Ratings Agencies

Gold New Record Nominal Highs ($1,625.70) As CDS Traders Start Positioning For U.S. Downgrade(s)

Gold is trading at USD 1,620.40, EUR 1,120.50 and GBP 989.08 and CHF 1,298.50 per ounce. Both the dollar and the euro are under pressure again today and gold has reached another new record nominal high of $1,625.70/oz in early European trading. Economists in the U.S. believe that the U.S. will lose its vanguard AAA credit rating according to a recent poll conducted by Reuters. A survey of 53 economists showed 30 believed that one of the three leading credit rating agencies will downgrade US debt. The economists do not believe that the U.S. will default. A downgrading of the U.S. is inevitable given its very poor fiscal position – the question is by how much the U.S. is downgraded and AA looks possible in the coming months. The widening in U.S. CDS has so far been modest but the bond vigilantes may be awakening from their slumber as net notional CDS on US debt has risen above that of Greece and Italy. They either believe that the U.S. government will default on its debt or are taking out insurance against of this happening. Investors internationally -- including everyone from individual consumers in their pension funds, to hedge funds, to the Chinese government -- currently hold $9.3 trillion (with a T!) in Treasury bonds, and they're counting on Uncle Sam paying up when those contracts mature. The U.S. government will have a three-business-day grace period to make good on any default before credit default swaps are triggered, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association said Tuesday.

Gold Surges In Asian Trading To Record Nominal High On Washington Theatre And Dollar Debasement

Gold surged 1.4% ($23) from $1,600.90/oz to a new record nominal of $1,624.07/oz within an hour of the open in Asia. Gold reached new highs due to continuing uncertainty and theatre regarding the debt ceiling negotiations in Washington. Gold is higher in all currencies except the Swiss franc as the Swiss currency is also continuing to see flows. Silver surged 2% on the open from $39.69/oz to $40.48/oz and is higher in all currencies including the Swissie. There was some unusual selling in the electronic market prior to the open which saw prices fall from the close on Friday at $40.05/oz to $39.69/oz prior to the surge on the open. Asian indices fell with the Chinese indices in particular down sharply (CSI 300 -3.25%) on the U.S. debt impasse concerns. The high speed train crash may have contributed to the larger losses in China but there are also growing concerns about the Chinese financial system and economy. European indices have recovered from an initial sell off and peripheral Eurozone debt markets have seen some selling. Markets are spooked by the political theatre which continued in Washington over the weekend. An eleventh-hour solution is expected before next Tuesday’s August 2 deadline when the U.S. Treasury has said that it would not be able to borrow any more funds. At the same time, investors have cut their exposure to risky assets and the appalling fiscal situation in the U.S. is positive for gold and silver – whether the politicians come to an agreement or not.

rcwhalen's picture

The debt ceiling debate that has dominated the headlines over the past month has been thoroughly infused with a string of unfortunate misconceptions and a number of blatant deceptions. As a result, the entire process has been mostly hot air. While a recitation of all the errors would be better attempted by a novelist rather than a weekly columnist, I’ll offer my short list. 

ilene's picture

Deadlocked

Considering how enormous the U.S. debt load currently is (roughly $14.5 Tn), higher interest rates would add a crippling burden to an already high burden.

SocGen On The Three "11th Hour" Debt Ceiling Scenarios, And Their Respective Market Reactions

As we enter the overnight futures market open, there is still no resolution on the ongoing debt ceiling open question. Which is why we present SocGen's handy summary of the three scenarios that are currently in the running for a consensual resolution, together with the possible market reactions to each. The three plans are the McConnell-Reid plan, which as per latest news is in the frontrunning currently, not least (and probably only) due to the immediate beneficial impact it would have on stocks. The 2nd plan is a large deficit reduction plan, whose primary impact would be a significant drag on GDP. Stocks, and bonds, are likely to both rally on the news of this plan, at least in the short-term until the market realizes that some economic growth is actually necessary for the hopium illusion to continue. Lastly, the worst case outcome is no increase in the debt limit, which, logically, would mean that every illusion collapses and the emperor is finally exposed to be naked.

The Bond Vigilantes Are Here: US Net Notional CDS Outstanding Surpasses Greece For The First Time

While the CDS market for various insolvent European names whose credit default swaps are trading 10 or more points upfront has become more or less nothing but noise, and the only true way to hedge risk exposure, courtesy of ISDA's advance warning that no matter what a CDS will never be triggered, is to sell cash bonds, the market for default risk is quite active for those names which still trade in a reasonable range: such as between 50 bps and 200 bps. And while the Bloomberg chart below demonstrates on an absolute basis the US is due for a two notch downgrade by S&P based on the recently observed spike in US default risk, it is DTCC data that is more troubling. As most revel in the latest nonsensical Group of 6 plan, the bond vigilantes are already quietly setting the trap.

Guest Post: Doing The Global Currency Shuffle

In mainstream financial circles, the concept of a global currency is often spoken of only with an air of caution. It is approached always in hypothetical terms. It is whispered of as some far off dream; a socio-economic moon landing in the far reaches of fiscal space. Perhaps in 2015, or 2020, or maybe 2050, but certainly never just over the horizon, or right around the corner posing as an innocuous trade asset created over 40 years ago and used only on rare occasions. Unfortunately, the development of a centralized global security representing the creation of a supranational economic body is much closer than many would care to admit…

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.

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.