The honey badger ramp continues, once more driven entirely by the USD carry as both the EURUSD and USDJPY hit new highs (14 month and 3 year, respectively). The EUR took another major leg higher following today's second ECB refinancing operation in two days, a 3 month LTRO, in which just €3.71 billion was allotted to some 46 bidders, far less than the €10 billion expected particularly in the context of the €6 billion the matured, leading to further Euribor curve steepening, more non-expansion of the ECB balance sheet, and a surge in the EURUSD to new post-2011 highs of 1.3560. But if it wasn't this it would be something else. Elsewhere we got the final official Spanish GDP number, which as previously reported once again came worse than expected at -0.7%, compared to expectations of -0.6%, and -1.8% Y/Y vs Exp. -1.7%. But once again we are told to ignore current reality and look with optimism to the future as various European confidence indices posted higher than expected prints. This seems logical: when the ugly fundamentals don't matter, one must at least pretend there is hope they will improve in the future to serve as a buying catalyst. Finally, and what the surging EUR and crushed exports are all about, Italy sold some €6.5 billion in 5 and 10 year BTPs at yields of 2.94% and 4.17%, both respectively lower than the prior auctions of 3.26% and 4.48%.
You know you’re no longer living in a free country when the government tells you what you can and cannot put in your body. Or when an unelected board of bureaucrats and corporate insiders can confiscate the assets of hardworking small business owners. Yet these have become par for the course in the Land of the Free. The police, the bureaucrats... they are not the enemy. They are merely pawns of an entire system gone critically bad. In truth, there is no actual enemy. The enemy is an idea - a faceless government that is not embodied in a single individual or group. Trying to ‘fight’ this enemy, this idea, is as futile as a government ‘declaring war’ on drugs or poverty. These are not enemy combatants. They’re nouns. Concepts. As such, trying to ‘take back’ the country is a noble yet unfortunately misguided expenditure of precious resources.
The most cartoonish stock of all time just came out with results that can only be characterized as ugly. To wit:
- Q4 revenue of $21.27 billion missed expectations of $22.23 billion
- Q1 EPS of $0.21 missed expectations of $0.27;
- The firm guided top-line lower, seeing Q1 sales of $15-$16 billion, below the estimate of $16.5 billion
- The firm guided operating income much lower, seeing Q1 op income of ($285)-$65 Million on expectations of $261.4 MM
- The firm said the its physical books sales had the lowest growth in 17 years
- Total employees grew by 7,000 in the quarter and 32,200 Y/Y to a record 88,400
- Worldwide net sales Y/Y growth was the slowest in years at 23%, down from 30% in Q3 and 34% a year ago
- And, last and certainly least, LTM Net Income is now officially negative, or ($49) meaning as of this moment the firm with the idiotically high PE has an even more idiotic N/M PE.
... And the stock is soaring in the after hours. Thank you DE Shaw.
"The delinquency rate today on student loans that were originated from 2005-2007 is 12.4 percent. The comparable figure for student loans that were originated from 2010-2012 is 15.1 percent, representing an increase in the delinquency rate by nearly 22 percent....This situation is simply unsustainable and we’re already suffering the consequences,” said Dr. Andrew Jennings, FICO’s chief analytics officer and head of FICO Labs. “When wage growth is slow and jobs are not as plentiful as they once were, it is impossible for individuals to continue taking out ever-larger student loans without greatly increasing the risk of default. There is no way around that harsh reality.”
Consumer Confidence Crashes To 2011 Levels After Biggest Plunge Since August 2011 Debt Ceiling DebacleSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/29/2013 11:13 -0400
It would appear that the hike in taxes on 77% of Americans that was heralded as a success, has dented confidence just a little. As the efficient stock market moves to all-time nominal highs in many cases, Consumer Confidence just fell off a cliff. The conference board printed at the worst level in 13 months - so all those 2012 gains are gone - and fell month-over-month by the most since the August 2011 fiscal cliff debacle. For every income levels (except those earning under $15k) confidence plunged with the $35k-$50k bracket crashing the most. It would appear that the driver of 70% of the US economy is not buying the new normal being fed to us daily by any and every media outlet possible. No matter how much the market is held up by mysterious runs in FX markets or volatility compression, it would appear that - just as we have been noting - the underlying macro fundamentals will eventually be priced in, as this does not bode well for retail sales.
Following his impromptu discussion early this morning with Mario Draghi, Italy's finance minister has proudly stepped before the cameras to discuss the farce that has become Monte Paschi. In a stream of seemingly incredulous hypocrisy, the minister explains that:
- *GRILLI SAYS MONTE PASCHI IS SOLID
- *MONTI BOND HELPED MONTE PASCHI MEET EBA RULES: GRILLI
- *GRILLI SAYS OVERSIGHT OF MONTE PASCHI WAS CONTINUOUS, THOROUGH
- *GRILLI SAYS GOVT AID TO PASCHI NOT TO HELP AN INSOLVENT BANK
- *GRILLI SAYS ITALY BANKING SYSTEM UNIQUE FOR NO BAILOUTS
Indeed, it seems that Juncker-ism has leaked across to all the ministers as a new realm of reality strikes the Italian banking system. So the 'bank is solid', 'aid is not a bailout', and 'water is not wet'.
