Sovereigns

Spain Reminds Us What The Main Problem With Blank Checks Is: Says Q2 GDP Will Be Worse Than Q1

Even as Spain, Italy and soon France are scrambling to break the link between sovereigns and banks, an unpopular move that until recently Germany was very much against as it permitted the culture of endless unsupervised bank bailouts on taxpayer dimes to continue, we get a fresh reminder of why any unconditional aid, entitlement, or backstop guarantees funded by "other people's money" is always inevitably a bad idea. Case in point: Spain, which just said that its economy will contract in Q2 even more than in Q1. This reminds us why any claims of "austerity" are a total mockery: only Keynesian priests seem unable to grasp that countries gain much more upside from pushing their economies to the brink only to be bailed out, than from engaging in real economic viability and sustainability programs: i.e., living within your means (something we proved empirically before). Finally, this is also a stark reminder that when one removes out all the bailout noise and the daily high-beta gyrations of sovereign debt, the real reason why sovereign bondholders should be buying Spanish debt - an actual improvement in its economy-  continues to not only be absent, but by the very nature of endless now-monthly bailouts, becomes impossible as debt never fixed more debt.

Epic EUR Short Squeeze Sends Risk Soaring, Gold Over 1600

The squeeze is on. EURUSD is probably the most extreme example of the squeeze-factor potential of what is at its heart a lot more talk and lot less action. Up almost 250 pips from its pre-summit-statement levels, EURUSD is just under 1.2700 - which in context is only back to 6/21 levels. As we noted on June 3, the epic level of CFTC non-commercial EUR spec shorts were ripe for a squeeze-fest, while on the other hand we specifically said "the pain trade will be any appeasing announcement from Europe." Sure enough we got just that (supposedly) and EURUSD is now up well over 300 pips from those levels as the clear pain trade plays out. The USD weakness has driven commodities higher with Gold reaching $1600 once again (6/21 levels). European sovereigns are (somewhat expectedly given the euphoria - though just how much has actually changed is unclear) also rallying hard on the day but while they have compressed spreads markedly, they have stalled at unchanged on the week (though Portugal remains notably wide on the week). Credit and equity markets in Europe are in sync and have snapped higher to 6/21 levels also (with financials outperforming modestly). Europe's equity markets are all soaring - up 3 to 4.5% - as DAX is now outperforming the S&P 500 on the year once again. Big moves (multiple sigma in bond and FX markets) and yet we can't help but think they were hoping for more than just a retracement of one week's price action.

Art Cashin On The Latest Eurozone "Remedy"

As always, the most pragmatic read thru of what are now day to day rescue efforts out of Europe, which in its own words has effectively given up on seeking a long-term remedy, comes from UBS' Art Cashin who as usual cuts right to the bone of the deluge of essentially hollow endless chatter out of Europe whose sole purpose is to once again baffle all the algos with binary bullshit.

Hardball In Brussels

In the final analysis Europe is quite exposed at this moment and may be for quite some time. The ESM, after the change in seniority status, must be re-affirmed in at least two countries that are the Netherlands and Finland and Germany has not yet approved it yet either. The EFSF has already spent $450 of its capacity on Greece, Ireland, Portugal and now $125 billion for Spain. The balance left in the fund is tissue paper thin and that is all that is in existence presently for any more problems in Europe. Plans and schemes aside, the amount of money that could actually be used today is a drop in the proverbial bucket.

Latest "E-TARP" MOU Sends Spanish Bonds Back To Monday Levels

In the aftermath of last night's bombastic European announcement coming in the late night hours, in which Europe has virtually promised the kitchen sink, one would imagine that the response for the biggest beneficiary, Spanish bonds, would be far more dramatic. Instead after ripping 60 bps tighter in a kneejerk move, the yoyo reaction has seen bonds slide wider ever since, and the result being a SPGB level last seen... on Monday. Why is the market not more enthusiastic? Because what happened last night is nothing short of the second Greek bailout announcement from October, which followed a similar pattern: a late night announcement by Europe that Greece is saved, followed by a brief rip of a rally, only to give it all back, and to require global central bank intervention one month later. Because what really happened last night? Merely promises. We will not dwell much on the fact that the ESM has yet to be ratified by the paying countries, that the ESM will now have to be scrapped in its current format, and resigned by all 17 member countries since the seniority provision is somehow scrapped: an event that amounts to a cramdown exchange offer, that while everyone is talking about the uses of funds, nobody has uttered a peep about the sources, that Germany has yet to say what the German conditions will be or whether the revised deal will even pass the Bundestag, that the deal is contingent on the formation of a "effective single supervisory mechanism is established, involving the ECB" which in Europe is next to impossible, and that finally the whole "arrangement" is nothing but an Memorandum of Understanding - the weakest form of non-binding agreement possible. Which is why we are just a little skeptical and that today's E-Tarp is merely the latest catalyst to be faded.

Full EU Summit Statement (In All Its Conditional Wishy-Washy Glory)

The early Friday morning release of an entirely conditional 'plan' for a 'plan' that will likely require the ESM contracts to be torn up and a new contract to be re-ratified (by ALL members - including Finland and Germany), due to the stripping of the ESM seniority via the EFSF 'workaround', was high-fived by any and all EU leader still standing. Is it any wonder (given the conditionality and ratifications required) that the best the market could manage, on what is now obviously nothing but yet another watered-down talking-point ridden 'promise-of-more-to-come' plan (as opposed to the impossible becoming possible as Ireland's Kenny so eloquently described it), is a 1% pop in US equity futures.

