The biggest (non) news of the day was Oliver Wyman ("OW") conducting an "independent" audit of the Spanish banking system to validate the previously disclosed funding needs of Spain's banks which were announced back in June (just a week after Mariano Rajoy "insisted" no bank bailouts are needed). What OW really did was exercise 1 in a financial analyst's playbook: to goal seek a number in excel using a variety of input variables, especially several fudge factors that are tangential to the matter at hand, yet which provide the biggest bang for the buck. In this case the target of the goalseeking exercise was to get a final headline number for bank capital needs to be just as expected, or €60 billion. Sure enough it the number was €59.3 billion, just a little bit less than consensus. This is the total number of cash the bank system will need in order to be considered viable, and unless something has changed drastically, the cash will come from new debt issued by Spain, which in turn funds its bank bailout fund, the FROB (a process explained here). While it is a given that several months from now we will go through this whole entire exercise to find out how much more cash Spain's banks will need, for now what is curious is to understand what the fudge factor was that OW abused to allow it to get the desired result. That fudge factor is what is known as "excess capital buffer", whose usage in the model to plug a major capital shortfall gap is non-sensical and shows that the real funding needs of Spain's banks will be far greater, even absent future deterioration.
Spanish stress test results are out. Surprise - Oliver Wyman's audit finds that Spanish banks have an approximate EUR60bn shortfall - as expected - see below for pass/fails.
- *SPAIN SAYS 7 BANKS HAVE NO CAPITAL NEEDS :SAN SM, BBVA SM
- *SPAIN STRESS TESTS SHOW CAPITAL SHORTFALL OF EU59.3 BLN :SAN SM
- *SPAIN BANKS HAVE EU53.7 B CAPITAL SHORTFALL AFTER TAX IMPACT
- *BANKIA STRESS TEST SHORTFALL AFTER TAX EFFECT IS EU24.74 BLN
- *SANTANDER, BBVA, CAIXABANK, KUTXA PASS STRESS TEST :SAN SM
- *SABADELL, BANKINTER, UNICAJA PASS STRESS TEST :SAN SM, BBVA SM
The discrete needs are: Bankia: 24.7; Catalunya Caixa: 10.8; Novagalicia 7.2; Banco de Valencia: 3.5; Banco Popular 3.2; Banco Mare Nostrum: 2.2
Bizarrely, and even after slapping my screens several times to make sure things were working, real opening levels in EGBs very quite simply FLAT. All flat! Haven’t seen that in ages!
Had to slap my screens again tonight, given the tons of “unchanged” data in EGBs. Have decorrelated from equities, as has the USD (closing about unchanged).
A picture paints a thousand words but in the case of the world of college education (and its surrounding income, unemployment, debt burden, and pricing implications), we decided 19 charts was the simplest way to explain the path to debt servitude that an increasing share of the US population is taking - despite record delinquencies, falling real incomes for graduates, stagnant graduate employment, and rising college costs. As BofAML notes, the cost of higher education has continued to climb, fueled by debt and government aid. Over the past twenty years, tuition growth exceeded the average rate of inflation by nearly 3% annually, while both grant aid and Federal loans per full-time undergraduate exceeded by about 5% annually. This trend is not sustainable, in our view. The challenging labor market, which has left the youth population underemployed and underpaid, has put the spotlight on the burden of student debt. We expect a correction in the price of tuition and reduction in debt. There will likely be lasting effects on the economy from the high cost of education and large debt burden. Graduating during a recession leads to permanently lower earnings growth, making it that much harder to service the debt burden.
We, just like everyone else, have grown quite tired of all phrases containing some variant of "Pain in Spain." Which is why instead we are focusing on its Misery. As in Misery Index, defined as the combination of inflation and unemployment. Following today's announcement of a surge in Spanish inflation which soared from 2.7% to 3.5%, trouncing expectations of a modest rise to 2.8%, it is clear to see that the Misery in Spain has never been higher.
Those confused by yesterday's rapid move higher in stocks, which fizzled by day's end, which was catalyzed by the non-event of the Spanish budget declaration which will prove to be a major disappointment as all such announcement are fated to be, can take solace in the following summary by DB's Jim Reid: "Yesterday's risk rally on the back of the 2013 budget announcement coincided with a trend seen over the last couple of years of rallies into month and quarter ends. We'll probably get a clearer picture of underlying sentiment by early next week with the new quarter starting, especially as it commences with a bang with the Global PMI numbers on Monday." In this vein, tonight's overnight sentiment showing weakness confirms yesterday's move was one which merely used Spain as a buying catalyst without reading anything into it. Because an even cursory read through shows major cracks. Sure enough the sellside readthroughs appeared this morning: "In our view the Spanish 2013 budget is based on a too optimistic GDP growth assumption" from Citi. Once again, the market shot first, and asks questions later, as the weakness in the futures confirms, EURUSD retracing all overnight gains, and Spain now 1.6% lower on this, as well as uncertainty of today's latest non-event - the local bank stress test vers 304.2b - whose results will be announce at noon NY time, and which just may find Bankia (and its Spiderman towel collection) is quite solvent once again.
In the midst of the Great Depression, Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon famously advised President Hoover to “liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate” instead of propping each industry up with tax dollars. This liquidation doctrine would “purge the rottenness out of the system” and make certain that “people will work harder” and “live a more moral life.” Contrary to popular belief, Hoover did not take Mellon’s advice and went forth with his own version of the New Deal that gave relief to farmers and supported wage rates in certain industries. These efforts, which were exacerbated under the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt, effectively prevented the market from clearing. The boom of the late 1920s that was driven by the Federal Reserve’s monetary inflation was not allowed to bust. Instead of liquidating the debt and allowing the economy to reach a sound footing, both the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations attempted to manage it back to health. The result was the longest period of unemployment ever recorded in American history.
