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Are Dim Sum Bonds The Next Chinese Reverse Merger Fraud?

While Draghi somewhat shut the door on the ECB being the lender of last resort today, there appears to be a sucker-of-last-resort where Dim Sum bonds (offshore/HK Yuan-denominated bonds) have seen issuance almost triple in the first 11 months of the year. The WSJ is reporting that 76 entities issued CNY99.1bn YTD, according to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. Interestingly, the biggest growth in the second half of the year has been from European firms who are unable to raise funds economically due to the crisis of confidence at home. Bloomberg notes BMW and Lloyds as two recent issuers with the latter managing to price CNY-denominated 3Y debt at 3.6% yield against comparable EUR-denominated debt at 5.3% - quite a saving if you're willing to take the currency risk (or looking for non-Euro, non-USD diversification) as a corporate Treasurer (or desperate for the money). But for the bulk of Chinese issuers it would seem evident that the Dim Sum investors are perhaps a little too eager to be lending their Yuan, and therefore not being appropriately compensated for credit risk concerns (even with the implicit FX revaluation bet).

This fear is even more prescient when, according to Bloomberg, one considers that 60% of Asia's fastest growing bond market lack any of the standard leverage covenant restrictions (protection) that Western bondholders are used to. And just to add some more fuel to the rising yield fire of these bonds, Bloomberg just reported that eager bondholders are more than willing (and blind to the risks) to accept one-off payments from issuers in order to accept significant covenant concessions (completely disregarding the credit risks through time). Our Dim Sum index has seen average yields jump a significant 70bps to 3.31% since mid-September leading us to raise concerns that this market, on which ETFs are now being created, is worryingly exposed to both a systemic Chinese credit crunch and idiosyncratic releveraging even if managers view Dim Sum as more of a currency play.



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Risk Assets Deteriorating Rapidly On Europe's SNAFU

UPDATE: Gold and Silver just dropped more aggressively

Since the news broke that there is no 27-nation agreement, risk markets are showing strains. Perhaps a little surprising is the lack of total panic in the EURUSD (50pips or so) as ES (the e-mini S&P 500) has now dropped almost 1% from its after-hours peak. Broadly speaking risk is off across the major markets with US TSYs rallying, the TSY curve flattening, and commodities rolling over (oil under $98) but it is AUD and the carry pairs that are driving ES down as much as anything else.



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And Scene: Europe Agrees To Disagree, Next Summit Date Set For March 2012 As David Cameron Kills Compromise

Not the headlines Gollum van Rompuy needed at 3:30 am CET, when he was scheduled to have a press conference:

  • EU LEADERS AGREE THEY WILL REEXAMINE CEILING OF ESM BAILOUT FUND IN MARCH 2012 - EU DIPLOMAT via RTRS
  • TREATY CHANGE LIKELY TO BE DONE AMONG EURO ZONE PLUS OTHER COUNTRIES, BUT NOT AT 27 - EU DIPLOMATS via RTRS
  • EU LEADERS AGREED PERMANENT ESM BAILOUT FUND WILL NOT HAVE A BANKING LICENCE -- EU DIPLOMAT
  • And the guilty party: An agreement at 27 fell through after British Prime Minister David Cameron demanded concessions that Germany and France were not willing to give, one of the officials said.

Translation: tomorrow's summit is as of now an epic failure. As for the Eurozone lasting through January 1 of 2012, let alone March... good luck.



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Was Seth Klarman Just Exposed As Bank Of America's Biggest Short (And A Covert MBIA Long?)

While we have extensively covered the blood feud between Bank of America, and its archnemeis, the mysteriously titled Walnut Place in the past (see here and here and here and here and most importantly here) which just happens to be the entity that successfully scuttled Bank of America's "proposed" $8.5 billion settlement with a bevy of so called litigants (among which BlackRock, PIMCO and the New York Fed for god's sake - the very entities who survival depends on BAC's continued existence) who in realty were merely subversive agents seeking to settle $424 billion in misrepresented mortgage CFC trusts just so the status quo would not be impaired, we never asked one simple question: just who is Walnut Place? Now, courtesy of Reuters, we know, and the revelation is quite stunning, because it means that the person who potentially has the biggest short in Bank of America either via equity or CDS (which do not have to be publicly desclosed) is the legendary head of Baupost: Seth Klarman. Reuters reports: "Walnut Place, a group of undisclosed investors who oppose Bank of America Corp's $8.5 billion mortgage bond settlement, is the Baupost Group, a distressed debt fund, according to an attorney for the bank. "Walnut Place is actually a made up name," Theodore Mirvis, an attorney with Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz who represents Bank of America, said at a hearing in New York state Supreme Court Thursday. The "real" firm, which sued Bank of America and Bank of New York Mellon BKNYK.UL, as trustee, over mortgage-backed securities trusts is Baupost -- "known as a distressed debt or sometimes a vulture fund," Mirvis said." As a reminder, Baupost is one of the world's biggest hedge funds at $23 billion, and unlike other fly-by-night one hit wonders, is not down 47% YTD. In fact, the mere name of Seth Klarman being long or short a stock has typically had a huge impact on the stock price. And since by implication in his continued efforts to destabilize the proposed settlement, Klarman is either short BAC, or long the beneficiaries of ongoing, and successful, litigation such as MBIA, this means that the pain for BAC is about to magnified as the traditional 13F clones jump on board the pair trade, and short BAC while going long MBIA et al (incidentally this is half the thesis that we presented back in September 15, when we said to... go long MBIA and short Bank of America).



