring, a far more quiet and stealthy move has occurred in the spread between French and German bunds, which just hit an all time record. Why is this important? Because as the chart below shows, the correlation between the two had been for all intents and purposes 1.000... until 5 days ago when it bexome -1.000. Which is a clear signal that the move in the EUR is now purely technical and on last fumes from the ongoing short squeeze long discussed on Zero Hedge (watch for the CFTC COT update at 3pm today for the plunge in net EUR short exposure); it is also a loud signal for a compression trade between the France-German bund spread and the EUR, and as such we encourage readers with a capacity to enact said compression trade to boldly go where no weak EUR short covering hands have dared go in the past 5 days.
The Bloomberg ‘Chart of the Day’ shows the proportion of gold in the international reserves of India, Russia, China and Mexico is significantly lower than the rates in the U.S., Germany and France, based on data compiled from the World Gold Council. The lower panel tracks central bank holdings in metric tons and the bullion price since March 2008. Central banks last year were net gold purchasers for the first time in two decades. Central banks, the biggest gold holders, have expanded reserves due to the international financial crisis. Central bank and government-institution buying totaled 192.3 metric tons in the first half of 2011, World Gold Council data show. Gold accounts for 75.4% of the U.S.’s reserves and 72.7% of Germany’s. The ratio is just 1.6% for China and 8.2% for Russia, WGC data show. “Governments in many places like Asia and South America are rapidly embracing gold as a security mechanism,” said Wendt, who expects gold at $2,500 in 2013. “The value of their U.S. dollar foreign reserves has drastically fallen over the past decade.” Thailand, Bolivia and Tajikistan raised reserves in August, according to the International Monetary Fund. Central bank demand is strategic leading to gradual accumulation and it is long term meaning that official sector demand will provide support to prices for the foreseeable future. Thus, continuous suggestions that gold is a bubble today and in recent years and of a gold bubble bursting and prices falling sharply as seen in 1980 is uninformed and misguided. The world of 2011 is very different to that of 1980.
Just when it seemed that a Fitch downgrade of all global banks and an S&P cut of Spain may finally snap the back of the EUR, the European currency decided to shove its head even deeper in the sand and proceed to melt up by a nice 100 pips on hope that some big, fat, juicy rumors may come out of a G-20 meeting in Paris, and that a bumbling Barroso may say more unbearably stupid things (such as this one from Bloomberg: Barroso reiterates call for Euro-wide bank recapitalization: apparently the unelected European dictator is not aware the EFSF somehow has to be increased to €3.5 trillion first. Never let facts stand in the way of fictional propaganda) about bank recapitalization. Either way, what appears to be a certain risk off day, has in the past 6 hours, been completely reversed. Here are the key catalysts that drove that, courtesy of Bloomberg First Word.
The first call of voting for the Berlusconi "vote of confidence" in the lower house of the Italian parliament has started. Follow it live here. Should Berlusconi ultimately not get enough votes, and his government tumbles, all hell may soon break loose.
Everyone has heard of the Big Mac Index, the Misery Index, even the Shoe Thrower Index. But the Book Cooking Index? This latest addition to the compendium of oddly named yet extremely fascinating "indices" is based around the statistical irregularity known as Benford's law, according to which within sets of numbers that span orders of magnitude, the distribution of first digits is strikingly regular: numbers beginning in 1 occur about 30% of the time, those beginning in 2 about 18% of the time, falling to roughly 5% of the time for the number 9. Specifically, as noted by the keenly observant Jialan Wang of Washington University in St. Louis, "there are more numbers in the universe that begin with the digit 1 than 2, or 3, or 4, or 5, or 6, or 7, or 8, or 9. And more numbers that begin with 2 than 3, or 4, and so on. This relationship holds for the lengths of rivers, the populations of cities, molecular weights of chemicals, and any number of other categories." The most curious application of this law resides in the field of corporate fraud, "because deviations from the law can indicate that a company's books have been manipulated." Here is where things get interesting for fraudulent corporate America: the inquisitive Wang "downloaded quarterly accounting data for all firms in Compustat, the most widely-used dataset in corporate finance that contains data on over 20,000 firms from SEC filings" and "used a standard set of 43 variables that comprise the basic components of corporate balance sheets and income statements." Her results were, in a word, startling.
