About a decade ago, Spain set off to "grow" its economy by launching an unprecedented homebuilding campaign. Several years later the campaign backfired, when the global housing bubble popped, and hundreds of thousands of houses ended up underwater, vacant or simply incomplete while millions of people lost their jobs, resulting in possibly the worst depression in Spanish history. Fast forward to today when Spain is about to set off to "grow" its economy by launching an unprecedented counter-homebuilding campaign, one in which the housing excesses of the last "growth" campaign will be literally demolished. And thanks to the magic of modern Keynesian math, both construction and destruction will result in growth for Spain.
Spain, as you know, and no matter how the story is fabricated, was bailed out by the European Union. The money was lent to the banks so that Spain does not have to count it as sovereign debt even though the country guaranteed the loans. Madrid, however, tells the truth in the same manner as a sardine naturally climbs mountains. Spain has set up a "bad bank" known as Sareb (Sociedad de Gestión de Activos procedentes de la Reestructuración Bancaria). This operation has $66 billion of Real Estate loans and property as their assets we are told. So far they have sold 700 properties and they claim they can achieve an annual return on equity of 13%-14% over its fifteen year tenure. The truth - so far - is unbelievably worse than expected.
- Egypt on the edge after Mursi rebuffs army ultimatum (Reuters)
- Inside China's Bank-Rate Missteps (WSJ)
- Obama Urges Morsi to Respond to Protesters' Concerns (WSJ)
- How Fed’s 7% Jobless Avoids Deterring Bondholders Is Mystery (BBG)
- Obama Joins With Political Foe Bush at End of Africa Trip (BBG)
- China may introduce deposit insurance by year-end (China Daily)
- China’s Slowdown Could Slam Hong Kong (BBG)
- Government 'to ask Rothschild to advise on RBS split' (Telegraph)
- Martin Feldstein: The Fed Should Start to 'Taper' Now (WSJ)
Turns out that for Europe, Cyprus was a "bail-in" template after all, and following an agreement reached early this morning, Europe now has a joint failed-bank resolution mechanism. Several hours ago, EU finance ministers announced that they had reached agreement on the principles governing the imposition of losses on creditors in bank 'bail ins'. Having already agreed to establish "depositor preference" in the pecking order of creditors at risk, the stumbling block to agreement was the availability of flexibility at the national level to complement the bail in with injections of funds from other sources. Under the compromise achieved overnight, once a bail in equivalent to 8% of total liabilities has been implemented, support from other sources can be used (up to 5% of total liabilities) with approval from Brussels. So investors (i.e. yield chasers) will foot the cost of bank bailouts? Maybe on paper. In reality, last night's agreement is the usual fluid melange of semi-rigid rules filled with loopholes designed to benefit large banks whose impairment may be detrimental to "systemic stability". To wit, from the FT: "While a minimum bail-in amounting to 8 per cent of total liabilities is mandatory before resolution funds can be used, countries are given more leeway to shield certain creditors from losses in defined circumstances." In other words, here is the bail in regime... which we may decide to ignore under "defined circumstances."
It is easy to get the impression that the naysayers are wrong on Europe. After all the predictions of Armageddon, ten-year government bond yields for Spain and Italy fell to the 4% level, France which is retreating into old-fashioned socialism was able to borrow at about 2%, and one of the best performing bond investments has been until recently – wait for it – Greek government bonds! Admittedly, bond yields have risen from those lows, but so have they everywhere. It is clear when one stands back from all the usual euro-rhetoric that as a threat to the global financial system it is a case of panic over. Well, no. Europe has not recapitalized its banking system the way the US has (at great taxpayer expense, of course). Therefore, it is much more vulnerable. Where European governments and regulators have failed to make their banks more secure it is because they tied their strategy to growth arising from an economic recovery that has failed to materialize. The reality is that the Eurozone GDP levels are only being supported at the moment by the consumption of savings; in orther words, the consumption of personal wealth. Wealth that is not infinite; and held by those not likely to tolerate footing the bill for much longer.
- Bonds Tumble With Stocks as Gold Drops in Rout on Fed (BBG)
- Bernanke Sees Beginning of End for Fed’s Record Easing (BBG)
- Gold Tumbles to 2 1/2 Year-Low After Fed as Silver Plummets (BBG)
- PBoC dashes hopes of China liquidity boost (FT)
- U.S. Icons Now Made of Chinese Steel (WSJ)
- Emerging Markets Crack as $3.9 Trillion Funds Unwind (BBG)
- Everyone joins the fun: India sets up elaborate system to tap phone calls, e-mail (Reuters)
- China Manufacturing Shrinks Faster in Threat to Europe (BBG)
- More on how Syria's Al-qaeda, and now US, supported "rebels", aka Qatar mercenaries, operate (Reuters)
- Echoes of Mao in China cash crunch (FT) - how dare a central bank not pander to every bank demand?
