The financial crisis of the last few years has created not just a perceived shift in the creditworthiness of our financial entities but a real crack in the foundation of their business model and more importantly any explicit or implicit supports or guarantees. Moody's, in a special report on credit post crisis "The Great Credit Shift" look at the impact of the crisis on every major asset class within the credit space from sovereigns to corporates to structured finance. Noting that this crisis has profoundly changed the credit picture for sovereigns and financials, Moody's note there is some dispersion in the latter as banks have seen systematic downgrades while insurers (for now) remain on par with pre-crisis levels. More interestingly, large US regional banks represent an exception to this broad downgrade but we suspect that the continued low interest rate, low NIM, and high volatility spread environment will cause both insurers (we have long considered proxies for HY portfolios, no matter how well cushioned from vol their business models may be) and US regionals (consolidation will have the opposite effect of TBTF in our view as it will lead to more comfort with more risk-taking and expose them to more current-bank-like volatility) to face more pressure going forward (despite their lower apparent sovereign risk exposure). As BofA and Morgan Stanley trade at extreme 'crisis' levels in both CDS and equity markets, we suspect the raters have further to go and while the systemic shifts are apparent, we would expect less and not more differentiation going forward - especially if we sink into another solvency crisis.
As noted over the weekend, the UK, having vetoed the December 9 summit, has made it clear it would also likely back out of its IMF mandated contribution to save the Eurozone. In other words, the €30.9 billion that was supposed to come from the UK to rescue French and Italian banks, is now probably gone, a move which threatens to topple the latest Plan Z euro bailout in which broke countries pool money to bailout the same broke countries. Sure enough, Dow Jones confirms it:
- EU loans to IMF likely to fall short of expected EUR 200bln according to sources
- Eurozone may move on IMF loans without immediate UK support according to a EU source
And while below we present the latest breakdown of IMF contribution by member countries, courtesy of Reuters, how long before populist pressure in various Eurozone (and especially non-Eurozone) countries threatens to topple governments unless each and every "joint and several" contributor country pulls a UK? Because if the UK is allowed to save taxpayer funds, why not everyone else?
As first reported here, two weeks ago European banks saw the amount of USD-loans from the Fed, via the ECB's revised swap line, surge to over $50 billion - a total first hit in the aftermath of the Bear Stearns failure prompting us to ask "When is Lehman coming?" However, according to little noted prepared remarks by Anthony Sanders in his Friday testimony to the Congress Oversight Committee, "What the Euro Crisis Means for Taxpayers and the U.S. Economy, Pt. 1", we may have been optimistic, because the end result will be not when is Lehman coming, but when are the next two Lehmans coming, as according to Sanders, the relaunch of the Fed's swaps program may "get to the $1 trillion level, or perhaps even higher." As a reference, FX swap line usage peaked at $583 billion in the Lehman aftermath (see chart). Needless to say, this estimate is rather ironic because as Bloomberg's Bradely Keoun reports, "Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke yesterday told a closed-door gathering of Republican senators that the Fed won’t provide more aid to European banks beyond the swap lines and the discount window -- another Fed program that provides emergency funds to U.S. banks, including U.S. branches of foreign banks." Well, between a trillion plus in FX swap lines, and a surge in discount window usage which only Zero Hedge has noted so far, there really is nothing else that the Fed can possibly do, as these actions along amount to a QE equivalent liquidity injection, only denominated in US Dollars. Aside of course to shower Europe with dollars from the ChairsatanCopter. Then again, before this is all over, we are certain that paradollardop will be part of the vernacular.
As is by now well known, it was the British refusal to budge and thus agree to the fiscal compact from the December 9th summit, that led to the realization that the European bailout is now further away than ever before. And as reported earlier, tomorrow European finance ministers will sit down to finalize the terms of a €200 billion IMF injection, funded by various European governments, which is the last ditch rescue effort now that the EFSF and ESM have both failed to convince the market of a long-term solution. Enter Britain. Again. Because as the Telegraph reports, it will be up to Britain to fund not just any portion of the upcoming €200 billion payment, but the second largest one, a commitment which David Cameron and the majority of Britain will likely balk at. "Figures suggest European Union officials expect British taxpayers to be the second largest contributor. The Prime Minister has repeatedly promised not to provide any extra funding for the IMF for the specific purpose of saving the euro and Britain is already liable for £12 billion of loans and guarantees to Ireland, Greece and Portugal...An EU official said Britain was still expected to contribute €30.9 billion (£25.9 billion), leaving the country as the second biggest contributor to the new IMF fund behind Germany and equal with France." So ten days after British obstinacy to "on the fly" European bailout plans led to the EURUSD dropping to 2011 lows, will it be the Albion that once again leads to another step down in the European currency, as it now becomes clear that the last ditch Plan Z "IMF Bailout" plan is now worthless? We will find out shortly, although we are confident that anyone hoping that Britain will do an about face and revert on its controversial position, will be disappointed.
For today's humorous detour, we go back in time, some could say to prehistoric days, and pull the 2011 year end predictions by Blackstone's grizzled (date of birth Valentine's Day, 1933) Vice Chairman Byron Wien posited back on January 1, who for 26 years in a row tries to predict the future. And fails. Well, technically he did get gold right. And yes, there are two more weeks left in 2011: Wien may still be proven right... crazier things have happened.
Something is decidedly strange in Europe today: while there has been a favorable shift in bond spreads with the 10 year BTP dropping to 6.4% (although still waiting for LCH to react to its margin cut even as spreads are 100 bps wider) it is the 3M EUR/USD cross currency basis swap that has us confused as it has mysteriously moved violently tighter, from -140 bps to -121 bps overnight, indicating someone may know something in advance of yet another central bank liquidity infusion. As for the catalyst why one may be needed, we go to Hungary where we learn that "rescue" talks with the IMF and EU "on securing some form of backing to reassure investors" have broken down. As a reminder, should Hungary go, Austria and its billions in CHF-denominated mortgages will almost certainly be next, and with it a test of the SNB's EURCHF floor.
In addition to decades of overspending beyond means, there are also some less discussed contributory factors leading to the current debt crisis in the Euro Zone, particularly when compared to the United States.
"I went to Brussels with one objective: to protect Britain’s national interest. And that is what I did"
Somebody, somewhere has to put up the money and take the loss of the Euro Zone, and it does not look like EU would rise up to the occasion.
The markets, expecting something approaching a frisson of decisiveness, spent Friday like stunned mullets. And with Christmas rapidly approaching may well take to the mulled wine and other festive “remedies” and call it a day until the New Year. At which time they will all realise that nothing, absolutely nothing has been done to address the solvency of the European banking system. Which anthem will they play at the Last Night of the Euro I wonder? How about the Doobie Brothers and “What a fool believes”? “But what a fool believes ... (s)he sees” - a lastingly stable euro?
Little bit of this and that - the economy, Michael Hudson on the warfare engulfing Europe, a Santa Clause rally (anyway?)
What Is More Valuable, The Opinion Of A Major Rating Agency Or The Opinion Of A Blog? Go Ahead, I DARE You To Answer!Submitted by Reggie Middleton on 12/09/2011 11:28 -0500
Follow Europe, banks or corporates? You're out of your damn mind if you subscribe to rating agencies over Blog based independent research!!! Don't believe me? I'll walk you through the evidence, step by step!