To be correct, it is a series of games of chicken, as next to the different sovereigns, the ESM/ESFS, the ECB, and why not the IMF, below the sovereigns there are the regions, be it in Spain or, as it stands, in Germany.
- Standard Chartered Falls Most in 24 Years on U.S. Iran Probe (Bloomberg)
- Iran accusations wipe $15 billion off StanChart shares (Reuters)
- Hilsenrath tells us that Fed Official Calls for Open-Ended Bond Buying (WSJ) - shocking indeed
- German opposition backs fiscal union, demands constitutional change and referendum (FT)
- Gary Gensler speaks: Libor, Naked and Exposed (NYT)
- IMF Pushes Europe to Ease Greek Burden (WSJ)
- Second TSE System Error in Seven Months Halts Derivatives (Bloomberg)
- Rice Hoard Offers World Respite as Food Costs Surge (Bloomberg)
- UK coalition in crisis over parliamentary reform (Reuters)
- Ethics probe could deal losing hand to Nevada Democrat (Reuters)
As it dawns upon the world that Ms. Merkel means exactly what she says and is not going to back down you may expect a quite negative reaction in the equity markets and a widening of spreads for some risk assets along with a strengthening of the Dollar. I am talking about the “Trend” here and not some trading strategy for today’s business. Germany is not going to flinch and cannot both due to local politics and to the now obvious fact that Germany has just about reached the limits of what she is financially able to do with a $3.2 trillion economy. To put it quite simply; they have run out of excess cash and more European contributions are only going to weaken the balance sheet of the nation and seriously imperil Germany’s financial condition. I say, one more time, Germany is not going to roll over and all of the pan European schemes brought forward by the bureaucrats and the poorer nations are not going to go anywhere. There is one novel possibility here and that is that the Germans, like the British, may opt out. Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Finland et al may just say, “Fine, go ahead if you wish to have Eurobonds and the like but we will not guarantee them.” All plans do not need to have an either/or solution and this may well be Germany’s position in the end which would place the periphery nations and France in quite an interesting, if unenviable, place.
While men are from Mars, and women from Venus, it would appear Europe's major political leaders are on totally different orbits when it comes to the future of the European experiment. Though there are come commonalities there is one glaring divide - the speed of deficit reduction - as Mont-and-oy differ from Merkel quite vehemently.
As Many Have Predicted for Years
While details are largely missing in the aftermath of yesterday's historic announcement from Spain, the one thing that we did catch inbetween the various conferences and announcements, and probably the most important thing, is that the ESM/EFSF funded bailout loan, whose use of proceeds will go to fund the FROB, not one which will rank pari passu with the FROB, will have "terms better than market" - always a code word for priming and cramdown of other debt classes. Today, we learn that this is precisely the case, and the worst case outcome from Spain's pre-primed sovereign creditors.
"Risk on, risk off" might be the most essential hallmark of the current market, but just focusing on the day-to-day whims of capital markets ignores longer term changes to investor risk preferences. Nic Colas, of ConvergEx looks at the topic from the vantage point of gender-specific investment choices. For example, more women are participating in deferred compensation (DC) plans, and the data from millions of 401(k) accounts tells a useful story. Their retirement accounts still lag those of their male counterparts in total value and they remain a bit more risk-averse. But for the first time in at least a decade they are more likely than men to contribute to a retirement account and are contributing a greater percentage of their earnings. You’ll never see pink or blue dots on the “Efficient Frontier” of academic models, to be sure. However, both empirical data and psychological studies do point to subtle – but notable – differences in how men and women consider the classic risk-reward tradeoff inherent in the challenge of investing. Nick suggests it may make sense to reconsider the notion that continued money flows into bonds and other safe haven investments are really "Risk off" market behavior. At least a piece of it may well be "Risk shifting," driven by the demographic and psychological factors as assets controlled by women are clearly increasing. "Risk off" may well be "risk shift."
We start today's story of the day by pointing out that Deutsche Bank - easily Europe's most critical financial institution - reported results that were far worse than expected, following a decline in equity and debt trading revenues of 23% and 8%, but primarily due to Europe simply "not being fixed yet" despite what its various politicians tell us. And if DB is still impaired, then something else will have to give. Next, we go to none other than Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid, who in his daily Morning Reid piece, reminds the world that with austerity still the primary driver in a double dipping Europe (luckily... at least for now, because no matter how many economists repeat the dogmatic mantra, more debt will never fix an excess debt problem, and in reality austerity is the wrong word - the right one is deleveraging) to wit: "an unconditional ECB is probably what Europe needs now given the austerity drive." However, as German taxpayers who will never fall for unconditional money printing by the ECB (at least someone remembers the Weimar case), the ECB will likely have to keep coming up with creative solutions. Which bring us to the story du jour brought by Suddeutsche Zeitung, according to which the ECB and countries that use the euro are working on an initiative to allow cash-strapped banks direct access to funding from the European Stability Mechanism. As a reminder, both Germany and the ECB have been against this kind of direct uncollateralized, unsterilized injections, so this move is likely a precursor to even more pervasive easing by the European central bank, with the only question being how many headlines of denials by Schauble will hit the tape before this plan is approved. And if all eyes are again back on the ECB, does it mean that the recent distraction face by the IMF can now be forgotten, and more importantly, if the ECB is once again prepping to reliquify, just how bad are things again in Europe? And what happens if this time around the plan to fix a solvency problem with more electronic 1s and 0s does not work?
