Frontrunning: November 26

  • Goldman Turns Down Southern Europe Banks as Crisis Lingers (Bloomberg)
  • Euro Ministers Take Third Swing at Clearing Greek Payment (Bloomberg)
  • Chamber Sidestepped in Obama’s Talks on Avoiding Fiscal Cliff (Bloomberg)
  • Republicans and Democrats Differ on Taxes as Fiscal Cliff Looms (Bloomberg)
  • Republicans bargain hard over fiscal cliff (FT)
  • Catalan Pro-Independence Parties Win Regional Vote (BBG)
  • Shirakawa defends BoJ from attack (FT)
  • Run-off looms in Italy’s centre-left vote (FT)
  • BOJ rift surfaces over easing as political debate heats up (Reuters)
  • Barnier seeks ‘political will’ on bank union (FT)
  • New BOJ Members Sought More-Expansionary Wording (Bloomberg)
  • Osborne May Extend U.K. Austerity to 2018, IFS Says (Bloomberg)

Overnight Sentiment: No Progress Means Lots Of Progress

Another week begins which means all eyes turn to Europe which is getting increasingly problematic once more, even if the central banks have lulled all capital markets into total submission, and a state of complete decoupling with the underlying fundamentals. The primary event last night without doubt was Catalonia's definitive vote for independence. While some have spun this as a loss for firebrand Artur Mas, who lost 12 seats since the 2010 election to a total of 50, and who recently made an independence referendum as his primary election mission, the reality is that his loss has only occurred as as result of his shift from a more moderate platform. The reality is that his loss is the gain of ERC, which gained the seats Mas lost, with 21, compared to 10 previously, and is now the second biggest Catalan power. The only difference between Mas' CiU and the ERC is that the latter is not interested in a referendum, and demand outright independence for Catalonia as soon as possible, coupled with a reduction in austerity and a write off of the Catalan debt. As such while there will be some serious horse trading in the coming days and week, it is idiotic to attempt to spin last night's result as anything less than a slap in the face of European "cohesion." And Catalonia is merely the beginning. Recall: "The European Disunion: The Richest Increasingly Want To Fragment From The Poorest" - it is coming to an insolvent European country near you.

The Greek Debt Buyback 'Boondoggle' - Questions Answered

Following this week's 'failed' Eurogroup meeting, leaked details suggest a debt-buyback is becoming the corner-piece of the 'new' Troika deal with Greece. The leaking of details (and anticipation by the market) has driven GGB prices up and reduced much of the benefit of the buyback 'boondoggle' but as Barclays notes, "even if the debt buyback enables the IMF and EU leaders to come to an agreement, leading to a Greek resolution in the near term, in the medium-to-long-term Greek debt is not sustainable on realistic macroeconomic assumptions without notable outright haircuts on official EU loans to Greece. Therefore, a successful debt buyback might resolve the Greek debt sustainability issue on paper in the troika report but it will most likely not resolve it in investors’ minds." While there are 'optical' advantages to the buyback, the four main disadvantages outlined below should be irksome to the Greeks (e.g. creditor benfitting over growth-empowering) - which is critical since, as ekathermini notes, a senior finance minister commented "God forbid we should not be close to an agreement on Monday."

Observe The Short Squeeze

Confused at why the stock market has risen phoenix-like this week amid no-news on the fiscal cliff, a lack of closure on Greece and EU budgets, and a further collapse in Japan's trade balance? Wonder no longer; for the explanation is simple - a massive and dramatic short-squeeze has created a 200bps outperformance this week among the most-shorted Russell 3000 names. Impressive indeed; sustainable? One wonders if an "expert network" was used by various known and unknown CT-based hedge funds for "advice" to ramp stops in the highest beta, most shorted stocks in a market in which volume would be so abysmal any entity which already controls 10% of NYSE volume could do with the market as it saw fit?

AVFMS's picture

Yet another light ROn close of the day, crowning a ROn of a week. Worries put aside on Greece (and Cyprus) and the Periphery (and the Fiscal Cliff). Sentiment data all for the better. Last week’s nightmare obviously obliterated. It’s not like things have really changed, though.

Fly like an Eagle – for those “Free Bird” of yesterday that made it through the night…

"Fly Like An Eagle" (Bunds 1,44% +1; Spain 5,6% -4; Stoxx 2552 +0,7%; EUR 1,296 +80)

On Europe's Apparent Utopia

With EURUSD hitting one-month highs, Greek and Spanish government bonds pushing higher day after day, and EU stocks up 5% this week, one could be forgiven for thinking all is well across the pond. Tail-risks removed, firewalls in place, and everything ticking along nicely. The reality, of course, is a rather different picture. As Credit Suisse notes, the apparent inability of the euro area to reach any sort of decision on how best to address Greece’s debtload is far more negative in our view than just its impact on Greece. It speaks, once again, in our view, of the inability for progress at the euro area level in the absence of market pressure. The ECB’s (unactivated) OMT backstop has worked extremely well until now, but the ability of it to continue to do so without progress on the political side is limited in our opinion. As we head into year-end, European storm clouds are building. Meanwhile, the private sector is voting with its feet: German exposure to the periphery continues to fall (down 56% from the peak to the end of September), with exposures to Italy and Spain in particular lower this year. As Santander’s CEO said this week: while the Treasury may not need the Spanish bailout, the Spanish economy and firms do.


