Lehman

Frontrunning: October 4

  • Romney dominates presidential debate (FT)
  • What Romney’s Debate Victory Means (Bloomberg)
  • Obama Lead Shrinks in Two Battlegrounds (WSJ)
  • "Everything will fall apart unless the Spanish conditions are extremely tough" German policy-maker (Telegraph)
  • Draghi Stares at Spain as Brinkmanship Keeps ECB Waiting (Bloomberg)
  • RBS facing loss after Spanish property firm collapse (Telegraph)
  • Burdened by Old Mortgages, Banks Are Slow to Lend Now (WSJ)
  • The Woman Who Took the Fall for JPMorgan Chase (NYT)
  • European Banks Told to Hold On to $258 Billion of Fresh Capital (Bloomberg)
  • Europe Weighs More Sanctions as Iran’s Currency Plummets (Bloomberg)

Everything You Wanted To Know About Tri-Party Repo Markets But Were Afraid To Ask

The U.S. tri-party repo market is one of the most important components of the financial system - that noone has ever heard of (though not ZH readers: Tri-party repo has been a core topic of several of our 2009 posts exploring the nuances of the Lehman collapse - initially here and here and then multiple times as we discuss the backbone of the shadow banking system). The 2007-09 financial crisis exposed weaknesses in the design of the U.S. tri-party repo market that could rapidly elevate and propagate systemic risk. We have long-discussed the importance of the collateral and hypothecation markets and a recent study of the market identifies the collateral allocation and unwind processes as two key mechanics contributing to the market’s fragility. While the topic is relatively specialized, it is critical to understanding the reality behind the curtain and the paper below provides clarification of the bilateral and tri-party repo markets (The Fed, Bank of NY, and JPM - who in effect have first refusal on any collateral in the system), dealers' intervention, and its potential as a source of financial systemic risk.

Frontrunning: September 28

  • 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 Financial Crisis Of 2015 - A Non-Fictional Fiction

The financial crisis of 2008 shook politicians, bankers, regulators, commentators and ordinary citizens out of the complacency created by the 25-year "great moderation". Yet, for all the rhetoric around a new financial order, and all the improvements made, many of the old risks remain (and some are far larger). The following 'story' suggests a scenario based on an 'avoidable history' and while future crises are not avoidable, being a victim of the next one is.

"John Banks was woken by his phone at 3am on Sunday 26th April 2015. John worked for Garland Brothers, a formerly British bank that had relocated its headquarters to Singapore in late 2011 as a result of..."

Guest Post: Pavlov's Dogs - An Overview Of Market Risk

It is always amazing to observe how people become less risk averse after risk has markedly increased and more risk averse after it has markedly decreased. The stock market is held to be 'safe' after it has risen for many weeks or months, while it is considered 'risky' after it has declined. The bigger the rally, the safer the waters are deemed to be, and the opposite holds for declines. One term that is associated in peoples' minds with rising prices is 'certainty'. For some reason, rising prices are held to indicate a more 'certain' future, which one can look forward to with more 'confidence'. 'Uncertainty' by contrast is associated with downside volatility in stocks. In reality, the future is always uncertain. Most people seem to regard accidental participation in a bull market cycle with as a kind of guarantee of a bright future, when all that really happened is that they got temporarily lucky. Perma-bullish analysts like Laszlo Birinyi or Abby Joseph Cohen can be sure that they will be right 66% of the time by simply staying bullish no matter what happens. This utter disregard of the risk-reward equation can occasionally lead to costly experiences for their followers when the markets decline.