Hard Hitting, Bleeding Edge Research Results In 2nd High Level Ouster/Resignation In The UK & EurolandSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 06/14/2013 10:17 -0500
Why do these high level guys "unexpectedly" resign as soon as a few secrets are revealed?
Liquidity overcame common sense and economic fundamentals for a time. A lot of money was made and a huge amount of leverage was put on. Everything rose with the tide. Look around you though; look carefully. We think the tide is beginning to go out. We believe recession in Europe will spread to America as the severity of the European crisis becomes more and more apparent. Upcoming economic data in France is also going to be quite troubling in my opinion and the contagion will become apparent in the United States.
Taxation Without Representation: UK Taxpayers Learn From The Irish What US School Kids Get Taught In 3rd GradeSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 06/05/2013 09:58 -0500
How bad bank debts, concealed bank liabilities and US grade school history collide in Taxation Without Representation!
- National Security Advisor Tom Donilon resigning, to be replaced by Susan Rice - Obama announcement to follow
- Japan's Abe targets income gains in growth strategy (Reuters), Abe unveils ‘third arrow’ reforms (FT) - generates market laughter and stock crash
- Amazon set to sell $800m in ads (FT) - personal tracking cookie data is valuable
- 60 percent of Americans say the country is on the wrong track (BBG) and yet have rarely been more optimistic
- Jefferson County, Creditors Reach Deal to End Bankruptcy (BBG)
- Turks clash with police despite deputy PM's apology (Reuters)
- Rural US shrinks as young flee for the cities (FT)
- Australia holds steady on rate but may ease later (MW)
- The Wonk With the Ear of Chinese President Xi Jinping (WSJ)
- Syrian army captures strategic border town of Qusair (Reuters)
There is a reason why US corporate balance sheets have rarely been in better shape: it is because the Fed has become the S&P500's bad bank. As the chart below shows, in the six years between 2006 and 2012, corporate net debt of the S&P500 has barely budged from $1.5 trillion, even as corporate profits have soared (albeit profit margins have now declined for two straight years as SG&A has already been cut to the bone, while the marginal benefit from such below the line items as net interest is about to turn negative if and when rates really turn higher - hint: they won't, because Bernanke is all too aware of this particular nuance). What has offset this? Why the bad bank formerly known as the Federal Reserve of course, which has huffed and puffed, and force-fed $2.5 trillion in new credit money (mostly reserves) down the market's throat (created out of thin Treasurys), which has zero end-demand for such credit, as a result it has gone straight into the one place that will gladly accept it - the stock market. For now at least. At some point this fungible money will spill over and then all bets are off.
Since 2009, when Hypo Alpe Adria was 'nationalized', the Austrian government has dumped more than EUR2 billion into the troubled bank. It remains on life-support but this time the government-proposed 'aid' being offered is running into a wall. The rest of Austria's banks (as creditors as well as forced levy-payers from other bailouts) dismiss the government's plan for a "bad-bank" model a la Ireland adding that they "will not allow themselves to be put under pressure by politicians." Reuters notes that the 'bad-bank' plan is up against a deadline at the end of May from the European Commission, and among others Unicredit Austria is clear on its role, "decidedly rule out a commitment on our part." The increasing tension between Vienna and Brussels is evident as a quick sale of the bank will lead to a EUR5-6 billion loss for taxpayers (hurting the government's budget plans) but it seems the rest of Austria's banks are unwilling to throw more good money after bad, "if we go this way, some persuasion will be needed". Is it time for more non-templates?
More thoughts on the ECB's balance sheet and why a negative deposit rate is unlikely.
Most of the SAREB's loans are linked to finished properties, for which it might be easier to find a buyer, but 4.3 percent are for unfinished developments and nearly 10 percent are for empty lots, for which there is little or no demand. Nearly all of the foreclosed properties in its portfolio are empty, including apartment blocks far outside big cities. Only 6,000 of nearly 83,000 housing units have tenants.
By now everyone, even CNBC, admits that the only reason stocks are where they are is due to the G-7 central banks. What many may not know, however, is how we got here, and where we will be at the end of this year. The answer, as provided by JPM Asset Management CIO Michael Cembalest in the chart below, is at the dot in the top right. This will represent the addition of $10 trillion in liquidity, or alternatively the conversion of the "planetary nebula" of central bank balance sheet expansion, in the past seven years. And considering that, as we explained yesterday, there is another $10-11 trillion in scarce "quality collateral" that has to be injected into the financial markets via central banks collateral transformations, the number in yet another 7 years will be at $20 trillion if not exponentially higher, or higher than where US GDP will be.