You saw it all unfold here blow by blow yesterday. Now Art Cashin gives the post-mortem.
If there was one analogy we had not heard so far to the deplorable European situation, it was that to P.T. Barnum's infamous "Egress." Following this morning's Art Cashin note, that is no longer the case. Granted, since it references a museum exhibit, such as what the EUR, not to mention European socialism which recently ran out of other people's money, will soon be, it is about time...
Many floor types think that there is a kind of “rationality put” in the markets. It evolved in the post-Lehman chaos. The premise goes something like this: world leaders were shocked and stunned by the scope and size of the nearly instant damage from Lehman’s fall. That shock caused them to rescue AIG, a far, far bigger project than Lehman. Since then, central banks and governments have stepped in quickly as each new crisis emerged. However, as UBS' Art Cashin notes somewhat ominously, the Greek exit / Euro-breakdown risk has made it hard to exercise a “rationality put” if things turn irrational beyond your control.
While everyone's attention is focused on Dimon-related puns and trying to comprehend what actually happened at JPM (while at the same time pretending to be an expert in CDO trading models and VaR), UBS' Art Cashin provides some 'fact is better than fiction' on Greece (ah yes the other tempest in a teapot). Between the PASOK defense minister's money-laundering charges and the fact that British bookies won't take any more bets on Greece exiting the Euro (which given no CDS market has started on GGB2s seems to have become the market of choice for that trade), it seems, as the ever-prescient father-of-fermentation notes that "Europe still lurks".
Short, sweet, and cutting right to the chase.
There are only a few market prognosticators who can look to the stars for sage advice and not come away being giggled at. Art Cashin, UBS venerable trader-in-chief, notes that this weekend will see the biggest full moon of the year from the perspective of the Earth. This so-called 'Supermoon' will exert 42% more tidal force than normal and given the human body is 70% water, one can only imagine the bipolar impacts that this extra-terrestrial 'pressure' will create on the tiny minds of traders. What is more spooky is the fact that there is an unusual astrological configuration, not seen since 9/11, also occurring this weekend and rather worryingly The Times of Israel is noting the call-up of Emergency Israeli Troops in response to the worsening situation in the Sinai. So our minds will be wondering from an out-of-world experience and at the same time developments in the already unstable Middle East crank up one more notch on the Spinal-Tap-amplifier of sabre-rattling.
Last week, when we discussed the recent ominous gas deal cancellation between Egypt and Israel we warned that the May Egyptian presidential election is the one that nobody is concerned about, yet should be far more prominent on everyone's radar, especially in the aftermath of not only the recent deterioration of Egypt-Israel relations, but also the withdrawal of the Arabian ambassador from Cairo. Art Cashin is one person who has been following this underreported hotbed of geopolitical tensions and has just issued his third warning of what he calls another "nose to nose" in the middle east. Issue is this particular nose has all the leverage courtesy of a little canal that has a huge impact on the most important asset price in the world.
The other Chairman (of the fermentation committee) provides his unique color on the market's ability to shrug off the terrible news of the last few days thanks to the lesser-Chairman (of the Fed's) commitment to 'catch us if we fall' which has extended this rally for its fourth day-in-a-row so far. Critically UBS' Art Cashin opines on the tension between an entirely independent Fed and the pending election and the somewhat shocking statements from European Parliamentary President Schulz on the possible collapse of the European Union.
Two months ago, we warned that while the world had decided to blissfully move on from last year's topic #1, the MENA revolutions, and specifically the massive power vacuum left in their wake, things in the region were far from fixed. Quite the contrary, and as we added back then "it is very likely that the Mediterranean region, flanked on one side by the broke European countries of Greece, Italy, Spain (and implicitly Portugal), and on the other by the unstable powder keg of post-revolutionary Libya and Egypt, will likely become quite active yet again. Only this time, in addition to social and economic upheavals, a religious flavor may also be added to the mix". Yet nobody cared as after a year of daily videos showing Molotov Cocktails dropping like flies, people had simply gotten habituated and needed some other source of excitement. Nobody cared also when a week ago Art Cashin warned that the hidden geopolitcal risk is not Spain but Egypt. Today, Egypt just reminded at least one country why perhaps caution about the instability caused by having a military in charge of the most populous Arabic country and the one boasting "the Canal", should have been heeded after Egypt just announced that it is cutting off its natural gas supplies to Israel, which just so happens relies on Egypt for 40% of its energy needs.
Nothing dramatic here, but the Chairman of the fermentation committee just has that unique flair in explaining things so simply, even an economics Ph.D., a caveman, or the other kind of 'Chairman', would understand...
No, not Italy, and certainly not Spain. Egypt.
Art Cashin goes through the history of Friday the 13th on Wall Street, and tells us it has a slight upward bias, being "up 55% to 60% of the time." Just don't tell that to Europe today, and especially Spain and Italian banks, both of which are getting monkeyhammered at this moment.
We all have had our fair share recently of Gartman the "market timer" (here and here). However, little have we experienced of Gartman "the historian". Here he is, by way of Art Cashin, being off by 300 years notwithstanding, describing something that he has intoned on recently in his ever-so-frequent appearances on CNBC: the "they" who are in control, or in this case the central planners whose decisions ultimately lead to nothing but ruin.
Four months ago we presented what was easily the clearest and most undiluted by media propaganda clue about the future of the European experiment, when we noted that even immigrants from places such as Afghanistan and Bangladesh, using Greece as a stepping stone onward to the gateway Shengen country of Italy, no longer have the urge to pursue their European dreams, and instead return home. As Art Cashin explained, "Over the decades, immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and other poor nations would work their way to Patras. They would stay for days or weeks awaiting a chance to smuggle themselves on to a freighter headed for Italy. Once there, they could make their way north into Europe to find hope and opportunity and maybe a job. Last week his relatives told him that things were changing. The immigrants still come to their way station of Patras (hope still blooms). But now, after a couple of weeks in Greece, they are trying to hop ships going the other way. They are going back home. Life was better, or at least no worse, where they came from and they had friends and family for support back there." It appears that the immigrant boycott is spreading, only this time instead of "discretionary" immigrants, or those that have not been fully assumed by society (think "cheap labor" along America's south, such as California, Texas and Arizona), it is starting to hit the core of the cheap PIIGS labor force: the migrant workforce, and in this case the Albanian diaspora working out of Greece at a fraction of the normal cost. And as one Albanian migrant worker, so critical to keeping the Greek construction sector supplied with cheap jobs puts it, "It looks like there's no money left," he said of Greece. "It all dried up." As a result even the Greek illegal-yet-symbiotic-aliens are giving up and going back home. Yes folks: the "indicators" on the ground are telling us that it is now easier to make money in Albania than in Greece.
Last week Mario Monti, like a good (ex) Goldmanite, did his best to buy what Goldman is selling, namely telling anyone gullible enough to believe that the "European crisis is almost over." Funny then that we learn that just as this was happening, Ben Bernanke held a secret meeting with the entire banker caretel, in which discussed was not American jobs (seasonally adjusted or otherwise), nor $5 gas, but... helping European with its debt crisis. But, but... Mario said. In the meantime, European spreads are back to late 2011 levels.