In what should come as a surprise to nobody, German banks have announced that they will accept the terms of the Greek PSI whose outcome is due on Thursday. Because as Reuters points out, German banks already have had the time and opportunity to park the bulk of their Greek exposure with the failed German bad bank, which is explicitly funded by the government (thus making the cost to the German government even higher): "While Greek sovereign debt owned by German lenders has a face value of roughly 15 billion euros ($20 billion), in most cases they have already written down that value in their books by about three quarters. FMS Wertmanagement, the biggest creditor with an exposure of nominally more than 8 billion euros, will accept the deal, a person close to the lender said on Monday. FMS, the bad bank set up to hold the toxic assets of bailed-out former bluechip lender Hypo Real Estate, is to formally decide on accepting the debt cut later this week, the person said." German banks... German banks... where else have we seen this today? Oh yes: "Die Welt said that more than half of the 800 lenders that tapped the ECB's 3Y LTRO last week were German, consisting mainly of small savings and cooperative banks." Thank you Jim Reid - so while Bundebank's Jens Weidmann huffs and puffs about the LTRO, it is his own banks are the biggest beneficiaries, in no small part to hedge against Greek exposure. But yes - at least following the absorption of tens of billions in intermediary capital via a variety of channels, German banks can now accept a 70%+ haircut, even if they continue to complain about it in the process: "Commerzbank, which had originally invested almost 3 billion euros in Greek sovereign bonds but has written down its exposure to 800 million, said last month it had little choice but to take part in the bond swap. At the time, chief executive Martin Blessing said: "The voluntariness (of the Greek debt swap) is about as voluntary as a confession at a Spanish inquisition trial."" The Spanish Inquisition appears to have won yet again.
Citigroup have said that they believe that gold will rise to $2,400/oz in 2012 and by $3,400/oz in “the coming years”. However, Citi’s Tom Fitzpatrick warned of price weakness in the short term and said there is a “real danger” that there may be a correction to $1,600/oz which would provide an even better buying opportunity. Citi are also cautious near term on oil and silver. Production of gold in Australia slid again last year, despite gold fetching higher nominal prices than ever before. According to gold experts, Surbiton Associates, 264 tonnes of gold were produced last year, two tonnes less than in 2010. The 264 tonnes equated to about 8.5 million ounces and ensures that Australia remains a major player in gold, with only China producing more last year. The United States was the world's third-biggest producer with 240 tonnes. Australia's gold production was well below the nation's production peak in the late 1990s. This further suggests the possibility of peak gold production. Of the world’s four biggest gold producers (China, Australia, the U.S. and South Africa), only China has managed to increase gold production in recent years and this Chinese gold is used in China to meet the rapidly growing demand for gold jewellery and coins and bars as stores of value in China.
- China cuts 2012 growth target to 7.5 percent, stability key (Reuters)
- Freom the Fed scribe himsef - Fed Takes a Break to Weigh Outlook (WSJ)
- Greek bond swap deal rests on knife-edge (FT)
- Lenders Stress Over Test Results (WSJ)
- China to Curb Auto Production Capacity, Promote New-Energy Car Development (Bloomberg)
- China military spending to top $100 billion in 2012, alarming neighbours (WaPo)
- Warning: A New Who's Who of Awful Times to Invest (Hussman)
- EU to push quota for women directors (FT)
- Romney Advances As Obama Gains (WSJ)
- Saudi Aramco Raises Oil Premium for April Sales to Asia, U.S.; Cuts Europe (Bloomberg)
When it comes to reporting the news, Reuters ability to get the scoop first may only be rivaled by its ability to "spin" analysis in a way that will make a normal thinking person's head spin. Such as the following piece of unrivaled headscrathing titled "The good news behind oil prices" whose conclusion, as some may have already guessed, is that "the surge in crude oil is looking more like a harbinger of better days." Let's go through the arguments.
The pyramid is the strongest structure known to Man. The weakest structure is the inverted pyramid. There is an economic theory called the Exter Pyramid to describe the financial system. It is an inverted pyramid ranking assets by risk. Gold, the safest asset, holds its place at the tip of the pyramid. Riskier assets, such as cash, deposits, bonds, stocks, real estate, non-monetary commodities, etc., take their respective place above gold. When the pyramid gets top-heavy, it has to re-adjust itself by reducing the value of the riskier assets and increasing the value of gold and other less risky assets. Although finding the true value of the total Exter Pyramid for a country is extremely difficult, we can use readily available data from a few asset classes to understand a basic structure.America's basic Exter Pyramid was worth USD 28.4 trillion (CNY 178.92 trillion), including gold. China's basic Exter Pyramid was worth CNY 126.1 trillion (USD 20.02 trillion) including gold. (In the charts above, gold was shown as a negative number for visual effect. The value of gold is based on the official holdings at that time multiplied by the current market price.) If you factor in GDP, the closeness of those numbers seems very odd.
