Europe is fast turning into a freak comedy show. Very fast. Or maybe we should say it’s always been one, and it’s just that the Larry, Curly and Moe moves are only now coming out in droves. Or maybe, what do I know, we’re just starting to understand how much talent for farce and slapstick the boys from Brussels have always had. Someone finish off that inane union before it starts to do real serious harm. Because it will.
The grind higher in equities, and tighter in credit, continues as markets brush aside concerns about a December taper for the time being. Overnight futures levitation has pushed the Fed balance sheet driven record high S&P even higher, despite as Deutsche Bank points out, the fact that we had three Fed speakers advocate or talk up the possibility of a December taper, including the St Louis Fed’s James Bullard who is viewed as a bit of a bellwether for the FOMC. Bullard said the probability of a taper had risen in light of the strengthening of job growth in recent months. Indeed, he noted that the best move for the Fed could be a small December taper given the improving jobs data but below-target inflation readings. The Fed could then pause further tapering should inflation not return toward target during the first half of 2014. Looking at today’s calendar, the focus will be on US JOLTs job openings - a report which Yellen has previously highlighted as an important supplement to more traditional labour market indicators. US small business optimism and wholesale inventories are the other major data releases today. As mentioned above, US financial regulators are due to announce Volcker rules at some point today although as we just reported, the CFTC's meeting on Volcker was just cancelled due to inclement weather.
The week's most anticipated speech (given Obama's absence from DC) is here. Bernanke's Economic Club of New York extravaganza - where he has previously hinted at new or further policy - is upon us. Sure enough, it's a smorgasbord of we'll do whatever-it-takes (but won't bailout Congress) easing-to-infinity, housing's recovering but we want moar, simply re-iterating his comments from last week...
- *BERNANKE SAYS FISCAL CLIFF WOULD POSE `SUBSTANTIAL THREAT'
- *BERNANKE SAYS CONGRESS, WHITE HOUSE NEED TO AVERT FISCAL CLIFF
- *BERNANKE SAYS FED TO ENSURE RECOVERY IS SECURE BEFORE RATE RISE
- *BERNANKE SAYS HOUSING RECOVERY `LIKELY TO REMAIN MODERATE'
- *BERNANKE SAYS CRISIS REDUCED ECONOMY'S POTENTIAL GROWTH RATE
However, as we have noted previously, once you've gone QE-Eternity, you never go back... and we would this is the 3rd time in a row that someone from the Fed has spoken and stocks have sold off.
The financial crisis of 2008 shook politicians, bankers, regulators, commentators and ordinary citizens out of the complacency created by the 25-year "great moderation". Yet, for all the rhetoric around a new financial order, and all the improvements made, many of the old risks remain (and some are far larger). The following 'story' suggests a scenario based on an 'avoidable history' and while future crises are not avoidable, being a victim of the next one is.
"John Banks was woken by his phone at 3am on Sunday 26th April 2015. John worked for Garland Brothers, a formerly British bank that had relocated its headquarters to Singapore in late 2011 as a result of..."
To use the analogy offered by Senor Cervantes we would say that Rodrigo, as representing Spain, is about to be devoured by the snakes. The central bank of Spain just released the net capital outflow numbers and they are disastrous. During the month of June alone $70.90 billion left the Spanish banks and in July it was worse at $92.88 billion which is 4.7% of total bank deposits in Spain. For the first seven months of the year the outflow adds up to $368.80 billion or 17.7% of the total bank deposits of Spain and the trajectory of the outflow is increasing dramatically. Reality is reality and Spain is experiencing a full-fledged run on its banks whether anyone in Europe wants to admit it or not. We are now at the virtual epicenter of the European Crisis where decisions will have to be made; avoidance is no longer possible. We have reached the end of the road where there is no more path left for can kicking.
First Moody's cut the most prominent Austrian banks, and now it is Germany's turn, if not that of the most undercapitalized German bank yet: "The ongoing rating review for Deutsche Bank AG and its subsidiaries will be concluded together with the reviews for other global firms with large capital markets operations." Punchline: "Frankfurt am Main, June 06, 2012 -- Moody's Investors Service has today taken various rating actions on seven German banks and their subsidiaries, as well as one German subsidiary of a foreign group. As a result, the long-term debt and deposit ratings for six groups and one German subsidiary of a foreign group have declined by one notch, while the ratings for one group were confirmed. Moody's also downgraded the long-term debt and deposit ratings for several subsidiaries of these groups, by up to three notches. At the same time, the short-term ratings for three groups as well as one German subsidiary of a foreign group have been downgraded by one notch, triggered by the long-term rating downgrades."
