Overnight the bank with the $58 trillion in derivative exposure issued a note "From GRecovery to GRelapse" which is quite absent on the usual optimism, cheerfulness and happy-ending we have grown to expect from the bank whose former employee is in charge of the European printing press. Here is the punchline: "In the event of a severe Greek government clash with international lenders, interruption of liquidity provision to Greek banks by the ECB could potentially even lead to a Cyprus-style prolonged “bank holiday”. And market fears for potential Euro-exit risks could rise at that point." Dear Greeks, you have been warned, and "don't vote wrong" as EU's Juncker urges the Greeks.
Just 2 short months ago we noted S&P's warning that Greece will default again within 15 months and following comments by Prime Minister Samaras that the market's drop is due to fear that Syriza will win an early election and seek a Greek exit from the Euro. Pressuring parliamentarians and the public alike, he stated "the choice is simple," warning that Greek financing needs are only covered through the end of February without further aid from the EU (but we thought they were 'recovered'). Greek stocks have crashed further, Greek default risk has spiked, and 3Y bond yields are now well north of 10% (138bps inverted to 10Y).
- Apple CEO Cook Goes From Record Sales to IPhone Stumbles (BBG)
- Deal With Saudis Paved Way for Syrian Airstrikes (WSJ)
- Drone delivery: DHL 'parcelcopter' flies to German isle (Reuters)
- Tory Burch Hires Ralph Lauren Veteran as Co-CEO (WSJ)
- Apple releases iOS 8 workaround to fix dropped cell service (Reuters)
- Ukraine Probes Ex-Minister Over $3 Billion Russian Bond (BBG)
- Goldman Sachs-Led Group Near Deal to Buy Messaging Startup Perzo (WSJ)
- U.K. Seeks to Criminalize Manipulation of 7 Benchmarks (BBG)
Ayn Rand or US Congress? Directive 10-289: "All business establishments of any nature whatsoever shall henceforth remain in operation, and the owners of such establishments shall not quit nor leave, nor close, sell or transfer their business..." H.R. 5445: "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no mail processing facility operating as of September 1, 2014, may be closed or consolidated prior to December 31, 2015."
- Barack Obama's 'vacation from hell' (Politico)
- Russian aid convoy checked; military vehicles mass near Ukraine (Reuters)
- Ukraine Says APCs Entered From Russia to Aid Insurgents (BBG)
- Islamic State Said to Challenge Al-Qaeda for Leadership (BBG)
- Missouri protests calmer after governor puts black police captain in charge (Reuters)
- Finally someone will prove the US is a pyramid scheme (in a 1000 page presentation): Ackman’s Pershing Square Sues U.S. Over Fannie, Freddie (BBG)
- Banks, Financial Firms Load Up on Cheap Debt (WSJ)
- Putin to Meet Finnish President as Threat of Cold War Grows (BBG)
Greek 10Y yields, up 6 days in a row, have surged in the last few days to 2-month highs (bond price lows). The significant shift in sentiment appears related to two main factors. First, The Independent reports that Europe is considering pulling Troika (its economic oversight committee) - which has been likened to German Nazi occupation - out of Greece, forcing local politicians to come up with their own reforms by the start of 2015 (which clearly the market is not believing). Perhaps even more concerning is Goldman Sachs shift to neutral on European peripheral bonds, warning that "at current spread levels we think there is not enough of a buffer for investors to take credit risk in intermediate and long-dated peripheral sovereign bonds." Time for some more 'whatever it takes' we think.
Shortly after we exposed the real liquidity crisis facing Chinese banks recently (when no repo occurred and money market rates surged), China (very quietly) announced CNY 1 trillion of 'Pledged Supplementary Lending' (PSL) by the PBOC to China Development Bank. This first use of the facility "smacks of quantitative easing" according to StanChart's Stephen Green, noting it is "deliberate and significant expansion of the PBOC's balance sheet via creating bank reserves/cash" and likens the exercise to the UK's Funding For Lending scheme. BofA is less convinced of the PBOC's quantitative loosening, suggesting it is more like a targeted line of credit (focused on lowering the costs of funding) and arguing with a record "asset" creation by Chinese banks in Q1 does China really need standalone QE?
Earlier today Reuters reported that the European Commission said on Monday it had approved a Bulgarian request to extend a credit line of 3.3 billion levs ($2.30 billion) in support of banks that have come under speculative attack. “The Commission concluded that the state aid implied by the provision of the credit line is proportionate and commensurate with the need to ensure sufficient liquidity in the banking system in the particular circumstances,” the EU executive said in a statement. The statement said Bulgaria’s banking system was “well capitalised and has high levels of liquidity compared to its peers in other member states. For precautionary reasons, Bulgaria has taken this measure to further increase the liquidity and safeguard its financial system”. The move follows runs by jittery depositors on two major Bulgarian commercial banks in the space of a week. And while this latest backstop of the Bulgarian bank system should provide a respite from bank insolvency fears (if only for the time being), one wonders about Europe's true intentions.
