A giant celebration idolizing the globalist ideals of corporatism, consumerism and leverage
Up until this point, Europe has been transfixed with severing the linkage between the sovereign and the banking system. This has been a particularly big issue in Spain because as is now well known, its banks are insolvent, yet the country is trying to pass off as not needing a bailout. Of course, if RBS is correct, that is all going to change very soon as the entire country demands a formal bailout. Yet link that has been largely ignored is the link between the sovereign, the financial sector and the broad corporate sector. Because if the first two are imploding, it is only a matter of time before the latter is also dragging into the maelstrom. As of minutes ago, this has just happened, following an announcement by Telefonica, Spain's second largest company, that it has cancelled its dividend and share buyback for the entire year.
- TELEFONICA SAYS CANCELS DIVIDEND AND SHARE BUYBACK FOR 2012
Why is Telefonica doing this? Simple - to conserve cash ahead of what may be a sovereign default which will have a huge adverse impact on all Spanish corporations.
With GGB prices, down 53% from post-PSI, plunging to all-time lows (offering Greywolf more opportunities to add to its 'no-brainer' trade) it appears Europe's ever-hopeful self-perpetuating banks are turning tail and realizing that the truth will set them free. In a turnabout from a late May note detailing 'why Greece will not leave the Euro', Credit Suisse now expects a return to some form of local currency for Greece within one year (an event they now assign a probability greater than 50%). The reason for their change of view is the slowness of structural reforms/privatizations and the lack of available capital to bail out the increasing number of distressed euro zone countries. It seems almost impossible for Greece to pull itself out of the contractionary hole it's in without additional support that few are politically able or willing to provide. Expecting another round of PSI - extending to ECB losses - and ending the ridiculous state of affairs that exists currently whereby the euro area is providing funding to Greece to enable them to repay the ECB. Ominously, they note, against the backdrop of the situation in Spain, we believe that such a development in Greece will have a highly negative impact on sentiment, further putting into question the sustainability of the euro area as a whole.
"The global growth picture is, as per our long-term contention, weak and deteriorating, pretty much everywhere – in the US, in the eurozone and in the emerging markets/BRICs.... We in the Global Macro Strategy team still think the market consensus is far too optimistic on policy expectations both in terms of the likelihood of seeing more (timely) fiscal and/or monetary policy assistance (globally), and in terms of any meaningful and/or lasting success of any such policy moves. In particular, we think that the period August through to November (inclusive) represents a major global policy and political vacuum. Based on the reasons set out earlier and also covered in my two prior notes, over the August to November period I am looking for the S&P500 to trade off down from around 1400 to 1100/1000 – in other words, I expect over the next four months to see global equity markets fall by 20% to 25% from current levels and to trade at or below the lows of 2011! US equity markets, along with parts of the EM spectrum, will I think underperform eurozone equity markets, where already very little hope resides. For iTraxx crossover, this equates to a spread wide for 2012 of – in my view – 800/1000bp.... And of course I still see a very clear path to 800 on the S&P500 at some point in 2013/2014, driven by market revulsion against pump-priming money printing central bankers, but this discussion is also for nearer the time."
A loaded gun to Schäuble’s head
"This market isn't real. The two percent on the ten-year, the ninety basis points on the five-year, thirty basis points on a one-year – those are medicated, pegged rates created by the Fed and which fast-money traders trade against as long as they are confident the Fed can keep the whole market rigged. Nobody in their right mind wants to own the ten-year bond at a two percent interest rate. But they're doing it because they can borrow overnight money for free, ten basis points, put it on repo, collect 190 basis points a spread, and laugh all the way to the bank. And they will keep laughing all the way to the bank on Wall Street until they lose confidence in the Fed's ability to keep the yield curve pegged where it is today. If the bond ever starts falling in price, they unwind the carry trade. Then you get a message, "Do not pass go." Sell your bonds, unwind your overnight debt, your repo positions. And the system then begins to contract... The Fed has destroyed the money market. It has destroyed the capital markets. They have something that you can see on the screen called an "interest rate." That isn't a market price of money or a market price of five-year debt capital. That is an administered price that the Fed has set and that every trader watches by the minute to make sure that he's still in a positive spread. And you can't have capitalism if the capital markets are dead, if the capital markets are simply a branch office – branch casino – of the central bank. That's essentially what we have today."
With the 302 events across 32 sports of the Olympics about to start (with early round soccer starting tomorrow), we conclude our five part (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4) series of posts bringing markets, economics, and sports together by looking at 10 exhibits that Goldman sees as describing how various aspects of the Olympics have evolved from the first modern Games in 1896 (where Greece won 46 medals compared to USA's 20) all the way to London 2012. From the monetary value of the distributed gold medals to the globalization of medal wins, the trends are analogous to the world's change but the full report attached provides some incredible interviews with many of the greatest Olympians ever with Michael Johnson reminding us that: "People are generally very fed up with political processes and the bickering that comes with it. You have some politicians with one particular set of ideas as to how to fix the problems and one with another set of ideas, and this continues to create a divide between people. The Olympic Games is the epitome of non-politicised activity. It’s about coming together... and having the opportunity to put differences aside and get behind their country and the athletes who are representing them."
