Europe's chicken or egg problem is about to strike with a vengeance. As a reminder, the biggest paradox of the recently conceived "make it up as you go along" bailout of Europe is that "in order to be saved, Spain (and Italy) must first be destroyed". Sure enough, the markets have long since priced in the "saved" part with the Spanish 10 year sliding to multi-month lows, but in the process everyone forgot about the destruction. Because as has been made quite clear, secondary market bond buying will not be activated without a formal bailout request by a country, in essence admitting its insolvency, and handing over domestic fiscal and sovereign control to the IMF and other international entities. As a further reminder, many, Goldman Sachs especially, had hoped that Spain would request a bailout as soon as Friday. To wit: "With a large (and uncovered) redemption looming at the end of October (and under pressure from other Euro area governments), we expect Spain to move towards seeking support." Alas, as we expected, this is now not going to happen, and the pricing in of the entire "saved" part will have to be unwound as Spain is forced to accept being "destroyed" first. To wit: "I don't know if Spain needs to ask for it," Rajoy told parliament in a debate session, referring to an international rescue for Spain."
Looks like a loop bad US news, good EUR; good EUR must be good news.
Love boat, everywhere. Final Risk On, or so. And up 1%
Ah, hmm, yes, Greece… Not much else to chew on.
Risk is lofty and near the point where all stimulus measures that were already priced have been delivered.
So, what's next?
Two signs that fear and instability have reached critical mass are capital flight and capital controls. Capital flight is people and enterprises moving their capital (cash and liquid assets) to an overseas "safe haven" to avoid devaluation of the currency or confiscation of their capital/assets. (Devaluation can be seen as one method of confiscation; high taxes are another.) Capital controls are the Central State's way of stemming the flood of cash leaving the country. Why do they want to stop money leaving? If we think of each Central State as a neofeudal fiefdom, we understand the motivation: citizens are in effect serfs who serve the State and its financial nobility. If the serfs move their capital out of the fiefdom, it is no longer available as collateral for the banks and a source of revenue for the State. Once capital has drained away, borrowing and lending shrink, cutting off the revenue source of the banks (financial nobility). Since financial activity also declines as cash is withdrawn from the system, the State's "skim"--transaction fees, sales taxes, VAT taxes, income taxes, wealth taxes, etc.--also declines. Both the State and its financial nobility are at increasing risk of decline and eventual implosion as capital flees the fiefdom. The Central State imposes capital controls as a means of Elite self-preservation.
Even in the face of worsening odds of re-election (no sitting government has been returned to power in EU elections since the start of the crisis) one would expect national governments to do what is necessary to maintain current stability. The ultimate arbiter of burden sharing capacity, or whether the Euro will continue on the steady incremental path to integration, is whether regular voters vote for it. Hence the importance of elections, like the Dutch election this week. The anti-austerity Socialist Party (SP) has gained significant ground on the incumbent VVD party - focusing the market's attention on the willingness of the Dutch to meet the 3% of GDP deficit targets in 2013. The two 'extreme' parties look set to gain considerably more seats, and either a very broad coalition would be required, including a tail of small parties, or all four mainstream parties will have to participate in the new government: either way, government stability might be questionable. The scenario troubling markets is the potential for a long government formation process coinciding with the euro area’s need to fight the crisis and progress communal policies - though in the last week or two, support for the SP has declined. With the 2013 budget an immediate test, a 'new' Dutch government faces decisions over Greece, Cyprus, EFSF bond buying, and a common-bank supervisory body - none of which have anything like majority support across the coalitions.
The unremitting deterioration of the eurozone’s sovereign debt landscape continues to fuel uncertainties about the longevity of the euro as a hard currency. Such uncertainties are not only leading to capital flight from the EMU’s periphery to the core and destabilizing markets worldwide, but they are also beginning to frighten southern European savers into seeking refuge outside their 10-year-old currency. Such is the case of Spain – the latest tumbling economy to threaten the euro’s survival. As the crisis deepens, there is still a window of opportunity for Spaniards to turn to gold as a means to protect their wealth against the risks of increased foreign exchange volatility, forced re-denomination, or even a total currency collapse.
