Easy come, easier go. After yesterday's last hour ramp driven by a MarketWatch article that said absolutely nothing new about the Fed's monetization plans and an AAPL surge which saw the firm add $22 billion in market cap in one day (or more than the market cap of CBS Corp) sent stocks green, the overnight session has taken it all away and then some, with futures now trading roughly 12 ticks lower or at yesterday's lowest levels. The catalyst is, once again, Spain where Moody's downgraded five Spanish regions including Catalonia after the market close (for the reason, see our piece from the weekend "Spanish Regional Bailout Fund Runs Out Of Money"), coupled with news from Confidencial that Spain's budget deficit will overshoot the EU target of 6.3% and hit at least 7.3%, driven by a €10.5 billion deficit in the social security system, trashing the promises from last month's Spain's "reform" package, and as BNP said (confirming what we warned weeks ago), making the conditionality hurdle suddenly that much higher for Spain. And just as the world was getting comfortable that Spain will get away with using the OMP with virtually no conditions. The cherry on top came from France where the business conditions index slid to a 3 year low on expectations a trough had been put in place. The result is a tumble in the EURUSD to below the 1.3000 barrier, dragging stock futures, commodities, and of course Europe with it, sending the Spanish bond curve yield higher, and generally giving a very sour mood to the day as traders walk in.
We’re talking about a banking system that is nearly four times that of the US ($46 trillion vs. $12 trillion) with at least twice the amount of leverage (26 to 1 for the EU vs. 13 to 1 for the US), and a Central Bank that has stuffed its balance sheet with loads of garbage debts, giving it a leverage level of 36 to 1.
The German court of auditors (Bundesrechnungshof) has demanded that the Bundesbank undertake an audit of its gold reserves. In an 'audit-the-fed' style effort, the court wants to ensure that the nearly 3400 tons of gold is in fact in existence - 'because stocks have never been checked for authenticity and weight'. Furthermore, the Bundesbank's gold is stored in three other vaults around the world: The Bank of England, The Bank of France, and the US Federal Reserve. The court questions the practice of relying on a written confirmation from the custodians (foreign central banks). The decision means negotiating with the three foreign central banks for physical verification but in anticipation, the Bundesbank has begun the process of shipping 50 tons per year from the Fed back to Germany for the next three years.
"Preservation of Capital" must be the watchword in this market; in all markets. Any mistake made is now magnified by our very low interest rates so that any error is compounded by the ability to make back the loss. In America we are facing our national elections. In Europe we are facing a hardening of positions where the divisions between the North and the South, with France lining up with the Socialist South, are edging closer to some nation or another refusing to fund. The scheme of diversion can last only so long as real decisions with real consequences are about to be forced upon the Continent as funding must come or not come.
Last night, in a spontaneous moment of clarity, the ZH brain trust tweeted the following:
Tomorrow on deck are revenue misses from CAT, TXN, FCX, BTU and others
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) October 22, 2012
So far we had our first "others" when Hasbro missed the topline, printing revenues of $1.35 billion vs expectations of $1.38 billion, but more importantly here comes CAT, with a whopper of a topline miss, worse than even the recent preannouncements could predict.
- CAT REVENUES $16.45 BILLION, EXP. $16.74 BILLION, EPS$ 2.54, EXP. $2.22
- CAT SEES 2012 EPS $9.00-$9.25, PREVIOUSLY HAD SEEN $9.60
- CAT SEES 2012 REVENUES OF $66 BILLION, PREVIOUSLY HAD SEEN $68-70 BILLION
Quite a few articles have been written about the importance of owning Gold and other precious metals as a means of maintaining one’s wealth in the face of rampant money printing by the world’s Central Banks. Today I’m going to share some ideas on how to actually buy bullion.
Earlier this week two former Merrill colleagues, since separated, were reunited on several media occasions, and allowed to spar over their conflicting views of the world. The two people in question, of course, are Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg, best known during the past 3 years for not drinking the propaganda Kool-Aid, and systematically deconstructing every "bullish" macroeconomic datapoint into its far more downbeat constituent parts, and his ebullient ex-coworker, Richard Bernstein, formerly head of equity strategy at a firm that had to be rescued by none other than Bank of America and currently head of RBA advisors, who just happens to be bullish on, well, everything. And since any attempt at holding an intelligent conversation on CNBC is ultimately futile (as can be seen here) and is constantly broken up by both ads, and interjecting anchors and show producers who care far less about facts than keeping the presentation 'engaging' (and going to such lengths to even allow Jim Cramer to have his own TV show), Rosenberg decided to dedicate his entire letter to clients today to "providing a rebuttal" of the slate of reasons why according to Bernstein the "we are on the precipice of a 1982-2000 style of secular market." What follows is one of the most comprehensive "white papers" debunking the bullish view we have seen in a while. Read on.
Congratulations Mario Draghi, you promised unlimited bond buying and you bought less than one month’s worth of gains for Spain. If you want proof positive that Central Banks are losing their grip on things, the above chart is it. The moment we take out that trendline again, it’s GAME OVER (what more can the ECB promise?)