Of all curious correlations we could find to demonstrate the collapse in GM stock, which opened for trade back in November 2010 at $35, and just hit an all time post-IPO low at just over half its IPO price, the best one that exemplifies the second great collapse of GM is the amount of dealer inventory, aka channel stuffing, shown on an inverted axis: the lower the price of GM, the more the channel stuffing. Of course, nobody could have possibly predicted that. Just like nobody could have predicted that Greece will need a third bailout, let along hit the IMF goal of 120 debt/GDP in 2020.
David Einhorn throws France under the bond vigilante bus, last seen meandering back and forth all over Spain and Italy: "Under the new regime, France is now cozying up to its new anti-austerity, pro-money-printing allies, Italy and Spain. This makes sense when one considers that France's economy is more akin to that of its southern neighbors than it is to the German economy. Strangely, the French bond market hasn’t figured this out just yet."
Spain's IBEX equity index closed at Euro-era lows today having dropped over 10% in the last 3 days (crushing the hopes of the afternoon post-short-sale-ban squeeze yesterday). This leaves IBEX down over 30% for the year (and Italy down over 18% YTD). Add to that; inverted long-end curves in Spain (and almost Italy), all-time record high short- and long-term spreads for Spanish debt and euro-era record high yields, record wide CDS-Cash basis, dramatic short-end weakness in Italy, new low negative rates in Switzerland (-46bps) and Germany (-7bps), and EURUSD at its lowest since June 2010 at 1.2059. But apart from that, the EU Summit seems to have done the trick nicely. Financials have been crushed in credit-land as subs notably underperform seniors and HY and IG credit continues to lead the equity markets lower in reality. Meanwhile, remember Greece? 30Y GGBs have dropped almost 20% in price in the last few days and have closed at all-time record low closing price at just EUR11.55!! S'all good though - where's Whitney?
It has been a while since Greece made the front pages. That changes now:
- GREECE SEEN MISSING EU/IMF DEBT REDUCTION TARGETS, FURTHER DEBT RESTRUCTURING NECESSARY - EU OFFICIALS
And to think all those knife catchers said the Greek bonds were the slam dunk trade of the year. All of them are about to get taken to the cleaners. As are their newsletter sales.
UPDATE: *ITALIAN TWO-YR NOTE YIELD RISES ABOVE 5%, 1ST TIME SINCE JAN 11
While every wannabe bond-trader and macro-strategist can quote 10Y Spanish yields, and maybe even knows what the front-end of the Spanish yield curve is doing (and why), there are three very significant events occurring in the Spanish sovereign credit market. First is the inversion of the 5s10s curve (5Y yields were above 10Y yields at the open today); second is the velocity with which 2s10s and 5s10s have plunged suggesting a total collapse in confidence of short-term sustainability; and perhaps most critically, third is the record wide spread between the bond's spread and the CDS (the so-called 'basis') which suggests market participants have regime-shifted Spain into imminent PSI territory (a la Greece and Portugal) as opposed to 'still rescuable' a la Italy for now. As we pointed out earlier, there is little that can be done (or is willing to be done) in the short-term, and the inevitability of a full-scale TROIKA program request is increasingly priced into credit markets (though its implicatios are not in equities of course).
Just as the summer finally arrives in Northern Europe, the Eurozone crisis is heating up once again. With an increasingly flat (heading to inversion) yield curve, and spreads at record wides, Spain appears to be in a downward spiral of market turmoil that might require a full-fledged TROIKA bail out. However, as UBS points out, rather than taking the country off the market, the program would have to allow Spain to keep borrowing from private investors. Any bail out of Spain would have to be designed in a way that would also be applicable to Italy. Spain has been the most recent crisis focus, and looks to intensify further with nothing immediately in sight that could reverse the trend. We, like UBS, have argued for some time that a full-fledged TROIKA program will ultimately be unavoidable and the following six reasons briefly explain why anything else is a pipe-dream - as we remember Draghi's recent shift: "creditors should be part of the solution of the crisis. It is a matter of limiting the involvement of taxpayers. They have already paid a great deal."
It was inevitable and despite all of the usual huffing and puffing on the Continent; the moves are correct. First Egan-Jones and then Moodys and Germany is downgraded or threatened with a downgrade and for sound reasons. The German economy is $3.2 trillion and they are trying to support the Eurozone with an economy of $15.3 trillion that is in recession and rapidly falling off the cliff. Each new European enterprise gives the markets a shorter and shorter bounce as we all watch the yields in Europe rise, the stock market’s fall and the Euro in serious decline against both the Dollar and the Yen. There has been no Lehman Moment to date but moment-by-moment the decline in the fortunes of Europe diminishes. There is almost no historical precedent where debt paid by the addition of more and more debt has been a successful operation. There is always the inevitable wall or walls and the concrete slabs of Greece and Spain fast approach.
The major European bourses are down as US participants come to their desks, volumes still thin but higher than yesterday’s, and underperformance once again observed in the peripheries, with the IBEX down 2.5% and the FTSE MIB down 1.2%. Last night’s outlook changes on German sovereign debt caused a sell-off in the bund futures, with the effect being compounded as Germany comes to market with a 30-year offering tomorrow. The rating agency moves, as well as softer Euro-zone PMIs and reports that Spain is considering requesting a full international bailout have weighed on the riskier asset classes, taking EUR/USD back below the 1.2100 level. Furthermore, with Greece and a potential Greek exit now back in the news, investor caution is rife as the Troika begin their Greek report of the troubled country today.