Gross Domestic Product

Germany Issues Bills With Negative Yields As Economists Agree Country Is In Recession

Continuing the schizoid overnight theme, we look at Germany which just sold €3.9 billion in 6 month zero-coupon Bubills at a record low yield of -0.0122% (negative) compared to 0.001% previously. The bid to cover was 1.8 compared to 3.8 before. As per the FT: "German short-term debt has traded at negative yields in the secondary market for some weeks with three-month, six-month and one-year debt all below zero. Bills for six-month debt hit a low of minus 0.3 per cent shortly after Christmas...The German auction marks the start of another busy week of debt sales across Europe. France and Slovakia are also selling bills on Monday, with Austria and the Netherlands selling bonds on Tuesday. Germany will auction five-year bonds on Wednesday, while Thursday sees sales of Spanish bonds and Italian bills. Italy finishes the week with a sale of bonds on Friday." Still the fact that the ECB deposit facility, already at a new record as pointed out previously, is not enough for banks to parks cash is grounds for alarm bells going off: the solvency crisis in Europe is not getting any easier, confirmed by the implosion of UniCredit which is down now another 11% this morning and down nearly 50% since the atrocious rights offering announced last week. On this background Germany continues to be a beacon of stability, yet even here the consensus is that recession has arrived. As Bild writes, according to a bank economist survey, Germany's economy is expected to shrink in Q1, with wage increases remaining below 3%. And as deflation grips the nation, potentially unleashing the possibility for direct ECB monetization, look for core yields to continue sliding lower, at least on the LTRO-covered short end.

Spain Releases Another Stunner: Deficit Could Be Greater Than 8% Of GDP

One of the biggest headlines that floated under the radar late last week was the announcement by Spain that its budget deficit would soar well higher than the expected 6% of economic output and instead be at 8% of GDP, which while ignored by the broader media was certainly noted by the EURUSD which tumbled on the news. Probably the most humorous response came from the neo-feudal viceroy of the PIIGS Olli Rehn who was displeased. From Reuters: "The European Commission regretted missed fiscal targets announced in Spain on Friday, but hailed the government's announcement of an austerity plan intended to slash the Spanish public deficit. "I regret the sizable fiscal slippage" to a deficit of 8.0 percent of GDP instead of 6.0 percent initially targeted, Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said, while welcoming the new measures announced from Madrid." We in turn regret that a year after adopting so-called austerity, Spain still has not understood that it means cutting the deficit, not blowing it up. Because just like in Greece, sooner or later the Germans will come knocking and demanding every last shred of sovereign independence from its bevy of debt/bailout slaves. Unfortunately today's news will not help: in another piece of news that many hope slip under the low volume radar, the government just said that the revised number could well be re-revised even worse as soon as a few days later.

The Cost Of A "Non-Trivial" Flu Epidemic

The Daily Telegraph has compiled some rather sobering data on what the economic cost of the flu pandemic could ultimately be. This is a little less rosy than Steve Liesman's prediction that everything will blow over in a day or two. As a reminder the WHO is raising the epidemic to level 5, its second highest threat level: presumably they have not gotten the memo.

From the Daily Telegraph:

Moody's On U.S.: AAA Stable.... For Now

Moody's noted earlier that the U.S.' AAA rating is stable for now, although it is not clear how the government's interventions in the financial markets and economic stimuli will affect the deteriorating financial position. U.S. Treasuries issued to the public are "most certain" to be paid, wrote Steven Hess, Moody's senior credit officer, in a research report. If that isn't a good example of diplomacy and watching out for one's career, nothing is.