With so many countries vying for the dubious honor of “Sick man of Europe,” ConvergEx's Nic Colas looks at some of the academic literature related to how doctors make sound diagnostic decisions. The medical profession suffers from many of the challenges we all face in making sound judgments, fighting off inherent biases and shortcuts to make consistent decisions based on the facts. The one difference is that medical professionals must often make their decisions “On the fly,” with life or death often in the balance. In contrast, European policymakers have, thus far, had the luxury of time in addressing the region’s challenges. But if the pace of crisis picks up in the coming months, the ECB/IMF as well as other monetary and fiscal policy bodies will have to move more like an army field surgeon than careful diagnostician. The ongoing challenges in Greece, Spain, Italy and other European countries could be considered either economic malpractice or misdiagnosis. Will they see “Austerity” as the cure for every ailment, or will they remain flexible? Will they remain overconfident and (potentially) overplay their hand? It is tempting to say that policymakers should follow the Hippocratic Oath and “First, do no harm.” Sadly, the situation in Europe is beyond that simple recommendation.
Update: It appears that when a company calls the market's bluff with a forced strategic alternatives announcement coupled with the phrase "challenging financial performance", the market does not like it very much. Stock now down 13% and sliding.
RIMM stock was just halted, preceding an announcement that JPM and RBC have been retained for "strategic purposes", as well as an operating loss warning for Q1 and notification of major headcuts. In other words, the endgame for RIMM is here: either the company finds a suitor or it may well be game over. For the benefit of RIMM longs we sure hope FB is eager to spend some of its cash soon if not quite soon.
Experienced investors try to avoid the "confirmation bias" trap by asking what supports the other side of the trade. Confirmation bias is our instinct to find data to support our position once it is taken. To counter this bias, we must attempt to build a plausible case against our position. If the effort is sincere, we gain a fuller understanding of the market we are playing (or perhaps avoiding). That the global economy is going to heck in a handbasket is self-evident. If you over-weight anecdotal "on the ground" evidence and fade the ginned-up official statistics, it is obvious the global slowdown is picking up speed in Europe and China, two of the world's largest "linchpin" economies.
Exit from the Euro would be very painful for Greece. Cut off from the ECB’s liquidity facilities, the Greek banking system would face collapse. And, as foreign lenders cut their credit lines to Greece and depositors struggled to extract their deposits ahead of the banks’ failure, the Greek financial system – and with it the Greek economy – would seize up. Given the costs of exit for both Greece and other Euro area countries, a powerful incentive exists for the two parties to reach a compromise that permits continued Greek membership of the Euro area but in the meantime the pan-European game of chicken continues and with each iteration of this game, the political cost to the two parties involved has increased. Goldman sees three key scenarios from this: Muddle Through (this is their 'Goldilocks' base case and implies continued Greek EMU membership, and ECB funding for Greek banks, but also continued pressure on Greece to reluctantly implement reforms while at the same time the remaining Eurozone countries very gradually deepen their policy integration) - which is modestly positive (though likely more range-bound) for equities and bonds with weak growth and Fed QE3 potentially pushing EURUSD up to 1.40; a Fast Exit (the least likely and most bearish scenario with Greece walking away unilaterally potentially knocking 2 percentage points of Euro-area GDP - even assuming substantial central bank counter-measures - and if the firewall were ineffective, a Euro-unraveling and an associated double-digit fall in Euro-area GDP); and a Slow Exit (Greece excluded once firewalls are in place - with pan-European deposit guarantees now front-and-center as opposed to simple banking bailouts to avoid the now-critical bank-run's contagion - which constitutes modest GDP impacts and compression in risk premia - and appears to what the market is discounting as likely). Simply put CB counter-measures are assumed to save any dramatic downside unless Greece surprises unilaterally.
