Political instability for the EU is a significant and visible threat, but is not the immediate problem, which is financial. As a result of savings and spending imbalances, none of the core Eurozone states can stand on their own.
In what was likely an attempt to win over skeptics about its bond purchase program, which as of last week includes not only sovereign and covered-bonds, but also corporates (both Investment Grade as well as apparently junk bonds), the ECB released a video last week titled "Inside the Asset Purchase Program" or APP. The ECB described the the APP as "one of the non-standard monetary policy measures the ECB has taken to address risky periods of low inflation."
Given the current uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the news this week that Britain's Royal Mint will join the current providers of gold to self-invested pension savers in the UK (SIPPS) - allowing British pensioners a tax efficient way of investing in bullion - is fascinating. While gold bullion has been allowed in SIPPs since 2006, this is the first time the Royal Mint has allowed its higher-quality bullion to be bought for pensions.
A few days after the ECB unexpectedly announced its CSPP, or corporate bond buying program which based on its definition was limited to investment grade, non-financial debt, we explained "Why The ECB Will Be Forced To Buy Junk Bonds", saying that "the EU corporate sector’s penchant for bond buybacks may ultimately force Draghi further down the ratings ladder lest the ECB should end up entangled tender offers or else end up without enough debt to monetize." This was confirmed on the very first day of the ECB's bond purchases.
Today is a historic day for the corporate bond market: with the launch of the ECB's CSPP, Mario Draghi is now directly buying European investment grade non-financial bonds. This means that no longer will European corporate bonds trade based on their fundamentals, but purely on expectations of frontrunning future ECB purchases, such as the following...
"For over 40 years, asset returns and alpha generation from penthouse investment managers have been materially aided by declines in interest rates, trade globalization, and an enormous expansion of credit – that is debt. Those trends are coming to an end.... A repeat performance is not only unlikely, it is impossible unless you are a friend of Elon Musk and you’ve got the gumption to blast off for Mars. Planet Earth does not offer such opportunities."
One does not have to be financial wizard to to know that a firm which has to borrow more than it can generate from core operations is not a sustainable business model, and yet today's CFOs, pundits and central bankers do not. But more are starting to pay attention as the corporate debt pile hits epic proportions. As Bloomberg writes this morning, when it also issued a stark warning about the next source of credit contagion, while "consumers were the Achilles’ heel of the U.S. economy in the run-up to the last recession. This time, companies may play that role."
As BofA also put it: "Equities continued to experience outflows and lost $3.32bn (-0.1%) last week, their 4th consecutive decline. Year-to-date, equity funds have lost $58.6bn (-0.6%), the largest ever dollar outflow in any 22 week period for the asset class"
Since the turn of this century, debt-financed share buybacks have severely tested the character of those charged with growing publicly-traded U.S. firms. Should she ignore the potential for further QE-financed share buybacks to exact more untold economic damage, it would be akin to intentionally corrupting Corporate America. The time, though, has come for these wayward companies’ banker and enabler, the Fed, to hold the line, no matter how difficult the next inevitable test of their character may prove to be. It’s time for the Fed to defend the entire Union and end a civil war that pits a chosen few against the economic freedom of the many.
Today we find an even more striking example of just how broken the global bond market has become thanks to the ECB because as Reuters writes, Bayer could receive financing from none other than the European Central Bank to help fund its takeover of the world's largest seed company, US-based Monsanto, according to the terms of the ECB's bond-buying program.
For the bank with the tens of trillions in derivatives, being seen as an increasingly more distressed counterparty was not good news and explains why the CEO took the unexpected step of having to defend his firm following the downgrade. "We are very disappointed," Cryan said in an interview on the sidelines of the Institute of International Finance’s conference in Madrid. "We have enough capital to repay all of our debt four-times over."
"If you think you’ve seen this movie before it’s because you have. Like during 2015, the Fed appears bent on pushing rate expectations higher, and the operative question is whether markets are sufficiently calm for the Fed to use the June 2016 meeting to pave the way for a July hike. We think the answer is no.... and the outlier appears to be the S&P500, where valuations appear excessive given the breakeven/real yield framework."
After snapping up trillions of dollars of their own stock in a five-year shopping binge that dwarfed every other buyer, U.S. companies from Apple Inc. to IBM Corp. just put on the brakes. Announced repurchases dropped 38 percent to $244 billion in the last four months, the biggest decline since 2009, data compiled by Birinyi Associates and Bloomberg show. “If the only meaningful source of demand in the market is companies buying their own shares back, then what happens if that goes away?” asked Brad McMillan, CIO of Commonwealth “We should be concerned.”
Witness true research that reveals true facts, that unlocks true alpha, aka VALUE! Banco Popular is walking down the same path as Bear Stearns. We should know, we called out Bear in January 2008, and we called out BP months ago.