Hours before Spain is expected to present the bank "assessment" from Roland Berger and Oliver Wyman on its comprehensive bank insolvency status, the country sold €2.22 billion of two-, three- and five-year government bonds, in a sale which saw solid demand but yields that are simply laughable and are completely unsustainable, culminating with a record yield on 5 year paper. Per Reuters, the Treasury sold 700 million euros worth of a 2-year bond, 918 million euros worth of a 3-year bond and 602 million euros of a 5-year bond, beating a target to issue up to 2 billion euros of the debt... In a nutshell: big demand for paper that will leave Spain pennyless. Not very surprising, and as Elisabeth Afseth from Investec summarized, "They got it away, it's about the most positive thing you can say about it." Elsewhere the German economy continues to deteriorate from carrying the weight of the PIIGS on its shoulders, with the Mfg PMI and Services PMI both missing estimates of 45.2 and 51.5, and printing at 44.7 and 50.3, respectively. This was a 3 year low for German PMI and now all but confirms that the economy will enter a recession at the next GDP update. But all this pales in comparison with the latest update of the Greek comedy where we learn that the three parties forming Greece's new coalition government have agreed to ask lenders for two more years to meet fiscal targets under an international bailout that is keeping the country from bankruptcy, a party official said on Thursday. This came a few hours after a German parliamentary group officially spoke against a time trade-off for Greece. Which means that beggas will not be choosers after all.
News & headlines from the day
The revaluation that is underway now is beyond the simple scope of corporate earnings valuations, going to the very core of the system itself. Just like the equity pricing regime (and investor expectations for equity assets) needs to adjust to the twelve-year-old bear market reality, pricing within the global banking system as a whole needs to adjust to the reality that the artificial growth of the economic textbook is not replicable. The economic truth of 2012 is that much of the science of economics, and the foundation that gives to finance and financial pricing, was a temporal anomaly befitting only those specific conditions of that bygone era. In other words, the entire financial world needs to reset itself outside the paradigm of pre-2008. The secular bear market in US equities is one strand of this changing landscape, perhaps the first stirring of the collapse of the activist central bank experiment. In the end, the potential selling pressure of the dollar shortage is irresistible, no matter how “cheap” stock prices are to earnings, but none of it may matter in the grander scheme of a dramatic reset to the global system. The inability of that global system to escape this critical state, to simply move beyond crisis and function “normally” again, demonstrates conclusively, in my opinion, the foundational transformation that is still taking place well beyond the stock bear. Everything is a locked feedback loop of negative pressures in this age, no matter how much we want to see “value” where and how it used to exist.
Paradigm shifts are rarely orderly, but there are warning signs.
This one simple chart below shows what is possibly the biggest and most fundamental flaw in Bernanke's approach to spurring the economy, which to him, of course, means rising prices of risky assets, aka the stock market.
And just like yesterday, when LCH hiked Spanish bond margins in the whole Guardian disinformation fiasco, so LCH tries to sneak one in today again, this time hiking margins on Italian bonds with a 2-15 year maturity.
This is just getting ridiculous:
- MERKEL SAYS BOND PURCHASING BY BAILOUT FUND A POSSIBILITY
Uhm... that whole point of the bailout fund (ESM/EFSF) is to BUY BONDS. Basically Merkel just confirmed that the whole point of the ESM, which by the way still does not exist, and whose sole purpose is to buy bonds... is to buy bonds. You can't make this up. Yes they will subordinate existing bondholders in the case of ESM, and in the case of EFSF Finland and soon Germany will demand collateral via negative pledges (as in the case of Spain - or did the market forget all about that already), but apparently that is now merely an irrelevant detail. And the EURUSD ramps on this, once again proving that nobody has any idea what is going on in the market but flashing red healines = usually good.
- Prepare for Lehmans (sic) re-run, Bank official warns (Telegraph)
- Fed Seen Extending Operation Twist While Avoiding Bond Buying (Bloomberg)
- US Watchdog Hits at ‘Risky’ London (FT)
- G20 Bid to Cut Cost of Euro Borrowing (FT)
- Romney Says Rubio Being Examined as Possible Running Mate (Bloomberg)
- Hollande Says Worth Exploring ESM Bond Buys (Reuters)
- US Upbeat After Eurozone Debt Crisis Talks (FT)
- BOJ Members Say Japan Could Be ‘Adversely Affected’ by Europe (Bloomberg)
- China Steps Said to Grow Bond Market, Add Issuer Scrutiny (Bloomberg)
- How Asia Will Fare if Europe Cracks (WSJ)
Two days ago, when noting that Italy is on collision course with technical insolvency should its bonds remain at current levels for even one more week, we wrote that "As Italy Hints Of Subordination, Did Rome Just Request A "Semi" Bailout?" Of course, yesterday's big market moving rumor was just this - namely that "supposedly" Germany had agreed to provide the underfunded EFSF and non-existent ESM as ECB SMP replacement vehicles, and implicitly to launch the bailout of not only Spain but also Italy. This turned out to be patently untrue, as we expected, despite speculation having been accepted as fact by various UK newspaper and having taken Europe by a storm of false hope, leading peripheral spreads modestly tighter (and Germany naturally wider). Of course, even if Merkel were to allow the ESM/EFSF to effectively replace the ECB secondary market bond buying, which is what this is all about, nothing will be fixed, and in fact it would lead to even more subordination and more bond selling off of positions which are not held by the ECB or ESM. But that is for the market to digest in 4-6 weeks as it appears nobody still understands how the mechanics of the flawed European rescue mechanism works. In the meantime, now that Italy has tipped its hand, it has only one option: to push full bore demanding that someone, anyone out there buy its bonds. Sadly, Germany just said nein. Again.
