On Covered Bonds, Collateral Crunches, And The Circular Logic Of Central Banks

Since 2009, outside of the megabanks in Europe, the bulk of the rest of the financial system has been completely shut out of the unsecured financing markets. One of the workarounds to this liquidity problem was the reclamation or retention of covered bonds issued by the Eurozone banks themselves, but these are constrained by strict allocation rules. Once the bank reaches that defined upper bound, where it is already close to exhausting this route, the bank will be forced to find a further alternate means for funding its existing loan portfolio. We discussed the issuance of self-referential or ponzi bonds previously since - can you really “own” your own liabilities?  Since circular logic pervades the current realm of central banking, this is wholly unquestioned.  In reality, retained covered bonds are just the accounting gloss on direct monetization of past and existing mortgage loans. Covered bonds as collateral to the ECB is an extremely important bridge holding the shaky liquidity system together as it is now; as the shortage of 'good' collateral increases, banks that do not possess enough “good” collateral have self-selected themselves for extinction and resource re-allocation.  There is no economic argument for maintaining self-selected bad banks.  Free markets demand their extinction.  Anything short of that will result in escalating and perpetual liquidity and solvency crises until the real economy is freed from the yolk of bad banks and their dis-intermediation. There is no real wonder as to why we have exactly that right now – the intrusion of politics done in the name of economics.

The One Big Problem With QE To Infinity

There is one big problem with the Fed's announcement of Open-Ended QE moments ago: it effectively removes all future suspense from FOMC announcements. Why? Because the Fed has as of this moment exposed its cards for all to see from here until the moment it has to start tightening the money supply (which may or may not happen; frankly we don't think the Fed tightens until hyperinflation sets in at which point what the Fed does is meaningless). It means easing is now effectively priced into infinity. Now rewind back to that one certain paper by the New York Fed, which laid it out clear for all to see, that if it wasn't for the expectation of easing in the 24 hour period ahead of the FOMC meeting, the market would be 50% or lower than where it is now, and would have been effectively in negative territory in the aftermath of the Lehman collapse. What Bernanke did is take away this key drive to stock upside over the past 18 years, because going forward there is no surprise factor to any and all future FOMC decisions, as easing the default assumption. It also means that Bernanke may have well fired his last bullet, and it, sadly, is all downhill from here, as soaring input costs crush margins, regardless of what revenues do, and send corporate cash flow to zero. Unfortunately, not even in the New Normal can companies operate without cash flow.

Overnight Summary: All Eyes On The Central Printer

While this and that may have happened overnight, the only thing that matters today is what the FOMC presents to a market which has now priced in well over 100% of a new easing round. Except little movement until Bernanke speaks, and with that removes any doubt that i) the Fed, like the ECB, are both political creations comprised of unelected academics, and ii) the entire modern capitalist world is nothing but a Pavlovian creation that responds only to promises of liquidity injections. Luckily, if nothing else, this will once and for all shut up anyone who claims that the market reflects the economy, it doesn't; that a "virtuous economic cycle" is possible under the new centrally planned normal, it isn't, and that the US economy is recovering 4 years after Lehman collapsed. It never did, and without $14 trillion in central bank liquidity injections over the same period, the world, as represented by the S&P, would be in a mindblowing depression, which it will still get back to once the surge in hard asset inflation offsets any incremental liquidity provided by the central planning academics as Citi warned yesterday.

Firm That Brought You Holo-Tupac Dies Less Than A Year After IPOing, Taking Millions In Taxpayer Subsidies With It

