An explicit contagion path chart, since you probably won't get info like this anywhere else...
We have read, and written, all of this before (and speaking of, since 2012 is still a carbon copy of 2011, we could so easily just repost articles from February 2011, change the year, and nobody would notice - we could even save on robo-posting costs) but there is always something just so enjoyable in hearing the Chairman of the Fermentation Committee point out the glaringly obvious to the vacuum tubes in charge of a market which is now a 6-8 week lagging indicator to reality.
While the bulk of tangential themes in Albert Edwards' latest letter to clients "The Ice Age only ends when the market loses hope: there is still too much hope" is in line with what we have been discussing recently: myopic markets focused on momentum not fundamentals ("It's amazing though how the market can get itself all bulled up and becomes convinced that we are the start of a self-sustaining recovery. And funnily enough there's nothing more likely to get investors bullish than a rising market"), short-termism ("One thing you can say for the market is that it has an extremely short memory"), and that so far 2012 is a carbon copy of 2011 ("One thing you can say for the market is that it has an extremely short memory. Let us not forget that the performance of the equity market so far this year is almost exactly the same as we saw at the start of 2011 (in fact the performance has been similar for the last 5 months"), his prevailing topic is one of hope. Or rather the lack thereof, and how it has to be totally and utterly crushed before there is any hope of a true bull market. And just to make sure there is no confusion, unlike that other flip flopper, Edwards makes it all too clear that he is as bearish as ever. Which only makes sense: regardless of what the market does, which merely shows that inflation, read liquidity, is appearing in the most unexpected of places (read Edwards' colleague Grice must read piece on why CPI is the worst indicator of asset price inflation when everyone goes CTRL+P), the reality is that had it not been for another $2 trillion liquidity injection in the past 4-6 months by global central banks, the floor would have fallen out of the market, and thus the global economy. In fact, how the hell can one be bullish when the only exponential chart out there is that of global central bank assets proving beyond a doubt that every risk indicator is fake???
Despite the release of better than expected German IFO survey, stocks in Europe remained on the back foot after the EU Commission slashed forecasts for 2012 Eurozone GDP to -0.3% vs. 0.5% previously, while EU's Rehn added that the Euroarea has entered a mild recession. As a result Bunds advanced back towards 139.00, whereas the spread between the Italian/German 10-year bond yields widened marginally on the back of touted selling by both domestic and foreign accounts ahead of the upcoming supply on Friday. Looking elsewhere, EUR/USD erased barriers at 1.3300 and 1.3325, while today’s strength in GBP/USD can be attributed to a weaker USD, as well as touted EUR/GBP selling by a UK clearer.
Back in December I penned an article about the potential for gasoline prices to rise quickly to catch up with surging oil prices. We said then "If we look at just the nominal price data going back to 1990 we can see that there is indeed a very high correlation between oil prices and gasoline prices. While divergences from each other do occur on occassion those divergences tend not to last for very long with gasoline usually correcting towards the price of oil." That is precisely what has happened since the near $3 per gallon of gasoline this summer, which was an effective $60 billion tax break for consumers during the much anticipated retail shopping season, to near $3.50 a gallon today. That 16% rise in gasoline has now effectively wiped out the entire payroll tax cut being extended into 2012. There has been a lot of media commentary as of late about the recovery in the economy. The dangerous assumption being made here is that the recent upticks in the economic data have come primarily at the expense of inventory restocking and end of year buying of capital goods by businesses to lock in tax credits. Extrapolating those bounces in the data well into the future can prove to be disappointing. Yet this is exactly what the the President's current budget, which has been presented to Congress, has done. That budget plans for 3% or stronger economic growth over the next 6 years. This is a pretty lofty goal which considering last years growth was a paltry 1.7%. However, in order to acheive a 3% plus growth rate the consumer is going to have to should 2.1% of that load through consumption.
Would You Support a War Against Iran If You Knew the True Facts?
