The same theme of the last few days remains in place with vol and CDS being derisked for lower quality names and relatively rerisked for higher quality names. Stocks were a much more mixed bag today with crossover names outperforming the high and low quality names on average. Financials (monolines aside) were the only sector in which equity and credit deteriorated together on average while equity outperformed credit in all the others (aside from Telecoms which saw slightly more spread compression than the equity moves would have assumed).
Citi Issues USD Warning: "Significant Downside Risk For USD And JPY If Market Begins To Price In Unsustainable Debt Risk"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/14/2011 17:49 -0400
As anyone who has been following the VIX, US CDS (which is quite interesting as the US catastrophe trade appears to have become selling CDS to fund gold purchases in euros: more on that eventually), or stock markets in general has grown to appreciate all too well, no matter the amount of perceived risks, the market continues to shrug off any bad news: after all, the Bernanke put means that the greater the systemic shock, the higher the likelihood that the Fed will get involved yet again and push up all risk assets. However, the same can not be said about the dollar. The currency which in 2011 has traded like anything but the world's reserve currency is less than 1 point away from 2009 lows. But that could be just the beginning. Citi's head of FX has released a not warning about the potential coming avalanche to the greenback should debt ceiling negotiations hit a snag: "what we are looking at here is very much the tail risk event that the debt ceiling negotiations unexpectedly hit an impasse. The question is what the impact would be on USD." Englander's summary observations: 1) The USD will be in big trouble if investors get the sense that the debt ceiling negotiations have gone beyond the expected choreography into a zone where there is perceived risk to US credit; 2) More broadly, we think FX markets are increasing the attention they pay to fiscal sustainability relative to monetary policy; 3) The FX response may be non-linear so G10 countries may have a false sense of security in seeing little FX response to deterioration so far. Then again, perhaps a major step down in the dollar is precisely what the Fed wants...
This is a warning to prepare for potential stealth bank runs cascading from North Africa and Ireland through to EU regional banking centers. Stealth bank runs are the unrecognized and perilous serpent lurking presently below the European financial surface. They prey on slower moving archaic bond vigilantes and anyone else swimming in these dangerous uncharted waters. Investors need to fully appreciate that a modern bank run looks and operates differently than what is depicted in the movies and what we most likely expect to occur! For starters, it isn't the individual depositor lining up, it's now Corporate CFOs or Treasurers at their terminal en masse! Secondly, it isn't driven by local depositors; it is now driven internationally by Corporate Finance committees! Thirdly, there are no telltale line-ups at bank doors. It is stealth, which will happen in an unexpected electronic 'flash crash' panic blur! Today, a triggering event will initiate global 'key strokes' that will move unprecedented amounts of money within hours.
Nic Lenoir throws down the gauntlet and takes on Goldman Sachs directly following their recent upgrade of the EURUSD target to 1.40: "Not that many layups or exciting trades in the G10 out there with equities in a slow melt up and the long end in Fixed Income stuck in a range for the last month. If you missed out on the sell-off in metals or did not have the UK GDP data ahead of the market don't despair just yet, we have a very interesting set-up to sell EURUSD here...We stand below the 61.8% of the sell-off since the November highs, the hourly divergence is staggering also. I strongly favor shorts here. Less convinced traders traders can wait for the break of the trend support which comes around 1.3640. Given the recent advance I think we should see a retracement back to at least 1.34 even if we are to utlimately advance further. I am bearish EUR as I don't believe this currency has a place in this world anymore, but even raging bulls should be cautious here."
The announcement by Brian Cowen that he was resigning as the leader of the Fianna Fail party, but is going to stay on as Taoiseach (Prime Minister) until the March 11 election, has put the Irish bailout into question.
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 ShutdownSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/16/2011 22:49 -0400
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.
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
Bank Exposure To Bad Hedges and Counterpary Risk Is Still Quite Relevant: A 10% Decline in Derivatives Books Can Cut up to 50%+ Out Of Bank’s EquitySubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 12/03/2010 11:35 -0400
Yes, I know the banks are hedged, and that means the are all safe right. We can just ask Ambac, MBIA, Countrywide, Merrill Lynch, AIG, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns investors - to start with...
US-Europe Decoupling At All Time Record As SovX - Implied Correlation Spread Indicates Historic Domestic ComplacencySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/30/2010 12:40 -0400
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.
A look into the ZeroHedge vs. Illinois Teacher's Retirement Fund Spat, We still have some unanswered questions..Submitted by Reggie Middleton on 09/20/2010 15:04 -0400
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 InterestSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/08/2010 08:13 -0400
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.
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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.
Is Illinois Worse Off Than Greece with a Little LTCM and Bear Stearns Thrown In? In Case You Didn’t Know…Submitted by Reggie Middleton on 08/23/2010 15:10 -0400
What does Illinois have in common with Bear Stearns, Ambac Financial, LTCM and Greece? Come on fellas, let's roll the dice. I've got some pension money in case I come up snake eyes...