Bill Gross, who manages the world’s largest bond fund, has indicated that the 30+ year old super cycle bull market in bonds has ended. This is very bad news for the markets.
It would appear that the credit markets both anticipated and began to price in what is now the worst recessionary period for the European Union on record a few days ago. However, their exuberant, ever-hungry colleagues over in equity land remain in the bad is good mode and can't get enough of these higher prices. Where ever we look around the developed world, equity prices are lifting as credit deteriorates. The masses ignored these lessons in 2007; are they ignoring it again? Or is this just another short-term divergence? If so, it is bond-buying time... if not, take your equity profits now because these divergences are unsustainable.
Just Say Non To The New "Sick Man Of Europe" - Support For EU Plunges In France And Most European CountriesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/13/2013 20:32 -0400
In some surprising news, and quite contrary to what its record low bond yields would indicate (for a key reason for said artificial demand for French, see The Greater Fool) today the Pew Research center released results from a poll of 7646 EU citizens in March 2013, showing that the new sick man of Europe is Europe itself, or rather the great unification project itself: the European Union. Perhaps most surprisingly, nowehere is this more evident than in France itself - the country where the idea of a European Union germinated in the first place - and where the decline in support for the EU has been the greatest in the past year, with just 22% responding affirmatively to the question whether 'economic integration strenghtened the economy', down from 36% a year ago, and the biggest drop of all surveyed EU member states.
Spanish stocks ended the week slightly in the red (the only European major to accomplish that feat) and its sovereign bond spreads ended very modestly wider. Away from that 'weakness' everywhere else was green-green-green - European stocks generally surged (though giving some back today) and bonds rallied further, compressing spreads further into pre-crisis territory. All this with a background of the worst week for the EUR (against the USD) in almost two months. Swiss 2Y rates saw some significant demand today (-2bps to -6.4bps) but are higher on the week and Europe's VIX ends the week modestly lower. Away from sovereign markets, corporate and financial credit markets did not play along with the exuberance at all...
The Cypriot deposit confiscation has come and gone (and in a parallel world in which the global Bernanke-put never existed and in which bank shareholders were not untouchable, this is precisely how real-time bank restructurings should have taken place), but fears remain that the country's "resolution" mechanism will be the template for future instances of "resolving" insolvent banks. That may or may not be the case: the only way to know for sure is during the next European bank bailout, but one thing is certain - Cyprus was certainly a template when it comes to how a world full of insolvent sovereigns (all engaged in currency warfare), where easing, quantitative or otherwise no longer works to boost the economy, will approach what is the last chance for monetary replenishment - taxation of financial assets, just as we warned first back in 2011. Specifically, Cyprus showed the "template" for confiscating Russian oligarch billionaire "ill-gotten", untaxed cash, which many in Germany demanded should be the quid for ongoing German-funded quo. And here's the rub. There is more where said "ill-gotten" cash has come from. Much more... $32 trillion more.
On the third year anniversary of the flash crash, and in a week in which earnings season unwinds and in which there is very little macro news, the bulk of the newsflow happened overnight, starting with a drop in the Chinese Service PMI, which tumbled from 54.3 to 51.1, the lowest in two years, then we got Australian retail sales which dropped -0.1% on expectations of 0.4% gain, indicating that the Chinese slowdown is dragging down the entire Asia-Pac region further. Afterwards, we got a barrage of European non-manufacturing PMI data starting with Spain, at 44.4, down from 45.3, the lowest since December (although one wonder if Spain has finally opened a branch of the BLS, reporting that unemployment actually dipped by 46.1k, on expectations of just a 2k decline, and down from 5k the prior month: how curious the timing of the "end of austerity" and the immediate "improvement" in the economy), then Italy Service PMI printing at 47.0, up from 45.5, on expectations of a 45.8 print, the highest since August 2011, French Services PMI rising modestly from 44.1 to 44.3, Germany's up from 49.2 to 49.6, on expectations of an unchanged print, all of which leading to a combined Eurozone PMI at 47.0, up from 46.6, and beating expectations of a 46.6 print.
With equity valuations no longer levitating but in a different, 4th dimension altogether, and credit spreads compressing dramatically (and unreasonably)... It is in situations like these, when the crash comes, that the proverbial run for liquidity forces central banks to coordinate liquidity injections. However, something tells me that this time, the trick won’t work. Over almost a century, we have witnessed the slow and progressive destruction of the best global mechanism available to cooperate in the creation and allocation of resources. This process began with the loss of the ability to address flow imbalances (i.e. savings, trade). After the World Wars, it became clear that we had also lost the ability to address stock imbalances, and by 1971 we ensured that any price flexibility left to reset the system in the face of an adjustment would be wiped out too. From this moment, adjustments can only make way through a growing series of global systemic risk events with increasingly relevant consequences. Swaps, as a tool, will no longer be able to face the upcoming challenges. When this fact finally sets in, governments will be forced to resort directly to basic asset confiscation.
