One of the most interesting issues of what has happened in Cyprus is where was the problem three weeks ago? There was not a mention, not a hint of anything that was wrong. All of the banks in Cyprus had passed each and every European bank stress test. The numbers reported out by the ECB and the Bank for International Settlements indicated nothing and everything reported by any official organization in the European Union pointed to a stable and sound fiscal and monetary policy and conditions. The IMF, who monitors these things as well, did not have Cyprus or her banks on any kind of watch list. In just two weeks' time we have gone from not a mention of Cyprus to a crisis in Cyprus because none of the official numbers were accurate. Without doubt, without question, if this can happen in Cyprus then it could happen in any other country in the Eurozone because the uncounted liabilities are systemic to the whole of Europe.
It was May in 2010 that Greece suffered its first bailout by its Eurozone peers. At that moment it effectively went bankrupt, however it took nearly three years for reality to set in. Yet it wasn't until months later that Greece's smaller (as we are constantly reminded) neighbor was first downgraded from its legacy "pristine" status, by the jokes that are the "Big 3" credit rating agencies. That downgrade unleashed an "waterfall of reality", shown exquisitely on the chart below culminating with yesterday's S&P cut of the island nation to CCC from CCC+, which is only comparable to the boom to bust ratings of CDS issued in early 2007 only to see full loss a few months later. How long until one or more agencies push the country to the dreaded "D" line?
If you don’t collapse the system, the system will collapse you.
When the market briefly surged yesterday, following the cryptic note from the ECB that it would "provide liquidity within existing rules" we urged to ignore the kneejerk algorithmic exuberance (although with only algos left trading that was obviously self-defeating) which interpreted this as an indication the ECB would provide unconditional liquidity now and forever, and that this was hardly a bullish sign because "the last thing the ECB wants is to appear weak, and fold letting every other broke deadbeat country to demand the same equitable treatment and diluting Germany's political might." Today, Reuters has picked up on this coming out with its own analysis that the "The European Central Bank is prepared to cut off funding to Cyprus and let the Mediterranean island succumb to financial meltdown if it has to, confident it has unlimited firepower to protect the rest of the euro zone."
Confused by the litany of threats, paliatives, urgings, promises and outright lies just uttered by the German's finmin wheelchair maestro? Fear not for we are here to explain it all...
- Cypriot Bank Levy Is ‘Ominous’ for Bondholders, Barclays Says (BBG)
- Euro, Stocks Drops; Gold, German Bonds Rally on Cyprus (BBG)
- Total chaos:Cyprus tries to rework divisive bank tax (Reuters)
- More total chaos: Cyprus Prepares New Deposit-Tax Proposal (WSJ)
- Euro Slides Most in 14 Months on Cyprus Turmoil; Yen Strengthens (BBG)
- Osborne to admit fresh blow to debt target (FT)
- Even the Finns are giving up: Finnish Government May Relinquish Deficit Target to Boost Growth (BBG)
- Moody’s Sees Defaults as PBOC Warns on Local Risks (BBG)
- Australia Faces ‘Massive Hit’ to Government Revenue, Swan Says (BBG)
- Inside a Warier Fed, Watch the New Guy (Hilsenrath)
- Obama to Tap Perez for Labor Secretary (WSJ) - and with that the "minorities" quota is full
- Finally, this should be good: BuzzFeed to Launch Business Section (WSJ)
An update on Cyprus and what else the week has in store.
The usually optimistic bunch of salubrious sell-side strategists are mixed in their perspective of the latest debacle to roll ashore from Europe. Most, if not quite all, expect short-term 'nervousness' and a few hardy Pollyannas remain though looking at the other end of the rainbow - once again because, drum roll please, "central banks will respond." Adding to our summary yesterday, Bloomberg adds another 13 sell-side opinions (and Moody's), it the diversity of response is perhaps best glimpsed with one who "does not expect savers to be fearful of a confiscation of their savings and spark a run on banks" for some whimsical reason and another states unequivocally, "No sensible foreign depositor would continue to keep money in a banking system that just took nearly 10% of his deposit without any notice."
