Following the evaluation of liquidity needs (and availability) for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, S&P has decided that "it doesn't warrant an investment-grade rating":
- PUERTO RICO GO RATING CUT TO JUNK BY S&P, MAY BE CUT FURTHER
- GOVT. DEVELOPMENT BANK FOR PUERTO RICO CUT TO BB FROM BBB-:S&P
- PUERTO RICO GO RATING LOWERED TO 'BB+': S&P
- PUERTO RICO REMAINS ON WATCH NEGATIVE FROM S&P
Both the G.O.s and the Development Bank have been cut. Note that 70% of muni mutual funds own this - and it is unclear if a junk rating forces (by mandate) funds to cover. Worst of all, S&P warns Puerto Rico could now face a $1 billion collateral call on short-term debt - the same waterfall collateral cascade that took down AIG.
We have long held that Africa is a crucial region of the world in the near future because there is no more incremental debt capacity at any level: sovereign, household, financial or corporate - in any other region. As tensions between China and Japan multiply, there is an increasing battle for influence in other states. While China and Japan may look like they’re competing in Africa, the two countries are actually playing different games. Whereas Abe seems content to have Japanese businesses make profits, China is actively pursuing soft power on the continent.
Despite telling us just yesterday that it would not take sides in the tensions in South Sudan...
*U.S. NOT TAKING SIDES IN S SUDAN: PSAKI
the US government is on the verge of deciding to... take sides. As Reuters reports, the United States is weighing targeted sanctions against South Sudan due to its leaders' failure to take steps to end a crisis that has brought the world's youngest nation to the brink of civil war. Africa, as we have discussed at length, remains the only region on earth with incremental debt capacity (and therefore growth in a Keynesian world) and so it is no surprise the US wants to get involved in yet another conflict.
Back in April, in a desperate scramble to raise liquidity courtesy of a hail mary Goldman syndicated term loan, we penned "Confused By What Is Going On At JCP? Here's The Pro Forma Cap Table And The Cliff Notes", where in addition to the obvious - that this is merely buying a few months for the melting icecube company which with every passing day is closer to a Chapter 11 (or 7) bankruptcy filing - we also laid out that what Goldman was doing was merely positioning itself to be at the top of the company's capital structure with a super secured and overcollateralized credit facility, through what is effectively a pre-petition DIP... As it turns out we only had to wait for five months before the same Goldman that raised the company's emergency liquidity term loan turned around and launched a vicious attack on the same company that paid it millions in dollars in underwriting fees. Specifically, what Goldman just did is write a report (perhaps one of the best bearish cross-asset investment theses we have seen to come out of the firm in a long time) in which it laid out, in a lucid and compelling manner, why JCP is doomed. The report is titled appropriately enough: "Initiate on JCP with Underperform: Looking for cash in the name"... and not finding it.
Four years after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and was purchased from the depths of bankruptcy court hell by Fiat S.p.A., the circle (jerk) is complete, and thanks to lead underwriter JPM, the second coming of Chrysler, this time for sale to a whole new batch of gullible ROI chasers, is now a fact with the S-1 statement filing moments ago, in which the only cash transfer will be from the VEBA Trust to new shareholders and no new cash will go to the actual company. In other words, the UAW is selling to the general public.
Nigeria, Africa's top oil-producing nation, has a problem - too much money in its sovereign wealth fund and no idea what to do with it. Have no fear though, for as Reuters reports, Goldman Sachs, UBS, and Credit Suisse have kindly responded (to emails from long-lost cousins?) and will be allowed to managed 20% of Nigeria's $1 billion fund (which is meant to cushion against oil price shocks - good timing?) This should come as no surprise to Zero Hedge readers as we have been discussing Africa as the only place left in the world capable of incremental debt capacity (and therefore growth). There are consequences (the boom-bust cycle) to this politically-motivated capital inflow; but for now the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) states (in a reassuring manner) that the banks will invest "the fund's assets conservatively, with capital preservation in nominal terms being of primary importance," which 'nominally' fits with UBS managing their Treasury exposure and GS and CS their corporate debt exposures.
