Markets these days have every reason to question the efficacy of global monetary management. Last week saw dovish crisis management vociferation from the ECB’s Draghi. Now the BOJ adopts a crisis management stance. The week also had talk of some deal to reduce global crude supply. Meanwhile, the PBOC injected a weekly record $105 billion of new liquidity. Nonetheless, the Shanghai Composite sank 6.1% to a 13-month low. There was desperation in the air – along with a heck of a short squeeze and general market mayhem.
Following the Fed's disappointing "dovish, but not dovish enough" statement which effectively admitted Yellen had committed policy error by hiking just as the US economy "was slowing down" which in turn lowered the odds of a March rate hike to just 18%, it was up to oil to pick up the correlation torch, and so it did, rising in an otherwise mixed session which has seen European stocks slide on continued weakness surrounding Italian banks, many of which have been halted limit down, while Asia was treading water following news of the resignation of Japan’s "Abenomics" minister Akira Amari to over a graft scandal, and yet another day of Chinese stock dropping.
Last week, we noted that Italy is rushing to defuse a €200 billion time bomb in the country’s banking sector as investors fret over banks’ exposure to souring loans. On Wednesday we learn that Italy has indeed managed to strike a deal with Brussels to help alleviate banks’ NPL burden but the agreement falls well short of the type of comprehensive "solution" the market was hoping to see.
Total gross NPLs in Italy has increased by c160% since 2009 and now represents c18% of loans (vs c8% in 2009). Gross Sofferenze (eg the worst category of NPLs) are c60% of this or c€200bn. While new inflows of NPLs have decreased, there have been limited disposals, possibly due to pricing difference. Banks suffer in multiple ways due to the high stock of NPLs (profitability, capital, funding, lending, etc). The government implemented reforms last summer to improve recovery procedures (Government Proposes NPL Measures), but there is limited evidence so far of the benefit.
"When the market speaks, as it has done in recent days, it is right that bank executives and shareholders comprehend the need for serious and swift intervention."
"There is hope of more stimulus in March and potential for even more stimulus in Japan and China, so if we get concrete positive economic news the rebound could last into next week,” said John Plassard, senior equity- sales trader at Mirabaud Securities. “I told my clients to fasten their seatbelts and wait for better news, and this is finally happening."... "The turnaround in sentiment came amid signs central banks may be prepared to act after $7.8 trillion was erased from the value of global equities this year on China’s slowdown and oil’s crash."
One thing is clear: banks are not only not telling the full story, but the story they are telling is compromised. Still one has to start somewhere with whatever data is publicly available, so courtesy of Reuters, here is a summary of what the big U.S. banks who have reported Q4 earnings so far, say about their energy exposure.
Things are looking increasingly shaky for central planners around the globe.
With the US closed today for Martin Luther King Holiday, global risk tone has once again been set entirely by oil, which opened sharply lower at fresh 12 year lows on fears of an Iran oil glut, but has steadily rebounded on the latest OPEC comments, and at last check both WTI and Brent were unchanged trading in the low $29's on muted volume. With Asian markets mixed, European shares swung between gains and losses, while the yen weakened as China stepped up efforts to curb foreign speculation against its currency. Crude oil rose from a 12-year low after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries forecast a decline in supplies from rival producers.
"The new Portuguese administration is not the first government to resort to asset confiscation and populist expediency. Venezuela and Argentina also belong to this club. The important distinction is that Portugal is a eurozone member state, and its systemically important banks are regulated by the ECB."
In principle, the BRRD, or “bail-in directive” as it is also known, is quite a good idea. The fact that lending money to fractionally reserved banks or even merely depositing it with them, involves risks needed to be firmly reestablished. One simply cannot expect that banks and their creditors will be bailed out by taxpayers at every opportunity. Besides, the admission that there are risks in banking that have hitherto been glossed over or have even been lied about was long overdue. However, Europe’s governments are now likely to find out that the current monetary system with its fractionally reserved banks is actually incompatible with this admission, so to speak.
The Fed & ECB are spawning the next crisis....
- GOP debate winners and losers (Hill)
- European Stocks Rise as Dollar Weakens; Metals Decline on China (BBG)
- Global shares shrug off mixed China data, copper teeters near six-year low (Reuters)
- Fed's Evans: Looking forward to time when Fed can raise rates (Reuters)
- Alibaba’s Global Ambitions Face Counterfeit Challenge (WSJ)
- China Rebalancing Takes Hold as Output Slows, Retail Jumps (BBG)
- China PMI>50.5
- US ISM>52
- US payroll>225K
- US banks rally: XLF>$26 would confirm stronger “domestic demand” expectations.
- US dollar stable: if the Fed can hike without boosting dollar this is positive
A beleaguered Deutsche Bank is set to slash the investment bank bonus pool by some $566 million as John Cyran's effort to right a sinking ship continues. As Bloomberg reports, "no decision has been taken and the biggest reductions are likely to impact employees in the fixed-income business. Some managing directors may have their entire bonus scrapped, according to the person."