Gross Domestic Product
The September Swiss National Bank balance sheet update is out and while it reportedly indicates balances at the end of August, it appears that the SNB intervention in the FX market (i.e. the currency peg) started early, which would make sense as the first peg rumor hit on August 11. As a result, as the chart below shows, the latest central bank balance sheet to be completely devastated as a result of currency wars is that of Switzerland, where both Foreign Currency Investments and the total balance sheet increased by just under 50%, the biggest such monthly increase. In fact, in September, "aggregate short and long positions in forwards and futures in foreign currencies vis-a?-vis the domestic currency (including the forward leg of currency swaps)" increased by $92 billion CHF or just about $100 billion - a whopping 20% of Swiss GDP! And this is the capital at risk for Switzerland to avoid having its currency trading a parity with the euro since the bulk of this increase is due almost certainly purely to EUR purchases. And here is the bad news: since the bulk of the purchases were made in the 1.40+ area, we can't wait to find out just how NZZ and other Swiss financial publications will react tomorrow when they learn that the SNB has experienced an immediate 5% drop in its "assets" courtesy of the subsequent plunge in the EUR. And with the SNB's total balance sheet at a record (?) CHF 365 billion, something tells us that the days of this latest attempt at repegging the Swiss Franc to some arbitrary number are coming to an end, and with that Hildebrand's futile attempts at preventing parity.
Greece To Miss Budget Deficit Targets, As Usual, While Qatar Prepares A Bailout Pennies-For-Gold SwapSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/02/2011 12:55 -0500
As the Greek parliament meets to finalize huge public sector job cuts, Reuters is reporting that Greece will miss the deficit targets set in its EU/IMF bailout this year and next... We would say "again" but at this point "as usual" makes far more sense, Why this should come as a surprise to anyone is beyond us but the next steps by the Troika (as again and again targets are not met and yet still bank-extending-and-pretending-funding is provided) will be fascinating as they switch from carrot to stick and back to carrot perhaps. Assuming, of course, the "wildcat strikes" at any and all government institutions by government workers about to be sacked, allow Troika member access at some point in the near to long-term future. Although using numbers conceived on napkins as a replacement will be nothing new to either Greece, Eurostat or the Troika. Add to this the comment from the Deputy Leader of the CSU (one of Merkel's tri-party coalition) that Greece would find it easier to recover outside the currency bloc and rhetoric remains high, as do expectations for an inverse surge in the EURUSD at open in a few hours. The biggest winner: Qatar which just snuck in some recycled petrodollars into Greece, which will last the kleptocorrupt government about 1 week, in exchange for Greek gold.
Presenting some deeply philosophical observations from the man who has been wrong about pretty much everything, and to whom the jarring return of reality and its relentless destruction of the ivory towers he has carefully erected his entire career, can only be described as "surreal." No Jim - it's not surreal. It is all too real. The only surreal thing will be the response when GSAM's LP get their year end performance statement.
We are going to hear several carefully fashioned talking points concerning the economic collapse over the course of the final quarter of 2011, especially in light of the dismal end of the stimulus driven bull market that sustained public optimism since the derivatives implosion in 2008. Let’s not forget, three years ago mainstream economists and the Obama administration were calling for a near full recovery by 2011. Obviously this never materialized, and so, the game has to shift to a new dynamic to keep us all guessing. The deflationary boogieman will be resurrected to frighten taxpayers into taking on even more debt in order to feed the fiat machine, but this is going to meet extraordinary resistance. If you think the protests on Wall Street today are gaining momentum, just wait until Helicopter Ben announces QE3! The next logical step in the progression of banker planning is the call for “Globally Coordinated Action”; global initiatives tying numerous countries together in a unified effort to whitewash the crisis and solidify their real purpose of economic centralization.
Inflection points on four key markets that would serve as definitive indicators that the world is in a double-dip recession.
If the equity crowd only knew how difficult it is to trade financial instruments in secondary markets (or primary markets with IPOs non-existent and IG issuance taper off etc) and what each new non-agency valuation mark means for the next quarterly earnings report, given top five banks own near $800 billion of second liens and stuff not to mention other variations of housing stock. Record long mortgage exposute in all its forms. These asset markdowns will be reflected across the street in next slate of earnings statements. Litigious environment too blurring liability thanks to partner government. Financials CDS anywhere from +15 bps to +25 bps wider. Another thought is that this particular primary banking group is actually the lubrication, artery or aorta for the liquidity of the U.S. Treasury as primary role for distributing U.S. and other sovereign debt. What does it mean when the equity valuations of these players plummets, what their OWN liquidity dysfunction and willingness and ability to raise liquidity for U.S. or any debt? I suppose with the recent Op Twist release a few minutes ago, the Fed will buy some of it.
David Stockman, former US Representative and Director of the Office of Management and Budget under Reagan, does not mince words. He sees the monetary systems of the world coming apart. How did we get here? He identifies the root cause as the intentional over-leveraging of world economies by central planners in a misguided effort to enjoy growth without consequence.
I blame it on the Fed. I blame it on the 1971 decision by Nixon to close the gold window and let the dollar float. Because out of that has evolved -- or morphed -- a central banking policy in the world that absorbs unlimited amounts of government debt. And so we went on what I call the "T-bill standard" or the "federal debt standard." And the other central banks of the emerging mercantilist Asian economies -- Japan, Korea, and now, especially, the People’s Printing Press of China -- have absorbed this massive emission of debt that otherwise would’ve created powerful negative consequences that would’ve forced politicians to act long ago. In other words, higher interest rates, pressure for inflationary monetary policy, and the actual appearance of price inflation. But because all the bonds on the margin were being absorbed by the central banks, we got away for twenty or twenty five years with “deficits without tears.”
