Ratings Agencies

Reggie Middleton's picture

I have found what looks like the next TWO (That's right! Two as in number 2) Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns sitting right there smack in the middle of plain site in Europe. The meltdown should occur just as it did here in the US, save the world 2nd largest hedge fund probably will not have the resources to pull that funny little, furry financial creature from the family Leporidae out of their hat like the world's largest hedge fund did in 2008.

China's Bailout Of Europe Has Started, As The PBOC Joins The SNB

As of this morning China has migrated from a purely symbolic European White Knight to an actual one. While overnight trading action was set to recreate the panic from September 15, 2008, suddenly something changed. That something? China. Per Dow Jones: "Bunds give up nearly all of Tuesday's early gains with the September contract just 12 ticks higher on the day at 129.26 after making a spike at 130.91, a gain of 177 ticks from the open. The latest, unconfirmed, rumor pushing bunds lower is that China is behind the supposed ECB enquiries for peripheral debt prices. As yet no official confirmation from market sources of any central bank buying. In the cash space, the 2-year yields 1.235% and the 10-year 2.65%." As China has been actively buying up EURs over the past two months and is now massively underwater on a cost position that may be in the hundreds, but is certainly in the tens of billions of dollars, the ongoing collapse in the EUR currency will now force the PBOC to resort to increasingly more drastic measures to protect its strategic investment. The irony of this is that the Swiss National Bank, which this morning had to watch in horror as the EURCHF plummeted to 1.15 and for the longest time has been fighting the Fed (which loves a strong EUR) has been joined by the PBOC, which is now also trading on its behalf. The First Central Bank War is now officially on.

EU Prepares Law To End Influence Of Rating Agencies, Tells Banks To Police Themselves

The schizophrenic EU once again confirms it has forgotten to take its daily dose of Geodon. Reuters reports that banks in the European Union face curbs on how much they can depend on ratings from credit agencies to calculate the size of their capital safety cushions. Michel Barnier, the EU's financial services chief, said he will make the proposals as part of his reform to bring EU bank capital requirements in line with a global accord known as Basel III that will increase the size of capital buffers. "To limit overreliance, we will be strengthening the requirement for banks to carry out their own analysis of risk and not rely on external ratings in an automatic and mechanical way... We will also make other concrete proposals before the end of the year to limit over-reliance to deal with insurance, asset management and investment fund sectors," Barnier also told the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). Translation: banks will be told to .... police themselves. As for the basis of this move, it is all too clear: remove the influence of the ratings agencies on the fact that the European ponzi is unravelling faster than Lady Gaga's costume at next year's VMA. But wait, what about that AAA rating on the "CDO at the heart of the Eurozone." Oh, well, since that's an AAA, they are fine with that. Of course, if the CRA's say enough, and actually slap a rating that is truly appropriate with this reverse synthetic debt contraption, it's game over.

Reggie Middleton's picture

I invite, if not challenge those who question the utility of the higher end of the blogoshpere to compare this opinion/analysis (as biting, cynical and hard hitting as it may be) to that of the mainstream media and the sell side analyst community of Wall Street to determine if independent, proprietarry research in the form of a blog is something that this country and the global investment community is in need of... or not!

Italy's Finance Minister Threatens To Quit If He Is Forced To Leave

It was only last week when rumors that Italy's Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti was about to step down due to irreconcilable difference with the man who puts DSK's (alleged) sexual exploits to shame, pushed down Italian bank stocks. Today, The Guardian picks up where last week left off, and brings us the following scene from a real life version of The Office, wherein we learn that Tremonti, who now is hated in Italy and will soon join the Greek Finance Minister in being the target of a massive scapegoating campaign that will likely end in his termination, has just threatened to quit if calls for his resignation don't subside. Yes, it didn't make much sense to us either but whatever.

As ECB Finds Rating Agencies Have Suddenly Found Religion, It Prepares To Flip Flop On Accepting Greek Bond Collateral

Well this was unexpected: the rating agencies, for years and years patsies of their highest paying clients, have suddenly found their conscience, if not religion, and adamantly refuse to bend long-standing rules which qualify the proposed Greek MLEC/CDO type rescue as an event of default. Per Bloomberg: "The rating companies have signaled the plan would trigger because it is being done to avoid default, so couldn’t be considered voluntary, and because investors would be worse off than by holding the new securities." The ECB is so confused by this intransigence and unwillingness to bend to the will of the criminal cartel that earlier today the ECB's Novotny was complaining to Austrian TV about this unexpected demonstration of independence: "Debt rating agencies are being much tougher on potential private-sector contributions to Greece's debt woes than in past bailouts, European Central Bank Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny said on Monday. "We are conducting a very difficult conversation with the ratings agencies," he said."This is what we have to try to find: a way that on the one hand certainly involves banks without having this lead to a default as a consequence," he added. "I also must say it strikes me that the ratings agencies are being much stricter and more aggressive in this European matter than they were, for example, in similar cases in South America. I think this is something we will have to think over." As a result of all this sudden uncertainty, Bloomberg now speculates that the ECB will have no choice than to flip flop on its own adamant position of isolating defaulted collateral, and accept Greek bonds even in an event of default: “The ECB cannot remove liquidity from the big Greek banks,” said Dimitris Drakopoulos, an economist at Nomura. “This discussion is a waste of time. The ECB is going to back down in the end -- what can they do?” he added."