Europe Fails Again, This Time To Get Budget Deal Done

In what should be the least unexpected news of the day, Europe has failed for the second time in one week, after disappointing with no Greek resolution on Monday (and forcing the BIS into a EUR liftathon scramble to indicate that all is still well), this time announcing that an attempt to come to a deal on the EU budget has failed, with another budget summit scheduled now for January. This follows yesterday's misreported news that Cyprus, too, was fixed and the country had achieved a "hard-won" (as some sad Eurohack called it) bailout: turns out it wasn't in the end. And just how does one "hard-win" a bailout - crash their economy better than the rest? And speaking of Greece, nothing is fixed there either, but Germany, whose position was the reason for the first stalemate, demands optimism.

The Five Little PIGS

So we have the Greek debt crisis, the European Union budget problem and the European bank oversight issue and twenty-seven countries all wanting “this, that and the other” except “the other” is not that much fun unless Ms. Merkel surprises everyone by saying she is a little tired and pulling a Mae West and telling all twenty-seven nations that one will have to leave. The scenario is unlikely of course but then everyone involved is now playing the grand old game of “Work Around” where someone must pay and it is going to be anybody but them. “Not this little piggy,” says the IMF and “not this little piggy” says the ECB and “not this little piggy” says the European Union. This is all because no one wants the political winds to “blow their house down.”

Brazil Gold Reserves In Fixed Term Gold Deposits With Bullion Banks

Brazil’s aggressive efforts to weaken its currency by buying dollars – about $132 billion since the beginning of 2008 – have left the country with the sixth biggest international reserves in the world, about 80% of which is denominated in the US currency. However, recent turmoil in currency markets and concerns over the global financial crisis and fiat currencies in general has given Brazil’s authorities even more reason to diversify their holdings.  It has frequently stated its intention to diversify assets and reduce its exposure to currency risk. Recent sharp weakness in Brazil’s real (see table) and systemic risks are leading central banks, including the BCB to diversify into gold. Brazil raised its gold holdings by 17.2 tonnes in October to 52.5 tonnes, the highest level since January 2001. The move comes on the back of Brazil’s 1.7 tonne increase in September, the country’s first significant gold purchase in a decade. However, there are concerns that the increase in the Brazilian central bank gold holdings' and tonnage are not all that they seem.  It appears that the central bank in Brazil has not actually bought London Good Delivery bullion bars but rather fixed term gold deposits with bullion banks. Recently, the Brazilian central bank was asked about their gold reserves and about a section on gold on their website under 'Official Reserve Assets' lists gold as "gold (including gold deposit and, if appropriate, gold swapped)" with a footnote of "Includes available stock of financial gold plus time deposits."

Black Friday Fails To Bring A Budget Deal For Europe

First it was Greece, which Europe couldn't "resolve" on Monday night despite Juncker's vocal promises to the contrary, and was embarrassed into postponing until next Monday when everything will surely be fixed. Now, the time has come to delay the "resolution" of the EU budget, which was supposed to be implement last night, then a decision was delayed until today, and now every European government leader is saying a new meeting will likely be needed to resolve the budget impasse. As BBG summarizes, "Divisions between rich and poor countries flared over the European Union’s next seven-year budget, leading German Chancellor Angela Merkel to rule out an accord until the new year. France defended farm subsidies, Britain clung to a rebate and Denmark demanded its own refund, while countries in eastern and southern Europe said reduced financing for public-works projects would condemn their economies to lag behind the wealthier north. “Positions remain too far apart,” Merkel told reporters early today after the first session of a summit in Brussels. “Probably there will be no result at the end of this summit. There may be some progress but it is probable that we will need to meet again at a second stage."  In other words the same old absolute and total chaos from the European Disunion we have all grown to love, in which the only solution each and every time is to delay reaching a solution, at least until after Merkel is reelected and in the meantime kicking the ever greater ball inventory in Draghi's court, where he too will promise to make everything better as long as he actually dosn't have to do anything.

All You Need To Know About Argentina's Upcoming "Technical Default"

Technically, a technical default may still be avoided, but it is now unlikely. As the following presentation from JPM's Vladimir Werning shows, the market has already decided what the "next most likely big picture step" will be. The big question is what the less than big picture next steps will be. And as the following flow chart of options to all "potentially" impaired parties shows, there are quite a few possible steps as the variety of causal permutations has suddenly exploded. For everyone who has gotten sick and tired with following the sovereign default story of one Greece and Spain, please welcome... Argentina, where things are about to get a whole lot more interesting.

Greek Milk Costs More Than Anywhere Else In Europe As Suicide Rate Rises By 37%

That Greek suicide rates have exploded over the past two years is very much expected: after all, in order to preserve the sanctity of the failed monetary status quo, the Greek economy and its less than prosperous population have been sacrificed by the legacy elite and the wealthy. The socio-economic collapse has resulted in a total crash in economic production of goods and services, an nosebleed-inducing unemployment rate which increasing at a mindboggling 1% per month, and the rise of neo-nazism, with the Golden Dawn party now the third most popular political organization in the country (and rising rapidly). Sure enough, Kathimerini has confirmed that the" Greece's suicide rate increased by 37 percent between 2009 - 2011, To Pontiki newspaper reported quoting police data. The data, which was presented in Parliament by Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias following a request by SYRIZA MPs, showed that 3,124 suicides and attempted suicides have occurred in the debt-stricken country since 2009, the weekly newspaper said." As noted, no surprise in this very tragic headline on the day in which the world's still wealthiest nation gives gratitude for all its "wealth."

AVFMS's picture

US closing fine, Asia closing fine. PMIs a tick better than expected. Fine. Spanish auction fine. Greek bonds fine. All fine. Slight Risk On. Fine. Fine, fine, fine… All is good. Free that Bird – or Eat it! 


"Free Bird" (Bunds 1,43% +0; Spain 5,64% -6; Stoxx 2534 +0,6%; EUR 1,288 +60)