What takes other Political Journalism majors (and CTRL-C/V minors) pages and pages of verbose essays full of acronyms and meaningless gibberish to refute, Bill Gross asserts in less than 140 characters.
Gross: The crash on Oct 19 1987 showed that portfolio insurance puts were dangerous. R central bank “puts” in the same category?Very likely
— PIMCO (@PIMCO) October 19, 2012
Needless to say, he is absolutely correct.
EU leaders committed to establishing a euro-area bank supervisor by year-end, leaving the door open for supplying direct aid to Spanish banks. The EU must now agree on the structure that makes the ECB (European Central Bank) the main supervisor by January 1st. This new system was created to break the link between banks and governments at the root of the zone’s financial crisis and will roll out in the next year and expect to cover all 6,000 eurozone banks by January 2014. “Our goal is banking supervision that’s worthy of the name, because we want to create something that’s better than what we currently have,” Merkel told reporters. Germany and France argued contentiously about the timing. Berlin has insisted the supervisor be effective before the ESM can begin cash injections into Spanish banks, those transactions are not foreseeable to occur until the latter half of the year, around the time of Germany’s national elections. Angela Merkel said it would take more than a few months before the supervisor was fully effective and direct bank recapitalisation could be considered. However, the agreement appeared to upset German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble's efforts to delay and limit the scope of European banking supervision. Germany has been averse to see its politically sensitive Savings and Cooperative banks come under outside supervision. It rejects any joint deposit guarantee under which wealthier countries might have to underwrite banks in poorer states.
Readers may recall that Ron Paul once surprised everyone with a seemingly very elegant proposal to bring the debt ceiling wrangle to a close. If you're all so worried about the federal deficit and the debt ceiling, so Paul asked, then why doesn't the treasury simply cancel the treasury bonds held by the Fed? After all, the Fed is a government organization as well, so it could well be argued that the government literally owes the money to itself. He even introduced a bill which if adopted, would have led to the cancellation of $1.6 trillion in federal debt held by the Fed. Of course the proposal was not really meant to be taken serious: rather, it was meant to highlight the absurdities of the modern-day monetary system. In a way, we would actually not necessarily be entirely inimical to the idea, for similar reasons Ron Paul had in mind: it would no doubt speed up the inevitable demise of the fiat money system. Control can be lost, and it usually happens only after a considerable period of time during which their interventions appear to have no ill effects if looked at only superficially: “Thus we learn….to be ignorant of political economy is to allow ourselves to be dazzled by the immediate effect of a phenomenon."
The world is running down a quite slippery slope in its attempt to avoid calamity. The political machines in Europe and the United States and to a real but lesser extent in China have passed the hat to their central banks because either they cannot or will not face up to the severity of their problems. This “faith based initiative” is misplaced, as liquidity and faith are driving the boat and derelict accounting is providing the fuel. The United States, having moved far past the “safety net” that has always been in place, are faced with a very real choice between Socialism and Capitalism. In Europe the problems are also of a fundamental nature as the definition of “More Europe” in Germany is decidedly different than the definition in Spain. But the fantastical belief that the Central Bank will wave it magic wand and make everything all good again is the stuff of Mommy kissing the boo-boo and everything will be just fine.
The World Gold Council issued a summary on gold’s price performance in various currencies during the third quarter. The report looks at influences that monetary policies and central bank actions have on gold. Gold’s 11.1% USD/oz return in 3Q was in response to central bank stimulus measures. Volatility decreased and generally correlated with other assets. Central banks announced a continuation of their unconventional monetary policy programmes in Q3 which mainly are used to lower borrowing costs and supporting financial markets.Financial assets have responded to central bank policy announcements, but gold's reaction has been the strongest. There is a consensus that these policies drive investment into gold purely due to inflation-risk impact. The World Gold Council believes that there are not one but four principal factors that provide further support to the investment case for gold: Inflation risk, Medium-term tail-risk from imbalances, Currency debasement and uncertainty, and Low real rates and emerging market real rate differentials.
Even though we have presented comparable scenarios looking at the coverage of the US money base in gold terms previously, aka "gold coverage" ratio, including once from Dylan Grice, and once from David Rosenberg, now that we have drifted into a new, previously unchartered and very much open-ended liquidity tsunami, it is time to revisit the topic. Luckily, Guggenheim's Scott Minerd has done just that. Not only that, but he presents three distinct gold pricing scenario, attempting to forecast a low, medium and high price range for the yellow metal. To wit: "The U.S. gold coverage ratio, which measures the amount of gold on deposit at the Federal Reserve against the total money supply, is currently at an all-time low of 17%. This ratio tends to move dramatically and falls during periods of disinflation or relative price stability. The historical average for the gold coverage ratio is roughly 40%, meaning that the current price of gold would have to more than double to reach the average. The gold coverage ratio has risen above 100% twice during the twentieth century. Were this to happen today, the value of an ounce of gold would exceed $12,000.”