Slovakia On Why It Votes "No" To EFSF Expansion: "The Greatest Threat To The Euro Is The Bailout Fund Itself"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/09/2011 - 12:17
Yesterday we reported that tiny Slovakia's refusal to ratify the expansion of the EFSF 2.0 (even though a 4.0 version will be required this week after the "Dexia-event"), may throw the Eurozone into a tailspin as all 17 countries have to agree to agree to kick the can down the road: even one defector kills the entire Swiss Watch plan. Yet an interview conducted between German Spiegel and Slovakia party head Richard Sulik confirms that tiny does not mean irrelevant, and certainly not stupid. In fact, just the opposite: his words are precisely what the heads ot the bigger and far less credible countries should be saying. Alas they are not. Which is precisely why the euro is doomed.
The CEO Of Failed Dexia Made €1.95 Million In 2009 And 2010 Despite A €150 Billion Government Guarantee And A Fed BailoutSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/09/2011 - 12:06
Below we present some observations on the compensation package of the CEO of bank that is about to be no more (in its existing pre-BearStearns'ed form), a bank which since 2008 had operated with an implicit governmental guarantee of €150 billion and which bank was the biggest recipient of the Fed's taxpayer-funded bailout generosity during the Great Financial Crisis, confirming once again that when it comes to putting US taxpayer capital at risk for total loss, the Fed is truly second to none, without much commentary. It has all been said already numerous times...
A good deal of leverage has been shaken out of the system, of that there can be little doubt. Markets became horribly oversold and are now reacting accordingly and, in such conditions of these, when underlying conviction is absent and the reservoirs of both financial and reputational capital are so scanty, such reverses can be violent indeed, so being bearish is not operationally straightforward, even if being bullish seems perverse. Whether the present bounce is any more than a temporary relief, must however, remain in doubt while the underlying weaknesses lie unaddressed and the treatment prescribed for them are so palpably toxic in their side-effects. At least we have the weekend to ponder it.
Earlier today, Reuters reported that the final solution for Dexia is imminent. "The governments of France, Belgium and Luxembourg reached agreement on Sunday on a rescue package for Dexia , which will be put to the stricken Franco-Belgian bank's board later in the day for approval. "The governments... have reaffirmed their solidarity in finding a solution to secure the future of Dexia," said a statement from the office of Belgium's caretaker Prime Minister Yves Leterme. "The suggested solution, which is also the result of intense consultations with all partners involved, will be submitted to Dexia's Board of Directors for approval." Sure enough, from Dow Jones:
- GOVERNMENTS AGREE TO NATIONALIZE 100% OF DEXIA'S BELGIAN BANK
We are waiting for more details but with that we have Belgium-Dexia CDS compression, an imminent Belgian rating downgrade, and the unleashing of the completely unpredictable domino effect.
Something curious happened recently: for the first time in over a decade, perhaps ever, the US saw a record $25 billion worth of Treasury bond outflows from the Treasury's custodial account in the week ended September 28. Just as curious is that in the past 5 weeks we have seen relentless selling of Treasurys from the same custodial account which, with Treasury International Capital data 3 months delayed, and largely incorrect until its annual revision, is the only real source of recent (and somewhat accurate) foreign activity in US bonds. In fact, starting with the week ended September 7, through last Thursday, foreigners appear to have dumped a massive $56 billion worth of Treasurys (don't take our word for it - check it here, courtesy of the Fed). This is quite disturbing for two reasons. One explanation for this move would be to look back to the Quant crash in early August 2007, which preceded the market's secular (and all time) high, when various quant funds blew up for reasons still not completely known. The reason why this date is important is that it was the catalyst for the next biggest concerted dump of Treasurys, when in a subsequent span of 4 weeks, foreigners sold $47 billion in Treasurys... but at least the market's precipitous move lower was prevented, if only for a few brief months. Also curious is that the recent move is in direct contrast to the Custodial Account reaction to the Lehman implosion in 2008 when 20 weeks of consecutive UST inflows, beginning September 10, saw $300 billion in "safe haven" purchases. So while the market plunge back then was accompanied by a shift into Treasurys, this time around, the biggest market volatility since Lehman has seen a record sequential exodus out of bonds. Which begs the question: did Tim Geithner make a few phone calls, and tell foreigners to dump Treasurys (knowing full well Op Twist was coming and the Fed would backstop the entire curve), and to buy stocks instead in order to prevent the next relapse of the Great Financial Crisis?
