“As the U.S. economy and especially Wall Street and the banks were less and less focused on funding and financing real economic activity jobs, factories, commerce, the rise of the ersatz virtual world of credit faults swaps and over-the-counter derivatives, all of these gray markets—that are unregulated, that are not traded on exchanges, that have no transparency—were really a way for banks to generate income because they could no longer make their money on the real economy,”
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services today placed the 'AAA' long-term sovereign credit ratings on the Republic of Austria on CreditWatch with negative implications....weakening asset quality in Austrian banks' securities and loan portfolios, particularly in Central and Eastern European subsidiaries, could in our view increase the risk of the need for additional capital injections by the Austrian government, or similar interventions.
The CreditWatch placement is prompted by our concerns about the potential impact on France of what we view as deepening political, financial, and monetary problems within the eurozone. To the extent that these eurozone-wide issues permanently constrain the availability of credit to the economy, France's economic growth outlook--and therefore the prospects for a sustained reduction of its public debt ratio--could be affected. Further, it is our opinion that the lack of progress the European policymakers have made so far in controlling the spread of the financial crisis may reflect structural weaknesses in the decision-making process within the eurozone and European Union. This, in turn, informs our view about the ability of European policymakers to take the proactive and resolute measures needed in times of financial stress. We are therefore reassessing the eurozone's record of debt-crisis management and its implications for our view on the effectiveness of policymaking in France....If we change one or more scores, we could lower the long-term rating by up to two notches. Conversely, if the above concerns were mitigated by what we consider to be appropriate policy action, we could affirm the long-term rating at 'AAA'.
Even as Italian bonds surged on hopes that the $40 billion Italian austerity plan (putting this to scale, $400 billion in Italian debt has to be refinanced in the next 12 months) proposed by Monti which is supposed to lower the nation's debt load (putting this to scale, Italy has €1.9 trillion in debt), coupled with expectations that this time (we lost track of which one this actually is) the European summit on December 9 will actually achieve something, the liquidity situation, and not just any liquidity but EUR-funded liquidity (the one that the Fed can do nothing to help by lowering the OIS swap rate) deteriorated massively overnight, as European banks deposited a whopping €20 billion in additional cash with the ECB despite the coordinate central bank intervention yesterday. Total deposits are now at €333 billion, just €50 billion short of the all time high hit in June 2010 when Greece failed for the first time and there was no clarity that the Bernanke Put had gone global, implying the need for an eventual Mars bail out. And confirming that the liquidity crunch is now shifting to the local currency, another €7 billion was borrowed from the punitive Marginal Lending Facility. So now what we have is a liquidity crisis that has been confirmed to not be only USD-based but also EUR. Congratulations Fed. Yet since the market is slow in understanding complex things it is surging, as it looks at Italian bonds which as noted earlier are soaring on nothing but hope, it will take a little before this filters to all the right places.
Despite the very short term bounce in markets on yet another soon to be failed experiment in global liquidity pump priming, UBS' Andrew Cates refuses to take his eyes of the ball which is namely preventing a European collapse by explaining precisely what the world would look like if a European collapse were allowed to occur. Which is why to people like Cates this week's indeterminate intervention is the worst thing that could happen as it only provides a few days worth of symptomatic breathing room, even as the underlying causes get worse and worse. So, paradoxically, we have reached a point where the better things get (yesterday we showed just how "better" they get as soon as the market realized that the intervention half life has passed), the more the European banks will push to make things appear and be as bad as possible, as the last thing any bank in Europe can afford now is for the ECB to lose sight of the target which is that it has to print. Which explains today's release of "How bad might it get", posted a day after the Fed's latest bail out: because instead of attempting to beguile the general public into a false sense of complacency, UBS found it key to take the threat warnings to the next level. Which in itself speaks volumes. What also speaks volumes is his conclusion: "Finally it is worth underscoring again that a Euro break-up scenario would generate much more macroeconomic pain for Europe and the world. It is a scenario that cannot be readily modelled. But it is now a tail risk that should be afforded a non-negligible probability. Steps toward fiscal union and a more proactive ECB, after all, will still not address the fundamental imbalances and competitiveness issues that bedevil the Euro zone. Nor will they tackle the inadequacy of structural growth drivers and the deep-seated demographic challenges that the region faces in the period ahead. Monetary initiatives designed to shore up confidence can give politicians more time to enact the necessary policies. But absent those policies and sooner or later intense instability will resume." So what exactly does UBS predict will happen in a scenario where the European contagion finally spills out from the continent and touches on US shores?
