You don’t have to be an economic genius to understand that the perpetual uncertainty over the Eurozone’s future has led to a widespread freeze on industrial investment and development. Industrial production is collapsing at an accelerating rate, falling 7% year-on-year in Spain and Greece, 4.8% in Italy, and 2.1% in France. Since the answer to the question of Who will ultimately pick up the tab? when a Eurozone member defaults or leaves is not at all clear, every player there is eyeing the others suspiciously. In fact, the "stability" of Europe right now hinges completely on no one making a move. What odds do you give that Mexican standoff of lasting? Time is working against all countries in the Eurozone because the good are being dragged down by the bad.
Another day, another melt up overnight wiping out all the post-Moody's weakness, this time coming courtesy of Europe, where following the French downgrade, the EURUSD filled its entire gap down and then some in the span of minutes following the European open, when it moved from 1.2775 to 1.2820 as if on command. And with the ES inextricably linked to the most active and levered pair in the world, it is is no surprise to see futures unchanged. It appears that the primary catalyst in the centrally planned market has become the opening of said "market" itself, as all other news flow is now largely irrelevant: after all the central planners have it all under control.
European equities ripping and squeezed after Friday’s dismal close. Credit the same and, as more often than not lately, overdoing the equity move. EGBs rather muted with the Core pretty much where it stood throughout last week – with exception of Friday afternoon. Spain back on the radar. Europe still under US influence. Huge relief. From what and why exactly still needs to be seen. In the meantime: Rip & Tear!
"Rip And Tear" (Bunds 1,35% +3; Spain 5,88% +2; Stoxx 2495 +2,7%; EUR 1,281 +110)
While the prior week was marked by some kind of awakening, this week was more about finding a direction. Eventually mostly downwards, but always in jumps, marked by tentative rebounds. Europe mostly lost, so unused not to be the focal point anymore, waiting for US input. If it wasn’t for the Fiscal Cliff, and in absence of further news out of the Periphery, we seem to have
"No Direction" (Bunds 1,32% -2; Spain 5,86% +5; Stoxx 2429% -2,1%; EUR 1,27 -10)
Europe mostly boring. Several inconclusive downside tests in European equities. Static bonds, unwilling to tighten further. More US equity weakness, more downside. Way is shown by US equity dump. Periphery? What Periphery? What problem? Credit, EGBs, most commodities just watching. Dismal close.
"That's the Way (I Like It)" (Bunds 1,32% -2; Spain 5,86% -3; Stoxx 2429 -1,2%; EUR 1,27 -90)
The US crashing close yesterday was cushioned in Europe by better than expected (backward-looking) GDP figures in Germany and France. EZ in recession nevertheless. Limited fall-out, albeit lower (equity) levels tested. Periphery okay’ish, then good on better Italian GDP. Spain tag along with limited own dynamics, mainly trailing Risk assessment. EGBs difficult to move lower from here. Watching the US. Someone. Please. Show the way.
"Are You Gonna Go My Way? " (Bunds 1,34% +0; Spain 5,89% -3; Stoxx 2459% -0,6%; EUR 1,279 +50)
Listening to Rehn, Van Rompuy, Juncker and their cohorts is rather like listening to the cheerleaders at the football game and their advice on financial matters is probably right in-line with the knowledge of the cheerleaders; but then I don’t want to insult the cheerleaders. Everything is always “good, fine, hailed, welcomed” and the sunrise is always moments away. Europe officially entered into a recession it was just announced this morning. The economy in Europe is so bad now that a picture is only worth two hundred words. The Europeans blame everything on the ratings agencies lately. There is some wisdom to this. “Moody” is how they are feeling and “Standard & Poor” is what they will be feeling soon. Recently in Spain it was reported that a teacher asked one of her students what his father did for a living. The little boy said his father did a striptease in one of the clubs in Madrid. The teacher was shocked and asked if this was true. The young fellow said, “No, he is the head of corporate credit for Bankia but I am too embarrassed to tell anyone.”
See-sawing – and still looking for direction. Open weaker, in line with the US close. Some exuberance ahead of the Italian auction, despite negative figures. Awakening that nothing was justifying this. Re-correction while awaiting the US take of things. With the US opening flattish plus, Europe had a light lift and started tagging along, tick for tick, stuck in a loop. Some more European gloomy news to end the day. Way Down. For the moment mostly an equity move. And cut.
