UK Royal Mint Silver Production Surges 100% - Sovereign Edward Supply Tight But Bullion Premiums LowSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/07/2011 07:42 -0400
The U.K.’s Royal Mint said that first-half silver production in 2011 doubled, while gold production climbed 8.9% over 2010 levels. The Royal Mint, established in the 13th century, used 36,219 ounces of gold compared with 33,266 ounces the previous year, according to data obtained by Bloomberg News under a Freedom of Information Act request. Silver use more than doubled to 324,421 ounces in the period. The Royal Mint makes Britannia silver bullion coins and other collector silver coins. 324,421 ounces of silver at today’s prices ($36/oz) would be worth less than $12 million dollars. Mere chump change to many wealth investors and savers concerned about their investments and savings.
Greek "Rollover" Bailout Proposal On Verge Of Collapse, After Germany Puts Bond Swap Idea "Back On The Table"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 07/06/2011 09:31 -0400
The much ridiculed "MLEC-type" bailout proposal of Greece, which contemplates the rolling of existing debt into a guaranteed SPV, and which was the European rescue deux ex machina for exactly two weeks, appears to have been pulled off the table, following the announcement by German Deputy Finance Minister Joerg Asmussen to Reuters Insider TV that "Germany has put a Greek bond swap back on the table as a model for private sector involvement in fresh aid for Athens." More: "The model put forward by some French banks is still a good base for discussions and we are currently working on this. But since rating agencies have signalled that they will consider modalities (such as) the French proposal as a selective default -- that means a rating event -- we can also put other options like a bond exchange on the table." he said, adding discussions would take place over the summer break. Translation: back to square minus one. And actually it is much worse, because if Asmussen is aware of rating agency policy, a debt exchange would most certainly qualify for an event of default. Which confirms our initial expectation from a month ago that there is nothing absent a complete loss of ECB credibility that can possibly transpire next, as the ECB realizes there is no way around accepting defaulted Greek bonds as collateral. The only question is what happens then: will the market, head currently deep in the sand, scramble upon the confirmation that the ECB emperor is naked, or will it continue acting as if nothing has changed yet again.
Back To The Drawing Board: S&P Says Greek Rollover Debt Plan "Would Likely Amount To A Default Under Our Citeria"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 07/04/2011 07:27 -0400
Last Wednesday we cited from a Reuters report, according to which the last ditch Greek MLEC/CDO rescue operation, would be welcome to S&P and Moody's as "The whole charm of the French model is that it was worked out in a such way that it will be fine with the rating agencies." Because absent a decree of no EOD, the whole thing is pointless. Well, as often turns out, this was yet more wishful thinking on behalf of some bureaucrat, masked as fact. S&P has just come out with the following: "In recent weeks, a number of proposals relating to this topic have surfaced, and the particulars in some cases are evidently still in flux. This credit comment looks at the most prominent of the recent proposals, put forward by the Fédération Bancaire Française (FBF) on June 24, 2011, in the context of our criteria for evaluating distressed debt exchanges and similar debt restructurings (see Related Research below). In brief, it is our view that each of the two financing options described in the FBF proposal would likely amount to a default under our criteria" and specifically: "we believe that both options represent (i) a "similar restructuring"
(ii) are "distressed" and (iii) offer "less value than the promise of
the original securities" under our criteria. Consequently, if either
option were implemented in its current form, absent other mitigating
information, we would likely view it as constituting a default under our
criteria." Goodbye MLEC 2 - as expected you were just as useless as your first iteration back in 2007.
Just a few dots to connect on a holiday weekend.
