The sixth anniversary of Zero Hedge is just around the corner, and so, for the sixth year in a row we continue our tradition of summarizing what you, our readers, found to be the most relevant, exciting, and actionable news of the year, determined by the number of page views. Those eager for a brief stroll down memory lane of prior years can do so at their leisure, by going back in time to our top articles of 2009,2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. For everyone else, without further ado, these are the articles that readers found to be the most popular posts of the past 365 days.
One bank is already set to benefit from the ABS program no matter what its actual outcome and impact on the European economy: the same bank that spawned none other than ECB's head... Mario Draghi. According to Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs Group says it’s adding staff to its European asset-backed securities business as the bank prepares for a resurgence in the $305 billion market that shrank more than 40 percent over the past four years.
As we previously reported, the ECB's latest stress test was once again patently flawed from the start. Why? Because as we noted earlier, in its most draconian, "adverse" scenario, the ECB simply refused to contemplate the possibility of deflation. And here's why. Buried deep in the report, on page 75 of 178, is the following revelation which contains in it the scariest number presented to the public today.
In a striking admission that Mario Draghi's "strategy" about the ECB's Private QE future, aka ABS monetization plan, is nothing short of converting Europe's central bank into a "bad bank" repository for trillions in bad and non-performing debt, the FT yesterday reported that "Mario Draghi is to push the European Central Bank to buy bundles of Greek and Cypriot bank loans with “junk” ratings, in a move that is set to exacerbate tensions between Germany and the bank." It is expected that the former Goldmanite will unveil details of a plan to buy hundreds of billions of euros’ worth of private-sector assets at tomorrow's ECB meeting.
Fearful of any impact to the Portuguese/European dream, EU commission leaders folded and bailed out Banco Espirito Santo. Bond and CDS traders are scrambling this morning to come to grips with the consequences of BES bail-out/bail-in. The $6.6 billion bailout's burden-sharing has wiped out shareholders and crushed subordinated debt holders (traded down to 16c on the dollar this morning) where "the likelihood of recovery for junior bondholders is minimal,” according to one trader; but leaves senior bond holders (+10pts to 100) and depositors unaffected. However, it is those 'smart' investors who bought insurance in the CDS market that are struggling this morning as the plan to transfer BES assets to a new company, Novo Banco, may constitute a so-called 'succession event' whereby all the contracts associated with CDS move to the new company (and this do not trigger the CDS to pay). CDS spreads ripped 350bps tighter.
Following a ghastly week for stocks, the momentum algos were desperate for something, anything to ignite some upward momentum and stop the collapse which last week pushed the DJIA into the red for the year: they got it overnight with the previously reported bailout of Portugal's Banco Espirito Santo, where the foreplay finally ended and after the Portuguese Central Bank finally realized that the bank is insolvent and that no more private investors will "recapitalize" it further, finally bailed it out, sticking the stock and the subs into a bad bank runoff entity, while preserving the senior bonds. So much for Europe's much vaunted bail in regime and spreading of pain across asset classes. At least the depositors did not get Cyprused, for now.
Another round of overnight risk on exuberance helped Europe forget all about last week's Banco Espirito Santo worries, which earlier today announced a new CEO and executive team, concurrently with the announcement by the Espirito Santo family of a sale of 4.99% of the company to an unknown party, withe the proceeds used to repay a margin loan, issued during the bank's capital increase in May. This initially sent the stock of BES surging only to see it tumble promptly thereafter even despite the continuation of a short selling bank in BES shares this morning. Far more impotantly to macro risk, it was that 2013 staple, the European open surge in the USDJPY that has reset risk levels higher, while pushing gold lower by over 1% following the usual dump through the entire bid stack in overnight low volume trading. Clearly nothing has been fixed in Portugal, although at least for now, the investing community appears to have convinced itself that the slow motion wreck of Portugal's largest bank even after on Sunday, Portugal’s prime minister said taxpayers would not be called on to bail out failing banks, making clear there would be no state support for BES.