Most people know that during this year's Coachella festival, Tupac made a surprising appearance, if not in the flesh for obvious reasons, then in hologram form. What fewer people know is that the firm that created Holo-Tupac is special effects producer Digital Domain Media, which after years of failed attempts to do so, finally went public in November with Roth Capital as underwriter (there is now an Urban Dictionary definition for 'Rothed') at a price of $8.50 (well below the preliminary range of $10-12/share) and at a time when its burn rate was well above 50% of revenues, and which filed for bankruptcy hours ago. In other words, the company destroyed over $400 million in market cap in under 10 months. What is known by very few is that this is yet another public equity disaster of this administration: as filed in the bankruptcy Affidavit, "the Company has worked closely with State and local government authorities in Florida to execute economic stimulus contracts designed to create jobs and stimulate Florida’s economy. As of the Petition Date, the Company had contracted to receive a total of approximately $135 million in such government stimulus financing, including $19.9 million in tax credits. This financing consists of cash grants, land grants, low-interest financing, and tax incentives." In other words, in addition to the government's remarkable track record in the alternative energy field, public equity is now in the digital movie studio subsidization business. End result: bankruptcy, of a publicly funded company, shortly after IPO and sadly the realization that US capital markets are now so broken that the combination of private and public funding can sustain a company for less than one year.

Desperate Maladies Require Desperate Measures

One of the primary purposes of a government, any government, is to sustain itself. In its final hours it will do almost anything possible for its self-preservation. While everyone stares at Frankfurt and the last ditch effort of Mr. Draghi there have been other events which are part of this play and merit your attention. Austria has come out and stated quite succinctly that no more Austrian money will be used for other countries; any other countries. Yesterday the Netherlands stated in absolute terms that no more of their money will be used for Greece. If the condition of any ECB funding is to be the approval of the EU and the use of their Stabilization Funds then what Mario Draghi is proposing may never come to pass, may never happen and may just be a rhetorical exercise in wand waving. To us, the world seems askew at present. China is in serious decline, Europe is in a virtual recession as Eurostat releases the numbers today and points to a -0.2% contraction of the EU-17. The markets rally based upon the supposed three Saviors of the world, the central banks of the United States, Europe and China and so the worse that it gets the larger the rally as the central banks will ease and ease again until some kind of wall is hit.

Bad News For NFP Bulls: Help Wanted Ads Plunge By Most Since Lehman Collapse

There is one major problem, for the administration at least, when it comes to presenting labor data that is not "compiled" by the Bureau of beLabored Statistics and its Bank of Spain-endorsed Arima-X-13 seasonal data fudging program: it reflects realty, not statistical or seasonal adjustments, and certainly can not be skewed this way or that depending on what best suits the incumbent presidential candidate two months ahead of the election. Which is why one won't read anywhere that one of the most reliable indicators when it comes to real time hiring data as reported by the actual job market and not by some conflicted, data challenged organization which on top of everything has data leak issues, namely Help Wanted ads just plunged by the most since the Lehman collapse.

Bloomberg FOIA Documents How Wall Street Made A Muppet Of The SEC, Mary Schapiro And Dodd Frank

That the SEC is the most incompetent, corrupt, irrelevant and captured organization "serving" the US public is known by everyone. And while the details of the SEC's glaring lack of capacity to do anything to restore investor confidence in the capital markets, which has become a casino used exclusively by Wall Street to defraud any retail investor still stupid enough to play (which lately a moot point as there have been no material retail inflows into mutual funds in over three years), are scattered, courtesy of Bloomberg we now have the best summary of just how the utterly clueless SEC is a muppet plaything of Wall Street, and together with it, the "grand regulation" that was supposed to keep Wall Street in check, is nothing but what Wall Street demand it to be, and forced the SEC, way over its head on regulation, to accept every change, that the very banks that are supposed to be regulated, demands as part of Dodd-Frank reforms. In short: everything we know about Wall Street 'regulation' has been a farce, and a lie, exclusively thanks to corruption rampant at the now documentedly incompetent Securities And Exchange Commission.

Bill Gross Releases Latest Monthly Outlook: The Lending Lindy

Having operatied for years under ZIRP, and with the NIRP neutron bomb just around the corner, and already implemented in various European countries, one question remains: can banks be banks, i.e., can they make money, in a world in which borrowing short and lending long, no longer works, courtesy of ubiquitous and pervasive central planning which is now engaged solely and almost exclusively (the other central bank ventures being of course to keep FX rates and equities within an acceptable range) on the shape of the yield curve. Since 2009 our answer has been a resounding no. Today, Bill Gross speaks up as well, and his answer is even more distrubing: "If the dancing has slowed down, then the reason is not just an overweight partner. It’s that the price of money (be it in the form of a real interest rate, a quality risk spread, or both) is too low. Our entire finance-based monetary system – led by banks but typified by insurance companies, investment management firms and hedge funds as well – is based on an acceptable level of carry and the expectation of earning it. When credit is priced such that carry is no longer as profitable at a customary amount of leverage/risk, then the system will stall, list, or perhaps even tip over." Indeed, according to Gross central banks have now clearly sown the seeds of the entire financial system's own destruction. That he is right we have no doubt. The only question: how soon until he is proven right.

