ETC

rcwhalen's picture

We will only learn about currency risk exposures as and when the creditors disclose same to investors.  In the meantime, we’ll have lots of fun watching media spin their wheels over the game of “find the risk”

In Europe, It's All About The Bank (Run)

The word 'encumbrance' has received a lot of headlines in the last few months - and rightfully so - after we pointed out the impact that LTROs had in subordinating senior creditors of European banks. As Morgan Stanley points out, this is a considerable problem for bondholders as 'in a wind-down scenario, senior unsecured holders have recourse to fewer assets and hence face a higher loss given default (LGD)'. In understanding just how bad things are for European banks, it is important to focus on 'how much loss-absorbing capital there is beneath you in the bank’s liability stack, as this is the capital that will take losses before senior creditors in the event of a bail-in' which means looking at deposits as well as secured encumbrance. What is very apparent from the pictorial representations of banks’ liability structures is that rather than encumbrance from covered bonds/LTRO etc. the bigger issue for encumbrance of senior unsecured investors is the potential threat from depositor 'runs'. The hope of another LTRO is limited by collateral as policy-makers are well aware that, in a world where failing banks are to be resolved through resolution frameworks and senior creditors are to take losses to shield taxpayers’ funds, banks may not have enough ‘bail-in-able’ debt, given their growing reliance on secured funding sources. With deposits increasingly impaired - and/or the potential for contagious bank runs if we see Grexit, Europe's problem is 'all about the bank runs' now and we were told yesterday how far off that is - though the crisis 'event' may bring deposit guarantees (and the implicit exchange of sovereignty for monetary support) sooner.

Guest Post: The E.U., Neofeudalism And The Neocolonial-Financialization Model

Forget "austerity"and political theater--the only way to truly comprehend the Eurozone is to understand the Neocolonial-Financialization Model, as that's the key dynamic of the Eurozone. In the old model of Colonialism, the colonizing power conquered or co-opted the Power Elites of the region, and proceeded to exploit the new colony's resources and labor to enrich the "center," i.e. the home empire. In Neocolonialism, the forces of financialization (debt and leverage controlled by State-approved banking cartels) are used to indenture the local Elites and populace to the banking center: the peripheral "colonials" borrow money to buy the finished goods sold by the "core," doubly enriching the center with 1) interest and the transactional "skim" of financializing assets such as real estate, and 2) the profits made selling goods to the debtors.

In essence, the "core" nations of the E.U. colonized the "peripheral" nations via the financializing euro, which enabled a massive expansion of debt and consumption in the periphery.

Regulatory Capital: Size And How You Use It Both Matter

Bank Regulatory Capital has been in the news a lot recently - between the $1+ trillion Basel 3 shortfall, the Spanish banks with seemingly their own set of capital issues, or JPM's snafu.  There has been a lot of discussion about Too Big To Fail (“TBTF”) in the U.S. with regulators demanding more and banks fighting it.  After JPM's surprise loss this month, the debate over the proper regulatory framework and capital requirements will reach a fever pitch.  That is great, but maybe it is also time to step back and think about what capital is supposed to do, and with that as a guideline, think of rules that make sense. Specifically, regulatory capital, or capital adequacy, or just plain capital needs to address the worst of eventual loss and potential mark to market loss. Hedges are once again front and center.  The only "perfect" hedge is selling an asset. This "hedge" is also a trade.  The risk profile looks very different than having sold the loan and the capital should reflect that.

Phoenix Capital Research's picture

 

In plain terms, by mid-June, Greece could very well be controlled by an anti-austerity, anti-bailout party that wants to completely do away with the second Greek bailout (which means a potential disorderly default). This actually is the best possible outcome for Greece as the alternative is outright anarchy. Remember, Greece has gone through two Governments since its Crisis began: one was the long-standing President, the other was an EU-appointed bureaucrat.

Welcome To Chez Central Planner: Presenting The Complete Fed/ECB Response Menu

We will start with an appetizer of Liquidity Tenders and Securities Market Program Bond Purchases, move on to a plate of Emergency Liquidity Assistance, sample a pre-entre of Pro-Growth measures and ECB Covered Bond purchases, dive into an entre of Fed Swap Lines, medium rare, with a side of Emergency Liquidity Assistance, and finally unwind with a desert plate of Firewalls. To close we will dream of tomorrow' menu which some say may feature the mythical Eurobonds and even the, gasp, legendary Europan Bank Deposit Guarantee... Please charge it all to the taxpayer, of course.

