According to the doctrine of pre-emptive war, Iran can be attacked based on its alleged desire to develop nuclear weapons, just as Iraq was attacked in 2003. In fact, Congress is currently debating whether a nuclear capability alone (which Brazil, Japan, and other countries enjoy) could justify the 'preventive' attack. I believe it is time to negate this doctrine by postulating that Iran in fact has a right, as a sovereign nation, to a nuclear capability. Having traveled to Iran recently, I can attest to the Joint Chiefs' General Dempsey's reference to Iran as a 'rational' actor. The Iranians have no interest in destroying America, or Israel, at the expense of one of the oldest continuous civilizations in the world, dating back about 2600 years. Iran is currently surrounded by over 40 U.S. military installations, not counting Israel's still-unaccounted nuclear arsenal. To assert that Iran would jeopardize its culture for a one-shot nuclear attack is a complete miscalculation of the Iranian spirit; that spirit gave rise to a revolution in 1979 against what they perceived as Anglo-American imperialism in the form of the Shah, much as our own revolution opposed British imperialism.
Minutes ago, the Greek cabinet formally announced that it has approved CAC use on Greek debt, which was the final milestone that ISDA was waiting for before making its determination. Most overjoyed by this appears to be gold, which has moved by nearly $40 from this morning's post-NFP (no "inflationary" QE3?) lows and was testing $1715 moments ago. Oh, and silver too. In other news, Zero Hedge is happy to sell CDS insurance on every bar of gold purchased by anyone, anywhere. Under UK, Greek or whatever alien law that will be needed in 2-3 years to bail out the world.
Following continued strength in earnings (and analyst upgrades), Smith & Wesson is up 23% this morning (near three year highs). It seems all those freshly printed temporary workers are spending their hard-earned minimum wage on 'defense' instead of iPads.
*SMITH & WESSON BOOSTS REV. FORECAST :SWHC US
*SMITH & WESSON 3Q EPS CONT OPS 8C, EST. 4C :SWHC
Moments ago we tweeted that today's surge in the trade deficit will force banks to start cutting GDP forecasts. Sure enough, Goldman as usual, is the first to set the tone, by cutting its ultra real time GDP forecast from 2.0% to 1.8%.
While the catalyst for much of the recent rally in risk assets seems to have been on the back of Europe clambering back from the edge of the abyss (and admittedly hope for better global growth and US decoupling), JPMorgan's Michael Cembalest notes that Europe remains very much an Achilles Heel going forward. With former ECB member Stark's recent comments on the already 'shocking' quality of the ECB's balance sheet, it is the outflows (or net balance of payments) from the periphery that means the ECB will simply have to keep printing. ECB funding of Spanish and Italian banks is still a relatively small part of their liabilities and should we see even a crack in the resilience of these knife-sitting nations, the retail depositors, bondholders, and non-local wholesale/retail money is unlikely to stay put (especially if there is the continued lack of growth that seems inevitable). The latest Spanish data is dreadful, as Cembalest notes, but the economic situation in France remains weak and while JPM's analysis looks for a gradual closure of the periphery's current account deficit by 2015, the ECB's need to finance the gap in the interim raises a critical question. Since the ECB's printing has boosted the US stock market primarily, will the Fed now take the lead and return the favor (QE3 or more) to help its European partners grow their (net trade) way out of this hole?
It is not shocking that the worst of the worst rating agency has downgraded Greece to "Restricted Default" following the imposition of coercive measures to generate a "voluntary" restructuring. It is very shocking that Fitch had Greece at C until now...
While not shocking to most, the jump in temporary workers that we cited earlier is perhaps the biggest indicator of job 'quality' gains. As we discussed here last month, the US market economy remains mired in a low quality (“first-fired, first-hired categories rather than the type of core hiring that would build a stronger foundation for income growth,” as FTN's Jim Vogel describes it) recovery. About 160k of private jobs added in Feb are 'low-paying work' which left average hourly earnings up only 0.1% (notes David Ader at CRT) - hardly the recipe for a sustainable recovery and perhaps the slow leak in stocks post the number is the rude awakening to that reality. As w enoted before, "not only is America slipping ever further into a state of permanent "temp job" status, but that a "quality analysis" of the jobs created shows that the US job formation machinery is badly hurt, and just like the marginal utility of debt now hitting a critical inflection point, so the "marginal utility" of incremental jobs is now negative"
While NFP dominated the headlines, the US Trade Balance (deficit) limped out and dropped far more than expected. At a $52.565bn Deficit, this is the worst trade balance since October 2008. Perhaps more shocking is the fact that the 3 month drop (rise in deficit) is the largest ever on record, dropping $9.4bn in that period. Unsurprisingly, the bulk of this drop is in the 'Petroleum' trade balance which has accelerated the most in the last 3 months (coincidentally dropping the most since last March and we know how that ended).
NFP 227,000 on expectations of 210,000; Previous revised from 243K to 284K; Unemployment Rate (U-3%) at 8.3%, U-6 at 14.9%. While for the first time in a long time those not in the labor force declined (from 87,874 to 87,564) and the participation rate rose as a result from 63.7% to 63.9%, here is what the market is focusing on currently: "Professional and business services added 82,000 jobs in February. Just over half of the increase occurred in temporary help services (+45,000)." Also, that Birth Death added 91K is also taking away from the lustre of the headline which is diamtetrically opposite of what Gallup found yesterday. The market reaction is one indicative of the realization that QE3 may have been delayed once again, and this time substantially.
