Here come the revisionists with new malarkey about the 2008 financial crisis. No less august a forum than the New York Times today carries a front page piece by journeyman financial reporter James Stewart suggesting that Lehman Brothers was solvent; could and should have been bailed out; and that the entire trauma of the financial crisis and Great Recession might have been avoided or substantially mitigated. That is not just meretricious nonsense; its a measure of how thoroughly corrupted public discourse about the fundamental financial and economic realities of the present era has become owing to the cult of central banking. The great error of September 2008 was not in failing to bailout Lehman. It was in providing a $100 billion liquidity hose to Morgan Stanley and an even larger one to Goldman. They too were insolvent. That was the essence of their business model. Fed policies inherently generate runs, and then it stands ready with limitless free money to rescue the gamblers. You can call that pragmatism, if you like. But don’t call it capitalism.
The only thing that can be said about Janet Yellen’s simple-minded paint-by-the-numbers performance yesterday is that the Keynesian apotheosis is complete. American capitalism and all political life, too, is now ruled by a 12-member monetary politburo, which is essentially accountable to no one except its own misbegotten doctrine that prosperity flows from the end of a printing press.
Let the fun begin.
It is widely known that Russia is owed billions by Ukraine for already-delivered gas (as we noted earlier, leaving Gazprom among the most powerful players in this game). It is less widely know that Russia also hold $3b of UK law bonds which, as we explained in detail here, are callable upon certain covenants that any IMF (or US) loan bailout will trigger. Russia has 'quasi' promised not to call those loans. It is, until now, hardly known at all (it would seem) that China is also owed $3bn, it claims, for loans made for future grain delivery to China. It would seem clear from this action on which side of the 'sanctions' fence China is sitting.
Russia Hints It May Force Ukraine Into Default, "May Ask Ukraine For Its $20 Billion Share For Ex-Soviet Debt"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/17/2014 13:08 -0400
Rook to G7, check.
- KYIV DEEMS THE ISSUE OF SOVIET-ERA DEBTS UNSETTLED, MOSCOW RESERVES THE RIGHT TO INSIST THAT UKRAINE REPAY $20 BILLION TO RUSSIA - RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY
- RUSSIA MAY ASK UKRAINE TO PAY ITS $20B SHARE FOR EX-SOVIET DEBT
Pidgeon playing checkers response time.
While most understand that Ukraine owes Russia a few billion here or there for its energy bills that are past due, there is a more concerning issue. The Ukraine owes $3 billion to Russia in bonds that have been issued under UK law. One of the stipulations of the bonds is that if the Ukraine's debt-to-GDP ratio should exceed 60%, the bonds will become immediately callable. Once the Ukraine gets funding from the IMF, this is of course going to happen right away – its debt-to-GDP ratio will then most definitely exceed 60%, so the first $3 billion of any aid the Ukraine receives in the form of loans will right away flow into Russia's coffers. The American and European tax cows will no doubt be thrilled.
The German election is over and the confrontation over the US debt ceiling has ended, so event risk should be minimal, right? Not so fast, UBS' Mike Schumacher warns - plenty of pitfalls could trip markets. Forward-looking measures of 'risk' are beginning to show some signs of less-than-exuberance reflected in all-time-highs across all US equity indices and if previous episodes of 'low-vol' are any guide, the current complacency is long in the tooth... no matter how 'top-heavy' stocks become; bloated by the flow of heads-bulls-win-tails-bears-lose ambivalence...
This is probably the most painful bug report I’ve ever read, describing in glorious technicolor the steps leading to Knight Capital’s $460m trading loss due to a software bug that struck late last year, effectively bankrupting the company. The tale has all the hallmarks of technical debt in a huge, unmaintained, bit-rotten codebase (the bug itself due to code that hadn’t been used for almost 9 years), and a really poor, undisciplined dev-ops story.
Today we present the Target2-system and the fiscal bail-out facilities in our series on European efforts to bail out itself. For new readers, check out part 1 here http://bawerk.net/?p=123
On the even of Bastille Weekend and the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France, you know it must be bad when the French-company-owned ratings agency Fitch is forced to remove its AAA rating from France. Key drivers include Debt-to-GDP projections rising and substantially weaker economic output and forecasts. Full statement below...
