As reported over the weekend, the German press did some work and discovered that despite Spain being rated practically junk across the board, its bonds pledged as collateral with the ECB had virtually no haircuts, despite as we said back in April, them needing to be haircut by a solid 5% or more an amount which would force the Spanish banko-sovereign system to scramble to procure the critical €17 billion margin call. Well, moments ago the Bank of Spain (not the ECB) came out and said that the ECB had applied collateral rules correctly. However, by that they meant not that the ECB had demanded the needed 5% haircut due upon a downgrade into sub A-range, but that the rating agency which absolutely nobody has every heard of, Canadian DBRS, has a "rating that needs to be taken into account." In other words, Spain's collateral call is now dependent not so much on Moody's downgrading the country to junk, which likely will happen soon if Rajoy does not demand the bailout which has been priced in for about 3 months now, but on what a tiny Canadian ratings firm, which has most certainly not gotten any quid pro quo from Europe to keep Spain at is A-low level (for long-term debt, not so much short-term) says is the Spanish rating quality.
Tired of pundits with black boxes and book deals telling you the election is a done deal because some statistically-sampling, biased, Garbage In, Garbage Out model "said so" (remember when the same GIGO logic made every structured piece of toxic RMBS toxic be rated AAA simply because the rating agency models couldn't account for the improbable case of real estate prices actually going down?) Then decide for yourselves. With 48 hours left until polls close, below are the 512 permutating paths available to the two candidates on their way to the White House throne (assuming the other states vote the way they are "expected"). And with the election having crossed far beyond mere theatrical tragicomedy and now well into NCAA finals knock out fever, one can see why Florida and Ohio are really all the matter.
Mario Draghi has reassured the world that no matter how much 'crap' collateral is taken on to the ECB's balance sheet, their risk management process is rigorous and ensures the safety of the entity's capital thanks to well-devised haircuts and collateral. Once again, it appears from a report in Die Welt (via Bloomberg), Draghi lied, as the ECB is now checking terms on some lending to Spanish banks that may have already contravened the ECB's mandate allowing overly generous terms to be offered on the Spanish banks' collateral. As Bloomberg notes, the issue surrounds EUR80bn relatively short-dated T-Bills which were wrongly classified as rated 'A' instead of the 'B' that agencies - except DBRS! - had assigned (a vast difference) - which would imply (if the ECB re-assigns the correct rating) the affected Spanish banks would have to produce up to EUR16.6bn in additional collateral (cash or quality collateral that is non-existent in Europe). This of course "casts doubt on the quality of the ECB's risk management" and merely serves to confirm the Juncker-ian lies we have come to expect from Europe's leaders (economic and political). As Die Welt notes: "Critical observers ask: who actually controls the ECB?"
There have been no major overnight events or surprises, with Europe continuing a war of semantics whether the Spanish bailout is a bailout, and attempting to avoid it as long as possible while reaping the benefits of Spanish bonds which are trading at post-bailout levels for a 3rd months now, as well as whether Greece will receive more Troika money (the WSJ reported that Greece requires €30 billion through 2016 to close its funding gap: a number which will eventually double, then triple), and yet as of moments ago the EURUSD slipped under the psychological 1.2900 support, which also means that 1400 on the SPX cash is in play. Italy did not help after business confidence declined from 88.3 to 87.6 on expectations of a rise to 88.7 What news there has been is largely the realization that reality is here to stay, following misses and guides lower from Amazon and Apple, and no matter what some low-volume algo tries to represent by buying the stock in the after hours session, profitability and cash flow creation for both companies will be lower going forward. In terms of newsflow, the NYT released a report last night that China's Premier may have been hiding billions in "related-party" transactions - imagine that, and one which promptly got the NYT blocked from China's internet. Obviously this is a touchy topic for China days ahead of its internal party vote, and one which will hardly score the US brownie points with the domestic administration. Concurrently, Japan announced a new fiscal "stimulus" for a whopping ... $9.4 billion. That is roughly the amount of money needed to evade deflation for 2-3 hours. More apropos, Bild reports what Bloomberg noted earlier, namely that Merkel has no majority for reported Greek aid, further blowing up the hole that Greek finmin Stournaras dug himself in with his lies earlier this week. So while everyone is once again on edge, with the Shanghai composite sliding 1.7%, and key technical levels either breached or in play, today's session promises to be quite interesting.
Before the campaign contributors lavished billions of dollars on their favorite candidate; and long after they toast their winner or drink to forget their loser, Wall Street was already primed to continue its reign over the economy. For, after three debates (well, four), when it comes to banking, finance, and the ongoing subsidization of Wall Street, both presidential candidates and their parties’ attitudes toward the banking sector is similar – i.e. it must be preserved – as is – at all costs, rhetoric to the contrary, aside. Obama hasn’t brought ‘sweeping reform’ upon the Establishment Banks, nor does Romney need to exude deregulatory babble, because nothing structurally substantive has been done to harness the biggest banks of the financial sector, enabled, as they are, by entities from the SEC to the Fed to the Treasury Department to the White House.
Fear the truth, it shall set fundamental market forces free!
European equity resilience seems surprising, given the otherwise gloomier mood. No news still played out as being good news and even catch-up to US levels seems a doubtful explanation.
