The US crashing close yesterday was cushioned in Europe by better than expected (backward-looking) GDP figures in Germany and France. EZ in recession nevertheless. Limited fall-out, albeit lower (equity) levels tested. Periphery okay’ish, then good on better Italian GDP. Spain tag along with limited own dynamics, mainly trailing Risk assessment. EGBs difficult to move lower from here. Watching the US. Someone. Please. Show the way.
"Are You Gonna Go My Way? " (Bunds 1,34% +0; Spain 5,89% -3; Stoxx 2459% -0,6%; EUR 1,279 +50)
See-sawing – and still looking for direction. Open weaker, in line with the US close. Some exuberance ahead of the Italian auction, despite negative figures. Awakening that nothing was justifying this. Re-correction while awaiting the US take of things. With the US opening flattish plus, Europe had a light lift and started tagging along, tick for tick, stuck in a loop. Some more European gloomy news to end the day. Way Down. For the moment mostly an equity move. And cut.
"Way Down" (Bunds 1,34% unch; Spain 5,92% +9; Stoxx 2475% -0,8%; EUR 1,274 +20)
Over the past several days there had been concerns that even if Greece managed to roll its maturing €5 billion in Bills with a new Bill issuance (which it did earlier today), it would be unable to actually obtain cash for this worthless paper, through a repo with the European Central Bank. The reason being that last week the ECB allowed a temporary extension in Greek ELA collateral eligibility to expire, enacted on August 2, which in turn reduced the amount of repoable T-Bills from €7 billion to just €3.5 billion, in the process reducing the amount of cash Greece can obtain in half from the Bill roll. And while there had been lots of speculation and rumors that the ECB would, as in the case of Spain, either make a "mistake" or extend the collateral pool exemption once more, this did not occur. Instead, as we have just learned, the ECB has allowed Greek banks to use "asset-backed" securities to plug the collateral gap. Needless to say, one can only conceive just what unencumbered assets still can be found on Greek bank balance sheets (here is one artist's impression) but it was largely expected that in the race to debase its currency, the ECB would once again admit that when it comes to perpetuating the Ponzi, especially at a marginal cost of a token €3.5 billion, anything goes (just don't tell Germany). And so, Greece kicks the can once again.
As Greek discussions overnight revealed a spat between Europe and the IMF, and given yet another closing slump in the US, Risk started on a weak footing with Risk nearing Friday lows, before being ramped up by rumours, showered again and finally supported by the US opening in negative, albeit tame manner, before moving into positive territory and taking everything along. Given the noon despair, the afternoon relief seems…exuberant. Especially as the US still lead the way.
"That's The Way" (Bunds 1,34% unch; Spain 5,83% -5; Stoxx 2494% +0,8%; EUR 1,272 +1)
Rather quiet. Verdict still out, whether we’ll get a real rebound or whether the last days were already the dead cat bounce, before heading lower. Periphery on the soft side, but with restricted own dynamics and trailing general Risk sentiment. Waiting. For the US to show the way. Or something to happen.
"Show Me The Way" (Bunds 1,34% unch; Spain 5,88% +7; Stoxx 2473% -0,3%; EUR 1,271 unch)
Anyone who may have been concerned by the slowdown in Chinese gold imports in August, when the country imported "only" 53.5 tons of gold from Hong Kong (down from 75.8 in July), can breathe a sigh of relief. According to the Hong Kong Census Bureau, in September Chinese gross imports soared by 30% reverting to the long-term trendline of 65 tons in gross imports per month, and rising to a total of 69.7 tons. Net imports were 40% less, although that excludes organic Chinese gold mining and recirculation, which is why for all intents and purposes the gross number is the apples to apples one. And using that, Year-To-Date China has now imported a whopping 582 tons of gold, more than the official holdings of India at 558 tons, and which through November has certainly surpassed the holdings of the Netherlands, and make China's gross imports in just 2012 nominally the equivalent of Top 10 largest sovereign holder of gold.
The upcoming week comes less loaded with policy events. The only major one is the Eurogroup meeting on Monday, however EU officials have already confirmed that no decision on the next Greek aid tranche will be made before the Troika’s next report on Greece’s adherence to the bailout conditions. Greece has scheduled an auction for Tuesday in order to roll over €3.1 bn in T-bills expiring by the end of the week. Additionally, in the US, the President has invited leadership of both parties for a first round of talks on the fiscal cliff. The data calendars also look lighter, with the publication of the FOMC minutes on Wednesday, and US Philly Fed on Thursday.
