Jon Corzine is gone, and as we expected, will not collect a single penny from his $12+ million severance. Statement from the MF board: "The Board of Directors of MF Global Holdings Ltd. announced the resignation of Jon S. Corzine from all posts at MF Global. Mr. Corzine has confirmed that he will not seek severance payments in connection with his resignation. Edward L. Goldberg, the lead director of the Board of Directors, and Bradley I. Abelow, the Company¹s President and Chief Operating Officer, will continue in their current positions." And here is Jon's personal announcement: "I have voluntarily offered my resignation to the Board of Directors of MF Global. This was a difficult decision, but one that I believe is best for the firm and its stakeholders. I feel great sadness for what has transpired at MF Global and the impact it has had on the firm's clients, employees and many others. I intend to continue to assist the Company and its Board in their efforts to respond to regulatory inquiries and issues related to the disposition of the firm's assets." Now, as to how he will avoid questioning by the federal authorities, that is a different matter entirely...
Slowly, but surely, the global economic growth dynamo is growing ever dimmer and dimmer. Two days ago we reported that that relentless driver of global growth - exports - finally succumbed to reality, as slowly but surely the paradigm of everyone exporting to someone else with magically nobody importing, logically collapsed. This is now followed by German manufacturing, that traditional and only source of strength in Europe, which half an hour ago was reported to drop 4.3%, compared to an expectation of a 0.1% gain. In other words, as the chart below shows German factory orders have just suffered their worst three, post-Reunification months outside of the late crash itself, falling at a 28% annualized rate, to take the total back to where it first stood over five years ago. Reaction is swift: Italian and Spanish bonds immediately drop, with the yield returning to 6.23% and 5.52%, forcing the ECB's monetization actions to have to fight not only "speculators" but also reality.
Many market participants and non gold and silver experts tend to focus on the daily fluctuations and “noise” of the market and not see the “big picture” major change in the fundamental supply and demand situation in the bullion markets – particularly due to investment and central bank demand from China, India and the rest of an increasingly wealthy Asia. The central banks of India and China are rightly believed to be again quietly accumulating gold and the IMF figures do not include this potentially very important and significant source of demand. China’s gold reserves are very small when compared to those of the U.S. and indebted European nations. They are miniscule when compared with China’s massive foreign exchange reserves of over $3 trillion. The People’s Bank of China is almost certainly continuing to quietly accumulate gold bullion reserves. As was the case previously, they will not announce their gold bullion purchases to the market in order to ensure they accumulate sizeable reserves at more competitive prices. They also do not wish to create a run on the dollar – thereby devaluing their sizeable reserves. The deepening Eurozone debt crisis and real possibility means that central bank demand will remain robust and may even increase in the coming months.
Yesterday we reported that in the aftermath of MF Global, and concurrent with Greece nearly allowing democracy for one brief second, European banks had scrambled to put a record amount of cash with the Federal Reserve. Next we get confirmation from the ECB that like in the US, so in Europe, in the absence of any confidence in one another (ignore Liebor, which while up again is and has always been a collusive joke intended to convey bank strength), the only place banks have left to dump money is the ECB. As of this morning, a 16 month high of €275 billion in cash had been parked with Mario Draghi, an amount which is promptly removed from the Keynesian money multiplier myth, and which confirms that there is a behind the scenes liquidity panic unlike anything we have seen since Lehman, and in fact, as the second chart from Sean Corrigan showing ECB fixed and deposit usage as well as Fed reverse repo and overall foreign bank cash parking, the liquidity in the market now from a European point of view, contrary to what broken indicators may show, is the worst it has ever been with nearly $1.6 trillion in liquidity removed from broad circulation and parked with either just the Fed or the ECB. Translated: as goes democracy, so goes confidence.
Was it just two weeks ago when we penned "Another Quarter, Another Blatant Window Dressing By The Primary Dealer Banks To Make Their Balance Sheets Seem Strong", the same post in which we said, "We have made it clear time and again, that this chart demonstrates nothing short of the end of quarter window dressing, when PDs convert their asset holdings into cash to make their Tier 1 Capital much more robust than it truly is. After all, none other than JPM and Citi were praising just how prepared for Basel III they are with their "sterling" capitalization ratios... which were only sterling courtesy of precisely the highlighted window dressing which occurs each and every quarter. We expect nothing less from Bank of America and Morgan Stanley when they report their own numbers in the coming days. We also expect the regulators to do absolutely nothing to prevent this blatant abuse of fiduciary duty which has no other purpose than to hide the true sad state of America's banking system." Ironically, we have just found out that had regulators not only listened to us over the two years we have been pointing this out, but also done something on it, MF Global would likely not have filed for bankruptcy. Here is the WSJ, confirming all our worst fears: "For the past two years, MF Global Holdings Ltd. may have disguised its debt levels to investors by temporarily slashing the debt it was carrying before publicly reporting its finances each quarter, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal. The activity, referred to in the financial industry as "window dressing," suggests that the troubled financial firm was shouldering more risk and using more borrowed funds to facilitate its trading than investors could easily detect from the firm's regulatory filings. And scene: but wait, there's more. As we have shown over and over and over, this has continued for 8 quarters in a row since Lehman first exposed this criminal activity. Sure enough, another company just went bankrupt because of the SEC's gross and criminal negligence, incompetence, and overall corruption.
