There is a strange delayed reaction between the initial exposure of weakness in the financial system and the public’s realization of the truth, sort of like Wile E. Coyote dashing off a cliff in the cartoons only to continue running in mid-air above the abyss below. It is a testament to the fact that beyond the math, there is an undeniable power of psychology in our economy. The investment world naively believes it can fly, even with the weight of endless debt around its ankles, and for a very short time, that pure delirious oblivious belief sustains the markets. Eventually, though, gravity always triumphs over fantasy…
Folks, the political game has changed in the US. The Fed is no longer invulnerable. In this climate more QE cannot possibly happen. End of story. Indeed, if the Fed were to launch QE at any time between now and the election, Obama is DONE. The last possibly chance for QE without it being a clear hand-out to Obama (and a gift from the political gods to Romney) was June. The Fed passed on that.
In a landmark shift in its bank "impairment" stance, the WSJ reports that "in a sharp turnaround" the ECB has advocated the imposition of losses on senior bondholders at the most "damaged" Spanish savings banks, "though finance ministers have for now rejected the approach, according to people familiar with discussions." The WSJ continues: "The ECB's new position was made clear by its president, Mario Draghi, to a meeting of euro-zone finance ministers discussing a euro-zone rescue for Spain's struggling local lenders in Brussels the evening of July 9. It marks a contrast from the position the central bank adopted during the 2010 bailout of Irish banks--which, like Spain's, were victims of a property meltdown--when it prevailed in its insistence that senior bondholders in bailed-out banks shouldn't suffer losses." Needless to say, if indeed the fulcrum impairment security is no longer the Sub debt, but Senior debt, as the ECB suggests, it is only a matter of time before wholesale European bank liquidations commence as the ECB would only encourage this shift if it knew the level of asset impairment is far too great to be papered over by mere pooling of liabilities (think shared deposits, the creation of TBTF banks, and all those other gimmicks tried in 2010 when as a result of Caja failure we got such sterling example of financial viability as Bankia, which lasted all of 18 months). It also means the European crisis is likely about to take a big turn for the worse as suddenly bank failures become all too real. Why? Senior debt impairment means deposits are now at full risk of loss as even the main European bank admits there is no way banks will have enough assets to grow into their balance sheet.
Why Don’t the Corrupt Players On Wall Street and In D.C. Show Remorse for Their Destructive Actions…And Why Don’t We Stop Them?Submitted by George Washington on 07/14/2012 10:57 -0400
Scandal After Scandal, Lie Upon Lie ... What's Going On?
JPM Admits CIO Group Consistently Mismarked Hundreds Of Billions In CDS In Effort To Artificially Boost ProfitsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/13/2012 06:52 -0400
Back on May 30 we wrote "The Second Act Of The JPM CIO Fiasco Has Arrived - Mismarking Hundreds Of Billions In Credit Default Swaps" in which we made it abundantly clear that due to the Over The Counter nature of CDS one can easily make up whatever marks one wants in order to boost the P&L impact of a given position, this is precisely what JPM was doing in order to boost its P&L? As of moments ago this too has been proven to be the case. From a just filed very shocking 8K which takes the "Whale" saga to a whole new level. To wit: 'the recently discovered information raises questions about the integrity of the trader marks, and suggests that certain individuals may have been seeking to avoid showing the full amount of the losses being incurred in the portfolio during the first quarter. As a result, the Firm is no longer confident that the trader marks used to prepare the Firm's reported first quarter results (although within the established thresholds) reflect good faith estimates of fair value at quarter end."
As we wait anxiously for the not-too-hot and not-too-cold but just right GDP data from China this evening, we thought it instructive to get some sense of the reality in China. From both the property bubble perspective (as Stratfor's analysis of the record high prices paid just this week for Beijing property - by an SOE no less - and its massive 'microcosm' insight into the bubbliciousness of the PBOC's attempts to stave off the inevitable 'landing'); to the rather shocking insight that Diapason Commodities' Sean Corrigan offers that 'Hot Money Flows' have left China at a rates exceeding that during the worst of the Lehman crisis; take a range of key indicators – from electricity usage, to Shanghai container throughput, to nationwide rail freight ton-miles, to steel output – and you will notice that none of these shows a rate of growth during the second quarter of more than 4% from 2011, and some are as low as 1%. Whatever fictive GDP number we are presented with this week, the message is clear: “Brace! Brace! Brace!”
Ultimately, the surge in demand for gold reflects one thing alone: distrust of the increasingly messy, interconnected, over-leveraged and fraudulent financial system. Whether it is China — fearful of dollar debasement — loading up on bullion, or retail investors in the United States or Europe — fearful of another MF Global (or PFG, or Lehman Brothers) — stacking Krugerrands in their basement, demand for gold reflects distrust in finance, distrust in the financial establishment, distrust in banks, distrust in regulators, distrust in government and distrust in the financial media. And it is that distrust — not (by any stretch of the imagination) central bank interventionism — that is the force moving demand for gold. There will be no bear market for physical gold until trust in the financial system and regulators is fixed, until markets trade fundamentals instead of the possibility of the NEW QE, until governments represent the interests of their people instead of the interests of tiny financial elites.