We need to think about lessening the economic “skin-in-the-game” for RMBS and focusing anew on enforcing US securities laws...
The Plight Of Europe's Banking Sector, Its €650 Billion State Guarantee, And The "Urgent Need" To RecapitalizeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/15/2013 12:37 -0400
Since the topic of quantifying how big the sovereign assistance to assorted banks - both in Europe and the US (which Bloomberg calculated at $83 billion per year) - has become a daily talking point, we are happy to read that Harald Benink and Harry Huizinga have reached the same conclusion as us in their VOX analysis, and further have shown that in Europe the implicit banking sector guarantee by the state is a whopping €650 billion. "Europe has postponed the recapitalisation of its banking sector for far too long. And, without such a recapitalisation, the danger is that economic stagnation will continue for a long period, thereby putting Europe on a course towards Japanese-style inertia and the proliferation of zombie banks... Banks are already saddled with ample unrecognised losses on their assets, estimated by many observers to be at least several hundreds of billions of euros and mirrored by low share price valuations, and an additional loss of their present funding advantage will be crippling."
And so the next casualty of the inevitable municipal collapse appears, which is, as expected, that one-time symbol of all that was right with a (once upon a time) manufacturing America, having since been replaced with the anti-symbol of all that is broken: Detroit. DETROIT BEGINS MORATORIUM ON ALL DEBT SERVICE PAYMENTS FOR UNSECURED FUNDED DEBT; DETROIT TO DEFAULT ON CERTIFICATES OF PARTICIPATION DUE TODAY. And, true to from in the New Normal America, where the "fairness doctrine" rules supreme under Big Brother's watchful eye, the premise of the upcoming glorious recovery is a well-known one: "the shared-sacrifice." To wit: "The City currently faces approximately $17 billion in total liabilities. Detroit is insolvent and cannot meet its financial obligations without a significant restructuring. Mr. Orr's plan provides for shared sacrifice among all creditor groups – from Wall Street and Main Street consistent with their legal rights – in order to return Detroit to a sustainable financial foundation and to permit much-needed reinvestment in the City." The punchline: "Detroit's road to recovery begins today"... By defaulting.
The relentless warehousing of wholesale inventories continues, even if the "any minute now" gusher of wholesale sales continues to be pushed back into the indefinite future. Sure enough, the March data showed that wholesale sales disappointed, and instead of growing 1.5%, declined by -1.6%, below expectations of a 0.1% rise. This was the biggest drop in sales since March of 2009: another nail in the coffin of any recovery dreams. That this happened even as inventories increased by more than the expected 0.3%, or 0.4% up from the previos decline of -0.4%, shows that indeed the end-demand weakness has been quite widespread. Logically, the Inventory-to-Sales ratio rose to 1.21, up from the 1.17 a year ago, and the highest also since 2009. Sooner or later all this pent up inventory will have to be cleared, resulting in even more dumpin, price reductions and margin deterioration in a retail world in which the bottom line is more elusive now than it has ever been: just ask Amazon.
First Greek Bailout Snag - Local Bankers Refuse To "Voluntarily" Participate In Critical Bond BuybackSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/29/2012 06:25 -0400
Those who have been following the recent developments over the Greek distressed debt buyback, which in any normal universe would have been considered an event of default but certainly not in "special cases" such as Greece where the country's official default would start the Lehman-like domino collapse as apparently getting a 70 cent haircut in 8 months is a "voluntary" event, have been quite confused by the internal dynamics. On one hand the sole beneficiary of the transaction are those hedge funds who bought the GGB2 bonds when they tanked to lows just barely in the double digits as a % of par; on the other, there is absolutely no benefit to the Greek people as a result of this sub-par prepayment, as the only fund flow benefits hit the bondholders (and it is up to Greece to figure out how to grow its GDP by over 4% per year over the next 8 years). Then let's not forget that nobody has any clue yet where the funding for said buyback will come from. And finally, as Kathimerini just reported, we learn that one group that has just vocally declared against the buy back are the very people who are supposed to be benefiting from the Greek bailout: i.e., the country's bankers.
