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".
Draw a Wall Street paycheck long enough and you will work with an amazing spectrum of personalities. Today’s note from Nic Colas (of ConvergEx) is an homage to his past coworkers in the form of some offbeat comments that have stuck in his memory over the past 25 years on the Street (and will ring true to anyone who has spent more than a day on a trading floor). On the psychology of money management: “Last year we made $360 million and lost $330 million." On the importance of language in positioning an investment story: "The company’s revenues aren’t unpredictable; they are just chunky.” And our favorite, from long ago: "Who cares if most money managers underperform. They all seem to have big houses and pretty wives." No, not all these quotes are exactly "Politically correct", but they all represent some useful truths about investing and capital markets.
The memo says: We will make your life miserable.
And since it's Mr. Moneybags, one "bonus" question for the readers regarding Maiden Lane fraud and the subsequent cover up when the GAO came a knockin'
Hours before Spain is expected to present the bank "assessment" from Roland Berger and Oliver Wyman on its comprehensive bank insolvency status, the country sold €2.22 billion of two-, three- and five-year government bonds, in a sale which saw solid demand but yields that are simply laughable and are completely unsustainable, culminating with a record yield on 5 year paper. Per Reuters, the Treasury sold 700 million euros worth of a 2-year bond, 918 million euros worth of a 3-year bond and 602 million euros of a 5-year bond, beating a target to issue up to 2 billion euros of the debt... In a nutshell: big demand for paper that will leave Spain pennyless. Not very surprising, and as Elisabeth Afseth from Investec summarized, "They got it away, it's about the most positive thing you can say about it." Elsewhere the German economy continues to deteriorate from carrying the weight of the PIIGS on its shoulders, with the Mfg PMI and Services PMI both missing estimates of 45.2 and 51.5, and printing at 44.7 and 50.3, respectively. This was a 3 year low for German PMI and now all but confirms that the economy will enter a recession at the next GDP update. But all this pales in comparison with the latest update of the Greek comedy where we learn that the three parties forming Greece's new coalition government have agreed to ask lenders for two more years to meet fiscal targets under an international bailout that is keeping the country from bankruptcy, a party official said on Thursday. This came a few hours after a German parliamentary group officially spoke against a time trade-off for Greece. Which means that beggas will not be choosers after all.
Two days ago, when noting that Italy is on collision course with technical insolvency should its bonds remain at current levels for even one more week, we wrote that "As Italy Hints Of Subordination, Did Rome Just Request A "Semi" Bailout?" Of course, yesterday's big market moving rumor was just this - namely that "supposedly" Germany had agreed to provide the underfunded EFSF and non-existent ESM as ECB SMP replacement vehicles, and implicitly to launch the bailout of not only Spain but also Italy. This turned out to be patently untrue, as we expected, despite speculation having been accepted as fact by various UK newspaper and having taken Europe by a storm of false hope, leading peripheral spreads modestly tighter (and Germany naturally wider). Of course, even if Merkel were to allow the ESM/EFSF to effectively replace the ECB secondary market bond buying, which is what this is all about, nothing will be fixed, and in fact it would lead to even more subordination and more bond selling off of positions which are not held by the ECB or ESM. But that is for the market to digest in 4-6 weeks as it appears nobody still understands how the mechanics of the flawed European rescue mechanism works. In the meantime, now that Italy has tipped its hand, it has only one option: to push full bore demanding that someone, anyone out there buy its bonds. Sadly, Germany just said nein. Again.
Ever since the beginning of the year we have been saying that in order for the Fed to unleash QE, stocks have to drop by 20-30% to give political cover to the Fed (and/or ECB) to engage in another round of wanton currency destruction. Because while on one hand the temptation to boost stocks is so very high in an election year, the threat to one's presidential re-election chances that soaring gas prices late into the summer does, is simply far too big to be ignored. Yet here we are: stocks are just 4% off their 2012 highs, even as bonds are near all time low yields, and mortgages are at their all time lows. As such, even with the latest batch of economic data coming in simply atrocious, the Fed finds itself in a Catch 22 - it wants to help the stock market hoping that in itself will boost the "economy", yet it knows what more QE here will do to the priced of gold and inflation expectations: something which as Hilsenrath himself said yesterday does not compute, as it runs against everything "Economic textbooks" teach. What is more important, is that the market, like a true addict, is oblivious to any of these considerations, and has priced in a massive bout of Quantitative Easing to be announced tomorrow at 2:15 pm. There is one problem though: has the market, by pricing in QE on every down day - the only buying catalyst in the past month have been hopes of more QE - made QE impossible? Observe the following chart from SocGen which shows 6 month forward equity vol. What is obvious is that due to precisely being priced in, QE is now virtually unfeasible, irrelevant of what Goldman and its "FLOW QE" model tell us. As SocGen simply states: "More stress is needed to trigger ample policy response."
"Private Debt Doesn't Matter" Because "Banks Can't Create Money Out of Thin Air"
Will the DOJ Investigate if JP Morgan Used LCH.Clearnet As a Front to Tank MF Global and Take Customer Money?Submitted by EB on 06/18/2012 08:35 -0500
LCH under investigation by Holder under antitrust statutes. And just who was the ultimate counterparty to the Corzine trade?
Having been the first, back in January, to propose positioning to gain from (or to protect client funds from - for bond managers) the implied subordination (or cram-downs) that the ECB's, or any other 3-letter acronym's, unintended consequences cause, as they decide to bailout the next European nation - via positioning in non-local-law bonds in all PIIGS nations (or 'swapping' local-law for non-local-law), our most recent Spanish-specific example has performed exceedingly well. Last Tuesday, we urged fixed income managers (for fear of fiduciary duty recrimination) to swap to the non-local law Spanish bonds and traders to arbitrage the litigation risk between local- and non-local-law bonds. In that time, the difference in price between the two bonds has dropped dramatically as the local-law bonds have dropped almost 8% in price, while non-local-law are practically unchanged. On a 50% margin basis, the trade is up around 80% in real returns in the past week (with the basis shifting from around EUR10 to EUR5.8).
With all the europhoria over Greece, some may have forgotten Spain. It is time to remind them that the real "fulcrum country" of Europe has now shifted a few thousand kilometers to the West, where as also reported on Friday the pain will come primarily from more home price declines (up to another 25% lower from here), and loan loss recognitions. How much? As Market News reports, the number may be as large as €150 billion. Of course, if that full number flows through the insolvent banking sector's bottom line, and forces a comparable FROB capital infusion via any of the bailout channels, this is €50 billion more in bond subordination (because good luck raising the capital via equity) than even the worst case Spanish bailout scenario had anticipated. It also explains why as of this morning, Spanish bonds traded at all time record lows. Because, sadly, nothing continues to be fixed in Greece, Spain, or anywhere else in Europe.