• EconMatters
    08/27/2014 - 21:30
    Investors in European Bonds are running over each other all in an effort to front run what the Big Banks have been begging the ECB to begin a bond buying program.  It is hilarious as ...

Shadow Banking

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Guest Post: How To Find Shelter From The Coming Storms?





Some basic suggestions for those who are seeking shelter from the coming storms of global financial crisis and recession.

 
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Why "Margin Debt" Is Meaningless In The New Shadow Banking Normal





Pundits enjoy pointing to NYSE margin debt as an indication of overall system leverage, and how prone to margin calls and liquidations the investor class may be at any given moment. However, in the new normal, in which sophsiticated investors fund themselves via completely different mechanism - mostly involving repo and other shadow banking conduits - margin debt has become a very much irrelevant indicator of overall leverage.

 
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Up To $80 Billion Gold-Backed Loans Are Falsified, Chinese Auditor Warns





As the probe into alleged fraud at Qingdao continues to escalate (with liquidity needs growing more and more evident as Chinese money-market rates surge), Bloomberg reports that China’s chief auditor discovered 94.4 billion yuan ($15.2 billion) of loans backed by falsified gold transactions, in "the first official confirmation of what many people have suspected for a long time - that gold is widely used in Chinese commodity financing deals." As much as 1,000 tons of gold may have been used in lending and leasing deals in China and Goldman reports that up to $80 billion false-loans may involve gold. As one analyst noted, this was unlikely to have a significant impact on the underlying demand for gold in China and as we have pointed out before, any unwind of the Gold CFDs would lead to buying back of 'paper' gold hedges and implicitly a rise in prices.

 
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Copper Snaps Win-Streak As Imports Plunge 17% & Default Fears Reignite





Quietly behind the scenes, amid all the chaos of the Qingdao probe's contagion, copper has rallied modestly in the last seven days. That streak ended last night as the warehousing concerns we noted spreading to the entire sector, combined with a collapse in Chinese copper imports (down 17% in May), and yet another default (China Ting holdings said said two borrowers defaulted on entrusted loans). So it seems that not only are the commodities missing, but so is the money...as the slow motion train wreck gathers pace (no matter what PMIs or minis stimulus do to evade the tightening) as China's money-market rates (at 5 month highs) suggest liquidity demand is very high (and desperate).

 
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Gold Hits $1300, Silver Surges To 3-Month Highs As China Rehypothecation Ponzi Unwinds





But, but, but... Janet Yellen didn't say precious metal valuations were within historical norms? Gold and Silver are surging today (and have done since the FOMC press conference all-clear) with the latter having its best day in months and back at 3-month highs... Intriguingly, just as we warned, gold and silver have been on a significant tear since the Qingdao CCFD probe began (as synthetic hedges are unwound - which dominate pricing in PMs) while copper and iron ore and so on have all fallen (as the reality of no real demand leaks into these commodities).

 
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Fed Prepares For Bond-Fund Runs, Looking At Imposing "Exit Fee" Gates





With this unprecedented step, the Fed is sending a very clear message: it may be next year, or next month, or next week, but quite soon you, dear retail bond-fund investor, will be gated and will be unable to pull your money.... So wouldn't you rather just keep said money in the "safety" of stock funds, none of which will ever, ever be gated, pinky swear.... Unless the market crashes one final time of course, at which point the Fed will be on the first flight out to non-extradition countries.

 
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Shanghai Limits Individual Purchases Of Risky Bonds As China Overtakes US As Biggest Corporate Borrower





With China's shadow banking system's collateral chain's collapsing amid government crackdowns on the ponzi, the 'desperate for liquidity' borrowers have increasingly turned to global capital markets' suckers to fund the next malinvestment. As China's currency becomes more internationalized and yields around the world collapse (thanks to central bank largesse), demand from investors has driven, for the first time ever, the Chinese corporate bond market has overtaken the United States as the world's biggest. As S&P warns, this is raising global credit risk as "as much as 10% of global corporate debt is exposed to the risk of a contraction in China's informal banking sector," or around $4-$5 trillion, "causing overall corporate risk to increase globally," and it's not expected to slow anytime soon. It appears the authorities are starting to recognize the bubble as they plan to 'limit individuals' purchases of risky bonds'.

 
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Frontrunning: June 13





  • Tea Party struggles to repeat Cantor-style shock in Tennessee (Reuters)
  • Iran Deploys Forces to Fight al Qaeda-Inspired Militants in Iraq (WSJ)
  • Oil Rallies as Militant Advance in Iraq Threatens Crude (BBG)
  • Gold Set for First Back-to-Back Weekly Gain Since April (BBG)
  • Hedge Funds Get Stung by Slow Markets (WSJ)
  • Sterling nears 5-year high after Carney speech (FT)
  • Britain Warns Boom in Real-Estate Prices Threatens Economy (WSJ)
  • East Europe Leaders Urge EU Unity to Counter Russia (BBG)
  • Formula One Said to Be Valued at $8 Billion as Malone Seeks Stake (BBG)
  • Dumb and dumber: Abe Plans Company Tax Cut in 2015 as Kuroda Warns on Budget (BBG)
 
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Mindblowing Fact Of The Day: China Has Over 52 Million Vacant Homes





Over 1 in 5 homes (with $674 billion of mortgages) in China stand empty... and if you think that urbanization will fix that, as WSJ reports, a 10 percentage point rise in the urbanization rate (already at 54%) would result in only a 2.6% drop in vacancy rates. China has a major over-supply issue thanks to property developers who had rushed into the market to build homes, which have been a popular investment as prices seemed bound to keep rising. But now, as Vanke recently warned, things are changing and "the golden era" of China's property market are over. The vacancy rate of sold residential homes in urban areas reached 22.4% in 2013 and as new home prices are slashed to move product, a 30% drop would leave 11.2% of Chinese homes underwater on their mortgages...

