EURUSD is down over 50 pips from Friday's close, about to test a 1.20 handle for the first time in over 25 months, as headlines pour from the beleaguered disunion. The AP reports of the German vice-chancellor's "more than skeptical" view that Greece can fulfill its obligations; after which "there can be no further payments" seemingly confirms our earlier note on the IMF's reluctance (and dismisses any hope that the IMF's call for more ECB 'assistance' will go unheeded. More worrisome is the Athens News story on Alexis Tsipras (leader of the Greek Syriza party) forecasting that the government will "soon present a return to a national currency (drachma) as a national success." He went on to state rather honestly for a politician that any payment extension (of the already re-negotiated TROIKA deal) is "essentially a longer rope with which to hang ourselves." The elite-perpetuating status-quo-sustaining unreality is summed up perfectly as he notes the Greek finance minister is the definition of a finance minister that the TROIKA would have chosen. Germany's Roesler adds a little fuel to the conflagration by adding that "for many experts,... a Greek exit from the eurozone has long since lost its horror."
Bulgaria speaks up in the euro fiasco. A balanced budget, growth, and an income tax rate of 10%?
It has been a tempestuous week where good is bad, worse is better, but European news is to be sold. Here is your one stop summary of all the notable bullish and bearish events in the past seven days.
The World Gold Council have just published their commentary on gold’s price performance in various currencies, its volatility statistics and correlation to other assets in the quarter - Gold Q2, 2012 - Investment Statistics and Commentary. It provides macroeconomic context to the investment statistics published at the end of each quarter and highlights emerging themes relevant to gold’s future development. One of their key findings is that gold will act as hedge against possible coming dollar weakness and gold will act as a "currency hedge in the international monetary system." The key findings of the World Gold Council’s report are presented inside.
Heading into the EU Summit at the end of June, talks about potential debt mutualization proposals to deal with the eurozone debt crisis had gained momentum. Ultimately, as Barclays points out, the Summit produced an agreement in principle to achieve banking and fiscal union in the medium to long term. However, this commitment was lacking detail and as we pointed out earlier, is now critically exposing once again the fundamental flaw of disunited and self-interested European union of idiosyncratic nations. While the decision to give the ESM the 'capability' to recapitalize banks directly solidified the medium-term commitment to a financial markets/banking union, there were no specific announcements/agreements from the EU Summit on various debt mutualization possibilities for the near term. If the eurozone debt crisis worsens, such that Spain loses market access and needs to be put into a full program (which a 7% yield and recent auctions suggests), policy makers will be required to give some serious thought to alternative plans, and in particular an accelerated move towards some form of debt mutualization - those options are laid out simply here (in all their unlikely transfer-of-sovereignty scenarios).
To understand modern Greece one must understand it’s ancient history and it’s Geography. The Golden era of ancient Greece was rarely Pan Hellenic, with the legendary exception of King Menelaus’ expedition and siege of Troy, the brief cooperation during the war against King Xerxes of Persia, and perhaps Alexander the Great’s domination of what is now Greece, it has predominantly been the glorious histories of city states. And it’s geography is crucial, it has always been thought to stand as the boundary between East and West, whether you consider the ‘East’ to be Persia, the Ottoman Empire, or Communist eastern Europe it is best to understand that Greece’s eastern frontiers have never been an impassable barrier, infact Greece’s porous frontiers have ebbed and flowed with fickle fate and capricious fortune. As a consequence Greece is one of the most polarised nations on the planet.
China has proposed to broaden trading of precious metals in its local market in order to help China become a "major gold trading centre" (see News). The Wall Street Journal was briefed about China's plans by "a person involved with the matter." The paper reports that "the move could increase liquidity and help Beijing gain stronger pricing power for key commodities like gold". China is the largest consumer and now the largest producer of gold in the world and has aspirations to become a major gold trading center on a par with London and New York. China is also the fifth largest holder of gold reserves in the world after the U.S., Germany, France, Italy. Chinese officials have spoken of China’s aspirations to have gold reserves as large as the U.S. in order to help position the yuan or renminbi as a global reserve currency. Indeed, it would be only natural for China to aspire to have their currency become the global reserve currency in the long term. In the longer term, being a major gold trading center would make China a more powerful financial and economic player and indeed could allow them to influence commodity and other important market prices. Indeed, Reuters reported that becoming a major gold trading center "would boost the country's clout in setting global prices".
There was yet another European Union summit at the end of June, which (like all the others) was little more than bluff. Read the official communiqué and you will discover that there were some fine words and intentions, but not a lot actually happened. The big news in this is the implication the ECB will, in time, be able to stand behind the Eurozone banks because it will accept responsibility for them. This is probably why the markets rallied on the announcement, but it turned out to be another dead cat lacking the elastic potential energy necessary to bounce. Meanwhile, Germany, meant to be the back-stop for this lunacy, is losing patience. It has become clear that the agreements that arose out of the June summit were not agreements at all. The questions arises: How can the Eurozone stay together, and if not, how quickly is it likely to start disintegrating? And where does the exchange rate for the euro fit in all this?
