It is refreshing to see that the SEC has taken a much needed break from its daily escapades into midgetporn.xxx and is focusing on what is truly important, such as barring outspoken rating agency Egan-Jones from rating the US and other governments. From the SEC: "EJR and Egan made a settlement offer that the Commission determined to accept. Under the settlement, EJR and Egan agreed to be barred for at least 18 months from rating asset-backed and government securities issuers as an NRSRO. EJR and Egan also agreed to correct the deficiencies found by SEC examiners in 2012, and submit a report – signed by Egan under penalty of perjury — detailing steps the firm has taken." Hopefully the world is no longer insolvent in July of 2014 when this ban runs out.
The global economy is an entangled affair, make no mistake in your calculation here, and the numbers from around the globe are telling and will affect both the U.S. bond and equity markets. Much of the financing for the Emerging Markets was provided by the European banks and as they pull back and reorganize based not just on Basel III but based upon problems of the sovereign where they are domiciled the situation exacerbates. Two of the world’s financial axises are slowing and troubled and to not think that this will not affect America will lead you to conclusions causing you to play the Great Game badly. What did the meeting of the European Finance Ministers accomplish; not much. They nodded to the Spanish banks and agreed to inject $30 billion by the way of the sovereign, increasing the debt of Spain, with veiled promises of a new ESM fund which would lend money directly to the banks at some point in the future and this point is highly subjective depending upon to whom you listen. The Spanish claim within days or weeks while the Germans indicate it may be sometime next year. There is now a “maybe-maybe” timeline in Europe for almost anything as the weaker nations prod the stronger nations for more money.
We're paid by investors, we have to earn our keep every single year. S&P and Moody's are being paid by the issuers of debt
A month and a half after the SEC took a much-deserved break from watching taxpayer-funded pornography, and stumbled on the scene with its latest pathetic attempt to scapegoat someone, anyone, for its years of gross incompetence, corruption, and inability to prosecute any of the true perpetrators for an event that wiped out tens of trillions in US wealth, by suing Egan-Jones for "improperly" filing their NRSRO application in what was a glaring attempt to shut them up, the only rating agency with any credibility has done what nobody else in the history of modern crony capitalist-cum-socialist America has dared to do: fight back. We have only three words for Sean Egan: For. The. Win.
... but not from us: after all we are known for being biased, which in the mainstream media parlance means calling it like it is. No - instead we leave it to none other than Bloomberg's Jonathan Weil who does as good a job of being "biased" as we ever could: "Egan-Jones, which has been in business since 1992, could have continued operating as an independent publisher of ratings and analysis, not subject to government oversight or control. Instead it chose to play within the Big Three’s system, exposing itself to regulation and the whims of the SEC in exchange for the government’s imprimatur. Now it’s paying the price." And not only that: as the most recent example of Spain just shows, where Egan Jones downgraded Spain 9 days ago and was ignored, but well ahead of everyone else, only to be piggybacked by S&P, and the whole world flipping out, it has become clear: calling out reality, and the fools that populate it, is becoming not only a dangerous game, but increasingly more illegal. Then again - this is not the first time we have seen just this happen in broad daylight, with nobody daring to say anything about it. In fact, this phenomenon tends to be a rather traditional side-effect of every declining superpower. Such as the case is right now...
Just in case one is wondering what is a greater crime in America: vaporizing $1.5 billion in client money or having the temerity to downgrade the US (twice), JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley, here is the SEC with the answer:
- SEC SUES EGAN-JONES, SEAN EGAN ON ALLEGED MISREPRESENTATIONS
Somewhere Jon Corzine is cackling like a mad cow.
Sean Egan strikes again, this time downgrading Germany from AA to AA-.
Why The UK Trail Of The MF Global Collapse May Have "Apocalyptic" Consequences For The Eurozone, Canadian Banks, Jefferies And Everyone ElseSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/08/2011 00:06 -0400
Reposting by popular demand, and because everyone has to understand the embedded risks in this market, courtesy of the shadow banking system.
In an oddly prescient turn of events, yesterday we penned a post titled "Has The Imploding European Shadow Banking System Forced The Bundesbank To Prepare For Plan B?" in which we explained how it was not only the repo market, but the far broader and massively unregulated shadow banking system in Europe that was becoming thoroughly unhinged, and was manifesting itself in a complete "lock up in interbank liquidity" and which, we speculated, is pressuring the Bundesbank, which is well aware of what is going on behind the scenes, to slowly back away from what will soon be an "apocalyptic" event (not our words... read on). Why was this prescient? Because today, Reuters' Christopher Elias has written the logical follow up analysis to our post, in which he explains in layman's terms not only how but why the lock up has occurred and will get far more acute, but also why the MF Global bankruptcy, much more than merely a one-off instance of "repo-to-maturity" of sovereign bonds gone horribly wrong is a symptom of two things: i) the lax London-based unregulated and unsupervised system which has allowed such unprecedented, leveraged monsters as AIG, Lehman and now as it turns out MF Global, to flourish until they end up imploding and threatening the world's entire financial system, and ii) an implicit construct embedded within the shadow banking model which permitted the heaping of leverage upon leverage upon leverage, probably more so than any structured finance product in the past (up to and including synthetic CDO cubeds), and certainly on par with the AIG cataclysm which saw $2.7 trillion of CDS notional sold with virtually zero margin. Simply said: when one truly digs in, MF Global exposes the 2011 equivalent of the 2008 AIG: virtually unlimited leverage via the shadow banking system, in which there are practically no hard assets backing the infinite layers of debt created above, and which when finally unwound, will create a cataclysmic collapse of all financial institutions, where every bank is daisy-chained to each other courtesy of multiple layers of "hypothecation, and re-hypothecation." In fact, it is a link so sinister it touches every corner of modern finance up to and including such supposedly "stable" institutions as Jefferies, which as it turns out has spent weeks defending itself, however against all the wrong things, and Canadian banks, which as it also turns out, defended themselves against Zero Hedge allegations they may well be the next shoes to drop, as being strong and vibrant (and in fact just announced soaring profits and bonuses), yet which have all the same if not far greater risk factors as MF Global. Yet nobody has called them out on it. Until now.
