The bullishness is rather interesting considering the notable headwinds that exist in the European sovereign debt markets, the geopolitical risk seen in light sweet crude oil futures, and the potential for a recession to play out in Europe.
As many have been suspecting all along, the political game involving the ouster of now former SNB president Philipp Hildebrand has been nothing more than a game of "pin the tail on the scapegoat" for bad monetary policy by the SNB, read the EURCHF 1.20 peg. In other words, it is quite likely that alongside the burgeoning SNB balance sheet, the bank had also accumulated quite a few losses, which the Swiss public will not be too happy with, and a change at the top was required. So what happens next: will the SNB relent and allow the peg to expire as the scramble for a (now much more diluted) CHF resumes ahead of the European D-Day in March, or will the peg be forced to be pushed even higher, at the expense of even greater balance sheet losses? Here is what SocGen thinks will be the next steps.
Peter Tchir submits: "The market is essentially frozen ahead of yet another Merkozy press conference. I have lost count of how many of these press conferences they have had. I haven’t lost count of how many resulted in anything particularly useful – zero is an easy number to remember."
- SEC calls for detail on debt exposure (FT)
- Calls for US taxpayers to bear housing (FT)
- Beijing Sets Meek Tone on Reform to Banking Sector Amid Uncertainty (WSJ)
- Merkel, Sarkozy to seek growth, jobs for euro zone (Reuters)
- UK leaves door open for cash to IMF (FT)
- Hungary Runs Out of Options in Row With IMF (Bloomberg)
- Monti Says No More Budget Cutting Needed to Balance Italian Budget by 2013 (Bloomberg)
- China to maintain 'prudent' monetary policy (China Daily)
- Regional free trade talks in the pipeline (China Daily)
Can Austerity Work?
Russia, Iran Proceed With Bilateral Trade, Drop Dollar; Russian Warships Park In Syria; Iran Accelerates Nuclear EnrichmentSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/08/2012 16:37 -0400
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." And ironically, the proposal to dump the greenback did not come from Iran. Per Bloomberg: "Iran and Russia replaced the U.S. dollar with their national currencies in bilateral trade, Iran’s state-run Fars news agency reported, citing Seyed Reza Sajjadi, the Iranian ambassador in Moscow. The proposal to switch to the ruble and the rial was raised by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in Astana, Kazakhstan, of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the ambassador said." Is Iran gradually becoming the poster child of an energy rich country that just says no to the dollar: "Iran has replaced the dollar in its oil trade with India, China and Japan, Fars reported." Next thing you know China, Russia and Japan will engage in bilateral trade agreements with the Eurozone in exchange for purchasing European or EFSF (which at last check are now forced to give 30% guaranatees) bonds, and bypassing dollars completely. But yes, aside from everyone else, virtually everyone (footnote 1) is still using the dollar as currency of global exchange.
The meeting between Merkel and Sarkozy on Monday is likely to be the main focus of next week, as well as continued debate of the Greek PSI. Overall, this process is likely to push the EUR lower in the next couple of weeks, while the missing details for better fiscal policy coordination are getting negotiated. On the macro side, IP in Germany will have slowed by 0.2% mom in November and consensus expects the aggregate Euro-zone IP to have contracted by the same amount. But we also get November IP in many other places, including the UK and India. Already released over the weekend, Chinese money supply data has been stronger than expected and the amount of new loans issues in December is clear evidence of policy easing.
A gold standard, abandoned mostly due to a shortfall in the amount of the metal required to back the monetary system? A common bloc designed to simplify trade and commerce? Macro-economic reform of the union from the centre? Voluntary adoption by England who was not part of the union? Ah, well almost. Anyway, my point is this: In the mid-700s it probably seemed inconceivable that Europe would be united under a common ruler, much less a common currency and, by the mid-800s, it probably seemed equally inconceivable that such a union could split asunder - but such is the nature of unions (and currency blocs for that matter). As the individual members undergo the individual stresses associated with running individual and idiosyncratic economies under a common banner, it is inevitable that there will be periods when maintaining the status quo becomes impossible. It was true of Europe in 800 - it holds true today.
UBS' Releases Most Dire Prediction To Date: Greece To Experience "Coercive" Restructuring With CDS Triggering Around MarchSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/07/2012 19:47 -0400
UBS, which has been issuing ever gloomier forecasts over the past few months, with the sole intent of getting someone to bail out the European financial system, which despite the current stay of execution is increasingly more brittle (because solvency crises only get worse with time, never better), has just come out with its magnum opus. In a report released overnight, the firm's Global Rates Team has just jumped the shark, with a prediction that things in Europe are literally about to implode: "we anticipate that the crisis will deteriorate further than the stressed levels of late November. We do not believe that Greek PSI will take place in a “voluntary” fashion but instead expect coercive restructuring of Greek debt either before or soon after the March redemption, triggering CDS contracts. Greece is not likely to decide to leave the euro area in 2012, though the risks of that happening have certainly increased." And as we well know from previous UBS reports, a departure of a country from the Eurozone would lead to a mass splurge in purchases of guns, spam and gold. So is this merely a last ditch call for a bailout from someone, anyone: either Fed or ECB will do? Most likely. Because if while the general market continues to ignore Europe, and European banks are out there literally screaming the end is nigh, then the truth is surely somewhere inbetween. Especially, if as Reuters reports, Greece is just the beginning. "One of Portugal's most prominent business leaders has moved his family holding company to Holland partly because of uncertainty over whether the country will remain in the euro, Alexandre Soares dos Santos said in a newspaper interview on Saturday. Soares dos Santos, who is chairman of the board of Jeronimo Martins, caused a stir in Portugal this week when it emerged that his family holding company that controls the country's second largest retailer had moved to Holland...."I also don't know if Portugal will stay in the euro. And if it leaves, it will be to the escudo," Soares dos Santos told Expresso, referring to the escudo currency used by Portugal before it adopted the euro. "I have a right to defend my property."" So while everyone continues to expect the best, those who really matter are planning for the worst.
