Gross Domestic Product
Belgium's total exposure to its bank bailouts: 41% of GDP. But finally there is some resistance.
Greece has been the most pillaged country in Europe this Depression, among other reasons, because no one in any leadership position seems to have learned lessons from the 1930s. Plus, banks have more power now than they did then to call the shots. Despite no signs of the first bailout working – certainly not in growing the Greek economy or helping its population - but not even in being sufficient to cover speculative losses, Euro elites finalized another 130 billion Euro, ($170 billion) bailout today. This is ostensibly to avoid banks’ and credit default swap players’ wrath over the possibility of Greece defaulting on 14.5 billion Euros in bonds. Bailout promoters seem to believe (or pretend) that: bank bailout debt + more bank bailout debt + selling national assets at discount prices + oppressive unemployment = economic health. They fail to grasp that severe austerity hasn’t, and won’t, turn Greece (or any country) around. Banks, of course, just want to protect their bets and not wait around for Greece to really stabilize for repayment.
2012 is proving to be the 'Year of the Central Bank'. It is an exciting celebration of all the wonderful maneuvers central banks can employ to keep the system from falling apart. Western central banks have gone into complete overdrive since last November, convening, colluding and printing their way out of the mess that is the Eurozone. The scale and frequency of their maneuvering seems to increase with every passing week, and speaks to the desperate fragility that continues to define much of the financial system today.... All of this pervasive intervention most likely explains more than 90 percent of the market's positive performance this past January. Had the G6 NOT convened on swaps, had the ECB NOT launched the LTRO programs, and had Bernanke NOT expressed a continuation of zero interest rates, one wonders where the equity indices would trade today. One also wonders if the European banking system would have made it through December. Thank goodness for "coordinated action". It does work in the short-term.... But what about the long-term? What are the unintended consequences of repeatedly juicing the system? What are the repercussions of all this money printing? We can think of a few.
Since at this point US society is irrevocably split into two camps, on one hand those who believe Keynesian propaganda, where the only cure for unsustainable debt is more debt, and on the other those who believe that a return to a gold standard is the only way to prevent an epic socio-political collapse, also known in official US circles as "extremists", and since we know that the status quo will never let the latter get their way without a fight (quite literally and quite violently), it is only logical that 'if you can't beat them you have to join them'. In which case we believe that instead of breaking windows, or starting wars, or even expecting a growth boosting alien invasion that would lead to a surge in GDP that may or may not come, one should not only go for broke, but do so in style. As such we propose that the US, already the world's most expansionist and aggressive foreign policy power, not like there is anything wrong with that of course - it is all for the sake of liberating oppressed foreign oil, should one up itself and build the true symbol of its contemporary socio-historical status: the Imperial Death Star. Yet the real benefit in addition to blowing up various alien world that refuse to bail out the world's central bank confederacy, is that the cost of construction of said Keynesian masterpiece, would be an epic $852 quadrillion, which in turn would go straight to US GDP.
Record Direct Takedown Leads To Huge Demand For 7 Year Bond Auction, Disproves "Rotation From Bonds Into Stocks "Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/23/2012 14:19 -0400
While this week's two previous auctions were uneventful and very much unimpressive, today's 7 Year $29 billion issue continues to show that the bulk of the curve action continues to be at the belly. Unlike January's spotty 7 Year auction which saw a massive 56.64% in Primary Dealer take down, today's was the opposite, with the auction pricing a whopping 3 bps inside of the When Issued at 1.418%, with Dealers taking down just 38.89%, well below the TTM average 47.46%. This was the lowest Dealer take down since December 2010. The Indirect Bid was well higher than in January when as we already noted previously foreign investors were dumping US paper, yet at 41.85% was just in line with the TTM average of 41.54%. The big outlier however was the Direct Bid take down which soared from 11.59% to a massive 19.27% take down - a low 44% hit rate on the Direct Bid. Why the huge shift in sentiment toward US paper? It hardly has anything to do with the yield rising from a meager 1.36% to a just barely higher 1.42%. And yet, there was a tangible change in Direct interest - is it merely PIMCO buying up more paper? Most likely - this is perfectly aligned with the fund's recent average effective duration so we would not be surprised if Bill Gross is now loading up on the belly. The result of the super strong auction is the entire treasury curve sliding in yield, as it indicates that the wholesale expectation of a shift away from Treasurys and pushing into stocks, is nowhere to be seen. And stepping back from the tree, the forest now stands at just under 101.5% debt/to US GDP. Many more auctions coming.
