After pillaging the G Fund and Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund (CSRDF), aka the Government retirement funds, Tim Geithner was just forced to resort to the final debt ceiling extension measure: suspending reinvestment in the Exchange Stabilization Fund, better known as the mechanism by which the Treasury manipulates the stock, bond and FX markets, often times indirectly (thank you Brian Sack and Citadel fat pipe) and on occasion with CIA assistance. What this means is that FX vol will likely hit unseen levels in the next several weeks as the Treasury's manipulative ways are strongly curtailed.
As of 30 minutes ago, the ramp in stocks which came out of nowehere, on now news, but is certainly going to generate a whole lot of FRBNY trade tickets over at Citadel, has managed to do absolutely nothing to restore confidence in the average man that the economy is not heading into redepression, but been very successful at causing the risk spread to surge to day wides. Historically the spread has closed promptly on high correlation days, although today's market action is so abnormally surreal it may be best to just step back and observe.
The Japanese Plunge Protection Team Exposed: The BOJ's "1% Rule", Or The "Shirakawa Put" In PracticeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/19/2011 23:58 -0500
One of the most conspiratorial topics in all of fringe finance has been the existence of the plunge protection team, which while widely known to exist and intervene during major drops in the US capital markets, has never been actually seen in action (thank you Citadel trade ticket shredders). And while the US PPT has increasing grown irrelevant now that the Fed's open market intervention is no longer the source of folklore courtesy of Bernanke's self-professed third mandate vis-a-vis the Russell 2000, it does provide the tinfoil crowd with immense satisfaction to know that virtually always it ends up being proven in the long run not only when it comes to the big picture, but the nuances as well. Enter Nikkei's report (subscription required) on the BOJ's 1% Rule which is "propping up the Nikkei."
By unanimous vote, the ISDA determinations committee (which also includes such hedge funds as DE Shaw, Citadel and BlueMountain...and Goldman Sachs) has agreed that Allied Irish Banks PLC has officially experienced a Restructuring Event. CDS settlement to proceed next. And yes, thanks to daily variation margin on CDS this means absolutely nothing, and should the cash/physical settlement auction clear tight of prevailing prices depending on where CTD bonds trade, it means CDS sellers will (gasp) receive daily margin cash at the end of the day. Yes, contrary to AIG-related stigma, selling CDS on an entity does not mean an automatic default for the sellers of protection. But that won't prevent those who have no idea how the CDS market operates to spread more BS stories, especially as relates to Greek, then all other PIIGS, CDS.
Billion Dollar Fund Managers Agree: The Government Never Fixed the Underlying Economic Problems, So We'll Have Another CrashSubmitted by George Washington on 05/31/2011 13:54 -0500
What the smart money is saying ...
Following the previously reported news that Germany is sacrificing its political leadership, not to mention credibility, to bailout its banks, futures are currently ripping. As the chart below indicates, ES is surging right now, even as the broader risk basket is left far behind, since the markt realizes the "Brian Sack" pod at Citadel will be double taxpayers doubletime.
Increasingly more people are starting to outwit the Fed at its own game, which appears to have run out of sufficient capital to manipulate all risk assets (troubles at Citadel?), and thus is forced to focus exclusively on the E-mini. While not pointed out explicitly today, those who were following the trade were presented with an amazing opportunity to pick several basis points when ES once again ramped away from the risk basket (AUDJPY, EURUSD, 10 year, 2s10s30s, Oil and Gold) following the more than obvious buy program attempt to triggers stops, only to slam back with a vengeance and close the gap at close. Like clockwork. The trade continues to be an ideal play for everyone who wishes to remain bull/bear agnostic, and merely trade against Brian Sack's increasingly desperate and underfunded attempts at risk manipulation.
More spying on elite funds like Paulson & Co., Soros Fund Management, SAC Capital Advisors, Citadel Advisors, Renaissance Technologies and Baupost Group...
And so the broader risk basket of AUDJPY, EURJPY, 10Y, 2s10s30s, gold, and oil once again rapidly diverges from the ES, which must mean that Citadel is busy processing FRBNY trade tickets on a FIFO basis. Expect the spread to close (buy the basket in a pro rata basis for an intraday correlation catch up), or not: all depends on just how aggressive Brian Sack is to indicate that life is good, wealth effect is wonderful, and the rapture is overblown. Bottom line: either play both legs outright in a pair combo, or sell ES for a FV 4 points lower.
