Over the years, Jim O'Neill, former Chairman of GSAM, rose to fame for pegging the BRIC acronym (no such luck for the guy who came up with the far more applicable and accurate PIIGS, or STUPIDS, monikers, but that's neither here nor there). O'Neill was correct in suggesting, about a decade ago, that the rise of the middle class in these countries and their purchasing power would prove to be a major driving force in the world economy. O'Neill was wrong in his conclusion as to what the ultimate driver of said purchasing power would be: as it has become all too clear with the entire world drowning in debt (and recently China), it was pure and simply debt. O'Neill was horribly wrong after the Great Financial Crisis when he suggested that it would be the BRIC nation that would push the world out of depression. To the contrary, not only is the world not out of depression as the fourth consecutive year of deteriorating economic data confirms (long since disconnected with the actual capital markets), but it is the wanton money (and bad debt) creation by the central banks of the developed world (as every instance of easing by China has led to an immediate surge of inflation in the domestic market) that has so far allowed the day of reckoning, and waterfall debt liquidations, to take place (and certainly don't look at the stock index performance of China, Brazil, India or Russia). Despite his errors, he has been a good chap having taken much of the abuse piled upon him here at Zero Hedge somewhat stoically, as well as a fervent ManU supporter, certainly at least somewhat of a redeeming quality. Attached please find his final, farewell letter as Chairman of the Goldman Asset Management division, as he moves on to less tentacular pastures.
- Tunisian opposition politician shot dead, protests erupt (Reuters)
- China says extremely concerned after latest North Korea threats (Reuters)
- Postal Service to cut Saturday mail to trim costs (AP)
- Debt Rise Colors Budget Talks (WSJ)
- Obama proposes short-term budget fix, Republicans swiftly object (Reuters)
- S&P Analyst Joked of Bringing Down the House Before Crash (BBG)
- Dell’s Bigger Challenge Ahead in Turnaround After Buyout (BBG)
- Some of the Mark Carney Gloss Is Coming Off (WSJ)
- Japan Official Says BOJ Tools Sufficient as Shake-Up Looms (BBG)
- S&P Lawsuit Undermined by SEC Rules That Impede Competition (BBG)
- Heavy Clashes Erupt in Syrian Capital (WSJ)
The Chairman of Goldman's Asset Management group, unwise supporter of Man Utd, promoter of 'decoupling' myths, and creator of the BRIC mnemonic has decided, with everything looking so tickety-boo, to retire. Whether his great Buy BRICS fail or his BoE leadership bid fail was the final straw is unclear, but for now, the erstwhile permabull (and mocker of market skeptics) leaves us on a bright note:
- *O'NEILL SAYS CLEAR EVIDENCE OF THINGS DOING BETTER ECONOMICALLY
20 years of 'broken record' survival and the Brit throws in his chips now - just as everything looks be taking off? Leave your farewell message below...
Why the lack of follow through? Because, according to preliminary desk talk, just as we predicted yesterday now that the Fed has reengaged the QEasing machine, the ECB will too have to intervene and ease on its own once again to push the EURUSD lower (as otherwise the internal devaluation for most European countries will be simply unbearable). Which means one thing: the time to drag the Spanish insolvency out of cryogenic sleep is coming, and if Rajoy still refuses to request a bailout, he will get some much needed assistance from Frankfurt to make up his mind, allowing the ECB to inject hundreds of billions into the market and in doing so to keep up with the Fed or else risk dropping too far behind in the global race to debase (with a footnote that in Europe, a drop in the currency always raises redenomination risk now and going forward).
