The 'tragedy of the commons' or 'free-rider' dilemma of game theoretical cocktail parties is a great framework for considering the current tug-of-war between individual sovereign fiscal actions among the European Union and the over-arching monetary policy of the ECB. If the ECB is dovish and too many states decide to suckle on the teat of liquidity - as opposed to fiscally 'behave' - then everyone loses (as we see currently evolving). The lack of any Nash (stable and dominant) equilibrium among the European nations and their hoped-for benefactor is becoming increasingly problematic for both trading and business investment.
Nomura's Global Macro Strategy group tackle the problem that is now abundantly clear, the euro area as currently constructed is not stable and so it will have to change (hence, the Euro is dead!). The direction of travel is being set out by northern European politicians and is worth noting – more Union not less. But two points are critical to note; first that the new euro area may be so different from the one the current members signed up to as to make a process of voluntary re-application for euro stage II necessary to determine future membership, and second that any new variable geometry euro will take a long period of time to set up. How then to cover the intervening period?
Without credible pre-commitment on the part of either the ECB or the fiscal authorities, the game framework indicates either a loss of independence for the ECB under substantial political pressure to shift unilaterally to the dove camp or EFSF/IMF assistance and the pooling of fiscal risks against the backdrop of a political agenda for a new euro area.
We have long mocked and ridiculed the Fed for being the ultimate ponzi instrument: after all, why worry, when your central bank will buy up almost three trillion in US paper in about 2 years (a very comforting fact for US politicians who never have to fear that those trillions in new porkbills, pardon fiscal stimulus programs, may end up without funding). Well, as it turns out those wily veteran bankers from across the Atlantic have just one upped America yet again. According to the Telegraph, the abysmal, and barely successful, 3 EUR billion issuance of EFSF bonds (which was originally supposed to be 10 EUR billion, on its very very gradual climb to 1 EUR trillion) had one more very curious feature to it, aside from confirming that it is Dead On Arrival as expected. It turns out that in addition to being the most convoluted and complex creation ever conceived by JPM which is advising Europe on coming up with structured finance products that are so complex nobody will ask any questions and will automatically assume someone else has done the homework, it is also the quintessential ponzi instrument. The Telegraph reports that the already reduced 3 EUR billion "target was only met after the EFSF resorted to buying up several hundred million euros worth of the bonds." You read that right: in its first bond issuance since its transformation to the European Bank/Soveriegn Bailout Swiss Army Knife, the EFSF not only failed to raise a minimum token amount, but also had to... buy its own bonds. We can assume that the money the EFSF needed to fund said purchase came from the money growing tree, as at last check the ECB was still not funding the EFSF with crisp, new zEURq.PK equivalent binary 1s and 0s. But at least we all know what happens when the global ponzi goes full retard.
It is no secret that over the past two months, Goldman has commenced a full endorsement of Nominal GDP targetting as a method to stimulate the economy, not to mention Wall Street's bonus pool, after Ben Bernanke completely ignored Hatzius' advice to reduce the Interest on Overnight Excess Reserve rate as well as subsequent pleading for a start of MBS LSAP. Mathematics once again aside, and as we demonstrated, the math works out to an non-trivial incremental $10 trillion in debt through 2016 on top of what will be issued, to catch up with the GDP growth run rate and to eliminate the excess slack in the economy, the question is whether NGDP would achieve any tangible stimulus at all, or merely reduce the Fed's ever smaller arsenal of non-conventional means to boost the economy by one more approach. The attached rhetorical Q&A just released by Goldman seeks to answer that and any other left over questions one may have on NGDP as a policy measure, and further puts out the inverse strawman argument that it is not coming out any time soon. To wit: "We do not expect a move to an NGDP target anytime soon, although the probability would increase if growth and/or inflation slowed by more than we currently estimate." Then again, with the whole reverse psychology trademark inherent in every piece of Goldman public product, and considering the squid's previous advances to determine monetary policy have been snubbed, it may just mean that the next time the US economy implodes, this is precisely the method the Fed may use in early 2012 to guarantee another record year of Wall Street bonuses considering 2011 will be abysmal for so many Swiss and other offshore bank accounts.
Watch live the historic moment as Berlusconi, Italy's longest serving "ruler" since World War 2 hands in his resignation to president Napolitano. As to the specifics of his immunity deal, we can only wonder...