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Guest Post: Playing with Tails: The Fundamental Problem of Tails

So I don’t have a good answer for the fundamental problem of tails. But there is an observed regularity in life reflected in the sayings “it is always darkest before dawn” and “where the danger grows, so grows the saving power” to quote Holderlin. And when no one can know the future, and the mechanism governing the future is unstable, anticipation of heightened risk premia warrants a barbell. In financial markets, extreme meltdowns are met by extreme policy reactions. Practically stated, it seems best to play center bets when others do not, and the tails when others do not. After markets price in heightened risk, actively manage the position by lowering exposure to the big gain leg. Move the proceeds to the center or double down on the other tail. Perhaps this is how one should manage tails. Given that the known categories of human experience do not provide adequate predictions, luck dominates control. Nobody has it all figured out. Even when you think you have it all figured out, everything blows up in your face again. We'll never figure it all out. Nobody can predict the future, and we don't have good enough imaginations to dream up every contingency.



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Last Minute Summit Mutiny Threatens The Future Of The Euro; And Why A Wholesale S&P Downgrade Of Europe Will Be Devastating

A day when everything that could go wrong for the euro and eurozone has just gotten worse. Hours away from the completion of the summit, whose failure will unleash a nuclear bomb of serial downgrades by S&P (let along expose frauds such as Sarkozy and Olli Rehn who claim, yet again, that the world will end a solution is found), The Telegraph writes that the summit is already in tatters after a rebellion and threats by Finland, Holland and Ireland are poised to scuttle the summit. Louise Armistead reports that 'Finland’s grand committee said decisions made by the ESM – the eurozone’s permanent bail-out fund set for launch in 2012 – had to remain unanimous, and not changed to the “qualified majority” that French president Nicolas Sarkozy and German chancellor Angela Merkel have agreed. The Finns are backed by the Netherlands, which fears proposals to withdraw veto powers from the ESM is an erosion of democracy and would make it vulnerable to funding bail-outs without recourse. Meanwhile, the Irish want to block plans for the “convergence and harmonisation” of the eurozone’s “corporate tax base”. The rebellion is a serious threat to German and French plans to sign treaty changes today along the lines laid out in their joint letter on Wednesday. In it, the leaders said they hoped all 27 European Union countries would sign.' And since this is the only option to bypass a popular vote, the mere thought of which would destroy the Eurozone in a flash, and since Finland and Holland are two of the core funders of the ESM (RIP EFSF), it means that the Greek scheme of playing chicken with the Eurozone, has now been adopted by everyone else in the core. In the meantime, time for the Euro is running out with less than 24 hours left until midnight on Friday, and absent a complete consensus, the summit is as good as dead, something we expected a week ago and were heckled for by Bloomberg TV. Good luck Europe - use those 24 hours wisely.



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Rosenberg On The 8 Areas Of Behavioral Change In 2012

It seems the market's psychology has shifted, in its wonderfully temperamental and instantaneous manner, once again as the last great hope of Thomas Lee and his cohorts is removed. What better time than for David Rosenberg, of Gluskin Sheff, in his inimitable way, to introduce his outlook for 2012 in the form of eight behavioral changes that he expects to overwhelm market psychology in the coming months. Political, financial, and economic transitions for the US, Europe, and China respectively will dominate the coming year and as Rosie points out, the ability to recognize change at the margin (such as basis traders in European sovereigns) is going to be critical in 2012. The shift from one of cyclical extrapolation to secular change is always a hard one to navigate and tactical asset allocation will become foremost in most people's minds over longer-term strategic considerations. The global economy will be forced to endure the mother of all deleveraging cycles as we move through 2012 and capital preservation and income must dominate investment strategy as Rosie's 8 themes play out.