Iran Supreme Leader Khamenei Leads In Iran Parliamentary Election, As Iran Announces Huge Oil Field DiscoverySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/03/2012 13:32 -0400
The results from Iran's parliamentary election, whose outcome will have virtually no impact on the country's foreign, nuclear or Iran policy, and thus change the country's course vis-a-vis Israel and the US, are in, and following a supposedly high turnout as big as 64% which critics have blasted as a sham (unlike American low turnouts which are 'pristine', yet where both "opponents" end up paid representatives of the banker class) has seen support for president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's party slide, at the expense of a surge in popularity for the ultra conservative Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Reuters summarizes the results as follows: "Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar put the turnout at 64 percent after more than 26 million votes had been counted, telling state television the Iranian nation had disappointed its enemies by voting in such numbers. The figure was close to the 65 percent predicted for weeks by hardline conservative leaders and media. Najjar said 135 seats had been won outright so far, with 10 going to a run-off. Final results were not expected on Saturday. According to a Reuters tally of the results announced in 126 seats, 81 went to Khamenei supporters, 9 to Ahmadinejad's faction, 7 to reformists and 7 to independents, with the allegiance of the remaining winners unclear." However, as noted above, "the vote will have scant impact on Iran's foreign or nuclear policies, in which Khamenei already has the final say, but could strengthen the Supreme Leader's hand before a presidential vote next year. Ahmadinejad, 56, cannot run for a third term." Instead, it is all about internal politics and is a buildup to next year's presidential election in which Ahmadinejad can not run, thus opening the door for Khamenei to take all power. Needless to say, if the "western" world thinks the current conservative president is bad, his ultra-conservative replacement will hardly make things better.
Back in October, when Greece was rewarded with further bond haircuts for progressively missing its economic targets, even after having gotten caught on at least one occasion making its economy appear worse than it was, we said that it is only a matter of time before "Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy will promptly commence sabotaging their economies (just like Greece) simply to get the same debt Blue Light special as Greece." In the aftermath of this statement, we got the Irish and the Portuguese proceeding to slowly but surely do just that. Today, it was Spain's turn to make it 3 out of 4 after as Reuters noted so appropriately, "Spain defies Brussels on deficit target" clarifying that "Spain set itself a softer budget target for 2012 on Friday than originally agreed under the euro zone's austerity drive, putting a question mark over the credibility of the European Union's new fiscal pact. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insisted he was acting within EU guidelines because the plan was still to hit the European Union public deficit goal of 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013." That Italy is sure to follow is absolutely guaranteed, however just because the ECB is now indirectly monetizing BTPs the true impact will be delayed far more, and instead of taking prompt steps to remedy the situation, the European complacency will be accentuated by the fact that bond yields are very low, and supposedly indicates the true state of the economy. No. All it indicates is the conversion of future inflation (courtesy of €1 trillion in new money in the past 3 months) for a very temporary respite before all hell ultimately breaks loose as countries pretend everything is ok as bond yields are pushed artificially low. And in doing nothing, the fundamentals in the economy only get worse and worse. Germany knows this very well, and the Economist explains the reaction to Spain's surprising statement today perfectly...
Wednesday’s sell off is being attributed to one massive sell trade of 31 tonnes on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange during Bernanke’s speech. There are rumours of a large US fund selling and also that the selling may have been by JP Morgan – rumoured to be acting on behalf of an Asian fund. Who sold off and why is less important than the fundamentals of the gold market. Absolutely nothing has changed regarding the fundamentals of gold which remain as sound as ever with broad based demand from store of wealth buyers, institutions and central banks internationally and especially in Asia. Good volumes have been seen on the Shanghai Gold Exchange in recent days. In India, lowest gold prices in a month saw strong physical bullion demand and physical buyers hunting for gold bargains to meet the wedding season demand. India remains the world’s largest buyer of the yellow metal (900 tonnes/year) but China is expected to outpace them this year according the World Gold Council. ETF holdings gained 238,674 ounces to a record high of 70.76 million ounces, showing that institutions and investors remain keen on gold. Also, options data has not changed since Wednesday’s price falls.