Chart Of The Day: The EFSF Is Already Trading As AA+, Or Why The French AAA Rating No Longer MattersSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/12/2011 - 12:54
Following the S&P "technical glitch" on Thursday which sent out a bizarre notice to a few subscribers notifying that a rating action on France is imminent, FrAAAnce is up in arms and demanding S&P blood. The reason: as everyone knows by now, the sanctity of the Eurozone is now contingent on those three A letters more than any other variable, because without said rating, France becomes ineligible for EFSF funding purposes (at any rating less than AAA), the EFSF's sole 'pristine' backer becomes Germany, and sends the EFSF yield curve into a tailspin, as it glaringly painfully obvious that Germany alone can't fund the trillions needed to preserve the Eurozone and purchase rolling Italian and other PIIGS debt. Yet one look at the yield curve of the EFSF as it already stand confirms that the market is not waiting for S&P, Moody's or any other rating agency, as it is now just a matter of time: after all recall that S&P itself said that it "would likely downgrade the credit ratings of France, Spain, Italy, Ireland and Portugal if the euro zone slips into another recession." Well as of yesterday, the EU itself warned the Eurozone may slump into "a deep and prolonged recession."The result: as of the past few days the EFSF no longer trades with an AAA implied rating. In face as can be seen on the chart below analyzing regression curves for various rating strata, the EFSF is now AA+ at best. Simply said, this means that the bond market has once again voted, and completely oblivious of the noise that is the puppet changes at the top in Italy and Greece, is already preparing for the next contingency casualty, which after France, is just one... at least in Europe.
Bunga Bunga Era Is Over: Italian Parliament Approves Budget Reform, Paving Way For Berlusconi ResignationSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/12/2011 - 12:50
The Italian Bunga Bunga era is now over. Last week, after losing the vote of confidence, Berlusconi said that he would resign the minute the parliament voted through the 2012 budget reform. As of minutes ago, this has just happened, after 380 parliamentarians effectively voted to kick Silvio out. As per Reuters: "The Italian parliament gave final approval to a package of economic reforms in a vote on Saturday which clears the way for the resignation of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the formation of an emergency government. Berlusconi, who failed to secure a majority in a crucial vote on Tuesday, promised to resign once parliament passed the law, demanded by European partners to restore market confidence in Italy's strained public finances. He is expected to hand in his resignation to President Giorgio Napolitano later on Saturday. Former European Commissioner Mario Monti is expected to be given the task of trying to form a new administration to face a widening financial crisis which has sent Italy's borrowing costs to unmanageable levels." Of course, if Monti is unable to get the required majority of support, the country will proceed with general elections, which will throw the BTP yields into yet another maelstrom. And even if Monti succeeds in forming a technocratic "consensus" government, the question still remains: just how will he succeed in implementing the required austerity where Silvio failed?
Is there anything that hasn't already been said about the Eurozone's structural flaws and the absurdity of the half-baked "solutions" tossed together by its frenzied, fumbling leadership? Perhaps not, but we can fruitfully boil the mess down to a simple double-bind. The double-bind can be stated thusly: 1. If the European Central Bank (ECB) tries to save the private banks and bondholders by printing trillions of euros to buy up the mountain of hopelessly impaired sovereign bonds, then Germany will rebel and renounce the euro as an act of self-preservation. Germany knows that money-printing robs savers and the productive via the stealth theft of inflation, and its people will not stand idly by while their wealth is destroyed by ECB euro-printing. 2. If the ECB renounces money-printing, then the only economy solvent enough to fund the 3-trillion-euro bailout with actual cash is Germany, which will rebel against this debt-serfdom by renouncing the euro. There are only two paths, and they both lead to the same end-state: dissolution of the euro and the EU's monetary union.
Many wonder why hedge funds underperformed the market as dramatically as they did in October: simple - few, if any, had any conviction in the rally, and only those with an already abysmal Sharpe ratio and a penchant for risky beta chasing threw themselves headfirst into the turbulent short-covering riptide. David Kostin summarizes it best with the title of his latest weekly chartology: "Investors uncertain about lower uncertainty." - and indeed they are, as intuitively all know that nothing has been fixed and the only reason the market lurches from one extreme to another is the fear that a career rally will leave many of them with no LPs, if only to be faced with even worse news tomorrow, and suffer an even greater loss to AUM. Which is why those that are outperforming the market to date have battered down the hatches and are enjoying the sluaghter from the sidelines, knowing full well they will be able to pick off stocks at Greece-like valuations. As for the others: all the best, as the volatility experienced in the past few days will certainly persist through year end: "Investors are generally skeptical about the pace and magnitude of the market recovery. We expect uncertainty and below-trend growth to persist..."