There is a Transfer Union underway in Europe. While Germany has tried to avoid this at all costs, Europe, has found a clever way of implementing such a program and keeping it under the radar from the German citizens. In Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy the ECB has implemented a program where the sovereign guarantees some bank’s bonds. The bank then pledges them as collateral at the ECB and gets cash. The bank then turns around and lends the money back to the sovereign nation and provides liquidity and economic sustenance. The Transfer Union is completed as Germany guarantees 22% of the ECB and the European Central Bank is nothing more than a conduit to lend money to the various nations. This contrivance is also not sterilized so that the ECB is, in fact, printing money. In a very real sense the ECB is the only fully operational part of the European construct at present as the European Union does not have the “political will” to carry out its mandate.
Europe's Most Parabolic Chart Resumes Climb As German TARGET2 Claims Rise To Just Shy Of $1 TrillionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/10/2012 07:40 -0400
Perhaps one of the best advance indicators of the market respite that took place in August was the slowdown in Bundesbank TARGET2 claims, which until then had been rising at an exponential pace, only to see its first monthly sequential decline since 2011, dropping €1.4 billion. Now that August is gone, and the vacation that brought Europe to a merciful halt is over, the time to resume sucking Germany dry in order to fund current account (and other) deficits is back, and sure enough the just reported Bundesbank August update of TARGET2 claims shows that the increase is back. At a record €751.4 billion (or just shy of $1 trillion at today's exchange rate), Germany funded the periphery, mostly Spain with record €415Bn in liabilities, Italy with a record €280Bn, Greece at €105Bn, via the transfer of public risk to private sector benefit (sunk "public" Buba costs are a concurrent benefit to the German export sector) to the tune of over €1 billion each work day, with a total monthly increase of €24 billion in August. Look for this number to resume its astronomic rise as the periphery realizes its inventories needs restocking and that it needs to import German stuff using Bundesbank liabilities that will never be satisfied.
- China Output Growth Slows as Leadership Handover Looms (Bloomberg); Weak China trade data raises Beijing spending stakes (Reuters)
- Italy Q2 GDP revised down to -0.8% year-on-year on weak domestic demand (Economic Times)
- Troika disagreed with €2 billion in Greek "cuts" (Reuters)
- No Greek bottom in sight yet: Greek IP, Manufacturing Output plunge compared to year earlier (WSJ)
- France's Hollande sees 2013 growth forecast about 0.8 pct (Reuters), France plots tax hikes of up to 20 bln euros (Reuters)
- Euro Crisis Faces Tests in German Court, Greek Infighting (Bloomberg)
- Geithner sells more AIG stock (FT)
- Japan infuriates China by agreeing to buy disputed isles (Reuters)
- Euro crisis to worsen, Greece could exit euro: Swedish FinMin Anders Borg (Economic Times)
- ‘Lead or leave euro’, Soros tells Germany (FT)
- German MP makes new court complaint against euro plans (Reuters)
- Obama super-Pac in push to raise $150m (FT)
Suddenly the delicate balancing of variables is once again an art and not a science, ahead of a week packed with binary outcomes in which the market is already priced in for absolute perfection. Per DB: We have another blockbuster week ahead of us so let's jump straight into previewing it. One of the main highlights is the German Constitutional Court's ruling on the ESM and fiscal compact on Wednesday. On the same day we will also see the Dutch go to the polls for the Lower House elections. Thursday then sees a big FOMC meeting where the probabilities of QE3 will have increased after the weak payrolls last Friday. The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors will meet on Thursday in Mexico before the ECOFIN/Eurogroup meeting in Cyprus rounds out the week on Friday. These are also several other meetings/events taking place outside of these main ones. In Greece, PM Samaras is set to meet with representatives of the troika today, before flying to Frankfurt for a meeting with Draghi on Tuesday. The EC will also present proposals on a single banking supervision mechanism for the Euro area on Tuesday. If these weren't enough to look forward to, Apple is expected to release details of its new iPhone on Wednesday. In summary, it will be a good week to test the theory that algos buy stocks on any flashing red headlines, no longer even pretending to care about the content. Think of the cash savings on the algo "reading" software: in a fumes-driven market in which even the HFTs no longer can make money frontrunning and subpennyiong order flow, they need it.
