Fitch Ratings-London/Milan-07 October 2011: Fitch Ratings has downgraded the Italian Republic's (Italy) foreign and local currency Long-term Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) from 'AA-' (AA minus) to 'A+' (A plus) and the short-term rating from 'F1+' to 'F1'. The Outlook on the long-term ratings is Negative. The Country Ceiling of 'AAA' has also been affirmed. The downgrade reflects the intensification of the Euro zone crisis that constitutes a significant financial and economic shock which has weakened Italy's sovereign risk profile. As Fitch has cautioned previously, a credible and comprehensive solution to the crisis is politically and technically complex and will take time to put in place and to earn the trust of investors. In the meantime, the crisis has adversely impacted financial stability and growth prospects across the region. However, the high level of public debt and fiscal financing requirement along with the low rate of potential growth rendered Italy especially vulnerable to such an external shock.
As Peter Tchir, of TF Market Advisors, observes in the note below, the inevitable as predicted by us a week ago, is about to become a reality. In light of the imminent nationalization of Belgium's biggest bank, it may be time to compress the CDS of Dexia, which also as suggested last week, should trade in line with Belgium, while Belgium itself blows up. The only risk to this trade is that ISDA actually does its job for once, and proclaims Dexia to have experienced a credit event - thus triggering the CDS. Alas, since this will set a very bad precedent for all the other banks due to be nationalized, we would tend to discount the possibility of this happening.
While US equities are well off their post-NFP euphoria highs, the hope that Europe is solved remains. However, today's price action in European equity and credit markets and the very significant divergence between the effervescent equities and calm credits suggests concerns growing among professional traders. We noted yesterday that financials did not rally as much as other credits and equities into the European close and that trend continued today with subordinated financials majorly underperforming and seniors underperforming all other assets. Given that the 'plan' upon which this rally is based is to 'fix' banks, the underperformance of their credits prompts the question - why are we still rallying? In line with equities, and sucked there by the ever-increasing correlations, TSYs, 2s10s30s, precious metals, oil, and carry pairs are all tracking in a risk supportive manner with EUR clinging to 1.35 into the close. US financials are underperforming so far.
Well, a month end update only for those funds who still report their P&L to HSBC. Others, such as Paulson, apparently deem it below them to post an update when they are doing less than swell, shall we say. In other news, redemptions will continue until morale improves.
From the mind that brought you the Great Vega Short comes the next masterpiece on liquidity, volatility, contagion and everything else. "Volatility is change and the world is changing. The truth is that Greece will default. The truth is that if our leaders continue to deny our problems history tells us the US will eventually default. These shocking events will hurt many people, markets will collapse, life savings will be lost, there will be violence, upheaval, and massive political change but you know what? The world will not end. When it is all said and done people will work, they will spend time with their children, they will cry, laugh, and love... life will go on. We will find a way to prosper if we relentlessly search for nothing but the truth, otherwise the truth will find us through volatility."
Several years ago Paolo Pellegrini, Kyle Bass, Michael Burry and several other visionaries were well ahead of the conventional wisdom groupthink curve by not only sensing that the housing market was massively overvalued and riding on the crest of a huge leverage bubble (many others agreed) but by finding a ridiculously cheap, low theta way of expressing an uber-bearish long-term outlook with negligible downside and virtually unlimited upside by purchasing billions in ABX index notional at a cost of a few basis points, and watching it explode as one after another asset manager figured out just what "subprime" means and why it may not be conducive to a healthy career in finance. Virtually all of them ended up being very, very rich in just a few short years having had the foresight and, more importantly, the way to express that vision. Lightning may be about to strike twice as the Subprime implosion of 2007 becomes the Prime implosion of 2011. Back in December 2009, when musing on the very interesting topic of the advent of a new ABX-like index, this time tracking Prime mortgages, we asked, rhetorically as so often happens, "Will The New ABX Prime Index Be The Reason For The Next RMBS (And Thus, FHA/GSE) Collapse?" (for more on this index which MarkIt now markets as PrimeX see here). And while the rest of the world is fretting about Europe, Morgan Stanley, lack of decisive political decision-making in a pseudo union of 17 different countries, lack of decisive monetary intervention, a Chinese hard landing and everything else that makes front pages these days, slowly our prediction is starting to come true. But you won't hear about it anywhere else, because if the market understands that in addition to a global solvency crisis, America has another Subprime contagion on its hands actually being expressed in the markets as we type, and potentially costing banks, pension funds and various asset managers billions in losses behind the scenes, that may well be the last straw.
