Even as Spain, Italy and soon France are scrambling to break the link between sovereigns and banks, an unpopular move that until recently Germany was very much against as it permitted the culture of endless unsupervised bank bailouts on taxpayer dimes to continue, we get a fresh reminder of why any unconditional aid, entitlement, or backstop guarantees funded by "other people's money" is always inevitably a bad idea. Case in point: Spain, which just said that its economy will contract in Q2 even more than in Q1. This reminds us why any claims of "austerity" are a total mockery: only Keynesian priests seem unable to grasp that countries gain much more upside from pushing their economies to the brink only to be bailed out, than from engaging in real economic viability and sustainability programs: i.e., living within your means (something we proved empirically before). Finally, this is also a stark reminder that when one removes out all the bailout noise and the daily high-beta gyrations of sovereign debt, the real reason why sovereign bondholders should be buying Spanish debt - an actual improvement in its economy- continues to not only be absent, but by the very nature of endless now-monthly bailouts, becomes impossible as debt never fixed more debt.
It's official: all those rumors of unprecedented deposit withdrawals in May as Greece was heading into one then another parliamentary election were true. According to just released NBG data, May deposit outflows were €8.5 billion, or the highest on record, bringing the local banks' total private sector deposit base to just €157 billion, the lowest since January 2006, and represents a massive 5% outflow of the entire deposit base as of the end of April. And keep in mind rumors of epic bank jogs and trots did not really pick up until weeks into the second Greek election two weeks ago. At this rate of outflows the entire Greek banking system will have zero deposit cash left in under two years. So aside from the 'details', Europe is all fixed and stuff.
Below is Goldman's quick take on the E-Tarp MOU (completely detail-free, but who needs details when one has money-growing trees) announced late last night. In summary: "We recommend being long an equally-weighted basket of benchmark 5-year Spanish, Irish and Italian government bonds, currently yielding 5.9% on average, for a target of 4.5% and tight stop loss on a close at 6.5%." By now we hope it is clear that when Goldman's clients are buying a security, it means its prop desk is selling the same security to clients.
UPDATE: RIMM just opened at $7.5 from its $9 after-hours close before the halt - a mere 17% drop.
For any RIMM shareholders expecting a miraculous deus ex, somewhat like Europe's broker beggars who still are choosers, to come out of left field in today's earnings reports, there was nothing but epic disappointment.
- Revenues came in at $2.81 billion on expectations of $3.1 billion, and down from $4.91 billion a year prior
- EPS were $(0.37) on expectations of just a 7 cent miss.
- The outlook is just as horrible, with RIMM announcing it expects a Q2 operating loss
- It also see lower shipment volumes, and delayed the launch of Blackberry 10 to Q1 2013
- Finally, the firm will cut 5,000 jobs
If the stock isn't moving much it is because it has been halted since pre announcement. It will reopen at 4:40pm, probably between 10 and 20% lower.
For the past six months we have extensively discussed the topics of asset depletion, aging and encumbrance in Europe - a theme that has become quite poignant in recent days, culminating with the ECB once again been "forced" to expand the universe of eligible collateral confirming that credible, money-good European assets have all but run out. We have also argued that a key culprit for this asset quality deterioration has been none other than central banks, whose ruinous ZIRP policies have forced companies to hoard cash, but not to reinvest in their businesses and renew their asset bases, in the form of CapEx spending, but merely to have dry powder to hand out as dividends in order to retain shareholders who now demand substantial dividend sweeteners in a time when stocks are the new "fixed income." Yet while historically we have focused on Europe whose plight is more than anything a result of dwindling cash inflows from declining assets even as cash outflow producing liabilities stay the same or increase, the "asset" problem is starting to shift to the US. And as everyone who has taken finance knows, when CapEx goes, revenues promptly follow. Needless to say, at a time when still near record corporate revenues and profit margins are all that is supporting the US stock market from joining its global brethren in tumbling, this will soon be a very popular point of discussion in the mainstream media... in about 3-6 months.
Traversing roads that seem like roads in some third world countries, I have to ask where is all the money going?
Only a wilful and ideological Keynesian could ignore the salient detail: as soon as the USA left the gold exchange standard, total factor productivity began to dramatically stagnate. Coincidence? I don’t think so — a fundamental change in the nature of the money supply coincided almost exactly with a fundamental change to the shape of the nation’s economy. Is the simultaneous outgrowth in income inequality a coincidence too? Keynesians may respond that correlation does not necessarily imply causation, and though we do not know the exact causation, there are a couple of strong possibilities that may have strangled productivity. It’s not just total factor productivity that has been lower than in the years when America was on the gold exchange standard — as a Bank of England report recently found, GDP growth has averaged lower in the pure fiat money era (2.8% vs 1.8%), and financial crises have been more frequent in the non-gold-standard years.
