Greece

Frontrunning: December 14

  • Obama, Boehner hold "frank" meeting amid "fiscal cliff" frustration (Reuters)
  • Rice Ends Bid Amid Criticism (WSJ)
  • EU summit delays crucial decisions (FT)
  • EU moves to cap bank bonuses at 2 times annual salary (CBC)
  • Europe Wins a Battle, but Not Yet the War (WSJ)
  • Banks Spurn Europe Bond Rush Amid Central Bank Loan Largesse (BBG)
  • German-French Sparring Over Euro Caps 2012 Crisis Fight (BBG)
  • Fed begins stress tests on bank liquidity (FT)
  • Draghi’s rallying cry for new EU powers (FT)
  • EU Seeks Plan to Handle Failing Banks Amid Cost Concerns (BBG)
  • Berlusconi says Monti has strong EU backing (FT)
  • Abe Set for Japan Victory Faces 7-Month Window to Keep Hold (BBG)
  • Japan's Abe would try to keep China ties calm-lawmakers (Reuters)

Overnight Summary: Some Trivial Non-Fiscal Cliff Developments

In a world in which the Fiscal Cliff, including headlines, rumors, leaks, and mere whispers thereof, is the main show, all other data points are at best supporting data actors. There was a lot of support overnight - for the futures, which once again closed the prior session at the lows - with a battery of PMIs released, starting with the December HSBC China Flash PMI which printed at a excel picture perfect 50.9 vs an expectation 50.8 and above 50 for the second straight month, which sent the Shanghai Composite up 4.32%, and wiped out the bitter aftertaste from the Japan December large manufacturer Tankan index which tumbled to -12 on expectation of a -10 print, confirming the Japanese recession is deteriorating at the worst possible time. Then after China, Markit released a bevy of European PMI data which came in mixed: Services PMI rose from 46.7 to 47.8 in December, beating expectations of a 47.0 print, while the Manufacturing PMI rose modestly from 46.2 to 46.3, missing expectations of a 46.6 result. The biggest wildcard once again was Germany, where the Service PMI, like in the US, posted a sizable rise, posting above 50 for the first time in months, or at 52.1 on expectations of 50.0, and up from 49.7 last, although more disturbing was the ongoing collapse in German manufacturing which dipped from 46.8 to 46.3, on expectations of a rise to 47.2. French manufacturing data did not help posting a tiny rise from 44.5 to 44.6, missing expectations of a 45.0 print. Economic data was further confounded when Spain released its quarterly home price update, which dipped 3.8%, accelerated last quarter's -3.3% drop, and sliding by a massive -15.2% in Q3, faster than the -14.4% drop in Q2, and confirming Spanish housing has a long way to go before it is fixed.

Marc To Market's picture

With few exceptions, the global capital markets which began the week with a bang, are finishing with a whimper.  The US dollar is little changed against the major and emerging market currencies.   Asia stocks were by and large flat, with the notable exception of Chinese stocks, where the major indices jumped a  little more than 4%. 

European bourses are mixed, with gains and losses mostly less than 0.25% near midday in London.  Spanish and Italian bond yields are slightly lower, but activity is quiet.   

Despite the subdued tone there are four developments to note

Guest Post: Blue Shield Of California To Hike Insurance Rates Up To 20%

Good thing there is no inflation, you know, except in every single thing every single American needs to buy to survive that is!  The hits just keep coming for California, America’s very own Greece.  Remember the article I posted a couple of days ago titled: Payday Loans in California: School Districts Owe $1 Billion on $100 Million Borrowed. Now we find out from the LA Times: "Health insurer Blue Shield of California wants to raise rates as much as 20% for some individual policyholders, prompting calls for the nonprofit to use some of its record-high reserve of $3.9 billion to hold down premiums. In filings with state regulators, Blue Shield is seeking an average rate increase of 12% for more than 300,000 customers, effective in March, with a maximum increase of 20%." That should be a real boon for California’s economy.  Meanwhile…

AVFMS's picture

Markets getting back to some normality with the Periphery still recovering, although less today after the auctions, Bunds 5 wider on the week, Italy 10, but Spain 7 tighter across the curve from last Friday. Equities and Risk oblivious to that anyway and synching with the US. Getting difficult to find something crisp out there with reduced news flow and volatility. Excitement to be found in the US on FC developments, now that Greece, Spain and Italy are seemingly off the table and that the FED has moved to QE4.

"When It's Sleepy Time Down South" (Bunds 1,35% +1; Spain 5,38% +4; Stoxx 2622 -0,2%; EUR 1,308 +40)

Overnight Sentiment: The Printer Is Now In Draghi's Court

Why the lack of follow through? Because, according to preliminary desk talk, just as we predicted yesterday now that the Fed has reengaged the QEasing machine, the ECB will too have to intervene and ease on its own once again to push the EURUSD lower (as otherwise the internal devaluation for most European countries will be simply unbearable). Which means one thing: the time to drag the Spanish insolvency out of cryogenic sleep is coming, and if Rajoy still refuses to request a bailout, he will get some much needed assistance from Frankfurt to make up his mind, allowing the ECB to inject hundreds of billions into the market and in doing so to keep up with the Fed or else risk dropping too far behind in the global race to debase (with a footnote that in Europe, a drop in the currency always raises redenomination risk now and going forward).