The headline wholesale inventories number missed +0.6% expectations, rising only 0.4% (from 0.8% prior) with its lowest build since Nov 2010. Under the covers though, non-durables were the most troublesome - unless of course the spin is that a falling inventory implies future growth as inventories 'have' to be rebuilt, right? Non-durables inventories dropped 0.6% - its biggest drop since Sep 2009.
US Needs To Generate 261,200 Jobs Per Month To Return To Pre-Depression Employment By End Of Obama Second TermSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/07/2011 - 08:27
Every few months we rerun an analysis of how many jobs the US economy has to generate to return to the unemployment rate as of December 2007 when the Great Financial Crisis started, by the end of Obama's potential second term in November 2016. This calculation takes into account the historical change in Payroll and includes the 90,000/month natural growth to the labor force, and extrapolates into the future. And every time we rerun this calculation, the number of jobs that has to be created to get back to baseline increases: First it was 245,500 in April, then 250,000 in June, then 254,000 in July. As of today, following the just announced "beat" of meager NFP expectations, this number has has just risen to an all time high 261,200. This means that unless that number of jobs is created each month for the next 5 years, America will have a higher unemployment rate in October 2016 than it did in December 2007. How realistic is it that the US economy can create 16.2 million jobs in the next 62 months? We leave that answer up to the US electorate.
The rally has been strong across many products, but once again has all the signs of a short squeeze rally. The weakest and most beaten up sectors and names have performed the best. Anything that was a "hedge" tool, has also outperformed. This rally seems overdone. European stocks and credit are sluggish today. The data, while not bad, seems priced in already, and being long because "Europe gets it" is risky, because even if they finally get it, do they still have the resources to fix it, or a system that is simple enough to let them agree on how to fix it? I am dubious, and at 1080 was willing to give some benefit of the doubt to the EU, but at 1170, I am happy to bet against them.
As noted previously, one key fly in the ointment in an otherwise better than expected jobs report (in which the participation rate also trended higher for a welcome change) was the manufacturing jobs data, which declined by 13,000. Perhaps at the end of the day this is the most important data point, since while declining government jobs at the end of the day is a good thing, government workers don't actually create anything of value for the economy. And as the chart below demonstrates, the long term trend is certainly not our friend. The second "fly", and the one that will certainly be used as a talking point by politicians, was the average unemployment duration. At 40.5 weeks, it just hit a new all time record.
As usual, Reuters is the first with a compilation of Wall Street's gut reaction to the NFP data.
September NFP Prints At 103,000, Beats Consensus, Even As U-6 Comes At Highest Since December 2010, Manufacturing Jobs LostSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/07/2011 - 07:36
So much for the recession? September NFP prints at 103,000 on expectations of 60,000, with August revised to 57,000 from that roulette busting double zero. The unemployment rate held at 9.1 percent, as expected. From the report: "The increase in employment partially reflected the return to payrolls of about 45,000 telecommunications workers who had been on strike in August. In September, job gainsoccurred in professional and business services, health care, and construction. Government employment continued to trend down." Average hourly earnings also came in line with expectations at 0.2%, with the previous revised from -0.1%, to -0.2%. Yet not all is good: manufacturing jobs declined by 13K on expectations of an unchanged number. And, oh yes, real unemployment, U6, printed up from 16.2% to 16.5%, the highest since December 2010.
Goldman Comes To Margin Stanley's "Defense" As It Is Now Actively Selling MS Calls, Buying Short Term CDSSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/07/2011 - 07:21
The bank that was selling Dexia shares to its clients all the way down (Goldman Cuts Dexia From Buy To Neutral On Imminent Restructuring And Winddown) and which has the uncanny ability to align its own trading desk with an event's "outcome", at the expense of clients of course, has just done it again. As of this morning it is actively selling Margin Stanley calls to whoever is still left as a client. From a just released report: "Buy calls for a likely relief rally on earnings; sell short-dated CDS as fear falls." Now... just who are these clients buying calls from and selling CDS to?
The continuation of ultra loose monetary policies and new rounds of QE is supportive of gold in all currencies. Negative real interest rates mean that there continues to be no ‘opportunity cost’ to own gold which is a key driver of gold’s bull market. In time, quantitative easing will be seen for what it is - bailing out banks and financial institutions and a form of currency debasement. Developments in gold and wider markets this week are bullish. There are continuing signs of very significant demand in the Middle East, India, Vietnam and China. There are reputable reports of shortages of gold bars in Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam, of shortages of silver bars in India and delays in delivery and rationing of silver coins internationally. The CME decision to increase the amount of gold accepted as collateral and the LCH. Clearnet decision to allow gold bullion to be used as collateral shows the financial system is increasingly seeing gold as an asset on a par with cash and bonds.