From Ancient Egypt to Modern America …
TedBits - Newsletter
Barclays just can't catch a break these days: after creating the biggest "bad bank" 5 years into the laughably called "recovery", the latest batch of terrible earnings and the announcement of some 19,000 pink slips to be handed out shortly as the British bank has now lost all benefits from being presented the only valuable Lehman assets on a Blue light special platter 5 years ago, it now appears that the desperate and flailing bank also has placed monkeys in charge of trading because as Bloomberg reports it was also responsible for the freakout that hit a vast number of stocks at 3:49:00 pm on Tuesday and which we profiled in "Is There Anything Wrong With These Charts?" It appears the answer was "yes."
- China’s Trade Unexpectedly Rises (BBG)
- 'We're already not in Ukraine' - rebel east readies secession vote (Reuters)
- Pro-Russian Separatists in Ukraine Reject Putin's Call to Delay Vote (WSJ)
- Vietnam’s Stocks Post Biggest Loss in Decade on China Tensions (BBG)
- Hedge Funds Extend Their Slide (WSJ)
- Carney Looks to Untested Tools as House Prices Boom (BBG)
- New Draghi Era Seen on Hold at ECB as Euro Area Recovers (BBG)
- Woman With Printer Shows the Digital Ease of Bogus Cash (BBG)
- Regulators See Growing Financial Risks Outside Traditional Banks (WSJ)
- Headline of the day goes to... Cold weather seen temporarily slowing U.S. economy (Reuters)
- Americans Want to Pull Back From World Stage, Poll Finds (WSJ)
- U.S. Plans to Charge BNP Over Sanctions (WSJ)
- What about Jay Carney: Putin Threat to Retaliate for Sanctions Carries Risks (BBG)
- Fed expected to take further step toward ending bond buying (Reuters)
- A Fed-Watcher’s Guide to FOMC Day: Steady Taper, Green Shoots (BBG)
- Alstom accepts 10 billion euro GE bid for its energy unit (Reuters)
- BOJ projects inflation exceeding 2 percent, keeps bullish view intact (Reuters)
With JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank having exited the commodities business (and numerous other banks discussing it ahead of the Fed and regulators' decisions over banking rules of ownership), it appears a few short months of regulatory scrutiny is enough to warrant more broad-based cuts across bulge-bracket banks historically most manipulated and profitable business units. As The FT reports, Barclays, one of the world’s biggest commodities traders, is planning to exit large parts of its metals, agricultural and energy business in a move expected to be announced this week. This comes on the heels of Barclays shuttering its power-trading operations (after refusing to pay $470mm in fines) with CEO Jenkins expected to announce several thousand layoffs. This leaves Goldman (for now), Mercuria (ex-JPM), and Glencore to run the commodities world.
While, for now, depositors at Austria's Hypo-Alde-Adria-Bank (nationalized in 2009) have not had assets confiscated, Austrian authorities are shifting in an unusual (scary precedent-setting) direction. Amid the resignation of the bank's CEO, the government is taking aim at 'speculators' who dared to buy the bank's bonds below par - and made money therefore on the back of the taxpayer. "What financial markets expect is not always what you want politically," Austria's finance minister warned, "if someone buys today at a lower price, saying ‘shortly, I’ll get 100 back,’ that’s what’s agitating the people."It seems Europe has a new template.
A sneaky overnight levitation pushed the Spoos above 1800 thanks to a modest USDJPY run (as we had forecast) despite, or maybe due to, the lack of any newsflow, although today's first official Humphrey Hawkins conference by the new Fed chairman, Janet Yellen, before the House and followed by the first post-mortem to her testimony where several prominent hawks will speak and comprising of John B. Taylor, Mark A. Calabria, Abby M. McCloskey, and Donald Kohn, could promptly put an end to this modest euphoria. Also, keep in mind both today, and Thursday, when Yellens' testimoeny before the Senate takes place, are POMO-free days. So things may get exciting quick, especially since as Goldman's Jan Hatzius opined overnight, the third tapering - down to $55 billion per month - is on deck.