Sovereign CDS

Guest Post: Marked and Unmarked Bonds

Every "solution" to the European debt crisis, whether it is ECB purchase, EFSF, Eurobonds, or BRIC's, fails to account for the fact there are really two types of bonds out there.  There are those that are trading and marked, and those that remain on some bank balance sheet unmarked. That is a key distinction.  If all Greek bonds were marked at 45 (or even had 55 points of reserves held against them) then there would be a lot of potential solutions.

On Sounding Like A Broken European Record

Short dated Greek bonds remain weak. They have not bounced. You can buy the 2 year bond at 50. With a 4% coupon, that is 8% current yield with the chance to double in price in 2 years. Clearly the bond market is expecting a default or massive write-offs for Greek debt. I have heard the argument that equities must be pricing that in at this stage. That is possible, but I find more equity people believe that "something" will be done to avert default than credit people. Looking back at 2007 and 2008, it often seemed like equities had to be hit over the head with a stick before they would price in problems in credit. Stocks hit their high in October 2007 - after strong signs of problems in the credit markets had appeared. They also managed to shrug off the Bear Stearns problems after JPM bought them and rallied hard after that, completely missing the impending doom of FNMA, LEH, GM. I would not feel comfortable that stocks have "priced in" the problems in Europe. I think they have failed before on credit problems and with such a high percentage of daily volume just "churn" from traders and computers who go home flat every day and funds trying to avoid showing a monthly loss, the value of stocks as a pricing mechanism seems diminished.

Plunging German Investor Confidence Sends European Bank Risk To Record

Just like yesterday we have the makings of a perfectly schizophrenic day. While stock futures are rapidly higher to begin with, as on Monday, on news of a slightly better than expected PMI out of China, we are very concerned whether this algo induced ramp can be sustained. The reason is that earlier today we got an absolutely abysmal German ZEW investor confidence number which dropped to -37.6 from -26, a doubling of the previous -15.1, and the lowest since December 2008. This epic collapse can only be compared with the stunner out of the Philly Fed last week. The biggest component of the ZEW, the current situation, imploded from 90.6 to 53.5, trouncing (to the downside) expectations of 85.0. Additionally, the eurozone economic sentiment dropped to -40 from -7.0. So what is the immediate impact? Well, as we said equity futures are completely ignoring that Europe's growth dynamo is now confirmed to be in a double dip recession. However, not debt: as Bloomberg reports, "the cost of insuring European bank debt against default rose to a record as German investor confidence fell to the lowest 2 1/2 yrs+ on concern the region’s debt crisis will curb growth." Specifically, iTraxx Fin soared to record 255 bps, +5 overnight, while SovX (the sovereign CDS index) was 5 bps wider to 302, just off the record 206 form July 18. We give stocks, which are once again soaring on renewed expectations of a QE3, a few hours before they realize that the news is actually i) very bad and ii) as has been said countless times, stocks have to drop far more, before LSAP resumes for the third time.

Is The Next Domino To Fall.... Canada?

While two short months ago, "nobody" had any idea that Italy's banks were on the verge of insolvency, despite that the information was staring them in the face (or was being explicitly cautioned at by Zero Hedge days before Italian CDS blew out and Intesa became the whipping boy of the evil shorts), by now this is common knowledge and is the direct reason for why the FTSE MIB has two choices on a daily basis: break... or halt constituent stocks indefinitely. That this weakness is now spreading to France and other European countries is also all too clear. After all, if one were to be told that a bank has a Tangible Common Equity ratio of under 2%, the logical response would be that said bank is a goner. Yet both Credit Agricole and Deutsche Bank are precisely there (1.41% and 1.92% respectively), and both happen to have total "assets" which amount to roughly the size of their host country GDPs, ergo why Europe can not allow its insolvent banks to face reality or the world would end (at least in the immortal stuttered words of one Hank Paulson). So yes, we know that both French and soon German CDS will be far, far wider as the idiotic market finally grasps what we have been saying for two years: that you can't have your cake and eat it, or said otherwise, that when you onboard corporate risk to the sovereign, someone has to pay the piper. Yet there is one place where that has not happened so far; there is one place that has been very much insulated from the whipping of the market, and one place where banks are potentially in just as bad a shape as anywhere else in Europe. That place is.... Canada.

Shocker: JPM Sees Gold At $2,500 By Year End

We though we had seen it all... Then JPM's Colin Fenton came out with a prediction of gold hitting $2500 by year end. That's right: JP Morgan... $2500...."Gold and sugar have potential to run a lot higher. It has been clear for weeks that the prompt CMX gold price has been building in a rising probability of a reflaring of financial crisis, gaining by 9.7% since June 30 as the MSCI World Equity index dropped by 10.1%. The correlation in daily price changes between these two assets has dropped to –0.09 from +0.29 over the prior year. Gold’s correlation against TIPS has doubled to 0.35 from 0.18. Against Italian and Spanish 5-year sovereign CDS prices, the gold correlation has moved to 0.27 and 0.32, from 0.07 and 0.04, respectively. Before the downgrade, our view was that cash gold could average $1800 per oz by year end. This view will likely now prove to be too conservative: spot gold could drive to $2500 per oz or higher, albeit on very high volatility." Funny, when discussing yesterday's Goldman upgrade of gold we said: "Next up: everyone else." Little did we know...  Also, it is unclear if Blythe precleared this client note. But at this point it probably does not matter.

