Certainly, if we compare the fiscal trajectory of the Eurozone as a whole with the US, the US is not really on a better path.
The best thing to ever come out of RBS is back in its original format, now that Bob Janjuah has decided to begin releasing Bob's World again, if not with the unique trademarked grammatical style. That alone must be worth 95% of the intangible, and thus all, assets on RBS' balance sheet. To those who read just the first few paragraphs and are left scratching their heads if Bob was lobotomized in recent weeks and now sees nothing but upside, so contrary to his usual cheery disposition, we suggest reading on - that is merely his outlook for the short-term. The long one: "my view beyond July/August is bearish and very much risk-off. In late Q3/Q4 2011 I expect to see the beginnings of a meaningful sell-off in global risk which should take the S&P below 1220 and on its way possibly to the low 1000s. In this risk-off move I would expect – initially at least – USD to rally sharply, with the DXY index closer to 80 than 75, and major DM government yield curves to bull flatten, with 10-year UST yields falling to around 2.5%. Credit spreads should widen, but I expect non-financial corporate credit to outperform in relative terms. Having said that, in this major risk-off phase I still expect the iTraxx Crossover index to rise well above 500. And commodity weakness should be a major part of this late-2011 serious risk-off phase." Ah yes. Good old Bob.
As ECB Finds Rating Agencies Have Suddenly Found Religion, It Prepares To Flip Flop On Accepting Greek Bond CollateralSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/04/2011 19:57 -0500
Well this was unexpected: the rating agencies, for years and years patsies of their highest paying clients, have suddenly found their conscience, if not religion, and adamantly refuse to bend long-standing rules which qualify the proposed Greek MLEC/CDO type rescue as an event of default. Per Bloomberg: "The rating companies have signaled the plan would trigger because it is being done to avoid default, so couldn’t be considered voluntary, and because investors would be worse off than by holding the new securities." The ECB is so confused by this intransigence and unwillingness to bend to the will of the criminal cartel that earlier today the ECB's Novotny was complaining to Austrian TV about this unexpected demonstration of independence: "Debt rating agencies are being much tougher on potential private-sector contributions to Greece's debt woes than in past bailouts, European Central Bank Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny said on Monday. "We are conducting a very difficult conversation with the ratings agencies," he said."This is what we have to try to find: a way that on the one hand certainly involves banks without having this lead to a default as a consequence," he added. "I also must say it strikes me that the ratings agencies are being much stricter and more aggressive in this European matter than they were, for example, in similar cases in South America. I think this is something we will have to think over." As a result of all this sudden uncertainty, Bloomberg now speculates that the ECB will have no choice than to flip flop on its own adamant position of isolating defaulted collateral, and accept Greek bonds even in an event of default: “The ECB cannot remove liquidity from the big Greek banks,” said Dimitris Drakopoulos, an economist at Nomura. “This discussion is a waste of time. The ECB is going to back down in the end -- what can they do?” he added."
Risk-appetite, which emerged last Friday, couldn’t sustain its momentum today after Eurozone finance ministers decided to delay any final decision on a new Greek rescue package till July. The decision led to a re-emergence of risk-aversion, which provided support to the USD-Index and in turn weighed on EUR/USD and GBP/USD. The ongoing Greek debt concerns once again weighed on equities, with particular underperformance seen in financials, which underpinned the strength in Bunds. Allied to this, Eurozone peripheral 10-year government bond yield spreads widened led by the Greek/German spread.
The Japanese Plunge Protection Team Exposed: The BOJ's "1% Rule", Or The "Shirakawa Put" In PracticeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/19/2011 23:58 -0500
One of the most conspiratorial topics in all of fringe finance has been the existence of the plunge protection team, which while widely known to exist and intervene during major drops in the US capital markets, has never been actually seen in action (thank you Citadel trade ticket shredders). And while the US PPT has increasing grown irrelevant now that the Fed's open market intervention is no longer the source of folklore courtesy of Bernanke's self-professed third mandate vis-a-vis the Russell 2000, it does provide the tinfoil crowd with immense satisfaction to know that virtually always it ends up being proven in the long run not only when it comes to the big picture, but the nuances as well. Enter Nikkei's report (subscription required) on the BOJ's 1% Rule which is "propping up the Nikkei."
