One of the central premises of CDS is that the “basis” package should work. An investor should be able to buy a bond, and buy CDS to the same maturity and expect to get paid close to par – either by the bond being repaid at par and the CDS expiring worthless, or through a Credit Event, where the price of the bonds the investor owns plus the CDS settlement amount add up to close to par. The settlement of the Greek CDS contracts worked well, but that was pure dumb luck. This leaves playing the basis in Portuguese bonds and CDS as a much riskier proposition than before Europe's PSI/ECB decisions - and perhaps explains why at over 300bps, it has not been arbitraged fully away - though today's rally in Portugal bonds suggests a new marginal buyer which given the basis compression suggests they may be getting more comfortable.
This week brings policy decisions in Taiwan and Thailand. The CBC decision will be very interesting to watch. The December statement at the time was surprisingly hawkish, only to be followed by a large upside surprise in inflation, and the TWD was subsequently allowed to appreciate. Given that the bank continues to view inflation as a major problem, according to quotes from Reuters, it will be very interesting to see how the bank weighs up concerns about hot money inflows vs the need to contain inflation risks. In particular, in the face of imported inflation pressures via higher commodity prices, many central banks may shift towards accepting the need for more currency strength. The week also brings some important central bank commentary. The RBA governor has an opportunity to opine on the recent slew of weak Australian data, as well as developments in the A$. There is quite a bit of commentary from Fed officials on the docket, including from Bernanke, which we will dissect for information on the further direction of policy. More dovish commentary than that of the FOMC last week, would arguably be a surprise and potentially dampen, if not reverse some of the moves of last week.
The persistent negative investment flows at U.S. listed mutual funds specializing in domestic stocks is one of the most important long-term trends catalyzed by the Financial Crisis. AUM has dropped by $473 billion since January 2007 despite the S&P 500 Index’s essentially flat performance over this period. The news is no better since the beginning of 2012 – despite the ongoing rally in domestic equities – with $6.8 billion of further outflows year to date. In today’s note Nic Colas, of ConvergEx analyzes what will reverse this trend along two vectors: the desire and ability of individuals to invest. The rally in risk assets, along with declining actual volatility, is the best hope for a reversal in money flow trends. Offsetting that factor are continued stresses on household budgets and consumer psychology combined with problematic demographic trends. Bottom line: domestic money flows have likely become more economically sensitive than in previous cycles.
This cannot be the right course for us to take in the wake of such a widely recognized crisis. The lack of purposeful outrage is deafening. We cannot restore lasting stability to our economy and society unless we are willing to face up to what we did wrong, right it, and throw out the bums who put us there. Without that, the pattern of ever escalating crisis and interventionist, market-distorting solutions will surely lead to a bigger crisis still ahead... Perhaps the most important symbol of our failure to address reform are the pictures accompanying much of the coverage of Greg Smith’s letter, those of a power-posing Blankfein and Cohn, who without the Government’s accommodation might be striking a very different pose, indeed. You want to sign on to Mr. Smith’s army in joint distaste for Goldman’s lost culture? Please, be my guest. But more deserving of your enmity is the insidious co-option of the core premise of capitalism by a handful of people to ensure the banks’ undeserved survival, and their managers’ really nice lifestyle.
We have long argued that at its core, modern society, at least on a mathematical basis - the one which ultimately trumps hopium every single time - is fatally flawed due to the existence, and implementation, of the concept of modern "welfare" - an idea spawned by Otto von Bismarck in the 1870s, and since enveloped the globe in various forms of transfer payments which provide the illusion of a social safety net, dangles the carrot of pension, health, and retirement benefits, and in turn converts society into a collage of blank faces, calm as Hindu cows. Alas, the cows will promptly become enraged bulls once they realize that all that has been promised to them in exchange for their docility and complacency has... well... vaporized. It is at that point that the final comprehension would dawn, that instead of a Welfare State, it has been, as Bill Buckler terms it, a Hardship State all along. Below we present the latest views from the captain of The Privateer on what the insoluble dilemma of the welfare state is, and what the key problems that the status quo will face with its attempts at perpetuating this lie.
Who's more foolish, the fool, or the fool who follows him?
A few days after the one year anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, nobody talks about it anymore. After all it's "fixed", and if it isn't, the Fed will fix it. Remember in the New Normal nothing bad is allowed the happen. So for those who have forgotten, here is a reminder.