Lately, the Egan-Jones credit ratings agency has experienced a lot of bad publicity from the co-opted and conflicted media, especially those in which GE has a minority stake, for no other reason than being the only organization that is in some way a part of the status quo yet dares to constantly lash out at the lies behind the scenes and expose the fraud and corruption that permeates the modern Ponzi system. Frankly, we have had it with this propaganda. Confirming that when it comes to honesty and integrity, EJ may or may not be at the front of the pack, but they sure tried to warn other about the impending systemic collapse. Presented below is an interview conducted by Kate Welling with Sean Egan back on June 30, 2006, or the absolute peak of the credit bubble frenzy, in which everything Egan said: down to the most dire prediction, has occurred. Somehow we are confident people slighted, mocked and ridiculed him then as well. He was right then. He will be right again.
In the face of ponzi-enabling status quo adversity, Sean Egan is not one to mince his words. Sure enough, here comes today's downgrade of Italy from BB+ to BB, an event which has reminded BTPs, if not stocks for now, just what reality is. From the report: "La Acido Vita - from La Dolce Vita, life in Italy has become sour of late; even without the concerns about Greece, Italy is in miserable shape. Over the past 3 fiscal years, total debt has grown by 14.3% while GDP has shrunk by 2.4%. The annual government deficit of EUR68B and the debt to GDP of 119% place additional pressure on credit quality. Furthermore, Italy will probably have to provide additional support to its banks and will see some pressure on its economy. We expect that Italy's banks will continue turning to the ECB and Italy for support. In 2012, the Republic of Italy needs to finance EUR320B of debt and is likely to experience increasing yields and restricted access without external intervention. As of this weekend the yields on the 6 month notes were 6.5%; rates have been rising despite ECB purchases. The major issue is whether the IMF will become involved and if so, whether the face value of the debt will be cut. Italy cannot support all of its debt." And what is probably worse is that according to what are likely very optimistic projections, EJ sees Italian debt/GDP rising from 127% in 2011 to 157% in two years. Indicatively, the cutoff ratio for a CCC-rated sovereign credit in Egan Jones' view is 150% debt/GDP. Say hello to the triple hooks.
Following the earlier spirited defense of JEF by Oppenhemier and outright bashing of Egan Jones, Sean Egan fires right back. "Synopsis: Prior reports excluded projections because of the skewed financials relating to the FYE change; a more granular liquidation analysis is avail. upon request. JEF needs to raise equity (i.e., $1B) AND deleverage to reduce its 9.5+% LT yield. JEF's total debt to capital is 90.4% vs. 67% for IBKR, 62% for RJF and 43% for GFIG. GS and MS have ratios near 88% but they are significantly larger and should have some federal support via their banking charters. Furthermore, MF's freezing and shortchanging client funds have increased scrutiny of other medium-sized brokers. Raising $1B in new equity and reducing assets by $5B would reduce total debt to capital to only 86%. Watch the cost and availability of funding. We will cut without a major deleveraging."
Sean Egan, of Egan Jones, appeared on CNBC's Squawk Box this morning to pay penance for his truthiness and daring to open investor's eyes to the reality we are facing. The two main topics of discussion were the European crisis and, of course, Jefferies. Egan hushes the CNBCers when he describes the three solutions for Europe's problems - which really boils down to one of restructuring and/or printing when faced with reality - and points to a EUR2.5tn hole that needs to be filled at least. Of course, the discussion of Europe's sovereign shackles led to demands from the Kernan, Sorkin, and MCC for their pound of flesh over Egan's call on JEF but the rater defended his call with simple logic as another guest host questioned how Egan expects JEF's business model to be viable at lower than 13x leverage - great question.
Update: Here is the full two page list
Yesterday, when Jefferies CEO Richie Handler issued his 3rd, and probably not last, public promise that "the firm is fine", he also promised to release granular level detail of every single European holding it has via a complete CUSIP dump. To wit: "These are fragile times in the financial market and we decided the only way to conclusively dispel rumors, misinformation and misplaced concerns is with unprecedented transparency about internal information that is rarely, if ever, publicly disclosed,“ said Richard Handler, Chairman and CEO of Jefferies. “Later today, after the markets are closed in Europe and we have completed our inventory control accounting, we will post on our web-site our day-end, CUSIP-level holdings in the securities of these countries. We care for our clients, shareholders, bondholders and employees and want to allay any concern that may have arisen. As was the case yesterday, the facts about our sovereign debt exposure and other matters are straightforward and easily understood. We encourage all market participants and interested parties to review our public filings that contain extensive disclosure of the nature, extent and financing of our assets. Our firm stands on a solid foundation of over $8.5 billion of long-term capital and we look forward to continued success." This was yesterday. Now, we can only assume we simply are unable to navigate the company's news release section quite efficiently, because it is now tomorrow, and all those clients, shareholders, bondholders and employees of the firm are quite curious just why the firm still has not released what it has promised. Just as they are curious why the firm's public net European exposure fluctuates materially in 48 hours.