Over a year ago, we first explained what one of the key terminal problems affecting the modern financial system is: namely the increasing scarcity and disappearance of money-good assets ("safe" or otherwise) which due to the way "modern" finance is structured, where a set universe of assets forms what is known as "high-quality collateral" backstopping trillions of rehypothecated shadow liabilities all of which have negligible margin requirements (and thus provide virtually unlimited leverage) until times turn rough and there is a scramble for collateral, has become perhaps the most critical, and missing, lynchpin of financial stability. Not surprisingly, recent attempts to replenish assets (read collateral) backing shadow money, most recently via attempted Basel III regulations, failed miserably as it became clear it would be impossible to procure the just $1-$2.5 trillion in collateral needed according to regulatory requirements. The reason why this is a big problem is that as the Matt Zames-headed Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee (TBAC) showed today as part of the appendix to the quarterly refunding presentation, total demand for "High Qualty Collateral" (HQC) would and could be as high as $11.2 trillion under stressed market conditions.
A bank in some European country such as Spain lends money but the collateral, Real Estate or commercial loans, are going bad. The bank then securitizes a large pool of this collateral and pledges it at the ECB to receive cash. In many cases to take the pool the country has to guarantee the debt. So Spain, in my example, guarantees the loan package which is then pledged at the ECB and is a contingent liability and which is not reported in the debt to GDP ratio of the country but nowhere else that you will find either. “Hidden” would be the appropriate word. Then as time passes the loans get even worse so that the ECB demands cash or more collateral because they will not be taking the hit; thank you very much. The bank cannot afford to post more collateral so that the country, Spain, must post the collateral and add an additional guarantee for the new loan or they must post cash which is oftentimes the case. Consequently as time passes and more cash has been spent the country, Spain, begins to run out of capital and the 10.6% deficit figure, that Spain announced recently, is not anywhere close to the actual reality so that they will get forced to officially borrow more money from the ESM as the sovereign guarantee of bank debt becomes unsustainable.
It all makes so much sense. Broad European stocks have just completed their best week in 5 months. Even though today saw some of the exuberance wear off a little, the market is up 3.6% broadly (with Spain and Italy up around 5%) as everyone anticipates something magical from Draghi next week. Macro data is a disaster. Micro (earnings) data is far worse then expected. Italy remains government-less. The money (Merkel) faces problems at home. The Buba is strongly critical of the ECB and OMT/ESM plans. But apart from that, stocks ended near multi-year highs. The EUR closed down modestly on the week. European sovereign bonds are perhaps the canary in the coalmine here - as they have been smashed to near record low yields, the last 3 days have seen spreads leaking back wider (even as stocks continue to surge).
As Forewarned, The Irish Savers Have Just Been "Cyprus'd", And There's MUCH MORE "Cyprusing" To ComeSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 04/23/2013 07:57 -0400
This is the beginning of War and those on the losing side don't even realize they're in battle. Remember, Merkel has already declared the EU to give up sovereign authority for the greater good, the United Germanic Republic of Europe! This is how she will do it.
Europe's 'Dow', the EuroStoxx 50, has suffered the biggest 4-day rout in 10 months as the broad Bloomberg 500 index plunged by the most in five months today amid terrible consumer, car registration, and economic collapse on the continent. DAX is at 4-month slows. Despite the bloodbath in European stocks, the ever-efficient European bond market (free to trade and totally un-manipulated) is now around unchanged on the week (while stocks are down 3-4%). European financials are leading the drop but it is broad-based. EURUSD also rolled back over nearing its biggest drop in 9 months. Swiss 2Y at 3 month lows. Bunds bid. European VIX surged to 5 week highs over 23%.
The debate about the usefulness of sovereign credit default swaps (SCDS) intensified with the outbreak of sovereign debt stress in the euro area. SCDS can be used to protect investors against losses on sovereign debt arising from so-called credit events such as default or debt restructuring. With the growing influence of SCDS, questions arose about whether speculative use of SCDS contracts could be destabilizing - and this caused regulators to ban non-hedge-related protection buying. The prohibition is based on the view that, in extreme market conditions, such short selling could push sovereign bond prices into a downward spiral, which would lead to disorderly markets and systemic risks, and hence sharply raise the issuance costs of the underlying sovereigns. The IMF's empirical results do not support many of the negative perceptions about SCDS. In particular, spreads of both SCDS and sovereign bonds reflect economic fundamentals, and other relevant market factors, in a similar fashion. Relative to bond spreads, SCDS spreads tend to reveal new information more rapidly during periods of stress, admittedly with overshoots one way or the other. Given the current apparent 'stability' in many nations' bond market spreads, the chart below suggests an alternative way of judging what the credit market thinks - the volume of protection bid - and in this case some interesting names emerge.
European bank stocks are officially in bear market territory, now down over 22% from their highs with today's drop closing the index at seven month lows. Financial stocks have played catch down to credit's early warning weakness but still have more room to run. The correlation between financials and sovereigns has been notably broken down in the last few weeks - as it seems an external funding source has saved European sovereign debt (perhaps one that just wants to get away from its vicious cycle-like devaluation and diversify into anything non-JPY-denominated). On the day, Portugal blew wider at the open (+22bps) only to be magnificently bid back to unchanged by the invisible hand. Spain and Italy drifted slightly tighter on the day. Stocks were similarly low range today. Swiss 2Y closed at 3-month lows as EURUSD retraced back from its highs to close practically unchanged from Friday at 1.3000.