Moral Hazard

Here They Come: Ireland Demands Renegotiation Of Its Bailout Terms To Match Spain

Well that didn't take long. The ink on the #Spailout is not dry yet (well technically there is no ink, because none of the actual details of the Spanish banking system rescue are even remotely known, and likely won't be because when it comes to answering where the money comes from there simply is no answer) and we already have an answer to one of our questions. Recall that mere hours ago we asked: "We also wonder how will Ireland feel knowing that it has to suffer under backbreaking austerity in exchange for Troika generosity, while Spain gets away scott free." We now know. From the AFP: "Ireland wants to renegotiate its rescue plan to benefit from the same treatment as Spain, which looks set to win a bailout for its banks without any broader economic reforms in return, European sources said on Saturday." And with Ireland on the renegotiation train, next comes Greece. Only with Greece the wheels for a bailout overhaul are already in motion and are called a "vote of Syriza on June 17." And remember how everyone was threatening the Greeks with the 10th circle of hell if they dare to renegotiate the memorandum? Well, Spain just showed that a condition-free bailout is an option. Which means Syriza will get all the votes it needs and then some with promises of a consequence free bailout renegotiation. In other words Syriza's Tsipras should send a bottle of the finest champagne to de Guindos - he just won him the election.

Brodsky On "Gold Monetization And The Big Reset"

"The global banking system is functionally insolvent and will fail without exogenous policy action" is how QBAMCO's Paul Brodsky begins his latest treatise noting that asset monetization (and in, particular, gold monetization) would solve many more problems than it would create. The negatives would merely recognize the balance sheet damage already done and beginning to be manifest (first, in the private sector and now, increasingly in the public sector). The global economy is threatened because, in real terms, it continues to misallocate capital and rolling unfunded debts and debating in the political sphere over the merits and risks of unfunded growth or policy-administered national austerity programs is a futile endeavor. The math suggests strongly neither can work. Brodsky is convinced policy-administered asset monetization would stop the global financial system from seizing, restore sorely needed economic balance, and reset commercial incentives so that real growth can once again gain traction.

Fitch Follows S&P, Slashes Spain By 3 Notches To BBB, Only Moody Is Left - Step 3 Collateral Downgrade Imminent

First it Egan-Jones (of course). Then S&P. Now Fitch (which sees the Spanish bank recap burden between €60 and a massive €100 billion!) joins the downgrade party of rating agencies that have Spain at a sub-A rating. Only Moody's is left. What happens when Moody's also cuts Spain from its current cuspy A3 rating to sub-A? Bad things: as we explained on April 30, when everyone has Spain at BBB or less...

Guest Post: The We-Fixed-Nothing Chickens Are Coming Home to Roost

The reality that the global Status Quo has fixed absolutely nothing in four years is finally coming to roost in the global economy. Though there is an endless array of complexity to snare the unwary, the source of instability is both visible and easily understood: too much debt that will never be paid back. Making matters much worse, much of the money that was borrowed--by sovereign governments, local governments, households and private enterprises--was squandered on consumption or malinvestments, and so there are precious few assets or collateral underlying the debt. Even when there is an asset--for example, a vacant house in a vacant development in Spain, or a Greek bond--the market value is considerably lower than the purchase price. The reality is that trillions of dollars, euros, yen and renminbi in phantom wealth will disappear when the losses that have already taken place are finally recognized. Everyone in the world with exposure to the global economy will become poorer in terms of abundant money floating around buying goods and services as credit dries up and deleveraging wipes out trillions of dollars, euros, yen and renminbi of phantom wealth.