The Fed Has Another $3.9 Trillion In QE To Go (At Least)

Some wonder why we have been so convinced that no matter what happens, that the Fed will have no choice but to continue pushing the monetary easing pedal to the metal. It is actually no secret: we explained the logic for the first time back in March of this year with "Here Is Why The Fed Will Have To Do At Least Another $3.6 Trillion In Quantitative Easing." The logic, in a nutshell, is simple: everyone who looks at modern monetary practice (as opposed to theory) through the prism of a 1980s textbook is woefully unprepared for the modern capital markets reality for one simple reason: shadow banking; and when accounting for the ongoing melt of shadow banking credit intermediates, which continues to accelerate, the Fed has a Herculean task ahead of it in restoring consolidated credit growth. Shadow banking, as we have explained many times most recently here, is merely an unregulated, inflationary-buffer (as it has no matched deposits) which provides the conventional banking credit transformations such as maturity, credit and liquidity, in the process generating term liabilities. In yet other words, shadow banking creates credit money which can then flow into monetary conduits such as economic "growth" or capital markets, however without creating the threat of inflation - if anything shadow banks are the biggest systemic deflationary threat, as due to the relatively short-term nature of their duration exposure, they tend to lock up at the first sing of trouble (see Money Markets breaking the buck within hours of the Lehman failure) and lead to utter economic mayhem unless preempted. Well, preempting the collapse in the shadow banking system is precisely what the Fed's primary role has so far been, even more so than pushing the S&P to new all time highs. The problem, however, as we will show today, is that even with the Fed's balance sheet at $2.8 trillion and set to rise to $5 trillion in 2 years, it will not be enough.

Greece Caught Underreporting Its Budget Deficit By Nearly 50%

There was a time about a year ago, before the second Greek bailout was formalized and the haircut on its domestic-law private sector bonds (first 50%, ultimately 80%, soon to be 100%) was yet to be documented, when it was in Greece's interest to misrepresent its economy as being worse than it was in reality. Things got so bad that the former head of the Greek Statistics Bureau Elstat, also a former IMF employee, faced life in prison if convicted of doing precisely this. A year later, the tables have turned, now that Germany is virtually convinced that Europe can pull a Lehman and let Greece leave the Eurozone, and is merely looking for a pretext to sever all ties with the country, whose only benefit for Europe is to be a seller of islands at Blue Aegean water Special prices to assorted Goldman bankers (at least until it renationalizes them back in a few short years). So a year later we are back to a more normal data fudging dynamic, one in which Greece, whose July unemployment soared by one whole percentage point, will do everything in its power to underrepresent its soaring budget deficit. Case in point, on Friday the Finance Ministry proudly announced its budget deficit for the first eight months was "just" €12.5 billion, versus a target of €15.2 billion, leading some to wonder how it was possible that a country that has suffered terminal economic collapse, and in which the tax collectors have now joined everyone in striking and thus not collecting any tax revenue, could have a better than expected budget deficit. Turns out the answer was quite simple. According to Spiegel, Greece was lying about everything all along, and instead of a €12.5 billion deficit, the real revenue shortfall is nearly double this, or €20 billion, a number which will hardly incentivize anyone in Germany to give Greece the benefit of another delay, let along a third bailout as is now speculated.

"What's Next?": Simon Johnson Explains The Doomsday Cycle

There is a common problem underlying the economic troubles of Europe, Japan, and the US: the symbiotic relationship between politicians who heed narrow interests and the growth of a financial sector that has become increasingly opaque (Igan and Mishra 2011). Bailouts have encouraged reckless behaviour in the financial sector, which builds up further risks – and will lead to another round of shocks, collapses, and bailouts. This is what Simon Johnson and Peter Boone have called the ‘doomsday cycle’. The continuing crisis in the Eurozone merely buys time for Japan and the US. Investors are seeking refuge in these two countries only because the dangers are most imminent in the Eurozone. Will these countries take this time to fix their underlying fiscal and financial problems? That seems unlikely. The nature of ‘irresponsible growth’ is different in each country and region – but it is similarly unsustainable and it is still growing. There are more crises to come and they are likely to be worse than the last one.

Guest Post: How to Navigate An Economy Weighed Down By Government Meddling and Cronyism

If you wanted to sum up the just-concluded Casey Research/Sprott Inc. Summit titled Navigating the Politicized Economy, you could say "The situation is hopeless but not serious." More than 20 speakers – many of them world-renowned financial experts and best-selling authors – gathered in Carlsbad, CA, from September 7 to 9 to ascertain exactly how hopeless, and what investors can do to protect themselves.