Earlier today we were surprised when none other than uber central-planning skeptic, not to mention bond fund manager, Bill Gross threw in the towel and in his latest letter advocated the purchase of risk assets - and Bill Gross is the last person needing reminding that in a day and age when the 10 Year yields just barely over 2.5%, this means not bonds but stocks. The surprise, however, promptly disappeared when we realized that PIMCO is merely the latest entrant in the scramble for yield game following, with a substantial delay to all of its other "alternative" asset management peers, right into ground zero: European toxic debt.
So you want to be a mortgage banker? then listen now to what i say Just get liability insurance... and get ready to pay and pay...
As we warned last week, stockpiles of iron-ore have reached record levels in China as end-demand slumps but, as Bloomberg notes, this is potentially creating massive dislocations in other markets. Record imports of iron ore and copper, driven by traders who use them as loan collateral, risk repeating the vicious cycle of repayment difficulties and falling prices already seen in the steel-trading market. A stunning 40 percent of the iron ore at China’s ports are part of finance deals (having replaced copper after China's last shadow-banking crackdown) and with the glut, prices drop (driving down the value of collateral on loans) and "borrowers, forced by their bankers to repay loans or to top up collateral, will have to sell the metals, sinking market prices even further and begetting a vicious cycle."
- Carl Icahn wins again: Actavis to Buy Forest Labs for $25 Billion (WSJ)
- ECB governing council member attacks German court ruling on OMT (FT)
- China Tackles $1 Trillion Data Gap as Xi Changes Metrics (BBG)
- FX Traders Facing Extinction as Computers Replace Humans (BBG)
- BOJ Boost to Loan Programs Signals Room for More Easing (BBG) - actually no it doesn't as it was "factored in"
- Four killed in Thai clashes; PM to face charges over rice scheme (Reuters)
- Goodbye unsterilized SMP: Bundesbank Backs Measure to Boost Funds in Banking System (WSJ)
- Iranian Hacking to Test NSA Nominee Michael Rogers (WSJ)
- Ukraine Clashes Leave Dozens Wounded as Putin Resumes Bailout (BBG)
There is a very good chance that the crisis that began in 2008 is actually not over by any stretch – it is merely moving from one place to the next. After all, the developments discussed below are a direct result of the reaction of the world's monetary authorities to the initial crisis. China's credit bubble and ZIRP in the US and Europe are all children of the crisis and have evidently sown the seeds for the next crisis. As we always stress, we expect that the next major crisis will eventually lead to a crisis of confidence in said monetary authorities. At some point, faith in central banks is bound to crumble and then we will really experience 'interesting times'.
Chinese capital markets are quietly turmoiling as debt issues are delayed and demand for "Trust" products - the shadow-banking-system's wealth management 'investments' - is tumbling. As Nikkei reports, since January, 9 companies have postponed or canceled issuance plans (around $1 billion) and is most pronounced in privately-owned companies (who lack an implicit government guarantee). This, of course, is exactly what the PBOC wanted (to instill some fear into these high-yield investors - demand - and thus slow the supply of credit to the riskiest over-capacity compenies) but as non-performing loans in China surge to post-crisis highs, fear remains prescient that they will be unable to "contain" the problem once real defaults begin (as opposed to 'delays of payment' that we have seen so far).
- Anti-Euro Party’s Le Pen Gains Supporters, French Poll Shows (BBG)
- Carney Renews BOE Low-Rate Pledge to Fight Slack in Economy (BBG)
- Bank of England hints at 2015 rate rise (Reuters)
- ECB bond-buying intact and ready after court decision-Coeure (Reuters)
- Canada scraps millionaire visa scheme, dumps 46,000 Chinese applications (SCMP)
- Scrap this then? Vancouver facing an influx of 45,000 more rich Chinese (SCMP)
- China's January Exports Power Higher, Up 10.6% (WSJ) ... and nobody believes the number
- Emerging-Market Shakeout Putting Reserves Into Focus (BBG)
- Wall Street's most eligible banker Fleming waits for suitor (Reuters)
- Kazakh Devaluation Shows Currency War Stirring as Ruble Dips (BBG)
Is it any wonder Mario Draghi didn't lift a quantitative-easing finger this week? Despite record unemployment, record (and disastrous youth unemployment), record suicide rates, record non-performing loans, and an inextricably-linked banking system facing $3 trillion in exposure to emerging markets... Spanish bond yields have collapsed to their lowest since 2006 (and Italian close behind). With an entirely broken transmission mechanism of monetary policy, it seems the "market" for European bonds knows no bounds as spreads on the riskiest sovereigns drop to pre-crisis levels and 10Y Spain yields are now lower than 30Y US Treasuries.
