British Bankers' Association
Another day, another carry currency-driven futures melt-up to daily record highs (the all important EURJPY soared overnight on the return of the now standard overnight Japanese jawboning of the JPY which sent the EURJPY just shy of a new 4 year high of 138 overnight), and another attempt by the ECB to have its record high market cake, and eat a lower Euro too (recall DB's said the "pain threshold" for the EUR/USD exchange rate - the level at which further appreciation impairs competitiveness and economic recovery - is $1.79 for Germany, $1.24 for France, and $1.17 for Italy) this time with ECB's Hansson repeating the generic talking point that the ECB is technically ready for negative deposit rates. However, with the halflife on such "threats" now measured in the minutes, and soon seconds, the European central bank will have to come up with something more original and creative soon, especially since the EURJPY can't really rise much more without really crushing European trade further.
With gold once again getting the slamdown treatment this morning (even as stocks shrug off any taper tantrum fears) the following article from Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional seems quite prescient. As Liberty Blitzkrieg's Mike Krieger notes, it appears to imply that the struggling South American nation has agreed to sell or swap the gold it still holds overseas at the Bank of England to Goldman Sachs. Perhaps that helps explain where Maduro got the money for the Samsung deal...
- US admits surveillance on foreign governments ‘reached too far’ (FT)
- He must be so proud: Obama halted NSA spying on IMF and World Bank headquarters (RTRS)
- Obamacare website gets new tech experts; oversight pressure grows (Reuters)
- R.B.S. to Split Off $61 Billion in Loans Into Internal ‘Bad Bank’ (NYT)
- Draghi’s Deflation Risk Complicates Recovery (BBG)
- Abenomics: Nissan slashes full-year profit forecast 15% (FT)
- Credit Suisse Dismisses London Trader Over 'Unusual Trading' Losses (WSJ)
- RBS avoids break-up with 38 billion pounds 'internal bad bank' (Reuters)
- Twitter Said to Attract More Than Enough Interest for IPO (BBG)
After a blistering October for stocks, drunk on yet another month of record liquidity by the cental planners, November's first overnight trading session has been quiet so far, with the highlight being the release of both official and HSBC China PMI data. The official manufacturing PMI rose to 51.4 in October from 51.1 in September. It managed to beat expectations of 51.2 and was also the highest reading in 18 months - since April 2012. October’s PMIs are historically lower than those for September, so the MoM uptick is considered a bit more impressive. The uptrend in October was also confirmed by the final HSBC manufacturing PMI which printed at 50.9 which is higher than the preliminary reading of 50.7 and September’s reading of 50.9. The Chinese data has helped put a floor on Asian equities overnight and S&P 500 futures are nudging higher (+0.15%). The key laggard are Japanese equities where the TOPIX (-1.1%) is weaker pressured by a number of industrials, ahead of a three day weekend. Electronics-maker Sony is down 12% after surprising the market with a profit downgrade with this impacting sentiment in Japanese equities.
It was a quiet overnight session, in which the Nikkei was catching up to USDJPY weakness from the past two days, while China dipped once more despite the NDRC's chief economist stating China may cut RRR or conduct more reverse repos in H2 to maintain stable credit as loan growth slows down (or in other words things go back to normal). In Europe ECB's Nowotny decided to undo some of Draghi's recent work when he said that "good economic news" removes the need for a rate cut which in turn pushed the EURUSD higher (and European exports lower), even as former Cyprus central bank Orphanides said the Euro crisis may flare up after the German elections. In the UK Q2 GDP came in slightly stronger than expected at 0.7% vs 0.6% Exp. letting the GBP outperform since a need for the BOE to ease, at least in the short run, is becoming less pertinent. In amusing news, Moody’s late yesterday put six largest U.S. banks on review as it considers the effect of evolving bank resolution policies under Dodd-Frank and international regulations. As such GS, JPM, MS and WFC may be cut.
- MSM discovers that soaring dollar hurts corporate profits: P&G to Apple Hurt by Strong Dollar Keep S&P 500 Profits in Check (BBG)
- China Posts Surprise Drop in Exports (WSJ) - lol: "surprise"
- Plan Reins In Biggest Banks (WSJ)
- European Commission Seeks Authority to Wind Down Banks (WSJ) - and Germany just says 9
- U.S. Banks Seen Freezing Payouts as Harsher Leverage Rules Loom (BBG)
- Brussels sets up clash with Berlin over banks (FT)
- EU to Toughen Creditor-Loss Rules at Failing Banks From August (BBG) - or September, or October, but definitely November... 2023
- China's crude, iron ore imports falter as demand cools (Reuters)
- Obama pushes economic case for immigration as House eyes next steps (Reuters)
Six months after the Barclays epic wristslap in which there were none - zero - criminal charges against Libor manipulators, it is time to trot out the same old theatrical song and dance again, this time focusing on bailed out RBS, which the CFTC just fined a whopping sum of $325 million, modestly less than the $16 billion profit the bank made in 2007, followed by the epic subsequent collapse which saw $104 billion in bailouts to keep the bank afloat courtesy of Biritsh taxpayers. In other words: manipulate the world's most sensitive credit-related metric, and you will see either 5% of your peak profits deducted, or we will force you to get even more bailouts.