Some news & headlines from the day
Ever since the beginning of the year we have been saying that in order for the Fed to unleash QE, stocks have to drop by 20-30% to give political cover to the Fed (and/or ECB) to engage in another round of wanton currency destruction. Because while on one hand the temptation to boost stocks is so very high in an election year, the threat to one's presidential re-election chances that soaring gas prices late into the summer does, is simply far too big to be ignored. Yet here we are: stocks are just 4% off their 2012 highs, even as bonds are near all time low yields, and mortgages are at their all time lows. As such, even with the latest batch of economic data coming in simply atrocious, the Fed finds itself in a Catch 22 - it wants to help the stock market hoping that in itself will boost the "economy", yet it knows what more QE here will do to the priced of gold and inflation expectations: something which as Hilsenrath himself said yesterday does not compute, as it runs against everything "Economic textbooks" teach. What is more important, is that the market, like a true addict, is oblivious to any of these considerations, and has priced in a massive bout of Quantitative Easing to be announced tomorrow at 2:15 pm. There is one problem though: has the market, by pricing in QE on every down day - the only buying catalyst in the past month have been hopes of more QE - made QE impossible? Observe the following chart from SocGen which shows 6 month forward equity vol. What is obvious is that due to precisely being priced in, QE is now virtually unfeasible, irrelevant of what Goldman and its "FLOW QE" model tell us. As SocGen simply states: "More stress is needed to trigger ample policy response."
Nobody could have possibly foreseen that the Guardian was literally pulling BS out of its ass:
- GERMAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL SAYS THERE WAS NO DISCUSSION TO BUY BONDS OF CRISIS HIT MEMBERS AT THE G-20 MEETING - RTRS
Have fun with this lunatic, patently fake news driven shitshow that the "market" has become. We are out.
Recently, there has been an intense debate in Europe on the TARGET2 system (Trans-European Automated Real-time Gross Settlement Express Transfer System 2), which is the joint gross clearing system of the eurozone the interpretation of this system and its balances has provoked divergent opinions. Some economists, most prominently Hans-Werner Sinn, have argued that TARGET2 amounts to a bailout system. Others have vehemently denied that. Philipp Bagus adresses the question of whether this 'mysterious' system, that we have been so vociferously discussing, simply amounts to an undercover bailout system for unsustainable living standards in the periphery? Concluding by comparing TARGET2, Eurobonds, and the ESM, he notes that all three 'devices' serve as a bailout system and form a tranfer union but governments prefer to hide the losses on taxpayers as long as possible and prefer the ECB to aliment deficits in the meantime.
Imagine a ship with 100 passengers and crew drifting down a river that eventually cascades over a 1,000 foot waterfall. It's easy to plot the ship's course and the waterfall ahead. You might think 100% of those onboard would agree that something drastic must be done to either reverse course or abandon ship, but before we jump to any conclusion we must first identify what each of the 100 people perceive as serving their self-interest. If life onboard is good for 55 of the 100, they may well rationalize away the waterfall dead ahead. Indeed, they might vote to maintain the current course, thus dooming the 45 others who can hear the thundering cascade ahead but who are powerless to change course in a democracy. This is the "tyranny of the majority" feared by some of the American Founding Fathers. I cannot locate reliable statistics on what percentage of the Greek population is dependent on the State for a paycheck, entitlement, retirement, disability, unemployment, etc., but I suspect the number exceeds the full-time private payroll of that nation. It seems likely that the number of voters in Greece who draw a check or benefit from the State exceeds the number of privately employed voters whose perception of self-interest is radically at odds with continuing State borrowing to fund the Status Quo. If 55% of the voting public is dependent on government spending, then they will vote to continue that spending regardless of its unsustainability.
What the MSM is missing is that Spain's failings make this real. Spain is big enough to bring down the whole shebang, right now, and its banks cannot be salvaged with just a hundred billion or so.