- Global makets plunge (Reuters)
- Goodbye Mrs. Watanabe - Japan Sees Worst Developed-Stock Rout as Nikkei 225 Drops (BBG)
- Who could have possibly predicted this - Firms Pinched by Pressure to Hold Down Their Prices (WSJ)
- RBA Shifts to Neutral as It Signals Comfort With Aussie’s Level (BBG)
- Fractures Emerge Between Obama, Congressional Democrats (WSJ)
- Brazil suffers record trade deficit (FT)
- El Salvador fisherman washes up in Marshall Islands after year adrift (Reuters)
- Apple Quietly Builds New Networks (WSJ)
- One-year prison sentence for 21-year-old Twitter user who glorified terrorists (El Pais)
- Emerging-Market Rout Seen Enduring on Low Real Rates (BBG)
- After rocky January, markets eye data and central banks (Reuters)
- Europe will feel the pain of emerging markets (FT)
- Lloyds delays dividend prospect after mis-selling charge (Reuters)
- Snow Set to Snarl New York Commute as U.S. Flights Halted (BBG)
- Rate Decision to Drive Yellen's Early Agenda (Hilsenrath)
- Thai protesters move to downtown Bangkok in bid to topple PM (Reuters)
- China says Japan's 'hype' on air defence zone spreads tension (Reuters)
- Hedge funds seek 1.8 billion euros damages from members of Porsche's owning family (Reuters)
On Wednesday, Italy's government voted final approval to a decree hiking the value of Bank of Italy's share capital from €156K to €7.5 billion - something that had not been done since the 1930s. Of course, politicians determining the fictitious value of a central bank is one thing, as idiotic as it may be. However, what is truly preposterous is the covert bailout that accompanies the decree: a key part of the decision was setting a 3% ceiling on the stake that the bank's shareholders can own in the central bank. This means, as Reuters reports, that Intessa and UniCredit, currently the central bank's largest shareholders with stakes of 42 percent and 22 percent respectively - not to mention two of Italy's most NPL-heavy banks - will have to sell the bulk of their central bank "equity" stakes. And who will they sell them to? Why the central bank itself, and in return they will pocket up to €3.5 billion ($4.7 billion) from the sale of their central bank holdings. Said otherwise, Italy took not only bizarro accounting, but also monetary financing of insolvent banks by the monetary authority, and thus Italy's taxpayers, to the truly next level.
As we draw ever closer to Europe's date with disaster and the inevitable lifting of the kimono that Draghi's supervision-driven stress tests appear to be, European banks are being forced to finally 'fess up to the real state of their balance sheets. Confused at how bad macro data can be in Spain and yet banks have been 'surviving' or 'thriving' - simply put, they lied. Spain's Banco Popular just released earnings showing a 19.6% rise in non-performing loans at EUR21.2 billion driven by a surge in "doubtful loans for subjective reasons" that almost tripled QoQ. This is the highest bad loan ratio on record at 14.27% - but have no fear, their CEO says "loan defaults are nearing their peak," because he would know...
With all eyes gloating over Ireland's recent ability to issue debt in the capital markets once again (and now with 10Y trading only 40bps above US Treasuries), Europe's game of distraction continues. However, while spreads (and yields) tumble in all the PIIGS, with Italian yields at almost 7-year lows, it is perhaps surprising to some that Italian bad loan rates are at their highest on record. Having risen at a stunning 23% year-over-year - its fastest in 2 years, Italian gross non-performing loans (EUR149.6 billion) as a proportion of total lending rose to 7.8% in November (up from 6.1% a year earlier). As the Italian Banking Association admits in a statement today, deposits are declining (-1.9% YoY) and bonds sold to clients (-9.4% YoY) as Italy's bank clients with bad loans have more than doubled since 2008.
If ever a chart provided unequivocal proof the economic recovery storyline is a fraud, the one below is the smoking gun.