Investment Grade

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S&P Cuts Russia To Junk, Ruble Plunges To 6-Week Lows - Full Text





With the Ruble having plunged 3 handles today alone, it appears perhaps more than a few could see this coming...

  • RUSSIAN FEDERATION RATINGS CUT TO JUNK BY S&P
  • RUSSIAN FEDERATION CUT TO BB+ FROM BBB- BY S&P; OUTLOOK NEG

Putting it below investment grade for the first time in a decade. Of course, this happens just 6 days after the news first leaked that S&P would pay a $1.5 billion settlement to the US DoJ over downgrading America: one wonders just what else was in the small print?

 
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Oil Dinosaurs Face Extinction: State Oil Companies And The Meteor-Strike Of Low Oil Prices





State-owned oil companies that don't slash expenses to align with revenues and boost critical investment in the infrastructure needed to maintain production will suffer financial extinction.

 
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5 Things To Ponder: The ABC's Of The ECB's QE





Well the day has finally arrived that after two years of promises, jawboning and hope - the European Central Bank finally announced they will take the plunge into the Quantitative Easing (QE) pool. Whether or not the ECB's QE program has the desired effect or not will not be realized for a while. However, this week's reading list is a variety of opinions and initial takes on the "ABC's of the ECB's QE."

 
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3 Things - The Fed, Rig Counts And Employment, ECB





The real concern for investors and individuals is the actual economy. There is clearly something amiss within the economic landscape, and the ongoing decline of inflationary pressures longer term is likely telling us just that. The big question for the Fed is how to get themselves out of the potential trap they have gotten themselves into without cratering the economy, and the financial markets, in the process. It is my expectation, unless these deflationary trends reverse course in very short order, the Fed will likely postpone raising interest rates until at least the end of the year if not potentially longer.  However, the Fed understands clearly that we are closer to the next economic recession than not and that they can not be caught with rates at the "zero bound" when that occurs.

 
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SocGen Explains That Since The ECB's QE Will Fail, It Will Need To Be Increased To €3 Trillion, Include Stocks





"The potential amount of QE needed is €2-3 trillion! Hence for inflation to reach close to a 2.0% threshold medium term, the potential amount of asset purchases needed is €2-3tn, not a mere €1tn. Should the ECB target such an expansion of its balance sheet, it would have to ease some conditions on its bond purchases (liquidity rule, quality...) or contemplate other asset classes- equity stocks, Real Estate Investment Trust-(REIT), Exchange-traded fund (ETF)...- as the BoJ, previously."

 
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The ECB's 4 QE Scenarios, And Why CS Thinks Waking From The "QE Dream" May Be The Worst Possible Outcome





Despite various media reports over the past 24 hours about risk-sharing and sovereign security exclusion (i.e., that of Greek Treasurys), as well as speculation that despite it being priced in more than 100%, the ECB may yet again delay the actual announcement especially with what watershed Greek elections following just days after the ECB announcement, the question remains just what format will European QE take. Here, courtesy of Credit Suisse - a bank which was pounded in the past 2 days following the record surge in the CHF - is a preview of the 4 most likely ECB scenarios, as well as a glimpse at what may be the worst possible outcome for Europe: QE itself!

 
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The Central Banks Still Appear To Be In Control (Or So They Think)





The major unintended consequence of government and central bank intervention since Volcker's stand against inflation has been to generate its nemesis; deflation. With interest rates near zero in the major economies, there is nowhere for rates intervention to go to provide a stimulus. Strangely the answer must be higher interest rates. We will then see some "creative destruction" which is what the financial system needs to reset and start a proper economic cycle, but with the investment banks, who stand to lose the most, controlling the strings (just how do you think the US Budget bill got changed to allow banks’ derivative positions to be included in subsidiaries covered by FDIC insurance? ie the taxpayer covers their losses) we need stronger hands at the tiller than a coalition of "politicians" or a lame duck president. We need somebody with balls... any volunteers?

 
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Stocks Bounce On Daily ECB QE Rumor Regurgitation, Oil Plunges On Goldman Downgrade





If you, like the BIS, are sick and tired of central bankers, and in this case the ECB's endless jawboning and now daily QE threats, determining the level of stocks, well then today is a good day as any to take your blood pressure medication. Because first it was ECB Governing Council member Ignazio Visco who told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that the risk of deflation in the euro zone should not be underestimated and urged the bank to buy government debt, and then, yet another regurgitated story, came from CNBC whose "sources" reported that the ECB QE would be based on contributions from national central banks and paid in capital. And while otherwise the cross-correlation trades would have at least pushed the crude complex modestly higher, today it was Goldman's energy analyst Jeffrey Currie finally throwing up all over oil, with a report in which he said that "because shale can rebound quickly once capital investments return, we now believe WTI needs to trade near $40/bbl for most of 1H15 to keep capital sidelined."

