The Mañana approach endorsed by the Spanish government is finally beginning to have its toll on investor confidence and after being contained by the so-called Draghi put, 2y bond yields are up over 20bps for the second consecutive day. The decoupling that is being observed is being driven by yesterday’s downgrade of several Spanish regions by Moody’s, citing deterioration in their liquidity positions. As a result, Spain runs a risk of being forced to raise the size of its regional bailout fund which stands at EUR 18bln, with EUR 17.2bln already tapped, as the latest downgrade will likely put an upward pressure on borrowing costs. Major equity markets in Europe are down close to 1%, led by basic materials and oil & gas sectors, as WTI continues to consolidate below the key USD 90 level, while spot Gold continues to lose its shine and is looking to make a test USD 1700. The second half of the session sees the release of the latest Richmond Fed report, as well as the weekly API report.
Easy come, easier go. After yesterday's last hour ramp driven by a MarketWatch article that said absolutely nothing new about the Fed's monetization plans and an AAPL surge which saw the firm add $22 billion in market cap in one day (or more than the market cap of CBS Corp) sent stocks green, the overnight session has taken it all away and then some, with futures now trading roughly 12 ticks lower or at yesterday's lowest levels. The catalyst is, once again, Spain where Moody's downgraded five Spanish regions including Catalonia after the market close (for the reason, see our piece from the weekend "Spanish Regional Bailout Fund Runs Out Of Money"), coupled with news from Confidencial that Spain's budget deficit will overshoot the EU target of 6.3% and hit at least 7.3%, driven by a €10.5 billion deficit in the social security system, trashing the promises from last month's Spain's "reform" package, and as BNP said (confirming what we warned weeks ago), making the conditionality hurdle suddenly that much higher for Spain. And just as the world was getting comfortable that Spain will get away with using the OMP with virtually no conditions. The cherry on top came from France where the business conditions index slid to a 3 year low on expectations a trough had been put in place. The result is a tumble in the EURUSD to below the 1.3000 barrier, dragging stock futures, commodities, and of course Europe with it, sending the Spanish bond curve yield higher, and generally giving a very sour mood to the day as traders walk in.
Once again confusion is rife overnight, following yesterday's main European event, Spain's first "mixed" regional election, which saw Rajoy's PP party in his home state of Galicia eeking a majority by a few seats, offset by wins for nationalist parties in the Basque Country. The immediate read here is that the Galician win is an endorsement of Rajoy's "austerity poilicies" and thus EUR positive (which have yet to be actually implemented as Spanish spending continues to rise, as tax revenues continue to drop), yet it makes the likelihood that Spain requests a bailout before the Spanish regional election on November 25, which is about secession, virtually nil, and thus SPGB negative. Furthermore as Bank of America points out "some euro-area govts may remain reluctant to support Spain’s request as long as yields continue to be low, banks haven’t been recapitalized; probably reinforced by Catalonia elections" but that is a reality tale for another day - the "market" can only handle so much.
Situation “too uncertain,” but for 2013, “we’re pessimistic.”
The circular rationale for believing that Spain is anything other than a basket case is remarkable. As we pointed out last night, in context the market-based signals that so many are basing their opinion on (including Rajoy, Van Rompuy, and Hollande it seems) are extremely misleading. Fundamentally, as UBS explains, the hope that Spain will request a bailout anytime soon is misplaced as there is no immediate pressure to do so and the government would prefer to negotiate a more favorable MoU. However, two major issues stand in the way of that delayed reality - an insufficient bank recap; and the federal nature of Spanish government creating obstacles to deficit reduction.
EU leaders committed to establishing a euro-area bank supervisor by year-end, leaving the door open for supplying direct aid to Spanish banks. The EU must now agree on the structure that makes the ECB (European Central Bank) the main supervisor by January 1st. This new system was created to break the link between banks and governments at the root of the zone’s financial crisis and will roll out in the next year and expect to cover all 6,000 eurozone banks by January 2014. “Our goal is banking supervision that’s worthy of the name, because we want to create something that’s better than what we currently have,” Merkel told reporters. Germany and France argued contentiously about the timing. Berlin has insisted the supervisor be effective before the ESM can begin cash injections into Spanish banks, those transactions are not foreseeable to occur until the latter half of the year, around the time of Germany’s national elections. Angela Merkel said it would take more than a few months before the supervisor was fully effective and direct bank recapitalisation could be considered. However, the agreement appeared to upset German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble's efforts to delay and limit the scope of European banking supervision. Germany has been averse to see its politically sensitive Savings and Cooperative banks come under outside supervision. It rejects any joint deposit guarantee under which wealthier countries might have to underwrite banks in poorer states.