UPDATE: EURUSD loses 1.3750
On Oct. 13, 2011, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered the long-term rating on the Kingdom of Spain from 'AA' to 'AA-', while affirming the short-term ratings at 'A-1+'. The outlook is negative. The transfer and convertibility assessment remains 'AAA', as it does for all members of the eurozone. The negative outlook reflects our view of the risks to Spain's economic growth linked to private sector deleveraging, external financing pressures, and their impact on budgetary consolidation. We could lower the ratings again if, consistent with our downside scenario, the economy contracts in 2012, Spain's fiscal position significantly deviates from the government's budgetary targets, or additional labor market and other growth-enhancing reforms are delayed. Conversely, we could revise the outlook to stable if, consistent with our upside scenario, the government meets its budgetary targets in 2011 and 2012, risks to external financing conditions subside, and Spain's economic growth prospects prove to be more buoyant than we currently assume.
Foreigners Dump $74 Billion In Treasurys In 6 Consecutive Weeks: Biggest Sequential Outflow In HistorySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/13/2011 - 18:06
Over the weekend, we observed the perplexing sell off of $56 billion in US Treasurys courtesy of weekly disclosure in the Fed's custodial account (source: H.4.1) and speculated if this may be due to an asset rotation, under duress or otherwise, out of bonds and into stocks, to prevent the collapse of the global ponzi (because when the BRICs tell the IMF to boost its bailout capacity you know it is global). We also proposed a far simpler theory: "the dreaded D-day in which foreign official and private investors finally start offloading their $2.7 trillion in Treasurys with impunity (although not with the element of surprise - China has made it abundantly clear it will sell its Treasury holdings, the only question is when), has finally arrived." In hindsight the Occam's Razor should have been applied. Little did we know 5 short days ago just how violent the reaction by China would be (both post and pre-facto) to the Senate decision to propose a law for all out trade warfare with China. Now we know - in the week ended October 12, a further $17.7 billion was "removed" from the Fed's custodial Treasury account, meaning that someone, somewhere is very displeased with US paper, and, far more importantly, what it represents, and wants to make their displeasure heard loud and clear. Whether it is China - we do not know: we may have a better view in two months when the September/October TIC data hits, but even then it will be full of errors, as Direct Bidder purchases by the UK usually end up being assigned to China at the yearly TIC audit. And the sellers know this all too well. What they also know is that over the next few days (or weeks - ZH tends to be a little "aggressive" in its estimates for popular uptake), as soon as the broader population understands what has transpired, concerns about the reserve status of the greenback will start to resurface, precisely as many have been warning. And what has happened is that in six consecutive weeks, foreigners have sold $74 billion, or more government bonds in a sequential period of time than ever before.
Just like goldbugs know the serial number of every single gold bar held (allegedly) in the GLD by heart, so the Federal Reserve carries a soft place in its corrupt, evil heart for fiat and the assorted trivia surrounding it. For example did you know that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has two facilities, one in Washington, D.C. and the other in Fort Worth, Texas. Together they use approximately 9.7 tons of ink per day. So while paper money may or may not a disappearing species, here are, courtesy of the Federal Reserve, some "fun" facts about the US Dollar that readers may not be aware of as they make funeral arrangements for the endlessly dilutable combination of 75% cotton/25% linen.
Fitch Downgrades UBS, Many Others, Puts Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Goldman, BNP, Deutsche Bank, SocGen And Others On Watch NegativeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/13/2011 - 16:46
Since one can not get a downgrade of a bank during market hours for fears of springing who knows what circuit breakers, Fitch had to wait until just after the market close to release its latest market surprise which consisted of a "watch negative" announcement on the following banks Barclays, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman, Morgan Stanley; others it just slashed some by multiple notches, among which: Landesbank Berlin IDR downgraded to A+ from AA-; Lloyds Banking Group IDR downgraded to A from AA-; RBS IDR downgraded to A from AA-; and most importantly UBS IDR downgraded to A from A+. The reason for the action: "the ongoing Eurozone crisis continues to feed intense market speculation regarding the potential or bank recapitalisation schemes. Therefore for the near term the agency is maintaining a 'single A' range support rating floors for banks in its highest rated Eurozone countries." The Euro is not liking this announcement one bit.