Americans participating in a recent Gallup poll showed the highest level of confidence in an economic recovery in a year. Sounds great, but you can’t ignore the nearly 13 million unemployed, the 46 million people on food stamps and the roughly 29% of the country’s homeowners whose mortgages are under water. They would find it hard to subscribe to the poll’s sunny conclusion. On the other hand, there’s no getting away from a bevy of seemingly increasingly favorable economic data, which, more recently, includes falling weekly jobless claims, four consecutive monthly gains in the leading economic indicators, somewhat perkier retail sales and a pickup in housing starts and business permits. Pounding home this cheerful view is the media’s growing drumbeat of increased economic vigor....Confused? How can you not be?
An explicit contagion path chart, since you probably won't get info like this anywhere else...
Despite the release of better than expected German IFO survey, stocks in Europe remained on the back foot after the EU Commission slashed forecasts for 2012 Eurozone GDP to -0.3% vs. 0.5% previously, while EU's Rehn added that the Euroarea has entered a mild recession. As a result Bunds advanced back towards 139.00, whereas the spread between the Italian/German 10-year bond yields widened marginally on the back of touted selling by both domestic and foreign accounts ahead of the upcoming supply on Friday. Looking elsewhere, EUR/USD erased barriers at 1.3300 and 1.3325, while today’s strength in GBP/USD can be attributed to a weaker USD, as well as touted EUR/GBP selling by a UK clearer.
The phenomenon of market and confidence reflexivity is quite well known to the US, where not one but two indices, the UMichigan and Conference Board, provide upward boosts to the market when the market is going up, which in turn boosts confidence even more, and so on in a closed loop well used by agents of the central planning bureaus, especially during economic slides, when the "economy" is nothing but the Russell 2000. Europe is no stranger to this, and early this morning despite Germany's recent economic data coming out nothing short of atrocious, Germany announced its business managers are quite confident, and more so than expected whatever that means, after the IFO Business Survey printed at 109.6 on expectations of 108.3 - the highest reading since July 2011. As a reminder, 9 days ago "The German Industrial Output Slides More Than Greek, Despite Favorable ZEW" - in other words, the propaganda machine is out in full force, desperate to break the linkage between Europe's recessionary economy, and the market which has soared over the past 4 months for one reason only - trillions in central bank liquidity. Alas, the bill has now come in in the form of record Brent in British pounds, fresh all time highs in energy prices, and WTI which if Goldman is right, will hit $120 this summer and send Obama's reelection chances down the toilet. Anyway, here is Goldman with a note on the German confidence index which briefly sent the EURUSD up 80 pips to a high of 1.3340, showing just how volatile the fulcrum security now is with 148K net shorts, since retracing most of the gains as apparently not even the market is that stupid to believe the confidence is more important than hard data following the EU's announcement that the Eurozone will officially see a GDP decline of -0.3% in 2012 vs previous expectations of +0.5% rise.
Little to note about today's unremarkable bond auction of $35 billion in 5 Year bonds. Hot on the heels of yesterday's just as unremarkable 2 year bond auction, which saw total US debt/GDP surpass 101% two weeks after total debt/GDP rose over 100% for the first time, the details surrounding today's issuance were more or less as expected: the closing yield of 0.90% was inside the When Issued of 0.905%. The Bid To Cover was 2.89, weaker than January's 3.17, but right inline with the TMM BTC of 2.89. The Indirects took down 41.8%, Directs 12.9%, and the Dealers held at 45.3%, all in line with TTM average, so nothing to write home about. Overall an auction that just added a few pips to the total US debt/GDP, with the proceeds, especially by the Dealers, promptly to be pledged back into the repo market with the blessings of BoNY and State Street, where it is never heard from again.