Bagus' Bernanke Rebuttal - Redux

At the end of December 2010, Philipp Bagus (he of the must watch/read 'Tragedy of the Euro') provided a clarifying and succinct rebuttal or Bernanke's belief in the extreme monetary policy path he has embarked upon. Bernanke's latest diatribe, or perhaps legacy-defining, self-aggrandizing CYA comment, reminded us that perhaps we need such clarification once again. Critically, Bagus highlights the real exit-strategy dangers and inflationary impacts of Quantitative Easing (a term he finds repulsive in its' smoke-and-mirrors-laden optics) adding that:

Money printing cannot make society richer; it does not produce more real goods. It has a redistributive effect in favor of those who receive the new money first and to the detriment of those who receive it last. The money injection in a specific part of the economy distorts production. Thus, QE does not bring ease to the economy. To the contrary, QE makes the recession longer and harsher.

Or we might name it after the intentions behind it: "Currency Debasement I," "Bank Bailout I," "Government Bailout II," or simply "Consumer Impoverishment."

September Arrives, As Does The French "Dexia Moment" - France Nationalizes Its Second Largest Mortgage Lender

September has arrived which means for Europe reality can, mercifully, return. First on the agenda: moments ago the French government suddenly announced the nationalization of troubled mortgage lender Credit Immobilier de France, which is also the country's second lagrest mortgage specialist after an attempt to find a buyer for the company failed. "To allow the CIF group to respect its overall commitments, the state decided to respond favourably to its request to grant it a guarantee," Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said according to Reuters. What he really meant was that in order to avoid a bank run following the realization that the housing crisis has finally come home, his boss, socialist Hollande, has decided to renege on his core campaign promise, and bail out an "evil, evil" bank. Sadly, while the nationalization was predicted by us long ago, the reality is that the French government waited too long with the sale, which prompted the Moody's downgrade of CIF by 3 notches earlier this week, which in turn was the catalyst that made any delay in the nationalization inevitable. The alternative: fears that one of the key players in the French mortgage house of cards was effectively insolvent would spread like wildfire, leading to disastrous consequences for the banking system. End result: congratulations France: your Fannie/Freddie-Dexia moment has finally arrived, and the score, naturally: bankers 1 - taxpayers 0.

JPM's London Whale May Face Jail Time For Mismarking Billions In CDS

When first the speculation and subsequently the confirmation that in addition to suffering massive losses on its IG-9 position, JPM had engaged in massive, reckless and criminal CDS mismarking with the intent to defraud and to boost the appearance of profit for selfish reasons, we promptly concluded that "Jamie Dimon's "tempest in a teapot" just became a fully-formed, perfect storm which suddenly threatens his very position, and could potentially lead to billions more in losses for his firm." So far, the regulators which are currently on page two of "CDS for Absolutely Corrupt Criminal Morons", are only slowly catching up. And while the stench will eventually lead to Jamie, as what happened in the over the counter, unregulated CDS market has most certainly happened at the tens of trillions in other OTC products traded by JPM, most of which are IR swaps, tying it all back nicely to the Libor scandal of which JPM is also a part, the first person who will certainly experience some major pain as the JPM scapegoating plays out, is none other than the London Whale himself Bruno Iksil, who was loved by all at JPM when he was making money, and is now being hung out to dry, once the bank is in the prosecution's cross hairs.

Phoenix Capital Research's picture


I have to admit, I am pretty sick of writing about Europe, particularly since nothing has changed over there in the last month.

Instead what’s happened is that Mario Draghi issued a borderline ridiculous statement that he somehow will be able to fix the EU’s solvency Crisis.

The actual speech started with a philosophical inquiry comparing the Euro to a bumblebee. I kid you not: