Not only is the large bank-GSE cartel preventing millions of Americans from refinancing, but these same cartel players are also thwarting Fed monetary policy and hurting all our economic prospects.
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke will testify at House Budget Committee (Chairman Paul Ryan, R-WI) full committee hearing on "The State of the U.S. Economy." The highlight of today's hearing will be watching Bernanke face his nemesis runner up, Paul Ryan, who will surely grill Blackhawk Ben with questions that are far more intelligent than the press corps could come up with during the last FOMC canned remark presentation. Watch the full testimony live at C-Span after the jump.
Anyone who went to bed with the EURUSD about to breach 1.30 to the downside may have been surprised this morning to see it trading nearly 150 pips higher. Checking the headlines for news of a Greek deal however would be futile, as one did not occur. Instead what did, were more promises of a deal being "imminent" even as Greece is doing all it can to appease intransigent creditors, offering GDP upside warrants (something that did not work too well for Argentina), with the IMF stating it demands guarantees that this time Greece will follow through with promises. Oddly enough the German demand for fiscal overrule has gotten lost in the noise but is certainly not forgotten and last we checked Merkel has not withdrawn this polite request. Still futures are up, primarily on a smattering of better than expected PMIs, in China and Europe. Alas, the Chinese PMI beat as discussed last night, was more of a cold water shower as the market had been hoping for much more defined promises of PBoC intervention and instead got a lukewarm Goldilocks economy which could last quite a bit longer without RRR-cuts. As for European PMI numbers being better than expected, we only wonder if these now correlate with the prevailing unemployment rate throughout the Eurozone.
Below are some of the key events to have transpired in the overnight session. According to Bloomberg's TJ Marta, sentiment is broadly higher, with stocks, bond yields, FX higher, EU sovereign spreads tighter as markets focus on German unemployment, ebbing EU concerns, shrug off German retail sales, Greek debt. Whereas German retail sales unexpectedly fell -1.4%M/m vs est. +0.8%, unemployment fell more than expected -34k vs est. -10k. Italy December unemployment climbed to 8.9%, highest since the data series began in Jan. 2004, from a revised 8.8% in November. Commodities mostly higher, led by WTI +1.5%, 1.0 std. devs. EU leaders agreed to accelerate rescue fund, deficit control treaty . Greek debt negotiations remain in flux with Greece reporting progress, Germany expressing frustration over Greece’s failure to carry out economic. Portugal 10-yr yields fell after earlier touching euro-era record; yields of AAA-rated Finland, Norway, Sweden and Germany higher even as Coelho Says Portugal’s Debt Is 'Perfectly Sustainable.' Treasuries decline for first time in five days; 5-yrs yields yesterday touched record-low 0.7157%. SNB Says Currency Reserves Declined to 257.5 Billion Francs. Foreign Investment in Spain Shows EU38.6 Bln Outflow in Jan-Nov. ECB’s Nowotny Says ‘Can’t Be Sure’ Greece Will Stay in Euro. Belgium Borrowing Costs Rise at 105-Day, 168-Day Bill Auction. Finally, according to KBC, Irish Consumer Confidence Up As ‘Armageddon’ Averted. So every day the world does not end consumer confidence should be higher. Brilliant.
Yesterday, Reuters' blogger Felix Salmon in a well-written if somewhat verbose essay, makes the argument that "Greece has the upper hand" in its ongoing negotiations with the ad hoc and official group of creditors. It would be a great analysis if it wasn't for one minor detail. It is wrong. And while that in itself is hardly newsworthy, the fact that, as usual, its conclusion is built upon others' primary research and analysis, including that of the Wall Street Journal, merely reinforces the fact that there is little understanding in the mainstream media of what is actually going on behind the scenes in the Greek negotiations, and thus a comprehension of how prepack (for now) bankruptcy processes operate. Furthermore, since the Greek "case study" will have dramatic implications for not only other instances of sovereign default, many of which are already lining up especially in Europe, but for the sovereign bond market in general, this may be a good time to explain why not only does Greece not have the upper hand, but why an adverse outcome from the 11th hour discussions between the IIF, the ad hoc creditors, Greece, and the Troika, would have monumental consequences for the entire bond market in general.
Nowhere in S&P’s statement about “global economic and financial crisis”, did it clarify that sovereigns were hit due to backing their largest national banks (and international, US ones) which engaged in half a decade of leveraged speculation. But here’s how it worked: 1) Big banks funneled speculative capital, and their own, into local areas, using real estate and other collateral as fodder for securitized deals with derivative touches. 2) They lost money on these bets, and on the borrowing incurred to leverage them. 3) The losses ate their capital. 4) The capital markets soured against them in mutual bank distrust so they couldn’t raise more money to cover their bets as before. 5) So, their borrowing costs rose which made it more difficult for them to back their bets or purchase their own government’s debt. 6) This decreased demand for government debt, which drove up the cost of that debt, which transformed into additional country expenses. 7) Countries had to turn to bailouts to keep banks happy and plush with enough capital. 8) In return for bailouts and cheap lending, governments sacrificed citizens. 9) As citizens lost jobs and countries lost assets to subsidize the international speculation wave, their economies weakened further. 10) S&P (and every political leader) downplayed this chain of events.... The die has been cast. Central entities like the Fed, ECB, and IMF perpetuate strategies that further undermine economies, through emergency loan facilities and bailouts, with rating agency downgrades spurring them on. Governments attempt to raise money at harsher terms PLUS repay the bailouts that caused those terms to be higher. Banks hoard cheap money which doesn’t help populations, exacerbating the damaging economic effects. Unfortunately, this won't end any time soon.
