- As ZH warned last week, JPMorgan’s Trading Loss Is Said to Rise at Least 50% (NYT)
- Spanish recession bites, may be prolonged (Reuters)
- Obama Lunch With Boehner Ends With Standoff Over Budget (Bloomberg)
- Hilsenrath: Fed Minutes Reflect Wariness About Recovery's Strength (WSJ)
- N. Korea Ship Seizes Chinese Boats for Ransom, Global Times Says (Bloomberg)
- Greece Plans for June 17 Vote Under Caretake Government (Bloomberg)
- Hollande turns to experience to fill French posts (FT)
- ECB Stops Loans to Some Greek Banks as Draghi Talks Exit (Bloomberg)
- Spain Urges EU to Provide More Support (WSJ)
- North Korea resumes work on nuclear reactor: report (Reuters)
- Fed’s Bullard Says Labor Policy Is Key to Cut Joblessness (Bloomberg)
- China Expands Scope for Short Selling, Securities Journal Says (Bloomberg)
The problem with bank runs is that once they start, they don't stop. And while the world was conveniently distracted by events in Greece, debating whether or not people were withdrawing money in droves (they were), the real bank run happened elsewhere, namely in Spain, where just nationalized bank Bankia moments ago plunged 30% and was halted following an El Mundo report that "customers had withdrawn €1 billion over the past week." In other words - a bank run (but whatever you do, don't call it that - it's not the politically correct and accepted nomenclature) which has sent shockwaves through Europe, pushed the EURUSD under 1.27, and bond yields in their traditional "Europe is open" direction - wider.
Just As I Warned Of JPM's Exposure, Those Other Warnings Will Come To Pass As Well. I pull stuff out of my analytical archives and low and behold, who do I find?
Thucydides was probably born about 460BC and was for a time a General on the side of democratic Athens against aristocratic Sparta in what is known as the Peloponnesian War in which most of Greece took a side. After being exiled he wrote his famous history. The passage that we’ve quoted here, in our opinion, one of the finest passages of classical antiquity, describes the breakdown of civil society and in doing so it perfectly describes every civil war and revolution that has taken place in the almost two and half thousand years since it was written. We bring it to your attention in the vain hope that those who have blindly pursued the policies which have brought Greece to the brink and risks plunging the whole of Europe into the abyss, might consider more keenly the consequences of their actions and change course before it’s too late.
We already posted a full run down from JPM on what the immediate costs from a Greek EMU exit would be (starting at €400 billion and going higher), but one point that bears repeating is just how much borrowing capacity Greece has under the ELA in the aftermath of today's news that the ECB is leaving Greek banks to fend for themselves until such time as the Greek recapitalization payment is wired over to Greece, which the ECB has defined simply as "soon." The answer: woefully inadequate, and certainly not enough to backstop the remaining Greek deposits of €170 billion as of the end of March (likely far less now), at €65 billion. And that's an upside estimate: as JPM says "The true maximum amount that Greek banks can borrow via ELA is likely though to be significantly smaller because not all loans are accepted as collateral via ELA." Remember: this is all just one giant game of chicken - Greece's Syriza has bet the farm that the cost from a Greek fallout is just too big to Europe and the terms of the hated "Memorandum" will be adjusted, while to Europe, on the other hand, the outcome to Greece, at least according to Europe and the IIF's Dallara will be "between catastrophic and armageddon." So... Who blinks first?
Well, my hat is off to the global central planners for averting the next stage of the unfolding financial crisis for as long as they have. I guess there’s some solace in having had a nice break between the events of 2008/09 and today, which afforded us all the opportunity to attend to our various preparations and enjoy our lives.
Alas, all good things come to an end, and a crisis rooted in ‘too much debt’ with a nice undercurrent of ‘persistently high and rising energy costs’ was never going to be solved by providing cheap liquidity to the largest and most reckless financial institutions. And it has not.
S&P 500 e-mini futures closed at their day-session lows, below yesterday's day-session lows, and heading for overnight lows rapidly - once again giving up some decent early gains amid much heavier volume into the close. Markets were a mess today. Risk-assets in general had the highest intra-correlation in a long-time - with FX, credit, rates, curves, and stocks moving in almost lockstep all day (up then down). Equities were smashed left, right, and center by comments from the Ira Sohn conference (as it seems people have given up reading hedge fund 13Fs) with Einhorn's comments in particular showing up just how fragile and thin the real liquidity picture is so many stocks. Silver plunged just after the European close (margin/collateral calls?) and dragged the rest of the commodity complex down with it as stocks basically turned on a dime after hitting yesterday's closing VWAP this morning. Treasury yields rose and plunged in the same pattern - ending the day marginally lower than overnight low yields at the long-end but marginally higher at the short-end (post FOMC minutes). Financials were the worst performer again, down around 1.5%, with the majors in particular now starting to catch up to credit market's long-held conviction on these names (with MS -10.5% YTD and BofA plunging today but still +27.8% YTD). Gold remained relatively stable getting a lift post-FOMC (along with silver as the inevitability of QE was clear - but an equity plunge necessary before it can occur) - though we note the Gold/Silver ratio is now unch YTD. Credit markets are not done worrying yet - and that weighed on JPM (-2%) as IG9 pushed above 150bps offered for the first time this year and HYG (the high-yield bond ETF) collapsed along with HY credit spreads. Still doesn't feel capitulative as overnight nerves for Greece remain high.