The simple Bloomberg chart below summarizes the running insanity that is the ongoing Greek bailout. To date, the existing bailouts - already completely wasted - amount to well over 100% of Greek GDP.
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the just announced Hostess liquidation, one that will be largely debated and discussed in the media, or maybe not at all, is the curious cast of characters and the peculiar history of this particular bankruptcy. Some may not be aware that the company's Chapter 11 (or colloquially known as 22) bankruptcy filing this January, which today became a Chapter 7 liquidation, was the second one in the company's recent history, with Hostess, previously Interstate Bakeries, emerging from its previous protracted multi-year bankruptcy in 2009. What is curious is that its emergence had all the drama of a anti-Mitt Romney PAC funded thriller, with a PE firm, in this case Ripplewood holdings, injecting $130 million in order to obtain equity control of Hostess as it was emerging last time. There were also more hedge funds, investment banks, strategic buyers, politicians involved in this particular story than one can shake a deep fried numismatic value Twinkie at. More importantly, however, as America has been habituated following the last season of the reality TV show known as the presidential election, if Private Equity then "bad." Only this time there is a twist: because it wasn't really PE that was the pure evil in the Obama long-term campaign, it was associating PE with Republicans, and thus: with jobs outsourcing. And here comes the Hostess twist: because Tim Collins of Ripplewood, was a prominent Democrat, a position which allowed him to get involved in the first bankruptcy process in the first place, due to his proximity with the Teamsters' long-term heartthrob Dick Gephardt (whose consulting group just happens to also be an equity owner of Hostess). In other words, the traditional republican-cum-PE scapegoating strategy here will be a tough one to pull off since the narrative collapses when considering that it was a Democrat who rescued the firm, only to see it implode in a trainwreck that has resulted in the liquidation of a legendary brand, and 18,500 layoffs.
While those in the power and money echelons of the "developed" world scramble day after day to hold the pieces of the collapsing tower of cards in place (and manipulating public perception that all is well), knowing full well what the final outcome eventually will be, those who still have the capacity to look, and invest, in the future, are looking neither toward the US, nor Asia, and certainly not Europe, for one simple reason: there is no more incremental debt capacity at any level: sovereign, household, financial or corporate. Because without the ability to create debt out of thin air, be it on a secured or unsecured basis, the ability to "create" growth, at least in the current Keynesian paradigm, goes away with it. Yet there is one place where there is untapped credit creation potential, if not on an unsecured (i.e., future cash flow discounting), then certainly on a secured (hard asset collateral) basis. The place is Africa, and according to some estimates the continent, Africa can create between $5 and $10 trillion in secured debt, using its extensive untapped resources as first-lien collateral.
Several weeks ago, the platinum producing company that started it all (after police killed 34 of its striking workers at its Marikana South African mine) Lonmin, conceded and agreed to a 22% wage hike. In doing so it once again proved that in game theory he who defects first, defects best. Shortly thereafter the strike spread to all other South African mining industries, and has even spilled over into the trucking industry, whose ongoing strike has crippled the country and threatens to paralyze all commerce. The only reason for the continued worker boldness: Lonmin folding to worker demands, in the process empowering all other workers in the African country to demand equitable treatment. Which is why today's news that that "other" platinum miner in South Africa has decided to go the opposite route, and instead of yielding to worker demands for a raise, has gone and fired 12,000 workers taking part in a three-week strike. How this dramatic shift in the balance of power affects the already struggling country, and its mining sector remains to be seen. However, if recent events are any indication, he doubt local workers will just put down their banners and go back to work as per the old status quo. In the meantime, look for ever less platinum,and gold, to be produced by this mining powerhouse.