Going into the US open, markets are digesting the news that the Greek PSI deal has been completed, with the announcement being made at 0600GMT. The Greek Finance Ministry have announced that 85.8% of bondholders have agreed to the swap, and with CACs enforced, the participation rate can rise to 95.7%. However it should be noted that the Greek government have not enacted the CACs as yet. This has prompted a muted market reaction as participants await any further news from European officials. In the next few hours, the Eurogroup are holding a conference call concerning the recent activity in Greece, and the ISDA are also meeting to determine whether a Greek credit event has occurred. International market focus will now shift towards the key US Non-Farm Payrolls data, due at 1330GMT: US Change in Non-Farm Payrolls M/M (Feb) Exp. +210K (Prev. +243K, Dec +200K). Chinese demand for US Treasuries could slow for a second year as the country as well as others find themselves holding fewer USD to use on US debt. This could see yields moving higher in 2012, according to analysis by Bank of America.
OpenEurope Verdict On Greek PSI - Pyrrhic Victory Sowing Seeds Of A Political And Economic Crisis In EuropeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/09/2012 - 07:35
Minutes ago we presented Goldman's twisted and conflicted take on Greece in a post PSI world. Needless to say, virtually everything goldman says is to be faded. Which is why not surprisingly, the next analysis, a far more accurate and realistic one, does precisely that. In a just released report from Europe think tank OpenEurope, the conclusion is far less optimistic: "The deal sets the eurozone up for a political row involving Triple-A countries. At the start of this year, 36% of Greece’s debt was held by taxpayer-backed institutions (ECB, IMF, EFSF). By 2015, following the voluntary restructuring and the second bailout, the share could increase to as much as 85%, meaning that Greece’s debt will be overwhelmingly owned by eurozone taxpayers – putting them at risk of large losses under a future default. This deal may have sown the seeds of a major political and economic crisis at the heart of Europe, which in the medium and long term further threatens the stability of the eurozone."
That Goldman would have "thoughts" on the Greek PSI deal and European life in the aftermath, is no surprise: just be sure to take these with a pound of salt. After all Goldman is a key member of the ISDA's European Determination Committee (and co-chairman with JPM of our very own Treasury Borrowings Advisory Committee). Not to mention that Goldman is the firm that allowed the Greek default to happen in the first place, by allowing it to hide its unprecedented debt accumulation far beyond what was allowed by the Maastricht treaty. In either case, here is a summary of what Goldman sees happening next: "After the finalization of the PSI process, only small residual transactional uncertainty remains. The new Greece package ensures low funding costs that under certain assumptions could even be sustainable in the long term. Moreover, the exposure of the Greek private sector to the Greek government declines very substantially… …while the exposure of the European official sector rises to substantial levels. Late-April elections will be a risk; but polls suggest a pro-EUR government is the most likely outcome. The new government will be tasked with creating a better growth environment. Using our GES score, we observe key areas of structural improvement for Greece’s growth environment… …among others, the creation of a more business friendly environment, the establishment of conditions for increased openness to trade and a more effective rule of law." We will shortly present a far more realistic, and far less conflicted.
Only in Greece, can you wipe out €100 billion of debt, and have the new debt that replaces it trade at 20% of face value. So 85.8% of Greek law bonds “participated”. The government intends to use the Collective Action Clause to force the holdouts to participate. It is unclear if the government has actually used the clause already, or just intends to. Once they use the CAC, that will be a Credit Event for the CDS. English law bonds saw participation less than 70%. The deadline has been extended until March 23rd. As discussed all along, the English Law bonds gave some protection to holders and that clearly gave them the confidence to hold out. Given the Event of Default covenants, and the right to accelerate, some bondholders may push to accelerate after the Greek law bonds get CAC’d. The market now knows that the PSI will be “successful” and a massive amount of debt will be wiped out, but the new bonds are being quoted “when and if issued” at prices ranging from the high teens to mid twenties. Why are the new bonds so weak? SUBORDINATION!
Not even 6 hours after the PSI exchange offer details, and already the true Greek problem rears its head. Because it is not the crushing debt coupon that is the primary threat to Greece: cutting the cash coupon from infinity to 2.6% is welcome, but utterly meaningless if the debt load is still intolerable (as a reminder, just the Troika DIP is about 130% of Greek GDP, meaning all junior debt is worthless as confirmed by the trading price of the New Greek debt in the 15 cents on the euro region). No - the true threat to the Greek economy is that nobody wants to work anymore. Sure enough, the previously reported -7.0% contraction in Q4 GDP has just been revised to -7.5%. From Reuters: "Greece's gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 7.5 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2011, the country's statistics office said on Friday based on seasonally unadjusted provisional estimates. The contraction, which followed a 5.0 percent GDP decline in the previous quarter, was deeper than a previous Feb. flash estimate of -7.0 percent." And one can be absolutely certain that this number will be revised far further lower when all is said and done. Also, with recently released Greek PSI data coming at an all time low, we wish Greece the best of luck in achieving that -1.0% GDP growth in 2013 as per the IMF's downside case. Finally, this explains why the NEW Greek debt is trading with an implied redefault probability of 98%.