The annual hedge fund "go to" meeting, the Ira Sohn conference, is currently in progress, and 12 hedge funders will discuss their top picks. The place where Einhorn famously declared his Lehman and Moody's shorts, and Ackman announced he was "bearish" on MBIA and Ambac is perceived as the place where HF managers disclose their highest conviction plays, usually leading to major market waves in the ensuing days. The managers presenting this year are as follows:
David Wessel of the Wall Street Journal laments the fact that Mr. and Ms. America wrongfully scorn the bailouts of Wall Street. He believes the bailouts saved the world. I think Mr. and Ms. America have it right.
How much debt is too much? How little growth is too little? No one knows for sure. Economic historians such as Kenneth Rogoff point out that at debt levels of 80-90% of GDP, a country’s real growth becomes stunted, and the sixteen tons become more and more difficult to bear. Greece is well past that standard, which is one of the reasons why lenders are balking at extending a private-market helping hand. When not only government but corporate and household debt is included, the waters become murkier, because historical statistics are less available, and corporations are more multinational than ever before. Common sense observation tells you, though, that the debt super cycle trend in the U.S. shown in the following chart is reaching unsustainable proportions and that the “growth” required to service it if real interest rates were ever to go up instead of down would be insufficient. That is why lenders balked 18 months ago during events surrounding the Lehman liquidity crisis and why they’re beginning to balk once again. Too much debt/too little growth makes for a “three will get you two” moment, and they refuse to extend credit under those circumstances. - Bill Gross
- FT editorial: how to cure the euro's ills (FT)
- How big banks window-dress their debt (WSJ)
- WSJ: Is gold the next bubble? If so, it has about $5,000 more to run before it peaks (WSJ)
- Germany prepared to go it alone to curb speculation (Bloomberg)
- Durable orders in US increased more than forecast (Bloomberg)
- The bank that won't let its customers withdraw less than GBP300 over the counter (DailyMail)
- The Greek secret bailout exit clause follow up by Alphaville (FT)
- North Korea expels South Koreans as Clinton offers olive branch (Bloomberg)
- Jim Cramer interviews Ted Kaufman, mans up, admits he was wrong on HFT, and explains why he changed his tune (MadMoney)
As usual the Federal Reserve, when dealing with the public, is confident it is dealing with subhuman idiots, as only its Wall Street masters are clever enough to read between the lines of perpetual fraud spewing forth from the Marriner Eccles building. Maybe those who buy into this "bull market" with both hands potentially fall into that category, but others, like ConvergEx's Chief Market Strategist Nicholas Colas, are still capable of rational thought. Today, the Fed came out with its latest bout of projection insanity. It is hereby totally refuted.
Zero Hedge's own Bruce Krasting has an excellent piece ("The Swiss Did It?") from last week commenting on the interventionist bent the Schweizerische Nationalbank or Swiss National Bank (hereinafter the central bank of Switzerland or the "SNB") has been demonstrating in the face of the recent crisis. Of course, this particular behavior is not at all new on the part of the SNB, but it bears examining in a bit more depth why and how Switzerland's monetary authority acts in the face of global crisis.
The chart below demonstrates that while concerns about Libor are gaining steam, a far more dangerous situation has developed in the Euro Commercial Paper (top tier) market, where rates have surged far more in the past week than even compared to Euro Libor or Euribor. As those who were alive in the days after Lehman will recall, the freezing up of the Commercial Paper market was one of the primary reasons for the Fed's creation of the Commercial Paper emergency liquidity funding facility (CPFF). If the CP market once again dies, or, as it is better known in polite circles, "locks up" it will once again set off the avalanche of locked up credit markets initially for financial and other IG companies, and shortly thereafter spread to all other segments of the market. Should the CP rates continue rising without moderation, look for European credit markets to break soon enough.