The recent release of the final estimate of Q2 GDP, and the September's Durable Goods Report, confirmed that indeed the economy was far weaker than the headline releases, and media spin, suggested. While the media quickly glossed over the surface of the report there were very important underlying variables that tell us much about the economy ahead. The problem is that there is little historical precedent in the U.S. as to whether maintaining ultra-low interest rate policies, and inducing liquidity, during a balance sheet deleveraging cycle, actually leads to an economic recovery. This is particularly troublesome when looking at a large portion of the population rapidly heading towards retirement whom will become net drawers versus net contributors to the economic system. The important point for investors, who have a limited amount of time to plan and save for retirement, is that "hope" and "getting back to even" are not successful investment strategies.
"Hoover-esque. Spain's has unemployment near 25% and yet the govt is proposing tax increases and a raiding of social security funds in an effort to rein-in its budget deficit. (The deficit was 4.77% for the first 8 months.) The rub is whether Spain will be able to cut enough to obtain EU support (probably) and whether there will be an eventual haircut for current debtholders (probably). Catalonia, Valencia and other regions will probably need $20B of aid, the sen. debtholders of the weak banks will be forced to take losses, and there might be some sharing of losses among all banks. An estimated decline in GDP of 1.7% (per the Economy Ministry), the IIF's recent estimate of addl bank loan losses up to EUR260B, and depositor flight hurt. From 2008 to 2011, Spain's debt jumped from EUR436B to EUR735B while its GDP declined from EUR1.09T to EUR1.07T."
So who will be buying Spanish bonds? Apparently no one but the ECB. And the ECB will only do this if Spain agrees to austerity measures… which Spain doesn’t want. Talk about a mess.
In absence of really negative news, outside the heavier macro / sentiment data, the lukewarm Italian auction and US data, markets remained on a slight tentative rebound.
Will need to await further details and overnight analysis of the Spanish budget. Lots of reforms...
Hmm, and in how much time can all that be passed - if at all???
From Albert Edwards: "In 2005 when Alan Greenspan was being hailed as a “maestro” I wrote that his policies would ruin the world and history would judge him to be “an economic war criminal”. I now think Ben Bernanke’s policies will prove even more ruinous than Sir Alan’s (yes unbelievably he still retains his honorary knighthood). Hence we are lowering our equity weighting to 30%, the minimum possible. The last time I did this was 8 May 2008.... I'm reading some insanely stupid stuff at the moment. Okay, I know some of my writing is pretty insane, but when I read direct quotes and commentary about Bernanke's policy of driving up asset prices in general and equity prices in particular, I almost want to cry over the ludicrousness of this position. The Fed is pursuing the same road to ruin as it did between 2003-2007. I'm becoming more and more convinced that, Gloom, Boom, & Doom's Marc Faber is right when he says that "the Fed will destroy the world."
After seeing its stock market tumbling to fresh 2009 lows, the PBOC decided it couldn't take it any more, and joined the Fed's QE3 and the BOJ's QE8 (RIP) in easing. Sort of. Because while the PBOC is prevented from outright easing as we have been saying for months now (even as "experts" screamed an RRR or outright rate cut is imminent every day while we warned that Chinese inflation has proven quite sticky especially in home prices and food and China's central bank will not attempt to push its stocks up as long as the situation persists, so for quite a while) it can inject liquidity on a ultra-short term basis using reverse repos (or what are called repos here in the US). And shortly after it was found that Chinese companies industrial profits fell 6.2% in August after tumbling 5.4% in July, we learned that the PBOC added a record 365 billion Yuan to the financial system in order to prevent a creeping lockup in the banking system. While this managed to push the Shanghai Composite by nearly 3% overnight, this injection will prove meaningless in even the medium-term as the liquidity is now internalized and the PBOC has no choice but to add ever more liquidity or face fresh post-2009 lows every single day. Which it won't as very soon it will seep over into the broader market. And as long as the threat of surging pork prices next year is there, and with a global bacon shortage already appearing, and food prices set to surge in a few short months on the delayed effects of the US drought, one thing is certain: China will need a rumor that someone- even Spain- is coming to its rescue.
Readers may know the Chicago Fed best for its president: arguably the greatest dove in the history of central banking, Charles Evans, for whom QEternity is so insufficient, it is just the beginning, and he is already looking forward to QEternity^infinity. In fact, just today he reiterated his support for QE3 for the second time since the program's announcement on Thursday the 13th (a day which will live in infamy), saying the recovery has so far been so "disappointing" (which at least means one can safely ignore all those pundits who claimed over the past 3 years the economy was growing, so roughly 99% of them) that the Fed should do even more. So far so good. But where it gets scary is that just today, the same Fed, which is so sure about the affirmative impact of its actions, asks "what are asset price bubbles" (answer: always and without fail the direct effect of ultra loose monetary policy combined with unleashed animal spirits, but what do we know: we have no Econ PhD), confirming it has no clue what the adverse consequences of monetary policy are. And this is the Fed - one which does not grasp the very simple nature of asset bubbles in a fiat world - that is saying Bernanke should print until he literally runs out of toner cartridge. Why whatever can possibly go wrong?
Evoking the dark days of 2009 - after a steep and bumpy slide