Remember that one keyword that oddly enough never made it's way into the president's largely recycled SOTU address - "Solyndra"? It is about to make a double or nothing repeat appearance, now that Ener1, another company that was backed by Obama, this time a electric car battery-maker, has filed for bankruptcy. Net result: taxpayers lose $118.5 million. The irony is that while Solyndra may have been missing from the SOTU, Ener1 made an indirect appearance: "In three years, our partnership with the private sector has already positioned America to be the world’s leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries." Uh, no. Actually, the correct phrasing is: "...positioned America to be the world's leading manufacturer of insolvent, bloated subsidized entities that are proof central planning at any level does not work but we can keep doing the same idiocy over and over hoping the final result will actually be different eventually." We can't wait to find out just which of Obama's handlers was may have been responsible for this latest gross capital misallocation. In the meantime, the 1,700 jobs "created" with the fake creation of Ener1, have just been lost. Yet nothing, nothing, compares to the irony from the statement issued by the CEO when the company proudly received taxpayer funding on its merry way to insolvency: " "These government incentives will provide a powerful stimulus to a vital industry and help ensure that the batteries eventually powering millions of cars around the world carry the stamp 'Made in the USA'." Brilliant - and no, they are laughing with us, not at us.
Riskier assets advanced today, as market participants reacted to yesterday’s FOMC statement, as well as reports that Greece is making progress in talks for a debt-swap deal. However despite a solid performance by EU stocks, German Bunds remain in positive territory on the back of reports that the ECB has ruled out taking voluntary losses on its Greek bond holdings but is now debating how it would handle any forced losses and whether to explore legal options to avoid such a hit according to sources. As such, should talks between private creditors and other governing bodies stall again, there is a risk that Greece may not be able to meet its looming financial obligations. Of note, Portuguese/German government bond yield spreads continued to widen today, especially in the shorter end of the curve.
Our discussions (here, here, and here) of the dispersion of deleveraging efforts across developed nations, from the McKinsey report last week, raised a number of questions on the timeliness of the deflationary deleveraging process. David Rosenberg, of Gluskin Sheff, notes that the multi-decade debt boom will take years to mean revert and agrees with our views that we are still in the early stages of the global deleveraging cycle. He adds that while many believe last year's extreme volatility was an aberration, he wonders if in fact the opposite is true and that what we saw in 2009-2010 - a double in the S&P 500 from the low to nearby high - was the aberration and market's demands for more and more QE/easing becomes the volatility-inducing swings of dysphoric reality mixed with euphoric money printing salvation. In his words, perhaps the entire three years of angst turned to euphoria turned to angst (and back to euphoria in the first three weeks of 2012?) is the new normal. After all we had angst from 1929 to 1932 then ebullience from 1933 to 1936 and then back to despair in 1937-1938. Without the central banks of the world constantly teasing markets with more and more liquidity, the new baseline normal is dramatically lower than many believe and as such the former's impacts will need to be greater and greater to maintain the mirage of the old normal.
No QE3; ZIRP Extended Thru 2014 As Jeffrey Lacker Objects - Full December-January Statement ComparisonSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/25/2012 13:33 -0400
Little of note in the statement: no QE3 explicitly in the form of LSAP, which an S&P over 1300 and crude at $100 made prohibitive. Instead the Fed is extending ZIRP through 2014, from 2013, which as commentarors, primarily Goldman had expected, and which means sub-3 year rates will never be above zero again. Our prediction for a €100 trillion 1 week MRO is not looking quite as insane anymore. Since this is incremental easing, the reaction in gold says it all.
- FED EXPECTS TO MAINTAIN `HIGHLY ACCOMMODATIVE' MONETARY POLICY
- FED SEES `EXCEPTIONALLY LOW' RATES THROUGH AT LEAST LATE 2014
- FED TO KEEP REINVESTING HOUSING DEBT INTO MORTGAGE SECURITIES
- FED SAYS INFLATION `SUBDUED'
- FED SAYS HOUSING `REMAINS DEPRESSED'
- FED REITERATES `SIGNIFICANT DOWNSIDE RISKS'
Lacker objects as he "preferred to omit the description of the time period over which economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate." Complete redline comparison attached.
As European bank deleveraging continues, Middle East tensions rise, and oil prices (Brent and Crude alike) oscillate from headline to headline, we thought it intriguing that the entities with net notional outstandings in CDS markets at or near their largest in history are China (and Chinese banks), LatAm Oil companies, Abu Dhabi, and Israel. Quite a crop of potential risk bombs that at least credit traders appear to demand protection on more than others.
The advance reading of Q4 UK GDP released today came in at -0.2%, slightly below expectations, however many market participants had feared a worse outcome for the indicator, allowing the GBP to pare the losses made in the lead-up to the GDP announcement. The Bank of England minutes released today have shown that the MPC unanimously agreed to keep the UK rate at 0.5%, and maintain the volume of the APF, however they also revealed that some MPC members saw the need for further QE in the future. Despite higher than expected German IFO Business Climate data this morning, European indices are trading in negative territory, with technology and financial stocks suffering the highest losses. This has seen asset reallocations into safe havens, which has seen Bunds outperform for the morning.
