Jon Corzine had an illustrious career in investment banking, rising to the very top of Goldman Sachs, until he got pushed out in 1999. He subsequently decided to try his luck in politics, and was eventually elected as a Senator from New Jersey in 2001, then Governor in 2006. After losing to Chris Christie in 2010, Corzine was promptly hired as the CEO of MF Global. He was back in the game of finance - and with something to prove. While the majority of voters in New Jersey breathed a sigh of relief, the clients of MF Global could not imagine the disaster that would unfold.
Having put Russia on review in mid-January, Moody's has decided (somewhat unsurprisingly) to downgrade Russia's sovereign debt rating to Ba1 (from Baa3) with continuing negative outlook. The reasons:
*MOODY'S SAYS RUSSIA EXPECTED TO HAVE DEEP RECESSION IN '15, CONTINUED CONTRACTION IN '16
*MOODY'S SEE RUSSIA DEBT METRICS LIKELY DETERIORATING COMING YRS
We assume the low external debt, considerable reserves, lack of exposure to US Treasuries, and major gold backing were not considered useful? Moody's concludes the full statement (below) by noting that they are unlikely to raise Russian sovereign debt rating in the near-term.
Perhaps this explained why Greece and The Eurogroup have (reportedly) come to an agreement to avoid an actual Grexit for 4 months. As Die Welt explains that Euro-area nations will face losses of up to EUR330bn as Greek outright government debt, ECB capital needs, and TARGET2 liabilities have soared in the last 2 years since the crisis last erupted...
"... we almost hope those forecasts are proven wrong. They imply a widening gap between valuations and traditional fundamental relationships. They imply a dearth of yields and spreads that will almost invariably push more and more investors into positions they would ultimately rather not take. But if the old adage that markets move in the direction that causes the most pain to the largest number of people is anything to go by, then we suspect that this is what will happen. Depressingly, our instinct is that those new forecasts are more likely too conservative than too aggressive. Longer-term, sweet dreams really aren't made of this."
The global financial system desperately needs a big, bloody sovereign default - a profoundly disruptive financial event capable of shattering the current rotten regime of bank bailouts and central bank financial repression. Needless to say, Greece is just the ticket: A default on its crushing debt and exit from the Euro would stick a fork in it like no other. But don’t count on the Greeks.
When you owe someone $340, it is YOUR problem.
When you owe someone $340 BILLION, it is THEIR problem.
According to IMF researcher Brad Jones, who wrote "Asset Bubbles: Re-thinking Policy for the Age of Asset Management", the "business risk of asset managers acts as strong motivation for institutional herding and "rational bubble-riding." This is a critical observation, and one which suggests that the mere groupthink of massive asset managers is what leads to not only herding, lack of originality and the "hedge fund hotel" phenomenon, but also to recurring and ever greater asset bubbles. As Jones further writes, "subdued leverage is not a sufficient condition for financial stability—if systemic risk, and activity in the wider economy, is shaped importantly by large shifts in risk premia owing to the "rational herding" motivations of asset managers."
The week just ended laid bare any pretensions that there is not something wrong (seriously wrong) within the natural world of both the macro underpinnings of business as well as finance. Unimaginable just a short 6 years ago, the U.S. equity markets closed at a height once again never before seen in human history highs, (it has more than tripled from the 2008 bottom!) but has done so solely on Keynesian fairy tales. The issue now is: does the fairytale end in a nightmare?
The “perfect-storm” of geopolitical instability, diplomatic isolation, severe currency depreciation, and economic decline now confronting Russia has profoundly damaged Moscow's international standing, and possibly for the long-term. Yet, it is precisely such conditions that may push the country’s leadership into taking the radical step that will secure its world-player status once and for all: the adoption of a gold-exchange standard.
The bond market may have gotten so fragmented in recent months that even Bloomberg was amazed at how little trading volume it necessary to make a price impact, the amount of bond traders (and certainly salesmen), and certainly their bonuses, appeared to only go up. "Appeared" being the key word, however, because as Bloomberg reports, "the average number of dealers providing prices for European corporate bonds dropped to a low of 3.2 per trade last month, down from 8.8 in 2009, according to data compiled by Morgan Stanley."
The monetary politburo has every reason to fear Rand Paul’s demand for a “policy audit” of the Fed. An honest one would show that its so-called “independence” has been monumentally abused in a manner which is deeply threatening to both political democracy and capitalist prosperity. Needless to say, we can’t have that audit soon enough. In short, what the nation really needs is not an “independent” Fed, but one that is shackled to a narrow and market-driven liquidity function. The rest of its current remit is nothing more than the self-serving aggrandizement of the apparatchiks who run it; and who have now managed to turn the nation’s vital money and capital markets into dangerous, unstable casinos, and the nations savers into indentured servants of a bloated and wasteful banking system.
It is very difficult for governments to control the progress of a monetary union break-up because the example of one country exiting will create a precedent in the eyes of other members of the monetary union. The transmission channel is not government bonds, nor equities, not currency markets, but banks. In the event of a Greek exit from the euro, the loss in the real value of Greek bank deposits would encourage bank depositors in other countries to withdraw their funds.
The process can be very rapid indeed.
The politicians of Europe are plunging into a form of ideological fratricide as they battle over Greece. Accordingly, all the combatants - the German, Greek and other national politicians and the apparatchiks of Brussels and Frankfurt - are fundamentally on the wrong path, albeit for different reasons. Yet by collectively indulging in the sum of all statist errors they may ultimately do a service. Namely, discredit and destroy the whole bailout state and central bank driven financialization model that threatens political democracy and capitalist prosperity in Europe - and the rest of the world, too.
It seems like everyone and his brother today are wringing their hands about AI and some impending “Singularity”, a moment of future doom where non-human intelligence achieves some human-esque sentience and decides in Matrix-like fashion to turn us into batteries or some such. Please. The Singularity is already here. Its name is Big Data. Big Data is magic, in exactly the sense that Arthur C. Clarke wrote of sufficiently advanced technology. But here’s the magic trick that we're worried about for investors...
It took a while, but three months after we wrote "How The Petrodollar Quietly Died, And Nobody Noticed", someone finally noticed.