In a shocking development, one which comes out of central planning left field, after eight years in his role as safe-guarder of the Shekel, the head of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer - Ben Bernanke's personal mentor, and famous underwater investor in AAPL - has announced his intention to step down. This resignation comes 10 months (and $100 less in AAPL) after the central bank's announcement to begin buying foreign stocks. Is this a harbinger of the change in the old brigade, and does it make Bernanke's departure one year from today virtually assured - we hope to find out, unless, of course, the most aggressive and ambitious central banking experiment in history to keep the global house of cards afloat fails in the meantime.
The one thing that all of us know, surely all of us must know at least this, is that markets do not go forever in one direction. I am not speaking here of the pecularities of a day or of trying to eke out some trade but of shifts in circumstances and sentiments that sets the direction upon a new course. We live in a world recently comprised of three basic tenets; postpone, make up facts to suit the goals of some nation or nations and throw money at anything that moves. This is an inherently unstable construct and yet that is what our brilliant leaders have embraced. I will tell you this; when chicanery is trotted out as truth, when liabilities are not counted, when losses are termed investments, when the only answer to anything is the printing of more small pieces of green and blue paper then trouble is approaching with a capital “T” and the future is a bleak cloud of foreboding.
Following yet another quiet overnight session, futures have surprised many walking into work today as the traditional overnight levitation is strangely missing. The reason for that may be the lack of the traditional for 2013 lift in various funding currency pairs, with both the USDJPY and the EURUSD lower. While there was no major macro news, the former may have been dragged lower by various comments from the German BDI industry federation chief who said he is worried about the devaluation race stemming from Japan's central bank policy echoing Merkel's comparable sentiment and revealing that the EURUSD may have topped out, while the latter was pushed lower following today's 7 day ECB MRO, which saw some €124.1 billion allotted at a 0.75% yield. This was largely in line with expectations, with Barclays seeing some €135.4 billion maturing, while BNP had expected modestly more, or some €150 billion. The MRO is the first such operation, with tomorrow's 3 month refinancing operation likely to give a better glimpse of the bank's post-LTRO repayment funding needs. Whether it is this, or the market finally demanding some action out of central banks which, except for the Fed, have been in constant promise mode, or just a random walk, is unknown, but for now the carry funded nominal devaluation of risk may have topped out.
"Jesse Litvak arranged trades for customers as part of his job as a managing director on the MBS desk at Jefferies. Litvak would buy a MBS from one customer and sell it to another customer, but on many occasions he lied about the price at which his firm had bought the MBS so he could re-sell it to the other customer at a higher price and keep more money for the firm. On other occasions, Litvak misled purchasers by creating a fictional seller to purport that he was arranging a MBS trade between customers when in reality he was just selling MBS out of his firm’s inventory at a higher price. Because MBS are generally illiquid and difficult to price, it is particularly important for brokers to provide honest and accurate information. The SEC alleges that Litvak generated more than $2.7 million in additional revenue for Jefferies through his deceit. His misconduct helped him improve his own standing at the firm, as his bonuses were determined in part by the amount of revenue he generated for the firm."
Icahn was just blowing smoke.
G4+CHF can fight the currency wars longer and more aggressively than small G10 and EM countries can. However, as Citi's Steven Englander notes, it also takes a lot of depreciation to crowd in a meaningful amount of net exports. His bottom line, GBP, CHF and JPY have a lot further to depreciate. In principle, the USD can easily fall into this category as well, but right now the USD debate is focused on Fed policy – were it to become clear that balance sheet expansion will end well beyond end-2013, the USD would fall into the category of currency war ‘winners’ as well. Critically, though, the reality of currency wars is that policymakers do not use FX as cyclical stimulus because of its effectiveness; they use it because they have hit a wall with respect to the effectiveness of fiscal and monetary policies, and are unwilling to bite the structural policy bullet. The following seven points will be on every policymakers' mind - or should be.
The US Postal Service may be a woefully overstaffed anachronism of a bygone era, with a painfully mismatched cost and revenue structure, which last year reported a massive, and record, $15.9 billion annual loss for the last Fiscal year, but that doesn't mean it is going away without a fight. As of yesterday, the USPS valiantly hiked the price of first-class mail by another 2.6%, to 46 cents, up from the 45 cents which in turn was hiked a year previously. Alas, somehow we doubt this latest increase in pricing which is supposed to keep up with inflation, will do much for the long-term viability of the government service which employes some 500,000, and which has warned would run out of cash by October 2013 for two simple reasons: the ongoing collapse in mail volume sent via the USPS (with free or more effective alternative widely adopted), and a cost structure that unlike the revenue side, has managed to stay leaps and bound ahead of inflation courtesy of some rather vocal labor unions.
Hope is dying in the US. The performance of financial markets affects everyone. For savers and investors, these markets represent the means to an improved life, at least as they define it. We are twelve years into this new century and Americans are losing their hopes, dreams and aspirations. Twelve years in, the S&P 500 has returned a total of 14%. That puny return has not come close to covering the decline in purchasing power of the dollar during the same period. The country's financial condition is deplorable and cannot continue much longer. So, too is virtually everything else the government has touched whether it be education, Amtrak, the post office, Social Security, Medicare, ad nauseum. Nothing government has done has not been a Ponzi scheme dependent upon additional theft from taxpayers to keep going. The system is now broken. There is no one to blame for this other than government. Despite this obvious conclusion, government is still seen to be a savior by a large proportion of the country.
An uncomfortable reflection...