The revaluation that is underway now is beyond the simple scope of corporate earnings valuations, going to the very core of the system itself. Just like the equity pricing regime (and investor expectations for equity assets) needs to adjust to the twelve-year-old bear market reality, pricing within the global banking system as a whole needs to adjust to the reality that the artificial growth of the economic textbook is not replicable. The economic truth of 2012 is that much of the science of economics, and the foundation that gives to finance and financial pricing, was a temporal anomaly befitting only those specific conditions of that bygone era. In other words, the entire financial world needs to reset itself outside the paradigm of pre-2008. The secular bear market in US equities is one strand of this changing landscape, perhaps the first stirring of the collapse of the activist central bank experiment. In the end, the potential selling pressure of the dollar shortage is irresistible, no matter how “cheap” stock prices are to earnings, but none of it may matter in the grander scheme of a dramatic reset to the global system. The inability of that global system to escape this critical state, to simply move beyond crisis and function “normally” again, demonstrates conclusively, in my opinion, the foundational transformation that is still taking place well beyond the stock bear. Everything is a locked feedback loop of negative pressures in this age, no matter how much we want to see “value” where and how it used to exist.
Paradigm shifts are rarely orderly, but there are warning signs.
Despite what her officials say publicly, austerity has limited support within the ECB itself, because it is run at the top by neoclassical economists. Instead, the real constraint is Germany, whose citizens’ savings are on the line and which faces the prospect of its third currency collapse in a century. So this is where the lines are drawn up: spendthrifts desperate for more money, a conflicted central bank, and Germany. Angela Merkel has made considerable progress in pushing the German electorate in a direction that is completely against its instincts by playing the political card marked “there is no alternative.” With her considerable political skills, she may be able to push her people some more, but it is becoming increasingly difficult, because everyone in Germany can see that committing real savings to bailing out the spendthrifts only wipes out the savings. These are not euros simply conjured out of thin air, because the Bundesbank cannot print them and probably wouldn’t do so anyway. But the pressure is mounting on her, and she is being squeezed by governments such as the British and the Americans, who are now panicking over the consequences of failure. This is why both countries went public last week, with David Cameron even visiting Merkel in person. It is a sure indication that major governments outside the Eurozone are beginning to expect the worst, and that unless Germany gives way, it will happen quickly.
Gold dipped today despite Wall Street hopes that the US Fed will embark on more QE. As we have said for some time QE3, or a new term for electronic and paper money creation, is a certainty and this will lead to inflation hedging and safe haven demand for gold.
- Prepare for Lehmans (sic) re-run, Bank official warns (Telegraph)
- Fed Seen Extending Operation Twist While Avoiding Bond Buying (Bloomberg)
- US Watchdog Hits at ‘Risky’ London (FT)
- G20 Bid to Cut Cost of Euro Borrowing (FT)
- Romney Says Rubio Being Examined as Possible Running Mate (Bloomberg)
- Hollande Says Worth Exploring ESM Bond Buys (Reuters)
- US Upbeat After Eurozone Debt Crisis Talks (FT)
- BOJ Members Say Japan Could Be ‘Adversely Affected’ by Europe (Bloomberg)
- China Steps Said to Grow Bond Market, Add Issuer Scrutiny (Bloomberg)
- How Asia Will Fare if Europe Cracks (WSJ)
Two days ago, when noting that Italy is on collision course with technical insolvency should its bonds remain at current levels for even one more week, we wrote that "As Italy Hints Of Subordination, Did Rome Just Request A "Semi" Bailout?" Of course, yesterday's big market moving rumor was just this - namely that "supposedly" Germany had agreed to provide the underfunded EFSF and non-existent ESM as ECB SMP replacement vehicles, and implicitly to launch the bailout of not only Spain but also Italy. This turned out to be patently untrue, as we expected, despite speculation having been accepted as fact by various UK newspaper and having taken Europe by a storm of false hope, leading peripheral spreads modestly tighter (and Germany naturally wider). Of course, even if Merkel were to allow the ESM/EFSF to effectively replace the ECB secondary market bond buying, which is what this is all about, nothing will be fixed, and in fact it would lead to even more subordination and more bond selling off of positions which are not held by the ECB or ESM. But that is for the market to digest in 4-6 weeks as it appears nobody still understands how the mechanics of the flawed European rescue mechanism works. In the meantime, now that Italy has tipped its hand, it has only one option: to push full bore demanding that someone, anyone out there buy its bonds. Sadly, Germany just said nein. Again.