David Rosenberg On The Depression, The ECB, MF Global As A Canary In The Coalmine... All With A Surprise EndingSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/11/2011 - 23:27
Consuelo Mack has just released a long overdue interview with David Rosenberg, in which the former Merrill strategist is allowed to speak for 27 whole minutes without commercial interruptions of manic depressive momentum chasers cutting off his every sentence, demanding he tell them what stocks he is buying right this second! In addition to the traditional now discussion of America's depression (see attached extended walkthru by Rosie), probably the more interesting part in the interview starts at minute 11 when the conversation shifts to MF Global which to Rosie is a canary in the coalmine, and is merely the 2011 version of Bear Stearns as there is "never just one cockroach." Then the Q&A shifts to Europe, the ECB's next steps and the future of the Eurozone and Germany in particular. Mack concludes with some thoughts on what bond rates indicate about the future of the word, how the 7% output gap as a % of GDP will drive deflation (although in a vacuum: there is little accounting for the Fed's and global central bank kneejerk reaction), and how the corporation is now more powerful than the sovereign, courtesy of more pristine corporate balance sheets than those of actual countries, all of which are on the verge. Will the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, Planet Starbucks take over when Europe and the US finally tumble? Oh, and like a good M. Night Shyamalan movie, there is a surprising twist ending.
This is Jim O'Neill in about the most pessimistic light that his genetic makeup, not to mention GSAM employment contract, will allow him: "For a couple of days this week, it actually felt as though Europe’s post-war project was nearing the end of the road and, as a result, emotions have been running high. For those that never believed it was a good idea, some have been expressing a mood of jubilance. For many involved in its creation, this has not been a good week. I got more caught up in the middle of this than usual as a result of a newspaper interview, where the headline distorted what I had actually said, claiming that we were predicting a break up. While this was not a fair reflection, I did say that some major issues were now on the table and needed to be recognized. The EMU, as created, has not really worked and needs to change. It is quite clear that many countries should not have been allowed to join. It is also clear that the Growth and Stability Pact has not worked. Policymakers need to be more open in at least acknowledging this, and then doing something about it. If all of this wasn’t enough of a challenge, Italy’s issues have become front and centre. Italy is no Greece. Indeed, although the BRICs can create another Italy in 2012, Italy is close to 4 times the combined size of Greece, Ireland and Portugal. Its total debt is close to 25 pct of the Euro Area GDP. Quite simply, Italy cannot be allowed to stay in the position it found itself this week....while I can see the case for an EMU without some others, and despite all of Italy’s complications, I can’t see an EMU without Italy. At the same time, I can’t see Italy sustaining life with 6-7 pct 10-year bond yields. So something has to give. Let’s see what Italy brings over the weekend, and how Frankfurt, Berlin, Brussels and the rest of us all react."
Earlier today it was Fitch; now, way after the close, it is S&P's turn: the rating agency just put Hungary on junk bond watch, due an "unpredictable policy framework", and better yet, advised readers that the almost certain downgrade from Investment Grade would happen this month. Naturally, if Hungary, AAAustria is next. Then all of Eastern Europe follows quickly and Germany finds itself in a war with contagion on every single front.
Turd Ferguson is a funny guy. But there's one thing this irreverent, acerbically goofball forecaster is stone-cold serious about: the need to build personal exposure to the precious metals. For him, it's a straightforward mathematical certainty that the global economy must collapse under the weight of the excessive (and exponentially compounding) credit amassed over the past several decades. The debt is simply too large to be serviced. As a growing number of analysts (including Chris) are predicting, Turd sees the replacement of the world's current monetary regimes as the endgame to this story. And he believes we are watching that endgame unfold in real-time now. In this interview with Chris, Turd discusses his reasons why gold and silver offer the best prospect for preserving wealth through the coming devaluation of world currencies, despite his strong conviction that the markets for these metals are heavily price-manipulated.
With today's volume over 30% below average (and the lightest since July), the week ended on an up note as the Dow managed to gain just over 1% having meandered well over 1000pts to get there. EUR closed off its best levels of the day but was the outstanding achiever and with credit markets closed (cash and CDS), it seemed the last hour saw major demand for high yield corporates as HYG surged (dislocating from everything) as perhaps it was the lever to try a late day ramp. Commodities surged with copper best on the day and Oil easily best on the week as Gold and Silver added around 1.5-2% on the week. The USD ended the week practically unch despite all the excitement.