Bernanke has fired his infinite bazooka and yet markets have done nothing but slide since and macro-economic data are showing further signs of weakness (New Orders and Capex) with the reality under the headlines of a housing 'recovery' hardly green-shoots. Draghi remains sidelined with his conditionally infinite bazooka as his region of the world slides deeper and deeper into the abyss of recession/depression with IFO expectations and New Orders slumping and deleveraging continuing. So, it seems, the hope for moar-money from central-bankers remains squarely on the shoulders of the PBoC. However, a glimmer of green shoots as a gentle acceleration PMI (and New Export Orders? to Japan?) suggest (as Goldman's Jim O'Neill would have us believe) that the Chinese have manufactured a slow landing (for now - given 'their' data). Hardly the driver for the next major round of stimulus that is so required to fill deleveraging shoes (leaving aside the question of food inflation concerns). So a 'blip' of a green shoot in China is in fact nothing to be celebrated as the world remains a closed-loop (no martians yet) and two of the world's three largest economies are lagging badly. Look at these three charts and decide which way the world is heading!
- China accuses Bo Xilai of multiple crimes, expels him from communist party (Reuters), China seals Bo's fate ahead of November 8 leadership congress (Reuters)
- "Dozens of phone calls on days, nights and weekends" - How Bernanke Pulled the Fed His Way - Hilsenrath (WSJ)
- Fed won't "enable" irresponsible fiscal policy-Bullard (Reuters)
- PBOC Adviser Says Easing Restrained by Concerns on Homes (Bloomberg)
- Data Point to Euro-Zone Recession (WSJ)
- Fiscal cliff dims business mood (FT)
- FSA to Oversee Libor in Streamlining of Tarnished Rates (Bloomberg)
- Monti Says ECB Conditions, IMF Role Hinder Bond Requests (Bloomberg)
- Japan Heads for GDP Contraction as South Korea Weakens (Bloomberg)
- Moody’s downgrades South Africa (FT)
- Madrid Struggles With Homage to Catalonia (WSJ)
The official release, just issued by HM Treasury, is below. The unofficial one is as follows: "The successful candidate must have proficiency with the CTRL and P buttons. Must sound confident and sophisticated when talking in circles while saying nothing. Must be malleable to financial sector suggestions. All other considerations secondary."
Presented without comment. Those who need explanation are encouraged to call Jim O'Neill. He will be delighted to explain this.
While the Lieborgate scandal gathers steam not so much because of people's comprehension of just what is at stake here (nothing less than the fair value of $350 trillion in interest-rate sensitive products as explained in February), but simply courtesy of several very vivid emails which mention expensive bottles of champagne, once again proving that when it comes to interacting with the outside world, banks see nothing but rows of clueless muppets until caught red-handed (at which point they use big words, and speak confidently), the BBC's Robert Peston brings an unexpected actor into the fray: the English Central Bank and specifically Paul Tucker, the man who, unless Goldman's-cum-Canada's Mark Carney or Goldman's Jim O'Neill step up, will replace Mervyn King as head of the BOE.
Swiss National Bank currency reserves just topped CHF300bn in May for the first time on record. As SocGen notes this jump from a mere CHF66bn in April is the second largest rise since August last year - right before the SNB put in place the 1.20 cap in EURCHF. The increase in reserves is not a major surprise after EURUSD plummeted over eight big figures last month and the SNB was left with no choice but to step up its EUR purchases in order to defend the cap. However, the size of the increase may cause fresh political consternation as the cost of unlimited foreign currency purchases continues to climb and a definitive resolution of the euro crisis is still remote. What worries us more is the market's 'hedging' of a tail-risk event in Europe has driven risk-reversals in EURCHF (a way of understanding the bullish/bearish bias in FX options prices) that implies a 1.10 level for EURCHF which is somewhat incredibly supported by an analysis of the variation in ECB and SNB balance sheet changes. As the threat of capital controls looms large and Swiss 2Y rates press back towards -30bps, we wonder how long until a new 'equilibrium' cap is adjusted down to 1.10.