Lakshman Achuthan, co-founder of the Economic Cycle Research Institute, spoke with Bloomberg Television’s Tom Keene today and said that, "What we said back in December was that the most likely start date for the recession would be in Q1 and if not then, by the middle of 2012. I’m here to reaffirm that. I think we’re in a recession already." And just like us, the anagrammatic ECRI economist believes that "It is not all about GDP. It is about jobs. It is about income and sales. A recession is a vicious interplay among output, input, employment, income and sales" noting that recessions don't generally start with a cliff (that everyone looks for) adding (rather ominously): "there is this belief that somehow government or a central bank will stave off a recession. For the last 220 years, you do some history with Hamilton, which ended in a duel by the way... you have had 47 recessions. Why are we going to avoid the 48th?"
Digging into the details of US and UK Liebor duing the crisis period is stirring both bad memories and some very clear disclocations from reality. While we noted many of these at the time, they seem even more egregious now and as Peter Tchir of TF Market Advisors notes, outliers seem to be Citi, RBS, and to a less extent UBS. Our perception was that RBS was viewed as a worse credit than Barclay’s. CDS seems to confirm that, yet they are posting LIBOR significantly tighter. UBS always seemed to have some decent government support, so while maybe a stretch that they were quoting LIBOR close to JPM and DB, it isn’t totally unreasonable. DB if anything looks conservative relative to other prices. Citi just seems ridiculous. The CDS market was trading it as the worst of the credits, yet here they are with the best LIBOR. That looks consistent throughout the entire the period. Maybe there is something we're missing and just don’t remember, but it does seem surprising that Citi thought they could fund at the same level as JPM at the time in the unsecured interbank market. At this point it is all just speculation where the information Barclay’s has provided the FSA leads, but so many people have been talking about LIBOR so long, that we would be shocked if it ends at Barclay’s and there is enough data, in our mind, to warrant some much deeper investigation.
Last Tuesday we suggested that "Now The Fed Gets Dragged Into LiEborgate" when we observed that "Barclays also cited subsequent research by the New York Federal Reserve staff members that, according to the lender, concluded that banks’ Libor quotes were systematically below their borrowing rates by 39 basis points after the Lehman bankruptcy. “Barclays own submissions for tenors of 1 month to 1 year Libor were higher than actual Barclays trades on 97% of the occasions when Barclays had actual trades during the financial crisis,” the lender said." It seems that unlike the BOE, which had no idea of any Barclays problems and was merely calling up Diamond now and then to make sure the bank's money market risk mechanisms were operational and to chit chat about the weather (as per the BOE at least), the Fed has decided to take the high road and openly admit it was well aware of Barclays' LIBOR "problems." And like that the Senatorial circus just got exciting, while that popping noise is bottles of Bollinger going off at every class action lawsuit legal firm.
Fed Chairman Bernanke should be impeached if he does not restore Fed surveillance over primary dealers immediately.
Japan's core machinery orders were expected to post a modest -2.6% drop. Instead they had a worse collapse than anything seen in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, plunging by a stunning 14.8% . And the kick in the groin cherry on top was the current account surplus plunged by 62.6%: consensus forecast: -14.5%. The Japanese economy has once again ground to a halt, only this time it has no earthquake or nuclear explosion to blame. This time it is the entire world's fault, where demand has collapsed proportionately. As a reminder the BOJ expanded its QE yet again on April 27. Must be time for another QE because this time will certainly be different after more than 30 years of failures. It is time for those brilliant central planners Ph.D's to do engage in more of the same insanity that Einstein warned about decades ago. And incidentally this is not a joke: on Thursday the BOJ is expected to ease yet again. As a reminder, the BOJ already buys ETFs, Corporate Bonds, and REITs. What's left: gold?
It should come as no surprise to anyone that major commercial banks manipulate Libor submissions for their own benefit. As Jefferies David Zervos writes this weekend, money-center commercial banks did not want the “truth” of market prices to determine their loan rates. Rather, they wanted an oligopolistically controlled subjective survey rate to be the basis for their lending businesses. When there are only 16 players – a “gentlemen’s agreement” is relatively easy to formulate. That is the way business has been transacted in the broader OTC lending markets for nearly 30 years. The most bizarre thing to come out of the Barclays scandal, Zervos goes on to say, is the attack on the Bank of England and Paul Tucker. Is it really a scandal that central bank officials tried to affect interest rates? Absolutely NOT! That’s what they do for a living. Central bankers try to influence rates directly and indirectly EVERY day. That is their job. Congresses and Parliaments have given central banks monopoly power in the printing of money and the management of interest rate policy. These same law makers did not endow 16 commercial banks with oligopoly power to collude on the rate setting process in their privately created, over the counter, publicly backstopped marketplaces.
And then there are the fakes.
Big Banks Are Rotten to the Core