The Fed’s zero lower bound policies have dislodged credit risk as the primary concern for investors, only to replace it with a major technical headache: interest rate risk. If rates remain too low for too long, financial stability suffers as investors reach for yield, companies lever up, and lending standards decline. The greatest of financial stability risks is probably the least discussed among those that matter at the Fed: the deterioration in trading volumes. As such, we suspect that the longer low rates persist, the worse the unwind of QE may be. And it may, in fact, already be too late. As events in the past two weeks have shown, credit markets also appear vulnerable to a rise in rates that occurs too quickly or in a chaotic fashion. Moreover, to the extent that issuers sense demand may be waning for bonds, there’s a distinct possibility the pace of supply increases precisely at the same time that demand decreases. Invariably, it’s this sort of dynamic that ends in tears.
Do you need a break from public policy buzzwords? Are you happy to go back to the days when cliffs were discussed occasionally on the National Geographic channel but not analyzed ad nauseum on CNBC? Are you tired of reading about austerity, austerians, anti-austerians and austeresis? You’ve come to the right place. “How long have we been deleveraging?” – I’ll answer “zero years.” As in, what deleveraging? We haven’t even gotten started yet.
S&P futures are bleeding back down again after-hours (and EUR -30pips) as Moody's announces the downgrade of the EFSF and ESM from AAA to Aa1. "Moody's decision was driven by the recent downgrade of France to Aa1 from Aaa and the high correlation in credit risk which Moody's believes is present among the ESFS' and ESM's entities' largest financial supporters." Of course, this is nothing to worry about as we are sure that some Middle East sovereign wealth fund will still buy their bonds? Or China? Or Supervalu?
- *MOODY'S DOWNGRADES ESM TO Aa1 FROM Aaa, EFSF TO (P)Aa1 FROM Aaa
Not entirely surprising given the underlying rating moves - but yet more AAA-rated collateral bites the dust.
Europe just can't catch a break these days. While French Fitch naturally came out earlier with a AAA rating and a stable outlook, it is Moody's, which has yet to follow through in S&P's footsteps 14 months later and tell the truth about America's AAA rating, that moments ago spoiled the ESM "inauguration" party by branding it AAA, but with a Negative outlook. So much for the most 'supersecure' CDO on earth: looks like we are not the only ones to assign comical value to the ESM's €80 billion first loss "Paid-in" tranche. Because that 12% in buffered protection can disappear very quick if and when the central planners lose control.
Now that the ESM has been officially inaugurated, to much pomp and fanfare out of Europe this morning, many are wondering not so much where the full debt backstop funding of the instrument will come from (it is clear that in a closed-loop Ponzi system, any joint and severally liable instrument will need to get funding from its joint and severally liable members), as much as where the equity "paid-in" capital will originate, since in Europe all but the AAA-rated countries are insolvent, and current recipients of equity-level bailouts from the "core." As a reminder, as part of the ESM's synthetic structure, the 17 member countries have to fund €80 billion of paid-in capital (i.e. equity buffer) which in turn serves as a 11.4% first loss backstop for the remainder of the €620 billion callable capital (we have described the CDO-like nature of the ESM before on many occasions in the past). The irony of a country like Greece precommiting to a €19.7 billion capital call, or Spain to €83.3 billion, or Italy to €125.4 billion, is simply beyond commentary. Obviously by the time the situation gets to the point where the Greek subscription of €20 billion is the marginal European rescue cash, it will be game over. The hope is that it never gets to that point. There is, however, some capital that inevitably has to be funded, which even if nominal, may prove to be a headache for the "subscriber" countries. The payment schedule of that capital "invoicing" has been transformed from the original ESM document, and instead of 5 equal pro rata annual payments has been accelerated to a 40%, 40%, 20% schedule. And more importantly, "The first two instalments (€32 billion) will be paid in within 15 days of ESM inauguration." In other words, October 23 is the deadline by which an already cash-strapped Spain, has to pay-in the 40% of its €9.5 billion, or €3.8 billion, contribution, or else.