Finds the answer is: "very"
Just over an hour ago the Fed disclosed that as part of its most recent reverse repo operation, it had handed out to 93 dealer banks and other financial intermediaries, both foreign and domestic, some $242 billion in Treasurys in what is now the biggest reverse repo operation in history, a privilege for which the collateral-starved banks paid the Fed the king's ransom of 0.05% in annual interest, i.e., nothing.
Over the past month, we have explained in detail not only how the Chinese credit collapse and massive carry unwind will look like in theory, but shown various instances how, in practice, the world's greatest debt bubble is starting to burst. One thing we have not commented on was how actual trade pathways - far more critical to offshore counterparts than merely credit tremors within the mainland - would be impacted once the nascent liquidity crisis spread. Today, we find the answer courtesy of the WSJ which reports that for the first time in the current Chinese liquidity crunch, Chinese importers, for now just those of soybeans and rubber but soon most other products, "are backing out of deals, adding to a wide range of evidence showing rising financial stress in the world's second-biggest economy."
International discord over Ukraine does not bode well for the settlement of differences over the IMF’s future. Though the G7 is excluding Russia from its number, in retaliation for its action in Crimea, this does not amount to isolating Russia. There has been no suggestion that Russia be excluded from the G20. The USA and its allies have suspected that several other G20 members would not stand for it. This suspicion was confirmed yesterday when the BRICS foreign ministers, assembled at the international conference in The Hague, issued a statement condemning ‘the escalation of hostile language, sanctions and counter-sanctions’. They affirmed that the custodianship of the G20 belongs to all member-states equally and no one member-state can unilaterally determine its nature and character. In short, their statement read like a manifesto for a pluralist world in which no one nation, bloc or set of values would predominate.
While every other asset class in the world has now been found to be subject to some form of manipulation (from LIBOR rates to FX fixes and from commodity warehousing to HFT equity front-running), the stakes in a COMEX silver/gold/copper manipulation lawsuit are staggering. Not only is market manipulation the most serious market crime possible, the markets that have been manipulated and the number of those injured are enormous. It is likely not an exaggeration to say that any finding that JPMorgan and the COMEX did manipulate prices as we contend could very well result in the highest damage awards in history. That’s no small thing considering the tens of billions of dollars that JPMorgan has coughed up recently for infractions in just about every line of their business. Our point is that no legal case could be potentially more lucrative or attention getting than this one. It is clear the CFTC will never act and so class-action lawsuits may just be the only way the data is du into deep enough to uncover the truth.
Remember when we said in January 2011 that Dealers merely game the daily POMO reverse auction to generate abnormal - and now confirmed criminal - profits on the back of the central bank, i.e. taxpayer? Guess what - we were right. Again.
For the first time ever, the majority of Americans are scared of their own federal government. A Pew Research poll found that 53% of Americans think the government threatens their personal rights and freedoms. Americans aren't wild about the government's currency either. Instead of holding dollars and other financial assets, investors are storing wealth in art, wine, and antique cars. The Economist reported in November, "This buying binge… is growing distrust of financial assets." Every central banker on earth has sworn an oath to Keynesian money creation, yet the yellow metal has retraced nearly $700 from its $1,895 high. The only limits to fiat money creation are the imagination of central bankers and the willingness of commercial bankers to lend. That being the case, the main culprit for gold's lackluster performance over the past two years is something else... It won't be inflation that drives up the gold price but the unwinding of massive amounts of leverage.
Earlier today, the non-profit organization Better Markets did what so many others have only dreamed of doing - they sued JPMorgan. We wish them the best of luck, as in a "crony jsutice" system as corrupt as this one - perhaps best described, paradoxically enough by the fictional movie The International - where the same DOJ previously implicitly admitted it will not prosecute "systemically important" firms like JPM to the full extent of the law and instead merely lob one after another wrist slap at them to placate the peasantry, any hope for obtaining true justice is impossible.
Chopped him up and Fed him to the lions!