 
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Futures Fade After Report ECB Still Unsure On QE Format





While the trading world, or at least the kneejerk reaction algos, is focused on today's US nonfarm payrolls due out in just 2 hours (consensus expects 240K, with unemployment declining from 5.8% to 5.7%) the key event overnight came out of China, (where inflation printed at just 1.5% while PPI has imploded from -1.8% in September to -2.2% in October to -2.7% in November to a whopping -3.3% in December because as per BofA "soft domestic demand over-capacity issue have kept inflation pressures low") and Europe, after a Bloomberg report that as recently as Wednesday, ECB staff "presented policy makers with models for buying as much as 500 billion euros ($591 billion) of investment-grade assets... options included buying only AAA-rated debt or bonds rated at least BBB-, the euro-area central bank official said. Governors took no decision on the design or implementation of any package after the presentation." In other words less than two weeks before the fateful ECB meeting and Mario Draghi not only still hasn't decided on which of three public QE version he will adopt, but the ECB has reverted back to a private QE plan. Not surprisingly the EURUSD jumped back over 1.18 on the news (and USDJPY and stock markets dropped) on the news that Europe still is completely unsure how to proceed with QE despite the endless jawboning.

 
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As Greek Default Risk Soars To 66%, Morgan Stanley Warns ECB May Be Unable To Launch QE





"The Greek political turmoil is likely to complicate matters for the ECB’s preparation of a sovereign QE programme. The prospect of the ECB potentially incurring severe losses is likely to intensify the debate within the Governing Council, where sovereign QE remains controversial. It could also make the start of a buying programme already on January 22 even more ambitious. In addition, the spectre of default could create new limitations on any sovereign QE design."

 
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The Greater Abomination: Washington's Lies About TARP's "Success" Are Worse Than The Original Bailouts, Part I





The mainstream economics narrative is so far down the monetary rabbit hole that the blinding clarity of the chart below has no chance whatsoever of seeing the light of day. That’s because it dramatizes the real truth regarding all the Fed gibberish about “accommodation” and “stimulus”. Namely, that what lies beneath its “extraordinary measures”, such as ZIRP, QE, wealth effects and the rest of the litany, is a central banking regime that systematically destroy savers. Period. TARP wasn’t “repaid” with a profit. It was simply perpetuated and  morphed into a new form of destructive state subvention and malinvestment.

 
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Crude Contagion Spreads To Investment Grade Credit: Spreads Burst To 14-Month Wides





This morning's bounce in stocks off the overnight lows is being entirely ignored by credit markets. US HY Energy spreads just broke 1050bps - record highs, worst than during the 98 crisis. Broad HY spreads have surged wider to 18-month wides. But perhaps most worrisome, investment grade credit spreads are 'relatively' underperforming, bursting to 77.5bps - the widest in 14 months.

 
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High-Yield Credit Crash Accelerates





High-yield energy bond spreads are crashing-er. Up 15bps to 880bps today, these are record wides and massively impact the economics of these firms - no matter how much investors want to ignore it. This is contagiously spreading across the broad high yield and even investment grade credit markets as high yield bond prices crash below the mid-October Bullard lows...

 
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Stocks Give Up All Friday's "Jobs Data Is Great" Gains, Bonds & Bullion Bid





Stocks were modestly weak overnight amid poor Japanese, Chinese, and European data, but as soon as the US cash markets opened, stocks surged higher algorithmically testing up to unchanged briefly for the S&P 500 and squeezing small-cap shorts (as usual).. until Europe closed. Stock started to lose steam but once Nasdaq and Russell broke red, programs slammed stocks lower and despite a late-day bounce, stocks gave up all the gains from Friday's "awesome jobs data" and then some with Trannies and Small Caps worst. Momo names all suffered - most notably TWTR & TSLA. VIX broke above 14.5 briefly, closing up 2.4 at 14.2. Treasury yields plunged 5-7bps at the long-end (1-2bps at the short-end) flattening significantly. Credit markets were clubbed - with HYG taking the brunt and ending at Bullard lows. Gold and silver gained solidly (as USD slipped 0.3% led by JPY strength) as copper fell 0.5% and oil price crashed again. Markets turmoiled notably into the oil pit close (margin calls) and stabilized modestly after... but the S&P 500 still closed below its 5DMA.

 
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