Sovereigns

Europe Opens Week In the Red

Every European stock index closed red today - that is something we have not seen in a few weeks. The drops were not dramatic - and in fact IBEX rallied from open to close after an ugly start to the day. Spanish and Portuguese bond markets sold off notably (in the front- and back-ends of the curve) and given its place as fulcrum security we suspect the slight underperformance in European credit markets relative to stocks indicates the Draghi-induced reflex buying is starting to fade. Swiss 2Y was stable; European VIX rose modestly; and EURUSD which saw some violent swings into the US day-session open is ending its day fractionally lower. All-in-all, given recent strength and momentum, sovereigns have definitely stalled and equities will need a catalyst now (Spanish bailout?).

On Covered Bonds, Collateral Crunches, And The Circular Logic Of Central Banks

Since 2009, outside of the megabanks in Europe, the bulk of the rest of the financial system has been completely shut out of the unsecured financing markets. One of the workarounds to this liquidity problem was the reclamation or retention of covered bonds issued by the Eurozone banks themselves, but these are constrained by strict allocation rules. Once the bank reaches that defined upper bound, where it is already close to exhausting this route, the bank will be forced to find a further alternate means for funding its existing loan portfolio. We discussed the issuance of self-referential or ponzi bonds previously since - can you really “own” your own liabilities?  Since circular logic pervades the current realm of central banking, this is wholly unquestioned.  In reality, retained covered bonds are just the accounting gloss on direct monetization of past and existing mortgage loans. Covered bonds as collateral to the ECB is an extremely important bridge holding the shaky liquidity system together as it is now; as the shortage of 'good' collateral increases, banks that do not possess enough “good” collateral have self-selected themselves for extinction and resource re-allocation.  There is no economic argument for maintaining self-selected bad banks.  Free markets demand their extinction.  Anything short of that will result in escalating and perpetual liquidity and solvency crises until the real economy is freed from the yolk of bad banks and their dis-intermediation. There is no real wonder as to why we have exactly that right now – the intrusion of politics done in the name of economics.

European Stocks End Green (But Leaking) As Sovereigns Stagnate

There has been a lot of bluster this week that tail-risks have been removed from Europe (thanks to The Dreme) and now ESM ratification can continue to hold up Europe's insolvent states. Europe's equity markets continue to lift (though slower and slower), Europe's VIX has fallen again (post ESM decision), Europe's credit spreads continue to compress and squeeze tighter, and sovereign bonds rally - at the short-end. The one fly in the ointment - is that the last three days have seen very little movement in Bond yields for Spain, Italy, and France - only Germany's 10bps yield decompression has been the driver of perceived risk changes for the periphery. EURUSD is now 1 sigma rich to its swap-spread fair-value model - which is unusual. It seemes -just as in the US MBS market - the rumor has been bought, as stocks in Europe also leaked lower from the ESM announcement time spike.

Overnight Summary: The Karlsruhe Konstitutional Knights Don't Say Ni(en) Yet

The key event overnight was the German constitutional court's announcement shortly after 8 am CET in which the Krimson Kardinals announced that, as largely expected by everyone except the EURUSD trading algos, there would be no delay in the September 12, 10 am CET injunction decision, as a result of the last minute bid by Peter Gauweiler. As Bloomberg reported, “It’s no surprise the court won’t change its plan,” said Christoph Ohler, a professor of European law at Jena University. “You cannot directly sue over the acts of European institutions in a German court, so it’s difficult to introduce these arguments in this case." The decision to press ahead with the ruling will probably bolster the German government’s faith that the bailout facility will get the court’s backing. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told students last week he was confident the ESM would be approved. “Europe won’t collapse on Sept. 12,” Franz Mayer, a law professor at Bielefeld University, said in an interview last week. “In the end, the court will allow Germany to ratify the ESM, but there will probably be some strings attached. The bigger issue than the actual ruling is what extra language the court will add to the reasoning on where the limits are in the future,” said Mayer. “The markets seem to be quite afraid the judges may spoil certain options for the future, like collectivization of debt within the euro zone." Which leads us to the quote of the morning when even Schauble it appears is channeling Clinton after he said that interpretations on the word "unlimited" can vary. No they can't, and this is precisely the issue that the judges will take offense with, if anything.

Preview Of The Action-Packed Week Ahead And Overnight Recap

Suddenly the delicate balancing of variables is once again an art and not a science, ahead of a week packed with binary outcomes in which the market is already priced in for absolute perfection. Per DB: We have another blockbuster week ahead of us so let's jump straight into previewing it. One of the main highlights is the German Constitutional Court's ruling on the ESM and fiscal compact on Wednesday. On the same day we will also see the Dutch go to the polls for the Lower House elections. Thursday then sees a big FOMC meeting where the probabilities of QE3 will have increased after the weak payrolls last Friday. The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors will meet on Thursday in Mexico before the ECOFIN/Eurogroup meeting in Cyprus rounds out the week on Friday. These are also several other meetings/events taking place outside of these main ones. In Greece, PM Samaras is set to meet with representatives of the troika today, before flying to Frankfurt for a meeting with Draghi on Tuesday. The EC will also present proposals on a single banking supervision mechanism for the Euro area on Tuesday. If these weren't enough to look forward to, Apple is expected to release details of its new iPhone on Wednesday. In summary, it will be a good week to test the theory that algos buy stocks on any flashing red headlines, no longer even pretending to care about the content. Think of the cash savings on the algo "reading" software: in a fumes-driven market in which even the HFTs no longer can make money frontrunning and subpennyiong order flow, they need it.

