Dylan Ratigan draws some rather obvious parallels between AIG and the recent TBTF banking episode, and the possible fate of BP, whose failure would doom, among others, the retirement funds of Scottish widows, as we noted previously in disclosing the key holders of BP stock. Will the US president be willing to push BP to the point where a bankruptcy of BP results in international diplomatic outcry over what could be the next TBTF precedent? Surely BP is aware of this catch 22, and is thus willing to apply the modern version of American capitalism: "the risk taker uses the leverage of their size and importance to so many people to transfer the risk they've created to the government and future generations, while keeping the rewards of all the risks that they've taken, negligent repair, you pick the thing - they keep the money, you keep the problem. This seems to have become the new version of American capitalism: extortion and bribery." In this clip, in which Ratigan tears apart BP's Darryl Willis (worth watching in itself to see how TV anchors don't always have to bow down to their guests, David Faber feel free to take notice), BP seems to have painted itself in a diplomatic corner: "We will pay claims until we are done paying claims... We are going to pay the damages caused by this spill to every person who has been hurt, harmed and damaged." Alas, this does not leave much maneuvering room for the former oil giant. As for the question of how BP can afford to pay a $10 billion dividend in light of what seems to be a tide of approaching claims payments, Willis does not provide an answer. BP's CDS spread, however, does.
Are you ready for interesting times and an exodus from the United States? A possibly apocryphal ancient Chinese curse goes "May you live in interesting times." Those words may derive from an authentic Chinese proverb: "It is better to be a dog in a peaceful time than be a man in chaos." Either way, the message is easy to understand for anyone living in the summer of 2010. As I look over at Lucky, my golden retriever whose only concerns are when do we eat and when do we go back in the ocean to play ball, I can see the advantages of being a dog. But as a man I know it is time to defend my freedom and secure my wealth for myself and for my posterity. The U.S. is wandering through a fake recovery, an expanding sovereign debt crisis, a stock market downturn and a double-dip real estate collapse. Meanwhile, the Swiss franc is moving to historic highs to the euro. And what does the conventional press want to tell us about? The "strong" dollar, who's to blame for the oil disaster, the newest episodes in a host of foreign and domestic political soap operas and – a fresh diversion – which politicians are telling the biggest lies about their military records.
Bottom line - while a 3% rally in stocks and the best performance day in IG and HY credit since 5/27 hide what we think is going on under the covers. Breadth was much more mixed in single-names and the unwinding of index overlays and single-name longs (bonds or CDS) that was evident today seem to signal a risk-off sentiment from the top-down (with technicals dominating index moves today). The increasing correlation (and again we are careful to avoid using the term dependence) between stocks, credit indices, and carry currency crosses appears to be getting tighter (with EURJPY and ES_F hardly leaving each other's side today) but for the third day in a row, stocks have outperformed credit.
The oil complex was strong yesterday, and crude oil prices broke to their highest level in four weeks as traders bought on a combination of bullish fundamental factors (in this week’s DOE report and in an IEA report out Thursday), technical strength (on the charts), higher equities quotes and a stronger euro. The euro advanced to more than $1.21 after flirting with $1.19 earlier this week. And, the DJIA roared higher, gaining 273.28 points, to finish at 10172.53. These were the heavy-hitting factors that led crude oil prices to their consecutive daily price increase, which had not been seen since April. Crude oil finished at its best price since May 12th.
In today's letter, David Rosenberg, among other things, answers the question of where demand for gold is coming from. For many this is rhetorical: a mere glance at ETF gold accumulation, and PHYS' recent follow-on are sufficient. Today, GLD alone bought 8 tons of gold to hit a new all time record of 1,306 tonnes. Yet for some, like the author of the WSJ's ongoing hit piece on gold, this is not sufficient, so here is Rosie, patiently explaining to the cheap seats, that even at record prices, demand for gold is not going away.
Just because nobody can possibly get enough of listening to Barney Frank steamroll his opposition with irrefutable logic, here is a link to a C-SPAN video of the debate over how to make Chris Dodd's already toothless bill lose its dentures, just so the President can declare victory over TBTF only to have to bailout Citi all over again in less than a year.