While this kind of 'wealth tax' has been predicted, as we noted yesterday, this stunning move in Cyprus is likely only the beginning of this process (which seems only stoppable by social unrest now). To get a sense of both what just happened and what its implications are, RBS has put together an excellent summary of everything you need to know about what the Europeans did, why they did it, what the short- and medium-term market reaction is likely to be, and the big picture of this "toxic policy error." As RBS summarizes, "the deal to effectively haircut Cypriot deposits is an unprecedented move in the Euro crisis and highlights the limits of solidarity and the raw economics that somebody has to pay. It is also the most dangerous gambit that EMU leaders have made to date." And so we await Europe's open and what to expect as the rest of the PIIGSy Banks get plundered.
This is the third and last of three articles we are posting on the price suppression of gold. In the first article we showed that, under mainstream economic theory, the suppression of the gold market is not a conspiracy theory, but a logical necessity, a logical outcome. Mainstream economics, framed by the Walras’ Law, believes in global monetary coordination which, to be achieved, necessitates that gold, if considered money, be oversupplied. The second article showed, at a very high (not exhaustive) level, how that suppression takes place and how to hedge it (if my thesis is correct, of course). Today’s article will examine the systemic impact of this suppression and test the claim of the gold bugs, namely that physical gold will trade at a premium over fiat/paper gold, commensurate with the credit multiplier created by the bullion banks. (Hint - it is)
Here's a Cheat Sheet to Read While You're Listening to JP Morgan's "Whale" of a Tale Testimony to Congress
Retail investors are piling into the stock market again in the false belief that the worst of the economic crisis is over. Alas, those who are not properly diversified may again be in for a rude awakening.
Landlord Blackstone Rushes To Capitalize On Housing Bubble By Launching First Ever REO-To-Rent SecuritizationSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/14/2013 13:03 -0400
In addition to the phenomenon of "foreclosure stuffing" described here extensively before, one of the main reasons for the artificial drop in housing supply has been the ongoing government-subsidized, GSE/FHFA endorsed REO-to-Rent initiative, through which large asset managers have been encouraged to take advantage of government funded, risk-free financing and purchase foreclosed properties in bulk, with the intention of converting them into rental properties. The REO-To-Rent has traditionally been open to the biggest of financial companies, or at least those who don't have the stigma of legacy mortgage origination resulting in billions in litigation reserves, which means mostly hedge funds and PE firms. One of the main players in the space, Och-Ziff, decided to pull out of the landlord business in October of last year because, as Reuters reported, "the returns it is generating from rental income are less than expected and it is looking to take advantage of a recent rebound in home prices in northern California." In other words, selling while the selling is good. Of course, there is another, far more traditional way to offload risk while preserving some of the upside: dump the balance sheet exposure to others while giving them a fraction of the potential upside yield. This is precisely what the big banks were doing during the last housing bubble when massive residential mortgage-backed security portfolios were packaged, spliced, securitized (sometime without the feedback of firms like Paulson pre-shorting the MBS courtesy of firms like Goldman) and sold off to other yield-starved investors. Everyone knows how that ended. So fast forward to today, when this final missing link from the credit and housing bubble is finally here too, following news that mega-PE firm Blackstone is pushing forward with the first ever REO-To-Rental securitization.
Three sticks and three chances for a poke in the eye. On the other hand they could be kindling for the fire or perhaps the first ingredients of alphabet soup. You see, this is what makes things so tough; we all stare at the same things, the same events and reach wildly different conclusions. The media hands out each stick as presented by the government, a corporation or someone else in a supposed leadership position. The somewhat wise can grasp that there are three sticks and not just one and the good minds recognize not only the three sticks but see that it can be made into the first letter of the alphabet. In this light then let us consider the recent proposal from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Under the banner of limiting the government’s support for the large U.S. banks in case one were to fail the Dallas Fed has proposed capping assets at $250 billion and of walling off investment banking from the bank...
Average daily trading combined volumes on the three main gold contracts on the Shanghai Gold Exchange in the first two months of the year jumped 24% on the year, according to Reuter’s calculations. "The strong physical demand in China is the main reason behind gold's resilience," a Beijing-based trader told Reuters. Physical demand prospects out of China remain positive in the weeks ahead, UBS AG said according to Bloomberg. China is very vulnerable to a property crash and its own economic crisis. The Chinese stock market has performed very poorly in recent years and Chinese people realise the importance of gold as a store of value.