Eurozone

Italy's Monte Paschi Got A Sovereign Bailout To Avoid Being Corzined

Those who think back to November 2011 will recall that it wasn't Jon Corzine's wrong way bet on Italian bonds that ultimately led to the bankruptcy of MF Global, well it did in part, but the real Chapter 11 cause was the sudden liquidity shortage due to the way the trades were structured as a Repo To Maturity, where the bank had hoped to collect the carry from the bond coupons, thereby offsetting the nominal repo cost of funding. The kind of deal which is the very definition of collecting pennies in front of a steamroller, as while the funding cost may be tiny and the capital allocated negligible (due to the nearly infinite implied leverage involved when using repo), when the underlying instrument crashes, and the originating counterparty has to fund a massive variation margin shortfall, that is when the shadow transformation cascade triggers an immediate liquidity crisis, which can result in liquidation cascade in a few brief hours. It happened with MF Global, it happened with Lehman too. And, we now learn, it also happened with Italy's most troubled and oldest bank, Monte Paschi (BMPS), whose endless bailouts, political intrigue, depoit runs, and cooked books have all been covered extensively here previously.

 

Less Austerity? Nein, Nein, Nein Says Germany

"While I think this policy is fundamentally right, I think [austerity] has reached its limits," was EU President Barroso's firestarter comment yesterday. As the WSJ reports, the IMF also said last week that  the bloc should ease back on austerity, while a number of governments outside the EU have made the same call, arguing that its belt-tightening is holding back the global economic recovery and could end up being self-defeating. Of course, the beggars are once again trying to be choosers as Spain's de Guindos pushes his agenda along this 'growth vs austerity' path, "What we are going to do now is strike a better balance between deficit reduction and economic growth," but it is the bagholders (or money-men) of Europe that has the last word. As we noted yesterday, Merkel's expectations are no more money without ceding sovereignty, this morning it is German MPs who are up in arms as Nobert Barthle condemns Barroso's statements on austerity and Hans Michelbach flatly rejects this path of no resistance as it "undermines fiscal consolidation efforts." Perhaps the most clear message was from Volker Wissing who added, "demanding more money or time would send a 'fatal' signal to financial markets on reforms." With German PMIs so bad this morning, we are reminded of Bill Blain's comment, that ultimately growth is about confidence - and right now, Europe is a very unhappy place.

 

Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: April 23

Yet another round of less than impressive macroeconomic data from China and Eurozone failed to deter equity bulls and heading into the North American crossover, stocks in Europe are seen higher, with tech and financials as best performers. The disappointing PMI data from Germany, where the Services component fell below the expansionary 50, underpins the view that the ECB will likely cut the benchmark interest rates next month and may even indicate that it is prepared to provide additional support via LTROs. As a result, the EONIA curve bull flattened and the 2/10s German spread flattened by almost 3bps to levels not seen since June 2012. In turn, Bund future hit YTD peak at 146.77 and the next technical level to note is 146.89, 1st June 2012 high. However it is worth noting that the upside traction is also being supported by large coupon payments and redemptions from France, the second highest net market inflow for 2013.

Frontrunning: April 23

  • China’s Recovery Falters as Manufacturing Growth Cools (BBG)
  • Gloomy eurozone output points to rate cut (FT)
  • Limit Austerity, EU appartchik Barroso Says (WSJ)
  • Regulators Get Banks to Rein In Bonus Pay (WSJ)
  • SEC looks to ease rules for launching ETFs (Reuters)
  • Easy come, easy go: U.S. Seizes $21 Million From Electric Car Maker Fisker (WSJ)
  • Japan nationalists near disputed isles (Reuters)
  • OECD in fresh warning on Japan debt (FT)
  • S&P says more than one-third chance of Japan downgrade, cites risks to Abenomics (Reuters)

Latest Global Economic Slowdown Confirmed After Disappointing Chinese, German PMI Data