Yet again Germany was forced to compromise and agree on what can only be viewed as a partial agreement on EU banking supervision. Under the agreed timetable, a legal framework for the new ECB-based supervisor would be finalised by the end of this year and then it would take six to 12 months to get the supervisor up and running. Still, German Chancellor Merkel insisted that direct recapitalisation of banks by the ESM will only be available once fully fledged supervision is in place and ruled out retroactive bank recapitalisation. This, together with the fact that Spain is yet to ask for monetary assistance prompted market participants to book profits. In particular, selling pressure was most evident across the financial sector, where Italian and Spanish banks underperforming for much of the session. As a result, EUR/USD traded lower, with large option expiries today and on Monday between 1.3000 and 1.3050 preventing the pair from posting large losses. Going forward, the second half of the session sees the release of the latest Existing Home Sales from the US and Canadian CPI.
Yesterday for the first time in years, the irrelevant headlines out of Europe, which continues to pretend to shuffle money out of one pocket (Germany's) into another (everyone else's), was well-deservedly backstage to the Google earnings fiasco one day ahead of the 25th anniversary of Black Monday (which is today). The EU summit was one of the more toothless ones in a long time, with no discussions at all of the one item that matters - Spain's bailout (as well as Greece's) - but with a lot of fluff considerations for a EU banking union and joint deposit guarantees - events which, like in the June summit, Germany has implicitly gone along with for the ride, but explicitly has said only over its dead body and in which it will not participate (note we said "pretends" above). The summit continues today for a second day, and will hardly make any more news than it did yesterday. In real news, GE missed revenue expectations and joins virtually every other company this earnings seasons in confirming deteriorating unfudgable topline conditions. Elsewhere, in Greece a pool by VPRC for Greece Tomorrow showed that the anti-bailout Syriza party would win outright with 30.5% of the vote, with New Democracy getting 27% and the Pasok coalition partners getting 5%. The Neo-Nazis would get 14%. Also notable is that on Sunday Spanish regions Basque country and Galicia hold local elections. As Rabobank warns, Galicia is Rajoy’s home region, and traditional stronghold of his Popular Party. A poor PP showing may highlight political hurdle to making bailout request, thus challenging the recent OMT-inspired support to Spanish bonds. This in turn would confirm what we have said all along, namely that a bailout request means an end to the current ruling regime and political chaos. Finally, the November 25 Catalonian elections may also trigger Spanish euphoria reversal.
The World Gold Council issued a summary on gold’s price performance in various currencies during the third quarter. The report looks at influences that monetary policies and central bank actions have on gold. Gold’s 11.1% USD/oz return in 3Q was in response to central bank stimulus measures. Volatility decreased and generally correlated with other assets. Central banks announced a continuation of their unconventional monetary policy programmes in Q3 which mainly are used to lower borrowing costs and supporting financial markets.Financial assets have responded to central bank policy announcements, but gold's reaction has been the strongest. There is a consensus that these policies drive investment into gold purely due to inflation-risk impact. The World Gold Council believes that there are not one but four principal factors that provide further support to the investment case for gold: Inflation risk, Medium-term tail-risk from imbalances, Currency debasement and uncertainty, and Low real rates and emerging market real rate differentials.
Today Europe awakes to yet another Eurozone summit, one at which such topics as Greece, Spain, the banking union project or a economic/budgetary union will have to gain further traction, if not resolution. In fact Greece could hardly wait and has already launched it latest 24 hour strike against austerity. The same Greece which demands a 2 year, €30 billion extension from Europe to comply with reform, a move which Europe has/has not agreed to as while the core have said yes to more time, all have refused to fund Greece with any more money. Alas the two are synonymous. As SocGen predicts unless there is some credible progress today, all the progress since the September ECB meeting, which has seen SPGB 10 Year yields decline from 690 bps to sub 550 bps, may simply drift away. And as everyone knows, there is never any progress at these meetings, except for lots of headlines, lots of promises (the Eurozone June summit's conclusions have yet to be implemented) and lots of bottom line profits by Belgian caterers. Elsewhere, Spain sold 3, 4 and 10 year bonds at declining yields on residual optimism from the pro forma bailed out country's paradoxical Investment Grade rating. In non-hopium based news, Spanish bad loans rose to a record 10.5% in August from 10.1% previously while the oldest bank in the world, Italy's Banka Monte dei Paschi was cut to junk status. All this is irrelevant though, as no negative news will ever matter again in a centrally-planned world. Finally the only real good news (at least until it is revised)came out of the UK, where retail sales posted a 0.4% increase on expectations of a 0.2% rise from -0.2%.
