Sovereign Debt

EBA Releases Details Of €106 Billion Bank Capital Shortfall

Here are the EBA's latest stress test results, or, more specifically, the worthless exercise of how much capital European banks need to get to both 9% Tier 1 as well as to build a "temporary capital buffer against sovereign debt exposures to reflect current market prices." Let's not forget that in the last two stress tests, the EBA found something like a grand total of €5 billion in capital deficiency. This time, the joke is again on the EURUSD traders, as the number for Tier 1 at 9% satisfaction is €106 billion, below the €200 billion projected by the IMF, the €400 billion projected by Credit Suisse, and €1 trillion calculated by Goldman Sachs. Granted the number excludes a further €40.6 billion in sovereign capital buffer, so altogether the number is about €147 billion. Furthermore, if you live in Ireland, you are in luck: none of your nationalized, insolvent banks need additional capital. Neither do banks in Hungary, which is about to be downgraded by the rating agencies, Finland or the Netherlands. Stunningly, Dexia which 5 months ago, sailed through the EBA's farce of a test with flying colors now needs a whopping... €4.1 billion. This is a bank which a few weeks ago had around €47 billion in collateral calls. As for banks that need the most capital to reach their targeted capital buffer of 9% Tier 1, Greece needs €30 billion, Spain needs €26 billion, and Italy needs €14.8 billion. Oh yes, France, which contrary to previous media reports of needing to liquidate hundreds of billions, apparently somehow only needs €8.8 billion. Here is our napkin math: take whatever the EBA estimates, and multiply it by 10. You will then be only 25% less than what the  final capital shortfall is. Unfortunately for the EBA, the number of idiots who will fall for this "third time is the charm" farce can be counted on one finger (at best).

Open Europe Summarizes What To Expect From Today's European Summit

One of the premier Euroskeptic think tanks chimes in with, as expected, a rather bleak outlook on what to expect from today's Summit which is just now starting: "The hope for a “comprehensive plan” to save the eurozone, as originally touted by the eurozone leaders, looks to be a lost cause. The best outcome we can hope for today looks to be a broad political agreement, with technical details left to be sorted at a later date. Given previous experiences with technical changes (notably the second Greek bailout package and the Finnish collateral deal) it is definitely possible that the deal could be watered down, for example with investors being offered greater guarantees over their involvement in the second Greek bailout or with the bank recapitalisation actually turning out to be less stringent than expected....No matter what the details look like, the insurance plan is fundamentally flawed, given that guarantees may not be viable when they are most needed and 20% wouldn’t be enough to calm markets any way... there’s massive irony here, as Europe is now falling back on massively complex ‘Anglo-Saxon’ financial instruments to help save the eurozone. Putting these at the heart of an already complex, diverse and flawed monetary union is far from desirable.

Will Goldman Be MF Global's Executioner With Terminal Collateral Calls, As Yields Explode?

We all know the news by now: "MF reported its biggest quarterly loss ever yesterday, after having its credit ratings cut a day earlier by Moody’s Investors Service on concern that the broker won’t meet earnings targets and may not be able to manage investments in European sovereign debt. The company’s shares fell 48 percent. “It’s aggregated risk,” said Richard Repetto, an analyst at Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP. The positions in Europe, the further downgrade potential and the quarterly loss, combined to discourage investors, he said." Here is where it gets worse: "Analysts at KBW Inc., led by Niamh Alexander, wrote in a note yesterday that the Moody’s downgrade and lower earnings could cause a ripple effect on the company, raising borrowing costs and triggering collateral calls. “It also exposes MF to collateral calls of up to $5 million,” the note said. “We believe it could also prompt lenders to reduce financing, clients to withdraw assets and trigger the need to recognize losses on certain bilateral over- the-counter and off-balance sheet transactions." Well, judging by the bond yield chart below, MF is done (further confirmed by WSJ reporting that the company has hired restructuring expert Evercore Partners). The only question is whether that ever so handy uber collateral puller, Goldman Sachs, so critical in the extinction of Dexia and of course AIG, will be the party responsible for the death of MF Global? Considering who the current head of MF is, and his "key man status" in the prospectus of the company's recently bonds (which are plummeting today), we somehow doubt it.