Eventually, people will discover that they cannot save in terms of dollars (those who don’t figure it out will be rendered economically irrelevant as their wealth is removed from their hands). Savings is a necessary prerequisite for investment. Investment is necessary for companies to grow, to develop new technologies, products, and markets. Growth is necessary to hire new workers. As existing companies achieve higher productivity of labor, and do not need as many workers to perform the same work, they lay off unneeded people. In a free market, the unemployed would quickly be hired by growing companies that expand and develop new businesses. But today’s structurally high unemployment can be traced back to Friedman’s quack prescription (among other government interference). Weakening the currency not only discourages savings, it also weakens businesses who have to keep the currency on their balance sheet and who have to import some of their inputs. When a currency loses value, then all who hold it incur a loss. It is not possible to employ workers and run a business in a country without holding significant amounts of its currency. Currency debasement therefore imposes constant losses on enterprises that try to operate in such an environment.
Terminated CBO Whistleblower Shares Her Full Story With Zero Hedge, Exposes Deep Conflicts At "Impartial" Budget OfficeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/15/2012 22:05 -0400
Yet another whistleblower has stepped up, this time one already known to the general public, and one that Zero Hedge covered just over a month ago: we refer to the case of former CBO worker, Lan T. Pham, who, as the WSJ described in early February, "alleges she was terminated [by the CBO] after 2½ months for sharing pessimistic outlooks for the banking and housing sectors in 2010" and who "alleges supervisors stifled opinions that contradicted economic fixes endorsed by some on Wall Street, including research from a Morgan Stanley economist who served as a CBO adviser." As we observed in February, "what is most troubling is if indeed the CBO is nothing but merely another front for Wall Street to work its propaganda magic on the administration. Because at the core of every policy are numbers, usually with dollar signs in front of them, numbers which have to make sense and have to be projected into the future, no matter how grossly laughable the resultant hockeystick." As it turns out, somewhat expectedly, the WSJ version of events was incomplete. There is much more to this very important story, one which has major implications over "impartial" policy decisionmaking, and as a result, Ms. Pham has approached Zero Hedge to share her full story with the public.
Relatively quiet overnight session in the markets, where Europe has seen several bond auctions, most notably in France and Spain, whose good results has in turn sent the German 30 Year Bund yield to the highest since December 12, all courtesy of the recently printed (and collateralized with second and third-hand Trojans) $1.3 trillion. Per BBG, Spain sold 976 million euros of 3.25 percent notes due April 2016 at an average yield of 3.37 percent. The bid-to-cover ratio was 4.13, compared with 2.21 when the notes were sold in January, the Bank of Spain said in Madrid today. It also auctioned 2015 and 2018 securities. France sold 3.26 billion euros of benchmark five-year debt at an average yield of 1.78 percent. The borrowing cost for the 1.75 percent note due in February 2017 was less than the yield of 1.93 percent at the previous sale of the securities on Feb. 16. Elsewhere, we got confirmation of the collapse in Greece, where Q4 unemployment rose to 20.7%, up from 17.7% in the prior quarter. China weighed on Asian market action again following ongoing concerns about domestic property curbs, and a slide in the Chinese Foreign Direct Investment of -0.9% on Exp of +14.6%. ECB deposit facility usage, primarily by German banks, was flattish at €686.4 billion, while in Keynesian news, Italian debt rose to a new record in January of €1.936 trillion. Watch this space, once inflection point occurs and vigilantes realize that not only has nothing been fixed in Italy, but the current account situation in Italy, and Spain, is getting progressively worse as shown yesterday, all at the expense of Germany.
The current situation within the European Union should not be a surprise to anyone.
The general dogma seems to be that the recent Treasury weakness reflects either a) risk-averse bondholders rotating to stocks because everything is fixed and it seems better to buy something at its highs than its lows? or b) China is punishing us for the rare-metals challenge. We posit an alternative, less conspiracy-theory, less-conventional-wisdom (who is buying the Treasuries you are selling and who is selling the stocks you are buying reprise) perspective on the recent Treasury weakness. Its supply-and-demand stupid. The last few weeks have seen massive, record-breaking amounts of investment grade USD-based corporate bond issuance, at the same time dealer inventories for corporate bonds are at multi-year lows and Treasury holdings at all-time-highs. In general to underwrite the massive corporate bond issuance, dealers will place rate-locks (or short Treasuries/Swaps in various ways) to control the yield and sell the idea of the 'spread' to clients (which is where most real-money buyers will be focused on value. We suggest that the almost unprecedented corporate issuance and therefore need for rate-locks has provided a significant offer for Treasuries that the dealers (who are loaded) and the Fed (who is only minimally involved) was unable to suppress. The key question, going forward, is whether the expectations of a much lower issuance calendar will relieve this marginal offer in Treasuries and allow rates to revert back down?
Greece just defaulted. Again. No surprise - the country has been in default half the time since 1820. Curiously, Greece is also the first recorded sovereign defaulted as Art Cashin notes in his piece today. He also reminds us that the UK's plans to return the 100 Year bond are nothing new. In fact, the Consol, or the UK perpetual, was around in the 1700's. Things did not work out very well back then...