Three weeks ago, the Dutch asked their central bank where their gold is. The central bank has responded. Courtesy of Vrijspreker, here are both the replies, as well as the key follow up questions. And while the bulk of the answers are expectedly trite, and generic form, "DNB’s physical gold holdings function as the ultimate reserve and anchor of trust in times of financial crisis. Further, gold is being held for diversification reasons." This appears just slightly different from our own Chairman's definition of gold as mere barbarous tradition.
Equity bulls have found solace in the abnormally high bearish sentiment readings. Seems everyone wants to be considered a contrarian. Rather than follow the herd these free thinkers venture out into the cold dark tundra alone and unafraid. They proclaim to the world "huge bearish sentiment to propel the stock market rally." The great omen of Wall Street is to fade the herd and where better to find their direction than a simple sentiment survey. When it says go east they go west. When it says to ying, they yang. The American Association of Individual Investors declares this survey to be the true contrarian indicator. Who to argue with history and years of precedence. Surely a simple analysis of the data will substantiate this modern day folklore? Or will it?
A few days ago we mocked the market's naive belief that a loose union of 17 different countries and hundreds of separate political organizations, each torn by thousands of unique interests and lobby groups, can all agree unanimously in the pursuit of the common monetary (read: banker) good, over that of their own people. Yet that did not stop stocks from enacting the second weekly massive short covering squeeze, in 3 weeks, purely on hype, rumors, innuendo and lies. And just like the last time the market soared by nearly double digits in a few short days, only to plunge when hopes of a quick resolution were mercilessly dashed, Monday has all the makings of another epic risk off day. Because while all it takes is a rumor (of a plan for a plan) to start a squeeze, we are about to get some very nasty actual events which will demand immediate and forceful intervention by the powers that be, something which Europe (and the US) has proven is virtually impossible. The events in question are, as Reuters reports, that i) "Dexia's Funeral Will Be Announced On Sunday" and, as Bloomberg reports, that ii) Slovakia’s ruling Freedom and Solidarity party won’t back the overhaul of the European bailout mechanism after Prime Minister Iveta Radicova rejected the party’s conditions for approval, a lawmaker said. Said otherwise, bonds are currently thanking their lucky stars the bond market is closed because not only will Europe have to deal with the headline risk that the weakest link in Europe, the tiny country of Slovakia, can scuttle the entire second Greek rescue operation, and thus, lead to the expulsion of Greece from the eurozone following its bankruptcy, but this will have to take place as Europe fights the stem the contagion resulting from the collapse and nationalization of the first Greek bank, which nobody, nobody, could have foreseen.
The recent brief uptick in economic high frequency indicators got you up? Feeling like suddenly the recession can be avoided because train traffic, whose sole goal is to stock up on even more soon to be liquidated inventory, hasn't yet collapsed? Happy by the beat in Non-farm payrolls, even though the beat was primarily a function of a one-time Verizon-strike boost, even as tax witholdings have hit an inflection point and are now declining? Amazed by the surge in car purchases, funded entirely by GM-targeted subprime loans issued by Uncle Sam, which have now declined for the first time in a year? Don't be silly, warns Goldman's Jan Hatzius, and presents a list why while the C-grade commentators out there may be caught off guard by the brief pick up in economic activity and proclaim the period of inverse economic growth over, it is all, quite, pardon the pun, "transitory."
The topic of the European "Ice-nine"phenomenon is nothing new to regular Zero Hedge readers: every day we point out the increasing freeze in European interbank lending (in both the traditional and shadow formats), in various money markets, in commercial paper, in broad fixed income issuance, and in the overall collapse in market liquidity, so deftly masked for now by daily political and central bank rhetoric, which for all its market kneejerk reaction glory is merely unsubstantiated innuendo and lies - keep in mind that the last time the incoherent and disorganized Troika came to an actual decision was July 21, with the second Greek bailout, and even that has not yet been implemented! So while hopes still percolates faintly on the surface, the riptide just below it has grown to record proportions. Presenting the chart that everyone who has an opinion on Europe, one way or the other, has to see. Here, courtesy of Diapason's Sean Corrigan, is the epic "Fear and Loathing" in the European banking system, in all its $1.3 trillion glory, or nearly double where it was when Lehman filed for bankruptcy. Banks may say they trust each other, they may promise the system is viable, they may even submit bogus (if increasing) Libor indications to the collusive organization that is the BBA, but the truth is, in vivid color, presented below. Never before have European banks parked as much of their hard earned cash with the only two remaining pillars of "stability", the Fed and the ECB. And with Dexia about to be nationalized, and an unpredictable, and highly contagious, waterfall chain of events about to be unleashed on Europe all over again, will the worst case scenario transpire and the ECB's credibility be swept away? If so, prepare for all the money in the world to funnel into the binary number-based safety deposit box located in the servers of 33 Liberty street. Then the two ultimate questions become: how long before the Fed's own viability is questioned by the global vigilantes (who have finally started asking the right questions), and who will bail out the central bank tasked with bailing out the world?