A few days ago, we demonstrated that the latest Greek bailout package is nothing more than recycled MLEC special purpose vehicle designed to cover up toxic assets off balance sheet, like that one that was supposed to wrap up the subprime toxic mess. Luckily that did not happen as all it would do is make the credit crash even more acute when it finally did hit. In the meantime, the other Frankenstein contraption proposed by Wall Street to contain the fallout of the PIIGS bankruptcy, is the EFSF, which also got a facelift a few weeks back, and which is effectively a CDO: the same instrument which caused European banks to now be insolvent after buying up all tranches offered them by Goldman et al in the 2005-2007 period, once US banks realized just how toxic the less than AAA tranches were. It is poetically ironic that the instrument that led to Europe's insolvency is now what is supposed to prevent (temporarily) its plunge into outright default. For all who are wondering what the details of the new and improved CDO at the heart of the Eurozone are, here is Nomura's Nikan Firoozye.
Goldman Vs Pimco Round 2: Goldman Buying Belly Again As It Doubles Down On Client Call To Short The 5 YearSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/30/2011 09:23 -0400
Three months ago, Goldman's Francesco Garzarelli released a note to clients advising them to short the 5 Year as follows: "We recommend going short 5-yr US Treasuries at 1.936% for a potential target of 2.30% and a close below 1.80%." Naturally, our cynical outlook on life prompted us to say the following: "As usual, since that would mean Goldman is now accumulating 5 Year inventory, it appears we will soon have a rather dramatic duel between the two biggest Wall Street titans: PIMCO and Goldman, at least as pertains to their outlook on rates." Well, Goldman won so far (its clients not so much). Today, Goldman is telegraphing that it is starting to accumulate the next batch of 5 years, which makes sense considering the point on the curve experienced its 3rd worst 3-day decline ever as reported yesterday. To wit: "Ahead of key data for June, starting with the June ISM report this Friday, we recommend initiating short positions in 5-yr UST at the current level of 1.70%, for an initial target of 2.00%, and stops on a close below 1.40%." Round two of Goldman vs PIMCO is now on.
It is hard to define how much money Greece is getting. Is it the next tranche of IMF money? Is it the amount of cuts the Greek government agreed to take? Is it future promises of money from the Troika? It's hard to tell, but $20 billion seems to be about the amount that is being provided to get us through another 3 months...Let's assume the Lehman 2.0 and contagion crowd are correct. Is it realistic to assume that $3 per person is enough to save the world's entire economic model? If so, sign me up, I will contribute my $3. But the GDP of the U.S. $14.5 trillion (it is easy to remember since it is the same as the amount of U.S. debt outstanding). The GDP of the European Union is $16 trillion. Add in another $10 trillion for China and Japan and you have GDP of $40 trillion. The doomsayers are telling us that $20 billion is all that it takes to save a $40 trillion system? We have a $40 trillion global economy that hinges on getting $20 billion to Greece so they don't default.
The eurozone is in serious trouble and Greece is just a symptom. Whether or not they default on their debt may not matter as similar problems plague Spain, Ireland, Portugal, and even Italy. The European Monetary Union is built on a house of cards and they don't have the time for needed radical reforms. Like all sovereigns who owe more than they can pay, they will resort to monetary inflation to bail themselves out. This article explains how the EMU works, why it is failing, and why they will resort to fiat money printing to solve it.
PIMCO Scott Mather has released a fascinating Q&A in which the key topic of discussion is the artificial push to keep rates low in developed economies, also known as central bank hubris to maintain the "great moderation" in which he clearly explains i) what this means for global fund flow dynamics (using developed country reserves and purchasing EM bonds) and ii) for the future of a system held together with glue and crutches. To wit: "Financial repression is any public policy
that is designed to influence the market price of financing government
debts, either through government bonds or the nation’s currency. Direct
methods of repression include things like setting target interest rates,
monetizing government debt or implementing interest rate caps. Indirect
methods include polices designed to change the amount of debt or
currency at a given price. Examples include requirements to hold minimum
amounts of government debt on bank balance sheets or establishing
minimum requirements for government bonds in pension funds." Just in case anyone is confused why central planning is a bad idea: "Governments may take these steps to improve their ability to
finance public debt and forestall more painful adjustment processes,
though there can be other motives, and because these methods are less
transparent, and thus less controversial, than direct tax hikes or
spending cuts. Investors should be wary of financial repression because
it is primarily a tool to redistribute wealth from creditors (citizens)
to debtors (governments) to the detriment of creditors, fixed income
investors and savers." Needless to say, central planning always fails: "It is important to realize these methods as practiced are only
partially effective and cannot go on forever, as advanced economies
continue to add significantly to their public debts despite low
financing costs. Some intensification of financial repression, fiscal
austerity, or stronger growth must occur to lower the likelihood of a
future debt crisis." Bottom line: "kicking the can" can only go on for so long before EMs (read why below) provide a natural counterbalance to an artificial market created by developed world central banks. PIMCO's advice: get out of balance sheet risky DM bonds ahead of central planning failure, and buy up every EM bond possible, or bypass paper and just buy EM currencies as "EM policymakers who have resisted appreciation will
eventually allow more appreciation over the next three to five years as
they nurture domestic consumption and their economies become less
dependent on export demand." We expect to see much more on this topic as the MSM realizes the implications of this new risk regime change.
