The biggest (non) news of the day was Oliver Wyman ("OW") conducting an "independent" audit of the Spanish banking system to validate the previously disclosed funding needs of Spain's banks which were announced back in June (just a week after Mariano Rajoy "insisted" no bank bailouts are needed). What OW really did was exercise 1 in a financial analyst's playbook: to goal seek a number in excel using a variety of input variables, especially several fudge factors that are tangential to the matter at hand, yet which provide the biggest bang for the buck. In this case the target of the goalseeking exercise was to get a final headline number for bank capital needs to be just as expected, or €60 billion. Sure enough it the number was €59.3 billion, just a little bit less than consensus. This is the total number of cash the bank system will need in order to be considered viable, and unless something has changed drastically, the cash will come from new debt issued by Spain, which in turn funds its bank bailout fund, the FROB (a process explained here). While it is a given that several months from now we will go through this whole entire exercise to find out how much more cash Spain's banks will need, for now what is curious is to understand what the fudge factor was that OW abused to allow it to get the desired result. That fudge factor is what is known as "excess capital buffer", whose usage in the model to plug a major capital shortfall gap is non-sensical and shows that the real funding needs of Spain's banks will be far greater, even absent future deterioration.
- China accuses Bo Xilai of multiple crimes, expels him from communist party (Reuters), China seals Bo's fate ahead of November 8 leadership congress (Reuters)
- "Dozens of phone calls on days, nights and weekends" - How Bernanke Pulled the Fed His Way - Hilsenrath (WSJ)
- Fed won't "enable" irresponsible fiscal policy-Bullard (Reuters)
- PBOC Adviser Says Easing Restrained by Concerns on Homes (Bloomberg)
- Data Point to Euro-Zone Recession (WSJ)
- Fiscal cliff dims business mood (FT)
- FSA to Oversee Libor in Streamlining of Tarnished Rates (Bloomberg)
- Monti Says ECB Conditions, IMF Role Hinder Bond Requests (Bloomberg)
- Japan Heads for GDP Contraction as South Korea Weakens (Bloomberg)
- Moody’s downgrades South Africa (FT)
- Madrid Struggles With Homage to Catalonia (WSJ)
European riots protests are on UBS' Art Cashin's mind. Furthermore, Art notes that Spain has seen a fifth region (Castilla La Mancha) request a billion-euro-bailout (along with Catalonia's secession concerns) and Greece is hotting up. However, it is Egypt that is becoming an increasing concerning for the avuncular aristocrat of the exchange floor, as he fears the region's growing instability along with its potential need to devalue the pound may see the current 'sporadic outbursts of social unrest' spill over into more broad based protestations on the streets of Cairo.
Lately, it has become particularly fashionable to bash private equity, especially among those workers in the employ of the state. The argument, in as much as capitalism can be summarized in one sentence, is that PE firms issue excess leverage, making bankruptcy inevitable (apparently those who buy the debt are unaware they will never get their money back), all the while cutting headcount to maximize cash flow (apparently the same PE firms don't realize that their investment will have the greatest terminal value to buyer if it has the highest possible growth potential, which means revenue and cashflow, which means proper CapEx investment, which means streamlined income statement, which means more efficient workers generating more profits, not less). The narrative ultimately culminates with some variation on a the theme that PE firms are responsible for offshoring jobs. While any of the above may be debated, and usually is especially by those who have absolutely no understanding of finance, one thing is certain: when it comes to bashing PE, America's public workers should be the last to have anything negative to say about Private Equity, and the capital markets in general. Why? Because when it comes to fulfilling those promises of a comfortable retirement with pensions and benefits paying out in perpetuity, always indexed for inflation, and otherwise fulfilling impossible dreams, who do America's public pension fund administrators go to? The very same private equity firms that have suddenly become outcast number 1.