Last week, when we reported on the then brand new record number of EUR non-commercial short contracts as reported by the CFTC, we said: "with such a massive surge in shorts in a short period of time, this means that the likelihood of major short squeezes is substantial on even the most innocuous of news, such as a G8 summit which promises much but delivers nothing, or China once again saying it will gladly focus on growth (as opposed to what? non-growth?), or some DieBold-inspired leadership change in the Greek pro/anti-bailout polls. Our advice to FX trading readers: be very careful with EURUSD stops: it is very likely that in their pursuit of short covering squeezes, (BIS) algos will take the pair substantially into the offer-side stop limit buffer just to force short hands out, which in turn may initiate short-term covering ramps." As of last Friday, the record number of net short contracts (-173.9K), just rose to a new all time high of -195.4K. The result: something as worthless and meaningless as uber-volatile Greek political polls (which had Syriza with a 4 point lead last Friday, which somehow dissolved and is now in second place about 24 hours later), was enough to send the EUR higher nearly by 100 pips overnight. Obviously, with ever more record shorts in the currency, expect the desperate continent to come up with nothing but more flashing red headlines in attempts to spook weak hands and incite even more very transitory short covering.
Back on March 27, following the epic disappointment that was the BATS IPO, we presented a detailed forensic analysis courtesy of Nanex, which demonstrated step by step how a Nasdaq-borne algo may have been the culprit shattering BATS' hopes of ever going public. Fast forward two months later to the most anticipated IPO in recent history, in which FaceBook's even more epic, if not quite as stark, implosion has set back the general public's faith in capital markets decades back. The irony, of course, is that FB didn't do anything that many weren't warning about: it simply plunged which would make perfect sense in a normal world. This in turn was the spark that provoked the public ire - had FB simply doubled since IPO day, nobody would care about what really happened on May 18. Alas, it didn't. And now the lawsuits come. The problem is we don't transact in a normal world, but one dominated by central banks and algorithms - which is why the most pressing question for those who grasp the real new normal is how come in a market as controlled and manipulated as the central bank-dominated venue we have now, was FB stock allowed to plunge? For what may be the actual definitive answer, as opposed to now trite philosophical ruminations on valuation, ethics, underwriter and shareholder greed, we once again go to Nanex, which has caught the perpetrator red handed once again... As Nanex' Eric Hunsader tells us: "Turns out just before Nasdaq's quote crossed and became non-firm, one copy of the same quote (crossed) was marked regular, and I think that caused other algos to react and immediately sell off the stock. When that crossed quote from nasdaq appears, bid prices from other exchanges suddenly evaporate and that causes the NBBO spread to explode from 1 cent to 70+cents in 1/10th of a second! Nasdaq's quote started doing this when the stock approached 42.99 -- that effectively prevented the stock from going higher (a few spurious trades right at the open came from BATS for 44 ~ 45 etc, before Nq's quote was in play). So these stupid Algos effectively short circuited the stock for Facebooks IPO! Unreal."
We will only learn about currency risk exposures as and when the creditors disclose same to investors. In the meantime, we’ll have lots of fun watching media spin their wheels over the game of “find the risk”
There's been a lot of hand-wringing about busted Initial Public Offerings of late, but the process itself is hardly rocket science. Like Tolstoy's comment about families, every "Happy" IPO is essentially the same, while every miserable one is different in its own way. There are rules to the successful IPO, and today we offer up ConvergEx's Nic Colas' manual, a step-by-step checklist for investors to assess if an offering is on track. From maintaining the illusion of scarcity to managing company and investor expectations, the road from salesforce "teach-in" to final pricing is narrow but well-marked.
The word 'encumbrance' has received a lot of headlines in the last few months - and rightfully so - after we pointed out the impact that LTROs had in subordinating senior creditors of European banks. As Morgan Stanley points out, this is a considerable problem for bondholders as 'in a wind-down scenario, senior unsecured holders have recourse to fewer assets and hence face a higher loss given default (LGD)'. In understanding just how bad things are for European banks, it is important to focus on 'how much loss-absorbing capital there is beneath you in the bank’s liability stack, as this is the capital that will take losses before senior creditors in the event of a bail-in' which means looking at deposits as well as secured encumbrance. What is very apparent from the pictorial representations of banks’ liability structures is that rather than encumbrance from covered bonds/LTRO etc. the bigger issue for encumbrance of senior unsecured investors is the potential threat from depositor 'runs'. The hope of another LTRO is limited by collateral as policy-makers are well aware that, in a world where failing banks are to be resolved through resolution frameworks and senior creditors are to take losses to shield taxpayers’ funds, banks may not have enough ‘bail-in-able’ debt, given their growing reliance on secured funding sources. With deposits increasingly impaired - and/or the potential for contagious bank runs if we see Grexit, Europe's problem is 'all about the bank runs' now and we were told yesterday how far off that is - though the crisis 'event' may bring deposit guarantees (and the implicit exchange of sovereignty for monetary support) sooner.
