The hoaxes remain and grow more cumbersome and obvious every day - and yet, the headline-reading machines and self-referentially-biased managers of stocks justify just one more BTFD episode. To wit, Mark Grant discusses the Greek buyback debacle with its political (and entirely not economic) mandate, noting "Mr. Draghi knows the truth and Ms. Lagarde knows the truth and their credibility is whacked once again;" Berlusconi's potential return in Italy and the hoax of any pretense of an entente cordiale re-emerging between north and south flies out the window; the 'tax the rich' hoax as a solution for years of profligate spending and the 'then vs us' meme that is increasingly spewed forth from DC; and the ultimate hoax of Bernanke's money printing morasse. Happy Monday.
- Central Banks Ponder Going Beyond Inflation Mandates (BBG)
- Bloomberg Weighs Making Bid for The Financial Times (NYT)
- Hedge Funds Fall Out of Love with Equities (FT)
- Obama and Boehner resume US fiscal cliff talks (FT)
- Italy Front-Runner Vows Steady Hand (WSJ)
- Spanish Bailout Caution Grows as Business Lobbies Back Rajoy (BBG)
- Japan sinks into fresh recession (Reuters)
- China economic recovery intact, but weak exports drag (Reuters)
- Greece extends buyback offer to reach target (Reuters) ... but on Friday they promised it was done
- Basel Liquidity Rule May Be Watered Down Amid Crisis (BBG) ... just before they are scrapped
- Irish, Greek Workers Seen Suffering Most in 2013 Amid EU Slump (BBG)
In a perfect trifecta of disappointment, overnight we had reality reassert itself with a thud as first Japan reported weaker than expected GDP which contracted for a second consecutive quarter and which technically sent the country into yet another recession, merely the latest one in its 30+ year deflationary collapse. Which isn't about to get better: "Analysts expect another quarter of contraction in the final three months of this year due to sluggish exports to China, keeping the Bank of Japan under pressure to loosen monetary policy as early as this month." Of course, there is hope that the new, old PM, Abe will restore money trees and unicorns and get Japan to a 3% inflation target, without somehow destroying bank and insurance co balance sheets in the process, all of which are loaded to the gills with JGBs set to collapse should inflation truly return. Then after Japan, China reported miserable trade data, which flatly refuted all hopes of an economic pick up both in the mainland and across the world. Perhaps the reason China can not openly fudge its trade data, unlike its GDP, inflation, retail sales, industrial production and all those other indicators that none other than the incoming head of government Li Keqiang said are for "reference only" (a fact conveiently ignored when they are all going up, and duly noted when China is self-reportedly sliding) because other countries report the counterparty data and it is very easy to catch China lying in this particular case. And finally there was Europe...
News of greater political uncertainty in Italy and poor European data is spurring risk-off moves, with the dollar and yen firmer, emerging market currencies mostly softer, global equity markets lower and core bonds a bit firmer.
Following much weaker than expected German industrial production figures last week has been followed in kind by disappointing French and Italian output figures today. Italy reported a 1.1% decline. The consensus was for a 0.2% decline and the Sept series was revised lower. French output fell 0.7%. The consensus was for a 0.3% increase. Yet it is really the Italian political scene that is the key driver today with the benchmark 10-year yield up more than 30 bp, dragging up peripheral yields generally. Italian shares have been particularly hard hit and a couple of banks were limit down and stopped trading.
This week is the last before the holiday mood sets in. We identify ten considerations that will drive the capital markets.
Obamacare - There was a significant “drafting” mistake in the original legislation.
Bloomberg's Joshua Zumbrun has released a much overdue, MSM apocryphal, somewhat realistic outlook on the endspiel of Bernanke's central planning: i.e., the unwind of the Fed's balance sheet that from just under $3 trillion will reach $5 trillion by the end of 2014. We say "somewhat" because the conclusion in the article is that there is some hope still for an orderly wind down of the Fed's assets without a complete market collapse. The reality is that there is no such hope.
We face one of the deepest crises in history. A prognosis for the economic future requires a deepening of the concepts of inflation and deflation. Inflation is a political phenomenon because monetary aggregates are not determined by market forces but are planned by central banks in agreement with governments. Inflation is a tax affecting all real incomes. Inflation is a precondition of extreme deflation: depression. Should in fact the overall debt collapse, there would be an extreme deflation or depression because the money aggregate would contract dramatically. In fact the money equivalent to the defaulted debt would literally vanish. It is for this reason that central banks monetize new debt at a lower interest rates, raising its value. All the financial bubbles and the mass of derivatives are just the consequence of debt monetization. How will this all end? In history, debt monetization has always produced hyperinflation. In Western countries, despite the exponential debt a runaway inflation has not yet occurred. Monetary policy has only inflated the financial sector, starving the private one, which is showing a bias towards a deflationary depression. Unfortunately governments and banks will go for more inflation. As history teaches, besides money the freedom of citizens can also be the victim.