In closing, the new ECB program will ultimately prove to be Mario Draghi’s big bluff. By presenting an old, failed program as something “new” and “unlimited” in scope, the ECB has actually shown that it’s essentially out of firepower.
Ken Burns and Alfred Hitchcock are movie makers. 'The Ken Burns Effect' - panning and zooming to focus attention on a certain isolated piece of the full picture; and the 'Hitchcock Zoom' - a 'shocking' dramatic change in perspective; keep the viewer occupied and entertained by material that would otherwise look a little staid and to ensure that attention is paid to the precise piece of the picture that the director wishes to be the center of focus. As Grant Williams ruminates on the Draghi Scheme (The Dreme), the devices of Burns and Hitchcock came to mind as central bankers attempt to either unsettle the viewers or make them focus on a specific part of the whole, rather than the big picture. For the last eighteen months, we, the viewers, have been manipulated by a seemingly never-ending procession of Eurocrats, bureaucrats, technocrats and who-said-thats to look at a very precise part of the economic picture rather than be allowed to step back and try to take in the wider situation. Accordingly, we thought this week we would take a step back, ignore where the Ken Burns Effect of Draghi’s words were pointing our attention, turn a blind eye to the conflicting rhetoric emanating from the various actors in the Theater of the Absurd and concentrate on the big picture - to try and make sense of the broader reality in Greece, Spain, TARGET2, and The Dreme. It damned near gave us vertigo.
While there is still some debate whether the proper alternative nomenclature of the Greek ultranationalist party Golden Dawn is "neo-nazi", there is no debate that the party, which is a manifestation of every broken Greek hope and dream, after posting a shocking result in the recent Greek parliamentary election which saw it coming in fifth and entering parliament after, continues to soar in popularity and is now the third most popular party in Greece with 12% of the vote. Above it are only two other parties: the conservative New Democracy which won the June elections with 29.6% of the vote, which is now down to 28%, and on top, in an ominous development for EUR-bulls, is the anti-bailout and anti-memorandum leftist coalition Syriza, which has threatened to end the bailout, and effectively to take Greece out of the Eurozone, setting off the much dreaded dominoes.
There are two key events in the coming week: first, on September 12, is the decision of the German Constitutional Court, aka the Krimson Kardinals of Karlsruhe, whether the ESM, or the ECB's primary market bond monetization program, is legal. A no vote would severely cripple the European "make it up as you go along" bailout and leave Europe's peripheral nations with little recourse, and Spain with even less cash as it faces a wall of bond maturities in both October and 2013. Then, on Thursday, the Federal Reserve will most likely underwhelm the market which is expecting a new substantial round of outright Asset Purchases, aka NEW QE, which however as we explained will almost certainly not occur due to various reason first described here last Friday. A third, and perhaps far more important event, will be the Dutch parliamentary election also on September 12, but more on that in a further post. For now, looking at Germany, and the piecemeal attempt to put back together the European house of monetary cards, we find that in Germany - the country taksed with funding the European implosion - the population has decided, by a 2 to 1 margin - that the constitutional court should just say "nein" to the ESM, and let Europe go on its merry way without German backing (because as a reminder, the primary source of ESM funding is Germany). From Spiegel: "A survey shows that the majority of Germans hope that the judges in Karlsruhe reject the permanent rescue fund ESM. 54% want a reversal of the Bundestag decisions on the ESM and Fiscal Pact, which should be legally halted. Only 25% believe that the court should dismiss the urgent appeals of the Euro-skeptics."
Lock Up Your Sacred Cows Before We Find and Slaughter Them!