About a year ago, we speculated that as part of the ongoing currency warfare between Brazil and the "developed" world, its finance minister Guido Mantega would keep his trade surplus trump card until the moment of biggest impact. That moment has come, after the financial head (with the Playboy-posing daughter) just told Europe to take a hike. "I believe that European countries do not need funds from Brazil to buy bonds. Brazil is not considering it," Mantega told reporters in Brasilia. "They have to find solutions to the European problems within Europe." And with Brazil out, it is certain that China will not step up over fears of appearing weak and needing to provide vendor financing to its biggest export partner. Unfortunately for Europe this means that at least one component of the revised SPIV: that which foresees public investment from third parties into the EFSF (a new twist proposed only last week), can now be safely forgotten, bringing us back to page one and the entire 5x levered CDO structure which as has been explained numerous times, is Dead on Arrival. There is, however, one loophole. "Mantega said Brazil would be willing to provide financial help via the International Monetary Fund." Which is rather laughable considering that by IMF, one typically refers to, at least in polite society, Uncle Sam. Then again, with a French woman (and one who until recently was solely reponsible for the grave French financial condition) in charge, it is easy to lose sight and to be, there is that phrase again, baffled by irrelevant bullshit even as following the bailout money always lead to the same old source.
We are far enough away from the onset of the Great Recession that another down-wave in the depression (or a new recession if you go by NBER) is either here or due soon. It may not be a severe downturn, as housing and autos would be falling from first- or second-floor windows in that case, but it would be occurring on the backdrop of a weakened structure, and thus the financial effects could be more severe than the economic effects (which could be severe or mild). Here is what you need to do.
With less than 48 hours left until Europe's latest and greatest summit on Wednesday (no point in keeping count: it is certain that yet more extensions wil be demanded and granted, letting the EURUSD have just that much more space from where to fall) Europe has, as it usually does in the 12th hour after it whips out the abacus, realized that the EFSF in its latest incarnation is Dead on Arrival (as expected). So what does Europe do? Why come crawling to Uncle Sam of course, only in this case it manages to save face as the uncle is really Aunt Lagarde, one of Europe's own, and ironically up until 4 months ago, the Finance Minister of what has emerged as the most distressed core European country. From the WSJ: "Europe may ask the International Monetary Fund to create and run a special new fund to help solve its debt crisis, according to a person familiar with the matter. The idea is one of several options still in the formative stage that European officials are considering as a way to prevent the crisis from engulfing its largest economies. The IMF and world financial leaders fear that if Europe doesn't act forcefully now, it could push the global economy into a recession and spark another global financial meltdown." And yes, there is a reason why three weeks ago we made big news out of the IMF scrambling to "Double Bail Out Capacity To $1.3 Trillion, May Issue Bonds." Because when in doubt always follow the money, or in this case the US taxpayer bailout, because this is what the IMF's turbo intervention will be: it will always give the right answer.
Clearly all "bad" ideas are good again. Enron perfected the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) and was a master of off balance sheet guarantees. Guarantees with their own equity as collateral in many cases. SIV's are SPV's with leverage. The kind of "asset" that got Citi in huge trouble and almost took down the bank. SIV's had a special place in CDO hell, but I guess you can't keep a good idea down. Detachable insurance. So the EFSF would sell insurance that would come with a new issue bond but could be detached and sold separately? If that doesn't sound a lot like the evil enemy "CDS" than I don't know what does. The biggest detractors of CDS always seem to say it is like buying fire insurance on your neighbor's house. U never agreed with that analogy but this is definitely like buying fire insurance on a house that doesn't cover you in event of fire. The details will be interesting but they had better do as much with cash up front as possible because and ability to require cash in times of stress creates the contagion death spiral they are allegedly trying to prevent. Clearly everyone "gets it" now. What "it" is and how much damage "getting it" will cause remains to be seen.