If there was any debate about the global economic contraction, driven largely due to pundits confusing manipulated stock market levitation with this anachronistic thing called the "economy" and fundamentals for the fourth year in a row, all doubts were removed after this morning's manufacturing PMI data out of China, which as reported previously was a big disappointment (sending the Composite firmly into the red for the year down 2.57% to 2184.5) only to be followed by just as disappointing manufacturing and services PMI data out of Germany, which tumbled from 49 and 50.9 to 47.9 and 49.2, respectively, missing estimates of 49.and 51. The composite German PMI tumbled to a 6-month low of 48.8 as a result, meaning the European economic deterioration is just getting started, and at the worst possible time for Merkel several months ahead of her reelection campaign. The end result was a miss in the blended Eurozone Mfg PMI, which dropped from 46.8 to 46.5, even as the less relevant Services component eaked out a small gain from 46.4 to 46.6, on the back of a dead cat bounce in French economic indicators. Bottom line: a contraction in both European manufacturing and services for the 15th consecutive month. Some "recovery."

A Major Realignment Of The Markets - Three Hopes And Three Fears

The commodity market is saying global growth is slowing. But, there is hope, as BofAML's David Woo notes, the US equity market is saying US consumers are still going strong; and the FX and European sovereign markets seem to believe Mrs. Watanabe is about to embark on a global shopping spree. However, like us, Woo thinks it is unlikely that these markets will all turn out to be right. At the same time, we agree completely with Woo's assessment that markets may be under pricing three macro risks: the ability of Beijing to ease policy aggressively in the face of strong home price appreciation may be limited; the positive wealth effect of US housing recovery may not be enough to offset the contractionary impact of fiscal tightening; Japanese money may stay at home longer than expected. As he concludes, "something will have to give and a major re-alignment of the markets, the odds of which are rising, will probably not be either smooth or benign."

Frontrunning: April 22

  • Turn to Religion Split Bomb Suspects' Home (WSJ)
  • The propaganda is back for the 4th year in a row: Spring Swoon Sequel No Reason for Economic Growth Scare in U.S. (BBG)
  • Bernanke Jackson Hole Absence Contrasts With Greenspan Adulation (BBG)
  • Large economies promise to boost growth (FT)
  • Tata Faces Crisis as $20 Billion Spent on Water (BBG)
  • U.S. Eyes Pushback On China Hacking (WSJ)
  • Fed's Bernanke sees no U.S. inflation risks: Nowotny (Reuters)
  • Austerity on Trial With U.S. Versus Europe Amid New Evidence (BBG)
  • Eurozone anti-austerity camp on the rise (FT)
  • Spain Aims to Soften Budget Cuts (WSJ)
  • Japan's Aso Calls Recovery 'Few Years' Away (WSJ)
  • BOJ Said to Consider Price Forecast Upgrade (WSJ)

CAT Misses Across The Board, Slashes Sales And Profit Outlook

Caterpillar just can't catch a break. First, in January the firm was punk'd by a Chinese acquisition fraud, forcing the company to write off half of its Q4 earnings. This, of course, in the aftermath of the miss in both Q3 and Q4 earnings. And now we get the latest disappointing news from the firm as Q1 numbers are reported lower across the board.

  • Q1 EPS $1.31, Exp $1.38; this includes a tax benefit of $87 million
  • Q1 revenue: $13.2 billion, Exp. $13.8 billion
  • Guides much lower, with revenue now seen at $57-61 billion, compared to $60-68 billion previously
  • CAT forecasts profit per share of $7.00, compared to $7.00-9.00 previously.
  • Operating cash flow of $900MM, but all of it generated from net working capital, i.e., inventory liquidation
  • And when you can't spend on capex, you spend on buybacks: CAT to extend buyback through 2015

So much for that.