- Brazil declares new ‘currency war’ (FT)
- Postal Cuts Are Dead Letter in Congress (WSJ)
- China state banks to boost selected property loans (Reuters)
- ECB Says Overnight Deposits Surge to Record (Bloomberg)
- Van Rompuy confirmed for 2nd term as EU Council president (Reuters) - you mean dictator
- BOJ Shirakawa: Japan consumer prices to gradually rise (Reuters)
- IMF Says Threat of Sharp Global Slowdown Eased (Reuters)
- Eurozone delays half of Greece’s funds (FT)
- BOJ Openings Can Shape Monetary Policy (Bloomberg)
Back in September, before the transition from then ECB head J.C. Trichet to current Goldman plant and uber printer Mario Draghi we asked whether "Trichet will disgrace his already discredited central banker career by pushing a rate cut before he is swept out of the corner office by Mario Draghi, or will the former Goldmanite Italian become the most hated man in Germany soon, after he proceeds to ease, even as Germany still experiences Chinese inflationary re-exports. The answer will be all too clear in just a few months." Sure enough, following a whopping €1 trillion in incremental liquidity released by the ECB in the three shorts months since Draghi's ascension on November 1, all under the guise that the ECB is not printing when it most certainly is, albeit "hidden" by the idiotic claim that it accepts collateral for said printing (what collateral - Italian and Spanish bonds, which will become worthless the second even more printing is required in a few short months? This is run time collateral that can be issued "just in time" to convert it to even more cash as UniCredit did again today), the answer is becoming clear. Slowly but surely the realization is dawning on Germany that while it was sleeping, perfectly confused by lies spoken in a soothing Italian accent that the ECB will not print, not only did Draghi reflate the ECB's balance sheet by an unprecedented amount in a very short time, in the process not only sending Brent in Euros to all time highs (wink, wink, inflation, as today's European CPI confirmed coming in at 2.7% or higher than estimated) but also putting the BUBA in jeopardy with nearly half a trillion in Eurosystem"receivables" which it will most likely never collect.
There are those who recall that not ten days ago, according to the IMF's Greek (un)sustainability analysis, worst case scenario no less, Greek GDP would somehow miraculously post just a 1% drop in 2013. Unfortunately this won't happen. According to the overnight PMI update out of Europe (where was saw the jobless rate at the highest since 1997), the Greek economy just imploded at a record pace. This follows the already horrendous budget revenue data from January which came in down 7% on expectations of a 9% rise. Sure enough, as expected the fact that the entire country has taken the rest of 2012 off with no incentive to actually work, will do miracles for Greece. From Reuters: "The Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for Greece fell to a survey low of 37.7 points in February from 41.0 in January, staying below the 50 mark that divides growth in activity from contraction for each of the past 30 months. Production and new order volumes fell at the sharpest pace in the near 13 year history of the survey as austerity sapped demand. New export orders fell for a sixth straight month and at the steepest rate since May 2010." Translated: the situation is hopeless and getting worse. Expect the German, pardon Troika, Kommissar to be shocked, shocked, to find out that not only do banks in Greece have no deposits left, but the entire economy picked up and left.
Gold and Silver Plunge – Called “Intervention”, “Window Dressing”, “Temporary Smash”, “Paper Fiasco”Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/01/2012 09:11 -0400
The positive PMI data would ordinarily result in some price weakness as would the testimony from Bernanke which suggested that the Federal Reserve's ultra loose monetary policies may not continue much longer. However, the scale of the selling and size of the price falls was unusual. Respected analysts such as legendary Jim Sinclair, John Embry and Jean-Marie Eveillard suggested that the sell off was due to manipulation by bullion banks. Sinclair said it was an “intervention” and was “window dressing” that long term bullion investors should not be concerned about as inflation was coming due to “QE to Infinity.” Embry said that it was a “smash down” and a “paper fiasco.” Jean-Marie Eveillard suggested that central banks may have intervened, as they are doing in fx and bond markets, and sold gold in volume into the market. It is of course very difficult to ascertain what caused the sharp falls in the precious metals yesterday however it would be naive to completely discount what Sinclair, Embry and Eveillard believe may have happened.
- China’s Holdings of Treasuries Dropped in ’11 (BusinessWeek)
- Bundesbank at Odds With ECB Over Loans (FT)
- Euro zone puts Greece's efforts under microscope (Reuters)
- Bank of America Considers a Revamp That Would Affect Millions of Customers (WSJ)
- In Days Leading Up to MF Global's Collapse, $165 Million Transfer OK'd in a Flash (WSJ)
- Greece Approves Welfare Cuts for 2nd Bailout (Bloomberg)
- Irish Minister Pushes to Cut Bail-Out Cost (FT)
- China to Support Tech Sectors (China Daily)
- Spanish Bond Yields Fall in Debt Auction After ECB (Reuters)
- China to Expand Cross-Border RMB Businesses (China Daily)