Well, after the Great Disconnect last week, next to the Great Pumpkin, and Sandy, we had Election week and suddenly the great Wake-Up Call. Fiscal Cliff was suddenly all the rage and ramped up equities (disconnect) were beaten flat by bonds.
"Wake Up" (Bunds 1,34% -11; Spain 5,81% +17; Stoxx 2481 -2,4%; EUR 1,271 -130)
One of the great faults with paying attention to Europe is to take what they tell you as factual. The media trumpets what they are given by the various sources of information in Europe but a quite skeptical eye is what is needed. They claim that they do not have the “Final Troika Report” on Greece because they have not stamped it “Final” yet and so they blame their indecision on the magic trick that they are performing. Everyone on the Continent has the report but since they can agree on almost nothing they have blamed the lack of the rubber stamp as the culprit. They should just come out and say that, “It is the rubber stamp’s fault” and be done with it. Every easy trick has now been exhausted when it comes to Greece. You may feel worn out and tired by the length of time this process has taken but that is a remarkably short-sighted viewpoint. It is going to be either “debt forgiveness” or “more money” or “brute force” and there are quite serious consequences for many nations and many governments whichever path is chosen. Any of these three paths will lead to extensive pain and a lot of contagion and so I conclude that the Greeks will get forced out by increasing European demands. “Blame it on the Greeks” will be the secret password while the Greeks will call Berlin every name in the book.
Europe had wanted a rebound, tried to hold on, panicked, sold off, triggered stops – and recovered as the US, although not rebounding fast and furious, at least held the line. EGB running a little out of steam, although August levels were traded again in Bunds. Periphery eventually tracking Risk, but with no own dynamic. Need to see how things close tonight. No More.
"No More" (Bunds 1,34% -2; Spain 5,81% -3; Stoxx 2481% +0,1%; EUR 1,271)
Does China have what it takes to get from here (industrialized export economy) to there (sustainable growth, widespread prosperity)? The same can be asked of every nation: do they have what it takes to move beyond their current limitations to the next level? Consider corruption. Corruption isn't just a "values" issue: corrupt societies have corrupt economies, and these economies are severely limited by that corruption. A deeply, pervasively corrupt economy cannot get from here to there. Corruption acts as a "tax" on the economy, siphoning money from the productive to the parasitic unproductive Elites skimming the bribes, payoffs, protection money, unofficial "fees," etc. By definition, the money skimmed by corruption reduces the disposable income of households and enterprises, reducing their consumption and investment... Pull aside the curtain and what you find is a China crippled by corruption and debt.
While the citizens of Athens rioted and threw Molotov Cocktails outside of their Parliament the elected officials narrowly passed the new austerity measures demanded by the Troika last night. They have a budget vote left, likely to be passed, and then the focus will shift to the IMF and the European Union and whether they will fund and how it will be done. The Greek government says it will run out of money on November 16 and the country has debt payments to be made on November 21. Last night’s vote in Athens was only the first page in the current chapter and there are a number of open questions left. Make no mistake; we are caught between three cliffs at present.
Hmmm… Initial rebound after yesterday’s bashing was rather modest, settling on a bit better and awaiting US input. Spain overdid its auction, which looked just good in the sense of being able to say it sold a new bond for size – to its dealers. ECB, happy to have provided the idea of OMT to save the world from simple panic, now going pessimistic (in non-panicky way). It’s just soft out there… It’s the economy, Stupid! And it is weak.
"Bop 'Til You Drop " (Bunds 1,36% -2; Spain 5,84% +16; Stoxx 2479% +0,1%; EUR 1,275)
Exuberant start (Who knows why?), flat lunch (made more sense…), dismal afternoon (to say the least). EGBs ramped up, as the reality of the last days’ figures kicked in. And suddenly everyone woke up and saw… and bonds were right. Tommy, "See Me, Feel Me".
"Pinball Wizard" (Bunds 1,38% -5; Spain 5,68% +4; Stoxx 2486 -1,8%; EUR 1,276)
Markets have found a good excuse to be on hold. Elections. No real US figures and a tendency to ignore European ones. No shoe dropping means upside, a little. Core EGBs rather firm nevertheless, for choice. Periphery, in absence of news, trading back and forth, so better today. EZ Q4 growth looks like stalling with a catch-up of a more lenient summer. More to come.
"Elected " (Bunds 1,43% +1; Spain 5,64% -9; Stoxx 2513 +0.5%; EUR 1,281)