As the buy-the-ratings-downgrade-news surge on European sovereigns stalls (following a few weeks of sell-the-rumor on France for example), the ever-ready-to-comment mainstream media remains convinced that the impact is priced in and that ratings agencies are increasingly irrelevant. UBS disagrees. In a note today from their global macro team, they recognize that while the downgrades were hardly a surprise to anyone (with size of downgrade the only real unknown), the effect on 'AAA-only' constrained portfolios is important (no matter how hard politicians try to change the rules) but of more concern is the political impact as the divergence between France's rating (and outlook) and Germany (and UK perhaps) highlights harsh economic realities and increases (as EFSF spreads widen further) the bargaining power of Germany in the economic councils of Europe. Furthermore, the potential for closer relationships with the UK (still AAA-rated) increase as the number of AAA EU nations within the Euro only just trumps the number outside of the single currency. This may be one of those rare occasions where politics is more important than economics.
The great lie that drives the fiat global financial locomotive forward is the assumption that there is no other way of doing things. Many in America believe that the U.S. dollar (a paper time-bomb ready to explode) is the only currency we have at our disposal. Many believe that the corporate trickle down dynamic is the only practical method for creating jobs. Numerous others have adopted the notion that global interdependency is a natural extension of “progress”, and that anyone who dares to contradict this fallacy is an “isolationist” or “extremist”. Much of our culture has been conditioned to support and defend centralization as necessary and inevitable primarily because they have never lived under any other system. Globalism has not made the world smaller; it has made our minds smaller. By limiting choice, we limit ingenuity and imagination. By narrowing focus, we lose sight of the much bigger picture. This is the very purpose of the feudal framework; to erase individual and sovereign strength, stifle all new or honorable philosophies, and ensure the masses remain completely reliant on the establishment for their survival, forever tied to the rotting umbilical cord of a parasitic parent government.
With Fed officials a laughing stock (both inside and outside the realm of FOMC minutes), Bank of Japan officials ever-watching eyes, and ECB officials in both self-congratulatory (Draghi) and worryingly concerned on downgrades (Nowotny), the world's central bankers appear, if nothing else, convinced that all can be solved with the printing of some paper (and perhaps a measure of harsh words for those naughty spendaholic politicians). The dramatic rise in central bank balance sheets and just-as-dramatic fall in asset quality constraints for collateral are just two of the items that UBS's economist Larry Hatheway considers as he asks (and answers) the critical question of just how safe are central banks. As he sees bloated balance sheets relative to capital and the impact when 'stuff happens', he discusses why the Eurozone is different (no central fiscal authority backstopping it) and notes it is less the fear of large losses interfering with liquidity provision directly but the more massive (and explicit) intrusion of politics into the 'independent' heart of central banking that creates the most angst. While he worries for the end of central bank independence (most specifically in Europe), we remind ourselves of the light veil that exists currently between the two and that the tooth fairy and santa don't have citizen-suppressing printing presses.
The Real Dark Horse - S&P's Mass Downgrade FAQ May Have Just Hobbled The European Sovereign Debt MarketSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/13/2012 19:55 -0400
All your questions about the historic European downgrade should be answered after reading the following FAQ. Or so S&P believes. Ironically, it does an admirable job, because the following presentation successfully manages to negate years of endless lies and propaganda by Europe's incompetent and corrupt klepocrarts, and lays out the true terrifying perspective currently splayed out before the eurozone better than most analyses we have seen to date. Namely that the failed experiment is coming to an end. And since the Eurozone's idiotic foundation was laid out by the same breed of central planning academic wizards who thought that Keynesianism was a great idea (and continue to determine the fate of the world out of their small corner office in the Marriner Eccles building), the imminent downfall of Europe will only precipitate the final unraveling of the shaman "economic" religion that has taken the world to the brink of utter financial collapse and, gradually, world war.
Just like during the holiday "break" the market is euphoric, however, briefly, on the fact that Italy sold Bills , however many, in a period protected by the 3 year LTRO. And just like the last time this happened, about two weeks ago, this auction shows nothing about the demand for Italian paper longer than 3 years, which unfortunately Italy not only has a lot of, but is rolling even more of it. And none of this changes what World Bank President Zoellick told Welt yesterday, namely that the Europe’s interbank market is frozen and continent’s banks only lend to each other through ECB due to a lack of confidence within the financial industry, World Bank President Robert Zoellick is quoted as saying by German daily Die Welt. He continues: "If European banks don’t lend to each other, how can others in the U.S. or in China be expected to do it." Anyway, here courtesy of Bloomberg's Daybook are the key overnight events as we prepare for the ECB 7:45 announcement and subsequent conference.