While the news flow is dominated by Cyprus, it will be important to not lose sight of the developments in Italy, where we will watch the steps taken towards forming a government. The key release this week is likely to be US consumer confidence. Keep a watchful eye on the health of the consumer in the US after the tax rises in January. So far, household optimism and demand has held up better than expected. The IP data from Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, Thailand, Japan will provide a useful gauge on activity in the region and what it reflects about global activity, however Chinese New Year effects will need to be accounted for in the process.
First, it is Merkel's turn, which last week was furious at Cyprus for daring to reject the first flawed Eurogroup plan impairing insured depositors, only to praise it for now... rejecting said plan. To wit: Chancellor Angela Merkel, "as well as the government, is very happy that the troika, the euro group and Cyprus were able to reach an agreement," German government spokesman Steffen Seibert says in Berlin. He added that difficulties will arise in the short term because of measures aimed to scale back Cyprus’s banking sector, "but in the long run it will lead to a healthier” industry. That remains to be seen, especially when factoring in the Russian response. Which wont be pleasant.
- Cyprus Salvaged After EU Deal Shuts Bank to Get $13B (BBG)
- Last-minute Cyprus deal to close bank, force losses (Reuters)
- Anxious, angry Cypriots face uncertain future (Reuters)
- Spain Brings the Pain to Bank Investors (WSJ)
- First Switzerland now... U.S. Seeks Answers in Liechtenstein on Tax Cheats (BBG)
- Rebel Free Syrian Army founder loses leg in Syria blast (Reuters)
- European Stocks Rise on Cyprus Deal as Italian Bonds, Crude Gain (BBG)
- Michael Dell Likely to Sweeten Buyout Bid to Save Legacy (BBG)
- Bankers’ pay premium is narrowing (FT)
- Surgery Restoring Penis After Prostate Cancer Increasing (BBG)
- Silent or supportive, conservatives give gay marriage momentum (Reuters)
All eyes should remain focused on Cyprus today, especially since there is no data being reported elsewhere. Financial markets closed Friday on a positive note, as an agreement on Cyprus appeared to be taking shape and a minor relief rally across most asset classes overnight vindicated hopes of a positive outcome as details of the detail were announced overnight. More clarity is still required on some aspects of the agreement (deposit and bondholders) but the fact that the national parliament does not need to vote again should stop the deal from unravelling as it did last week. Whether this is enough to restore confidence and prevent a possible cautionary deposit flight from Cyprus remains to be seen.
UPDATE: It appears the 'deal' to default/restructure the banks has been designed to bypass the need for parliamentary votes, since it is theoretically not a tax.
While we have little color on what kind of carnage the President of Cyprus had to accept to his fellow countrymen, the news is that :
*CYPRUS, TROIKA REACH AGREEMENT IN PRINCIPLE, EU OFFICIAL SAYS
The terms, unsurprisingly what zee Germans wanted, are i) Laiki to be wound down; ii) Bank of Cyprus to survive but with deposit haircuts, and iii) deal would see secured deposits in Laiki moved to Bank of Cyprus. In other words, a deal far worse then the original on proposed by the Eurogroup last week - when the banks still existed. The key appears to be the 'saving' of the insured depositors (crucial to avoid a pan-European bank run) and the crushing of the 'whale' depositors. S&P 500 futures and EUR are surging, Gold is dropping modestly. We await final confirmation of the final terms of the final deal once the Cypriot people wake up (and don't forget the ECB 'standard of living' rules). The Cypriot Parliament still has to vote for this - and not one of them voted for it last week.
The Cyprus deposit scramble contagion spreads as Reuters reports that "Swiss banks would be required to "motivate" remaining U.S. clients to come clean to U.S. tax officials. If they failed to do so, confidential bank data would be forwarded to U.S. officials. The initial shipment of data from those banks would not include client names but, based on the data, U.S. officials would be able to submit a judicial aid requests to get the names of alleged tax evaders."
Many have asked why the bondholders have not been tagged in the Cyprus fiasco. That answer is simple. Most of Cyprus's bonds are pledged as collateral at the ECB or in the Target2 financing program. Then one may also ask why the bonds of the two large Cypriot banks are not being hit. The answer is the same; most are held as collateral at the ECB or Target2. In both cases, remember uncounted liabilities, the government of Cyprus has guaranteed the debt. Consequently if the two Cyprus banks default it is of small matter as the sovereign has guaranteed the debt. However if the country defaults and leaves the European Union then it will matter and matter significantly as the tiny country of Cyprus would wipe out the entire equity capital of the European Central Bank. While it is not a matter of public record it is estimated that Cyprus has guaranteed about $11.6 billion of collateral at the ECB.