European Risk Is Back: CDS Surge, Spain 10 Year Back Over 6%, Germany Has Second Uncovered Auction In Three WeeksSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/26/2012 06:14 -0400
Remember when we said two months ago that one way or another the market will need to tumble to enforce the chain of events that lead to Spain demanding the bailout which has long been priced in, and (especially after yesterday's violent protest) Rajoy handing in his resignation? Well, it's "another." After nearly 3 months of suspending reality, in hopes to not "rock the boat" until the US presidential election, reality has made a quick and dramatic appearance in Europe, where after a day in which the EURUSD tumbled, events overnight have finally caught up. What happened? First, ECB's Asmussen said that the central bank would not participate in any debt restructuring, confirming any and all hopes that the ECB would ever be pari passu with regular bondholders were a pipe dream. Second, Plosser in the US said additional QE probably won't boost growth which has reverberated across a globe in which the only recourse left is, well, additional QE. Finally, pictures of tens of thousands rioting unemployed young men and women in Madrid did not help. The result: Spain's 10 Year is over 20 bps wider, and back over 6%, Germany just had a €5 billion 10 Year auction for which it only got €3.95 billion in bids, which means it was technically a failure, and the second uncovered auction in one month, and finally CDS across the continent, not to mention the option value that is the Spanish IBEX which may fall 3% today, have finally realized they are priced far too much to perfection and have, as a result, blown out.
It's becoming clear that there is only one sensible solution ahead of us as the Eurozone’s problems evolve: Germany and the other countries suited to a strong currency should leave. If they do, the European Central Bank (ECB) will be free to pursue the easy money policies recommended by Keynesians and monetarists alike. It's increasingly clear that Germany has no option but to behave like any creditor seeking to protect its interests – and do its best to defuse the growing resentment against her from the Eurozone’s debtors. If Germany is to abandon the euro, it has to do so as quickly and elegantly as possible. It must be able to demonstrate that it has no alternative and that it is the best solution for all parties involved. Germany’s politicians know this. For the moment they are frozen in a state of inaction, but there is a general election to concentrate their minds in about a year’s time - and Germany’s electorate is becoming acutely aware of the enormity of the task. It has become obvious to many people from all walks of life in Germany that the euro has done them no good, and, far from reaping benefits, they are actually less wealthy as a result of it.
Just when we thought Europe has already used the kitchen sink and then some in its arsenal of bailout ideas, here comes Spain proving there is always "something else." Bloomberg reports that the insolvent country which is not really insolvent as long as people keep buying its bonds on hopes it is insolvent, is launching "lottery bonds". To wit: Spain to sell bonds through state-run lottery operator to fund regional bailouts, two people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg’s Esteban Duarte and Ben Sills. The issue is part of €6 billion financing through Sociedad Estatal Loterias & Apuestas del Estado which is raising syndicated loan. Loterias official said financing details haven’t been completed. In other words, the national lottery, which as in Spain so everywhere else, is nothing but an added tax on a country's poor population but one which provides at least a tiny hope of a substantial repayment (which never happens for the vast, vast majority of players) so few actually complain about paying it, is about to shift the bailout cost to the nation's poorest. Who benefits? Why Spiderman towel makers of course. And insolvent banks.
Some wonder why we have been so convinced that no matter what happens, that the Fed will have no choice but to continue pushing the monetary easing pedal to the metal. It is actually no secret: we explained the logic for the first time back in March of this year with "Here Is Why The Fed Will Have To Do At Least Another $3.6 Trillion In Quantitative Easing." The logic, in a nutshell, is simple: everyone who looks at modern monetary practice (as opposed to theory) through the prism of a 1980s textbook is woefully unprepared for the modern capital markets reality for one simple reason: shadow banking; and when accounting for the ongoing melt of shadow banking credit intermediates, which continues to accelerate, the Fed has a Herculean task ahead of it in restoring consolidated credit growth. Shadow banking, as we have explained many times most recently here, is merely an unregulated, inflationary-buffer (as it has no matched deposits) which provides the conventional banking credit transformations such as maturity, credit and liquidity, in the process generating term liabilities. In yet other words, shadow banking creates credit money which can then flow into monetary conduits such as economic "growth" or capital markets, however without creating the threat of inflation - if anything shadow banks are the biggest systemic deflationary threat, as due to the relatively short-term nature of their duration exposure, they tend to lock up at the first sing of trouble (see Money Markets breaking the buck within hours of the Lehman failure) and lead to utter economic mayhem unless preempted. Well, preempting the collapse in the shadow banking system is precisely what the Fed's primary role has so far been, even more so than pushing the S&P to new all time highs. The problem, however, as we will show today, is that even with the Fed's balance sheet at $2.8 trillion and set to rise to $5 trillion in 2 years, it will not be enough.
Imagine if the world found out that China’s growth and recovery post 2008 were largely based on fraudulent data and garbage development projects fueled by easy money and rampant corruption on the part of Chinese officials?
