Borrowing Costs

French-Owned Fitch Downgrades FrAAAnce To AA+

On the even of Bastille Weekend and the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France, you know it must be bad when the French-company-owned ratings agency Fitch is forced to remove its AAA rating from France. Key drivers include Debt-to-GDP projections rising and substantially weaker economic output and forecasts. Full statement below...

Frontrunning: July 12

  • Summers Said to Show Interest in Fed Chairmanship After Bernanke (BBG)
  • Obama Tells Chinese He’s Disappointed Over Snowden Case (BBG)
  • Texas Threat to Abortion Clinics Dodged at Flea Markets (BBG)
  • A Peek at Trucking Data, and Then the Stock Surged (WSJ)
  • China cuts growth target… or does it? (FT) - yes, it does, net of goal seeked Random () of course
  • China Official Suggests Tolerance for Lower Growth (WSJ)
  • Disney Says Wristband Boosts Sales in Disney World Test (BBG) - next up: implanted RFID chips
  • Spain Prepares Cuts in Renewable-Energy Subsidies (WSJ)
  • Bernanke Departure With Duke Heralds Cascade of Fed Appointments (BBG)
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Gold surged 3.3% or nearly $50 from $1,248/oz to $1,298/oz after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke admitted that the U.S. economy continues to need a highly accommodative monetary policy and will do for the “foreseeable future”.

Gold climbed for a fourth day to the highest level in more than two weeks due to safe haven buying after Bernanke also admitted, what many more realistic analysts have been saying for some time, that the 7.6% unemployment rate probably "overstates the health of the labor market."

Senate Liberals Push Status Quo Student Loan Bubble Ever Bigger

When every indicator of stress is screaming 'bubble' in the student loan debacle, it would make perfect sense for the government to ignore it and maintain the status quo. As the WSJ reports, the never-ending federal effort to "make college affordable" simply provides the resources to sustain higher prices - especially as an increasing amount of the rising subsidies are pocketed by universities. This policy disaster which results in rising costs, taxpayer losses and over-strapped borrowers is now manifest. So naturally this week Senate liberals will bring to the floor a plan to ensure that the policy continues unchanged (and the CBO-estimated $95 billion losses) - and dismisses a coalition plan that ties student loan rates to 10Y Treasuries, providing some marginal encouragement to students to decide whether their chosen course of study is worth the money.

Gold Borrowing Costs Hit Post-Lehman High - Hong Kong Jewellers And Banks Face Supply Issues

Gold is little changed near a one-week high, and is marginally higher in dollars as the dollar has retreated from a three-year high, and higher in most currencies. The gold market continues to digest the ramifications of gold borrowing costs surging to the highest since the post-Lehman Brothers scramble for gold bullion. Gold Forward Offered Rates (GOFO) or the cost to borrow gold remains negative and overnight the 1 month GOFO has gone from -0.106% to -0.11167%. Other durations eased marginally. The lack of liquidity in the the interbank London Good Delivery gold market (400 ounce gold bars) has pushed gold forward rates, known as “gofo”, into negative territory, meaning that gold for future delivery is trading at a discount to physical market prices – a rare situation that has occurred only after the Lehman Brothers collapse and near the bottom of the gold market in 1999. The last time forwards were negative was in November 2008, when a scramble for physical gold led a sharp price rally of 46% from $682/oz to over $1,000/oz between October 2008 and February 2009.

What's Next For Portugal?

The Portuguese government is on the rocks. The junior coalition partner the People’s Party (CDS-PP) will hold a meeting this afternoon to determine whether to support the government, if it withdraws support in parliament, elections seem inevitable, although they could be delayed for some months. Such a move would seriously hamper Portugal’s economic reform program, which is already off track. Portugal has only met its deficit targets due to one-off measures while competitiveness adjustments have slowed and contingent liabilities remain a hidden risk. With the country on the cusp of an unsustainable debt burden any delays would likely be the final straw which pushes Portugal into needing some form of further assistance. Things must be getting serious in Portugal, they just announced a short-selling ban on select banking stocks - how long before capital controls?

Europe In Turmoil: Spreads Explode On Portulitical Crisis; Egypt Ultimatum Nears

And just like that things are going bump in the night once more. First, as previously reported, the $100+ WTI surge continues on fears over how the Egyptian coup will unfold, now that Mursi has a few short hours left until his army-given ultimatum runs out. But it is Europe where things are crashing fast and furious, with the EURUSD tumbling to under 1.2925 overnight and stocks sliding on renewed political risk, with particular underperformance observed over in Portugal, closely followed by its Iberian neighbor Spain, amid concerns that developments in Portugal, where according to some media reports all CDS-PP ministers will resign forcing early elections, will undermine country's ability to continue implementing the agreed bailout measures. As a result, Portuguese bond yields have spiked higher and the 10y bond yield spread are wider by over a whopping 100bps as austerity's "poster child" has rapidly become Europe's forgotten "dunce." The portu-litical crisis has finally arrived.

Mortgage Bond Prices Collapse By Most Since 1994 'Bond Market Massacre'

"What just occurred [in the mortgage-backed-securities (MBS) market] is indicative of just how important QE is," as government backed US mortgage bonds suffer their largest quarterly decline in almost two decades. As Bloomberg reports, the $5 trillion market lost 2% in Q2, the most since the 'bond market massacre' in 1994 (when the Fed unexpectedly raised rates) as wholesale mortgage rates spiked by the most on record in the last two months. The reason these bonds have been hardest hit - simple - fear that the Fed's buying program is moving closer to an end. "The Fed, at times during this period, was the only outlet in terms of demand for securities," explains one head-trader, as the Fed’s current buying provided demand as other investors retreated and has grown as a percentage of forward sales by originators tied to new issuance, which is set to fall as higher rates reduce refinancing. With Fed heads talking back what Bernanke hinted at, there was a modest recovery in the last 2 days in MBS but the potential vicious cycle remains a fear especially now that “what was once deemed QE Infinity is no longer viewed that way."