"Way Down" (Bunds 1,34% unch; Spain 5,92% +9; Stoxx 2475% -0,8%; EUR 1,274 +20)
As Greek discussions overnight revealed a spat between Europe and the IMF, and given yet another closing slump in the US, Risk started on a weak footing with Risk nearing Friday lows, before being ramped up by rumours, showered again and finally supported by the US opening in negative, albeit tame manner, before moving into positive territory and taking everything along. Given the noon despair, the afternoon relief seems…exuberant. Especially as the US still lead the way.
"That's The Way" (Bunds 1,34% unch; Spain 5,83% -5; Stoxx 2494% +0,8%; EUR 1,272 +1)
Rather quiet. Verdict still out, whether we’ll get a real rebound or whether the last days were already the dead cat bounce, before heading lower. Periphery on the soft side, but with restricted own dynamics and trailing general Risk sentiment. Waiting. For the US to show the way. Or something to happen.
"Show Me The Way" (Bunds 1,34% unch; Spain 5,88% +7; Stoxx 2473% -0,3%; EUR 1,271 unch)
Well, after the Great Disconnect last week, next to the Great Pumpkin, and Sandy, we had Election week and suddenly the great Wake-Up Call. Fiscal Cliff was suddenly all the rage and ramped up equities (disconnect) were beaten flat by bonds.
"Wake Up" (Bunds 1,34% -11; Spain 5,81% +17; Stoxx 2481 -2,4%; EUR 1,271 -130)
One of the great faults with paying attention to Europe is to take what they tell you as factual. The media trumpets what they are given by the various sources of information in Europe but a quite skeptical eye is what is needed. They claim that they do not have the “Final Troika Report” on Greece because they have not stamped it “Final” yet and so they blame their indecision on the magic trick that they are performing. Everyone on the Continent has the report but since they can agree on almost nothing they have blamed the lack of the rubber stamp as the culprit. They should just come out and say that, “It is the rubber stamp’s fault” and be done with it. Every easy trick has now been exhausted when it comes to Greece. You may feel worn out and tired by the length of time this process has taken but that is a remarkably short-sighted viewpoint. It is going to be either “debt forgiveness” or “more money” or “brute force” and there are quite serious consequences for many nations and many governments whichever path is chosen. Any of these three paths will lead to extensive pain and a lot of contagion and so I conclude that the Greeks will get forced out by increasing European demands. “Blame it on the Greeks” will be the secret password while the Greeks will call Berlin every name in the book.
Europe had wanted a rebound, tried to hold on, panicked, sold off, triggered stops – and recovered as the US, although not rebounding fast and furious, at least held the line. EGB running a little out of steam, although August levels were traded again in Bunds. Periphery eventually tracking Risk, but with no own dynamic. Need to see how things close tonight. No More.
"No More" (Bunds 1,34% -2; Spain 5,81% -3; Stoxx 2481% +0,1%; EUR 1,271)
Does China have what it takes to get from here (industrialized export economy) to there (sustainable growth, widespread prosperity)? The same can be asked of every nation: do they have what it takes to move beyond their current limitations to the next level? Consider corruption. Corruption isn't just a "values" issue: corrupt societies have corrupt economies, and these economies are severely limited by that corruption. A deeply, pervasively corrupt economy cannot get from here to there. Corruption acts as a "tax" on the economy, siphoning money from the productive to the parasitic unproductive Elites skimming the bribes, payoffs, protection money, unofficial "fees," etc. By definition, the money skimmed by corruption reduces the disposable income of households and enterprises, reducing their consumption and investment... Pull aside the curtain and what you find is a China crippled by corruption and debt.
While the citizens of Athens rioted and threw Molotov Cocktails outside of their Parliament the elected officials narrowly passed the new austerity measures demanded by the Troika last night. They have a budget vote left, likely to be passed, and then the focus will shift to the IMF and the European Union and whether they will fund and how it will be done. The Greek government says it will run out of money on November 16 and the country has debt payments to be made on November 21. Last night’s vote in Athens was only the first page in the current chapter and there are a number of open questions left. Make no mistake; we are caught between three cliffs at present.