Guest Post: Debt Is Not Wealth

Deflation has effectively been abolished by central banking. But is it sustainable? The endless post-Keynesian outgrowth of debt suggests not. In fact, what is ultimately suggested is that the abolition of small-scale deflationary liquidations has just primed the system for a much, much larger liquidation later on. Central bankers have shirked the historical growth cycle consisting both of periods of growth and expansion, as well as periods of contraction and liquidation. They have certainly had a good run. Those warning of impending hyperinflation following 2008 were proven wrong; deflationary forces offset the inflationary impact of bailouts and monetary expansion, even as food prices hit records, and revolutions spread throughout emerging markets. And Japan — the prototypical unliquidated zombie economy — has been stuck in a depressive rut for most of the last twenty years. These interventions, it seems, have pernicious negative side-effects. Those twin delusions central bankers have sought to cater to — for creditors, that debt is wealth and should never be liquidated, and for debtors that debt is an easy or free lunch — have been smashed by the juggernaut of history many times before. While we cannot know exactly when, or exactly how — and in spite of the best efforts of central bankers — we think they will soon be smashed again.

As Soros Starts A Three Month Countdown To D(oom)-Day, Europe Plans A New Master Plan

What would the weekend be without at least one rumor that Europe is on the verge of fixing everything, or failing that, planning for a master fix, OR failing that, planning for a master plan to fix everything. Sure enough, we just got the latter, which considering nobody really believes anything out of Europe anymore, especially not something that has not been signed, stamped and approved by Merkel herself, is rather ballsy. Nonetheless, one can't blame them for trying: "The chiefs of four European institutions are in the process of creating a master plan for the euro zone, the daily Die Welt reports Saturday, in an advance release of an article to be published Sunday. Suggestions targeting a fiscal, banking, and political union, as well as structural reforms, are being worked out..." Less than credible sources report that Spiderman towels (which are now trading at negative repo rates) and cross-rehypothecated kitchen sinks are also key components of all future "master plans" which sadly are absolutely meaningless since the signature of Europe's paymaster - the Bundesrepublik - is as usual lacking. Which is why, "the plan may well mean that the euro zone adopts measures not immediately accepted by the whole of the European Union, the article adds." So... European sub-union? Hardly strange is that just as this latest desperate attempt at distraction from the complete chaos in Europe (which will only find a resolution once XO crosses 1000 as we and Citi suggested two weeks ago and when the world is truly on the verge of the abyss), none other than George Soros has just started a 3-month countdown to European the European D(oom)-Day.

Guest Post: Canada Oil Sands And The Precautionary Principle

The precautionary principle is typically defined as “if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific evidence that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action.”  In practice, the principle is utilized by government policy makers to ensure technological advances don’t pose too dire of an effect on the surrounding environment.  This may appear a noble goal if one accepts the premise that the prime function of government is the protection of life and property.  History proves otherwise as easily corruptible politicians have tended to grant exceptions to wealthy business interests which look to dump their waste in public-owned natural resources such as waterways.  It is also clear judging by historical cases that socialization often results in environmental degradation.  One look at the pollution in once-communist nations such as China or the former Soviet Union reveals that a lack of private property results in a type of moral hazard en masse as there is little incentive to preserve what you don’t officially own.

Europe's Got 99 Problems And A Deposit Guarantee Scheme Is One

We have explained in the recent past just why the rotation from a professional European bond-run to a retail bank-run is critical to the euro-zone banking system - with deposit losses creating even more encumbered asset levels among European banks, which would then exaggerate contagion problems as funding pressures mount. The problem is existing deposit guarantee schemes are implemented at the national level and are not currently funded to handle a systemic crisis - this is why there has been so much chatter of a pan-Europe guarantee scheme. However, not only does a euro-wide guarantee rely on credible commitments from core European governments but it misses the redenomination risk - as unlike the US FDIC, it would need to explicitly guarantee the euro-value of deposits. Barclays shares our doubts on the implementation (short- and long-term) of such a solution, noting that Eurozone deposits are greater than eurozone GDP (as opposed to US deposits at ~68% of US GDP). Between operational difficulties, the size of redenomination losses, moral hazard, and the massive (deposit/GDP) contingent liability dependent on actual exit of a member state, we would urge any exuberance over 'talk' of a guarantee to be stymied once again by the dismal reality of implementation and agreement.