January's hopium catchphrase of the month was that Europe's recession would be "technical" which is simply a euphemism for our Fed's beloved word - "transitory." Based on the just released Euroarea PMI, we can scratch this Euro-accented "transitory" addition to the lexicon, because contrary to expectations that the Euroarea composite PMI would show expansion at 50.5, instead it came out at 49.7 - the manufacturing PMI was 49.0 on Exp of 49.4, while the Services PMI was 49.4, on hopes of expansion at 50.6, which as Reuters notes suggests that firms are still cutting prices to drum up business and reducing workforces to cut costs. This was accompanied by a overnight contraction in China, where the flash manufacturing PMI rose modestly from 48.8, but was again in contraction at 49.7. We would not be surprised if this is merely the sacrifice the weakest lamb in the pack in an attempt to get crude prices lower. So far this has failed to dent WTI much if at all following rapidly escalating Iran tensions. What is curious is that Germany and France continue to do far better than the rest of the Eurozone - just as America has decoupled from Europe, so apparently have Germany and France. This too is surely "sustainable."
One of the dirty little secrets of the stock market rally is that the rising corporate profits that powered it are largely phantom profits. Why are they phantom? Because they are artifacts of currency devaluation, not an increase in efficiency or production of goods and services. Though few domestic observers make mention of it, the large, global U.S.-based corporations are now dependent on non-U.S. sales for about 40% of their revenues (50% and up for many companies) and virtually all their profit growth. Overseas sales are made in the local currency: the euro, yen, renminbi, Australian dollar, Canadian dollar and so on, and the profits are stated in U.S. dollars on corporate profit and loss statements. In 2002, 1 euro of profit earned by a U.S. global corporation equaled $1 in profit when converted to U.S. dollars. That same 1 euro profit swelled to $1.60 in 2008 as the U.S. dollar depreciated against the euro. That $ .60 of profit was phantom, an artifact of the depreciating dollar; it did not result from a higher production of goods and services or greater efficiencies.
That didn't take long. From Athens News: "Greece's two biggest labor unions, GSEE and ADEDY, on Tuesday announced plans for a protest rally on Syntagma Square on Wednesday. Starting at 4 p.m., the protest march is scheduled to coincide with a vote in Parliament on an emergency bill aimed at slashing state spending further through cuts to pensions and salaries, to which Greece is bound by its most recent bailout agreement." Parliaments is planning on further spending cuts? To what? Zero? Negative? And one can bet their bottom dollar, the tax collectors, already urged to increase their efficiency by 200%, will be present, and certainly not tripling their work output while peacefully consuming lungfulls of tear gas.
Think this time around finally the Greek deal is done? Think again. OpenEurope lists the "many" questions still surrounding the second Greek bailout that remain unanswered. We would add that this is hardly an exhaustive list, and believe the key question, to put it simply, is a CAC is a MAC? Because if the answer is yes, the deal is off.
Heading into the North American open, equities are trading lower with the benchmark EU volatility index up 1.6%, with financials underperforming on concerns that the latest Greek bailout deal will need to be revised yet again. Officials said that the deal will require Greece’s private creditors to take a deeper write-down on the face value of their EUR 200bln in holdings than first agreed. The haircut on the face value of privately held Greek debt will now be over 53%. As a result of the measures adopted, the creditors now assume that Greece’s gross debt will fall to just over 120% of GDP by 2020, from around 164% currently, according to the officials. However as noted by analysts at the Troika in their latest debt sustainability report - “…there are notable risks. Given the high prospective level and share of senior debt, the prospects for Greece to be able to return to the market in the years following the end of the new program are uncertain and require more analysis”. Still, Bunds are down and a touch steeper in 2/10s under moderately light volume, while bond yield spreads around Europe are tighter.
The FT's Peter Spiegel has scoped up some additional details from the 10 page debt sustainability analysis that is at the basis of the latest Greek bailout talks. Some of the critical details:
- "even under the most optimistic scenario, the austerity measures being imposed on Athens risk a recession so deep that Greece will not be able to climb out of the debt hole over the course of the new €170bn bail-out."
- A German-led group of creditor countries – including the Netherlands and Finland – has expressed extreme reluctance since they received the report about the advisability of allowing the second rescue to go through.
- A “tailored downside scenario” prepared for eurozone leaders in the report suggests Greek debt could fall far more slowly than hoped, to only 160 per cent of economic output by 2020 – far below the target of 120 per cent set by the International Monetary Fund
- Under such a scenario, Greece would need about €245bn in bail-out aid, nearly twice the €136bn under the “baseline” projections.