At various stages in the last two years everyone from China, to Germany, to the Fed to the IMF, to Martians, to the Imperial Death Star has been fingered as the latest saviour of the status quo. And so far — in spite of a few multi-billion-dollar half-hearted efforts like the €440 billion EFSF — nobody has really shown up. Perhaps that’s because nobody thus far fancies funnelling the money down a black hole. After Greece comes Portugal, and Spain and Ireland and Italy, all of whom together have on the face of things at least €780 billion outstanding (which of course has been securitised and hypothecated up throughout the European financial system into a far larger amount of shadow liabilities, for a critical figure of at least €3 trillion) and no real viable route (other than perhaps fire sales of state property? Sell the Parthenon to Goldman Sachs?) to paying this back (austerity has just led to falling tax revenues, meaning even more money has had to be borrowed), not to mention the trillions owed by the now-jobless citizens of these countries, which is now also imperilled. What’s the incentive in throwing more time, effort, energy and resources into a solution that will likely ultimately prove as futile as the EFSF?
The trouble is that this is playing chicken with an eighteen-wheeler.
Because it is one thing to predict the inevitable when one doesn't have a PhD in Economics, it is something totally different when it comes from the likes of Goldman Sachs (Huw Pill and Themistokis Fiotakis to be precise). In this case, that something is what happens at T+1, T being the inevitable (there's that word again) point where payments from the ECB to sustain the zombified Greek patient, all of which go to ECB funded entities anyway, stop. The biggest concern is that, as we suggested first thing this morning, the ECB is now engaged in a fatal game of chicken, whereby it is forcing Greeks to vote "Pro Bailout" (something that just dawned on the FT), in exchange for continued funding, because unlike last year when the threat of a referendum resulted in the termination of G-Pap, now there is no leader who can be sacrificed, and Europe has no real leverage over the people who have lost so much already, aside from threatening a full out bank system collapse. However, this could very well backfire as more and more Greeks pull their money out, not wanting to find out who blinks first as it would be their money that could be locked up in perpetuity, in essence making the ECB threat into a self-fulfilling prophecy. And as Goldman says, "If confidence is lost and a run on banks occurs, the implications are hard to assess." Well, as ZH warned yesterday, this is already starting. Again from the FT: "Athens-based bankers said withdrawals exceeded €1.2bn on Monday and Tuesday – 0.75 per cent of deposits – as President Karolos Papoulias failed in two final meetings with conservative, socialist and leftwing leaders to form a national unity government." Or double what was suggested yesterday...
Greece Sneezes, The Euro Dies of Pneumonia! A Step-by-Step Guide To Pan-Euro, Bank Busting ContagionSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 05/16/2012 13:53 -0400
So nobody can say, "But no one could have seen this coming", I'm letting all know what's coming.
"Destruction leads to a very rough road. But it also breeds creation" (RHCP)
Just as we predicted moments ago, and as Dutch Dagblad warned overnight:
- ECB STOPS MONETARY POLICY OPERATIONS TO SOME GREEK BANKS AS RECAPITALISATION NOT IN PLACE -CENBANK SOURCES
The beginning of the end? Or just more political posturing? In the meantime, EURUSD tumbles.
ECB President Draghi just admitted that while the ECB Governing Council would like Greece to stay, there is a limit to what they will do to save it and will do everything they can to preserve their 'pristine' balance sheet - which sounds a lot to us like - 'we are not lending/printing/supporting your financial system anymore as you are far too big a risk (and are asset-stripped) and to be honest, it might be better if you just left - since we have encumbered all your assets anyway'. As a reminder, when thinking of Europe, the shorthand rule is: assets. And specifically, the lack thereof. Why is the ECB scrambling to collateralize every imaginable piece of trash that European banks can procure at only some valuation it knows about? Simple - quality, encumbrance and scarcity. When one understands that the heart of Europe's problem is the rapid "vaporization" of all money good assets, everything falls into place.
In one of the most fascinating psychological shifts, there has been a massive shift in the perspective of the Greek electorate since the election two weeks ago. Almost as if the size of the actual votes for Syriza, the far-left anti-bailout party, gave citizens 'permission' to be angry and vote angry. The latest opinion polls, as per Credit Suisse, show the center-right New Democracy party crashing from 108 seats to only 57 as Tsipras and his Syriza colleagues soar from 52 seats to a hugely dominant 128 seats. Is it any wonder the market is pricing GGBs at record lows and 'expecting' a Greek exit from the Euro as imminent given the rhetoric this party has vociferously discussed. On the bright side, the extreme right Golden Dawn party is seen losing some of its share. As UBS notes, "expressions of frustration in debtor countries have their analogue in creditor countries as well. No one is happy with the status quo." Still, how Europe's political leaders address voters' grievances will go a long way to determining the fate of the Eurozone and, quite possibly, the course of European history in the 21st century. Europe's politicians will undoubtedly prevaricate and deny. The troika will, with minor modifications, probably insist on 'staying the course'. Yet it seems to us that ignoring clear voter demands for change might well be Europe's worst choice.