Remember: when in doubt, baffle with bullshit. From Dow Jones:
- EU Paper Confirms Looking At 2 EFSF Options, May Combine Them -Senior EU Source
- EU Paper Says EFSF Option To Set Up Special Purpose Investment Vehicle -Senior EU Source
- EU Paper Says EFSF Bond Insurance and Special Vehicle Options Could Be Combined - Senior EU Source
- EU Paper Says Neither EFSF Leverage Option Requires Change To EFSF Rules -Senior EU Source
- EU Paper Says EFSF SPIV Would Combine Public, Private Capital - Senior EU Source
- EU Paper Says EFSF Could Set Up One Central Euro Zone SPIV - Senior EU Source
- EU Paper Says EFSF SPIVs Could Be Set Up In Several Euro Zone Countries - Senior EU Source
- EU Paper Says EFSF SPIVs Would Be Used For Bond Purchases, Bank Recapitalization - Senior EU Source
- EU Paper Says EFSF Bond Insurance To Be Tradable Independently Of Bonds - Senior EU Source
It also has a Phillips-head screwdriver, opens cans, serves as a flashlight, dispenses crazy pills can be used as a garrote. And if you act now, you can get get a second one free for the low, low price of €1 trillion, leveraged infinitely courtesy of the world's most complex structured credit product ever conceived.
Zero Hedge has the pleasure to bring its readers this extensive Q&A with one of the most prominent voices of "Austrian" economic sensibility, and foremost experts on capital markets and commodities: Diapason's Sean Corrigan, who has repeatedly graced our pages in the past and who always provides a much needed 'on the ground' perspective on his native Europe. Among the numerous topics discussed are the Eurozone, its collapse, its insolvent banks, and the EFSF as the Swiss Army Knife ex Machina; the 3rd year anniversary of Lehman's failure and what lessons have been learned (if any); how to fix the US economy; on Goldman's relentless attempts to intervene in, and define, US monetary policy; what the Fed's role should be (if any) in the economy and capital markets; his views on the Occupy Wall Street movement; his advice to an inexperienced 25 year old looking to make their way in the world; And lastly, the $64K question: what is the endgame. A fascinating must read.
Citi Joins Goldman And JPMorgan In Settling Fraudulent And Misleading CDO Practices: Wristslap Costs $285 MillionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/19/2011 11:35 -0400
And so Citi becomes the third firm after Goldman and JPM to put all their gross CDO criminal (wait, allegedly, they neither admitted nor denied) activity behind them with a $285 million wristslap.
- Citigroup will pay USD 285mln to settle SEC charges for misleading investors about selling CDOs related to housing market, according to SEC
- Citigroup's main US broker-dealer unit misled investors about USD 1bln CDO tied to US housing market, in which Citigroup bet against investors.
It is unclear if the money used will be courtesy of FDIC-backed TLGP notes still on Citi's books. Either way, justice is now "served."
There Is No Bailout Spoon: The Math Behind The €2 Trillion EFSF Reveals A "Pea Shooter" Not A "Bazooka"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/18/2011 13:53 -0400
The latest and greatest plan to bail out Europe revolves around using the recently expanded and ratified €440 billion EFSF, and converting it into a "first loss" insurance policy (proposed by Pimco parent Allianz which itself may be in some serious need of shorting - the full analysis via Credit Sights shortly) in which the CDO would use its unfunded portion (net of already subscribed commitments) which amount to roughly €310 billion, and use this capital as a 20% "first-loss" off-balance sheet, contingent liability guarantee to co-invest alongside new capital in new Italian and Spanish bond issuance (where the problem is supposedly one of "liquidity" not "solvency"). In the process, the ECB remains as an arm-length entity which satisfies the Germans, as it purportedly means that the possibilty of rampant runaway inflation is eliminated as no actual bad debt would encumber the asset side of the ECB. A 20% first loss piece implies the total notional of the €310 billion in free capital can be leveraged to a total of €1.55 trillion. So far so good: after all, as noted Euro-supporter Willem Buiter points out in a just released piece titled "Can Sovereign Debt Insurance by the EFSF be the "Big Bazooka" that Saves the Euro?" there is only €900 billion in financing needs for the two countries until Q2 2013. As such the EFSF would take care of Europe's issues for at least 2 years, or so the thinking goes. There are two major problems with this math however, and Buiter makes them all too clear....Buiter's unpleasant, for Allianz, Merkel and Sarkozy conclusion is that "that would likely not fund the Spanish and Italian sovereigns until the end of 2012. It would not be a big bazooka but a small pea shooter."
