Europe has now officially become the Schrodinger continent, demanding both sides of the economic coin so to speak, and is stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place (or "a cake and eating it"). On one hand it wants to telegraph its financial system is getting stronger, and doesn't need trillions in implicit and explicit ECB backstops, on the other it needs a liquidity buffer against an economy that, especially in the periphary, is rapidly deteriorating (Spanish bad debt just hit a new all time high while Italian bad loans rose by 16.7% in one year as more and more assets become impaired). On one hand it wants a strong currency to avoid any doubt that there is redenomination risk, on the other it desperately needs a weak currency to spur exports out of the Eurozone (as Spain showed when the EUR plunged in 2012, however that weak currency is now a distant memory and it is now seriously weighing on exports). On the one hand Europe wants to show its banks have solidarity with one another and will support each other, on the other those banks that are in a stronger position can't wait to shed the stigma of being associated with the weak banks (in this case by accepting LTRO bailouts).
- Fed Pushes Into ‘Uncharted Territory’ With Record Assets (BBG)
- Next up in the currency wars: Korea - Samsung Drops on $2.8 Billion Won Profit-Cut Prediction (BBG)
- China Warns ‘Hot Money’ Inflows Possible on Easing From Abroad (Bloomberg)
- BOJ Shirakawa affirms easy policy pledge but warns of costs (Reuters)
- Merkel Takes a Swipe at Japan Over Yen (WSJ)
- Wages in way of Abe’s war on deflation (FT)
- Italian PM under fire over bank crisis (FT)
- Senior officials urge calm over islands dispute (China Daily)
- Spain tries to peel back business rules (FT)
- Rifts Over Cyprus Bailout Feed Broader Fears (WSJ)
- Soros Says the Euro Is Here to Stay as Currency War Looms (BBG)
At this point it has gotten painfully tedious, and the one phrase to describe trading is - Same Pattern Different Day. With equity futures closing decidedly weak on earnings reality after US market close, the slowly, steady overnight ramp seen every single day for the past month has returned as always, this time on yet another largely expected German confidence indicator beat (following the just as irrationally exuberant ZEW some time ago, and yesterday's far better than expected PMI), this time the IFO Business Climate, which printed at 104.2, on expectations of 103 and up from 102.4. This was driven by both the current assessment rising from 107.1 to 108 and the Expectations rising from 97.9 to 100.5. Naturally, all confidence indicators will be skewed in a way to prevent the market from doubting for a second that Germany may actually succumb to the same recession that has gripped all other European countries (which Germany is an inch away from after its negative Q4 GDP). In other words: there is hope. As for reality, UK Q4 GDP came in at -0.3% on expectations of a far lower drop to -0.1%, and down from the olympics-boosted 0.9% in Q3. The UK certainly can't wait for Mark Carney to come and show them how cable devaluation is really done, cause this time it will be different, if only it wasn't different for everyone else.
The market gets smoked for 1/4 Trillion in a single name, and we're trading at the highs. Go figure.
Just when the Super Goldman Mario Bros (Monti and Draghi) told us everything is fine in Europe, and it is not only safe but encouraged to get back in the pool, the first canary of 2013 just died.