As High-Frequency-Trading rapes and pillages its way across global capital markets, perhaps it is no surprise that the country that gave the world 'Vikings' would be the first to stand up to the computerized hordes. In a breakthrough moment of clarity, The Financial Times reports, the Oslo Stock Exchange will issue punitive changes to traders if they send too many orders into the exchange that do not result in deals being done. This first-of-its-kind crackdown on 'Quote Stuffing' comes after the exchange has seen a surge in the number of orders flooding its systems and while the bourse does not quite go so far as to say HFT is "in itself necessarily negative for the market", it says the placement and cancellation frequency of trades has reduced the efficiency of its market. Bente Landsnes, chief executive of Oslo Bors, said: "A market participant does not incur any costs by inputting a disproportionately high number of orders to the order book, but this type of activity does cause indirect costs that the whole market has to bear. The measure we are announcing will help to reduce unnecessary order activity that does not contribute to improving market quality. This will make the market more efficient, to the benefit of all its participants." From September 1st the exchange will limit each trader to 70 orders for every trade executed and any excess of that ratio will be charged $0.0008 per order. We are sure the NASDAQ, wanting to make up for its SNAFBU, will be next in line to punish the pernicious penny-pinchers.
Gold’s London AM fix this morning was USD 1,558.50, EUR 1,239.27, and GBP 993.62 per ounce. Yesterday's AM fix this morning was USD 1,555.00, EUR 1,229.44, and GBP 989.56 per ounce.
Gold fell $5.60 or 0.36% in New York yesterday and closed at $1,561.20/oz. Gold has been trading sideways in Asia and was slightly lower in Europe prior to buying which saw gold rise to about the close in New York yesterday.
Did France, Italy and Greece think they are the only ones who can float strawmen in the media? No. Once again, Germany shows us how it is done. From Tomorrow's edition of Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachricthen: "The Greece-exit is a done deal: According to the German economic news from financial circles EU and the ECB have abandoned the motherland of democracy as a euro member. The reason is, interestingly, not in the upcoming elections - these are basically become irrelevant. The EU has finally realized that the Greeks have not met any agreements and will not continue not to meet them. A banker: "We helped with the Toika. The help of the troika was tied to conditions. Greece has fulfilled none of the conditions, and has been for months now." So more posturing? Or is Germany truly just so sick and tired of bailing out not just Greece (which pockets between 0% and 20% of any actual bailout cash), and indirectly French banks which as of this moment are the biggest pass thru beneficiaries, and of course the ECB with its tens of billions in old par GGB holdings, that this article is, gasp, founded in reality? Is Europe approaching its own Lehman moment when everyone says "just screw it", and let the dice fall where they may? Many said Lehman could never be allowed to fail. They were wrong. Just as many are saying that Europe will never let Greece leave as the costs to the continent are just too great. Well, judging by tonight's epic fiasco of a Euro-summit, the last thing we would attribute to Europe's leaders is clear and rational thought.
"Retroactive Market Conditions": Nasdaq Says Would Have Called Off FaceBook IPO If It Knew Then What It Knows NowSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/22/2012 18:07 -0400
First of all, let's get one thing straight: if instead of about to breach a 20-handle, the Facebook stock price was in the $60, nobody would care about anything that happened in the past 3 days, everyone would be happy and delighted, and increasing the velocity of money with the comfort that some greater fool would be willing to pay even more for ridiculous overvalued ponzi, pardon, portfolio holdings. Alas, we are not there, and as a result, the fingerpointing phase has come and gone. Now come the lawsuits, because people, led to believe in huge short-term profits, are now faced to face with a grim sur-reality in which the tooth fairy was just exposed as the cookie monster. And the latest farcical development: Nasdaq finally pulling market conditions, but not just any market conditions - retroactive ones.