“We fear a programmed strangling.”
Is a fiscal union possible? Is it possible to credibly remove risk from the market and enforce budgetary and deficit targets? As Barclays notes, it appears that, given the apparently deepening divide among euro area politicians, any credible solution will be difficult to attain.
It has been a while since the Guardian came up with a European "bailout" rumor. Time to change that. In a nutshell: Germany will somehow allow a fund, the ESM, which does not yet even exist, overturn the primary principle of the Eurozone, the no sovereign bailout clause, and use money which has not been funded, to subordinate bondholders across the entire continent (because ESM is priming) and serve as an additional secured lender in addition to the ECB... In other words, the ESM will take place of the ECB's SMP. With the only difference that the ECB can print money, while the unfunded ESM will at best rely on the murky details of repo lending. Same subordination either way, of course.
Recently, there has been an intense debate in Europe on the TARGET2 system (Trans-European Automated Real-time Gross Settlement Express Transfer System 2), which is the joint gross clearing system of the eurozone the interpretation of this system and its balances has provoked divergent opinions. Some economists, most prominently Hans-Werner Sinn, have argued that TARGET2 amounts to a bailout system. Others have vehemently denied that. Philipp Bagus adresses the question of whether this 'mysterious' system, that we have been so vociferously discussing, simply amounts to an undercover bailout system for unsustainable living standards in the periphery? Concluding by comparing TARGET2, Eurobonds, and the ESM, he notes that all three 'devices' serve as a bailout system and form a tranfer union but governments prefer to hide the losses on taxpayers as long as possible and prefer the ECB to aliment deficits in the meantime.
We have long been concerned at the implicit and explicit subordination of both financial and sovereign bondholders in Europe by the actions of their overlords political elite in pursuit of short-term liquidity fixes to insolvency issues. As talk of the ESM coming to life in the short-term and a 'Redemption Pact' in the intermediate term - which as Goldman describes involves mutualizing a portion of each country's debt (resulting in a partial upgrade of the existing pool of Eurozone sovereign bonds) in a European Redemption Fund (ERF) and, in the process, extending debt maturities (kicking that can) onto the public sector's balance sheet. As with all these mutualization schemes, the ERF ineluctably raises the twin problems of 'moral hazard' and 'subordination', which need to be mitigated. Goldman discusses these two sides of the same coin as it notes subordination is explicit when the ESM intervenes (and also with the ECB's SMP) but a little less obvious in the ERF (though still as painful) which is, we note, perhaps more appealing to keep the masses unaware.
After a volatile morning’s trade, European equities are making gains. Having progressed through the session, markets saw a distinct period of volatility wherein peripheral 10-yr government bond yield spreads tightened markedly with their German counterpart, with the Spanish 10-yr yield making a test, but stopping short of a break below the 7.00% handle. The moves came in the wake of a relatively smooth Spanish T-Bill auction, which saw decent bid/cover ratios albeit with markedly higher yields on their 12- and 18-month lines. A modest relief rally was also observed when markets received confirmation that a recent ruling from the top German court regarding information on the ESM’s configuration does not bar the fund from coming into action and taking effect. In terms of data, markets have shrugged off a particularly poor ZEW survey from Germany, however a substantial weakening was observed in GBP following the release of the first deflationary May reading of CPI since records began. The pullback in cost-push inflation has given markets further reason to believe the BoE may conduct additional QE, as the price-level pressures have eased across the past two months.
- With big conditions, China Offers $43 Billion for IMF Crisis War Chest (Reuters)... US offers $0.00
- Mexico is not Spain: Mexican Yields Drop to Record as Spain’s Borrowing Costs Soar (Bloomberg)
- And live from Las Ventanas al Paraiso: G-20 Leaders Focus on Banks as Spain's Woes Challenge Merkel (Bloomberg)
- German Constitutional Court Gives Victory to Opposition in ESM Suit (WSJ)
- EU Europe’s Leaders Urged to Resolve Crisis (FT)
- Backing Grows for One EU Bank Supervisor (FT)
- Greek Leaders Close to Coalition, Aim to Ease Bailout (Reuters)
- China Economy Improves in June, Commerce Minister Chen Says (Bloomberg)
- China Looks for Loan Boost (WSJ)
Leading all others “by the nose through the ring.”