- When the cash runs out: Nokia to Omit Dividend for First Time in 143 Years (BBG)
- Passing Debt Bill, GOP Pledges End to Deficits (WSJ)
- Japan logs record trade gap in 2012 as exports struggle (Reuters)
- so naturally... Yen at 100 Per Dollar Endorsed by Japan Government’s Nishimura (BBG)
- Japan rejects currency war fears (FT)
- In Amenas attack brings global jihad home to Algeria (Reuters)
- Investors grow cagey as Italy election nears (Reuters)
- Mafia Victim’s Son Holds Key to Bersani Winning Key Region (BBG)
- Bernanke Seen Pressing On With Stimulus Amid Debate on QE (BBG)
- U.S. to lift ban on women in front-line combat jobs (Reuters)
- Red flags revealed in filings of firm linked to Caterpillar fraud (Reuters)
- Apple Sales Gain Slowest Since ’09 as Competition Climbs (BBG)
- Spanish Jobless Rate Hits Record After Rajoy’s First Year (BBG)
- North Korea Threatens Nuclear Test to Derail U.S. Policies (BBG)
Oldest Bank In The World Plunges, Halted As Chairman Resigns In Aftermath Of Latest Derivatives FiascoSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/23/2013 09:41 -0400
Last week, following documentation from Deutsche Bank (and Nomura), it became clear that Italy's Monte Paschi (BMPS) bank (the oldest in the world) has engaged in derivatives with the German and Japanese banks in order to save itself during the financial crisis. The derivatives, according to Bloomberg, were done off-market and allowed the booking of large upfront gains which covered losses optically that the bank faced as European liquidity dried up completely - the offsetting 'losses' are now coming due. Today, amid growing outcry over the 'deal', the former head of BMPS has resigned. Bloomberg reports that Giuseppe Mussari, now Italy's top banking lobbyist, was the Chairman of BMPS during the derivative deal period. BMPS shares were halted after plunging dramatically as investors are still unclear of the extent of losses it faces on derivatives. If that was not enough chicanery, there is a twist in that none other than Mario Draghi, as Director of the Bank of Italy, would have had to vet Mussari (and his banks' regulated books) during this period - as BMPS accumulated what is obviously undocumented derivatives positions to intentionally obscure losses. Once again, years later, it seems the truth comes out - and of course we would expect no-one to go to jail - and the lying in Europe (then and now) continues unabated - as the reality of financial system health remains hidden from view.
Heading into the North American open, equities are trading in minor negative territory, led lower by banks as markets look forward to the first LTRO repayment, as well as lingering concerns that losses from derivatives contracts by Monte Paschi (entered with Nomura) may undermine the lender’s earnings. Monte Paschi shares opened 8% lower and were halted by the exchange to prevent a further slide in share price. As a result, even though EUR/USD is trading higher and peripheral bond yield spread are tighter, Bunds are trading in minor positive territory. Of note, Spain’s Iberian neighbour Portugal opened books for its 2017 bond and books are said to be around EUR 10bln, with guidance at MS+395bps (down from original MS+410bps). EUR/USD has also benefited from the decision by the Portuguese Treasury to tap capital markets only a day after a successful placement by Spain yesterday. Looking elsewhere, even though USD/JPY has bounced off earlier lows, implied vols continue to trade heavy as option decay and re-positioning post the BoJ decision weighs on prices. So much so that R/R has slipped to Sep levels, but still favours bets on further JPY depreciation.
- Doubt Greets Bank of Japan's Easing Shift (WSJ)
- Japan hits back at currency critics (FT)
- Japan upgrades economic view for first time in eight months (Australian) - only to lower them in a few months again
- GOP critics get opportunity to grill Secretary Clinton on Benghazi (Hill)
- Global economy set for ‘slow recovery’ (FT)
- Obama to back short debt limit extension (FT)
- Unfinished Luxury Tower Is Stark Reminder of Las Vegas’s Economic Reversal (NYT)
- Draghi Says ‘Darkest Clouds’ Over Europe Have Subsided (BBG)
- High-Speed Dustup Hits a Clubby Corner (WSJ)
- U.S. Budget Discord Is Top Threat to Global Economy in Poll (BBG)
- Sir Mervyn King says abandoning inflation target would be 'irresponsible' (Telegraph)
- Spain Says It May Cover 13% of 2013 Funding in January (BBG)
With the market basking in glow of good earnings results yesterday, mostly out of IBM, and to a lesser extent GOOG, which missed on the top line but beat on EPS squeezing some recent inbound shorts, S&P500 futures have yet to post a solid move to the upside. Perhaps a big reason for this is the recent recoupling of risk based on not one but two carry signals: the first is the well-known EURUSD pair, while the second is the recent entrant, the USDJPY, and it is the latter that continues to see a cover of the massive short interest accumulated over the recent 1000 pip move higher on what upon ongoing reflection has been a disappointing announcement out of the BOJ. Needless to say, the Nikkei whose recent surge higher was all due to currency weakness has tumbled overnight despite corporate fundamentals, if not economic data, which continues to post substantially subpar prints.