That China has finally given up on Europe is no news (granted, however, it will make it more complicated for various European newspaper to make up articles alleging China will bail out Europe now that this is no longer the case): after all even the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund has finally learned its lesson, and having been burned enough times, has made it quite clear it will have nothing to do with Europe's insolvent periphery. China, which has already lost enough money on Europe, has now decided to do the same. From Bloomberg: "China Investment Corp. has stopped buying European government debt because of an economic crisis on the continent, though it continues to look for new investments there, said CIC President Gao Xiqing. “What is happening in Europe right now is of course of concern,” Gao said yesterday in an interview in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during the World Economic Forum on Africa. “We still have our people looking at opportunities in Europe, even though we don’t want to buy any government bonds.” Sorry Europe: you had your chance. As for where China will invest its capital in the future? Why the one continent so far untouched by globalization, and which has the most debt capacity of all...
Two weeks ago we reported the somewhat surprising news that according to the FT, current Bank of Canada head, and former co-head of sovereign risk at Goldman Sachs had been "informally" approached by the Bank of England to be Mervyn King's replacement when the latter's contract runs out in June 2013. Once the news broke, the tenuous arrangement to have a former-Goldmanite at virtually every single developed world central bank seemed to have hit a snag as both the Bank of Canada and Carney himself were forced to deny that any interest by the BOE had been expressed. Of course, what was missing from the public discourse is that this was likely one of those "reverse inquiry" type of career moves, whereby the candidate himself, or rather the employing firm - in this case Goldman Sachs, makes the decision whether or not the candidate would be suitable to head the Goldman subsidiary known as the Bank of England. Which is why it is with even less surprise that we now learn that it is none other than the firm's most permabullish strategist Jim O'Neill, who after coining the globalist wet-dream term "BRIC" was sent in exile to chair the firm's worst performing division, GS Asset Management, that is rumored to be the latest replacement for Mervyn King.
Now that those so inclined are once again advised to wake up at 4 am in the morning just to keep track of the Bid To Cover of each and every blowing out European auction (which absent a few trillion in ECB liquidity would be a sheer disaster), just like in the summer and fall of 2011 (but remember, according to Jim O'Neill 2012 is "nothing like 2011"), it would be useful to have an updated calendar of all the action in Europe for the rest of the year. So courtesy of Goldman, here it is: set your alarms.
Concerned about European bank deleveraging impacting Emerging Market growth prospects? Worried over Global Trade Volumes dropping and a multi-decade low in the Baltic Dry? Fearsome of record inventories for commodities in China and the potential for a harder landing from credit contraction in the shadow banking system? Concerned that Europe's sovereign and financial insolvency problems are not all gone? Worry no more. It appears, and who are we to argue with the data, that the USA is in fact leading the world out of this global growth slowdown with its Composite PMIs the highest of all the major growth drivers. From Markit Economics, we see that perhaps Goldman's Jim O'Neill will have to change his famous acronym to UBRIC as the decoupling myth (not a lag or inventory cycle) remains firmly in place (and the record-breaking jumps in some of the US Services PMI sub-indices should be treated with all the respect in the world).
Cutting down to the chase on Goldman's numbers, the top line was weak, with the company reporting $6.05 billion in total Q4 revenue on expectations of $6.39 billion. The primary reason was a decline in all segments Year over Year with Investment Banking tumbling 43% to $863 Million, Institutional Client Sales down 16% to $3.1 billion, Investment Management down 16% (great work Jim O'Neill) to $1.3 billion, and finally Goldman Prop, or as it is politically correctly now known, Investing and Lending, down 56% to just $872 million, although much better than the massive Q3 loss of $2.5 billion. All this was offset by compensation benefits of $2.2 billion, which resulted in a Q4 Compensation Margin of 36.5%, down from the 44.5% average previously in 2011. As a reminder, back in Q4 2009, Goldman had negative compensation expense of $519 million to make its EPS. The result was total comp of $12.2 billion in 2011, or 42.4% compensation payoff, compared to $15.4 billion in 2010. Yet since the company let the axe fly, cutting total staff from 35,700 at December 31, 2010 to 33,300 at year end 2011, or the lowest since Q1 2010, average trailing 12 month compensation per employee rose to $367,057.06, also known as "not much" for Mitt Romney.