Anyone who went to bed with the EURUSD about to breach 1.30 to the downside may have been surprised this morning to see it trading nearly 150 pips higher. Checking the headlines for news of a Greek deal however would be futile, as one did not occur. Instead what did, were more promises of a deal being "imminent" even as Greece is doing all it can to appease intransigent creditors, offering GDP upside warrants (something that did not work too well for Argentina), with the IMF stating it demands guarantees that this time Greece will follow through with promises. Oddly enough the German demand for fiscal overrule has gotten lost in the noise but is certainly not forgotten and last we checked Merkel has not withdrawn this polite request. Still futures are up, primarily on a smattering of better than expected PMIs, in China and Europe. Alas, the Chinese PMI beat as discussed last night, was more of a cold water shower as the market had been hoping for much more defined promises of PBoC intervention and instead got a lukewarm Goldilocks economy which could last quite a bit longer without RRR-cuts. As for European PMI numbers being better than expected, we only wonder if these now correlate with the prevailing unemployment rate throughout the Eurozone.
- China’s factories in strong start to 2012 (FT)
- Merkel to court Chinese investors (FT)
- States to decide this week on mortgage deal (Reuters)
- Europe is stuck on life support (FT)
- IMF's Thomsen Says Greece Must Step Up Reform (Reuters)
- Tax cuts expiry to slow US growth (FT)
- Government health spending seen hitting $1.8 trillion (Reuters)
- Romney Win in Florida Primary Shows Strength (Bloomberg)
- EU regulator blocks D.Boerse-NYSE merger (Reuters)
- Greek Bondholders said to get GDP Sweetener in Debt Swap Agreement (Bloomberg)
- S. Korea Plans to Buy China Shares (Bloomberg)
No sooner have the supposedly close (and yet so far away) Greek debt negotiations increased haircuts but added desperate incentives such as GDP Warrants, then The Guardian is reporting that Greek PM Papademos is calling crisis meetings with Greek political party leaders as tensions are clearly growing between Greeks and their EU overlords/partners. The 'increasingly intransigent' negotiating team sent by Brussels is demanding even more severe austerity measures before sanctioning the new bailout funds. The incredulity at the complete mis-communication and increasing bifurcation is nowhere more clear than the divergence between FinMin Venizelos saying "We are one step [away]. I would say it is a formality away from finalizing (the debt relief agreement)," and the disbelief by Greek MPs that "The troika doesn't appear to be willing to accept any concessions whatsoever on reducing the minimum wage and scrapping bonuses," said the government aide. "No political party is willing to move either, saying wage cuts are a red line they are simply not going to cross. You tell me how this is going to be resolved. We have no idea and we're very worried."
Back in January 2010, when in complete disgust of the farce that the market has become, and where fundamentals were completely trumped by central bank intervention, we said, that "Zero Hedge long ago gave up discussing corporate fundamentals due to our long-held tenet that currently the only relevant pieces of financial information are contained in the Fed's H.4.1, H.3 statements." This capitulation in light of the advent of the Central Planner of Last Resort juggernaut was predicated by our belief that ever since 2008, the only thing that would keep the world from keeling over and succumbing to the $20+ trillion in excess debt (excess to a global debt/GDP ratio of 180%, not like even that is sustainable!) would be relentless central bank dilution of monetary intermediaries, read, legacy currencies, all to the benefit of hard currencies such as gold. Needless to say gold back then was just over $1000. Slowly but surely, following several additional central bank intervention attempts, the world is once again starting to realize that everything else is noise, and the only thing that matters is what the Fed, the ECB, the BOE, the SNB, the PBOC and the BOJ will do. Which brings us to today's George Glynos, head of research at Tradition, who basically comes to the same conclusion that we reached 2 years ago, and which the market is slowly understand is the only way out today (not the relentless bid under financial names). The note's title? "If 2011 was the year of the eurozone crisis, 2012 will be the year of the central banks." George is spot on. And it is this why we are virtually certain that by the end of the year, gold will once again be if not the best performing assets, then certainly well north of $2000 as the 2009-2011 playbook is refreshed. Cutting to the chase, here are Glynos' conclusions.