The last time (May 2010) when the head of the worst performing division at Goldman, GSAM's Jim O'Neill openly taunted the market skeptics ("Anyhow, dear grizzlies....bet your [sic] worried about today’s rally? See u later.") the market proceeded to implode with such ferocity (not to mention see the first and biggest SEC fine charged against his firm for CDO rigging) that it took QE2 to prevent a depressionary relapse. Now, following the latest two week surge in risk assets, driven as we currently speculate primarily due to a FX repatriation out of French banks on asset liquidation and USD to EUR conversion, Jim O'Neill has once again crawled out of his shell and has gone "bear hunting." However, so as not to jinx the ongoing melt up on proceeding liquidations, he is far more subdued and rhetorically answer himself: "So are the bears beaten? As tempting as it is, alas I think not - at least yet." He continues, putting the onus of the growth thesis once again squarely on China: "While the Euro challenges are immense, I don’t see them as being necessarily of the power to drag down either China or the US, or both. While it is perfectly possible, the US and China have coped perfectly well with Japan’s weakness for a long period, so I don’t see why they can’t cope with a struggling Europe. A collapsing Europe would be a different story, but a struggling Europe, that shouldn’t be too demanding. As for Europe, the bar has been raised these past few weeks, as markets have recovered and expectations of a Big Bang increased. There are all sorts of dilemmas remaining, ranging from Berlusconi’s tentative hold of power in Italy to the divergence of stances on the right broad European solution. What we really need from Europe is to just not implode, that would be a problem for the rest of us and the markets." Unfortunately for Jim, he appears to have missed the "paradigm shift" when few if any buy the China as world savior phenotype any more, and instead most finally see what Jim Chanos and other fringe bloggers have been claiming for year. As for the bears, Jim, just like last time, fear not - the bears will once again have the last laugh.
Van Rompuy And Barroso Announce €440 Billion EFSF Fully Functional; Now, How Do They Expand It To €3 Trillion?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/13/2011 13:38 -0400
Following the Slovak approval vote earlier, the EFSF is now fully functional, or so say Europe's two unelected leader Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Barroso (full statement here). Which is great, considering it only took Europe 3 months to ratify something that was supposed to be operational 2 months ago, and take over for the ECB's SMP declining bond purchases sometime in mid-September. And now, as Zero Hedge explained back in July, comes the hart part where the Eurozone realizes that the EFSF, which recently has found it has more uses than a Swiss Army Knife and can be used as a central bank, as a guarantor, as an insurance policy, as a CDO squared, cubed, etc, etc, or at least so the rumors go, has to be expanded from $440 billion to €3.5 billion. Recall: "slowly the sell side is coming to the realization that not only will the EFSF have to be expanded (that much was known), but that Germany, and specifically the outright economy, will be on the hook by an unprecedented amount of money. And expanded it will have to be: not by two, not by three, but by a cool four times, to a unbelievable €3.5 trillion which according to Daiwa's Head of Economic Research, Grant Lewis, is an act which will be necessary to convince financial markets of euro area resolve to save Italy and Spain." That was two months ago. Finally, the governments, which back then religiously denied such reporting as scaremongering, are getting on the bandwagon. It was none other than Le Figaro, mouthpiece of the country that has the most to lose from the inability to ringfence a Greek fallout, that said yesterday: "The euro area reflects one of several options to increase by up to five times, or more than 2500 billion euros, the firepower of its relief fund for countries in financial difficulty (EFSF), said on Wednesday AFP European sources." In other words, the target number is now known, and nobody is ashamed to put it out there: between €2.5 and €3.5 trillion. The only question is what form it will take: yesterday it was a bank, today it is an insurance "fund", tomorrow who knows - gotta keep those rumors a surprise after all: they don't call the EFSF the modern version of the Swiss Army Bailout knife for nothing.