The market continues to track the same pattern it performed going into the failed debt ceiling talks of July 2011. As you’ll recall, then as is the case now, US politicians failed to reach a credible solution to the US’s debt problems. What followed was a credit rating downgrade and a market collapse.
Increasingly it is appearing that all those things formerly considered "fixed", are not. Latest case in point, Egypt where despite the general population's very finite attention span having been fully exhausted on all things Cairo-related back in the spring of 2011, the locals counterrevolutionary natives are once more getting restless and absent some miracle, the days of the US puppet appointed "democrat"-cum-self appointed dictator Mursi are numbered.
As of September 30, the household balance sheet had total assets of $78.2 trillion, of which just $24.6 trillion was in the form of tangible assets (Real Estate, Durable Goods and other), or under one third of total. The balance, or $53.6 trillion, comprising of deposits, corporates, mutual funds, pension funds and other assets, was all in one way or another tied into the stock market and the viability of the financial sector. One can see why with over two thirds of total household assets embedded in the stock market Bernanke will never allow stocks to go down, even if that means monetizing every last one of them (after he is done with all fixed income of course). On the liability side, total debt remained flat with Home Mortgages declining by $0.1 trillion, primarily as a result of discharges, offset by $0.1 trillion increase in Consumer debt. Net result: household net worth at September 30, 2012 for the world's wealthiest nation was $64.8 trillion, or back to where it was in Q4 2006. Somewhere, someone's mouth is watering profusely at the mere though of applying a uniform tax on all household assets...
Forget the perfectly anticipated Greek (selective) default. This is the real deal. The FT just released a blockbuster that Europe's most important and significant bank, Deutsche Bank, hid $12 billion in losses during the financial crisis, helping the bank avoid a government bail-out, according to three former bank employees who filed complaints to US regulators. US regulators, whose chief of enforcement currently was none other than the General Counsel of Deutsche Bank at the time!
To think it took a really ugly economic number, such as the Services PMI reported last night, to stir the Chinese stock market out of a hypnotic drift lower, and push it up by 2.7%. Why? Because in the New Normal bad economic news means hope that central banks get involved, and as we have explained the ongoing SHCOMP collapse is purely a function of the PBOC remaining on the sidelines. Last night, rumors (very unfounded and very incorrect) that the central bank would intervene put a stop to the drop. Sadly, as the PBOC has no intention of ending its ultra-short term reverse-repo driven market support strategy, the bounce will be very short lived. However, that coupled with more jawboning out of the BOJ that it would act, if it has to (whether under Abe or Noda), sent the JPY even weaker, and futures ramping on tiny overnight volume which wiped out all the previous day's losses.
I recently received the following question from a friend of mine and wanted to share my thoughts with my market pals, and throw this out for feedback. I would be particularly interested in hearing from my derivatives friends who are much more technically informed than I am on the subject.
“I was looking at something today that I thought you would probably have some comment on: have you noticed how wide the out months on the VIX are versus the one or two month? How are you interpreting this?”
From my viewpoint this has been a key debate/driver in the equity derivatives world for a good while now (I started having this discussion in early 2011 with some market pals and the situation has only grown more extreme since then).
Europe may be fixed for the next week or two (until someone once again figures out that by manipulating the market, the ECB is merely making it easier for peripheral governments to do nothing to fix their unprecedented intra-Eurozone imbalances, as has been the case all along with the only strategy Europe has deployed to date namely kicking the can), but that doesn't mean all event and newsflow ends. Here is what to expect out of the insolvent continent as it attempts to put a very volatile (and violent) 2012 to bed with just one more month. Of particular note: €123 billion in Euro coupon payments in the month of December, which serves as a timely reminder that in 2013 European banks better be ready to buy up the record gross and net issuance of their sovereigns with gusto, or else Europe may promptly become "unfixed" all over again.
Many people, and erroneously, think that all of the purchasing by the Fed will go to both markets in equal amounts but this is not the case. More money for the stock markets would have to come from asset reallocations by money management firms, insurance companies, pension funds and the like and this is not going to happen anytime soon given the 2008/2009 experience. Consequently the greatest flows generated by the Fed’s recent and forward actions will affect the bond markets much more than the equity markets. Between the MBS purchases and the next upcoming stimulus push, the Fed would account for 90% of all new debt issuance and leading to a demand imbalance between $400 billion to almost $2 Trillion depending upon the actual Fed announcements. The Fed currently holds about 18% of the U.S. GDP on its books and it could bulge to 23-28% a few years out. This all works, by the way, only because all of the world’s central banks are working in concert so that there is no imbalance and money cannot be invested off-world. Yields will not make sense empirically because of the actions of the Fed but it will make no difference, because their intentions and goals are vastly different from investors.