"...On June 28, 1914, a Slavic nationalist in Sarajevo murdered Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne. The battle lines were drawn. Austria positioned itself against Serbia. Russia announced support of Serbia against Austria, Germany backed Austria, and France backed Russia. Military mobilization orders traversed Europe. The national and private finances that had helped build up shipping and weapons arsenals in the last years of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth would spill into deadly battle. Wilson knew exactly whose help he needed. He invited Jack Morgan to a luncheon at the White House. The media erupted with rumors about the encounter. Though Wilson explained this did not signify the start of a series of talks with “men high in the world of finance,” rumors of a closer alliance between the president and Wall Street financiers persisted..." Woodrow Wilson and Jack Morgan’s collaboration to finance the Allies in the early days of the war - aside from its timeliness - provides one of the strongest examples of the intimate cooperation between the presidency and the highest levels of banking to drive American interests.
Wall Street is back in the business of lending money at the Fed’s gifted rate of zero plus a modest 80 basis point spread - so that the fast money can buy CLO paper on 9 to 1 leverage. There is your triple shuffle. It didn’t work out last time, but that doesn’t matter because the game is obvious. After enough buying on Wall Street’s triple leverage, junk loan prices might temporarily rebound. Then the brokers will put out the call to retail: The junk loan asset class is rebounding - its time to come back. For the final shearing, that is!
- Fed’s Fisher Says Economy Strengthening as Payrolls Rise (BBG)
- Russia Knows Europe Sanctions Ineffective With Tax Havens (BBG)
- EU Cuts Euro-Area Growth Outlook as Inflation Seen Slower (BBG)
- U.S. Firms With Irish Addresses Get Tax Breaks Derided as ‘Blarney’ (BBG)
- Portugal exits bailout without safety net of credit line (Euronews)
- Puzzled Malaysian Air Searchers Ponder What to Try Now (BBG)
- Barclays, Credit Suisse Battle Banker Exodus, Legal Woes (BBG)
- Germany says euro level not an issue for politicians (Reuters)
- Alibaba-Sized Hole Blown in Nasdaq 100 Amid New Stock (BBG)
- Obamacare to save large corporations hundreds of billions (The Hill)
After months of ignoring events in Ukraine, HFT algos suddenly, if one for the time being, have re-discovered just where the former USSR country is on the map, and together with the latest economic disappointment out of China in the form of its official manufacturing PMI which missed expectations for the sixth month in a row, futures are oddly non-green at this moment now that talk of a Ukraine civil war is the new black (after two months of ignoring the elephant in the room... or rather bear in the room). Lighter volumes, courtesy of holidays in Japan and UK, have not helped the market breadth and stocks in Europe are broadly lower with the DAX (-1.33%) and CAC (-1.19%) weighed upon by risk off sentiment and market positioning for the eagerly anticipated ECB policy meeting especially after the EU cuts its Euro-Area 2014 inflation forecast from 1.0% to 0.8%. But what's bad for stocks continues to be good for equities, and moments ago the 10Y dropped to a paltry 2.57%, the lowest since February... and continuing to maul treasury shorts left and right.
If there’s one thing we all know about banks and bankers: they love to tell tales in public of how much they value their customers. However, what you’ll never hear them profess in private: is how much they trust them. Although one may think that’s unseemly, believe it or not there is another entity banks hold at an even lower tier. Other banks. One of the known facts people remember about the melt down in 2008 (as opposed to general public) was when the banks no longer trusted each other, and what they earlier claimed was “collateral” wasn’t actually worth what it was stated to be. As we recently explained in How China’s Commodity-Financing Bubble Becomes Globally Contagious, the implications of this development and the consequences it portends just might make it the proverbial “canary in a coal mine.” The underlying issue that makes this far more dangerous or different from times past is three-fold...
Thailand's Government Savings Bank (GSB) president admitted that clients withdrew 30bn Baht (around $1bn) in a single-day last week and Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) and Krungthai Bank (KTB), although of a much smaller magnitude, have also seen withdrawal spikes of similar magnitude according to The Bangkok Post. The 'bank run' comes after speculation that cash at the state-run banks are being used by the government (which is in turmoil) to fund farmers (who have not received their 'promised' rice subsidies of over 130 bn Baht). Withdrawal requests are met with banks warning that there were insufficient funds at the time due to many depositors withdrawing cash. One depositor, rather ironically summed it up, "I started to feel concerned that my money may become only paper."
Following the evaluation of liquidity needs (and availability) for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, S&P has decided that "it doesn't warrant an investment-grade rating":
- PUERTO RICO GO RATING CUT TO JUNK BY S&P, MAY BE CUT FURTHER
- GOVT. DEVELOPMENT BANK FOR PUERTO RICO CUT TO BB FROM BBB-:S&P
- PUERTO RICO GO RATING LOWERED TO 'BB+': S&P
- PUERTO RICO REMAINS ON WATCH NEGATIVE FROM S&P
Both the G.O.s and the Development Bank have been cut. Note that 70% of muni mutual funds own this - and it is unclear if a junk rating forces (by mandate) funds to cover. Worst of all, S&P warns Puerto Rico could now face a $1 billion collateral call on short-term debt - the same waterfall collateral cascade that took down AIG.