In the last few days we have seen reports suggesting Brazilian household debt and service payments are weighing on growth, that Southeast Asia’s commercial credit is approaching its pre-1997 financial crisis peak of 75% GDP, and that South Korea’s household debt has reached 164% of disposable income compared with 138% in the US at the start of the housing crisis. Chinese debt rose 15% in excess of GDP last year from 191% to 206%. Its corporate cash flow is around 50% of profitability whilst loan growth is way in excess of the banks’ return on equity meaning the growth is dependent on a continual supply of new capital to the banks. Over the last few years whilst the developed economies have struggled to reduce their debt relative to GDP – (the most successful of the major economies has probably been the US which has taken non-financial sector debt down from a high of 253.15% GDP to 248.18% GDP) – the developing economies have taken advantage of cheap funding to inflate their debt levels dramatically, leaving the global debt position worse than in 2007.. Some of the emerging market debt is relatively small and the necessary rebalancing of the economy should be relatively easy to achieve, but even if it is only a cyclical limit as oppose to the structural limits of the developed economies, it is coinciding at the same time and will add to the global problem. As data on world GDP growth would suggest, it is not just Brazil where the numbers show “the exhaustion of a growth model based on consumption”.
... And this time it is a true parabola.
See why Moody's downgrade of the UK credit rating is unlikely to impact the financial markets or UK policy. One of the sub-arguments is that the divergence between the US and UK monetary policy in recent months cannot explain sterling's slide in the foreign exchange market. Moreover, the UK's exports seem more inelastic to UK exports that the currency warriors would suggest.
This week's events show that the Chinese government realises that its stimulus efforts have got out of hand and its economy is in trouble.
From Citi's Steven Englander, who confirms what we said previously: the UK is now officially in the hands of the monetary apparatus, which is controlled by, you guessed it, yet another Vampire Squid tentacle.
And another AAA-club member quietly exits not with a bang but a whimper:
MOODY’S DOWNGRADES UK’S GOVERNMENT BOND RATING TO Aa1 FROM AAA
Someone must have clued Moody's on the fact that the UK is about to have its very own Goldman banker, which means consolidated debt/GDP will soon need four digits. In other news, every lawyer in the UK is now celebrating because come Monday Moody's will be sued to smithereens. Cable not happy as it tests 31 month lows, which however also explains why the Moody's action has another name: accelerated cable devaluation. Those who heeded our call to short Cable when Goldman's Mark Carney was appointed are now 1000 pips richer. Also, please sacrifice a lamb at the altar of Goldman: It's the polite thing to do.
While today's lower than expected LTRO repayment news was largely a strawman set by misguided expectations set under the impression that Europe is fixed (it isn't), and that the ECB is willing to witdraw excess liquidity (it isn't as the result was a spike in the EURUSD so high it got quite a few political officials talking the EUR down to prevent an export-sector crunch), there is a bigger issue facing Europe in the context of liquidity, and that is a maturity cliff of some €1.7 trillion over the next 3 years. As the chart below from Goldman shows, the excess LTRO cash remaining after today is a modest €807 billion, meaning that not even half the required prepayment capital can be funded outright. It is even worse when calculating the closed European Excess System cash in the second chart below, which also according to Goldman has declined to just under €400 billion. This means that while rolling the maturing debt is certainly an option, the incremental pick up in interest rates will mean far more cash leaves Europe's banks, which at a time when virtually not a single European bank can generate any positive cash from operations bank liquidity shortages will once again return.
Europe ends the week very mixed - as real macro data was dismal but sentiment and hope positive. Credit underperforming notably - especially financials - but equity indices varied from a 2% drop in Italy to a 1.8% gain for Switzerland (which seems like a squeeze given positioning). Italian bond spreads also suffered the most this week heading into the election - gaining 15bps. Portugal was the worst on the week with its spread to Bunds rising 18bps. The real news of the week is the EUR which extends its losses - down 1.5% on the week - to the biggest three-week drop in seven months. GBP weakened the most against the USD on the week - down 1.7% as currency wars progress. Europe's VIX closes at its highest of the year at 20.9% - up over 2 vols on the week.
For a country that laments the imposition of draconian "austerity" measures, now allegedly in their third year, which have so far seen government revenues slide, while spending rises, Spain sure has a problem with figuring out how it is supposed to work. Yet while the world was shocked back in December 2011 when Spain quietly announced its budget deficit would jump from 6% to 8.5%, before finally settling on 8.9% of GDP, today's announcement that the 2012 Spanish deficit was a whopping 10.2% of 2012 GDP hardly caused any commotion. Apologists will quickly say that this budget gap was boosted by the 3.2% increase due to setting up the bad bank, and rolling bank bailouts, and of course they will be right: just as all those economists were right to say that when one excludes all the negatives, US Q4 GDP was in fact positive. Or, indeed, as Goldman said to ignore this week's negative initial claims and new housing starts data: after all they too were negative. In fact, when one excludes all the negative trading days in 2013, the stock market has not had a down day yet. As for Spain, too bad the country can't have its broke bank cake and eat the budget surplus that would result "if only" things were different.