Last week, a fund rumored to be on deathwatch, was Toronto-based, gold and energy-focused hedge fund Salida Capital (whose gold exposure, in addition to Paulson's, were both factors in the rapid drop in the price of gold last week, following concerns that it was being liquidated in the open market - for more on Salida's gold exposure, read the attached letter). The fund promptly came out and refuted said rumors, however upon review of its monthly P&L, we are somewhat skeptical about its survival chances, even if, in principle, we agree with the fund's investment philosophy. The reason for our skepticism is that Salida was down a whopping 37.2% in September, and 49.4% YTD, a collapse which only compares to that of Paulson's Advantage Plus, and demonstrates vividly just how much of a misnomer the name "hedge" can be when applied to members of the asset management industry. What is worse, however, is that the reason attributed for this epic collapse is amateur hour 101, and any LPs should be far more concerned by the explanation provided for this underperformance than the actual underperformance itself.
A few days ago we suggested that based on ongoing losses in the portfolio of Paulson & Co, the biggest fund of the firm, Advantage Plus, is down a massive 50% YTD. A few hours ago, Absolute Return confirmed that the firm which has stepped on virtually every single possible landmine year to date, has had its AUM cut if not exactly in half, then surely close enough for Keynesian work at -47%. And with that the speculations of an imminent terminal redemption event coupled with liquidations of the firm's gold share class (its GLD holdings) will resume, although the one thing unclear is whether Paulson has already sold off the bulk of his winners. We are confident we will learn the answer as soon as Monday.
Given the complete and utter disaster that awaits us once the curtain is finally drawn back in Europe, it’s important to consider whether or not the crisis we currently face is nothing but another downturn or is it in fact another game-changing, punctuated equilibrium moment? I firmly believe it is the latter. I’ll spare the audience the laundry list of challenges we face as a global economy - unsustainable debt loads, ghost cities, peak oil, climate change, over $700tr in notional derivative exposure, etc. - it’s a long list. In the final analysis, it’s hard to conclude anything other than the system we’ve known since 1971 is about to implode. The powers that be know this and they are very afraid. Every piece of chewing gum they’ve tried to use to glue their global economic model back together again has failed. Humpty Dumpty has had a great fall but the cracking-up isn’t over yet. Indeed, we have arrived again at one of the great turning points in economic history. However, the current destination is the one that the 1% hate so much. This is the moment where some of the 1% lose their grasp on power and money and witness first-hand Schumpeter’s creative destruction. Historically, these are the times when pitchforks are carried and torches lit. Think about how wealthy, powerful Brits felt when news of the original Tea Party made its way to London. Think about how a rich plantation owner in the South felt when news of Lee’s defeat at Gettysburg filtered down. Think about how a New York investment banker felt in 1933 when Glass-Steagall was passed. They were very likely afraid, very afraid. The edifice of their power and wealth was crumbling down around them.
In order to keep the ongoing class warfare waged by the administration in perspective, today the CBO was kind enough to score the revenue impact of the proposed and much debated Buffett Tax, now appearing in non-populist literature as "Surtax on Millionaires." According to the Budget Office, said tax which is the source of substantial consternation among the population, would generate, over the next decade, a grand total of... drum roll... $453 billion. Why the drum roll? Because as we pointed out a few days ago, the US closed the 2011 fiscal year having added $1.23 trillion in debt (a number which would have been $1.4 trillion absent some year end settlement gimmickry). In other words, last year the US government had on average a $100+ billion deficit each month. In yet more other words, the great populist gimmick that is the Buffett Tax will have the great benefit of generating, between 2011 and 2021 enough money to plug a debt hole, at the rate America currently spends money, of 4 months.