Frontrunning: June 28

  • Fashionable 'Risk Parity' Funds Hit Hard (WSJ)
  • No 1997 Asian Crisis Return as China Trembles (BBG)
  • Greece Faces Collapse of Second Key Privatization (FT)
  • China Bad-Loan Alarm Sounded by Record Bank Spread Jump (BBG)
  • Iranian official signals no scaling back in nuclear activity (Reuters)
  • Asmussen Says Any QE Discussions at ECB Not Policy Relevant (BBG)
  • Flat Japanese consumer prices aid Kuroda (FT)
  • Vietnam Devalues Dong for First Time Since ’11 to Boost Reserves (BBG)
  • World Bank Sees ‘Vulnerable’ Food System on Climate Change (BBG)
  • Fed big-hitters seek to quash QE fears (FT)
  • EU Leaders Set to Slow Support for Ailing Banks (BBG)

PBOC Head To "Address Liquidity At Proper Time" Even As China's Bad Loan Giant Awakes

In the aftermath of the record cash crunch in the Chinese interbank market, many financial institutions in China and abroad have been hoping that the PBOC would either end its stance of aloof detachment or at least break its vow of silence and if not act then at a minimum promise good times ahead. Alas, despite repeated confusion in various press reports that it has done that, it hasn't aside from the occasional "behind the scenes" bank bailout. And at today's Lujiazui Financial Forum, PBOC governor Zhou Xiaochuan kept the status quo saying the central bank will adjust liquidity "at the proper time to ensure market stability." That time, however, is not now.

Student Loan Interest Rates On Verge Of Doubling

One of the main reasons the entire debt-fueled house of cards propping the western financial system, hasn't collapsed in a smouldering heap so far - a development that has stumped all those who think of the Reinhart-Rogoff sovereign debt matrix as one dimensinal with only debt/GDP as the key variable and completely ignoring the interest rate (manipulated or not) - is that the cash interest payment on the global mountain of debt has been rather tame, courtesy of all developed world central banks going all in with serial, or increasingly more, parallel monetization of debt. However, while the US Treasury has the benefit of the Federal Reserve (and its Primary Dealer tentacles) as a backstopped buyer of all the debt that's fit to print, individual Americans are not as lucky. And as America's massively overindebted student body may be about to find out, there is no surer way to burst a debt bubble than to send its rates soaring. Because unless Congress pulls off a miracle in the next 24 hours and passes legislation that delays an inevitable doubling of rates on the most popular Federal (subsidized) Stafford loans, the interest is set to double from 3.4% to 6.8%.

Market Mania Tapered In Quiet Overnight Session

It's almost as if the manic-depressive market has gotten exhausted with the script of surging overnight volatility, and following a week of breathless global "taper tantrumed" trading, tonight's gentle ramp seems modest by comparison to recent violent swings. With no incremental news out of China, the Shanghai composite ended just modestly lower, the Nikkei rushed higher to catch up to the USDJPY implied value, Europe has been largely muted despite better than expected news out of Germany on the unemployment front. This however was offset by a decline in Europe's May M3 (from 3.2% to 2.9%) while bank lending to NFCs and households simply imploded, confirming that there is no hope for a Keynesian, insolvent Europe in which there isn't any credit creation either by commercial banks or by the central bank (and in fact there is ongoing deleveraging across the board). US futures are rangebound with ES just shy of 1,500. We will need some truly ugly data in today's economic docket which includes claims, personal income/spending and pending home sales to push stocks that next leg higher. To think the S&P could have been higher by triple digits yesterday if the final Q1 GDP has just printed red. Failing that, the Fed's doves jawboning may be sufficient for a 100+ DJIA points today with Dudley, Lockhart and Powell all set to speak later today.

Futures Lifted By Verbal Cental Banker Exuberance

Once again it is all about central banks, with early negative sentiment heading into Asian trading - following the disappointing announcement from the PBOC about "ample liquidity" leading to the 6th consecutive drop in the Shanghai Composite while the PenNikkeiStock index tumbled yet again -  completely erased and flipped as Mario Draghi spoke, although not to explain his involvement with the latest European derivative window-dressing scandal, but to announce that he is, once again, "ready to act" (supposedly through the OMT, which despite the best hopes to the contrary, still DOES NOT OFFICIALLY EXIST) and that while it is up to government to raise growth potentials, growth would "partly come from accommodative policy." In other words, ignore all BIS warnings, for Europe's unaccountable Goldmanite overlord Mario Draghi continues to promise more morphined Koolaid (read record Goldman bonuses) to any banker that comes knocking.

Hope, Hoax, And "Bah Humbug"

With the spigot about to be turned down there will be a marked effect on earnings and profits in American corporations as borrowing costs rise and as all of the gains that could be taken were utilized from our very low interest rate environment. Much of the corporate earnings gains during the last two years did not result from growth but from financial management which was to be anticipated and expected. Those schemes, however, have been brought to an end by the rise in interest rates. In the meantime the Fed, in every manner possible, will try to downplay what Mr. Bernanke has done. The Governors will make speeches. Tidbit swill be handed to the Press. Calming remarks will come from every corner of the great machine and every stock guru on the planet will focus on the Bernanke's remark that the overall economy is improving. Fortunately I have seen this game before exorcised by every Fed during the last forty years. The correct response is, "Bah Humbug" and the correct viewpoint is to watch what they do and not what they say. They will say what suits them. What they do will be a different story.