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The Misery Continues: Complete November Hedge Fund Performance

Presenting complete hedge fund performance for the month of November and Year to Date. By the looks of things, this will be a year which will not only remain in infamy for hedge fund performance (now that we are just 15 trading days away from the end), but one where about a third of hedge fund will almost certainly be redeemed into extinction.

 



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Hitler Hears About The Collapse Of The Eurozone

It was only a matter of time... Needless to say, this is obviously so wrong on so many levels, but what can you do. At this point the endgame is in play so at least we can all laugh about it.



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Fourth Time Is The Charm: Texas Instruments Slashes Outlook... Again

Just in case anyone thought Texas Instruments was joking the first, second, or even third time previously, here is the company to cement that the feces have really hit the fan, as it has been warning for almost a year contrary to what bleary eyed optimists wanted to believe.

In a scheduled update to its business outlook for the fourth quarter of 2011, Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) (NYSE: TXN - News) today narrowed and lowered its expected ranges for revenue and earnings per share (EPS).  The reductions are due to broadly lower demand across a wide range of markets, customers and products, except for Wireless applications processors.

 

The company currently expects its financial results to be within the following ranges:

  • Revenue:  $3.19 – 3.33 billion compared with the prior range of $3.26 – 3.54 billion
  • EPS:  $0.21 – 0.25 compared with the prior range of $0.28 – 0.36.

Can one finally say: global recession?



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15 More Days Left For Santa Claus Rally

S&P futures fell 3.25% from high (early Draghi) to low (close) on the worst close to close drop in over two weeks as the S&P 500 lost its YTD gains, down almost 2% now. Financials were the clear laggards with the majors crushed. Broad risk assets were in negative mode all day from the moment Draghi slapped traders into reality and lead ES lower and lower. Some late day rumor-denial did little - aside from try and fail to ramp ES back to VWAP - but wherever you look there is blood. Commodities crashed lower - now down 2-3% on the week - but most of the commodity and FX weakness had peaked as Europe closed, and we note that Gold is outperforming other commodities on the week now. It was equities that slowly but surely on a decent volume day in futures (given the roll) leaked lower and lower - now clinging precariously to the edge of the 11/30 4% overnight rampfest levels. Stocks underperformed credit on the day but all ended at the lows/wides as TSYs closed at their low yields of the last 10 days. It seems the implied correlation-VIX divergence signal was flagging caution correctly once again.



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Snapshot Of Pure Lunacy

This is a snapshot of pure market lunacy.

  • Rumor on: 3:25 pm: ESM FUND TO BE GIVEN A BANKING LICENSE ACCORDING TO A DRAFT - RTRS

Not even 20 minutes minutes later:

  • Rumor off: 15:45pm: GERMANY REJECTS DRAFT MEASURES INCLUDING BANKING LICENCE FOR ESM


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Presenting Today's Deux Ex Rumor

Update: And it gets better. Now Dow Jones:

  • Euro-Area Countries Ready To Provide IMF With Bilateral Loans, According To Draft Seen By Dow Jones

Yet earlier today, none other than Mario Draghi said that loans to the IMF to purchase European bonds would be legally unworkable. Brilliant

With just 30 minutes until the close we were cutting it close to a rumorless, headlineless session. So here is Reuters to the rescue:

  • ESM BAIL-OUT FUND TO BE GIVEN BANKING LICENCE - DRAFT
  • EU DETERMINED TO STRENGTHEN BAILOUT MECHANICS - REUTERS

And from earlier:

  • ESM BECOMING A BANK "OFF THE TABLE"

Have fun



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Guest Post: Another Reason for Stocks To Tank In 2012: Jobs

Market pundits would have you believe that corporate profits are the driver of stock prices. They're wrong. Ultimately, it is demand for stocks that drive prices. If demand falters for whatever reason (for example, loss of faith in a rigged market), then stocks will decline in price as organic selling pressure (people liquidating positions and accounts for whatever reason, such as paying their mortgage and buying food now that the household is surviving on one shaky income) is a constant that only rises as the economy sheds stable fulltime employment. The Federal Reserve has backstopped the stock market by destroying every other source of yield via zero-interest rates (ZIRP), effectively pushing anyone seeking a yield into long-term Treasury bonds or "risk-on" assets such as stocks and junk-rated corporate bonds. But Fed manipulation cannot overcome the much larger forces of demographics and employment for long. Despite all the brave talk of the manipulators on the Board of the Federal Reserve, they've run out of manipulative tricks. With interest rates already near zero, their most basic toolbox is empty. Now they're reduced to bleating about all the phantom tools in their possession and playing around with long-term bond yields and mortgage rates-- interventions that cannot possibly create jobs or organic (i.e. real, unmanipulated) demand for stocks and housing.



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