 
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Bronze Swan Lands: Goldman Explains How The China Commodity Unwind Will Happen





Over a year ago we were the first to bring the topic of China's shadow banking system's problematic rehypothecation issues to the general trading public. In "The Bronze Swan Arrives: Is The End Of Copper Financing China's "Lehman Event"?" we explained how the Chinese commodity financing deals (CCFDs) worked and how they would inevitably be a systemic event for the nation so dependent on the shadow banking system for its credit (and its "growth"). The day has arrived when the Bronze Swan is landing (and it's unlikely to be soft). As we have discussed recently, the probe into 'missing' collateral (or multiple-used collateral) at China's Qingdao warehouse is a major problem... and now Goldman confirms, the Qingdao situation likely to continue ongoing CCFD unwind and has the potential to leave foreign banks with undercollateralized loans and/or losses.

 
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PBOC Hits Panic Button: Strengthens Currency By Most In 20 Months





On the heels of growing contagion concerns regarding shadow banking collateral and the "rehypothecation evaporation" and this weekend's 'odd' Chinese trade data (big drop in imports, no doubt impacted by dramatic commodity invoicing swings), the PBOC has fixed the Chinese currency 0.36% in the last 2 days... the biggest strengthening in the currency since October 2012. It is unclear for now exactly what is going on but we suspect the panic button outflows as banks pull credit and unwind CCFDs are forcing China's hand to offset CNY selling pressure... and of course China does it in grand style.

 
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Western Banks Scramble As China's "Rehypothecation Evaporation" Goes Global





While we have warned about the problem with near-infinitely rehypothecated physical/funding commodities/metals, be they gold or copper, many times in the past, and most recently here, it was only this week that China finally admitted it has a major problem involving not just the commodities participating in funding deals - in this case copper and aluminum - but specifically their infinite rehypothecation, which usually results in the actual underlying metal mysteriously "disappearing", as in it never was there to begin with. It would appear our fears of global contagion (through various transmission channels) are now coming true as WSJ reports that as many as a half-dozen banks are trying to determine whether the collateral for loans they made to commodities traders was used fraudulently by a third party to obtain other loans. As we detailed previously, it appears the day when the Commodity Funding Deals finally end is fast approaching... and as we note below, why that will certainly be a watershed event.

 
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Small Caps Surge To Best Week In 2014





The US Dollar, gold, and oil closed the week unchanged... Treasury yields rose 6-8bps on the week... and the Russell 2000 had its best week in 2014... Sure, why not? VIX was crushed back to a 10-handle as managers lifted hedges and the Tepper-induced short-squeeze from yesterday followed through (+2.5% against a 1% rise in the S&P). The Dow and S&P 500 both closed at record highs (notably rich to the Fed balance sheet). Volume was 20% below average (and that was a payrolls day!). Copper tumbled over 2% - its worst week in 3 months as China's warehouse probe continues.  VIX closed at its lowest close since Feb 2007 (and once again the strange shadowy figure of massive after-0hours volume spikes in VXX appeared).

 

 
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Copper Plunges Most In 3 Months As "Rehypothecation Evaporation" Concerns Grow





Copper prices accelerated lower overnight and are sitting at 5 week lows following rapidly growing fears that the commodity warehousing probe will uncover exactly what we have been warning about for months - there is no 'there', there. As we explained in great detail here and here, the discrepancy of reportedly 80,000 tonns of aluminum and 20,000 tonnes of copper is sparking wholesale liquidations as carry traders, lenders, and borrowers all scramble to find out if their promised commodity is there. Iron ore, which has seen its price tumble dramatically, is also on the watch list as the port had said it was investigating whether iron ore warehouse receipts were fraudulently used multiple times to raise finance by different banks.

 

 
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"Stress Test" Reviewed: Tim Geithner Is "A Grifter, A Petty Con Artist"





Timothy Geithner is likely to go down in American history as one of the most dangerous, destructive cronies to have ever wielded government power. The man is so completely and totally full of shit it’s almost impossible not to notice. The last thing we’d ever want to do in our free time is read a lengthy book filled with Geithner lies and propaganda, so we owe a large debt of gratitude to former Congressional staffer Matt Stoller for doing it for us. Stoller simply tears Geither apart limb from limb, detailing obvious lies about the financial crisis, and even more interestingly, Geithner’s bizarre bio, replete with mysterious and inexplicable promotions into positions of power..."Geithner is at heart a grifter, a petty con artist with the right manners and breeding to lie at the top echelons of American finance..."

 
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