Just when one thinks American crony capitalism couldn't hit new lows, here comes Warren Buffett and his personal puppet, the president, proving everyone wrong once more. Because if one thinks there is no (s)quid pro quo for all that "sage" advice that Buffett has been giving to Obama on extracting as much wealth as possible from future wealthy Americans (before they decide they have had enough with this crony shit and leave the country for good), one would be fatally wrong. As it turns out, it is not just natural resources and aquifer purity that Obama had in mind when sealing the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline. No - it appears there were far more relevant numerial metrics that determined Obama's decisions. Such as the bottom line number of Buffett's Burlington Northern, which according to Bloomberg, is among U.S. and Canadian railroads that stand to benefit from the Obama administration’s decision to reject TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline permit. '“Whatever people bring to us, we’re ready to haul,” Krista York-Wooley, a spokeswoman for Burlington Northern, a unit of Buffett’s Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), said in an interview. If Keystone XL “doesn’t happen, we’re here to haul." And quite delighted to reap the windfalls of unfounded populist fears she forgot to add. Because while the whole "carbon-credit" multi-trillion top line expansion scheme for Goldman under the pretense of actually caring for the environment may have collapsed, it is not preventing others from trying and succeeding where even Goldman has failed.
Despite German and French Manufacturing and Services PMI data outperforming expectations, European equity indices are trading down at the mid-point of the European session on extended concerns over the still-not-settled Greek PSI agreement. Further downward pressure on German markets came from Siemens’ earnings report earlier this morning, with the company missing their revenue targets and foreseeing a difficult economic environment for them in Q2 of this year. In UK news, despite an unexpected fall in government spending, UK debt has topped the GBP 1tln mark for the first time.
Just as certain as death and taxes, fading Goldman's FX "Strategist" has once again made everyone rich. Back on January 6 when the 0.000-batting FX guru said "With considerable downside risk in the short term, within our regular 3-month forecasting horizon, the key questions are about the speed and magnitude of the initial sell-off. If we had to publish forecasts on a 1- and 2-month horizon, we could see EUR/$ reach 1.20. In other words, we expect the EUR/$ sell-off to continue for now as risk premia have to rise initially." To which our response, naturally was: "In yet other words, if there is a clearer signal to go tactically long the EURUSD we do not know what it may be. We would set the initial target at 1.30 on the pair." Needless to say, following Stolper's recommendation, the EUR barely dipped further, and as of this morning has soared above 1.3000, helped not least of all by the record EUR IMM shorts we have been highlighting for weeks. With this, we now close our latest fade-Stolper trade at a profit of 317 pips. This is the 8th out of 8 closed and profitable "anti-Stolper" trades posted on Zero Hedge.
Macro news from Europe has refuted claims made last week that the ESM fund would be doubled to EUR 1tln, with a German spokesman commenting that the country is not of mind that ESM resources should be increased to that level. Discussions concerning the management of the EFSF and the ESM from German members of parliament have spurred talks that the funds could be run in parallel and even together in an emergency scenario. The ECB’s Weidmann has commented on his confidence in the Eurozone and the German economy, stating that current stagnation is temporary and that we should see a recovery in the Eurozone during 2012. Financial stocks have shown volatility this morning following comments from French and German Finance Ministers that banking regulations may be relaxed under the Basel III agreement, however this was later denied by the German Finance Minister.
Two weeks ago we wrote a post that should have made it all too clear that while the US and Europe continue to pretend that all is well, and they are, somehow, solvent, Asia has been smelling the coffee. To wit: "For anyone wondering how the abandonment of the dollar reserve status would look like we have a Hollow Men reference: not with a bang, but a whimper... Or in this case a whole series of bilateral agreements that quietly seeks to remove the US currency as an intermediate. Such as these: "World's Second (China) And Third Largest (Japan) Economies To Bypass Dollar, Engage In Direct Currency Trade", "China, Russia Drop Dollar In Bilateral Trade", "China And Iran To Bypass Dollar, Plan Oil Barter System", "India and Japan sign new $15bn currency swap agreement", and now this: "Iran, Russia Replace Dollar With Rial, Ruble in Trade, Fars Says."" Today we add the latest country to join the Asian dollar exclusion zone: "India and Iran have agreed to settle some of their $12 billion annual oil trade in rupees, a government source said on Friday, resorting to the restricted currency after more than a year of payment problems in the face of fresh, tougher U.S. sanctions." To summarize: Japan, China, Russia, India and Iran: the countries which together account for the bulk of the world's productivity and combined are among the biggest explorers and producers of energy. And now they all have partial bilateral arrangements, and all of which will very likely expand their bilateral arrangements to multilateral, courtesy of Obama's foreign relations stance which by pushing the countries into a corner has forced them to find alternative, USD-exclusive, arrangements. But yes, aside from all of the above, the dollar still is the reserve currency... if only in which to make calculations of how many imaginary money one pays in exchange for imaginary 'developed world' collateral.
While it is early to determine if the ongoing breakout is finally in anticipation of upcoming episodes of direct and indirect monetization by the Fed, ECB, or any of the many other pathological currency diluters in circulation, it is obvious that precious metals have found a new bid in recent days. Is this then, the beginning of the next surge in gold and silver to record highs? It remains to be seen, but one entity, the Duet Commodities Fund which was one of last year's best performers, has already made up its mind. 'Our central forecast in gold remains constructive as our long term view targets $2,500 in 2012. Our core view is that gold will head higher to the $2,500 range driven by consequential USD weakness once the EU crisis dissipates and the US steps into the limelight. A weaker USD is not undesirable in the world order as everyone (especially China) understands that the US consumer is the driver for global consumer confidence and consequential consumption led demand." Wow - someone in this market can actually think one step ahead of the inevitable ECB LTRO/monetization, and realize that the Fed will in turn have to escalate to that escalation. Gold, er golf clap.