EFSF And Sovereign CDS Pitchbook Updates

Yesterday was a big day in the market for EFSF and Sovereign CDS. The announcements were big enough that some junior associates must be scrambling to update their pitchbooks. Here are my thoughts on what changes need to be done to the pitchbooks and the trading ideas that come as a result.

Some Perspective On Italian Bonds

Italy may not be Greece, but its important to remember that Greece wasn't Greece just 15 months ago. It seems like we have been talking about the problems in Greece for ages, but the reality is the market let them price a big "successful" bond deal in March of last year. While it is important to remember that the Troika has shown great support for sovereign debt, its also important to remember the market got it horribly wrong last year.

Italy May Enforce Naked Short Selling Ban As Early As Tonight To Prevent Market Rout

Once again the great diversionary scapegoating of speculators begins, after as Il Sole 24 Ora reported that the Consob, or Italy's regulator, may enact a naked short selling ban as early as tonight. The premise is that it is the shorters who are responsible for the ruinous state of the global ponzi. Not the fact that it is a, well, global ponzi. Distraction 101. And yes, it did not work back in 2010 when banning naked shorting was implemented in other European countries, it will not work this time either. But it won't stop bankrupt governments from trying. To wit: "Commissioners will assess the situation before markets open Monday, said a Consob spokesman, who declined to be named in line with the regulator's policy. Commissioners may decide to restrict "naked" short-selling in line with similar decisions taken in other European countries, he said.... The Consob meeting occurs after shares of Italy’s biggest banks fell to the lowest in more than two years on July 8, and government bonds dropped, driving 10-year yields to a nine-year high." 24 Ore adds: "Consob intervened several times in the past on short selling after the collapse of Lehman Brothers to protect stock markets."

CDS For Doomers, Politicians, And The Media

About the only thing that the doom and gloom crowd, the politicians, and the media all agree on is that credit derivatives are evil, unnecessary, ‘financial weapons of mass destruction’. With the European Sovereign Debt crisis escalating, the CDS market has once again become a topic of conversation. Many of the issues related to CDS that are discussed are old, misleading, or plain wrong. Here is my attempt to address some of the issues that come up most whenever CDS is mentioned: Credit Events; Exposures; Counterparty Risk, and Transparency. These are topics that need to be understood in order for investors to make informed decisions. I am not here to defend CDS as a product, but to try and shed light on the subject so that people don’t react to inaccuracies that cause them to make decisions based on incorrect information. Since so many journalists still feel that the investing public needs to see the boilerplate language ‘when yields go up, bonds prices, which move in the opposite direction, go up’ this may be an uphill struggle. But here is my attempt.

The "QE 2 As A European Bank Bailout Vehicle" Story Picks Up Traction

The blockbuster story first posted on Zero Hedge claiming that QE 2, and more specifically the $600 billion (to date, and $750 billion through maturity) in reserves generated as a result, was nothing more than another European bank bailout smokescreen is starting to pick up steam with the contrarian intelligentsia. Here is Sean Corrigan's take on a topic which we have a very distinct feeling will be the cause of substantial Q&A between the Chairman and the Monetary Policy Subcommittee shortly. From Corrigan: "Note that while Large domestically-chartered banks have cash assets of some $509 billion v non-cash ones of $6.840 billion (a ratio of around 8%), and small domestics hold $293 billion in cash against $3,595 billion in no-cash (a similar ratio of  approx 9%), foreign banks have the startling sum of $940 billion piled up against non-cash assets of $998 billion for a ratio of an incredible 94%. Put another way, despite the fact that all domestics’ combined non-cash assets amount to getting on for ten times those of foreign banks ($9,633 billion v $998 billion), they actually hold 15% LESS cash ($803 billion v $940). Once again, European banks have a lot for which to thank Mr. Bernanke, even if his fellow citizens have far fewer reasons to be grateful!"

Greek, Portuguese and Irish CDS All At Record Wides

Good morning Europe: do you know where you record wide PIIGS CDS are? From Reuters: "The cost of insuring Greek government debt against default rose to a record high of 1,600 basis points on Monday, hit by concerns that any second rescue of Greece will trigger a credit event or at least multi-notch rating downgrade of its debt. Five-year credit default swaps (CDS) on Greek government debt rose 58 bps on the day to 1,600 bps, according to data monitor Markit.  The Markit iTraxx index of western European sovereign CDS was up 9 bps on the day at 220 bps, near a record high of 221 bps hit on January 10. Portuguese CDS were up 40 bps at 773 bps, while Irish CDS were 33 bps higher at 745 bps, both at record highs. Spanish CDS were up 13 bps at 289 bps." The slow motion European implosion is now accelerating as the reality that there is no spoon, nor rescue plan, is finally appreciated.

CapitalContext's picture

Credit markets continue to show glaring concerns as European sovereign risk, global financial systemic risk, and global growth scares drive HY and IG to six month wides. The critical aspect is the potential to reverse the virtuous cycle that has maintained primary issuance - and we are indeed seeing this starting to happen.