Economic Debunker Steve Keen is interviewed by outspoken Irish journalist Vincent Browne and no holds are barred as he describes the Maastricht Treaty as a suicide pact of critically poor central-planning design of a supposed market-economy, based on financial crises never occurring, locking European governments into an austere path when stimulus is required. "Ultimately the Euro has to fail and the longer we continue the farce of believing we can make it function the larger the ultimate crash will be" is how Keen portrays the situation and describes the foreign-exchange, fiscal policy, and monetary policy shackles that have created and exaggerated the situation. This leads into a longer discussion of the state of the World and its inability to 'export into the ponzi' like Japan could from 1990 to 2010 since the entire developed world is trying to do the same thing and "there is no ponzi scheme on Mars that we can export to" leaving the globe without Japan's initial way out. The must-watch 10 minute interview goes on to discuss the endgame (a break in the political compact based on austerity pressures and military or political coups) as Keen sums up "it's amazing to see us repeating the same mistakes that were made during the 1930s but we are doing just that." ending with some potential solutions noting that there is no easy way out of this.
Leading neoconservative (read “closet Trotskyite“) commentator Charles Krauthammer’s latest Washington Post editorial pays homage to the glory days of NASA and the retirement of the space shuttle Discovery. Titled “Farewell, the New Frontier,” the piece evokes mental images of Uncle Sam losing his international prestige as President Obama scales down NASA’s space exploration endeavors. Contrary to Krauthammer, NASA has never represented America’s collective vision of frontier exploration. It has been just another bureaucratic black hole for Washington to throw dollars at in hopes of buying reelection. Because one of the main tenets of economics is considering the unseen, then it can be assumed that space exploration would very well be advanced far beyond what we see today if it was left completely out of the hands of the state. If Krauthammer truly wished the human race capable of traveling into the new frontier of the stars, he would welcome NASA cuts rather than lament. How ironic then is today's news of Planetary Resources as investor and avowed anarchist Doug Casey thoughtfully observes on the inefficiency of NASA: "We should have colonies on the moon by now, and more: We should be mining the asteroids and developing real estate on Mars."
Goldman Sachs Executive Director Corroborates Reggie Middleton's Stance: Business Model Designed To Walk Over ClientsSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 03/14/2012 10:15 -0400
Directly from the resigning mouth of the rapist to the raped... I even put some number to it for the analytical crowd..
Stop us when this confession from Greg Smith, a now former executive director and head of the Goldman's United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, sounds exactly like everything we have said about the firm over the past 3+ years (and why we just can't wait for the next trading "recommendation" from Tom Stolper). "Today is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm — first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it."
Dear friends at Zero Hedge, consider this your day of total and absolute Goldman vindication...
Mario Draghi has just begun his press conference in a more upbeat tone than recent months. EURUSD is limping back from its last try at 1.33 but only modestly as he sees inflation risks 'broadly balanced' and reminds us all of the 'transitory' nature of his temporary non-standard measures, as Bloomberg notes. The main thing is that the ECB is once again easing collateral demands and will now accept credit claims. This simply proves that Europe is running out of any money good assets to pledge to the ECB as "collateral." Before the European (and thus global) ponzi is over, the central banks will accept Mars bars wrappers as collateral at 100 cents on the freshly printed dollar/euro.
On The Failure Of Inflation Targeting, The Hubris Of Central Planning, The "Lost Pilot" Effect, And Economist IdiocySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/05/2012 11:49 -0400
As an ever greater portion of the world succumbs to authoritarian control (whether it is of military disposition, or as we first showed, a small room of economists defining the monetary fate of the future as central banks now hold nearly a third of world GDP within their balance sheets) we can't help but be amazed as the population simply sits idly by on the sidelines as the modern financial system repeats every single mistake of the past century, only this time with stakes so high not even Mars could bail out the world. Unfortunately, with the world having operated under patently false economic models spread by hacks whose only credibility is being endorsed by the same system that created these models over the past century, the only temporary solution to all financial problem is to "try harder." Sadly, the final outcome is well known - a global systematic reset, in which the foundation of all modern democracies - the myth of the welfare state (which at last check, was about $200 trillion underfunded on an NPV basis globally and is thus the most insolvent of all going concern entities in existence) is vaporized (there's that word again) leading to global conflict, misery and war. Sadly that is the price we will end up paying for over a century of flawed economic models, of "borrowing from the future", of ever more encroaching central planning, and of an economic paradigm so flawed that as Bill Buckler puts it, "Keynes’ response to those who questioned the “longer-term” consequences of his advocacy of credit-creation as a basis for money was - “In the long run, we are all dead”. It is difficult to overemphasise the venal arrogance of this remark or the destructiveness of its legacy." Alas, the last thing the central planning "fools" (more on that shortly) will admit is their erroneous hubris, which in the years to come will claims millions of lives. In the meantime, we can merely comfort ourselves with ever more insightful analyses into the heart of the broken system under which we all labor, such as this one by SocGen's Dylan Grice, whose latest letter on Popular Delusions is a call for "honest fools" - "Frequently, when we make mistakes we try to correct them not by changing the flawed thinking which led to the mistake in the first place, but by reapplying the same flawed thinking with even more determination. Behavioural psychologists call it the “lost pilot” effect, after the lost pilot who tried to reassure his passenger: “I have no idea where we’re going, but we’re making good time!” Policy makers on both sides of the Atlantic are treating today’s malaise with the same flaky thinking which created it in the first place. How can that work?" Simple answer: it can't.