You Wont Believe What They’ve Done …
The importance of the negative credit outlook from Moody’s lies less in the realm of financial markets, given how little investors seem to value the views of the credit rating agencies. Rather the major importance lies in the policy and political reactions to the rating actions. As UBS notes, there is a risk of popular (not political leadership) adverse reaction. The media in Germany (where there is a tradition of media hostility to the Euro periphery) or in the Netherlands (approaching a general election in September) may portray this as "we are being dragged down by the Euro periphery". If that does transpire it could easily fan the flames of populist resentment of the Euro still further. Critically, if the media attribute (or mis-attribute) the blame to the periphery, there could be obstacles to that integrationist momentum. The reality of a common monetary policy and the necessity of some kind of communalized fiscal responsibility are being brought to bear on the Euro area polity - but markets seem confused. CDS markets are pricing Germany's risk as if it was becoming increasingly encumbered to the periphery and yet the FX market is dragging EURUSD lower on expectations of massive upheaval and potential SPexit with no German 'unlimited' support. CDS appears to fit with raters, FX more with haters - or as UBS points out, perhaps all is not well in Germany as it "has demonstrably failed to grow its way out of debt."
It was inevitable and despite all of the usual huffing and puffing on the Continent; the moves are correct. First Egan-Jones and then Moodys and Germany is downgraded or threatened with a downgrade and for sound reasons. The German economy is $3.2 trillion and they are trying to support the Eurozone with an economy of $15.3 trillion that is in recession and rapidly falling off the cliff. Each new European enterprise gives the markets a shorter and shorter bounce as we all watch the yields in Europe rise, the stock market’s fall and the Euro in serious decline against both the Dollar and the Yen. There has been no Lehman Moment to date but moment-by-moment the decline in the fortunes of Europe diminishes. There is almost no historical precedent where debt paid by the addition of more and more debt has been a successful operation. There is always the inevitable wall or walls and the concrete slabs of Greece and Spain fast approach.
Updated Executive Summary / Cheat Sheet ...
It's about time for Frances funding rate to feel a little pressure, no?
Two of the three major credit ratings agencies have recently affirmed their outlook on the US sovereign credit rating, but all three continue to hold a negative outlook on the rating. In Goldman's view there is little likelihood that additional ratings actions will be taken this year, but the possibility of a ratings change is another risk posed by the "fiscal cliff," debt limit, and related debate over medium-term fiscal reforms that looks likely in 2013. All three rating agencies look likely to reassess the rating over the next year or so. In light of the recent announcements and upcoming fiscal events that could influence the rating, Goldman Sachs Economics team provides some updated thoughts on the intersection of fiscal policy and the US sovereign rating, in Q&A form.
The global economy is an entangled affair, make no mistake in your calculation here, and the numbers from around the globe are telling and will affect both the U.S. bond and equity markets. Much of the financing for the Emerging Markets was provided by the European banks and as they pull back and reorganize based not just on Basel III but based upon problems of the sovereign where they are domiciled the situation exacerbates. Two of the world’s financial axises are slowing and troubled and to not think that this will not affect America will lead you to conclusions causing you to play the Great Game badly. What did the meeting of the European Finance Ministers accomplish; not much. They nodded to the Spanish banks and agreed to inject $30 billion by the way of the sovereign, increasing the debt of Spain, with veiled promises of a new ESM fund which would lend money directly to the banks at some point in the future and this point is highly subjective depending upon to whom you listen. The Spanish claim within days or weeks while the Germans indicate it may be sometime next year. There is now a “maybe-maybe” timeline in Europe for almost anything as the weaker nations prod the stronger nations for more money.
Back in January, an article by Reuters' head financial blogger on the topic of the Greek bond restructuring, which effectively said that Greeks have all the leverage, prompted us to pen Subordination 101 (one of the year's most read posts on Zero Hedge), in which we patiently explained why his proposed blanket generalization was completely wrong, and why litigation arbitrage in covenant heavy UK-law bonds would be precisely the way to go into the Greek restructuring. 4 months later, those who listened to us made a 135% annualized return by getting taken out in Greek UK-law bonds at par, whereas those who listened to Reuters made, well nothing. What is amusing, is that such examples of pseudo-contrarian sophistry for the sake of making a statement, any statement, or better known in the media world as generating "page views", no matter how ungrounded in financial fact, especially from recent Loeb award winners, is nothing new. To wit, we go back to May 29, 2008 where courtesy of the same author, in collaboration with another self-proclaimed Twitter pundit, we read "Defending Libor" in which the now Reutersian and his shoulder-chipped UK-based academic sidekick decide that, no Carrick Mollenkamp and Mark Whitehouse's then stunning and quite incendiary discoveries on Liebor are actually quite irrelevant, and are, to use the parlance of our times, a tempest in a teapot. His conclusion: "What the WSJ has done is come up with a marginally interesting intellectual conundrum: why is there a disconnect between CDS premia, on the one hand, and Libor spreads, on the other? But the way that the WSJ is reporting its findings they seem to think they’re uncovering a major scandal. They’re not." Actually, in retrospect, they are.
Libor Manipulation Is Only One of MANY Types of Fraud Committed by the Big Banks
- The next Enron: JPMorgan at centre of power market probe (FT)
- Former Brokers Say JPMorgan Favored Selling Bank’s Own Funds Over Others (NYT)
- Ex-JPMorgan Trader Feldstein Biggest Winner Betting Against Bank (Bloomberg)
- Finland Firm On Collateral As Spain Aid Terms Discussed (Bloomberg)
- Heatwave threatens US grain harvest (FT)
- Wall Street Is Still Giving to President (WSJ)
- Greenberg Suit Against U.S. Over AIG To Proceed In Court (Bloomberg)
- Crisis forces "dismal science" to get real (Reuters)
- Hope continues to be as a strategy: Asia Stocks Rise On Expectation Of Monetary Policy Easing (Bloomberg)
- The Real Victor in Brussels Was Merkel (FT)
- German Dominance in Doubt after Summit Defeat (Spiegel)
- Euro defeat for Merkel? Only time will tell (Reuters)
- The Twilight Zone has nothing on Europe: European Banks Bolster Capital With Shunned Bonds (Bloomberg)
- Krugman is baaaaaack and demands even more debt: Europe’s Great Illusion (NYT)
- Republicans See Way to Repeal Obamacare (FT)
- Hollande Ready to Tackle Public Finances (FT)
- China’s Manufacturing Growth Weakens as New Orders Drop (Bloomberg)
- Protesters March in Hong Kong as Leung Vows to Fight Poverty (Bloomberg)
Only when the lack of visibility on forward revenue and earnings was obvious to all did Moody's act
Why hasn't anyone realized that JPM actually had negative revenue growth despite muppet maven analyst proclamations of the contrary?
Why are we not surprised? The EU has just voted to scrap the use of ratings agencies in the next step on the road to a ban of all policy criticism. Via Bloomberg,
- *EU LAWMAKERS APPROVE AMENDMENT TO END USE OF CREDIT RATINGS
It seems just a few years ago, when these very same ratings agencies were raising ratings and supporting banking systems, mortgage provision, and sovereign-inclusions-into-monetary-unions, that the political elite could not showing off their bronzed statues of AAA/AA-ness.
And in the most bizarre of twists, they would prefer if they were allowed to rate themselves:
- *LAWMAKERS CALL FOR EU TO ISSUE SOVEREIGN CREDIT RATINGS :MCO US
We're paid by investors, we have to earn our keep every single year. S&P and Moody's are being paid by the issuers of debt