Sovereign Debt

Key Drivers Of Overnight Action: Rumors Of RRR Easing Out Of China

A relatively subdued overnight session which has seen the futures spike only modestly from their lows, on yet another forced squeeze in the EURUSD which hit a high of 1.3960 after hitting a low of 1.3877 around 3am Eastern, has seen a rumor of a Chinese Reserve Ratio cut as one of the main drivers of action, which has also pushed gold to over $1660 and silver to $32. If validated, and if China is indeed welcoming inflation with open arms, counterintuitively following the completely irrelevant PMI beat, look for these two to resume their antigravitational glidepath. As for other key developments watched by the market, here is a succinct overview from Bloomberg.

Random Thoughts From David Rosenberg

Instead of tackling any specific and highly volatile high frequency macroeconomic data points today (which will most likely be diametrically inverted in the next update iteration), today David Rosenberg focuses on sundry items and flights of fancy that are worth noting, such as that "the S&P 500 has recorded 62 consecutive days in which it has swung by 1% or more in intraday trading. The Dow has also closed 1% higher or lower 38 times since the beginning of August (compared with just 25 in the first seven months of the year)." Additionally, Rosie shares some views on the Paradox of thrift, i.e., that "spending on appliances, jewellery, watches, air travel, recreation vehicles, cameras, gambling is actually lower today than in 2005", on credit unions whose customers don't want to borrow money, " "Too few of its 95,000 members, most of whom live or work in five counties in the San Francisco Bay Area, want to borrow money. And too many are making extra payments on mortgages and car loans — or paying off personal loans ... Provident's loan portfolio has shrunk by 25% since the end of 2008, including a 5% drop in the first nine months of this year" but most notably concludes with the observation that while the 2008 "Great Financial Crisis" was quite memorably, "I wonder whether we'll say 2008 wasn't the real crisis — it was a warm-up, but the real crisis was the sovereign debt crisis in Europe....It is clear that the situation in Greece has deteriorated markedly and that the scope for any further fiscal restraint without triggering some sort of revolution is small. The only way toward fiscal sustainability — to get the sovereign debt/GDP ratio down to 110% by 2020 — is for investors to grant the country a jubilee of sorts and accept a 60% write-down." Naturally, France will throw up over any proposal that sees a 60% haircut Greek haircut, not so much due to Greek losses per se, but due to imminent losses when Portugal, Ireland, Italy and lastly Spain (to which four countries France has exponentially more exposure) decide to do the same as Greece and start underreporting data, striking daily, and overall just shut down their economies.

The Evolution And Recycling Of The Debt Crisis

Clearly all "bad" ideas are good again. Enron perfected the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) and was a master of off balance sheet guarantees. Guarantees with their own equity as collateral in many cases. SIV's are SPV's with leverage. The kind of "asset" that got Citi in huge trouble and almost took down the bank. SIV's had a special place in CDO hell, but I guess you can't keep a good idea down. Detachable insurance. So the EFSF would sell insurance that would come with a new issue bond but could be detached and sold separately? If that doesn't sound a lot like the evil enemy "CDS" than I don't know what does. The biggest detractors of CDS always seem to say it is like buying fire insurance on your neighbor's house. U never agreed with that analogy but this is definitely like buying fire insurance on a house that doesn't cover you in event of fire. The details will be interesting but they had better do as much with cash up front as possible because and ability to require cash in times of stress creates the contagion death spiral they are allegedly trying to prevent. Clearly everyone "gets it" now. What "it" is and how much damage "getting it" will cause remains to be seen.

Watch Merkozy Cracking Up Following Question If Italy Can Implement Reforms

Even our non-polyglot readers will have zero problems understanding the response (in French) by Merkozy, when asked during the press conference, whether Italy, which has the second largest debt load in Europe at $2.2 trillion and inches behind German, will succeed in implementing promised 'reforms.' The wholesale laughter 19 seconds in the the clip, by not only the entire audience, but by Merkel and Sarkozy pretty much explains what the "next steps" in Europe are as the continent has now given up any pretense it is even trying to keep a serious facade on the upcoming serial defaults... and why 10 Year BTPs will need much more than just the SMP, EFSF and the hand of god to stay above 90 in the coming week.