There continues to be no coverage of silver in the non specialist financial media and little coverage of silver in the specialist financial media. However, both the Financial Times and Bloomberg cover silver today which might be a harbinger of short term weakness. The majority of articles on silver are bearish and most bank analysts remain bearish on silver again in 2012 – as they have been in recent years. Prices will average $37.50/ounce in Q4, according to a survey of 13 analysts by Bloomberg. The lack of coverage of silver and consequent “animal spirits” in the silver market is of course bullish from a contrarian perspective. Analysts look set to get the silver market wrong again as recent rocketing industrial demand for silver, from solar panels to batteries to medical applications and growing investor demand for coins, and small & large bars is “diminishing a supply surplus” according to Nicholas Larkin of Bloomberg. This has led to silver’s best January gains in 30 years with silver up over 20% from below $28/oz to nearly $34/oz. Barclay's estimates that manufacturers will need a 2.5% increase of the metric tons used last year and investment demand continues to grow due to risks posed by both inflation and systemic risks. Silver supply shortages are something we and other analysts who are bullish on silver have been warning of for some time. This is because the silver market is small versus the gold market and tiny versus equity, bond, currency and derivative markets. This is why we believe silver should rise to well over its nominal recent and 1980 high of $50/oz in the coming months.
- Victory for Merkel Over Fiscal Treaty (FT)
- Everyone wants a mediterranean colony: China's NDRC Delegation Visit Greece to Boost Economic Ties (Xinhua)
- As Florida votes, Romney seems in driver's seat (Reuters)
- Greece’s Papademos Seek On Debt Deal by End of Week (Reuters)
- Banks Set to Double Crisis Loans From ECB (FT) - as Zero Hedge predicted two weeks ago
- S&P: Doubling Sales Tax Won’t Help Japan Enough (Bloomberg)
- Toshiba cuts outlook after Q3 profit tumbles (Reuters)
- Blackrock’s Doll says Fed’s QE3 is Unlikely, In Contrast to Pimco’s Gross (Bloomberg)
Whowouldathunk it - beggars can be choosers. The country which just slashed its economic outlook, and which depends on GermAAAn capital and goodwill to preserve its well-being in the Eurozone, has just decided to pull a good gendarme to Germany's bad [insert the blank] and has voiced its opposition to German demands stripping Greece of its fiscal sovereignty.
- SARKOZY REJECTS GREECE CEDING BUDGET MANAGEMENT TO EU
- SARKOZY SAYS NO QUESTION OF PUTTING GREECE `UNDER TUTELAGE'
- SARKOZY SAYS EU TAKEOVER OF GREECE WOULD NOT BE REASONABLE, "DEMOCRATIC"
Nice try Sarko: somehow we fail to see how FraAAnce's opinion is even remotely relevant in future European decision making at this point. But an admirable attempt by the future ex-president to go for the solidarity bonus points.
As if Merkel did not make it all too clear over the weekend that Germany no longer wishes Greece to be part of the Eurozone, and that the ball is now in Athens' court to accept what is a glaringly unfeasible demand, i.e., to hand over fiscal sovereignty over to "Europe" with Merkel having the cover of saying it did everything in its power to keep Greece in the union, here comes Commerzbank's CEO Mueller to pick up where Merkel left off:
- COMMERZBANK'S MUELLER SAYS GREECE SHOULD EXIT EURO ZONE
- COMMERZBANK'S MUELLER SPOKE TO DEUTSCHES ANLEGER FERNSEHEN
Presumably this means that German banks have sold off all their Greek bond exposure, and believe that the Eurozone would be better off without Greece in it. However, that Commerzbank, or one of the most insolvent banks in Europe, and only in line with Dexia, is confident that it can withstand the contagtion that would follow, only makes us even more skeptical that a Greek default and Eurozone departure will be contained, and in all likelihood will have scary implications for all European banks, not only German ones. Just ask DB's Ackermann...
Japan recently made waves with the news that its total debt would hit north of one quadrillion yen over the next several months: a number greater than the GDP of the entire Eurozone. Yet the one saving grace for Japan has long been the strawman that the bulk of its debt is locally held, and thus the risk of a sharp sell off is minimal as the capital has to be recycled within the borders of Japan, especially as the USA and soon the rest of the world will provide the same returns on debt as Japan, which has been locked in a 30 year deleveraging cycle, does. However, one thing that continues to be widely ignored is the demographic top that Japanese society is experiencing as ever more workers enter retirement, and there is no replenishment of young workers (perhaps Spain can export some of its youth to Tokyo?). This may change soon because as the AP reports, the Japanese population will be cut by 30% by 2060. Furthermore the country's workforce of people aged 15 to 65 will shrink to half the population (a BLS wet dream as under those conditions the US unemployment rate would be very negative). Alas, the prospect of Japan's population of 128 million dropping by 1 million every year over the coming decades, should be sufficiently sobering. This naturally means that any existing paper supply-demand equilibrium will soon have to start being reevaluated. But by 2060 we will likely have bigger problems than placing the 1 billion googol in JJBs that have to find a buyer to fund the country's deficit. Lastly, we would love to see one of those charts showing how many working people will have to fund each and every retiree by the year 2060, first in Japan, and then in every other country.