The conflicting headlines continue to spew forth from the union of European nations. Reuters CYBC is reporting that Cyprus has agreed a 'deal' with EU/IMF lenders a 20% levy on deposits over EUR100,000 for Bank of Cyprus and a 4% levy on deposits of the same amount at other lenders (and the Cypriots have dropped plans to nationalize pension funds) citing a senior Cypriot official (who demanded anonymity). At the same time, EU Commissioner Olli Rehn emailed a statement saying that a 'deal' has yet to come forth:
- *REHN SAYS COMMISSION WORKING HARD TO FIND CYPRUS SOLUTION
- *REHN SAYS ONLY HARD CHOICES LEFT FOR CYPRUS
- *REHN SAYS `ESSENTIAL' CYPRUS SOLUTION REACHED ON SUNDAY NIGHT
So who does one believe? And with no market open to test this strawman, what will the decision-makers have to guide their choices? One thing is for sure:
- *REHN SAYS 'NO LONGER ANY OPTIMAL SOLUTIONS AVAILABLE'
- *REHN SAYS ONLY HARD CHOICES LEFT FOR CYPRUS
Cyprus Deposit Levy Vote Delayed, Will Go "Down To The Wire" As Up To 70% Deposit Tax Contemplated For SomeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/23/2013 08:58 -0400
While GETCO's algos were poised to set off a buying tsunami yesterday the millisecond a flashing red headline hit Bloomberg with even the hint or suggestion that Cyprus is fixed, we said to sit back and relax because Cyprus "will get no resolution today, or tomorrow, and may at best be resolved on Sunday night following yet another coordinated global bailout, (although our money is on a last, last minute resolution some time on Monday when Cyprus is closed but the European markets are widely open)." As it turns out, we were right, following reports by major newswires that the vote on the deposit levy will only take place (if at all) on Sunday night, after the Eurozone finance ministers' meeting on Sunday. The reason for the delay? Deciding how to best bring the news to Russian, and other wealthy depositors, that not only will they not have access to their funds for a long, long time, the ultimate haircut on what they thought was safe, easily accessible cash as recently as a week ago, may be a stunning 70%!
There exists a super-Bernanke who proved also a super-Hollande, a gentleman who Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cannot compete with: his name is Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe. When he took power, he seized the farmlands of one social group to give them to another social group. Afterwards, in part because the new social group did not manage the farms that well, the economy took a turn for the worse. Therefore, the state issued some bonds to finance its spending and asked the central bank to issue some money to buy this government debt. But they printed big time and turned the printing press into something of a cosmic proportion. According to Professor Steve Hanke from John Hopkins, monthly inflation was 80 billion percent, so per year it is a 65 followed by 107 zeros. This is what we call Mugabenomics, the conjunction of (i) state-forced wealth transfer between two social groups along with (ii) the monetisation of the debt. As we shall see below, Mugabenomics, or at least its mild version implemented now in the Western hemisphere, has drastic consequences on the final episode of the global financial crisis.
Rather than sitting nervously and passively and awaiting the coming financial dislocations and expropriations, investors and savers need to be prepared for the uncertain financial scenarios that seem increasingly likely.
Hoping for the best, but preparing for less benign scenarios remains prudent.
- Cyprus targets big depositors in bank plan (FT)
- Merkel Vents Anger at Cyprus Over Bailout Plan as Deadline Looms (BBG)
- Russia rebuffs Cyprus, EU awaits bailout "Plan B" (Reuters)
- Russia Rejects Cyprus Bid for Financial Rescue as Deadline Looms (BBG)
- Cyprus unveils shake-up as the clock ticks (FT)
- Remember Italy? Italy’s stalemate unnerves investors (FT)
- Credit Suisse CEO pay jump to fuel banker bonus debate (Reuters)
- Kuroda Rebuts Reflation Naysayers as BOJ Action Looms (BBG)
- Fund Manager Says 'Whale' Trade Was a Bet (WSJ)
- House averts government shutdown, backs Ryan budget (Reuters)
- Hong Kong Homes Face 20% Price Drop as Banks Raise Rates (BBG)
While it will be no surprise to any ZeroHedge reader, academic research from ETH Zurich shows that not only are "commodity markets becoming very financialized and computerized... and more susceptible to minor shocks," but "at least 60-70% of price changes are now due to self-generated activities rather than novel information." In other words, only about a third of commodity price moves are caused by real fundamental news now (as opposed to 75% pre-HFT).
For a while there, one might have been forgiven for believing that all was going to be well; that the recovery was V-shaped and the new-normal was nothing but the old-normal and Goldilocks would reappear. It appears, however, that the central bank lipstick slapped on the deflationary pig of the over-levered global economy is starting to wear off. As the following 4 charts show, things are not as 'recovering' as many hoped (and still hope).