It would be odd to suggest that one of the most scathing critiques of the ECB's attempts to talk up the market on nothing but hope, promises and expectations would come from rating agency Moody's, yet that is precisely what has happened. With Swiss, Dutch, Finnish, and German short-dated bonds once again hitting new record low (negative) rates (and Italian 10Y is weakening), it would appear that at least some of the market is not drinking the all-things-risk kool-aid.
- Bundesbank Maintains Opposition to ECB Bond Buying (WSJ)
- Greek Budget Talks Stumble as EU Urges Samaras to Deliver (Bloomberg)
- Fortified by euro, Finns take bailouts on the chin (Reuters)
- China Job Market for Graduates Shows Stress on Slowdown (Bloomberg)
- China Exports Fade as Inflation Eludes Targets: Cutting Research (Bloomberg)
- Japan Falters as Ito Calls for Euro Buys to Rein in Yen: Economy (Bloomberg)
- Government weighs social insurance reforms (China Daily)
- Colombia’s Split Central Bank to Weigh First Rate Cut Since 2010 (Bloomberg)
The major European bourses are down as US participants come to their desks, volumes still thin but higher than yesterday’s, and underperformance once again observed in the peripheries, with the IBEX down 2.5% and the FTSE MIB down 1.2%. Last night’s outlook changes on German sovereign debt caused a sell-off in the bund futures, with the effect being compounded as Germany comes to market with a 30-year offering tomorrow. The rating agency moves, as well as softer Euro-zone PMIs and reports that Spain is considering requesting a full international bailout have weighed on the riskier asset classes, taking EUR/USD back below the 1.2100 level. Furthermore, with Greece and a potential Greek exit now back in the news, investor caution is rife as the Troika begin their Greek report of the troubled country today.
In a first for Moody's, the rating agency, traditionally about a month after Egan Jones (whose rationale and burdensharing text was virtually copied by Moody's: here and here), has decided to cut Europe's untouchable core, while still at Aaa, to Outlook negative, in the process implicitly downgrading Germany, Netherlands and Luxembourg, and putting them in line with Austria and France which have been on a negative outlook since February 13, 2012.The only good news goes to Finland, whose outlook is kept at stable for one simple reason: the country's attempts to collateralize its European bailout exposure, a move which will now be copied by all the suddenly more precarious core European countries.
Morgan Stanley reported earnings this morning, and showed that unless one has massive loan loss reserves to release, US banks are in big trouble. The firm just reported $0.28 EPS including DVA benefit, on expectations of $0.29. But it was the top line that got blown out, with the firm reporting $7.0 billion in revenue including the DVA fudge, but more importantly $6.6 billion. The expectations was for a $7.58 billion top line: a 14% miss. The top line number plunged over 25% compared to a year ago. The main reason for the collapse in profit: the virtual disappearance of any cash from combined fixed income, commodity and equity sales and trading, which imploded from $3.7 billion a year ago, to just $1.9 billion this quarter. And while the company slashed comp in Q2 as was to be expected following such horrible results, by over 33% to $1.4 billion from $2.2 billion, here is what most are focused on: "As a result of a rating agency downgrade of the Firm's long-term credit rating in June, the amount of additional collateral requirements or other payments that could be called by counterparties, exchanges or clearing organizations under the terms of certain OTC trading agreements and certain other agreements was approximately $6.3 billion, of which $2.9 billion was called and posted at June 30, 2012." In other words, the company has yet to post more than half of its contractually required collateral. In the aftermath of these atrocious earnings, we wish them all the best in getting access to this cash.
Because once the dominoes start, they don't stop. Stockton, Mammoth, San Bernardino and now legendary rap and LA riots nexus - the City of Compton. Fear not: the ESM, and the German population whose retirement age will have to be in the quadruple digit range to fund a broke world, has got this, too, covered. Also, only squares don't make fun of Meredith Whitney for saying municipal America is insolvent, so please do.
Lazy Analysis Allows For Outright Silly Pricing Of Near Insolvent REITS: A Forensic Analysis Of A Prime ExampleSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 07/10/2012 10:06 -0400
Witness in real time the fundamental collapse of a REIT lauded as a buy by the Sell Side of Wall Street. Come on, admit it! Blogs/alternative media are a better source of analysis than the bank that you just parked your life savings at!!!
Hundreds of billions of dollars of additional potential legal liability, much of which likely borne by US banks, yet very few are paying attention. Here's how I see it...
