Addressing his perception of lessons learned from the financial crisis, Ben Bernanke is speaking this afternoon on poor risk management and shadow banking vulnerabilities - all of which remain obviously as we continue to draw attention to. However, more worrisome for the junkies is the total lack of QE3 chatter in his speech. While he does note the words 'collateral' and 'repo' the proximity of the words 'Shadow, Institutions, & Vulnerabilities' are awkwardly close.
"What Bernanke is to the Treasury market, Iksil is to the derivatives market"
What makes this time different? Several items:
- The Crisis coming from Europe will be far, far larger in scope than anything the Fed has dealt with before.
- The Fed is now politically toxic and cannot engage in aggressive monetary policy without experiencing severe political backlash (this is an election year).
- The Fed’s resources are spent to the point that the only thing the Fed could do would be to announce an ENORMOUS monetary program which would cause a Crisis in of itself.
There is a lot of talk about IG9 these days. We think the JPMorgan 'Iksil' story has a lot more to do with tranches than with outright selling of the index. Noone knows what exactly is going on, but we think selling tranches without delta explains far more than just selling the index, given the size and leverage. Critically, in the end it is all speculation as what (if any) trade they have on but if our belief on this being a tranche exposure (for the thesis reasons we explain) then the explanation is far less scary.
I continue to see articles in the media claiming that Europe’s problems are solved. Either the folks writing these articles can’t do simple math, or they don’t bother actually reading any of the political news coming out of Europe.
We have been mis-lead first by the short term effects of the LTRO and then by the political commentary that everything had returned to normal. Hard data will show that things now are about as normal as 9/15/08, the day Lehman filed for bankruptcy... It is just not Greece and Ireland that are experiencing huge drop-offs in the M-1 money supply but Portugal -14.00%, -13.80% in Italy and Spain is quickly approaching double digit numbers. Even in developed countries the signs are worsening as the Henderson Global Investors gauge, the Real Narrow Money Supply, peaked at 5.1% in November, then dropped to 3.6% in January and was 2.1% for February. This is comparable to the declines seen in mid-2008 and so I bring this to your attention. Equally as worrisome is M-2 in the United States which fell below 1.6% last month for the first time since records have been kept in 1959.
Back in 2006, contrary to conventional wisdom, many financial professionals were well aware of the subprime bubble, and that the trajectory of home prices was unsustainable. However, because there was no way to know just when it would pop, few if any dared to bet against the herd (those who did, and did so early despite all odds, made greater than 100-1 returns). Fast forward to today, when the most comparable to subprime, cheap credit-induced bubble, is that of student loans (for extended literature on why the non-dischargeable student loan bubble will "create a generation of wage slavery" read this and much of the easily accessible literature on the topic elsewhere) which have now surpassed $1 trillion in notional. Yet oddly enough, just like in the case of the subprime bubble, so in the ongoing expansion of the credit bubble manifested in this case by student loans, we have an early warning that the party is almost over, coming from the most unexpected of sources: JPMorgan.
Earlier today we listened with bemused fascination as Blythe Masters explained to CNBC how JPMorgan's trading business is "about assisting clients in executing, managing, their risks and ensuring access to capital so they can make the kind of large long-term investments that are needed in the long run to expand the supply of commodities." You know - provide liquidity. Like the High Freaks. We were even ready to believe it, especially when Blythe conveniently added that JPM has a "matched book" meaning no net prop exposure, since the opposite would indicate breach of the Volcker Rule. ...And then we read this: "A JPMorgan Chase & Co. trader of derivatives linked to the financial health of corporations has amassed positions so large that he’s driving price moves in the multi-trillion dollar market, according to traders outside the firm." Say what? A JPMorgan trader has a prop (not flow, not client, not non-discretionary) position so big it is moving the entire market? And we are talking hundreds of billions of CDS notional. But... that would mean everything Blythe said is one big lie... It would also mean that JPMorgan is blatantly and without any regard for legislation, ignoring the Volcker rule, which arrived in the aftermath of Merrill Lynch doing precisely this with various CDO and credit indexes, and "moving the market" only to blow itself up and cost taxpayers billions when the bets all LTCMed. But wait, it gets better: "In some cases, [the trader] is believed to have “broken” the index -- Wall Street lingo for the market dysfunction that occurs when a price gap opens up between the index and its underlying constituents." So JPMorgan is now privately accused of "breaking" the CDS Index market, courtesy of its second to none economy of scale and fear no reprisal for any and all actions, and in the process causing untold losses to, you guessed it, its clients, but when it comes to allegations of massive manipulation in the precious metals market, why Blythe will tell you it is all about "assisting clients in executing, managing, their risks." Which client would that be - Lehman, or MFGlobal? Perhaps it is time for a follow up interview, Ms Masters to clarify some of these outstanding points?
Blythe Masters On The Blogosphere, Silver Manipulation, Gold-Axed Clients And Doing The "Wrong" ThingSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/05/2012 13:53 -0500
For all those who have long been curious what the precious metals "queen" thinks about allegations involving her and her fimr in gold and silver manipulation, how JPMorgan is positioned in the precious metals market, and how she views the fringe elements of media, as well as JPMorgan's ethical limitations to engaging in 'wrong' behavior, the answers are all here.
You don't spend over $1 trillion in nine months unless something very, very bad is coming down the pike. That something "BAD" is the collapse of Europe's banking system: a $46 trillion sewer of toxic PIIGS debt that is leveraged at more than 26 to 1 (Lehman was leveraged at 30 to 1 when it went under).
Liquidity never solves issues of solvency and the time that it buys is generally of a relatively short duration. After the $1.3 trillion loan by the ECB to the European banks which helped drive up the prices for European sovereigns what do we now find as the liquidity ebbs? Yesterday’s Spanish auction was abysmal and the French auction today did not go too well with rising yields and less demand. The austerity measures are driving Europe into a worsening recession and the financial positions of Spain and Italy are deteriorating even as new measures are put into place. In fact there are only two ways out of the European mess which are growth, not happening, and Inflation which may be the ultimate strategy employed by the EU and the ECB if the construct holds to the point of changing strategies which is surely no outlier event.
Folks, QE 3 is not coming. Not without a Crisis first. End of story. The last time the Fed hit “print” with QE 2 put food prices at all time records and kicked off revolutions and riots around the globe. Today, gas is already at $4, food prices aren’t too far off their highs… do you REALLY think the Fed will kick off more QE in this environment… during an election year? At a time when the Fed is becoming a hot topic in the election?
In simple terms, this time around, when Europe goes down (and it will) it’s going to be bigger than anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes. And this time around, the world Central Banks are already leveraged to the hilt having spent virtually all of their dry powder propping up the markets for the last four years. Again, this time it is different. I realize most people believe the Fed can just hit “print” and solve everything, but they’re wrong. The last time the Fed hit “print” food prices hit records and revolutions began spreading in emerging markets. If the Fed does it again, especially in a more aggressive manner as it would have to, we would indeed enter a dark period in the world and the capital markets.