Following our note on the flattening (and update on the steepening) in the Chinese yield curve (RMB 10Y - 2Y to be specific) last November, we have continued to keep an eye on the relationship between the Shanghai Composite and the bond market for signals that all is not well in the recent 'soft-landing' rally. While Chinese shares have seen their best January ever, the RMB curve has flattened quite notably. As Morgan Stanley points out in an FX Pulse update today, the yield curve is an early indicator for local shares, which should not be a surprise given the still restricted Chinese capital account. While we have seen this kind of divergence in the US (where given free capital flows the relationship between yield urves and the equity market has loosened over the past 30 years), in China the relationship is still tight and further flattening of the Chinese curve would call into question the equity market rally (and soft-landing thesis). The flattening RMB yield curve suggests the local bond market has become skeptical of Chinese growth prospects. Should the RMB curve flatten further from here, the anticipated decline of commodity currencies (AUD most specifically for US equity carry traders) could be sooner than expected.
According to the Bank of International Settlements, as of June 2011 total over-the-counter derivatives contracts have an outstanding notional value of 707.57 trillion dollars, ( 32.4 trillion dollars in CDS’s alone). Where does this kind of money come from, and what does it refer to? We don’t really know, because over-the-counter derivatives are not transparent or regulated. With regulated economic markets, when an underlying real asset is impaired (i.e. the company in question is bankrupt, the mortgage has defaulted, etc.), market value is assessed, default insurance is paid up to replacement or full value, bond holders and stock holders make claims on remaining value and the account is closed. There is no need for bailouts because order and proportion of compensation has been established and everything is attached to the value of the underlying asset. When the unreal, counterfeit economy intrudes, you now have a situation where a person can put in an unregulated, but recognized, claim to be paid a thousand times over in case of impairment. Say market participants have negotiated for a bankrupt company a 70% payback for bondholders and (36% payback for insurance claims), and I come with not one but rather 1,000 CDS claims demanding to be paid for each CDS.
Greece Draws The Line As Unity Government Leaders Refuse To Cede To Further Troika Austerity DemandsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/03/2012 - 13:02
It appears that Greece will not even have to wait until the dreaded March 20 funding D-Day. As was earlier reported, Greek PM Lucas Papademos may resign if he is unable to persuade his coalition unity government to agree to further Troika demands for additional austerity. It now appears that there will be no agreement, and thus the primary demand from the Troika for further cash disbursement will not be met. The FT reports: "All three party leaders in Greece’s teetering national unity government have opposed new austerity measures demanded by international lenders, forcing eurozone finance ministers to postpone approval of a new €130bn bail-out and moving the country closer to a full-blown default. Representatives of the so-called “troika” – the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund – have demanded further cuts in government jobs and severe reductions in Greek salaries, including an immediate 25 per cent cut in the €750 minimum monthly wage, before agreeing the new rescue. But representatives of all three coalition partners, including centre-left Pasok of former prime minister George Papandreou and the centre-right New Democracy of likely successor Antonis Samaras, said they were unwilling to back the government layoffs." Now we have been here before, and as a reminder the last time Greece threatened to pull out of Europe with the G-Pap referendum threat back in the fall, G-Pap was promptly replaced with the Trilateral Commission member and former ECB Vice President, Lucas Papademos. The problem is that for him to obtain power, he needed to form a coalition government. Well, that now appears to be in tatters, as not one party is willing to break to the Greeks that the minimum wage of €750 will be cut even further. The question is who will blink first this time, as it is quite likely that neither the Troika nor Greece want an out of control default. Unless, of course, this was Germany's plan B to the imposition of a Greek commissar all along...
Whether this is a real hack, or merely an attempt by the FBI to pursue its own ulterior motives is unclear (especially with the broad media coverage it is getting and the fact that the YouTube recording of the call is still online), but supposedly the Anonymous hacker group managed to enter and record a 16 minutes conference call between the FBI and Scotland Yard. Per AP: "Anonymous published the roughly 15-minute-long recording of the call to the Internet early Wednesday, gloating in a Twitter message that "the FBI might be curious how we're able to continuously read their internal comms for some time now." The FBI said the information "was intended for law enforcement officers only and was illegally obtained" but that no FBI systems were compromised. Scotland Yard said that they'd seen no immediate information that their operations had been compromised - but that the force was still checking. The bureau said that "a criminal investigation is under way to identify and hold accountable those responsible." It's not entirely clear how the hackers got their hands on the recording, which appears to have been edited to bleep out the names of some of the suspects being discussed. Amid the material published by Anonymous was an email purportedly sent by an FBI agent to international law enforcement agencies. It invites his foreign counterparts to join the call to "discuss the ongoing investigations related to Anonymous ... and other associated splinter groups. The email is addressed to officials in the U.K., Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and France, but only American and British officials can be heard on the recording." The message contained a phone number and password for accessing the call." The full recording can be heard below and a standalone mp3 can be found here.
As America embarks on its latest pre-IPO tech bubble, driven by a fundamentally broken Ponzi system which relies on the marginally disappearing greater fool, it is time to look back in time to this day in 1637, when the granddaddy of all irrationally exuberant bubbles died: the Dutch Tulip Mania.
Kiss The Foreclosure Settlement Goodbye: Bank of America, Wells And JP Morgan Are Sued Over Use Of MERSSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/03/2012 - 11:57
A little over a year since the day that the world first learned about robosigning and the broader problem of fraudclosure, which is merely the functional equivalent of infinite rehypothecation of an underlying asset between a daisy-chain of lien holders, we get the first legal incursion into this farce. From Bloomberg we learn that:
- BANK OF AMERICA, WELLS FARGO, JPMORGAN SUED BY NEW YORK OVER MERS
- NY AG SUIT CITES FRAUDULENT FORECLOSURE FILINGS
In other words, kiss that foreclosure settlement goodbye. In the meantime, the electronic momos keep taking BAC ever higher even as this news confirms that the bank is about to suffer a multi-billion impairment shortly.
Concerned about European bank deleveraging impacting Emerging Market growth prospects? Worried over Global Trade Volumes dropping and a multi-decade low in the Baltic Dry? Fearsome of record inventories for commodities in China and the potential for a harder landing from credit contraction in the shadow banking system? Concerned that Europe's sovereign and financial insolvency problems are not all gone? Worry no more. It appears, and who are we to argue with the data, that the USA is in fact leading the world out of this global growth slowdown with its Composite PMIs the highest of all the major growth drivers. From Markit Economics, we see that perhaps Goldman's Jim O'Neill will have to change his famous acronym to UBRIC as the decoupling myth (not a lag or inventory cycle) remains firmly in place (and the record-breaking jumps in some of the US Services PMI sub-indices should be treated with all the respect in the world).
Listen To Obama Explain Why The US Labor Force Declined By 1.2 Million And Why Temp Jobs Surged By A RecordSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/03/2012 - 11:32
Actually, now that we think about it, he may not touch on those specific issues.
It appears the record surge in people not in the labor force is not the only outlier in today's data. For the other one we go to the Household Data Survey (Table 9), and specifically the breakdown between Full Time and Part Time Workers (defined as those "who usually work less than 35 hours per week"). We won't spend too much time on it, as it is self-explanatory. In January, the number of Part Time workers rose by 699K, the most ever, from 27,040K to 27,739K, the third highest number in the history of this series. How about Full time jobs? They went from 113,765 to 113,845. An 80K increase. So the epic January number of 141.6 million employed, which rose by 847K at the headline level: only about 10 % of that was full time jobs: surely an indicator of the resurgent US economy... in which employers can't even afford to give their workers full time employee benefits. We can't wait for Mr. Liesman to explain how this number, too, is unadulterated hogwash, and how it too is explained away to confirm economic strength. Incidentally this is not the first time we have discussed the issue of part vs full time workers: for more see here: "Charting America's Transformation To A Part-Time Worker Society, Following 6 Straight Months Of Full Time Job Declines"
Non-Manufacturing ISM Ignores Banker Layoffs, Surges Past Expectations On Biggest Jump In Employment Index EverSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/03/2012 - 10:18
And another major economic indicator beat, this time coming from the January Non-manufacturing ISM data, which unlike yesterday's miss in the manufacturing ISM, surged past estimates of 53.2, up from a revised 53.0 in December, to a whopping 56.8 in January. The primary reason for this was the reported jump in Employment which rose from 49.8 to 57.4, which was the biggest jump pretty much ever (see chart below), and the highest employment number since 2006. And this happened in a month in which the banking sectors laid of thousands of bankers. Brilliant. We leave it up to readers to estimate the credibility of this report. In other news, inflation is back, as the report states that "Corrugated Cartons is the only commodity reported down in price." What was up? "Airfares; Beef; Chemical Products; Chicken; Crab; Coffee (2); #1 Diesel Fuel (2); #2 Diesel Fuel (3); Fuel; Gasoline; Medical Supplies (2); Paper; Petroleum Based Products; Resin Based Products; Vehicles; and Wire." In other news, factory order missed expectations of a 1.5% increase, coming in at 1.1%. But who cares: it is an election year and the propaganda machine is on in full force.