European Credit Buying The Rumor; European Stocks Not So Much

Whether it is "buying-the-rumor" to "sell tomorrow's news" or some contagion from domestic bank-to-sovereign credit arbitrage, European credit markets are giddy with the Draghi rumors. European sovereigns are better but are leaking back a little now - with 2Y limping higher in yield. European stocks seem thoroughly unimpressed for now broadly-speaking (despite EUR strength helping drag US equities higher?) The world, it seems, has no idea what is going on once again... and then Merkel adds this:

  • *MERKEL TELLS LAWMAKERS SHE OPPOSES UNLIMITED ECB BOND PURCHASES
  • *MERKEL CAN ACCEPT TEMPORARY ECB BOND BUYING, BARTHLE SAYS
  • *MERKEL CAN ACCEPT ECB BOND BUYING OF SHORT MATURITIES: BARTHLE

Which sends EURUSD into spasm...

The Schizophrenic Market Update - Buy The Rumor, Sell The News, Then BTFD

It's been 20 minutes and in that time we have been entirely depressed as every risk-on asset dumped to the day's lows or lower and now we are entirely euphoric - there is still hope - as Gold/Silver make new highs, stocks recover all their losses, Treasury yields continue to fall, and EURUSD does, well, we are not sure really... Meanwhile, European Sovereigns are all cracking wider...

The Unintended 'Chronic' Consequence Of ECB Bond Buying

We destroyed the myth that the LTRO would not in fact stigmatize bank balance sheets when it was first introduced as the encumbrance was evident from the start - though took the market a while to comprehend and reprice (exuberant on the new-found liquidity optics). The expectations that the ECB will embark on a new scheme of sovereign debt purchases, implicitly funding governments - no matter how many times they tell us that it is to ensure transmission mechanisms flow, have three objectives or rationales, according to Goldman's Huw Pill: Easing private financing conditions through monetary expansion, Financing governments, and/or Reactivating private markets. However, there is one glaring unintended consequence of this 'aid' - the risk exists that well-intentioned sovereign debt purchases result in perverse incentives and a perpetuation of chronic fiscal and structural problems (much as Bernanke's band-aids have eased the fiscal pressure on our own government and led us further down the rabbit hole). The lack of political legitimacy and blunting of incentives for more fundamental consolidation and reform to take place can only turn the acute pain of the moment in Spain into a truly chronic problem for Europe as a whole - be careful what you wish for.

Europe Closes Red As London's Credit Reality Returns

We noted yesterday that the mice of the European equities markets have tended to run when the credit cats are away; and sure enough, London comes back from a long-weekend and risk appetite disappears. European stocks gave back most of their gains from yesterday (and more in some cases) as Sovereign, corporate, and financial credit opened far less exuberantly and drifted wider for most of the day (with some slight US-open-driven strength into the close). Financials modestly outperformed as Sovereigns did not - with Spain now 48bps wider than last week's best levels, Italy 39bps wider, and seemingly forgotten (yet a total disaster) Portugal +52bps. Swiss 2Y rates have tumbled back lower in the last few days to -35bps. The standout was the OMX (Stockholm) which fell 2.3%, its biggest fall in 4 months, as Swedish banks stumbled.

Draghi To Miss Jackson Hole Forum; All Rumors Now To Focus On ECB September 6 Meeting

With the market realization slowly dawning that Bernanke will not announce anything of note at this year's Jackson Hole meeting, especially with the NFP number following the symposium expected to demonstrate another improvement in the economy, and ahead of the FOMC meeting in the second week of September, many hopes were resting on the shoulders of Draghi, whose ECB has now become a backup option when it comes to jawboning markets higher on empty promises. It is the same ECB which is also expected to announce something, anything on September 6, or else the market will really get angry after "believing" Draghi back in July as he said, and not delivering anything for two months straight. At this point however, the Jackson Hole meeting appears to be a complete dud because as was just reported, Mario Draghi, who was previously scheduled to speak on August 30, has decided to skip the meeting entirely. According to Bloomberg, citing an ECB official, Draghi won’t be attending Jackson Hole forum this year, and the reason given is "due to workload in coming days."

Will The Fall Of Europe's Discontent Follow The Glorious Summer Made By This Head Of The ECB

Measuring the 'contentedness' during this summer of total comfort is tricky. With equities at the year's highs in nominal prices in the US and breaking multi-month highs in Europe, how do we 'know' the relative richness or cheapness (or hope or despair) that is priced into stocks and what the 'fall' ahead looks like. We may have found a way. Europe's economic and implicitly market performance is very much based on the explicit belief that the EMU remains in tact and that Draghi's recent 'promise' will enable sovereigns to go about their economic business (austerity and growth) without the hindrance of those nasty speculating long-only fixed income managers repricing cost-of-funds and eating into the nation's growth. In the US, it's all about multiples - P/E expansion (in the face of lower 'E') has maintained the hope; and so it is in Europe. The following chart shows the extremely high correlation between European equity P/E (hope multiples) and European Sovereign risk. At the end of LTRO2, European stocks were exuberant only to fade away; currently, European stock multiples are once again back to those exuberant 'hope' heights. Trade accordingly.

The Financial Decline In Europe Continues

As Industrial Production falls -0.6% in Europe and as the economy shrinks -0.2% there is once again a good reason to pause to consider the ramifications for this going forward. When you sit back and take a hard look at the last two years you begin to learn a few things. If you just stick to the actual data and forget the rhetoric that surrounds it the picture becomes clearer. Each and every projection for Greece, Spain and Italy that has been forecast by the EU and the IMF has been wrong; dead wrong. Europe is getting worse and not better. Whether you turn your attention to Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal or even Ireland; it is getting worse. Nowhere on the Continent are things improving and even in France and Germany the financial strains are beginning to show. It is not a question of Euro-bear or Euro-bull; it is just the numbers as they come rolling out month after month. It is the banks, it is the sovereigns and grand visions must, in the end, give way to the facts.