Guest Post: Dollar Backwardation

The current financial crisis, may progress to a phase where people demand and hoard dollar bills but take electronic deposit credits only at a discount which increases until electronic deposit credits are repudiated entirely. The Federal Reserve would be powerless to solve the problem, because while they can create unlimited electronic deposit credits they can’t create unlimited paper dollar bills, “money you can fold” as Professor Antal Fekete calls it. There would be a glut of electronic deposits, but a shortage of dollar bills. Before the financial crisis metastasized in 2008, Fekete wrote a paper that I think is underappreciated and under-discussed: "Can We Have Inflation and Deflation at the Same Time?" In his paper, he discussed the “tectonic rift” between paper Federal Reserve Notes (i.e. dollar bills) and electronic deposits. By statute, the Federal Reserve cannot print dollar bills without collateral (e.g. Treasury bonds). Also, they have limited printing press capacity that is insufficient to keep up with a catastrophic crisis.

Phoenix Capital Research's picture

The “austerity” and “growth” to which EU leaders refer are simply two sides of the same coin: that of assuming that massive problems can be dealt with superficially. It’s akin to polishing the brass on the Titanic as it sinks: in the short term, you’re making a small difference, but in the big picture, you’re ignoring the very real, enormous problem you need to tackle.

 

Guest Post: Feedback, Unintended Consequences And Global Markets

All models of non-linear complex systems are crude because they attempt to model millions of interactions with a handful of variables. When it comes to global weather or global markets, our ability to predict non-linear complex systems with what amounts to mathematical tricks (algorithms, etc.) is proscribed by the fundamental limits of the tricks.  Projecting current trends is also an erratic and inaccurate method of prediction. The current trend may continue or it may weaken or reverse. "The Way of the Tao is reversal," but gaming life's propensity for reversal with contrarian thinking is not sure-fire, either. If it was that easy to predict the future of markets, we'd all be millionaires. Part of the intrinsic uncertainty of the future is visible in unintended consequences. The Federal Reserve, for example, predicted that lowering interest rates to zero and paying banks interest on their deposits at the Federal Reserve would rebuild bank reserves by slight-of-hand. Banks would then start lending to qualified borrowers, and the economy would recover strongly as a result.

They were wrong on every count.

Chinese Buyers Defaulting On Commodity Shipments As Prices Plunge

One can come up with massively complicated explanations for why the Chinese commodity bubble is popping including inventory of various colors, repos, etc, but when all is said and done, the explanation is quite simple, and is reminiscent of what happened in the US with housing back in 2007: everyone was convinced prices would only go up, and underlying assets was pledged as debt collateral at > 100 LTV... and then everything blew up. Precisely the same thing is happening in China right now, where buyers of commodities thought prices could only go up, up, up and instead got a nasty surprise: prices went down. Big. As a result, many are not even waiting for their orders to come in, but are defaulting on orders with shipments en route.

Guest Post: Spain's Public Servants: A Lifetime Of Serfdom

The Spanish government has promised to reform the public sector to make it thinner and more efficient. In practice, however, the political machinery based on spoils is being kept intact while some very critical public functions are coming apart at the seams. This results, for example, in overcrowded courts with insufficient staff and resources that bear no resemblance to a developed nation's judiciary. Angry and less motivated public employees feel robbed of their dignity and pockets while the general population’s dissatisfaction with tax-draining, yet increasingly inefficient, public services grows. Public workers fear a new wave of cuts in their salaries as a result of the debt-laden regional governments’ asking for more "solidarity" from those who have a secure job. Naturally, in a nation with almost 6 million unemployed, public servants will not find much support from society if they opt to go on strikes to protest additional salary cutbacks. Just how far is the government willing to make itself redundant, especially in a time of economic crisis? Does Spain need state-journalists working for state-owned radio and television stations (there are 48 public television stations across the country)? How about the double, triple and sometimes quadruple existence of government officials and agencies due to layers and layers of local, regional and central government institutions? Unions and political parties sustained with taxpayers' money? As far as public servants are concerned, more and more are realizing that a false concept of merit astutely devised by mediocre politicians secured them not a job for life, but a lifetime of serfdom.

On Europe And The United States Of Facebook And JPM

The policy responses and hints of policy responses are starting to come out.  What will they be, how big will they be, and what will they accomplish remains to be seen, but the market is due to rally on almost anything. We expect some announcements out of Europe.  A policy shift towards “growth” and some new ECB plans. We don’t think they will work well, especially if they don’t address the root of depositor fear in Spain, Ireland, Portugal, and Italy, but with so many indicators pointing to oversold conditions, the markets could snap back, and that is the way Peter Tchir of TF Market Advisors is leaning.