Monetary Outright Transactions - MOT
Moths??? Like those burning up on light bulbs??? Or like in “to mothball”, buy and store?
With one day to go until the European soap opera hits its peak, and with the ECB doing all it can to spread disinformation and sow discord and disunity between Germany and everyone else on both the ECB governing council and everywhere else, Germany has decided to again make it clear just where it stands on the topic of hyperinflation and other printing matters. The punchline:
- ECB'S DRAGHI DOESN'T HAVE 'TOO MUCH' SUPPORT FROM MERKEL, MERKEL BACKS WEIDMANN
- ECB CAN ONLY BUY BONDS ATTACHED TO CONDITIONALITY
But wait, there is much more. Readers may recall that yesterday that one of the articles we pointed out came from Dutch Dagblad which suggested that it was Weidmann who was isolated on the ECB governing council, and that the Dutch member of the ECB council Klass Knot as well as all other members was "for buying government bonds of Southern European countries." Well, prepare to be shocked, because what kind of soap opera would it be if it wasn't for unexpected narrative plot lines. Today, Frankfurt-based Market News reported precisely the opposite, and not only is Knot on the same side as the Germans, but so are virtually all the other "virtuous" European countries, aka the non-beggars.
This morning, Germany attempted to sell €5 billion in 1.5% 10 Year bonds. It sold just €3.61 billion directly to investors (who had submitted a less than auction clearing €3.91 billion in bids), forcing the German Treasury to retain 27.8% of the auction, €1.39 billion: the highest retained amount since November 2011 when it was 39%. For one reason or another: the yield was too low at 1.42% (compared to the 1.634 average), there was much more supply elsewhere, fears of what the ECB will do tomorrow, or who knows - the real bid to cover was a paltry 0.79 (all in BTC 1.09 including government retention) compared to 1.57 at the last auction and a 1.31 average at the past 4 auctions. In other words the auction was for all technical reasons, a failure, and only the second such "failure" of 2012. The immediate reaction was Bund futures down 22 ticks at 143.28 vs 143.70 before auction as the market digested the surprising disappointment, with the German 10-year government bond yield up 2.4 basis points at 1.41 percent vs 1.37 percent before auction. In summary, if the Germans needed any more reasons that funding the insolvent Eurozone at all costs up to an including debt monetizations, which may result in failed bond auctions for German itself, are not in their best interest, they just got one. The good news: in an email sent out immediately by the German Finance agency, the bond sale was "not a risk to the budget." Wouldn't want a failed bond auction to jeopardize the budget now.
There is still some compression margin, but where to put the credit spread, real or “perceived”, from a (real) default possibility point of view or even from the shunned convertibility point of view?
If the leaks from the European Parliament are to be believed then the lines are being drawn in the sand for quite a fight. The rumor is that Mr. Draghi is going to propose a plan to buy short sovereign debt (0-3 years) without limit if a nation fills out the requisite form and officially asks for aid with conditionality. This once again proves that the rules and regulations in Europe, the very stipulations that we rely upon, can be changed, modified or distorted with the blink of an eye and the wave of a hand. It seems that nothing is set in concrete, nothing is firm and that everything is moveable upon a moment’s notice. the amount of upfront debt, which would constantly have to be rolled, would present a series of dangers including the inability to finance it as it comes due along with a balance sheet at the ECB that could swell well past the $4 trillion mark where it is now or 45% larger than the current balance sheet at the Fed. The world does not receive funding from alien worlds and there are consequences that append from having a ledger that expands without boundaries.
Gold’s seasonality is seen in the above charts which show how March, June and October are gold’s weakest months with actual losses being incurred on average in these months. Buying gold during the so-called summer doldrums has been a winning trade for most of the last 34 years. This is especially the case in the last eight years as gold averaged a gain of nearly 14% in just six months after the summer low. We tend to advise a buy and hold strategy for the majority of clients. For those who have a bit more of a risk appetite, an interesting strategy would be to buy at the start of September, sell at end of September and then buy back in on October 31st.
