Sovereign CDS

A Muni CDS Market Primer

With increasing confusion over the cash muni bond market, very little has so far been said about the even more confusing muni CDS market. However, as municipal bankruptcies are likely about to take the country by storm, it is really the synthetic market that should be occupying investors' attentions. This is especially true with yesterday's disclosure that the bankrupt city of Vallejo is offering recoveries of only 5-20 cents to its sub creditors: it means that muni insolvencies will be not only a "survival" issue but one of recovery as well, considering assumptions embedded in cumulative loss forecasts that predict 80% recoveries by default. Below we present the most comprehensive report we have read so far on the matter of muni CDS, which should serve as a primer to anyone who wishes to be abreast not only of events in the muni cash space (where cash outflows are now comparable to what happened to equities following the flash crash), but in the wonderful world of synthetic paper.

Can A Sovereign Debt Crisis Happen Here? A Case Study Of The 1995 Debt Ceiling-Precipitated Government Shutdown

Lately there has been a lot of chatter among the supposedly smarter-than-mainstream media that even should the debt ceiling not be raised, it would not mean the bankruptcy of America as interest payments would still be satisfied. While that technicality is absolutely true, it is even more absolutely irrelevant. What propagators of such theories forget is that lately there are just two exponential curve trendlines that are worth noting: that of the cumulative debt issuance, and of the US cumulative deficit (see chart below). Each month, the US issues around $50 billion more debt than is needed to just fund the deficit. This is debt that is on top of the debt that is needed to plug the different between revenues and expenditures. As Zero Hedge has pointed out repeatedly before, that ratio is already roughly 1 to 2, meaning for every dollar in revenue the US government issues more than one dollar of debt just to fund the deficit. And then some. As the chart below shows, in December alone the government issued $84.4 billion on top of the budget funding shortfall ($80 billion deficit and $164.4 billion in debt issuance)! So yes, while the Treasury can fund interest expense at record low interest levels, that is completely irrelevant. Unable to fund incremental expenses to the tune of hundreds of billions per month, the US government will shut down (a point when nobody will accept US government IOUs, not Social Security which passed the point of being self sustaining last year, and certainly not Medicare and Medicaid, and most certainly not private sector Defense Vendors) just like it did in 1995. Below, we present the key charts and the full report from a must read SocGen report on the sovereign debt crisis, titled Can It Happen Here? We urge all those who pretend to have an educated opinion on the US funding crisis to read this report before they open their mouths in public and once again validate their critics.

With Friends Like Japan Who Needs Acne?

If you were worried about the Portuguese auction tomorrow fear not! Japan decided to be proactive fighting this latest break-out of European sovereign CDS rates and extend a very unselfish hand. Indeed how could one doubt their good intentions? All they want is to make sure their currency stops appreciating in order to keep the youth unenployment rate in Italy around 29%. Following China's lead Japan announced they would buy European bonds. With only 200% debt to GDP ratio it makes sense for them to go ahead and chip in to help Portugal throw bad money after an even worse structural issue. China gets relatively little bad press for supporting European markets as conventional wisdom assumes their official 20% debt to GDP ratio is accurate. Other analysts much better informed on the subject than I am, in fact some even created a fund dedicated to benefit from when China's economic miracle is exposed for the ponzi scheme it is, claim actual numbers are much closer to 120% but the people's republic uses all sorts of accounting trickery and local government vehicles to disguise the true extent of its indebtedness. Japan however shall not benefit from the general public's stupidity with debt levels well publicized. Indeed as we discussed many times before, Japan's public debt is astronomical...Obviously Japan's announcement had not so much to do with their desire to rescue Portuguese finances, but instead is aimed in my opinion to the obvious secondary effect of weakening the JPY. That will work to temporarily slow down the fall of EURJPY, but when it comes to USDJPY it is exclusively driven by the 2Y UST/JGB rate spread. So if Japan really wants to weaken the Yen they might as well start dumping their 2Y treasuries. With the time interval between solvency crises shrinking exponentially as the eventual end game approaches, I have my doubts as to how much good will come from this touching display of Eurasian brotherly love. Perhaps is this why the Dollar index refuses to trade South this morning... - Nic Lenoir

US-Europe Decoupling At All Time Record As SovX - Implied Correlation Spread Indicates Historic Domestic Complacency

In last night daily report by BofA's Jeffrey Rosenberg, one chart stands out: the spread between the 12 month S&P 500 top 50 Implied Correlation (generically a proxy of broad US equity risk) and the Sov X, or the blended sovereign risk as indicated by CDS, which recently hit an all time high. In a nutshell: the spread has never been bigger, confirming that US domestic complacency over all things European (and the continuing levitation in stocks) has reached unprecedented levels, as absolutely no fundamentals can stand in the path of the hedge fund levered beta year end rally. In other words the China-US fatally flawed "decoupling" of 2007 has been replaced with a decoupling between the US and Europe. This will also end in tears. And this is happening even as European markets are unraveling, and as the EURUSD is tumbling, guaranteeing a drop in both US exports and the top line for US MNCs. But why worry: as 58 year old Valerie Whelan yesterday summarized it best: "It's capitalism gone mad." Every move in risk assets higher is merely a bet that central bankers can kick the can down the road for one more day. Nothing else. That it is unsustainable is guaranteed. Willem Buiter makes the case all too clearly that Europe will go bankrupt soon. We expect someone to make the same argument about the US very soon, especially if China does in fact commence tightening, leaving the chairman no other choice than to open the liquidity floodgates in one last attempt to preserve the dying economic system, however, this time without the benefit of being able to export inflation to China.