Muddy Waters has just distriubuted the following release with its take home notes on the just completed Sino-Forest conference call, the stock of which as of this moment is the single biggest loser ever held by Paulson & Co. As can be expected, MW's commentary is not pretty...
Exclusive: The Fed's $600 Billion Stealth Bailout Of Foreign Banks Continues At The Expense Of The Domestic Economy, Or Explaining Where All The QE2 Money WentSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/11/2011 23:25 -0500
Courtesy of the recently declassified Fed discount window documents, we now know that the biggest beneficiaries of the Fed's generosity during the peak of the credit crisis were foreign banks, among which Belgium's Dexia was the most troubled, and thus most lent to, bank. Having been thus exposed, many speculated that going forward the US central bank would primarily focus its "rescue" efforts on US banks, not US-based (or local branches) of foreign (read European) banks: after all that's what the ECB is for, while the Fed's role is to stimulate US employment and to keep US inflation modest. And furthermore, should the ECB need to bail out its banks, it could simply do what the Fed does, and monetize debt, thus boosting its assets, while concurrently expanding its excess reserves thus generating fungible capital which would go to European banks. Wrong. Below we present that not only has the Fed's bailout of foreign banks not terminated with the drop in discount window borrowings or the unwind of the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, but that the only beneficiary of the reserves generated were US-based branches of foreign banks (which in turn turned around and funnelled the cash back to their domestic branches), a shocking finding which explains not only why US banks have been unwilling and, far more importantly, unable to lend out these reserves, but that anyone retaining hopes that with the end of QE2 the reserves that hypothetically had been accumulated at US banks would be flipped to purchase Treasurys, has been dead wrong, therefore making the case for QE3 a done deal. In summary, instead of doing everything in its power to stimulate reserve, and thus cash, accumulation at domestic (US) banks which would in turn encourage lending to US borrowers, the Fed has been conducting yet another stealthy foreign bank rescue operation, which rerouted $600 billion in capital from potential borrowers to insolvent foreign financial institutions in the past 7 months. QE2 was nothing more (or less) than another European bank rescue operation!
The key news today is not out of the US, but out of Europe, where the ECB will shortly announce that it will hold its main refinanincing rate flat at 1.25% (in line with the BOE's just announced "unchanged" decision, keeping rates flat at 0.5%), though what everyone will focus on is what will be said in the news conference following the decision, where the key phrase is "Strong Vigilance", whose utterance will send the EURUSD much higher on expectations for another 0.25% hike in July. It will also mean that inflation in the Eurozone continues to run up and is still largely out of control, as stagflation threatens not only the UK, but the core of Europe as well. From Reuters: "The ECB is expected to use higher staff inflation forecasts, to be published during Thursday's post-policy meeting news conference, as justification for higher interest rates to come -- probably starting with a rise to 1.50 percent next month. The ECB's Governing Council began meeting at 0700 GMT. The bank raised its main refinancing rate to 1.25 percent from 1.0 percent in April, its first tightening in two years. In the post-meeting news conference, ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet is expected to say the bank will exercise "strong vigilance" over price pressures, using a phrase that in the past signalled a hike was a month away. He used that code in March to flag April's rate rise." There is also a very minor chance that the ECB will hike rates today: "Firming cost pressures -- euro zone producer prices rose by more than expected in April -- mean a rate rise cannot be ruled out this month though the ECB's decision not to signal a hike makes it very unlikely. "I don't think the door to a hike in June is completely closed but given that the ECB has historically pre-announced a rate hike, a hike in June would be a surprise and would assume a change in communication strategy," said Nick Matthews at RBS." The problem is that every incremental rate hike simply means that the interlocked PIIGS markets will be further locked out of markets, as short term funding rates continue rising ever higher: the irony, stated simply, is that by fighting inflation for the healthy countries, the ECB is making the unhealthy ones even worse.