We believe an unsustainable new global financial architecture that arose in response to the US and European financial crises has replaced an older, more sustainable, architecture. The old architecture was crystallized in Washington- and IMF-inspired policy responses to the numerous sovereign defaults, banking system failures, and currency collapses. Most importantly, the previous architecture recognized limits on fiscal and central bank balance sheets. The new architecture attempts to 'back', perhaps unconsciously, the entire liability side of the global financial system. This framing is consistent with a purely political—institutional stylized—fact that it is nearly impossible to penetrate the US political parties if the message is that there are limits to their power…or that their power requires great effort and sacrifice. This is why Keynesians (at least US ones) who argue there are no limits to a fiscal balance sheet are so popular with Democrats, and why monetarists (at least US ones) who argue there are no limits to a central bank balance sheet are popular with (a decreasing number of) Republicans. Party on! Again, nobody chooses hard-currency regimes – they are forced on non-credible policymakers. Let me put it more positively. If politicians want the power of fiat money, let alone the global reserve currency, they need to behave differently than they have - or the consequences for Gold are extraordinary.
Meet the man, who many say (most of whom correctly) has been running pretty much everything from deep behind the scenes.
Curious why nearly 4 years ago to the day Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson told Ken Lewis to purchase Merrill Lynch "or else" (but to make sure everyone gets paid their bonuses bright and early with no cuts)? It certainly had to do with the stock price and preserving the wealth of the shareholders. It had little to do with making the company viable in the long run, unfortunately, as the just announced news of a massive tsunami of 16,000 imminent terminations at the company confirms. All BofA did then was to take on dead weight at gunpoint, which it now has to shed. It also shows that despite rumors to the contrary the US economy is not getting better, the US financial system is not getting stronger, faith in capital markets is not returning (based on future staffing needs at banks), US tax revenues by the highest earners will go down, and the closed loop that is a procyclical economic move will just get worse as there are fewer service providers providing financial services, in the process taking out less consumer debt to keep the GDP "growing." What will also happen by January 1, 2013 is that BofA will no longer be America's largest employer, with the total headcount of 260,000 at year end being the lowest since 2008, and smaller than JPM, Citi and Wells.
As if depressing PMI data out of China overnight was not enough (it was certainly enough to send the Shanghai Composite tumbling 2.08% to 2024.8 and just off fresh 4 year lows), we then got Europe to join in the fray with a composite PMI print of 45.9, down from 46.3, and a miss to expectations of a modest rise to 46.6 (driven by a manufacturing PMI of 46.0 up from 45.1, and a Services PMI down from 47.2 to 46.0). The biggest surprise was the sheer collapse in French manufacturing data which tumbled from 46.0 to a 4 year low of 42.6 on expectations of a rise to 46.4, which sent the EURUSD firmly into sub 1.30 territory and not even several good paradoxical bond auctions from Spain (because a good auction here means no bailout, means those who bought the bonds will soon suffer big losses) have managed to dent the very poor overnight sentiment which now implies a European GDP contraction of -1% of more. Reality has also halted the global easing euphoria (the USDJPY is now 40 bps below where the BOJ announced the injection of another Y10 Trillion), and has everyone wondering, now that QEternity is priced in, what next?
The great day has come and gone when the Fed would once again ride to the action, not daring to be left behind by the ECB’s perverse vaunting of its new ‘unlimited’ programme of bond purchases. But the few, brief sentences from Bernanke contain such a miasma of error that it is hard to know where to begin if we are to restore a fresh breeze of economic rationale to this swamp of non sequiturs and wilful misunderstandings. It is not enough that crude, Krugmanite Keynesianism clings to the cheap parlour trick of using money illusion to fool unemployed wage-earners into lowering the reservation price of their labour, but now we must battle against banal, Bernankite Bubble-blowing – the hope that money illusion will fool cash-constrained asset owners instead. It is not only that Bernanke’s policies will inevitably assist the zombie companies and the obsolescent industries to absorb scarce resources (not least on bank balance sheets) to a much greater degree than is justified, there is also the danger that lax money misleads even today’s supramarginal businesses into over-estimating the depth and duration of demand for their products, ultimately undermining many otherwise sound undertakings and reducing these, too, when the cycle next turns, to the ranks of the Living Dead.
Congratulations Mario Draghi and Ben Bernanke, you’ve unleashed "unlimited" and "open-ended" programs and the bond markets are still imploding.