Odd market action today, in which curious rumors surfaced out of quant land, that Goldman was being used as a gold surrogate for liquidation purposes. We closed at last Friday intraday high: should the market continue upward, the NFP news from last week that the economic situation is now indicative of a double dip will be fully priced in. Alas, volume now refuses to confirm trends on either the upside or the downside. More and more investors will simply not participate whatsoever in this incredibly volatile market. Below is a PV of the SPY (no ES today due to the June-September roll): volume is now consistently below cumulative averages.
It will likely surprise you but like a trolley car we are now locked into economic tracks that determine our financial destination. Unfortunately, it isn’t a place anyone would choose knowingly other than possibly the Bilderberg elite. Financially and economically we are lurching along, rocking from side to side with the occasional unexpected jarring flash crash jolt. But unlike a trolley line, for some reason no one seems to know what the destination is. Many are asking but few are willing to tell. This road is well travelled and documented if you were to take the time to study the maps and not rely on the happy face media spin doctors for directions. Since the route of the current global economic path is now locked in, we need to either accept the ride or hastily exit. I’m up from my seat and headed for the door. What are you going to do?
RANsquawk Market Wrap Up - Stocks, Bonds, FX etc. – 10/06/10
As was intimated by the ECB throughout the week by not announcing any non-Euro 7 or 84 day open market tender operations, the only question was whether Japan which has been the only country to draw on swaps over the past month, would rely on the Fed's dollar generosity. The answer is no. The Fed just announced that there were no amounts drawn on any of its CB liquidity swaps in the past week. On the other hand, with the usurious haircuts and implied costs to (ab)users of these swap lines, any time we do see usage, the pain must be intolerable. And, as Trichet pointed out earlier, the European money markets are not quite working as expected. For confirmation of European liquidity deterioration, look at the ECB's most recent discount facility usage tomorrow morning.
Florida AG Bill McCollum has officially escalated the BP fiasco to the next level. In a post on his website today, McCollum announces that he has "sent a letter to BP asking the company to deposit no less than $2.5 billion into an interest-earning escrow account so Florida can be assured of its availability to the state and its citizens and businesses over the long-term recovery period." And now that BP is perceived as the surrogate replacement of the "all free lunch all you can eat" US government, McCollum concludes: “Based on recent estimates from an economist, Florida could ultimately see losses as great as $2.2 billion, as well as a sharp decline in employment in the industries directly impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. As Florida braces for what will likely be a staggering blow to its economy with significant impacts to our state’s workforce and the revenues of the state and local governments, it is essential that BP establish immediately a dedicated escrow account solely for the purpose of paying claims and damages to Florida and its citizens.” In other news, the Florida economy is strong and vibrant according to the Beige book.
Earlier today we pointed out that Spanish cajas Caja Madrid and Bancaja were merging in the latest Spanish rescue combination, involving 5 other smaller banks. Reuters is now reporting that this brand new combination, which incidentally is the now the biggest Spanish pro forma saving bank, has requested €4.4-4.5 billion in aid from the Spanish restructuring fund. Spain has now essentially one upped the US: instead of using an FDIC-like intermediation to give "deep value" investors a nice discount on acquired assets courtesy of taxpayers, the banks in Spain are directly going to the taxpayer trough as soon as two horrible balance sheets combined, and the result is an even bigger monstrosity. But that's ok, Spain found some other European banks to sell sovereign debt to earlier today, knowing full well that the ramifications of a regional failed bond auction would also take down all of Europe. The ponzi valiantly marches on. After all it's only the ECB's electronic ones an zeroes that are at risk.
Every day at 3 PM the correlations just break. With someone gunning stocks to the moon, the EURJPY-ES disconnect is one again here as the FX corr desks just can't keep up with Goldman's bulk buying of ES bigs. Can we make it 5 out of 5 in 5? Stay tuned for imminent spread convergence.
The $13 billion 30 Year Auction closed at 1 PM at a 2.87 Bid To Cover, the second highest since October 2009, except for the 2.89 in March. This is despite the high yield which was a mere 4.182%, the lowest rate since October's 4.009%. Yet that number will likely be hard to beat, especially since the Direct Bidder take down in that auction was just 8.5%, compared to the 20.3% this time around. The take down also saw 36% going to indirects and 43.7% to Fed proxies, aka Primary Dealers, who then proceed to repo the just acquired bonds back to the Fed and invest in BP (or not). The primary dealer hit ratio was a surprisingly high 34.8%. All in All, this auction just bought the Federal government a month's worth of unemployment benefits paid out by the Treasury.