Plain vanilla bank runs are as old as fractional reserve banking itself, and usually happen just before or during an economic and financial collapse, when all trust (i.e. credit) in counterparties disappears and it is every man, woman and child, and what meager savings they may have, for themselves. However, when it comes to shadow bank runs, which take place when institutions are so mismatched in interest, credit and/or maturity exposure that something just snaps as it did in the hours after the Lehman collapse, that due to the sheer size of their funding exposure that they promptly grind the system to a halt even before conventional banks can open their doors to the general public, the conventional wisdom is that this is a novel development (and one which is largely misunderstood). It isn't.
In 2008, a mysterious person or group using the apparent pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto unveiled a new digital currency called Bitcoin that appeared to solve some of its predecessors’ problems. As Bitcoin rose in value the number of high-profile crimes and crashes rose apace. Throughout that boom and bust, Bitcoin retained a core user base that saw its possibilities and worked to overcome its flaws by developing point-of-sale hardware and online merchant services while lessening its dependence on a small number of exchanges. And then, just when the outside world had stopped paying attention, Bitcoin recovered. From under $20 at the beginning of 2013 it rose to $240, crashed to below $100, and then in one dramatic arc soared to more than $1,000. In early 2014 Bitcoin’s market value exceeded $10 billion and the number of merchants willing to accept it was soaring. The market appears to have spoken: Bitcoin is for real.
So far in 2013, Bank of America lost money on 9 trading days out of a total 188. Statistically, this result is absolutely ridiculous when one considers that the bulk of bank trading revenues are still in the form of prop positions disguised as "flow" trading to evade Volcker which means the only way a bank could make money with near uniform perfection is if it either i) consistently has inside information that it trades on or ii) it consistently front-runs its clients (the latter incidentally was a topic we covered back in 2009 relating to Goldman Sachs, and which the bank sternly rejected). We now know that when it comes to Bank of America at least one of the two happened.
When it comes to the opinions of financial pundits and "experts", most can be chucked into the garbage heap of groupthink and consensus. However, one person whose opinion stands out is Elliott Management's Paul Singer. One of the most successful hedge fund managers has consistently stood against the grain of conventional wisdom over the past three decades and been handsomely reward, which is why his opinion is certainly one worth noting. Singer, together with Martin Wolf and several other panelists will be speaking at 45 minutes past the hour on a panel discussing one of the most pressing topics nearly 6 years after the Bear Stearns collapse: "Are Markets Safer Now." Watch their thoughts on the matter in the session live below.
With no major macro news on today's docket, it is a day of continuing reflection of Friday's abysmal jobs report, which for now has hammered the USDJPY carry first and foremost, a pair which is now down 170 pips from the 105 level seen on Friday, which in turn is putting pressure on global equities. As DB summarizes, everyone "knows" that Friday's US December employment report had a sizeable weather impact but no-one can quite grasp how much or why it didn't show up in other reports. Given that parts of the US were colder than Mars last week one would have to think a few people might have struggled to get to work this month too. So we could be in for another difficult to decipher report at the start of February. Will the Fed look through the distortions? It’s fair to say that equities just about saw the report as good news (S&P 500 +0.23%) probably due to it increasing the possibility in a pause in tapering at the end of the month. However if the equity market was content the bond market was ecstatic with 10 year USTs rallying 11bps. The price action suggests the market was looking for a pretty strong print.
Nearly a year ago, we predicted that the party for bond traders was over. The reason: MBS bond trader Jesse Litvak, formerly of mid-tier, perpetual aspirational bulge bracket, and the place where every fired UBS banker has a safety cubicle, Jefferies, got not only too greedy (that's ok, everyone on Wall Street is), but what's worse, got caught, and as we said at the time, ended the party for Wall Street's bond trading cash bonanza. Little did we know how correct we would be, because not only did the former MBS trader, who "proceeded to rip virtually all of his clients on seemingly every single trade he executed for the three years he was employed at Jefferies, lying to everyone in the process: both clients and in house colleagues, generating some $2.7 million in additional revenue for Jefferies for the duration of his tenure, and who knows how much in personal bonuses", end the party, but it appears he unleashed the next big regulatory crack down on Wall Street. And one which may just cost perennial Department of Justice favorite JPMorgan another several billion in "litigation reserves."