From Nomura: "The way the data and psychology has turned down just as QE2 is ending is no coincidence – just like it was no coincidence when the same thing happened at the end of QE1. To use the Fed Chairman's preferred term these days – the impact of QE is transitory. Much like fiscal stimulus, QE has a temporary impact but as soon as the extraordinary intervention ends, the patient begins to wither again. This is the trap that Bernanke fully understands and it seems like the endless monetization prophecies of Zerohedge and The Daily Dirtnap are at risk of coming true."
Starting at 9pm Eastern, something lit up a fire under the Japanese Yen, sending all pairs, but specifically the USDJPY and EURJPY down sharply for no apparent reason. At last check the Dollar Yen was back under 79.85, the level at which the BOJ 3 months ago had to run like a petulant, crying child to its pedophile uncles from the G-7, begging for a rescue. The only mildly related news came out just prior when it was announced that China's net purchases of Japan debt hit a new record in April. From Bloomberg: "China’s net purchases of Japan’s long-term debt reached a record as the larger nation seeks to diversify the world’s biggest currency reserves. China bought a net 1.33 trillion yen ($16.6 billion) in Japanese long-term bonds in April, the biggest amount since records began in January 2005, according to data released today in Tokyo by Japan’s Ministry of Finance. The nation sold a net 1.47 trillion yen of short-term debt, the data shows. “As China tries to diversify its assets with its huge foreign-exchange reserves, it probably wants to have yen- denominated assets to some extent” in the longer term, said Tetsuya Inoue, chief researcher for financial markets for Tokyo- based Nomura Research Institute Ltd. “China has a strong trading relationship with Japan." If anything this would be dollar negative, not so much Yen positive... We will follow and update if anything is noted.
Richard Koo Calls For, Surprise, More Reconstruction Stimulus To Prevent Japan's Natural Disaster From Becoming A Man-Made CalamitySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/01/2011 12:52 -0500
Richard Koo is back with his latest piece titled, not surprisingly, that "Fiscal Consolidation is Not the Answer" - alas, a decimated by (previously secret) debt European continent, and even America, is rapidly starting to disagree with this assessment, which stems from the faulty assumption that the economic "balance" achieved after 30 years of endless balance sheet expansion courtesy of ever declining interest rates is sustainable. Hint: it isn't. And until the world realizes that it is precisely this Fiscal Consolidation that is the answer, we will continue seeing bankers sell bits and pieces of Greece to each other, transfer payments in the US from the government ending up straight in Wall Street pockets, and broadly the Big getting Ever Bigger to Fail. Yet for those who still believe (Krugman) that one last hit is all it takes and after that it will be better, here is Koo's summary, on why Japan, which we continue to believe is the key macroeconomic variable over the near term, may be in very deep trouble unless it commences yet another (what number is that, #20, #50, is anyone even keeping score?) round of fiscal or monetary stimulus: "Fortunately for the Kan administration, Japanese institutional investors have been dealing with this surplus of private savings on a daily basis for more than 15 years and understand its macroeconomic implications. It is only because of their calm and calculated response to these conditions that the yield on 10-year JGBs remains at 1.2%. To prevent this natural disaster from becoming a man-made calamity (ie a recession), the government needs to push ahead with reconstruction efforts. With private savings surging, the necessary funds can be borrowed for now. Later, once businesses and households start looking to the future, funding can and should be shifted to tax hikes and budget reshuffles." That is the conventional wisdom. For all those who wish to read what will happen if and when Japan continues on this unsustainable path of converting private savings into public funding without regard for demographics, please read Dylan Grice (here, here and here).