Exclusive Interview With Diapason's Sean Corrigan

Zero Hedge has the pleasure to bring its readers this extensive Q&A with one of the most prominent voices of "Austrian" economic sensibility, and foremost experts on capital markets and commodities: Diapason's Sean Corrigan, who has repeatedly graced our pages in the past and who always provides a much needed 'on the ground' perspective on his native Europe. Among the numerous topics discussed are the Eurozone, its collapse, its insolvent banks, and the EFSF as the Swiss Army Knife ex Machina; the 3rd year anniversary of Lehman's failure and what lessons have been learned (if any); how to fix the US economy; on Goldman's relentless attempts to intervene in, and define, US monetary policy; what the Fed's role should be (if any) in the economy and capital markets; his views on the Occupy Wall Street movement; his advice to an inexperienced 25 year old looking to make their way in the world; And lastly, the $64K question: what is the endgame. A fascinating must read.

Greek Writedowns - Let's Do ONE Thing Correctly

It is painfully clear now, that in spite of months of talk, headlines, and propaganda, very few people in the EU worked on any details.  I thought, at the very least, they were working with traders, lawyers, and structurers and somehow were just getting the wrong answers.  But now, it looks like asides from the IMF, no one else was figuring out anything, they were just saying what they thought the market wanted them to say. The IMF and other countries finally realize real losses need to be taken and recognized on Greek debt.  For once, they can step back, break away from their existing thinking – the IIF’s PSI proposal – and do something that will actually work.

French Regulator Urges Banks To Write Down Greek Debt To Realistic Levels

Slowly even those staunchest critics of reality, namely undercapitalized and insolvent French banks, are coming to grips with the truth that they are going to see massive losses on their tens of billions of French debt exposure. The FT reports that the French stock market regulator has told French banks to apply realistic assumptions to their Greek debt haircuts. Because through today, French banks only used the 21% agreed upon haircut at the July 21 (and even that number is likely greatly overstated). So where are Greek bonds trading now? Oh about 30 cents on the dollar (70% haircut) , which means at the end of the day French banks will see about three time more losses on Greek holdings than provisioned. And the market, which is not all that stupid, knows this and has been punishing French banks. This is precisely what regulators are trying to avoid. The problem, as is well known courtesy of daily fruitless discussions between Sarkozy and Merkel, is that "French banks have more cross-border exposure to Greece than any other country, mainly through subsidiaries owned by Crédit Agricole and Société Générale. BNP Paribas holds the most Greek sovereign bonds among private sector investors, with €4bn of exposure...French banks argued that limiting themselves to 21 per cent was justified because trading in Greek government debt was so subdued, making market prices unreliable." Uh, what? Those billions in Greek bond volumes, where the 1 year yields 184% in dozens of daily trades, are "subdued" and "unreliable?" Why not just buy the bonds then and take advantage of the illiquid arb then? What's that? Crickets? Oh ok. In the meantime, what is certain is that after the ECB, France is the country most exposed to a Greek admission of reality (even truncated, assuming a 60% haircut which is still generous). Which of course confirms, once again, our thesis that the only source of EURUSD stability in the past two weeks have been French banks liquidating assets, and using the feedback loop of rising asset prices from FX EUR repatriation to sell even more to a willing market.

US Equity Markets Remain Odd Bull Out

The ongoing squeeze in US equities, evident in the significant outperformance of the most-shorted-name indices from Goldman relative to market indices, continues to keep domestic wealth effects ticking along nicely while US credit and European equity and credit markets do not seem to have got the same memo. While this rally, seemingly predicated on the fact that Europe 'get's it' finally (and admittedly some talking head chatter about the number of earnings beats - which we argue is useless given previous discussions of the wholesale downgrading of expectations heading into earnings), the US equity market is the only market to have made new highs this week, is outperforming its credit peers in the US (which is simply ignorant given HY's relative cheapness if this was a risk-on buying spree), and most wonderfully - is hugely outperforming the European financials, European sovereigns, European IG and HY credit, and European equities. Did US equities become the new safe-haven play of the world? Perhaps this week, but we suspect that won't end well - at least from the experience of the last decade or so.