Gold Surges In Quiet Trading Session

With no macro data on the docket (the NAR's self promotional "existing home sales" advertising brochure is anything but data), the market will be chasing the usual carry currency pair suspects for hints how to trade. Alas, with even more ominous economics news out of Europe, and an apparently inability of Mrs Watanabe to breach 100 on the USDJPY (hitting 99.98 for the second time in two weeks before rolling over once more), we may be rangebound, or downward boung if CAT shocks everyone with just how bad the Chinese (and global) heavy construction (and thus growth) reality truly is. One asset, however, that has outperformed and is up by well over 2% is gold, trading at $1435 at last check, over $100 from the lows posted a week ago, and rising rapidly on no particular news as the sell off appears to be over and now the snapback comes and the realization that Goldman was happily buying everything its clients were selling all along.

Japan's Inflation Propaganda And Why The BoJ Better Hope It's Not Successful

The existing (and ongoing) massive expansion of base money into the banking systems of the US, England, and Japan is without precedent. As Nomura's Richard Koo notes, at 16x statutory reserves, the liquidity 'should' have led to unprecedented inflation rates of 1,600% in the US, 970% in the UK, and 480% in Japan. However, it has not, yet. In short, Koo explains, businesses and households in these economies have stopped borrowing money even though interest rates have fallen to zero. There is little physical or mechanical reason for the BOJ’s easing program to work. But the program could also have a psychological impact - and Japanese media is on an 'inflation' full-court press currently. The risk here is that not only borrowers but also lenders will start to believe the lies. No financial institutions anticipating inflation could ever lend money at current interest rates. No actual damage will be done as long as the easing program remains ineffective. But once it starts to affect psychology, the BOJ needs to quickly reverse the policy and bring the monetary base back to 'normal'. If the policy reversal is delayed, the Japanese economy (and inflation) could spiral out of control.

According To 'French' Fitch, France Is Now Rated Higher Than The UK

Fitch has just downgraded the UK from AAA to AA+ - now lower than France's.

  • *FITCH REVISED DOWN U.K.'S ECONOMIC GROWTH IN 2013 TO 0.8%
  • *FITCH REVISED DOWN U.K.'S ECONOMIC GROWTH IN 2014 TO 1.8%
  • *FITCH CITES WEAKER ECONOMIC, FISCAL OUTLOOK ON U.K.

Fitch doesn't see the UK economy reaching 2007 highs until 2014 - so there's hope?

Farage Unleashed: "You Are Common Criminals"

"Years ago, Mrs Thatcher recognized the truth behind the European Project," UKIP's Nigel Farage reminds his European Parliament 'colleagues', "she saw that it was about taking away democracy from nation states and handing that power to largely unaccountable people." In one of his most wonderfully vitriolic remonstrations, the fiery Farage blasts Europe's leadership, "this European Union is the new communism." Slamming Olli Rehn and his Troika cohorts for "resorting to the level of common criminals and stealing people's money", Farage warns, rather chillingly, that, "it is power without limits. It is creating a tide of human misery and the sooner it is swept away the better." Simply put, he concludes, the European Parliament is living out a federal fantasy which is no longer sustainable.

Cyprus Parliament To Vote On Bail-out After All: Fire And Brimstone Threats Begin

When the final "bailout" structure of the Cypriot deposit-confiscatory bail-in was revealed in late March, the implied victory for the Troika (which has since notched up its demands for the insolvent country to now sell its 14 tons of gold) was that instead of the deposit haircut passing as a tax, and thus needing a parliament ratification, it would come in the form of a bank resolution, with Laiki bank liquidating and being subsumed by the remaining Bank of Cyprus, and with uninsured depositors in both banks ending up crushed. However, as previously reported, in the interim period deposit outflows have continued and accelerated despite the assorted ineffective "capital controls" which has led to additional underfunding for the local banks, and to a second bailout of Cyprus, this one rising to €23 billion or a 35% increase from the original, as part of which the Troika has demanded that Cyprus sell their gold in the open market. Now, a month later, it appears that the Troika's initial victory may have been a Pyrrhic one, as yesterday the Cypriot attorney general announced, and today the government's spokesman confirmed, that the parliament will have to ratify the €23 billion bailout of the tiny island nation after all, thereby refocusing the popular anger from some ephemeral technocrat in Europe to the country's own elected representatives, thereby changing the calculus of the Cypriot decision by 180 degrees.