Gross Domestic Product
There are several things that you need to know about the eurozone crisis and Wednesday's Summit agreement:
- It isn't over.
- The European Monetary Union's (EMU) "architecture" is a failure.
- They spent too much and can't possibly repay the debt.
- Banks will need to be bailed out.
- They will print money.
Consumer confidence indices collapsed to levels not seen in years or even decades. Yet the toughest, most indefatigable creature out there struck again.
When reporting on the announcement of the math-free deus ex machina bail out that was announced last night, which nobody still has any grasp over, but it had a "trillion" in there somewhere so that alone sent the market scurrying, we suggested that it would take about 24-48 hours for reality to start settling in. It may have been considerably less. As the Telegraph reports, "A trillion euro bail-out to save the EU’s single currency is in danger of unraveling after Germany’s central bank warned that the rescue measure was too dependent on the high-risk deals that caused the economic crisis." So what did the Bundesbank do to send tremors that threaten to fracture the brittle nanometer ice-plated facade under which the most tempestuous riptide in European history is contained? Well, first it appears to have used a calculator, something nobody else in the European Council seems to be capable of. Second, it realized that heaping leverage upon leverage to fix a problem, something even a five year old (non-Ivy league trained) would tell you is lunacy, may not be the best approach to fix the problems at hand. "The concerns were led by Germany’s powerful central bank, which expressed fears that a plan to leverage a €440 billion eurozone rescue fund to amass a “fire power” of €1 trillion, or £880 billion, resembled the risky finance methods that triggered the crisis in 2008. Jens Weidmann, the president of the Bundesbank and a member of the European Central Bank, sounded the alarm over the plan to “leverage” the fund by a factor of four to five times without putting any new money into the pot. He warned that the scheme could be hit by market turbulence with taxpayers left holding the bill for risky investments in Italian and Spanish bonds." Does that mean that the "ironclad firewall" is neither "ironclad" nor walls off any fire? Especially since neither the object (Germany) of the bailout nor the subject (Greece) appear to have any desire to go along with the deus ex?
GMO Does The Euro Bailout Math, Finds That Arithmetic Of "Sovereign Debt Crisis Is Daunting, But Not Insuperable"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/27/2011 15:55 -0400
In a much needed white paper just released by GMO's Rich Mattione, title "Et tu, Berlusconi? The daunting (but not always insuperable) arithmetic of sovereign debt" the author does just that: an overdue deep dive into the maths of the European, and global, sovereign bail out. "Much needed", because everything we have heard over the past month leading to a 20% surge in the market in the past 23 days, has been full of broad strokes and completely absent of any details. Cutting to the chase, Mattione's conclusion is that "the arithmetic of Europe’s sovereign debt crisis is daunting, but not insuperable." Which means it can be done, at least in theory, but at great costs, and will need something that Europe has never demonstrated until this point: proactive planning and tackling problems before they develop into full blown systemic crises. How does he get there? Here are his key observations...
For some reason, investors' goldfish-like brains forget every quarter that time and again around 70% of names beat expectations and this fact is used as reason to buy buy buy. Certainly this time around, earnings beats are well within historical norms and furthermore are simply beating significantly lowered expectations. However, that is backward-looking and no matter what metric you use for valuation, the only one that really counts is how expectations are priced into the market. With regard to this, 12Month forward EPS expectations have started to roll-over quite significantly for the S&P 500 (at around a -8.5% annualized clip) - the last time we saw this was Q4 2007 and we know how well that ended.
As we come to terms with the new reality (or perhaps same old reality) that governments will do anything to maintain the status quo, Goldman Sachs took a step back this morning to consider what is worth focusing on in the medium-term. Obviously the European Summit proceedings impact their perspective, but less positively than one might expect as they expect slower global growth, a possible European recession, refocus on US data, Chinese policy responses, currency wars, and a balanced portfolio approach to risk. It certainly seems like Goldman remains less sanguine than an exploding US equity market might suggest and we tend to agree that ignoring the fact that the EU Summit conclusions leave more questions than answers, it may allow us to focus once again on the fundamentals and those fundamentals are not a rosy as many would have us believe.
Mortgage principal writedowns may sound like a political panacea, until we consider the effects not only on borrowers, but on banks, and taxpayers, as well...
Buying stocks with the confidence that all has been resolved and all open questions have been answered? Or just doing it because everyone else is doing it, and there is "career risk" for those who actually sit to think what the events over the past 24 hours mean? It's ok if it is the latter: everyone else is in the same boat. After all the whole purpose of today's rally is to get everyone exposed the same way, so when it all crashes again, nobody can be singled out for having been contrarian. Why are we so sure? Because when even Goldman Sachs has at least 10 outstanding questions on not only the structure of the European bailout, but the layout of the revised EFSF, it is safe to assume that few have the answers (which, incidentally, don't exist). So in between chasing VWAP ever higher, it may be worthwhile to read these 10 questions which nobody has the definitive answer to. At least not yet. And whose answer is assumed will be a satisfactory one...