Guest Post: Facts Don’t Equal The Conclusion in Europe

Very simply, the facts of the current environment in Europe don’t equal the conclusion that a coordinated effort will restore confidence.  The fact of the matter is that European Sovereigns are massively indebted and European banks are massively under-capitalized.  The proposed solution of raising capital and issuing fresh debt to solve this issue is a joke.  If I walk away from a home I owe $200k on and its fair market value is $100k (a 50% haircut), does a loan to my bank for $100K from the institution overseeing it change the impairment?  No.  You’re shuffling the cards.  Instead of taking a $100k loss, they now have an asset worth $100k and a new liability of $100k.  The asset is still worth $100k. Even though their little maneuver technically gives them an asset of $100k and cash of $100k, my bank now has $100K less to lend against.  Thus, their leverage increases.  This analogy applies to European banks holding sovereign paper... and for that matter the countries themselves (ie Italy voting on whether Italy's debt should be purchased by the ECB/IMF/EFSF, etc).  At this point, any 'plans' are only slightly more creative than card shuffling tricks from a clown at an 8 year old's birthday party. 

Citi On Whether Europe Can Ruin The World; Or How To Use An Insolvent Continent As An Excuse For Global Printing

While Citi's Stephen Englander does not go as far as concluding that a collapse of Europe would be sufficient (but certainly necessary) to "ruin" the world, he does have a very relevant conclusion in a piece just released to clients: namely that central banks everywhere, but in Europe, are using the recessionary slow down in the insolvent continent, which nobody seems to believe any more will be able to avoid a recession (an event which S&P stated in no uncertain terms would lead to a downgrade in France and other core countries), as the perfect political smokescreen to push the turbo print button on their respective money printers. To wit: "Eurozone weakness has also generated indications that policy will be eased elsewhere (even if not in Europe). Policymakers in the US, UK and elsewhere [ZH: and Japan as of 2 hours ago] are using the euro crisis as cover to ease policy. For example, the FRBNY's Dudley yesterday characterized even the improved US numbers as disappointing and pointed to further measures if growth did not improve. Chinese growth targets and policy maker comments imply that measures might be taken if there is any sign of slowing. The BoE has already expanded it QE program. At a minimum the comments are suggesting that the policymakers are willing to take aggressive action to offset any weakness. Overall the bias towards stimulus appears to remain in place outside Europe." What is supremely paradoxical is that with the ECB stuck, any incremental QEasing by the world will merely result in an ever stronger euro, until exports by Germany become almost as impossible as those of Switzerland pr peg. As a result, organic European growth at whatever remaining centers of productivity and commerce will be truncated until it is gone completely, even as the EURUSD approaches 2.00, as the Fed embarks on what will be by then something between QE5 and QE10. And there are those who wonder why gold makes sense not only here, not only at $1570 a month ago, but at $1900 under two months ago...

Guest Post: Waiting For Lehman

We have good reason to be waiting for Lehman—our current situation is simple and stark: Sovereign nations and individual citizens are over-indebted—to the point where they cannot pay back what they owe. We all know that this overindebtedness at the sovereign and individual level is going to end, and end badly: Worse than 2008.  So along with everyone else, I’ve been waiting for Lehman—and fruitlessly trying to guess which will be the Lehman-like event this time around. Will it be the bankruptcy of Dexia? BofA? UniCredit or SocGen or one of the Spanish banks? Will it be a war in the Middle East? Bad producer index numbers from China? A fart by a day-trader in Uzbekistan?

When will Lehman arrive!?!?

But lately, my thinking has changed: Like the characters in Godot, I think that we’re waiting in vain. The Lehman-like event will never arrive because it won’t be allowed to arrive. So this miserable slog we are going through will continue—indefinitely. (Yeah, I know: Sucks to be us.)

Annotated European Union Document On EFSF Status

Here is the draft document with our thoughts inserted directly into the document. As more actual details or termsheets become available we will attempt to analyze them as well.

Latest European Headlines

Over the next 24 hours expect many post of this nature:


Liesman spin on how 60% losses is not a CDS trigger event coming in 10 minutes.

FT Reports Italian Government On Brink Of Collapse

Certainly not helping European sentiment is the report from the FT that "Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right coalition government in Italy appears in danger of collapsing over European Union demands for a demonstration of concrete action on economic reform by Wednesday’s summit of eurozone leaders. The EU ultimatum delivered to Mr Berlusconi in Brussels on Sunday risks breaking his coalition instead of giving it an external impetus to move ahead on measures to cut Italy’s debt and promote economic growth." So you mean that extending the retirement age by a few hours is not credible reform? That surely is news to Bunga Bunga. And after all, remember the dedication with which Italy promised it would promptly enforce austerity after it was admitted to the SMP bond monetization program, only to completely forget all promises 48 hours later? It seems Europe, which has had enough of being humiliated by the corrupt pederast, has remembered: "The ultimatum was delivered as part of efforts to resolve the eurozone sovereign debt crisis, but the Italians’ failure to reach agreement on reform threatens EU leaders’ stated goal of finalising at Wednesday’s summit a comprehensive solution to the crisis." So the question is: how long before The Guardian refutes all FT speculation that Italy is scuttled with a well-timed rumor at 3:45pm?

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.