Three weeks ago, before Lieborgate broke and the world finally understood what so many had been warning about for so long, we noted something else: that not only was LIBOR manipulated and fudged daily between 2005 and 2008, but as the chart in the attached post shows, it has been gamed every single day in 2012 as well. More importantly, we noted something else - the transition at the top of the British Bankers Association: the organization responsible for compiling LIBOR submissions from member banks, and reporting what the daily Libor fixing is. Because in the second week of June, the BBA's new head became... the former head of lobbying for none other than Morgan Stanley, Anthony Browne, a firm which itself was just caught red-handed manipulating rating agency "independent ratings" to benefit its bottom line (and which itself miraculous was downgraded by less than what the market expected in order to allow it to avoid several billion in collateral calls). And what did Anthony do at Morgan Stanley until June 12: he was head of Government relations for Morgan Stanley for Europe, Middle East and Africa and was previously an economic and business adviser to London Mayor Boris Johnson. That's right - "head of government relations" for a rather prominent TBTF bank, being put in charge of daily Libor fixing. But everyone is shocked, shocked, that gambling has been going on here for years.
With Europe, the BBA, and virtually everyone shocked, shocked, that the global bank cabal schemed and colluded for years to manipulate interest rates, so far only America appears relatively blase, and totally ignorant, about the issue. Perhaps it is because the first bank exposed in the manipulation scheme so far is European, perhaps because it is just tired of all the endless crime coming out of the criminal complex known as Wall Street. It is unclear. Then again, America will soon have its own manipulation scandals to deal with: and if it is not the US BBA member banks, all of whom were just as guilty as Barclays, and the only question is which bank will be the sacrificial scapegoat whose CEO will have to demonstratively depart (to warmer, non-extradition climes), it will be the following story from Bloomberg which will likely pick up much more steam over the next weeks and months, detailing how the bank which just barely avoided a triple notch downgrade (wink wink) has had previous dealings with the very same rating agencies seeking to, picture this, artificially inflate ratings! So to summarize: Fed manipulates capital markets, HFT manipulates bid ask spreads, "self-policing" CDS pricing market groups fudge the prices on trillions in Credit Default Swaps, bank cabals collude and manipulate short-term interest rates, and now banks are confirmed to have manipulated the ratings on tens of billions of bonds using monetary incentives and threats. Is there anything in this "market" that was fair over the past several decades, and was actual price discovery ever actually possible? Because by now it should be very clear going forward all the things that actually make a free and fair market are forever gone, and that without endless fraud and manipulation by all the market participants who realize that anyone defecting the ponzi group means immediate and terminal losses for all, and all those calls for an S&P 400 would actually prove to be overly optimistic.
While the world has known for over two weeks that the Spanish banking system is insolvent and locked out of global liquidity, the country was reticent about formally bowing down to Germany and announcing in proper protocol that it was broke. Until a few hours ago, when Spain's Economy Minister Luis de Guindos Monday sent a letter to Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker, as expected, formally requesting aid to assist with the recapitalization of Spanish banks that need it, the ministry said in a statement. Sadly, at this point we can all just sit back and await for the next Spanish bailout letter demanding more cash, because, as we have explained on several occasions, the ultimate funding need of Spanish banks will be well over €100 billion, as further confirmed overnight by another analysis from Open Europe, which notes the patenly obvious: "Up to mid-2015 Spain faces funding needs of €547.5bn, over half its GDP and a large majority of its debt."
Europe's approaching "Madoff Moment"...
America is spending more today drone-striking American citizens in Yemen, drone-surveilling Mexican drug lords and “turning our attention to the vast potential of the Asia-Pacific region“ than she was during the cold war when a hostile superpower had thousands of nukes pointing at her. Military contractors have nothing to fear. Whether it is the Pacific buildup to contain Chinese ambition, or drone strikes in the horn of Africa or Pakistan, or the completely-failed drug war, or using the ghost of Kony to establish a toehold in Africa to compete with China for African minerals, or an attempted deposition of Bashar Assad or Egypt’s new Islamist regime, or bombing Iran’s uranium-enrichment facilities, or a conflict over mineral rights in the Arctic, or (as Paul Krugman desires — and what the heck, it’s 2012, why not?) an alien invasion, or a new global conflict arising out of a global economic reset, it’s springtime for the military contractors. It’s everyone else who should be worried.
The rating agencies have lots of problems, but they are not to blame for the financial crisis. The regulators and investors are the ones who deserve the blame. The agencies have too much influence, but it’s been given to them by the regulators. Clearly Europe is trying to get rid of rating agencies to be aggressive, but the situation has to change. For too long, laziness has driven regulatory policy. Too much emphasis has been put on ratings, and the safety at the high end has been dramatically exaggerated. One thing virtually every banking crisis has in common, is when a previously “safe” or AAA asset, that carried minimal capital charges deteriorates. The sub-prime mortgage market and European Sovereign debt are just two of the most recent examples. We need a realistic regulatory framework like the one we discuss in regulatory-capital-size-and-how-you-use-it-both-matter. What the EU is doing is probably even worse than the existing framework, but the idea of diminishing the role of rating agencies is a good one.
What the MSM is missing is that Spain's failings make this real. Spain is big enough to bring down the whole shebang, right now, and its banks cannot be salvaged with just a hundred billion or so.