Yesterday we dedicated significant space to the most recent piece of perfectly ludicrous propaganda out of the ECB, namely that monetizing debt with a maturity up to three years is not really monetization but is instead within the arena of "money market management" (images of Todd Akin defining when something is 'legitimate' and when it isn't swimming our heads). The implication of course is that debt under 3 years is not really debt, but some mystical piece of paper that nobody should be held accountable for. Hopefully all those consumers who have short-maturity credit card debt which nonetheless yields 29.95% APR are made aware of this distinction and decide to follow through with Mario Draghi's logic, which is about to take the war of words between Germany and the ECB to the next level. Sure enough, this is precisely the news item that is dominating bond risk markets this morning, if not so much futures, and sending Spanish and Italian 2s10s spreads to record wides on hopes Draghi will definitely announce some sub 3 year monetization program for the PIIGS. Bloomberg summarized this best last night when it commented on the move in the EURUSD, since retraced, that we now have speculation Draghi's move will bolster confidence. In other words: the market is now hoping there is hope. Sure enough, even if Draghi follows through, for the ECB to monetize Spanish bonds, Spain still has to demand a bailout, which however is now absolutely out of the question as mere jawboning has moved the entire highly illiquid curve so steep Rajoy (and Monti) have absolutely no reason to hand over their resignations (i.e., request a bailout). And so we go back to square one. But logic no longer matters in these markets.
Not entirely surprising following the outlook changes for Germany, France, UK, and Holland but still an intriguing move right before Draghi's big unveiling: Moodys maintains AAA rating but shifts to outlook negative.
Moody's believes that it is reasonable to assume that the EU's creditworthiness should move in line with the creditworthiness of its strongest key member states considering the significant linkages between member states and the EU, and the likelihood that the large Aaa-rated member states would likely not prioritize their commitment to backstop the EU debt obligations over servicing their own debt obligations.
Interestingly they also note that a further cut could occur due to: changes to the EU's fiscal framework that led to less conservative budget management...
Europe took August off. Today, it is America's turn, as the country celebrates Labor day, although judging by recent trends in the new 'Part-time" normal, a phenomenon we have been writing about for years, and which even the NYT has finally latched on to, it would appear the holiday should really be Labor Half-Day. After today the time for doing nothing is over, and with less than one month left in the quarter, and trading volumes running 30% below normal which would guarantee bank earnings in Q3 are absolutely abysmal, the financial system is in dire need of volume, i.e. volatility. Luckily, things are finally heating up as the newsflow (sorry but rumors, insinuations, innuendo, and empty promises will no longer cut it) out of various central banks soars, coupled with key elections first in the Netherlands and then of course, in the US, not to mention the whole debt-ceiling/ fiscal cliff 'thing' to follow before 2012 is over. So for those who still care about events and news, here is the most comprehensive summary of the key catalysts over the next week and month, which are merely an appetizer for even more volatile newsflow in October and into the end of the year.
“Believe me, it will be enough!” will request some massive outside-the-box thinking…
Upcoming calls from Ben and Mario to the governments?
Get your act together, there’s just so much that can be done.
Odd and contradictory ROn / ROff close
Even in the unlikely case of a fiscal union, the conflict “Draghi against Weidmann”, between the ECB and the Bundesbank will continue for years. The ECB mandate and many european inflation figures do not allow for excessive ECB rate cuts or for state financing via the printing press, but Draghi wants to help his struggling home country.
We don't need recession
Or means of repression
Just give us some money
Our life could be sunny too...
The Chinese Stock Markets are returning to the lows of 2009 and the Europe is mired in a recession. The American Stock Markets are not far off their highs and we do not think this will continue. Mark Grant is quite negative, for all kinds of reasons, about our equity markets now and would be taking profits and returning to the more assured bets of getting yield from bonds and not from dividends. A dividend may be reduced or cancelled by the wave of some Boards’ hand one afternoon while senior debt cannot be cancelled without the company or the municipality going into bankruptcy so that the top of the capital structure is far safer than relying upon dividends for income. In the next sixty days we are faced with Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and ECB issues that are quite serious both economically and politically. You may think what you like but there is a lot of risk on the table; of that you may be assured. When someone says, “Buddy can you spare a dime” we would like to be the one being asked and not the one doing the asking. It is here where we stand and wait.
We advise you to take note of the political opposition that is coalescing in Europe. The cry across the Continent, in various languages, is “Enough.” All of the grand designs speculated about for the ECB rest upon the use of the EFSF and/or the ESM as stated specifically by Mr. Draghi. Over the weekend the Bundesbank was absolutely critical of any such plans and they were supported by several statements made by Ms. Merkel. It is now dubious, in my view, whether Austria, the Netherlands, Finland and perhaps Germany would support not pledges but more actual money to be used for Greece, Portugal and Spain. The rub is on and the size of these potential programs will, without doubt, affect the funding nations in Europe along with the nations that need the capital. Muddling is no longer possible, delay has run out of road, postponement is no longer an option as recession grips the Continent and as each solvent nation seeks to defend itself.