The mainstream media seem willing to sound the all-clear and bring us back from Defcon-3 on the back of what can generously be described by realists willing to look at the actual data as a 'murky' NFP print. The market's reaction seems modestly QE-off (with rates up decently) but the only modest drop in Gold appears to fit with a lack of conviction in the data (especially given the EUR sell-off on Papademos chatter). It seems, as Bloomberg reports, Kyle Bass is right to take the longer-view when he notes today "I'm against selling any of the gold" in UTIMCO's portfolio, pointing out the mounting risks from government deficits in US and Europe, "as every day goes by, I see deflation in the things you own and inflation in the things you need." Summing up the reality of our global situation, one of Bass's colleagues adds "This is a grand experiment and they typically never end well."
Sick of the BLS propaganda? Then do the following calculation with us: the US civilian non-institutional population was 242,269 in January, an increase of 1.7 million month over month: apply the long-term average labor force participation rate of 65.8% to this number (because as chart 2 below shows, people are not retiring as the popular propaganda goes: in fact labor participation in those aged 55 and over has been soaring as more and more old people have to work overtime, forget retiring), and you get 159.4 million: that is what the real labor force should be. The BLS reported one? 154.4 million: a tiny 5 million difference. Then add these people who the BLS is purposefully ignoring yet who most certainly are in dire need of labor and/or a job to the 12.758 million reported unemployed by the BLS and you get 17.776 million in real unemployed workers. What does this mean? That using just the BLS denominator in calculating the unemployed rate of 154.4 million, the real unemployment rate actually rose in January to 11.5%. Compare that with the BLS reported decline from 8.5% to 8.3%. It also means that the spread between the reported and implied unemployment rate just soared to a fresh 30 year high of 3.2%. And that is how with a calculator and just one minute of math, one strips away countless hours of BLS propaganda.
Great news from today's BLS report, right (when one excludes that record 1.2 million explosion in people out of the labor force of course)? Wrong. As is well known banks have been firing workers left and right: these are the jobs that actually matter in the grand withholding taxes scheme of things. Yet someone is getting hired supposedly. Well, as we suggested before the NFP report, this is merely rotation from high paying jobs to "low-wage jobs." And no, it's not our words - this is what CRT Capital says. Per Bloomberg: About 113k of NFP gain from “low wage jobs,” David Ader, strategist at CRT Capital Group, writes in note. Additionally, “we didn’t see the drop in courier and messengers as expected - but suspect we will." Moreover, ‘‘long-term stress remains at the U6 measure at 15.1% is still high, but likely falling due to people leaving labor force, and duration on unemployment remains over 40 weeks." But yes, it is an election year, so by November expect the labor participation rate to be under 60% and the unemployment rate to drop to under 6%, or some other propaganda BS.
EURUSD longs just got punk'd again, with the EURUSD surging to over 1.32 on the fake BLS number (1.2 million labor force decline, whatever, with ), when it collapsed by 100 pips as the news we tweeted earlier that Greek PM Papademos may resign today throwing the entire Greek bailout out of the window, if his talks for further austerity fail. From Kathimerini: "Papademos is expected to meet PASOK’s George Papandreou, New Democracy’s Antonis Samaras and Giorgos Karatzaferis of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) on Saturday. The three politicians will have to agree on measures that will satisfy Greece’s lenders and pave the way for a new bailout. Sources told Kathimerini that the troika is demanding that the minimum wage of 751 euros per month (gross) be reduced and that labor costs in the private sector drop by 25 percent in a bid to help Greece regain competitiveness. Skai TV and radio reported on Friday that should the leaders fail to agree a deal, he will tender his resignation on Monday." And just to make the confusion complete, Jean Claude Juncker just announced there would be no Eurogroup meeting on February 6. So while the market is celebrating the rotation of banker jobs with minimum wage jobs, Greece may be on the verge of blowing up Europe.
Record 1.2 Million People Fall Out Of Labor Force In One Month, Labor Force Participation Rate Tumbles To Fresh 30 Year LowSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/03/2012 - 08:51
A month ago, we joked when we said that for Obama to get the unemployment rate to negative by election time, all he has to do is to crush the labor force participation rate to about 55%. Looks like the good folks at the BLS heard us: it appears that the people not in the labor force exploded by an unprecedented record 1.2 million. No, that's not a typo: 1.2 million people dropped out of the labor force in one month! So as the labor force increased from 153.9 million to 154.4 million, the non institutional population increased by 242.3 million meaning, those not in the labor force surged from 86.7 million to 87.9 million. Which means that the civilian labor force tumbled to a fresh 30 year low of 63.7% as the BLS is seriously planning on eliminating nearly half of the available labor pool from the unemployment calculation. As for the quality of jobs, as withholding taxes roll over Year over year, it can only mean that the US is replacing high paying FIRE jobs with low paying construction and manufacturing. So much for the improvement.