Vampire Squid Downgrades Margin Stanley From Conviction Buy To Netural, Warns On Counterparty Risk, Lowers PT From $20 To $16Submitted by Tyler Durden on 06/26/2012 07:16 -0500
GS just did what it does best: pulled the rug from under its most troubled peer: "We are downgrading MS to Neutral and removing shares from the America’s Conviction List. Since being added to the Americas Conviction List on January 29, 2012, MS shares are down 27% vs. flat for the S&P 500. Over the past 12 months, MS shares are down 39% vs. the S&P 500 up 4%. When we added shares to the Conviction List, we noted that MS had addressed a number of legacy issues including (1) the conversion of the MUFG preferred stock to common to bolster common equity capital ratios, (2) elimination of the CIC preferred dividend, (3) removal of the MBIA relationship//hedge overhang, (4) write-down of legacy real estate assets, (5) elimination of non-core asset management businesses, and (6) near-completion of the integration of Smith Barney and Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. While that all still holds true today and should be beneficial towards long-term “normalized” returns, we believe several capital market overhangs will reduce out-year earnings visibility and cap near-term outperformance. While too soon to tell how counterparties will react to a new capital market ratings distribution post-Moody’s, this cycle has proven that banks with the largest increase in funding spreads have generally lost fixed income trading market share. In addition, with a number of global macro uncertainties likely to weigh on capital markets activity for the foreseeable future, MS has outsized exposure here as well....we are lowering our 12-month price target for MS to $16 (from $20) based on 0.6X TBV (from 0.7x) to reflect challenged near-term earnings power."
Capitalism at its best: kick 'em while they're down.
We have discussed the use of correlation (cross-asset-class and intra-asset-class) a number of times in the last few years, most recently here, as a better way to track 'fear' or greed than the traditional (and much misunderstood) VIX. As Nic Colas writes this evening, a review of asset price correlations shows that the convergence typical of 'risk-off' periods in the market is solidly underway. While we prefer to monitor the 'finer' average pairwise realized correlations for the S&P 100 - which have been rising significantly recently, Nic points out that the more coarse S&P 500 industry correlations relative to the index as a whole are up to 88% from a low of 75% back in February. In terms of assessing market health, a decline in correlation is a positive for markets since it shows investors are focused on individual sector and stock fundamentals instead of a macro “Do or die” concerns. By that measure, we’re moving in the wrong direction, and not just because of recent decline in risk assets. Moreover, other asset classes such as U.S. High Yield corporate bonds, foreign stocks (both emerging market and develop economies), and even some currencies are increasingly moving in lock step. Lastly, we would highlight that average sector correlations have done a better job in 2012 of warning investors about upcoming turbulence than the closely-watched CBOE VIX Index. Those investors looking for reliable “Buy at a bottom” indicators should add these metrics to their investment toolbox as a better 'mousetrap' than the now ubiquitous VIX.
With so much economic doom and gloom out there, it’s easy to forget that there are actually some bright spots in the world. I’ve spent the last few days in one of them– Georgia. Perhaps most famous for being continually stomped on by Russia, this place has suffered severe hardship practically since independence from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. In 2005, Georgia was shut out of the Russian market, it’s largest trading partner. It happened again in 2006. Then, of course, you may remember the Russian military invading Georgia (do you see the theme here?) in August 2008 in support of the breakaway republic of Abkhazia in northwest Georgia. Russian forces rolled across the border, occupied several key areas in the country, and bombed the hell out of Tbilisi just for good measure. The damage is still visible to this day. Yet despite so many challenges, Georgia has finally turned the corner and become one seriously exciting economy with some seriously compelling opportunities.
Last week, Europe was the source of transitory euphoria on some inexplicable assumption that just because the continent has run out of assets, and the ECB has no choice but to expand "eligible" collateral to include, well, everything, things are fixed and it is safe to buy. Today, it is the opposite. Go figure. Call it pre-eurosummit burnout, call it profit taking on hope and prayer, call it Brian Sack packing up his trading desk (just 5 more days to go), and handing over proper capital markets functioning to a B-grade economist, or best just call it deja vu all over again.
The Fed is now causing more pain than gain.
Over the past week, various entities controlled by bailed out UK-bank RBS, focusing primarily on NatWest, have seen clients unable to access virtually any of their funds, perform any financial transactions, or even get an accurate reading of their assets. The official reason: "system outage"... yet as the outage drags on inexplicably for the 5th consecutive day, the anger grows, as does speculation that there may be more sinister reasons involved for the cash hold up than a mere computer bug.
After a series of idiotic pleadings by Europe's broke insolvent countries that everything is now all fixed, Merkel decided to put some order into the house and reminder everyone who actually still has money:
- MERKEL SAYS DIRECT BAILOUT FUNDING OF BANKS VIOLATES TREATIES
- MERKEL SAYS GERMAN TAXPAYERS WANT GUARANTEE ON HOW AID SPENT
Which is funny: because the Golden Rule is that he who has the gold, makes the rules. And the rule is, and has always been, that the "guarantee" for further bailouts will be even more gold. Physical not metaphorical.
Greece may have a new government that is the same as the old government, but what is important is that it is "fixed".