- “Prolonged financial support on appropriate terms by the official sector may be necessary,” the report said, a clear reference to the possibility that bail-out funds may be needed indefinitely.
- Even in best case scenario country will need at least €50 billion on top of €136 billion.
- A recapitalisation of the Greek banking sector, which originally was projected to cost €30bn, will now cost €50bn. A highly touted Greek privatisation plan, which originally hoped to raise €50bn, will now be delayed by five years and bring in only €30bn by the end of the decade.
Translated, this is yet another confirmation of what we have claimed all along - that Germany is no longer playing along.
The first details of the Greek bond deal are leaking out via Reuters, and we now learn the reason for the Greek bond sell off in recent days:
- UNDER GREEK DEBT SWAP, PRIVATE SECTOR WILL GET 3% COUPON ON BONDS FROM 2012-20, 3.75% COUPON FROM 2021 ONWARDS [2021... LOL]
- PRIVATE SECTOR WILL ALSO GET A GDP-LINKED ADDITIONAL PAYMENT, CAPPED AT 1 PCT OF THE OUTSTANDING AMOUNT OF NEW BONDS [If it appears that nobody gives a rat's ass about this bullet point, it's because it's true]
- GREEK BANK RECAPITALISATION NEEDS MAY NOW BE AS MUCH AS 50 BLN EUROS-DEBT SUSTAINABILITY ANALYSIS
Which in turn explains the sell off in pre-petition Greek junior triple subordinated bonds (i.e., those held by private unconnected investors, which are subordinated to the Troika's bailout loans, to the ECB's SMP purchases, to the Public Sector bonds and to UK-law bonds in that order). With the EFSF Bill "sweetener" amounting to about 15 cents (and likely less), the fact that bondholders will receive a 3% cash coupon, a cash on cash return based on Greek bonds of 2015 trading at just 20.7 cents on the euro, indicates that investors are expecting to collect 1 cash coupon payment, and at absolute best 2, before redefault, as buying a 2015 bond now at 20.7 of par, yields a full cash return of 21 (15+3+3), thus the third coupon payment is assured not to come. And since there is a substantial upside risk premium kicker to bond buyers, in reality the investing market is saying that Greece will last at best about a year following the debt exchange (if it ever even happens) before the country redefaults.
The ECB and Fed seemed to have pushed Roubini and others into the capitulation. As a rough guess, only about 3 of the up days this year had anything to do with earnings and economic data (the NFP day being the most obvious). The rest were all induced by some political or central bank action. Frankly I’m surprised we weren’t up more in Europe today with the Chinese Bank Reserve Ratio getting cut. At any moment we should get details of all the next steps for the Greek bailouts. We will get to see the ECB swap, the PSI proposal, and retroactive collective action clauses. It will be interesting to see how that works. After the Greek default (yes, bondholders giving up 50% of their notional is a default), it will be interesting to see how Greece does. Hopefully they will actually spend some time trying to figure out alternative ways to finance themselves than the ever more onerous bailout packages from the Troika.
Ken Rogoff: Greece Should Be Given A "Sabbatical From The Euro" As Kicking The PIIGS Can Will Just Drag Germany DownSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/20/2012 11:03 -0500
There is nothing new in this interview of Spiegel magazine with Ken Rogoff, but it is refreshing to listen to a person who has at least some standing in the arena of grand self-delusion (i.e., economics and capital markets), telling it like it is. While he rehashes all the old points, these bear reminding as the key one is what happens to Germany as the can kicking becomes a new default exercise in preserving bank "solvency" at the expense of the last stable economy: when asked if in 2015 the Eurozone will be the same, his response: "It may well be the case that all current members remain in the euro zone, and that Germany keeps on shouldering the ever-increasing debts of other countries. But the price of such a scenario is very high for all involved: southern Europe would become embroiled in permanent stagnation and the German economy would eventually be dragged down to a slower growth trajectory." So even though everyone knows that Europe is doomed in its current configuration, let's all just pretend things shall be well, and keep the even more doomed banks alive for a few more quarters? Is the loss of a banker bonus truly such a great catastrophe to society that countries have to remain in a state of perpetual misery until it all finally unwinds? Judging by today's market action the answer is yes.