- Obama takes offensive against Romney in debate rematch (Reuters)
- Obama Says Romney Words Aren’t ‘True’ in Second Debate (Bloomberg)
- Obama takes Romney head-on in debate (FT)
- And another joins the club: Thailand Unexpectedly Cuts Rate as Global Outlook Worsens (Bloomberg)
- PBOC Injects Less Cash (WSJ)
- Japan to Hold Special Cabinet Meeting After Economy Downgraded (Bloomberg)
- Greek Coalition Duo Reject Labour Moves Proposed by Troika (WSJ)
- Opposition wanes to Spanish aid request (FT)
- RBS to Exit U.K. Asset Protection Plan After $4 Billion Fees (Bloomberg)
- Spain Retains Investment Grade Credit Rating From Moody’s (Bloomberg)
- US diplomat asks Japan, ROK to resolve islands spat (China Daily)
- Stagnation not due to austerity, says OBR (FT)
While the recent revelations of multi-year LIBOR manipulation (but, but how was that possible: it involved thousands of people, operating for years, manipulating numbers - all the traditional reasons presented against conspiracy theory crackpots alleging that manipulation may be going on here, or there, or at the BLS, or somewhere), which we had said had been happening for the past 3 years, confirmed that the entire rate-based derivative market was a giant scam, at least one market spared from cartel whistleblower, i.e., insider, humiliation, was the commodities market. No longer. As the FT first reported, a Swiss trading office of Total Oil Trading sent a response letter to IOSCO (the International Organization of Securities Commissions), alleging that the same kinds of market "pricing" shennanigans that have been now exposed to have taken place over bottles of Bollinger, may have been pervasive in the crude market as well.
- China To Maintain Prudent Monetary Policy (China Daily)
- Why Exit Is An Option For Germany (FT)
- China-Japan Ministers Hold 'Severe' Talks As Spat Damages Trade (Bloomberg)
- Eurozone Deal Over Bank Bailout In Doubt (FT)
- UBS Co-Workers Knew of Fake Trades, Adoboli Told Lawyer (Bloomberg)
- Banks Seek Changes To Research Settlement (FT)
- Secession Crisis Heaps Pain On Spain (FT)
- SEC: NY Firm Allowed HFT Manipulation (Bloomberg) - busted 'providing liquidity'?
- Germany To Tap Brakes ON High-Speed Trading (WSJ)
- Rajoy Outlines Fresh Overhauls (WSJ)
- BBC Apologizes To Queen Over Radical Cleric Leak (Reuters)
- British Banks Step Back From Libor Role (WSJ)
- Obama Seeks To Recast Ties With Arab World (FT)
There was a time when regulators caught red-handed abusing their privileges, aka, doing nothing in the face of glaring malfeasance, would quietly fade away only to even more quietly reappear, sans press release, as a third general counsel or some other C-grade menial role paying a minimum 6 figure compensation to the individual for years of doing nothing. This is no longer the case: it appears that the best such exposed "regulators" can hope for going forward is to get media positions. Such is the case with John Ewan. Who is John Ewan? None other than the director "responsible for the management of the setting of Libor" at the British Bankers' Association. In other words, the man whom The Sun of all non-captured publications (oddly enough, tabloids sometimes have more journalistic integrity than Reuters and the FT as we will shortly find) has dubbed Mr. Libor. The Sun continues: "In a staggering profile on the internet Mr Ewan reveals he joined the BBA in 2005 to “put Libor on a secure commercial footing”. That year Barclays traders began fiddling the figures they submitted for the Libor calculations. On the LinkedIn networking site Mr Ewan boasts of generating a “tenfold” increase in revenue from licensing out the Libor rate." He adds: “I introduced new products and obtained EU, US and Japanese trademarks for BBA Libor. "I successfully negotiated contracts with derivatives exchanges and all of the major data vendors." Well, in the aftermath of Lieborgate surely Ewan is going to someone receptive to his permissive and highly profitable tactics over the years, such as Barclays. Actually no: instead of a bank, the only place that is willing to accept Ewan is media conglomerate Reuters. And not just as anyone: "Thomson Reuters confirmed that Ewan has joined the company as head of business development for its fixing and benchmark business." We wonder how much revenue Mr. Ewan generated for Reuters?