Reggie Middleton's picture

Any readers who read the back and forth between Tyler and TRS should ask themselves, "But why didn't the Fund answer these important questions?". Hey, they may not be in a death spiral, but when you make what looks like desperate moves and your returns are spiraling at the same time your liabilities are soaring, all the while your risk is flying through the roof... One should expect a blogger or two to take notice, particularly those bloggers who can count.

Irish Nationwide Now Engaged In "Micro-Quantitative Easing" As It Issues Bonds To Itself To Repay Interest

A new report in the Irish Times discusses how Irish Nationwide, where incidentally sovereign CDS spreads just hit a fresh all time wide record north of 400 bps, discusses how the insolvent bank, in a supreme example of just how prevalent ponziness has become in the current Central Bank subsidized environment, is now issuing bonds... to itself. In a circular issuance scheme that would make the Greek finance minister blush with envy, "Irish Nationwide has issued €4 billion of Government-guaranteed bonds effectively to itself. It can use the bonds to draw €4 billion in funding from the European Central to help tide it over a key refinancing period later this month." At its core, the scheme is nothing new, having been used repeatedly by Europe's most bankrupt countries, although the small scale in this case, and the blatant inability to even cover up the circularity has many worried that if the ECB needs to step in for such "modest" amounts to preserve bank solvency, it is all pretty much just a matter of time before it is game over for Ireland's banks. And elsewhere, confirming that defaults are imminent, the CFO of Anglo-Irish has just said it would be a disaster to default on its bonds. He is, of course, absolutely correct.

Daily Credit Summary: August 23 - Low Volume, Low Range, Low Growth

Spreads closed marginally wider, at the worst levels of the day, after an anemic volume day that only picked up in activity when we weakened. Overnight angst from Australia combined with some weakness in EU data was marginally trumped early on by M&A chatter and headline spin on US ECO data but further evidence of a deflationary view of the world (NSC 100Y issue) seemed to provide some downward pressure and despite valiant attempts to steepen the curve or drive AUDJPY up, stocks ended at their lows of the day as did spreads at their wides.

We have had a number of clients asking about our views on the forthcoming GM IPO. Suffice it to say, and in the interests of brevity, we are not overly impressed and worry about this on many fronts as anything but a flipper's fantasy (drop us a line for somewhat more coherent thoughts). Most notably we have noticed something rather fascinating in the Auto sector. The relationship between GM's 2016 bonds and the Ford Equity price has been amazingly (and we mean incredibly) consistent for many months now - a simple arb at around 2.5x Ford's stock price explains huge amounts of variance in the GM bond price and we suggest tracking this going into the IPO for any signs of a preference. One we would expect is selling of Ford to buy into the GM IPO in hopes of flipping soon after and still leaving the manager equally exposed to the Auto sector - this would also be interesting as the GM bonds have residual ownership in the new GM and may be a decent hedge here should the deal be 'better' than many expected. Just thinking out loud on this but we will keep an eye on it.

Upcoming Weekly Calendar

A look at the key economic events in the relatively quiet week ahead from the perspective (and benchmarks) of Goldman Sachs.

Goldman's EURUSD Forecast Is Now Most Erratic Ever

One of the classic comedy themes of the year has been Goldman's series of failed recommendations on the EURUSD, where the hedge fund has had about a 1 out of 10 "success" rating (for its clients). Today, the Markets Strategist Mark Tan recaps the firm's 3, 6 and 12 month forecast on the EURUSD, which are, conveniently, 1.22, 1.35 and 1.38. That's like saying the S&P will be in a range of 950 to 1500. At least the firm is sure to "hit" its projected range.... And be sure to watch that major inflection point some time in December which send the dollar sharply lower: is Goldman implicitly saying the "real deal" QE will now come around New Year's, just after the elections and just before the government has to raise the debt ceiling regardless? One thing we agree with, as we have long claimed: look for strikes and other expressions of non-appreciation to spike once everyone is back from vacation. As Goldman says: "One of the main reasons we incorporated downside risks to our EUR/$ forecast (1.22 in 3-months) is to reflect the potential for rising political tension again. This could potentially occur as Europe returns from its summer lull and is confronted with the reality of unpopular austerity measures." What are the InTrade odds on CNBC broadcasting the next storming of the Greek parliament?

Arbing Moody's Sovereign Ratings Via CDS Pair Trades

Now that sovereign CDS (and ratings) are back in vogue with everyone finally expecting the world to relapse into a double dip, Zero Hedge has compiled Moody's sovereign ratings and spread these alongside the CDS levels in any given bucket to propose several trade ideas taking advantage of Moody's market lagging inefficiency.

Berlin Pushing For European Bankruptcy Framework With Provision For State Sovereignty Give Up

The big news out of Europe this morning, and the reason for the drag on the euro is an article in Der Spiegel, "Merkel's rules for bankruptcy" according to which Germany is now actively (and very secretly) pushing for a plan outlining a set of insolvency rules, which would require that private investors bear a portion of the rescue burden, and much more importantly, would see at least a partial give up in state sovereignty, where a new insolvency trustee (the "Berlin Club", which we fail to see at least for now, how it differs from the Paris Club) would take implicit control over and override a default nation's treasury, in essence pushing the bankrupt country into a form of Feudal vassal state-cum-reparations subservience. Welcome to financial warfare in the post-globalization period.

Housekeeping - We Are Back

Update: ok, the 10,000 people that just hit the server didn't help.

We apologize for the extended downtime. European server hosts responsible for the crash will be promptly punished when their sovereign CDS shortly catch up with BP's defaults risk (+108 now to 368bps, 27% implied default probability for 5 Y). We are comforted by the fact that Ben Bernanke sees no future crash for Zero Hedge servers, ever again.