As all eyes and ears (and trigger fingers) are glued to the flashing red headlines from Europe's conditional unconditional OMT/credit-line/backstop/ESM malarkey and Spain's insistence that it doesn't need help yet just wonders what the rules are, Merkel stated - for absolute clarity once again - her views yesterday. As much as no-one wants to hear what the money-lady has to say - preferring instead to live in a world where promises work, FinMin Schaeuble clarified the need for a 'currency commissioner' with sweeping powers to strike down national budgets. This bombshell, as The Telegraph calls it, is really nothing of the sort; as Merkel has already made it clear that there's no money without sacrificing sovereignty. The directness of this statement though does raise questions over just what the ECB is for? Critically, dismissing Van Rompuy's spin that this is a step towards debt-pooling and euro-bills, Schaeuble made it clear that fiscal union meant "more power to police the affairs of debtor states." While the possibility remains of a precautionary line of credit, the Germans stated: "one thing is clear: whatever is requested, it won't be without conditions," and as Citi's Steve Englander noted "It's all down to haggling over the price now."
For those who are curious why Tim Geithner has been invisible in the past 2 months, the answer is he has been manning the phones like a true patriot, and making sure nobody dares to rock the European boat ahead of the US election (as was already disclosed), in this case exemplified by Moody's just released announcement that the rating agency will not downgrade Spain to junk, soaring debt, collapsing GDP and laughable unemployment rate notwithstanding (unless of course the ECB fails in its mission to scare all shorts from approaching within 10 miles of an SPGB, and Spain loses private market access again, in which case Moody's would proceed with a "multiple notch downgrade"). At least not until the US election that is. After that... well, with the fiscal cliff, debt ceiling, Greece vs Troika, etc, etc, buy VIX.
Stronger Periphery close will be the usual opportunity for politicians to rant about the lack of clout of rating agencies.
Good Jump in Risk appetite. Question is how far. Lack of absence of negative news, or better, markets simply ignoring the latter, doesn’t make for a convincing bullish rebound.
I’d say: We won’t get fooled again! European Bull trap.
Europe just can't catch a break these days. While French Fitch naturally came out earlier with a AAA rating and a stable outlook, it is Moody's, which has yet to follow through in S&P's footsteps 14 months later and tell the truth about America's AAA rating, that moments ago spoiled the ESM "inauguration" party by branding it AAA, but with a Negative outlook. So much for the most 'supersecure' CDO on earth: looks like we are not the only ones to assign comical value to the ESM's €80 billion first loss "Paid-in" tranche. Because that 12% in buffered protection can disappear very quick if and when the central planners lose control.
And Monday, it became official.
Those confused by yesterday's rapid move higher in stocks, which fizzled by day's end, which was catalyzed by the non-event of the Spanish budget declaration which will prove to be a major disappointment as all such announcement are fated to be, can take solace in the following summary by DB's Jim Reid: "Yesterday's risk rally on the back of the 2013 budget announcement coincided with a trend seen over the last couple of years of rallies into month and quarter ends. We'll probably get a clearer picture of underlying sentiment by early next week with the new quarter starting, especially as it commences with a bang with the Global PMI numbers on Monday." In this vein, tonight's overnight sentiment showing weakness confirms yesterday's move was one which merely used Spain as a buying catalyst without reading anything into it. Because an even cursory read through shows major cracks. Sure enough the sellside readthroughs appeared this morning: "In our view the Spanish 2013 budget is based on a too optimistic GDP growth assumption" from Citi. Once again, the market shot first, and asks questions later, as the weakness in the futures confirms, EURUSD retracing all overnight gains, and Spain now 1.6% lower on this, as well as uncertainty of today's latest non-event - the local bank stress test vers 304.2b - whose results will be announce at noon NY time, and which just may find Bankia (and its Spiderman towel collection) is quite solvent once again.
Protests Reignite On Anniversary Of Japanese Invasion Of China; Boats Enter Japan's Territorial WatersSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/18/2012 07:16 -0400
Anyone who thought that anti-Japan protests would quietly go away on the 81st anniversary of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria may have to reevaluate. First, overnight the HKEJ said that China is preparing economic sanctions against Japan, and as the situation again escalates, Reuters reports that at least two of 11 Chinese ocean surveillance and fishery patrol ships sailing near East China Sea islets claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing have entered what Japan considers its territory, public broadcast NHK said on Tuesday, quoting Japan's Coast Guard. Subsequently, NHK reported that "a Chinese fisheries patrol ship has departed after approaching Japan's territorial waters off the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The Japan Coast Guard remains on the alert, saying the Chinese vessel may enter the area again. The Coast Guard spotted the boat some 43 kilometers north-northwest of the largest island, Uotsuri, early Tuesday morning. The Coast Guard confirmed the boat had left the area before 10:30 AM. It said at around 11:10 AM, the vessel again approached Japan's territorial waters off another island and left soon afterward. In response to warnings from Japan's Coast Guard, the Chinese vessel replied the islands are inherent Chinese territory and that its mission is legitimate." Watch this space carefully, especially once the Chinese armada of 1000 fishing boats, which is already en route to Senkaku, engages in a stand off with Japanese battleships: "China's state-run radio has reported 1,000 fishing boats have left the provinces of Zhejiang and Fujian for waters near the Senkaku Islands. But Japan's Coast Guard says it has not yet spotted a large fleet in the area." It will quite soon. Elsewhere, sentiment across mainland China is getting the opposite of better, fast.
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...