I personally believe that there is no "free" alpha. That said, there is a way to earn returns that may look like alpha, especially if you are an astute student of human nature. You can make a bet when other people are behaving irrationally, as when you buy when there is blood in the street.
Now we have a new plan. EFSF would take first loss on the full guarantee amount of 726 billion. Given everything that EFSF can now invest in, and the fact that it is taking first loss risk, the potential loss is 726 billion. So in a little over a year, the risk of loss transfer from private companies to sovereign nations has increased from 120 billion, to 270 billion, to 360 billion, to the possibility of 726 billion! That seems bad enough, but the situation is worse than that. At each turn, Greece has underperformed and been found to have bigger needs than previously thought, but the latest IMF decision to go ahead with the next tranche anyways, sends a clear signal to Greece that they are in the drivers seat. Why do more now when IMF will keep picking up the tab until you finally decide that drachma's suit you better. Portugal cannot be blind. It sees where Greece has failed but still gotten money, and that Italy barely goes through the motions of pretending to try, so why should they?
The Latest Incarnation Of The European CDO Cubed Bailout "Swiss Army Knife": A Multi-Trillion Insurance PolicySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/11/2011 14:13 -0400
A few weeks ago Steve Liesman ramped stocks higher for the day after he released a subsequently disproven rumor that the EFSF would become a CDO square, recycling private investments into sovereign debt. Well that rumor is now dead and buried, so it is time for the next one involving that uber multi-functional Swiss Army Knife which is the EFSF, and apparently has an infinite+1 number of applications, none of which involve actual cash funding. The source of this latest brilliant idea is Pimco parent, Allianz, which has trillions in fixed income exposure all over the world, so it is no wonder it is pushing hard for the world's taxpayers to bail it out. Only instead of a recycling cash, this time the EFSF will become Fed-Lite, "insuring" trillions in debt.
Bob Janjuah: "In One Year I Expect Global Equities To Be 25%/30% Lower; The S&P Will Reach Low 1000s In October"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/03/2011 07:56 -0400
Nomura Bob is back with another hotly anticipated if, unfortunately, grammatically flawless, market strategy piece. Short and sweet, Bob as usual cuts right to the point. "My secular view remains bearish. In or within a year from now I expect global equities to be 25% to 30% lower. My S&P500 target for the low in 2012 remains 800/900, and I think an 'undershoot' into the 700s is entirely possible. In this bearish outcome I would expect 10-year bund yields at 1% to 1.25%, 10 year UST yields at 1.25% to 1.5%, and 10-year gilts below 2%. The USD should do well, credit and commodities should not....On a secular basis, investors should remain cautious, and focus on strong balance sheets and strong/robust business models. I expect the next year to be about capital and job preservation. Any counter-trend rally should be tradable but short lived - it should be viewed opportunistically."
The big news this morning, aside from the relatively strong economic data out of the US (of course, we’ll have to wait for the downward revision on jobs to see the real number, which is an ongoing statistical aberration for the record books but anyway) is the news that the German parliament overwhelmingly passed the measure to support the EFSF. In reality, this wasn’t really that newsworthy as passing this particular legislation had been expected since Germany originally agreed to the deal in principal earlier this summer. This was not the leveraged, CDO^2 like structure that failed NY Federal Reserve President cum Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner had been pitching recently in Europe. No, that idea has been dismissed out of hand and Mr. Geithner properly ridiculed for recommending that the already over-taxed European people be further Major Kong-style strapped to the ticking atom bomb that is the European banks’ leveraged balance sheets.
In case you haven’t noticed lately, the market doesn’t move on good or bad earnings or economic data, it moves on political rumors and innuendo about government’s willingness to continue the TARP/cheap money/QE lifeline to the terribly over-leveraged banking sector. It’s especially troubling when you consider the faith most members of Congress place in Ben Bernanke and the other Oracles of Delphi at the Fed. One area that’s going to come home to roost very soon is the zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) that has been in place since late ‘08/early ’09.