- Geithner allegations beg Fed reform (Reuters)
- BOJ Adopts Abe’s 2% Target in Commitment to End Deflation (BBG)
- Bundesbank Head Cautions Japan (WSJ)
- In speech, Obama pushes activist government and takes on far right (Reuters)
- Atari’s U.S. Operations File for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy (BBG)
- Israel goes to polls, set to re-elect Netanyahu (Reuters)
- Apple May Face First Profit Drop in Decade as IPhone Slows (BBG)
- EU states get blessing for financial trading tax (Reuters)
- Indian Jeweler Becomes Billionaire as Gold Price Surges (BBG)
- Europe Stocks Fall; Deutsche Bank Drops on Bafin Request (BBG)
- Algeria vows to fight Qaeda after 38 workers killed (Reuters)
- GS Yuasa Searched After Boeing 787s Are Grounded (BBG)
- Slumping pigment demand eats into DuPont's profit (Reuters)
The two month wait is over and the most overtelegraphed central bank news since November 2012 finally hit the tape when the BOJ announced last night what everyone knew, namely that it would proceed with open-(y)ended asset purchases and a variety of economic targets, key of which was 2% inflation. However, the response so far has been one of certainly selling the pent up news, especially since as was further detailed, the BOJ will do virtually nothing for 12 months, except to increase the size of its existing QE (is the current episode QE 10 or 11?) by another €10 trillion for the Bills component. The USDJPY dropped as much as 170 pips lower than its overnight kneejerk highs hit just after the news.
In what is a surprising warning shot for Merkel's popularity ahead of the September general election in Germany, moments ago the CDU/FDP ruling coalition lost the vote in Lower Saxony to the center-left Social Democratic Party/Greens block by a last minute, one-seat win according to Reuters. The SPD and Greens won a combined 46.3 percent against 45.9 percent for the centre-right, with the FDP defying predictions they would fail to win a seat and scoring 9.9 percent - twice what they had been forecast to get, however the boost coming as a result of a CDU ballot-splitting strategy that may have now backfired.
- White House delays 2014 budget after "fiscal cliff" standoff (Reuters) - And Senate will pass this... never?
- Amari Signals Limits to Abe’s Campaign to Weaken Yen (BBG)
- Draghi’s Bond Rally Masks Debt Doom Loop Trapping Spain (BBG)
- Obama backs gun limits, concedes tough fight ahead (AP)
- Bernanke to Weigh QE Costs as Fed Assets Approach Record (BBG)
- Japan to Sell Debt Worth 7.8 Trillion Yen to Pay for Stimulus (BBG)
- France more than doubles forces in Mali (FT) and yet...
- Malian Rebels Take Town and Vow to Avenge French Attack (NYT)
- China’s Li Calls for Patience as Government Works to Reduce Smog (BBG)
- EU berates China over steel subsidies (BBG)
- Number of working poor families grows as wealth gap widens (Reuters)
Because in a world in which markets no longer are affected by fundamentals, and reflect nothing more than what politicians (and their Wall Street lobbies) believe the "fair value" of risk assets should be, it is likely that any fat-tail events will emerge not out of the markets, but out of politics (and perhaps out of central banks, although it is a safe bet that the world's central planners will merely do much more of the same). The chart below summarizes the geopolitical hotspots of the coming 12 months, which together with everything else are no longer reflected in asset prices courtesy of the central banks completely destroying the market's discounting function.