- Spain’s Deficit Widened to 10.2% on Bank-Rescue Cost (BBG) - or as Rajoy would say, when one excludes all negatives, it was a surplus
- Monti Austerity Pushes Italians Toward Parliament Upheaval (BBG)
- Russia accuses U.S. of double standards over Syria (Reuters)
- Euro Area to Shrink in 2013 as Unemployment Rises (BBG)
- UK, China central banks to discuss currency swap line (Reuters)
- Italy Court Rejects Challenge to Bailout of Monte Paschi (BBG)
- Japan's Abe to showcase alliance, get Obama to back Abenomics (Reuters)
- Russia’s missing billions revealed (FT)
- China Home-Price Gains May Presage Policy Tightening (BBG)
- Fed unlikely to curtail stimulus despite rising doubts (Reuters)
- Banks face fines up to 30 per cent of revenues (FT) - just as soon as Basel III is passed (i.e., never)
- J.C. Penney Can Raise Billions Under Revised Credit Line (BBG)
- Cost of Dropping Citizenship Keeps U.S. Earners From Exit (BBG)
A listless overnight session with just the previously noted first disappointing LTRO-2 repayment and the now traditional big beat out of the "other" German confidence indicator, IFO, which beat expectations of 104.9, rising to a 10 month high of 107.4 to attempt to push the economy out of the recessionary slump (just don't mention yesterday's PMI), and nothing on today's US calendar is a fitting way to end the week, and further shows that markets are once more completely oblivious to the risks of the Hung Parliament outcome that this weekend may bring in Italy should the Berlusconi juggernaut maintain its momentum. The EURUSD and the US futures have disconnected once more, with almost all of yesterday's market weakness filled in the overnight session as the good old low-volume levitation returns. Here are the few news items worth reporting.
Stanley Druckenmiller: "We Have An Entitlement Problem" And One Day The Fed's Hamster Wheel Will StopSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/21/2013 18:04 -0500
Two and a half years ago, George Soros' former partner Stanley Druckenmiller closed shop when he shut down his iconic Duquesne Management, after generating 30% average annual returns since 1986. Some time later he raised many red flags by being one of the first "establishment" types to expose the Fed's take over of the market when he said in a rare May 2011 interview that "It's not a free market. It's not a clean market.... The market isn't saying anything about the future. It's saying there's a phony buyer of $19 billion of Treasurys a week." This was in the context of the constantly declining interest rates on an ever exploding US debt load. And while back then total debt was a "manageable" $14.3 trillion, as of today it is some $2.3 trillion higher moments ago printing at a fresh record high of $16.6 trillion, not surprisingly the phony buyer is still here only now he is buying not $19 billion by over $20 billion in total debt each week. But just like it was the relentless rise in the US debt that forced him out of his privacy in the public scene back then, so it was also the US debt that was also the topic of his rare CNBC appearance today (where he fiercely poked at all those other TV chatterbox pundits when he said "money managers should manage money and not go on shows like this") in the aftermath of his recent WSJ Op-Ed. There, he once again said what everyone knows but is scared to admit: "we have an entitlement problem."
Gold has come under pressure from heavy liquidation by hedge funds and banks on the COMEX this week. The unusual and often 'not for profit' nature of the selling, at the same time every day this week, has again led to suspicions of market manipulation.
Gold’s ‘plunge’ is now headline news which is bullish from a contrarian perspective. As is the fact that many of the same people who have been claiming gold is a bubble since it was $1,000/oz have again been covering gold after periods of silence.
The President's proposals are gimmicks to hide debt.
To say that Germany does not love Silvio Berlusconi would be an understatement. But not even we thought European "democracy" would stoop so low as to tell Italians not to bring Bunga back or else. As Reuters reports, the German president of the European Parliament, once compared to a Nazi concentration camp guard by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, warned Italians on Thursday not to back the scandal-ridden media tycoon at the ballot box. Martin Schulz is the latest in a line of German politicians to express fears about a possible Berlusconi comeback largely due to worries he will halt Rome's reform drive that has helped to lift investor confidence in the euro zone. "Silvio Berlusconi has already sent Italy into a tailspin with irresponsible behavior in government and personal escapades," Schulz was quoted as saying in German daily Bild.