While we have largely resumed ignoring the non-newsflow out of Europe, as it has reverted back to one made up on the fly lie after another, or just simple rumor and political talking point innuendo in the most recent attempt to get hedge funds starved for yield (and chasing year end performance) to pursue every and any piece of Italian and Spanish debt (at least the until euphoria ends and the selling on fundamentals resumes) the latest development from the FT bears noting as it has major implications for Europe's make it up as you go along "recovery." According to the FT: "A plan to create a single eurozone banking supervisor is illegal, according to a secret legal opinion for EU finance ministers that deals a further blow to a reform deemed vital to solving the bloc’s debt crisis. A paper from the EU Council’s top legal adviser, obtained by the Financial Times, argues the plan goes “beyond the powers” permitted under law to change governance rules at the European Central Bank." The punchline: "The legal service concludes that without altering EU treaties it would be impossible to give a bank supervision board within the ECB any formal decision-making powers as suggested in the blueprint drawn up by the European Commission."
Once "Jollying The Markets" With "Faith, Hope And Charity" Fails, What Comes Next: A Primer On Europe's Next StepsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/17/2012 10:06 -0400
Back in January, Zero Hedge proposed a pair trade, which to date has returned well over 100% on a blended basis, namely the shorting of local law peripheral European bonds, while going long English law (or strong covenant) bonds (a relationship best arbed in Greece, when various foreign-law issues were tendered for at par to avoid a bankruptcy, even as the local law bond population saw a massive cram down a few months later as part of the second Greek "bailout"). In big part, this proposal stemmed from the work of Cleary Gottlieb's Lee Buccheit, who has been the quiet brain behind the real time restructuring of Europe's insolvent states. In fact, one can say that what is happening in Europe was predicted to a large extent in his "How to Restructure Greek Debt" and "Greek Debt; The Endgame Scenarios." Which is why we read his latest white paper: "The Eurozone Debt Crisis - The Options Now", because it presents, in clear, practical terms, just what the flowchart for Europe looks like, unimpeded by the ceaseless chatter and noise of clueless politicians and career bureaucrats who have never heard the term pro forma or fresh start. In brief, Buccheit, unlike all European politicians, is hardly optimistic.
To summarize: European stocks are little changed although Spanish shares rise. Spain 10-yr bond yields fall to the lowest level in more than 6 months. S&P futures are now higher on the trading session, driven by correlation engines as the euro is up vs the dollar, despite major disappointments by IBM and Intel. In other news Germany formally shut down the debt redemption fund proposal, ending one more rescue avenue for when the recent baseless euphoria ends, even as Spanish La Vanguardia reports that Germany is pressuring Italy to request European aid alongside Spain so that the government of Prime Minister Mario Monti doesn’t reap the benefit of lower borrowing costs without being tied to tougher economic reforms. Needless to say, Italy is said to resist the proposal: after all in Europe one just wants the upside from being bailed out, as opposed to actually being bailed out...
The head of industrial and precious metals trading at Barclays, Cengiz Belentepe, has told Bloomberg that investors are selling their investments in gold ETFs and opting for the safety of allocated physical gold.
Barlcay’s Belentepe said “the question is whether the pace of buying has slowed, or whether the people have become a bit more sophisticated in recognizing the costs and liabilities.”
Chatter is that Rajoy is waiting for conditions to get worse so he can garner easier terms for a Spanish Bailout and seek a compromise whereby he can take a rescue with honor intact has been found. But broadly speaking, confusion reigns in Europe as we wonder how the European Elites will fudge a third bailout for Greece and the fact that the IMF (as we noted here) have admitted that austerity doesn't work how they thought it should/would. But don't expect anything sudden to replace austerity – it remains the only option today, though the debate has begun. So what about something utterly radical such as Gavyn Davies in the FT yesterday where he wrote: “One radical option which is now being discussed is to cancel (or, in polite language, “restructure”) part of the government debt that has been acquired by the central banks as a consequence of quantitative easing (QE).” How will the central bank be recapitalised if it writes off its assets without money printing – why not when inflationary expectations are low? And what would it do to banks?