Guest Post: Forget Broccoli

Americans are either celebrating or damning the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling that the individual mandate is constitutional. It is puzzling that the individual mandate to purchase healthcare might be deemed unconstitutional when the collective mandate to collect taxes to purchase next-to-everything (including both healthcare and broccoli) has been considered constitutional for the best part of a century. If America wants to overturn current legal norms America needs to elect different politicians. But with a greater and greater welfare-bound population, it seems inevitable that more and more Americans will vote themselves greater and greater quantities of free stuff. What’s stopping Congress from mandating that patriotic Americans with any spare cash dump it into government securities (or even flagging equities)? One day, Atlas may shrug. Until that day, Congress just acquired a powerful new funding tool.

European Stocks Revert Back Down To Credit's Pessimism (As 2Y Swiss Drops To Record Lows)

Just as we noted yesterday, the ludicrous late-day ramp in European equity markets relative to the absolute nonchalance of credit (corporate, financial, and sovereign) markets, has now reverted totally as broadly speaking Europe ends the day in the red. Spain and Italy stock indices bounced a modest 0.5% on the day as the UK's FTSE and Germany's DAX suffered the most (down 1-1.5%) on Banking Lie-Bor drama and unemployment respectively. Corporate credit leaked a little wider on the day with the investment grade credits underperforming (dragged by weakness in financials). Financials were notably weak with Subordinated credit significantly underperforming Senior credit (bail-in anyone?). Sovereigns were weak overall (not just Spain, Italy, and Portugal this time) as Spain's 2s10s has now flattened to year's lows. Swiss 2Y rates dropped further - to record closing lows at -35.2bps (after being -39bps at their best/worst of the day - suggesting all is not well, and Bunds largely tracked Treasuries as the SCOTUS decision came on and pushed derisking across assets. EURUSD tested towards 1.2400 early on but is holding -35pips or so for now at 1.2430.

Sometimes "No" Means Exactly That

As it dawns upon the world that Ms. Merkel means exactly what she says and is not going to back down you may expect a quite negative reaction in the equity markets and a widening of spreads for some risk assets along with a strengthening of the Dollar. I am talking about the “Trend” here and not some trading strategy for today’s business. Germany is not going to flinch and cannot both due to local politics and to the now obvious fact that Germany has just about reached the limits of what she is financially able to do with a $3.2 trillion economy. To put it quite simply; they have run out of excess cash and more European contributions are only going to weaken the balance sheet of the nation and seriously imperil Germany’s financial condition. I say, one more time, Germany is not going to roll over and all of the pan European schemes brought forward by the bureaucrats and the poorer nations are not going to go anywhere. There is one novel possibility here and that is that the Germans, like the British, may opt out. Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Finland et al may just say, “Fine, go ahead if you wish to have Eurobonds and the like but we will not guarantee them.” All plans do not need to have an either/or solution and this may well be Germany’s position in the end which would place the periphery nations and France in quite an interesting, if unenviable, place.

European Stocks Soar (And So Do Peripheral Bond Yields!)

It's another one of those hope-fueled days in Europe as European stock indices across evey nation close comfortably in the green as the EU Summit begins. Germany has taken all the substantive things off the table and Cyprus and Portugal threw in the towel but nevertheless, stocks are 1-2.5% higher (with Italy and Spain outperforming). We assume this is reflexive pricing of 'the crisis is now so scary that the ECB will have to do something' but it seems the FX and Sovereign bond market missed that pre-emptive hope-driven view as Portugal yields/spreads spiked, Spain pushed back up to 6.93% and saw further flattening in its yield curve (as short-dated LTRO-enthused bonds underperform dramatically) as 2s10s is almost back to six-month pre-LTRO levels. Italian spreads pulled off their worst levels to close mixed but remains over 40bps wider on the week. EURUSD closed down over 35 pips at 1.2450 and stocks were in a world of their own also relative to credit markets today.

Guest Post: Liquidation Is Vital

In light of the zombification that now exists in Japan and also America (and coming soon to every single QE and bailout-heavy Western economy) — zombie companies, poorly managed, making all the same mistakes as before, rudderless, and yet still in business thanks to government intervention  — it is clear that the liquidationists grasped something that Keynesians are still missing. Markets are largely no longer trading fundamentals; they are just trading state intervention and money printing. Why debate earnings when instead you can debate the prospects of QE3? Why invest in profitable companies and ventures when instead you can pay yourself a fat bonus cheque out of monetary stimulus? Why exercise caution and consideration when you can just gamble and get a bailout?  Unfortunately, Mellon and his counterparts at the 30s Fed were the wrong kind of liquidationists — they could not heed their own advice and leave the market be. Ironically, the 30s Fed in raising interest rates and failing to act as lender-of-last resort drove the market into a deeper depression than was necessary (and certainly a deeper one than happened in 1907) and crushed any incipient recovery.

Liquidation is not merely some abstract policy directive, or government function. It is an organic function of the market.

The EU Summit Scenario Matrix

With any and every European leader talking unilaterally (and only one worth listening to, given the market's reactions), we ask and answer what should investors expect from the forthcoming EU Summit and what are the investment implications? Morgan Stanley's Arnaud Mares offers a succinct analysis of the three key axes being debated around the 'banking union' premise: a European Deposit Guarantee Scheme (DGS); a Common rule book and European level bank supervisor; and a federal resolution regime (and, in some proposals, a federal recapitalisation vehicle). The base-case view is that the current set of EU banking union proposals, whilst directionally helpful, are too long-term or too timid to address the 'crisis' with supervision stratified and insufficiently federal leading investment implications of little meaningful relief in  Eurozone banking and sovereign credit markets. Recent comments from European ministers suggest that the path to federalized Banking Union will be far from an easy one, given the tightly interconnected federal debate.