Four months ago we predicted that in response to the latest round of global economic deterioration, every central bank would very soon join the toner party. Since then we have seen the Fed commence Operation Twist and telegraph another episode of MBS asset purchases; a new QE episode at the Bank of England; a new round of covered bond purchases at the ECB, coupled with an interest rate cut by its latest Goldman Sachs-based president, not to mention the persistent attempts to generate a backstop central bank in the form the EFSF Frankenstein Swiss Army knife; a new round of asset purchases and a massive, several hundred billion snap FX intervention by the Bank of Japan; and last but not least, that stalwart of stability, the Swiss National Bank, went ahead and destroyed the Swiss Franc as the sanest among the fiats by pegging it to that most unstable of currencies, the Euro. In light of the above how gold is not trading north of $2000 is still beyond us, although whether by manipulation or market inefficiency, we can not complain: it is easier to buy gold at $1,750 than at $7,150. Yet not even we could possibly predict just how far the global ponzi cartel would fall to extend the status quo by a few extra months. Because according to Dow Jones, the latest and greatest purchaser of Heidelberg Mainstream 80 machines will be the, drum roll, the IMF! Yes, the same organization that DSK swore would never join the global central banking stupidity, since deposed with a false allegation, and now headed by the woman who brought France to the brink of ruin, will be the marginal printer, now that everyone else is "dodecatuple all in" and sitting all day on the Turbo Print button.
Tomorrow's much-watch-moment, aside from NI HEADS on the Bloomberg Terminal for every second-by-second market-ramping/crushing headline from Europe, is the non-farm payroll print. With a median estimate of +95k across the 91 'economists' that Bloomberg keeps an eye on, we did notice that the dispersion is considerably lower than normal (expectations are more 'confident' than normal). Not one 'expert' sees a drop in payrolls with Sean Incremona (4Cast) and Pierre-Livier Beffy (Exane) at the low-end with +50k and everyone's favorite talking-head, Joe LaVorgna of Deutsche, topping us out at +150k. At almost 3 standard deviations above consensus, Joe is going for the home-run as we note the last time he was this 'positive', back in May/June 2011, NFP missed expectations dramatically - printing below the lowest estimate.
MF Bankruptcy Causes Biggest Foreign Bank Liquidity Scramble To 'Fed Safety' Ever, Harbinger Of Major Eurobank StressSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/03/2011 - 22:20
When Lehman filed for bankruptcy in that fateful week of September 2008, one thing caught everyone's attention: the epic surge in the Fed Reverse Repos originated by "foreign official and international accounts": essentially cash placed at the Fed by foreign institutions in exchange for collateral, primarily in the form of Treasurys, as well as other securities. This is nothing but an immediate cash parking in a 'safe place', which withdraws overall liquidity from the market, and as has been noted elsewhere, serves as an indirect gauge of banking system funding stress. In the week of September 24, this number soared from $46.6 to $93.7 billion, a $44 billion increase, or the single biggest jump in the history of the series. Well, as the chart below demonstrates, what happened with MF Global caught foreign banks, which as we have noted over the past several weeks have been dumping US Treasury and MBS paper, entirely by surprise as they scrambled to withdraw the last traces of available liquidity from the market, and to place as much of it as possible within the safety (and we use the term loosely) of the Fed. In the just released H.4.1 update, foreign Reverse Repos with the Fed soared from $81.3 billion to $124.5 billion, the most ever, and a weekly surge of $43.2 billion, the second largest ever, second only to the Lehman collapse. Furthermore, as noted daily, European banks have been doing precisely that with local cash from non-US subsidiaries, and parking near record amounts with the ECB (today the European central bank disclosed a whopping €253 billion had been deposited with it: just shy of the 2011 high), even as they have been dumping US Treasurys on one hand, and now are forced to repo what little paper they have left with the Fed due to systemic uncertainties in the MF aftermath, one can see why suddenly there was absolutely no liquidity left in the market, and why the meager €3 billion EFSF bond offering, so desperately needed to fund the ongoing Irish bailout and which incidentally is the story of the week, had to be pulled.