Italy Prices €7.5 Billion In New Bonds At Unsustainable Yields, Market Rejoices If Only For A Few MinutesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/29/2011 07:02 -0500
Confirming just how much the market has lost it, at just after 5 am Eastern when the news of today's Italian auction as announced, the EURUSD soared by almost 100 pips on news that the auction had not failed. Apparently the lack of day to day bond issuance failure is now good enough for Europe. In the meantime, one look at the actual auctions that made up today's action show just how unsustainable Italian debt yields have become. The Italian Treasury priced 3, 9 and 11 year BTPs at yields that were simply laughable, and are completely non-sustainable in the long run. Specifically, the Tesoro sold €3.5bln in 6.00% Nov'14 bonds at a bid/cover 1.502. The yield was a mindboggling almost 8% or 7.89% compared to 4.93% on October 28 - a 3% increase in 1 month; it also sold €1.499 bln of 4.00% Sep'20 bonds at a 1.538 B/C vs. Prev. 1.49 and a yield of 7.28% vs. Prev. 5.470% a month earlier, and lastly €2.5 billion in 5.00% Mar'22 bonds, at a bid/cover 1.335 vs. Prev. 1.27 and a yield 7.56% vs. 6.060% previously. Yup, the 3 years were nearly 8%! Yet as noted earlier the fact that anything priced was enough for a quick kneejerk reaction higher in prices on the benchmark 10 Year BTP... If only for one hour. As the chart below shows, the BTP has sold off aggressively post the realization that the "successful" auction was almost as bad if not worse than a failure, as that at least would have kicked the ECB into monetizing.
Without doubt the primary topic of "serious" watercooler discussion in the last several weeks, and likely to last for many months, is whether or not the ECB will print, and if not why not. We have discussed this issue extensively in the past and are confident that the ECB will not be involved before there are at least 2 or 3 major bank casualties, which allows Goldman to step in and claim the wreckage at pennies on the dollar. Naturally, once the dominoes start falling, most likely early next year, the ECB will have no choice as Germany itself will be threatened once every neighboring country is collapsing left and right. But what happens in the meantime: what are the ECB's options short of outright monetization? Below we present the full list of ECB "support measures" that can be implemented that won't infuriate Angela Merkel, as compiled by Reuters. The question of course is not whether any of these can be implemented, but what and how long their impact will be before the dreaded "half-life" phenomenon exerts itself. The other question, of how one can claim the ECB is not monetizing when it is in fact doing not only that, but doing it 30% more on a monthly basis than the Fed as shown earlier, is a completely separate one.
Banks and ratings companies are sounding their loudest warnings yet that the euro area risks unraveling unless its guardians intensify efforts to beat the two-year-old sovereign debt crisis.
Italy, Spain, France and Belgium will each go to market this week to auction bonds worth billions of euros...GASP!
Given the recent market reaction to short- and mid-dated bond auctions in the European sovereign space, it seems the Spanish have blinked and decided to cancel the planned 3Y auction for next week. Reuters is reporting that instead of a single 3Y new issue, they are reopening 3 existing deals in the hope it will be easier to garner demand across several maturities and potentially more fungible for managers to add to existing positions than create new ones. Of course, it really doesn't matter too much as what we are concerned with is the secondary-trading 2015, 2016, and 2017 bonds will now be perfectly repriced at whatever is marginal demand for new risk positions - which we suspect will not be positive. The main reason for the shift to off-the-run, we suspect, is that the ECB is now allowed to 'buy' the bonds (not at re-issue but in the secondary pre-acution) as it is not allowed to buy primary issues. Once again - it smacks of desperation.
If only we had known that the EFSF was nothing but the latest Chinese reverse merger IPO gimmick, dependent entirely on market conditions for its success, we probably would have sold even more euros to Thomas Stolper. Alas, despite all the pomp and circumstance of last month's European summit announcement when the 50% Greek debt haircut (which has a snowball's chance in hell of passing) was accompanied by vague promises of a 4-5x leveraging of the EFSF's €440 billion, it now appears that our original skepticism was well-founded. Because according to the latest news out of the FT, the EFSF won't get 4-5x leverage. Nope. It will, in fact be lucky if it can be doubled, which however kills the whole point as it needs to be well over €1 trillion to even exist. From the FT: "A plan to boost the firepower of the eurozone’s €440bn rescue fund could deliver as little as half what the bloc’s leaders had hoped for because of a sharp deterioration in market conditions over the past month, according to several senior eurozone government officials." Well what do you know. Next we will learn that when the EFSF denied it was an outright pyramid scheme, and was buying its own bonds, it was actually kidding. Either way, as it currently stands, there is no bailout in place for Europe whatsoever, as the ECB's demands for a fallback to the ECB are now moot. Furthermore, once the market realizes there is no even implicit backstop to the trillions in debt rollover over the next several years, it will dump sovereign bonds with even more gusto, pushing Europe into an even deeper funding crisis, which in turn will make bond repayment even more impossible, which will send prices even lower, and so on. There is a reason they call it a toxic debt spiral.