In this twofer of a chartology packet, we take a look at Goldman's target for 2012, which David Kostin has as unchanged for the time being (unlike Morgan Stanley which went bearish off the bat), as well as what one should expected from dividend stocks. First, regarding Goldman's 2012 target of 1250 on the S&P, or unchanged from last year, "S&P 500 finished 2011 flat in price terms and outperformed most global indices. We see similar returns in 2012 with a 12-month target of 1250. Recent strength in US economic data and less negative news from the Eurozone and Washington, DC is unlikely to be sustained, implying near-term multiple risk as investor confidence falters. During 4Q, analysts cut 2012 EPS estimates in all sectors. We forecast downside to US equities during 1H." So where should cash be parked according to Goldie? Why in the ever bigger dividend bubble: "Dividends accounted for 20% of the 7.2% annualized total return to US stocks since 1950, 40% of the 1.6% average total return during the past decade, and 100% of the total return last year. We forecast 2012 S&P 500 dividends per share will establish a new record high of $29.20, exceeding the prior peak reached in 2008. Dividend swap market implies similar dividend growth in 2012 compared with our forecast, but lower growth from 2013 through 2021. We expect 23% and 15% dividend growth for Information Technology and Financials, respectively." Incidentally, dividend parking makes sense in this environment of devaluing global cash: as capital appreciation becomes next to impossible with multiples contracting ever more and with earnings rolling over, the only way to generate an ROI is to extract as much cash from companies as possible...Of course assuming management will be willing to part with its cash buffer in light of increasing uncertainty. Net net this also means a decline in stock prices (ex-dividend) but who's counting.
By now Zero Hedge readers know that there is no better contrarian signal in the world than Goldman's Tom Stolper: in fact it is well known his "predictions" are a gift from god (no pun intended ) because without fail the opposite of what he predicts happens - see here. 100% of the time. Which is why, following up on our previous post identifying the record short interest in the EUR and the possibility for CME shennanigans any second now, it was only logical that Stolper would come out, warning of further downside to the EURUSD (despite having a 1.45 target). To wit: "With considerable downside risk in the short term, within our regular 3-month forecasting horizon, the key questions are about the speed and magnitude of the initial sell-off. If we had to publish forecasts on a 1- and 2-month horizon, we could see EUR/$ reach 1.20. In other words, we expect the EUR/$ sell-off to continue for now as risk premia have to rise initially." 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.
If there was one analogy for the failing artificial Eurozone system we had not heard so far, was one comparing it to Hogwarts (thank you Harry Potter). Now, courtesy of Tullet Prebon that is no longer the case: "Albus Mario Dumbledore and Harry Constancio Potter are due to assemble next Thursday for the next episode of the sovereign Voldemort saga. It is foretold that during the press conference the headmaster will unveil his wand and deliver an almighty spell, ‘Expelliarmus Debtus’, whereupon the dreaded Troika Dementors will be vaporised disappearing into the austerity vortex, leaving the Muggles to live happily ever after."
As rumors of preparations for a Greek Euro exit resume, even if attributed to an old Spiegel piece we wrote about back in 2011, and the USD seems like the cleanest dog in a dirty fight (this week at least), EURUSD drops below 1.27 for the first time since September of 2010. This is a 76.4% (Fib) retracement of the 2005-to-2008 rally and has few solid support levels below here at 1.2590, then the figure 1.25 quickly follows, and on to the 1.2330 10/28/08 swing low and finally the 6/7/10 swing low at 1.1877. All of this is not helped when the former IMF Chief Economist doesn't expect the eurozone to survive entirely, via Bloomberg:
- *EX-IMF CHIEF ECONOMIST RAGHURAM RAJAN SAYS EUROZONE MAY NOT SURVIVE ENTIRELY:CNBC
Fitch joins the Hungary "junking" parade, which centers around the country's former unwillingness to yield to the banking cartel regarding its central bank, which as of today is no longer the case: "The downgrade of Hungary's ratings reflects further deterioration in the country's fiscal and external financing environment and growth outlook, caused in part by further unorthodox economic policies which are undermining investor confidence and complicating the agreement of a new IMF/EU deal."