The divergence between credit and equity marksts that we noted into the European close on Friday closed and markets sold off significantly. European sovereigns especially were weak with our GDP-weighted Eurozone credit risk index rising the most in six weeks. High beta assets underperformed (as one would expect obviously) as what goes up, comes down quicker. Stocks, Crossover (high-yield) credit, and subordinated financials were dramatically wider. Senior financials and investment grade credit modestly outperformed their peers but also saw one of the largest decompressions in over a month (+5.5bps today alone in the latter) as indices widen back towards their fair-values. The 'small moderation' of the last few weeks has given way once again to the reality of the Knightian uncertainty Europeans face as obviously Portugal heads squarely into the cross-hairs of real-money accounts looking to derisk (10Y Portugal bond spreads +224bps) and differentiate local vs non-local law bonds. While EURUSD hovered either side of 1.31, it was JPY strength that drove derisking pressure (implicitly carry unwinds) as JPYUSD rose 0.5% on the day (back to 10/31 intervention levels). EURCHF also hit a four-month low. Treasuries and Bunds moved in sync largely with Treasuries rallying hard (30Y <3% once again) and curves flattening rapidly. Commodities bounced off early Europe lows, rallied into the European close and are now giving back some of those gains (as the USD starts to rally post Europe). Oil and Gold are in sync with USD strength as Silver and Copper underperform - though all are down from Friday's close.
Surging Greek and Portuguese bond yields? Plunging Italian bank stocks? The projected GDP of the Eurozone? In the grand scheme of things, while certainly disturbing, none of these data points actually tell us much about the secular shift within European society, and certainly are nothing that couldn't be fixed if the ECB were to gamble with hyperinflation and print an inordinate amount of fiat units diluting the capital base even further. No: the one chart that truly captures the latent fear behind the scenes in Europe is that showing youth unemployment in the continent's troubled countries (and frankly everywhere else). Because the last thing Europe needs is a discontented, disenfranchised, and devoid of hope youth roving the streets with nothing to do, easily susceptible to extremist and xenophobic tendencies: after all, it must be "someone's" fault that there are no job opportunities for anyone. Below we present the youth (16-24) unemployment in three select European countries (and the general Eurozone as a reference point). Some may be surprised to learn that while Portugal, and Greece, are quite bad, at 30.7% and 46.6% respectively, it is Spain where the youth unemployment pain is most acute: at 51.4%, more than half of the youth eligible for work does not have a job! Because the real question is if there is no hope for tomorrow, what is the opportunity cost of doing something stupid and quite irrational today?
The week has started with a general risk averse tone as market participants remain somewhat disappointed in the progression of the Greek bond swap talks in spite of Venizelos, the Greek finance minister, suggesting that a compromise can be struck this week. The latest article writes that Troika believes Greece will need EUR 145bln of public money from the Eurozone bailout rather than the EUR 130bln originally planned. This however, has been swiftly dismissed by German lawmakers. In terms of the European equity market it is the banking stocks which have taken the brunt of the selling pressure which in turn has remained a supporting factor for higher prices in European fixed income futures. Meanwhile in the short end, Euribor, is trading higher following the release of the daily fixes which resumed a trend of sizeable declines in the 3-month fix. In other news, Italy came to market and raised EUR 7.5bln across four different BTP lines with decent demand and a fall in average yields paid. As such the Italian10yr spread over bunds has tightened from the morning’s highs with unconfirmed market talk suggesting that the ECB were also checking rates being noted by several desks. Looking ahead the main focus will likely remain on any updates regarding Greece as various European officials meet once again in Brussels. Aside from that, highlights come in the form of US personal income and spending for December with PCE data released at the same time.
- Euro-Region Debt Sales Top $29B This Week (Bloomberg)
- Greek Fury at Plan for EU Budget Control (FT)
- Greek "football players too poor to play", leagues running out of money, may file for bankruptcy (Spiegel)
- After insider trading scandal, Einhorn wins the battle: St. Joe Pares Back Its Florida Vision (WSJ)
- China Signals Limited Loosening as PBOC Bucks Forecast (Bloomberg)
- China's Wen: Govt Debt Risk "Controllable", Sets Reforms (Reuters)
- IMF Reviews China Currency's Value (WSJ)
- Watching, watching, watching: Japan PM Noda: To Respond To FX Moves "Appropriately" (WSJ)
- Cameron to Nod Through EU Treaty (FT)
- Gingrich Backer Sheldon Adelson Faces Questions About Chinese Business Affairs (Observer)
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