Remember the other most hyped up re-IPO ever, AIG (after that other Marxist-inspired, union-lubricating, channel-stuffing debacle GM)? The same company that nearly brought down the system, that insured more disaster prone garbage than even Berkshire Hathaway, which is 92% owned by the government because it wouldn't look cool if the government fully nationalized everyone after Lehman was left to die, and was subsequently eagerly attempting to buy back its toxic filth at half off prices from Goldman's Bill Dudley who just so happens works at 33 Liberty now? Well, you can kiss that goodbye: the FT reports that "AIG and the US Treasury are discussing whether to shelve or scale back plans for a large public offering this month because of the lacklustre performance of the insurer’s shares in recent weeks, people close to the situation said." You can also kiss the Treasury's boasts of a break even on its AIG "investment" - this despite 2 years of endless market levitation, forced short squeeze, margin hikes, several wars, $4 trillion in monetary and fiscal stimuli, and most certainly, the kitchen sink. "People involved said the most likely outcome of the deliberations would be for the offering to proceed at a smaller size and closer to the Treasury’s break-even point. This would allow the restructured company to provide a longer record to the market before a larger sale later this year. Shares in AIG have fallen more than 30 per cent since January 20, hitting $29.62 on Tuesday and jeopardising taxpayers’ profits on the share sale. Treasury’s break-even level is $28.73 a share and officials have been reluctant to approve an offering below that price." This likely also means that any follow on equity capital raises by AIG will be relegated to CDO issuance and other "silly paper" that will be bought only with other people's money.
Is the pension gap about to explode?
Tuesday is my 40th birthday so please be kind as you read through my comment on life, health, work, markets and friendship. I'm also soliciting advice and donations for my blog...
What's the big secret that renowned investor Joel Greenblatt wants to share with all small investors?
When it comes to following the trail of money, capital flows specialist TrimTabs has traditionally focused on the stock market. In the past, TrimTabs' Charles Biderman has discussed how according to any reasonable calculations, there appears to be a key buyer missing among the usual market participant suspects, leading Biderman to conclude that the Fed may be buying stocks directly (or indirectly through Citadel as the case may be). To our surprise, in its most recent release, TrimTabs takes a look at the buyers in the gold market, and ends up with the same question: "Gold prices hit a record high in nominal terms for the second consecutive day. We are not sure who is driving up prices." The speculative conclusion: "Are central bankers loading up on gold as they crank up the printing presses and keep interest rates ridiculously low?" Of course, at first glance this would be preposterous as it has long been accepted that for the Fed a jump in surge prices is a very adverse development. Well, is it? Traditionally rising gold prices have been merely indicative of abnormally high inflation, which for the Fed was a "bad" thing in the past. Not so much any more, or at least since the advent of the "wealth effect" experiment. Recall that it is now the Fed's "goal" to give the impression of inflation (and reality for those who eat and use energy). This is based on Bernanke's false assumption that inflation is much more easily controllable (15 minutes...) than deflation. So while on the surface this may appear to be a preposterous claim, in reality there is nothing that prohibits a gold price surge in the context of the Fed's third mandate.
Following our latest Fed balance sheet update, where we get another confirmation that for another week the Fed's assets have hit a fresh all time record (Bernanke now owns nearly $200 billion more Treasurys than China), there are two items that we believe deserve far closer scrutiny. The first is the as expected drop in MBS and Agency prepayments, which after seeing an initial surge in activity when rates were low enough to merit prepaying existing mortgages, has now plunged. In fact in the last several weeks the average prepay activity is roughly half of what it was in the September-December period. This is critical as it impacts the amount of debt the Fed can monetize via the QE Lite component of the ongoing monetization procedure. Should this weekly prepayment amount remain constrained, the Fed will have far less of a marginal impact on share prices (which is what POMO ultimately is) then if QE Lite was working at its expected $25-35 billion a month monetization run rate (in addition to the $70-80 billion from QE 2). Yet far more questionable is the recent surge in "Other Federal Reserve Assets" - an observation we have commented on previously, yet which we attributed merely to capitalized accrued interest on the Fed's portfolio. However, following the recent remittance of tens of billions in interest expense from the Fed to the Treasury we now know that is not the case, so we kindly request that the Fed answer the following simple question: just what is the key driver in the growth of this asset category, which in the week ending March 23 hit a fresh all time high of $120.4 billion? In fact, we are rather stunned that nobody before has asked just what "other assets" comprise a line item that is greater than the GDP of about 80% of the world's countries.