Moody's Puts Italy's Aa2 Rating On Downgrade Review, EUR Slides, And A Bonus Report From SocGen: "How Vulnerable Is Italy?"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 06/17/2011 15:21 -0400
"Moody's Investors Service has today placed Italy's Aa2 local and foreign currency government bond ratings on review for possible downgrade, while affirming its short-term ratings at Prime-1. The main drivers that prompted the rating review are: (1) Economic growth challenges due to macroeconomic structural weaknesses and a likely rise in interest rates over time; (2) Implementation risks surrounding the fiscal consolidation plans that are required to reduce Italy's stock of debt and keep it at affordable levels; and (3) Risks posed by changing funding conditions for European sovereigns with high levels of debt." EURUSD slides on the news, which also pushes stocks far lower, courtesy of 100% correlation.
Will you own your own body? Or will that be privatized, too?
Don’t be fooled by the IMF’s announcement that Greece will get a new round of money. This bailout is merely to give a couple of months for the parties to seriously negotiate what haircuts and debt extensions investors need to take in Greece, and Ireland and Portugal. Virtually all the comments made by the parties involved fit in with the view that we are now in a phase where people are negotiating how much they will write off and what else they will do. Almost none of the comments indicate that anyone is really trying to put together a plan that is going kick the can down the road for a long time. I am fading this rally as only the most optimistic investor can believe that this problem doesn’t lead to real default/restructuring with haircuts in the next couple of months.
Very weak day in credit land, despite some strength in stocks. Significant sell-off in short-dated HY (cash and synthetic), financials net sold all day, and European sovereign risk spurts higher once again. Dip buyers notably absent in credit for now.
Top-down equities underperformed credit once again as day after day we see the QE2 froth being blown off the weak recovery beer. HY credit is at its widest in six months, financials CDS are starting to crack finally, and sector relative richness in stocks is beginning to sync back to credit.
Next up: Greece begins criminal proceedings against the rating agency for character defamantion and libel (or is that slander?). Also, Belgium is next. Yet most importantly, there is no mention in the downgrade if the "Vienna plan" currently contemplated, or the latest zany "debt rolling" proposal constitutes an Event Of Default, meaning the market will have even more uncertaintly to grapple with. From Moody's "The main triggers for today's downgrade are as follows: 1. The increased risk that Greece will fail to stabilise its debt position, without a debt restructuring, in light of (1) the ever-increasing scale of the implementation challenges facing the government, (2) the country's highly uncertain growth prospects and (3) a track record of underperformance against budget consolidation targets. 2. The increased likelihood that Greece's supporters (the IMF, ECB and the EU Commission, together known as the "Troika") will, at some point in the future, require the participation of private creditors in a debt restructuring as a precondition for funding support. Taken together, these risks imply at least an even chance of default over the rating horizon. Moody's points out that, over five-year investment horizons, around 50% of Caa1-rated sovereigns, non-financial corporate and financial institutions have consistently met their debt service requirements on a timely basis, while around 50% have defaulted."