Get It While You Can

Investors are being hit from all sides now. We face the fiscal cliff and the quite real possibility that we will go over it, the debt ceiling and then we are assuaged by various tax and spending schemes. The stock market chugs along with their “What me worry” attitude. Just because we are now in a world drowning in apathy do not think that this will go on forever. The problems have become magnified by the slush of capital thrown about by the world’s central banks so that when the bough breaks; it will be a systemic break. It will flash right across the world and we will have another “Oh My God” moment which, as I peer into the future, may come in the next year.

Frontrunning: December 12

  • Here come the low margin products: Apple Tests Designs for TV (WSJ)
  • Obama and Republicans Trade Offers to Avert Fiscal Crisis (BBG)
  • Carney broaches dumping inflation target (FT)
  • Bernanke Critics Can’t Fight Bonds Showing No Inflation (BBG)
  • Corporate Taxes on Table in Cliff Talks (WSJ)
  • US business chiefs back tax rise (FT)
  • Greece Confident Bond Buyback Needed for Aid Succeeded (BBG)
  • New Faith in Europe's Banks (WSJ)
  • European Bank Sees Little Room for Rate Cuts (WSJ)
  • North Korea Claims Success in Rocket Launch (WSJ)

Overnight Sentiment: All About QE4EVA

Today is probably the first day in a while in which minute-by-minute rumors on the Fiscal Cliff will not be on the frontburner (with yet another late day rumor yesterday of an imminent deal turning out to be a dud, when it was reported that Obama's latest grand compromise was to lower his initial tax hike demand from $1.6 to $1.4 trillion, or still $600 billion more than last summer's negotiated number), with Ben Bernanke and QE4 taking center stage instead. By now it is a foregone conclusion that Ben will proceed with extending Twist as first predicted here, into an unsterilized bond buying operation, in effect confirming that there has been zero improvement in the economy, as another $1 trillion is about to be injected until the end of 2013, and more trillions after that. The good thing is that all pretense that the Fed cares about anything but the market is now gone. The bad thing is that the Fed will continue to take over the capital markets until it and the other central banks are the only traders remaining. The only question is whether the market, now well into massively overbought territory, will fizzle and snap back after Bernanke's news announcement, and will QE4EVA (as we believe QE3+1, aka QEternity-er, should be called) have been fully priced in by the time it was announced?

AVFMS's picture

Markets recovering quite nicely from the Italian shock. Add some better outlook figures and we’re all friends again. The Spanish bill auction was less punishing than could have been feared. US opening stronger. Everything else is all good again. Greek bonds stellar.

"(Ain't That) Good News" (Bunds 1,32% +2; Spain 5,45% -9; Stoxx 2623 +1,0%; EUR 1,299 +60)

Marc To Market's picture

Draghi's pledge to do what is necessary, within the ECB's mandate, to save the euro cleared reduced the extreme tail risk in the euro zone. Greece is about to receive a large dollop of aid so it can continue to keep its public sector creditors whole at the expense of domestic financial institutions. 

 

While the risk of a Grexit, which many thought was so imminent, has receded, euro skeptics have turned their attention to Spain and/or Italy.

Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: December 11

In a sharp turn around from the open, Italian and Spanish 10yr government bond yield spreads over German bunds trade approx. 10bps tighter on the day, this follows several market events this morning that have lifted sentiment. Firstly from a fixed income perspective, both Spain and Greece managed to sell more in their respective t-bill auctions than analysts were expecting and thus has eased concerns ahead of longer dated issuance from Spain this Thursday. In terms of other trigger points for today's risk on tone the December headline reading in the German ZEW survey was positive for the first time since May 2012 coming in at an impressive 6.9 M/M from previous -15.7 with the ZEW economists adding that Germany will not face a recession. Finally, reports overnight have suggested that Italian PM Monti could be wooed by Centrist groups which means that if he wanted too the technocrat PM could stand for elections next year albeit under a different ticket. As such yesterday's concerns over the Italian political scene have abated and the FTSE MIB and the IBEX 35 are out performing the core EU bourses. Looking ahead highlights from the US include trade balance, wholesale inventories and a USD 32bln 3yr note auction, however, volumes and price action may remain light ahead of the key FOMC decision on Wednesday.

Overnight Sentiment: ZEW Rises, Greek Buyback Scheduled To End

In a session that has been largely quiet there was one notable macro update, and this was the German ZEW Economic Sentiment survey, which after months in negative territory, surprised to the upside in December, printing at 6.9, on expectations of a -11.5 number, and up from -15.7. This was the first positive print since May, and in stark contrast with the dramatic cut of German GDP prospects by the Bundesbank from last Friday, which saw 2013 GDP slashed by 75% from 1.6 to 0.4%. In fact, moments after the ZEW report, which is mostly driven by market-sentiment, in which regard a soaring DAX has been quite helpful, the German RWI Institute cut German 2012 and 2013 GDP forecasts from 0.8% to 0.7% and from 1% to 0.3%. In other words, any "confidence" will have to keep coming on the back of the market, and not the economy, which is set to slow down even further in the coming year. But for a market which will goalseek any and all data to suit the narrative (recall the huge miss in US Michigan consumer confidence which lead to a market rise), this datapoint will undoubtedly serve as merely another reinforecement that all is well, when nothing could be further from reality. Also, since we live in interesting "Baffle with BS" times, expect the far more important IFO index to diverge once again with its leading ZEW indicator (as it did in November) - after all everyone must be constantly confused and live headline to positive headline.