The likely outcome of the Cyprus crisis now looks to be even worse for the average Cypriot that appeared likely over the weekend. Those who think countries would be better off outside EMU rather than in, just might be able to test their hypothesis. We suspect they will be sadly surprised to learn that the only thing worse of getting in is getting out.
If you don’t collapse the system, the system will collapse you.
While this kind of 'wealth tax' has been predicted, as we noted yesterday, this stunning move in Cyprus is likely only the beginning of this process (which seems only stoppable by social unrest now). To get a sense of both what just happened and what its implications are, RBS has put together an excellent summary of everything you need to know about what the Europeans did, why they did it, what the short- and medium-term market reaction is likely to be, and the big picture of this "toxic policy error." As RBS summarizes, "the deal to effectively haircut Cypriot deposits is an unprecedented move in the Euro crisis and highlights the limits of solidarity and the raw economics that somebody has to pay. It is also the most dangerous gambit that EMU leaders have made to date." And so we await Europe's open and what to expect as the rest of the PIIGSy Banks get plundered.
Thirty cities at the center of the nation’s most populous metropolitan areas faced more than $192 billion in unpaid commitments for pensions and other retiree benefits, primarily health care, as of fiscal 2009. Pew notes that these cities had 74 percent of the money needed to fully fund their pension plans but only 7.4 percent of what was necessary to cover their retiree health care liabilities. Cities typically count on investment earnings from their pension funds to cover two-thirds of benefits. During the Great Recession, though, returns were lower than expected, and unfunded pension liabilities grew in nearly all of the cities. Even cities with well-funded systems struggled to keep up their yearly contributions as local tax revenue plummeted during the recession, and while pension assets have largely returned to pre-recession levels, they still must make up for years of lost growth, as liabilities continue to rise. So pressure for reforms is not expected to lessen. New York and Philadelphia may have the largest unfunded liability per household, but it is Chicago and Pittsburgh that have the lowest funding levels for pensions and the lowest retiree health care funding levels - while Washington D.C. tops the list in both. Benefits down, taxes up.
While risk-on has been a successful strategy since September, UBS' Stephane Deo is growing more cautious. The positives of activity improvement, reduction of political risks, and positioning are now considerably less convincing, and Deo is worried about a potential 'pocket of air' in the market in the near future. They lay out five reasons to be concerned from sentiment and valuation to political concerns in the US and Europe along with fundamental macro deterioration.
The 2011 changes by the FDIC to the safe harbor for "true sales" may have been the end of "Too Big To Fail."
Here are ten things that out to be on your radar screens this week and a view on their importance.
See why Moody's downgrade of the UK credit rating is unlikely to impact the financial markets or UK policy. One of the sub-arguments is that the divergence between the US and UK monetary policy in recent months cannot explain sterling's slide in the foreign exchange market. Moreover, the UK's exports seem more inelastic to UK exports that the currency warriors would suggest.
If it ain't broke, how do you fix it? Here are a variety of solutions from practictioners, academics and investors.
Rating Agencies DID NOT Fail During The Credit Bubble & Subsequent Bust Of 2008-2009, Here's What They Did DoSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 02/15/2013 10:08 -0500
In the video clip below, I explain that the rating agencies DID NOT fail to do their jobs during the credit bubble and subsequent bust of 2008-2009, nor did they fail in the ongoing pan-European sovereign debt crisis. They succeeded wildly because they served their actual constituency --- the banks!
The below article, recreated in its grotesque entirety, is a real, serious Op-Ed written by a supposedly real, non page-view trolling, Nobel-prize winning economist, in a serious paper, the New York Times. It can be classified with one word: jaw-dropping:"We’re not going to resolve our long-run fiscal issues any time soon, which is O.K. — not ideal, but nothing terrible will happen if we don’t fix everything this year. Meanwhile, we face the imminent threat of severe economic damage from short-term spending cuts. So we should avoid that damage by kicking the can down the road. It’s the responsible thing to do."
We urge readers to do a word search for "Moody's" in the official department of justice release below. Here are the highlights:
DOJ COMPLAINT ALLEGES S&P LIED ABOUT ITS OBJECTIVITY - when it downgraded the US?
HOLDER SAYS S&P'S ACTIONS CAUSED `BILLIONS' IN LOSSES - did Moody's actions, profiled previously here, which happens to be a major holding of one Warren Buffett, cause billions in profits?
HOLDER SAYS `NO CONNECTION' BETWEEN S&P SUIT, U.S. DOWNGRADE - just brilliant
Pure pathetic political posturing, because it was the rating agencies, whose complicity and conflicts of interest everyone knew about, who were responsible for the financial crisis. Not Alan Greenspan, not Ben Bernanke, and certainly not Wall Street which made tens of billions in profits selling CDOs to idiots in Europe and Asia. Of course, the US consumer who had a gun held against their head when they were buying McMansions with no money down and no future cash flow is not even mentioned.
Egan-Jones may have been barred from rating sovereigns for 18 months due to missing a comma here or there in its NRSRO application (when everyone knows this was merely retribution for downgrading the US ahead of all the other rating agencies), but now the time has come for that other rating agency which dared to follow in EJ's footsteps and downgrade the US of AmericaAA+ in August 2011 to be punished: Standard & Poors. Moments ago we learned that federal and state prosecutors will five civil charges against S&P for its mortgage bond ratings during the housing crisis.
After two consecutive down days in the market, it was time to get real, and like clockwork the dollar and yen devastation started right out of the gate in overnight trading, when first the USDJPY exploded higher, followed promptly by the EURUSD, both of which hit new period highs, of over 92, and just why of 1.37 respectively. And with not one funding currency around to push risk higher, but two, futures have ramped enough to undo all of yesterday's losses and then some. Bad news was either promptly ignored, such as China's official PMI coming in at 50.4, below expectations of the 50.6 print, or offset by conflicting data, with the HSBC China PMI print moments after at 52.3, higher than the 52.0 expected, taking us back to early 2012 when the Chinese PMI was contracting and expending at the same time.
When the Republican party agreed last week to a push back on the debt ceiling discussion by three months to May 19, virtually without a fight in a move that may presage what is set to become a quarterly can kicking exercise on the US credit card max, some were curious what the quo to this particular quid may be. Earlier today on Meet the press Paul Ryan explained: the pound of spending flesh demanded by the GOP in exchange for caving on yet another key GOP hurdle is, as our readers have known for over two weeks, the Sequester, which is set to hit on March 1 and possibly the stop-gap government funding on March 27, after which various government agencies will start shutting down. Both programs are set to kick in automatically as incremental spending cuts, chopping away even more basis points from the 2013 US GDP, unless the GOP votes affirmatively to extend them in what would then be seen as a move that destroys any last trace of leverage and credibility that GOP may have had.