Auction Which Sends US Debt To Over $15 Trillion Has Very Weak Reception; Drags Treasury Complex LowerSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/27/2011 13:18 -0400
Today's epic risk rally has been punctuated by something probably not all that surprising: a very weak $29 billion 7 Year auction, which has since dragged the entire bond curve even lower. The bond priced at a high yield of 1.791%, a notable 3 bps tail to the When Issued which was trading at 1.76 at 1 pm. But the internals are again where the action is: the Bid To Cover of 2.59 was the lowest in the series since the 2.26 back in May 2009! Additionally it appears that foreigners, either China or Europe, had very little desire to load up on this paper, with just 33.9% in Indirect Take Down, and a corresponding 86.9% hit ratio on the Indirects. So while Indirects came at the lowest since June, so the Primary Dealers took down the most since that month, at over half of the entire auction, or 54.15%. Directs also stepped up, bidding up 11.95% of the whole, compared to 8.95% last twelve auction average. And as the chart below shows, the disappointing auction has dragged the entire treasury complex lower in price. As a reminder, this bond auction brings total US debt to over $15 trillion, a number which would have resulted in a 100%+ debt/GDP using the Q2 GDP. As it sands, following today's update, the market has about $160 billion in capacity before that threshold is breached again.
So, the European joke has come full circle. Indebted nations borrow more money to bail out other indebted nations who ask insolvent banks to cut a 50% off deal on the loans that were given to them, but the insolvent banks will then have to raise capital which the will of course borrow from the over-indebted nations whom they just gave money to. Get it? Problem solved - BTMFD!!!
When we witness the clash between the Austerity and Stimulus camps, on the surface there is the appearance that a true debate is taking place between diametrically opposed economists. For example, Austerity folks correctly note that our economy has been badly weighted towards consumption for some decades. They want to clear out the excesses, let the malinvestments fail, and elect an overall path of acute economic pain in order to reset the system. Stimulus advocates find such plans completely unnecessary, if not downright masochistic. Armed with a more humanistic approach, Keynesians want the government to run large deficits to help the private sector deleverage, which of course could take years....A rather serious problem in the ability of Developed Economies to coherently allocate resources started showing up well before the 2008 crisis. This status quo, made in part by policy mistakes, credit creation, and the energy limit, still remains today. Crucially, neither stimulus nor austerity will dislodge this status quo. Unless, of course, by austerity we mean to intentionally collapse the system, or if by stimulus we mean to engender a runaway inflation that will eventually yield the same result.
With OVER $46 trillion in assets outstanding, this means that European banks would need to raise $1.77 TRILLION in capital to bring their leverage levels down to 13 to 1.
We have previously presented the correlation of US consumer confidence and spending in the form of retail sales, leading us to wonder how it is possible that "The More Depressed And Broke US Consumers Are, The More Worthless Trinkets They Buy." Following today's GDP data it is not difficult to see where this post is headed. As we noted earlier, the biggest contributor to the 2.5% annualized GDP spike (the biggest sequential surge since Q4 2009), was Personal Consumption, i.e. consumer spending. This is for the quarter ended September 30, when the market plunged to 2011 lows. It is also the quarter when consumer confidence collapsed completely. And that is what we are showing. Courtesy of John Lohman, we present the correlation between US consumer confidence and the main driver of US GDP growth. Of course, if one assumes that consumer confidence is the true (and leading) data series here, it means US GDP would have declined at a roughly 3% annualized rate. Credible? Realistic? China-inspired? We leave it up to our readers.
With actual economic data now largely irrelevant, and why should it be : "got a recession? There's an EFSF for that" it is hardly worth noting that the third notable economic data point of the day, the first being GDP which came in line on an inexplicable surge in consumer spending in Q3 despite an epic collapse in consumer confidence, and a drop in the market to 2011 lows; the second being the nth consecutive print in initial claims over 400, which was the pending home sales update from the NAR which printed at -4.6% on expectations of an increase of 0.4%, and down from last month's -1.2%. This is the third consecutive monthly slide in sales data, and merely adds to yesterday's near record drop in median home prices, once again simply confirming that the biggest source of US "wealth" housing still has a long way to drop. And while we ridicule him all the time, even the NAR's Larry Yun has figured out that operation twist and monetary policy in general is a failure: "The Federal Reserve evidently has been attempting to lower mortgage rates, yet more consumers are faced with taking out jumbo loans that carry higher interest rates." Speaking of Jumbo loans, PrimeX jumped earlier today on the European news, and has since been drifting lower. It will continue doing so once some semblance of rationality returns.
Q3 Advance GDP Prints At 2.5% In Line With Expectations; 100% Debt-To-GDP Threshold Postponed By 45 DaysSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/27/2011 08:49 -0400
Advance Q3 was expected to print at 2.5%; it printed at 2.5%. Nothing too surprising in the constituent factors, aside from the fact that this was the biggest QoQ jump in GDP since Q4 2009. What drove it? A massive surge in PCE which increased from 0.5% to 1.72% as a portion of annualized GDP: in other words, as consumer confidence hit a near record low, and as the stock market plunged to 2011 lows, somehow Americans spent $130 billion annualized over and on top what they spent in Q2. In fact, standalone PCE was 2.4%, substantially higher than the forecast 1.9% and the previous 0.7%. Where this spending power came from, we would be delighted to know. Also notable is that the government contribution to Q3 annualized GDP was precisely 0.00% - the first time in 4 quarters in which it has not been a drag on "growth." In fact the only two growth detractors were Imports and a 1.08% drop due to change in Private Inventories, even though as we pointed out yesterday using another data series, Inventories just hit a new all time high. Probably the only actual news here is that total US GDP is now "suggested" to be $15,199 billion, up from $15,013. What this means is that the moment of 100% debt to GDP for the US has been pushed back from today, following the 7 Year auction, to a point in mid-December.