If according to S&P recently nationalized Bankia is junk, what does that imply about Spain?
As was leaked earlier today, so it would be:
- MOODY'S CUTS 16 SPANISH BANKS AND SANTANDER UK PLC
- MOODY'S CUTS 1 TO 3 LEVELS L-T RATINGS OF 16 SPANISH BANKS
- MOODY'S DOWNGRADES SPANISH BANKS; RATINGS CARRY NEGATIVE
In summary, the highest Moodys rating for any Spanish bank as of this point is A3. But luckily the other "rumor" of a bank run at Bankia was completely untrue, at least according to Spanish economic ministry officials, so there is no need to worry: it is all under control. The Banko de Espana said so.
Maybe we can call today bad loan day: earlier today the Bank of Spain announced that Spanish bank loans, already rising in a rather disturbing diagonal fashion, have surpassed 8% of total for the first time since 1994. Now it is Italy's turn, where we find courtesy of ABI, that gross non-performing loans, aka bad-debt, has just reached €107.6 billion, or 6.3% of total, and the highest since 2000, not to mention a doubling of the 3.0% in June 2008. It gets worse: as Reuters reports, while domestic deposits in February rose by a heartening 1.6% in February, it is foreign deposits that confirm that not all is well with the country's financial system, declining a whopping 16% in February y/y, and the 8th consecutive monthly decline, a chart which resembles that of Greek deposit outflows. The reason why Italy, like all the other peripherals, is now a ward of the ECB? Simple: "Net funding from abroad stood at 182 billion euros, down 32.5 percent year-on-year." And if there is no external money, the Central Bank will need to save.
In advance of ever louder demands for more, more, more NEWER QE-LTROs (as BofA's Michael Hanson says "If our forecast of a one-handle on H2 growth is realized, then we would expect the Fed to step in with additional easing, in the form of QE3") , it is an opportune time to demonstrate just what the traditional monetary "plumbing" mechanisms at the discretion of the Fed are, and more importantly, just how completely plugged they are. So without any further ado...
In keeping with the tradition of waking up to reality with a several month delay on downgrades (if being the first to upgrade insolvent Eurozone members), here comes Fitch, to boldly go where Moody's went long ago.
- UNITED KINGDOM L-T IDR OUTLOOK TO NEGATIVE FROM STABLE BY FITCH
- FITCH AFFS UNITED KINGDOM AT 'AAA'; REVISES OUTLOOK TO NEGATIVE
As a reminder, UK consolidated debt/GDP is... oh... ~1000%
The Greek CDS auction has not yet taken place, nor has one quantified how many Greece-guaranteed orphan bonds with UK-law indentures have to be made whole (at a cost to Greece of course, no matter how much Venizelos protests), and somehow the world is already moving on to bigger and better risk strawmen. Because if one sticks their head in the sand deep enough, it will be easy to ignore that European banks have gradually over the past year or quite suddenly (as in the case of Austrian KA Finanz) taken about €100 billion in now definitive losses on their Greek bonds and CDS exposure. Luckily, just like in the US, there is now over $1.3 trillion in fungible cash sloshing in the system, allowing banks to 'fungibly' fund capital shortfalls and otherwise abuse every trace of proper accounting, when it comes to a post-Greek default world. The problem is that none of this actually solves the fundamental insolvency issues plaguing the 'old world', but what it does do, is force the accelerated depletion of an aging and amortizing asset base. That's fine - as Draghi said the ECB can "always loosen collateral requirements even more." So while we await to hear just who will sue Greece and Europe, and how much cash will have to be paid out to UK-law bondholders (before the Greek default is even remotely put to rest), here is a listing of what Bank of America (recall - BofA is the one bank most desperate to remove any lipstick from the pig due to its need for more QE) believes will be the biggest risks to its outlook going forward. In order of importance: 1) Oil prices (remember when a month ago we said this then ignored issue may soon hit the very top of investors worry lists?), 2) Europe; 3) US Economy; and 4) China. That about covers it. Oh and massive debt issuance supply too as well as the even more epic straw man that is this Thursday's stress test. Remember: stress tests will continue until confidence in the ponzi returns!