And he's just getting started. The only thing more impressive than Stockman's CV of insider roles in public economics and private finance is his talent for colorful metaphor.
These back-of-the-envelope calculations suggests that the current attempts to deal with the nation’s fiscal problems are at best a sham and assume that the general public will be fooled into believing that the Congress has righted its ways and is attempting to put the nation on a sound financial footing.
The August Personal Income and Spending report is out and while there were some modest surprises in the data, namely a drop in Personal Income of -0.1%, on expectations of an increase of 0.1% (and an adverse revision for July data from 0.3% to 0.1%) - the first drop in two years, while Personal Spending was in line with expectations at 0.2% (previous revised from 0.8% to 0.7%), the biggest news of the day is that the US consumer is getting tapped out, with spending coming entirely from savings: the savings rate dropped from a revised 4.8% (previously 5.0%), to 4.5%, the lowest since December 2009.
All you need to read. (a little late today)
Update: CDS now over 200 bps, or over 7 bps since this artice was posted.
This is an emergency announcement for bubble watchers: China CDS has soared to 194.5 bps, +14.5 in the past few hours (a trend first noted here about a week earlier), the biggest relative mover in the sovereign realm, which has just hit the widest it has been since March 2009. Ironically the incremental newsflow was mildly positive after the Final September HSBC PMI came at 49.9, still contractionary, but modestly better than the Preliminary 49.4, and unchanged from the August print. That however brought little solace to China bulls, who have seen their local stock holdings drop significantly in the last few days now that the China "Hard Landing" scenario is becoming widely accepted. Not helping is a just released UBS report which now expects Q1 2012 GDP to drop to below stall speed at 7.7%. Whether or not the country can land softly, or hardly, or at all, with that kind of growth drop, is certainly unknown. Look for more widening in CDS spreads as the China crash thesis permeates the vigilante community which has now picked its next target.
The big news this morning, aside from the relatively strong economic data out of the US (of course, we’ll have to wait for the downward revision on jobs to see the real number, which is an ongoing statistical aberration for the record books but anyway) is the news that the German parliament overwhelmingly passed the measure to support the EFSF. In reality, this wasn’t really that newsworthy as passing this particular legislation had been expected since Germany originally agreed to the deal in principal earlier this summer. This was not the leveraged, CDO^2 like structure that failed NY Federal Reserve President cum Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner had been pitching recently in Europe. No, that idea has been dismissed out of hand and Mr. Geithner properly ridiculed for recommending that the already over-taxed European people be further Major Kong-style strapped to the ticking atom bomb that is the European banks’ leveraged balance sheets.
In case you haven’t noticed lately, the market doesn’t move on good or bad earnings or economic data, it moves on political rumors and innuendo about government’s willingness to continue the TARP/cheap money/QE lifeline to the terribly over-leveraged banking sector. It’s especially troubling when you consider the faith most members of Congress place in Ben Bernanke and the other Oracles of Delphi at the Fed. One area that’s going to come home to roost very soon is the zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) that has been in place since late ‘08/early ’09.
Denial. Denial is safe. Comforting. Religiously and relentlessly abused by politicians who don't want nor can face reality. A word synonymous with "muddle through." Ah yes, that "muddle through" which so many C-grade economists and pundits believe is the long-term status quo for the US and the world just because it worked for Japan for the past three decades, or, said otherwise, "just because." Well, too bad. As the following absolutely must read report, which comes not from some trader of dubious credibility interviewed by BBC, nor even from an impassioned executive from a doomed Italian bank, but from consultancy powerhouse Boston Consulting Group confirms, the "muddle through" is dead. And now it is time to face the facts. What facts? The facts which state that between household, corporate and government debt, the developed world has $20 trillion in debt over and above the sustainable threshold by the definition of "stable" debt to GDP of 180%. The facts according to which all attempts to eliminate the excess debt have failed, and for now even the Fed's relentless pursuit of inflating our way out this insurmountable debt load have been for nothing. The facts which state that the only way to resolve the massive debt load is through a global coordinated debt restructuring (which would, among other things, push all global banks into bankruptcy) which, when all is said and done, will have to be funded by the world's financial asset holders: the middle- and upper-class, which, if BCS is right, have a ~30% one-time tax on all their assets to look forward to as the great mean reversion finally arrives and the world is set back on a viable path. But not before the biggest episode of "transitory" pain, misery and suffering in the history of mankind. Good luck, politicians and holders of financial assets, you will need it because after Denial comes Anger, and only long after does Acceptance finally arrive.
The Fed’s decision to buy $400 billion of longer-term US Treasuries in this environment is essentially the Fed announcing that it will be covering a significant portion of new debt issuance going forward as a means of putting off the inevitable US debt default. At most the Fed has bought 2-3 months of time for the US. I fully believe that before the end of this year, the bond market will shift its sights away from Europe to the US. At that time, the US debt bubble will burst resulting in systemic failure.
We all know that expansion of debt and financial chicanery are (or at least were) the key drivers of the US economy. And those things have limits as we have learned all too well.