Rating Agencies

Why The Latest European Bailout, Aka "The Debt Buyback" Plan Is Also DOA, And Why The CDO At The Heart Of The Eurozone Is About To Become Extremely Toxic

Over time many have wondered why the ECB, in order to "extend and pretend", does not simply do an episode of QE and monetize bonds outright? Well, in addition to Germany's flashbacks to hyperinflation which have so far kept Trichet from pursuing an all too aggressive bond buyback program in the primary market, the ECB does have the Securities Market Programme (SMP) which however since inception has bought only €74 billion (this week the number is expected to rise, or, if it doesn't, it confirms that now China is directly buying European bonds in the secondary market). The problem with the SMP is that it was conceived as a modest marginal debt buying program, never intended to surpass much more than a few dozen billion in debt. Alas, by now it is becoming all too clear that the ECB will need to monetize hundreds of billions of insolvent PIIGS debt in order to extend and pretend forcefully enough so that a new bailout is not needed every other week. But how to do it without monetizing debt on the ECB's books? Enter the EFSF, or the off-balance sheet CDO "at the heart of the eurozone" which according to the latest iteration of the European rescue package (Remember that most recent DOA plan to rollover debt? Yep - that's dead) is precisely the mechanism by which Europe's own open market QE is about to take place. "European Central Bank Executive Board member Lorenzo Bini Smaghi suggested the EFSF be allowed to provide funds for a buy-back of bonds from the market, where prices have in some cases fallen 50 percent from levels at which the debt was issued. "This would allow the private sector to sell bonds at market prices, which are currently below nominal value. At the same time, the public sector could benefit monetarily," Bini Smaghi told Sunday's To Vima newspaper in an interview." Translated: another market clearing perversion courtesy of the same structured finance abominations that brought us here. The problem, unfortunately, is that Moody's announced nearly two and a half years ago that the whole distressed debt buyback approach is... a dead end, and will lead to the same "event of default" outcome that all the prior bailout plans would have achieved as well (we correctly surmised that Bailout #2 was DOA, about a month before the "efficient" market did). Here is why.

Weekly Chartology, Or How To BS About "Strong Micro" When The Economy Is Below Stall Speed

Never before has the job of Goldman's equity markets strategist been so difficult: on one hand he has to deal with an economy that is openly imploding after a readjustment of Q2 GDP to below subspeed, a drop in Q3 growth from his economic team as of last night to 2.5%, and a growth hockeystick that nobody (except for Joe LaVorgna of course) believes in any more. On the other he has to get paid for spreading propaganda to the firm's whale accounts even as GS is openly selling into any risk rally (Abacus deja vu). And while the latest weekly chartology from David Kostin is already very much outdated, after Jan Hatzius was forced to admit in his latest Friday night bomb installment that our view on the economy (i.e., absent stimulus = game over) is correct, he does make pretty charts. So ignore all the forecasts as they are 100% wrong as usual and focus on the pretty breakdowns of what has already happened. If nothing else, Goldman proves that billions in taxpayer bailout funds and secret Short Term OMO access can sure buy a damn good WP/Graphics department.

Rosenberg On The Debt Ceiling

When it comes to the debt ceiling, we have heard everyone and the kitchen sink's opinion on this issue at this point. Yet one person who has been silent so far is the original skeptic David Rosenberg. Summarized: "Despite the fear mongering, the U.S. government is not going to default. Any backup in bond yields from a failure to cobble together a deal will drive market rates down because of the deflationary implications from the massive fiscal squeeze that would ensue at a time of a huge 5% output gap. Even if there were to be some sort of "buyer's strike" if the U.S. were to be defaulted, rest assured that the Fed would step in aggressively." Obviously to a mega bond bull like Rosenberg, this is the only possible outcome. After all an alternative would mean the central planners have failed, and the most artificially inflated security in the history of man: US bonds, which are only there because they are the "best of all evils" was enjoying an extended "ignore the emperor's nudity" sabbatical... which alas does not change their evilness, nor is this equilibrium stable once more and more realize it is all about gold at the end of the day. And as yesterday demonstrated when existential fear grips the market, the impossible does happen, and both bonds and stocks can sell off, and in the process lead to all time records for gold. Bookmark July 14: it is a harbinger of what is coming.

...Weiss Chimes In: Verdict - C Minus

Weiss Ratings, an independent rating agency of U.S. financial institutions and sovereign debts, has downgraded the debt of the United States government from C to C-minus.