After months (it seems like years) of trying to avoid a CDS Credit Event, it looks like one is inevitable. The Greek 5 year CDS is at least 70 bid which may be the highest ever. The game plan seems to be that Greece will put in retroactive CAC laws. The PSI will come in below 100%. Greece will trigger the CAC clauses on the Greek bonds, and we will get 100% participation in all those bonds, and we will get a Credit Event. The interesting part is that depending on what they manage to do with English law bonds, the only bonds outstanding (not in the hands of the central bank only bonds, and troika loans) will be the new bonds. If they start CAC’ing each bond, it is possible that there will be no existing bonds outstanding left. Settlement would be based on the new bond (yes, ISDA has a Sovereign Restructured Deliverable Obligation clause – Section 2.16 of the definitions). With the amortization schedule in place (and not including any value attributable to the GDP strippable warrants), I get that the new bonds would trade at 30% of par with a yield of just over 13%. I would be careful paying up for CDS here, because settlement will be against these new bonds, not existing bonds if every old bond is CAC’d. And given the attitude out of Greece late yesterday, and harsh IMF demands, we may well see that.
January's hopium catchphrase of the month was that Europe's recession would be "technical" which is simply a euphemism for our Fed's beloved word - "transitory." Based on the just released Euroarea PMI, we can scratch this Euro-accented "transitory" addition to the lexicon, because contrary to expectations that the Euroarea composite PMI would show expansion at 50.5, instead it came out at 49.7 - the manufacturing PMI was 49.0 on Exp of 49.4, while the Services PMI was 49.4, on hopes of expansion at 50.6, which as Reuters notes suggests that firms are still cutting prices to drum up business and reducing workforces to cut costs. This was accompanied by a overnight contraction in China, where the flash manufacturing PMI rose modestly from 48.8, but was again in contraction at 49.7. We would not be surprised if this is merely the sacrifice the weakest lamb in the pack in an attempt to get crude prices lower. So far this has failed to dent WTI much if at all following rapidly escalating Iran tensions. What is curious is that Germany and France continue to do far better than the rest of the Eurozone - just as America has decoupled from Europe, so apparently have Germany and France. This too is surely "sustainable."
To be or not to be (in the Euro), that should be the question on the Greek people's minds and not whether 'tis nobler to suffer the slings (fiscal occupation) and arrows (sovereignty destruction) of an outraged 'fiscally fascist' Troika. As Rodney Shakespeare so eloquently explains in this Russia Today interview, the projected trajectory of the debt/GDP for Greece is nonsense and are simply 'manipulations that justify the banking occupation of Greece'. In words that should ring true to any reader of the Bard, Rodney goes on to highlight the terrible plight that is to come to generations of Greeks citing the 'whole thing as a fraud'. The brave and highly inventive Greek people can succeed if they are not forced to bailout the banks and instead leave the Euro; dismissing the office of the financial fascists that will soon occupy the nation. Strong (and emotional) words describe why the IMF/EU/ECB bloc is so keen to maintain the status quo that is clearly crumbling at their feet as perhaps they would do well to remember the final words of this Hamlet soliloquy: 'be all my sins remembered'.
Today, without much fanfare, US debt to GDP hit 101% with the latest issuance of $32 billion in 2 Year Bonds. If the moment when this ratio went from double to triple digits is still fresh in readers minds, is because it is: total debt hit and surpassed the most recently revised Q4 GDP on January 30, or just three weeks ago. Said otherwise, it has taken the US 21 days to add a full percentage point to this most critical of debt sustainability ratios: but fear not, with just under $1 trillion in new debt issuance on deck in the next 9 months, we will be at 110% in no time. Still, this trend made us curious to see who has been buying (and selling) US debt over the past year. The results are somewhat surprising. As the chart below, which highlights some of the biggest and most notable holders of US paper, shows, in the period December 31, 2010 to December 31, 2011, there have been two very distinct shifts: those who are going all in on the ponzi, and those who are gradually shifting away from the greenback, and just as quietly, and without much fanfare of their own, reinvesting their trade surplus in something distinctly other than US paper. The latter two: China and Russia, as we have noted in the past. Yet these are more than offset by... well, we'll let the readers look at the chart and figure out it.