For over four years, virtually everyone in the finance industry knew that Libor was manipulated. The stench of manipulation rose to the very top and thanks to a document release of formerly confidential information, we now know for a fact that even the Fed was in on it - recall that as part of production, the Fed provided a transcript of an April 2008 phone call between a Barclays trader in New York and Fed official Fabiola Ravazzolo, in which the unidentified trader said: "So, we know that we're not posting um, an honest LIBOR." And yet without any tangible, black on white evidence, there was no catalyst for pursuing legal action. That all changed when in a desperate attempt to protect its ass, Barclays decided to rat out everyone by settling with regulators, and "turn state" producing e-mail based evidence, most of it quite visual (after all what is more tangible to the common man that evil bankers sipping on Bollinger), which essentially threw years of quiet cartel cooperation under the bus. As a result, regulators, enforcers, and legal authorities, many of whom were in on this manipulation from the beginning, no longer had an excuse to not pursue civil and criminal charges against perpetrators, who until recently were footing the tabs at various gentlemen's venues and ultra expensive restaurants. And while the imminent waterfall of civil prosecution will force bank litigation reserves to go through the roof, here comes, with a very long delay, the criminal charges. As Reuters reports, here come the arrests.
Two days ago we made the "missing link" connection between traders in Libor manipulating banks (all of which curiously had a hub in Singapore: something else for the media that has been about 4 years too late on this topic to focus on) and hedge funds (most of which curiously centering on the otherwise sleepy bastion of banking: Geneva, Switzerland). The immediate aftermath was the loss of trading privileges of one Michael Zrihen. We are fairly certain this is just the beginning of the hedge fund bust: when all is said and done, many more funds will have terminated traders they hired for reasons (and kickbacks) unknown over the past 2 years as Lie-bor manipulators sought to put a clean firewalled break between their old employer and current one. Because apparently sometimes the regulators are that stupid and can be confused by a simple job change. And while many have assumed (and even calculated based on completely groundless assumptions) that only BBA member banks have benefited from Libor manipulation, the reality is that hedge funds were just as complicit and benefited just as much if not more. What is worse, they took advantage of their whale client status with manipulating banks, and courtesy of Total Return Swap and other leveraged gimmicks, made far more money when they co-opted two or more banks to do their bidding. Impossible you say: hedge funds would never be so stupid. Oh very possible: we present exhibit A - Brevan Howard, a "fund, with assets of $20.8 billion as of Dec. 31, has never had a losing year and returned 14.4 percent annualized from its April 2003 inception through the end of 2008" as Bloomberg said in a made to order profile of the funds recently. Perhaps there is a very simple reason for this trading perfection: "Brevan Howard telephoned on 20 Aug 2007 to ask the defendant to change the Libor rate," according to a paper filed with the Singapore High Court cited by Bloomberg."
In an exclusive report Zero Hedge yesterday presented the connection between the 16 BBA member banks, and something far more sinister: the sleepy, quiet (just as they want it) universe of Swiss hedge funds and private banks. One of our key focuses was on a gentleman named Michael Zrihen. We said: "So allegedly Zrihen, who now works in Geneva (keep a note of this), manipulated Libor at CA, and is now at Lombard Odier - "Geneva's oldest firm of private bankers and one of the largest in Switzerland and Europe." There is no news on whether Zrihen has been let go by Lombard Odier. Yet." We now have news. As of moments ago:
- LOMBARD ODIER SAYS MICHAEL ZRIHEN `NO LONGER TRADING'
- LOMBARD ODIER SAYS ZRIHEN JOINED THE FIRM IN DEC 2010
- LOMBARD ODIER SAYS HAS NO ROLE IN EURIBOR, LIBOR SUBMISSIONS
As a reminder, this is just the tip of the Swiss Liebor rabbit hole. Many more hedge funds will be implicated.
That Lieborgate is about to spill over and take down many more banks is well known: as previously reported that the world's biggest bank Deutsche Bank, has become a rat for the Liebor prosecution having turned sides. The reason: "Under the leniency programs of the EU, companies may get total immunity from fines or a reduction of fines which the anti-trust authorities would have otherwise imposed on them if they hand over evidence on anti-competitive agreements or those involved in a concerted practice." However, just like in the case of Barclays (with Diamond), JPM (with Bruno Iksil), UBS (with Kweku) and Goldman (with Fabrice Tourre), there always is a scapegoat. Today we find just who that scapegoat is. From Bloomberg: "Regulators are investigating the possible roles of Michael Zrihen at Credit Agricole, Didier Sander at HSBC and Christian Bittar at Deutsche Bank, the person said on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. The names of the banks and traders were reported earlier today by the Financial Times." Of course, as so very often happens, the link between the investigated firm, and the person in question no longer exists - after all what better brute way to tie up loose ends, than to fire the person in question at some point in the past: "Michael Golden, a spokesman for Deutsche Bank, confirmed that Bittar left the bank last year and declined to comment on the investigation." And since neither Bloomberg, nor the earlier FT article have any discussion of just where Mr. Bittar ended up, knowing quite well there is very likely a full-scale investigation forming into his Libor transgressions. The first place we went to, naturally, was LinkedIn, not because we expected to find his profile there: very few higher echelon bankers actually post their resumes on LinkedIn, but because we were fairly confident that the very useful function of seeing whose other profiles had been looked at in the context of even a "fake" Bittar, would provide us with clues. Sure enough that's precisely what happened.