You know the old drill – China and Asia produce, the US consumes. They cycle their greenbacks back over this way, finance our debt, we buy more of their stuff, and the beat goes on. This model officially stopped with the launch of QE2, Hendry says, as the US officially started rejecting the globalization that had made the global economy hum (perhaps largely at the expense of US employment and manufacturing). With QE2, dollars were printed and exported – along with inflation – to Asia. This led to the countries in Asia – and Europe, too – raising rates to combat inflation. The result, he says, is that global economic growth has essentially ground to a halt. So what’s next? A crash, of course. All this and much more, but probably most notably, we learn that Hendry's has made bets that he says will deliver a 40-to-1 return if the ECB cuts rates below 1% next year. More inside.
Trading in JEF made some sense today, Greek bonds diverged from Greek headline exuberance, ECB rate cuts helped US equities but its impact was mixed across European sovereigns, and the G-20 chatter seems optimistic but known by all. Enough to warrant equity market exuberance or more Sisyphean struggling - only time (or tomorrow's NFP) will tell.
Remember when even the worst of all trading desks on Wall Street, that of Bank of America could do no wrong and disclosed a trading quarter of pure perfection? Yeah, that's over. The bank, which just jolted shareholders with news of material common dilution, in the form of $2.5 billion in new equity capital to be raised, has released its trading days data for Q3. Per the 10-Q: "During the three months ended September 30, 2011, positive trading-related revenue was recorded for 69 percent (44 days) of the trading days of which 47 percent (30 days) were daily trading gains of over $25 million, nine percent (six days) of the trading days had losses greater than $25 million, three percent (two days) of trading days had losses greater than $100 million and the largest loss was $119 million." On the flip side, BAC had not one $100MM+ trading win. In other words, BAC posted losses on a whopping 31% of the trading days (compared to 0% two quarters ago), something that indicates a very violent return to normalcy: after all if banks, with ZIRP, legal frontrunning, profit from default risk surges, and POMO are unable to make money 100% of the time, who else, besides all the day traders on twitter and the fine men and women on Fast Money of course, will post flawless trading records in the future?
Amid average volume, ES managed to rally an impressive 45pts off overnight lows to close just shy of the 200DMA on what was mixed (at best) macro data in the US and seemingly more chaos in Europe (does anyone know for sure whether there will be a confidence vote?). High beta and most-shorted stocks dramatically outperformed the broad equity markets as 4% swing days have become so de-rigeur nowadays! Financials went from major loser soon after the open to middle of the pack by the close with only a very late day disconnect between HY credit and stocks (HY outperformed after the bell) of any note as we leaked higher all day long. Heavy new issuance in IG credit saw secondary bond trading pretty balanced from a net-buying/selling perspective - even as TSY yields rose significantly. TSYs saw 2s10s30s rise notably but combined with FX carry crosses, oil, gold, and the dollar - risk asset drivers in general were far less excited than stocks by the close. Commodities lifted further after Europe's close as the USD weakened more leaving gold and oil up around 1.5% on the day.
And to think it was less than two months ago that Warren Buffett took a bath to provide the bank with capital it had "absolutely no need for" but was happy to take it anyway. Well, it turns out the firm is preparing to raise just a "little" more capital. From the just released 10Q: "During the third quarter, global economic uncertainty and volatility continued as described more fully in the Executive Summary – Third Quarter 2011 Economic and Business Environment discussion on page 7. Concerns over these and other issues contributed to a widening of credit spreads for many financial institutions, including the Corporation, resulting in lowering of market values of debt and preferred stock issued by financial institutions. The uncertainty in the market evidenced by, among other things, volatility in credit spread movements, makes it economically advantageous at this time to consider retirement of issued junior subordinated debt and preferred stock. As a result of these matters, we intend to explore the issuance of common stock and senior notes in exchange for shares of preferred stock and, subject to any required amendments to the applicable governing documents, certain trust preferred capital debt securities (Trust Securities) issued by unconsolidated trust companies, in privately negotiated transactions. If we pursue the exchange of Trust Securities, we would immediately use the purchased Trust Securities to retire a corresponding amount of our junior subordinated debt that we previously issued to the unconsolidated trust companies. These transactions would increase Tier 1 common capital and, on an after-tax basis, reduce the combined level of interest expense and dividends paid on the combined junior subordinated debt and preferred stock....We will not issue more than 400 million shares of common stock or $3 billion in new senior notes in connection with these exchanges."