From UBS: "We think that a creditor nation is less at risk of hyperinflation than a debtor nation, as a debtor nation relies not only on the confidence of domestic creditors, but also of foreign creditors. We therefore think that the hyperinflation risk to global investors is largest in the US and the UK. The more the fiscal situation deteriorates and the more central banks debase their currencies, the higher the risk of a loss of confidence in the future purchasing power of money. Indicators to watch in order to determine the risk of hyperinflation therefore pertain to the fiscal situation and monetary policy stance in high-deficit countries. Note that current government deficits and the current size of central bank balance sheets are not sufficient to indicate the sustainability of the fiscal or monetary policy stance and thus, the risk of hyperinflation. The fiscal situation can worsen without affecting the current fiscal deficit, for example when governments assume contingent liabilities of the banking system or when the economic outlook worsens unexpectedly. Similarly, the monetary policy stance can expand without affecting the size of the central bank balance sheet. This happens for example when central banks lower collateral requirements or monetary policy rates, in particular the interest rate paid on reserves deposited with the central bank. A significant deterioration of the fiscal situation or a significant expansion of the monetary policy stance in the large-deficit countries could lead us to increase the probability we assign to the risk of hyperinflation."
European equities are trading in minor positive territory on light volume and a light economic calendar with the exception of the IBEX and the FTSE MIB which are down 0.3% and 0.4% respectively as US participants begin to come to their desks. Headline employment data from the UK was for the most part in-line with expectations, though the jobless claims change for June showed a 6.1K increase compared with the 5.0K expected, with downward revisions to May’s figures. The BoE minutes showed the July increase in APF was not unanimous at 7-2, and a GBP 75bln increase was also discussed, and that should the additional easing measures not work, a further rate cut would be examined. The final comment caused a spike to the upside in the short Sterling strip of 6 ticks, Gilt futures rose to make highs of 121.78, and GBP/USD to slide back below 1.5600, though the pair has since come off its lows and trades back above this level.
“Converting a state bailout into a speculator bailout” and other acidic confrontations in the escalating disaster of disagreements in Germany
- Looks like the troops won't be steamrolled: JPMorgan Blaming Marks On Traders Baffles Ex-Employees (Bloomberg)
- The Goldman "Huddle" goes to Blackrock - Surveys Give Big Investors an Early View From Analysts (NYT)
- At least housing has bottomed: London House Prices Plunge As Supply Rise Adds To Lull (Bloomberg)
- Christine Lagarde and Nicolas Sarkozy embroiled in new corruption inquiry (Telegraph)- at least that fraud they created: Others helped them create it.
- Heat Leaves Ranchers a Stark Option: Sell (NYT)
- Merkel Gives No Ground on Demands for Oversight in Debt Crisis (Bloomberg)
- The euro skeptics have the best lines again (FT)
- Wen Says China’s Economic Recovery yet to Show Momentum (Bloomberg)
- Europe’s Banks Face Tougher Demands (FT)
- Madrid Region To Sell 100 Office Buildings Amid Austerity (Bloomberg)
- China eases taxes for foreign companies (FT)
Something interesting happened on the way to the detail-free bailout of Spain's insolvent banking system (which may or may not see senior bond impairments depending on just how big of a capitalization hole the ECB, not some fringe blog, sees). We got details. To wit, from Dow Jones:
The European Union loan to Spain will have a 30-year maturity, an interest rate of 2.5% and a 10-year grace period, reports ABC in its Monday Internet edition, without citing any sources.
Now here's the thing: anyone who has ever looked at a balance sheet, and actually happens to be familiar with terms such as priority, seniority, guarantee, and subordination, will notice something rather peculiar. Namely that only idiots of the nth degree will claim that a 30 year 2.5% bond is pari passu, or equal in right of subordination - precisely what those unelected technocrats in Europe have been repeating day after day since various European summits - with a 10 year at 7%, which is where the Spanish debt actually clears the market. In other words, sorry - there is something here which gives the bailout debt implied seniority. And here is the punchline: if the Spanish bailout debt does not trade like a pari passu piece of debt, it means that it is... i) not pari passu, and that it is ii) priming, no matter what any so-called pundit with a newsletter to peddle, may claim otherwise. Period. End of Story.
And now a little something for everyone who consistently has a nagging feeling that at any second the world is one short flap of a butterfly's wings away from complete systemic disintegration: according to David Korowicz of FEASTA, and his most recent paper: 'Trade-Off: Financial System Supply-Chain Cross-Contagion: a study in global systemic collapse." that just may be the case. Think of the attached 78-page paper as Nassim Taleb meets Edward Lorenz meets Malcom Gladwell meets Arthur Tansley meets Herman Muller meets Werner Heisenberg meets Hyman Minsky meets William Butler Yeats, and the resultant group spends all night drinking absinthe and smoking opium, while engaging in illegal debauchery in the 5th sub-basement of the Moulin Rouge circa 1890. To wit: "Something sets off an interrelated Eurozone crisis and banking crisis, a Spanish default say, which spreads panic and fear across other vulnerable Eurozone countries. This sets off a Minsky moment when overleveraged speculators in the banking and shadow banking system are forced to unwind positions into a one-sided (sellers only) market. The financial system contagion passes a tipping point where governments and central banks start to lose control and panic drives a (positive feedback) deepening and widening of the impact globally. In our tropic model of the globalised economy, the banking and monetary system keystone hub comes out of its equilibrium range, crosses a tipping point, and is driven away by positive feedbacks to some new state.... it is very clear that we have learned almost nothing general about risk management as a societal practice arising from the financial crisis. We have merely adopted a new consensus, with a questionable acknowledgement that we will not let this type of crisis happen again. However, the argument in this following report is that we are facing growing real-time, severe, civilisation transforming risks without any risk management."