In his just released piece, Bob Janjuah's partner at Nomura, Kevin Gaynor, makes some quite profound and very contrarian observations on correlations, a topic discussed extensively on Zero Hedge in the past year. While the prevailing thought is that recently cross-asset correlations have actually dropped (in some cases to record levels), the truth is quite different: "While our colleagues in the Macro Strategy team have made a cogent case that price action in several markets reveals a more discerning behaviour and reduction in observed correlations, Bob and I have been coming around to a slightly different view. Many clients with whom we have spoken over recent weeks are becoming aware of the rather narrow sources of market drivers (two we would argue) and consequent similarities in terms of themes that have driven individual asset classes. It logically follows that anything changing the actual or expected state of those market drivers will have an impact on market returns across a range of risk types and geographies. More to the point, given the nature of those themes (mostly one way), we must be aware of the possibility for a non-linear response to linear changes in those market drivers. That's a fancy way of saying that correlation risk is actually rising in our opinion, as two themes appear to be dominating markets – western liquidity injections without leverage or EM FX appreciation and EM as the source of marginal final demand. These two potent forces have come to dominate the return environment. Consider leadership in DM equity indices since March 2009; it is basic materials and industrials and more lately oil and gas. Ex those sectors, western stock market returns would look rather more threadbare. But perhaps more the point in terms of the non-linearity issue is that the beta of the major indices to these sectors has naturally risen over the past 2 years. Whereas in the past, one had to broadly get financials correct to have a decent stab at calling equity returns (a gross oversimplification I know), it now seems to be the CRB sectors you need to get right." The follow through of all this, and it can be read below, is that the 30 year "great moderation" is rapidly ending and the inflationary threat is now very close, and would be EM driven. At that point none of the Fed's emergency tightening policies, no matter what Alan Blinder's textbook says, would have any impact whatsoever.
Nothing surprising out of the UK, whose economy grew just as predicted, and enough to offset a comparable drop in Q4 of last year. Per Bloomberg: "Gross domestic product rose 0.5 percent from the final quarter of 2010, when it fell by the same amount, the Office for National Statistics said today in London. The result matched the median forecast of 28 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. Services expanded by 0.9 percent, the most since 2006." Now if only inflation could be cut to just double the rate of economic growth... And with the world now looking at the US 1st GDP number due out tomorrow, which will ultimately be revised to sub 2%, we wonder just how a global economy, whose key economies are barely crawling higher, and in the case of Japan, outright collapsing, supposed to lead to a 3.5% global GDP growth in 2011.
Faced with a large capital funding need in advance of a substantial bond redemption next week, Spain had no choice but to hike rates on today's auction of €3.37 billion in 10 and 13 Year bonds. Spain auctioned off €2.49 billion in April 2021 bonds at a yield 5.472% vs. Prev. 5.162% (5.5% interest) at a 2.1 bid/cover Prev. 1.81. it also sold €0.885 billion in 2024 bonds yielding a whopping 5.667% vs. 4.26% previously. The jump in yield caused the bid/cover to rise to 2.3 vs. 1.84 before. From Reuters: "Ten-year Spanish yields eased to 5.46 percent after the sale, having risen to around 5.55 percent since late last week -- just 20 basis points shy of the euro lifetime high. The surge in yields had sparked concern that Spain was being dragged back into the crosshairs of investors looking for the next candidate for an international bailout. The auction was seen as a test of whether Madrid was still seen as insulated from Portugal, Greece and Ireland, which have sought help. ""Spain's debt servicing costs have ratcheted higher and, while not yet providing any cause for alarm in terms of their outright levels, arguably have little in the way of headroom before such concerns might begin to take effect," said Rabobank strategist Richard McGuire. Traders said the 5.6 percent level in 10-year Spanish bonds was key, although yields have failed to break above that level on a sustained basis to date. "If that goes it could turn very nasty," one trader said." Elsewhere both Portuguese and Greek 10 Years hits fresh lifetime highs (low prices), printing 9.5% and 14.68%, even as an oblivious euro surged to a fresh 18 month high.