Guest Post: George W. Bush’s “Growth” Strategy

Here are a few prominent questions that George W. Bush might want to consider answering before slinking off back to Crawford:

  1. Why did you ignore the CIA’s warnings in the summer of 2001 that al-Qaeda could strike “imminently”?
  2. Why did you pledge in the 2000 election debates that you were against nation building, and then embark on not one but two nation-building programs in Iraq and Afghanistan?
  3. You increased the Federal debt by 86%; to what extent do you accept the blame for America’s debt troubles?
  4. You reappointed Alan Greenspan as the Fed Chairman;  to what extent do you accept that his easy money policies caused the bubble that burst in 2008?
  5. Were the 2008 bailouts of well-connected banks and financial corporations engineered by your administration compatible with a supposedly “free-market” “capitalist” system? Doesn’t bailing out banks create dangerous moral hazard?
  6. How can a nation simultaneously claim to be a liberator while also practising torture?
  7. You swore to uphold the Constitution, yet passed the PATRIOT Act that authorised warrantless wiretapping, and mass surveillance in contravention of the Fourth Amendment. Do you realise that you violated your oath of office?

Guest Post: Feedback, Unintended Consequences And Global Markets

All models of non-linear complex systems are crude because they attempt to model millions of interactions with a handful of variables. When it comes to global weather or global markets, our ability to predict non-linear complex systems with what amounts to mathematical tricks (algorithms, etc.) is proscribed by the fundamental limits of the tricks.  Projecting current trends is also an erratic and inaccurate method of prediction. The current trend may continue or it may weaken or reverse. "The Way of the Tao is reversal," but gaming life's propensity for reversal with contrarian thinking is not sure-fire, either. If it was that easy to predict the future of markets, we'd all be millionaires. Part of the intrinsic uncertainty of the future is visible in unintended consequences. The Federal Reserve, for example, predicted that lowering interest rates to zero and paying banks interest on their deposits at the Federal Reserve would rebuild bank reserves by slight-of-hand. Banks would then start lending to qualified borrowers, and the economy would recover strongly as a result.

They were wrong on every count.

LCH Hikes Margin Requirements On Spanish Bonds

A few days ago we suggested that this action by LCH.Clearnet was only a matter of time. Sure enough, as of minutes ago the bond clearer hiked margins on all Spanish bonds with a duration of more than 1.25 years. Net result: the Spanish Banks which by now are by far the largest single group holder of Spanish bonds, has to post even moire collateral beginning May 25. Only problem with that: it very well may not have the collateral.

Acknowledging The Arrival Of Peak Government

Most informed people are familiar with the concept of Peak Oil, but fewer are aware that we’re also entering the era of Peak Government. The central misconception of Peak Oil -- that it’s not about “running out of oil,” it’s about running out of cheap, easy-to-access oil -- can also be applied to Peak Government: It’s not about government disappearing, it’s about government shrinking. Central government -- the Central State -- has been in the expansion mode for so long that the process of contracting government is completely alien to the nation, to those who work for the State, and to those who are dependent on the State. Thus we have little recent historical experience of Peak Government and few if any conceptual guideposts to help us understand this contraction. Peak Government is not a reflection of government services or the millions of individuals who work in government; it is a reflection of four key systemic forces that drove State expansion are now either declining or reversing.

Guest Post: The New European Serfdom

If the establishment is to be believed — it’s in the interests of “long-term financial stability” that creditors who stupidly bought unrepayable debt don’t get a big haircut like they would in a free market.  And it’s in the interests of “long-term financial stability” that bad companies who made bad decisions don’t go out of business like they would in a free market, but instead become suckling zombies attached to the taxpayer teat. And apparently it is also in the interests of “long-term financial stability” that a broken market and broken system doesn’t liquidate, so that people learn their lesson. Apparently our “long-term financial stability” depends on producing even greater moral hazard by handing more money out to the negligent. The only real question is whether or not it will just be the IMF and the EU institutions, or whether Bernanke at the Fed will get involved beyond the inevitable QE3 (please do it Bernanke! I have some crummy equities I want to offload to a greater fool!)