A week ago the FRBNY's Task Force On Tri-Party Infrastructure came out with an exhaustive must read report discussing its concerns about the massive $1.7 trillion US tri-party repo market, and specifically proposing several ideas that could prevent a bank run on a shadow market that is second in size only to the money-market $2+ trillion US money market. Incidentally, both markets were on the verge in the days after Lehman. Their day of reckoning may be coming again soon, and with the FRBNY task force's explicit attention on Tri-Party repos, all is probably not well. In fact even Moody's today agreed that until the proposed fixes are implemented (likely many months, if not years away), the tri-party repo "market will remain a major source of systemic risk, especially given the current market volatility and the fact that the Federal Reserve’s primary dealer emergency lending facilities are no longer in place." This should be another bright red flashing warning to those who still have to realize that the liquidity situation from a month ago and now are diametrically opposite.
Over the years, I’ve noted that certain subsets of market conditions – occurring together – are associated with very specific outcomes, such as oncoming recessions, abrupt market weakness, strength in precious metals, and so forth. Such indicator subsets, or Aunt Minnies, are essentially “signatures” that often have very specific implications. In medicine, an Aunt Minnie is a particular set of symptoms that is “pathognomonic” (distinctly characteristic) of a specific disease, even if each of the individual symptoms might be fairly common. Last week, we observed an Aunt Minnie featuring a collapse in market internals that has historically been associated with sharply negative market implications.
The reform bill is a joke. It reforms nothing, it fixes nothing, and it will not prevent the next much bigger crash from happening (with or without Goldman's Supplemental Lack of Liquidity Provider assistance) - just two items that need to be pointed out: $6+ trillion in GSE debt - untouched, $400 trillion in IR swaps: untouched. This is reform? However, if you care enough to know what a bribed and corrupt Congress and Senate have "reformed" here is a useful cheat sheet courtesy of the New York Times.
Even as the German Bundesrat passed the euro bailout law, things in
Europe are taking a material turn for the worse, with the Bund at new
record highs, and Libor-OID creeping ever higher.
06:48 05/21 STG 3-MO LIBOR/OIS SPREAD WIDENS TO 21.1 VS 20.8BPS THU
06:48 05/21 EURO 3-MO LIBOR/OIS HOLDS STEADY AT 24.2BPS FRIDAY
06:47 05/21 DOLLAR 3M LIBOR/OIS SPREAD WIDENS TO 26.7BP VS 25.4BP THU
GERMAN 10-YEAR GOVERNMENT BOND YIELD HITS RECORD LOW AT 2.656 PCT
We will post the Libor dispersion by bank shortly. We have a
feeling the European banks in EUR Libor will be screaming higher as
Lehman II mentality takes hold.
More bread and circuses ...
If you get the double dip recession that Europe and China are trying their best to deliver, you hit a home run. If the recent diabolical market action turns out to be just a vicious head fake, then they would be selling into a hole and getting killed on the next whipsaw. Only those who believe in the Easter Bunny think diversification will protect them. Cash is best hedge of all. (USO), (EEM), (SLV), (PPLT), (PALL), (JNK), (YCS) (FXE), (FXB), (FXA), (FXC), (VIX).
Zero Hedge has long claimed that Greece will be forced to default, with the only question being how this will be structured by Europe in a way to not allow the evil speculators to make buck on this process. Today, Greece shot itslef in the foot a little after announcing its latest debt number, which makes any expectations of climbing out of its Keynesian hole even more laughable. As Market News reports, "Greece's general government debt rose to E310.3 billion in 1Q from E298.5 billion at the end of last year, according to data released Wednesday by the General Logistics Office of the Finance Ministry." That austerity sure is doing miracles already. But it doesn't matter: it appears that Germany has already made its mind to let Greece drown. As Neil Hume at Alphaville reports, "Big IB to clients: "they have it all planned: they are going to sink the ship (greece). Merkel is now drafting law for orderly insolvencies, but they don't want anyone to make money out of it, hence the ban."" If this is true, it 's curtains for Europe. Shorting the Euro at this point is like shorting Lehman: you may see savage short covering squeezes but the end result is well known.
You heard my warnings about the "best of breed", "incomparable on the Street" (and all of the other groupie talk, worshiping phrases thrown at this company) Goldman pillaging clients and of their excessive overvaluation for over two years in BoomBustBlog, yet now the mainstream media is starting to catch on as Goldman's stock plummets (down over $5 yesterday and over 20% for the month, with more to go). I wonder when they will get around to the other investment banks and FIRE sector companies that I warned about. Let's reminisce...