Eurogroup Approves Fifth Greek Bailout Tranche - Complete Statement And Math Fail

The very critical, and very insufficient 5th bailout tranche to Greece, has now been approved. From Reuters: "Euro zone finance ministers agreed on Saturday to disburse a further 12 billion euros to Greece and said the details of a second aid package for Athens would be finalised by mid-September. After a conference call, the 17 euro zone ministers agreed that the fifth tranche of the 110-billion-euro bailout agreed with Greece in May 2010 would be paid by July 15, as long as the IMF's board signs off on the disbursement. The IMF is expected to meet on July 8 to approve it. The payment will allow Greece to avoid the immediate threat of default, but the country still needs a second rescue package, which is also expected to total around 110 billion euros and which will now likely only be finalised in September. Between now and then, finance ministers will work on the "precise modalities and scale" of the private sector's involvement in the second aid package, which Germany hopes will eventually total around 30 billion euros. Greece said it expected a final decision on a second bailout programme by mid-September to keep the country financed. Eurogroup decided through a teleconference today to work out a new programme on time, before mid-September," Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said shortly after the finance ministers approved the 12 billion euro disbursement." More importantly, "The 12 billion euro payment will help Athens cover a 5.9 billion euro bond redemption in August, but the government still has a monumental hill to climb if it is to return to debt sustainability, with its debt-to-GDP ratio above 150 percent."

Leo Kolivakis's picture

Save The World?

Hooked up with a buddy of mine who flew into town. Our interesting conversation covered blogging, bankers and regulation, BRICs, oil, interest rates, deflation, the next crisis, Greece and the Greek bailout, ratings agencies, Canada, and lots more. Enjoy!

T-Minus Two Months Until The $500 Billion Rolling Debt Ticking Timebomb Goes Off

Ever since the famous Stanley Druckenmiller Op Ed published in early May, which called for an outright default of the US, saying it would not be
the end of the world, and in fact the US would emerge stronger as a
result of finally taking the first steps to getting its fiscal house in
order, there has been a visible shift regarding the US debt ceiling discussion, with republicans (so far) digging in and refusing to budge on the issue. After all, on the surface Druckenmiller is absolutely correct: with interest rates near record lows for the past 3 years, interest payments would be manageable for a long time even if general rates were to surge due to the Treasury's fixing of low cash coupons over the past 3-4 years, amounting to about 20-30% of all annual tax receipts. There is however one very big problem with this argument, one which we pointed out back in April 2010 when we said that "What people don't realize is that...unless the UST can roll its debt not on a monthly
but now weekly basis in greater and greater amounts, the interest rate
doesn't matter.
All it takes is one semi-failed auction and it's game over as hundreds of billions in bills become payable." Enter the always forgotten maturing debt argument. And as a just released presentation by the Bipartisan Policy Center titled "Debt Limit Analysis" reminds us, aside from the actual deficit funding math, which is that in August there is a $134.3 billion cash shortfall that has to be funded with debt, there is a far greater risk. Or, put numerically, 467.4 billion risks. This is the amount of debt that matures through August 31, and has to be rolled over or the US is bankrupt... in every sense of the word. Once again, America's politicians and media get broadsided by the definition of gross versus net. Because, in reality, the inability to issue more debt post August 3 means a halt to all new debt issuance. Which, unfortunately because it means Geithner's scaremongering is actually correct, would imply the end for the debt ponzi.

Guest Post: The Three Ds: Delegitimization, Definancialization, Deglobalization

I tend to be years early on identifying trends, but three that will make a difference going forward are what I call "The Three Ds": Delegitimization, Definancialization and Deglobalization. Broadly speaking, the global economy and thus globalization and its sibling, financialization, depend on the legitimacy of centralized institutions. These include nation-state governments, international organizations such as the IMF, central banks, the mainstream global media, and various Central State agencies tasked with reporting data accurately, for example the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the U.S. and equivalent agencies in other trading blocs. By far the grandest experiments in legitimization of the past 20 years are the European Union (EU) and its common currency, the euro, and China's one-party rule combining a command economy with a quasi-free enterprise model, i.e. "Capitalism with Chinese characteristics." The vortex of insolvency gripping Europe is rapidly chewing through what remains of the legitimacy of the euro and the EU institutions tasked with overseeing the financial sector...As for the euro and the EU's grand integration experiment, we can turn to George W. Bush's inimitable phrase for a summary: this sucker's going down. The subprime mortgage meltdown offers a cogent preview of Europe's future.