And The Winner, After Bernanke's Humphrey Hawkins Dog & Pony Show, By Unanimous Decision Is.... Gold

Stocks dumping, dollar at all time lows against a plethora of FX pairs, while gold (and silver) is sticky as superglue and remains just a few dollars away from its all time nominal highs, and just short of $1,600, which we expect will be taken out as soon as the world realizes that the Greek 2 Year spread to Bunds is now over 30% and that Europe is not fixed. Perhaps Bernanke would like to take another stab at that whole "is gold money" question...

Rating Agency Wars 2: The New Evil Empire Strikes Back - Dagong Says Likely To Downgrade US Even If Debt Limit Raised

When on July 4 we reported the patriotic decision by Moody's to suddenly discover that up to 10% of China's GDP is concentrated in previously undisclosed bad debt, we suggest that "Dagong downgrades the US to junk status in 5, 4, 3..." Well, it's one and a half. China Daily has just reported that according to the notorious abovementioned Dagong rating agency, "The US' sovereign credit rating is likely to be downgraded regardless of whether the US Congress reaches an agreement on raising its statutory debt limit. "If the debt limit is raised and the public debt continues to grow, it will further damage the US' debt-paying ability, which is a key factor in Dagong's evaluation, and we will consider lowering its ratings accordingly," said Guan Jianzhong, chairman and CEO of Dagong. "If the raised limit fails to pass and the US faces default, the rating will be immediately and substantially downgraded," he said. According to Guan, the downgrading is really just "a matter of time and extent". And if Europe is suffering now, after Moody's has discovered religion and is slapping ratings downgrades at each and every PIIG, just wait until the global Nash equilibrium collapse in the rating agency Ponzi preservation prerogative goes trans-Pacific. Because following the imminent Dagong downgrade, Moody's and S&P will retaliate yet again, this time likely throwing Japan into the fray yet again, until such time as virtually the entire overleveraged world declares any and all rating agency employees persona non-grata.

Econophile's picture

The Euro 1999 - 2012 R.I.P.

Why would anyone think that a monetary system whereby poor states spend and get bailed out by rich (i.e., successful) states would ever work? The euro is a failed concept and will tear Europe's monetary system apart.

EUR Plunges After Lagarde Intimates On Greek Bankruptcy

It appears that the market refuses to be baffled with bullshit any longer. The EURUSD just took a big tumble following a report that Christine Lagarde, the IMF's new boss, announced that her new agency has not yet discussed Greek aid details, and made it clear that "nothing should be taken for granted on Greece." Since the only thing that is being taken for granted is that Greece will be bailed out, it is easy to see why the EURUSD just lopped off 60 pips in seconds. Not very surprisingly, this fits with what the Chairman of Commerzbank Martin Blessing told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung earlier. It appears that the dining room table is being set for what the EUR's chef believe will be a brief feast on the Greek carcass, following the country's plunge into SD, or temporary default status. What will happen next, however, is the same thing that happened when Lehman filed: sheer panic, as a global bank runs ensues, and the USD, not to mention gold, all go parabolic. The only possible brief saving grace is once again China, which just reported that its FX reserves rose from $3,197 billion to $3.233 billion. The bulk of that money is now going to purchase EURs and keep Europe afloat one more day.

An Explanation Of What Is Really Going On Behind The Scenes As Rome Burns

Unable to keep with the events in Europe which are now literally changing on an hourly basis? Fear not: SocGen's James Nixon has compiled the most succinct explanation for why we are where we are, and why things will get much worse, before they get even remotely better. In a nutshell, everything you know about the existing proposals is finished: what is currently on the table is "a wider strategy which includes lowering the interest rate on lending to Greece and returning to the idea of bond buybacks." Ah, yes, the Goldman proposal. However did we know we may end up precisely here. The problem with this proposal is that all bond buybacks at prices below par are, and always have been, considered by the rating agencies as immediate events of technical default. How this eliminates the ECB liquidity scramble bogeyman we have no idea. At this point we are absolutely certain that the only thing on the Eurozone and ECB's plate is to baffle everyone with steaming pile after pile of bullshit so unbelievable, that people are stunned for days, buying bankers valuable time to convert even more freshly printed paper into hard assets. In the meantime, there is no actual plan to deal with the problems of untenable debt, or at least not one that does not involve the outright monetization of debt and thus, the spurring of hyperinflation, which unfortunately is the last recourse to wipe out the tens of trillions in bad debts dispersed proratedly across Europe's insolvent banking system.