While everyone was busy ruminating on how little impact a Greek default would have on the global economy, the IIF - the syndicate of banks dedicated to the perpetuation of the status quo - was busy doing precisely the opposite. In a Confidential Staff Note that was making the rounds in the past 2 weeks titled "Implications of a Disorderly Greek Default and Euro Exit" the IIF was doing its best Hank Paulson imitation in an attempt to scare the Bejeezus out of potential hold outs everywhere, by "quantifying" the impact form a Greek failure. The end result: "It is difficult to add all these contingent liabilities up with any degree of precision, although it is hard to see how they would not exceed €1 trillion." In other words, hold out at your own peril. Of course, what the IIF does not understand, is that for hedge funds it is precisely this kind of systemic nuisance value that makes holding out that much more valuable, as they understand all too well that they have all the cards on the table. And while a Greek default could be delayed even if full PSI was not attained by Thursday, it would simply make paying off the holdouts the cheapest cost strategy for the IIF, for Europe and for the world's banks. Unless of course, the IIF is bluffing, in which case the memorandum is not worth its weight in 2020 US Treasurys.
European equity indices are exhibiting signs of risk averse behaviour, with financials and basic materials performing particularly poorly. This follows weekend reports from ECB sources that the central bank does not believe voluntary participation in the Greek debt swap deal will be sufficient, and the CACs will have to be invoked. Markets are also reacting to the weekend press from Germany, claiming the Troika believe Greece will require a third bailout of around EUR 50bln by 2020, however these reports were denied by a German spokesman earlier in the session. European Services PMI data released earlier in the session fell below expectations, compounding the already cautious market behaviour. European Banks have parked a fresh record EUR 820bln with the ECB overnight, showing further evidence that the LTRO has loosened liquidity constrictions in the continent. Commodities are making losses ahead of the North American open following overnight news that China have made a downward revision to their GDP target for 2012. Spot gold is trading down around 0.9% and WTI and Brent crude futures have been making a loss for most of the session so far, however oil has made positive movements in recent trade. These negative movements in commodities are also weighing down upon the commodity-linked currencies, with AUD particularly making losses on the session.
Banking privacy is dead. Completely, totally dead. Murdered, really. The US government is the assailant, and FATCA is the murder weapon. We’ve talked about this a few times before– FATCA is the heinously insidiously piece of legislation that the Honorable Barrack Hussein Obama passed into law in 2010 as part of the “Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act”. There were no hiring incentives, and there was no restoration of employment. But any vestiges of banking privacy were destroyed. In brief, FATCA has two key concepts. First, it requires an additional (and completely unnecessary) layer of reporting from all US taxpayers who have ‘foreign financial accounts’ at ‘foreign financial institutions.’ Though as we have discussed before, both of these critical terms are ridiculously and flagrantly ambiguous, putting the onus entirely on the taxpayer. The second key issue is that FATCA puts a burden on ALL foreign financial institutions worldwide to enter into an information-sharing agreement with the IRS; this essentially obliges every bank on the planet to submit reports and customers’ private data to the IRS. Such provisions are absolutely, 100% impossible. And it’s becoming clear that FATCA was passed with no intention of being enforceable. It’s inconceivable that every institution on the planet could enter into an agreement. And it’s inconceivable that every institution on the planet could possibly know whether every other institution has entered into the agreement. The only thing FATCA has accomplished is scaring the living daylights out of non-US banks. So much so that foreign banks have approached their governments to ask for help.
Crude oil spiked to nine-month high primarily on investors fear of potential conflict over the escalating tensions between the US, Europe, Israel, and Iran. Right now, it seems Iran could be the one blinks first (war or peace).
Moody's Downgrades Italy, Spain, Portugal And Others; Puts UK, France On Outlook Negative - Full StatementSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/13/2012 19:00 -0400
You know there is a reason why Europe just came crawling with an advance handout looking for US assistance: Moody's just went apeshit on Europe.
- Austria: outlook on Aaa rating changed to negative
- France: outlook on Aaa rating changed to negative
- Italy: downgraded to A3 from A2, negative outlook
- Malta: downgraded to A3 from A2, negative outlook
- Portugal: downgraded to Ba3 from Ba2, negative outlook
- Slovakia: downgraded to A2 from A1, negative outlook
- Slovenia: downgraded to A2 from A1, negative outlook
- Spain: downgraded to A3 from A1, negative outlook
- United Kingdom: outlook on Aaa rating changed to negative
In other news, we wouldn't want to be the company that insured Moody's Milan offices.
Everything you always wanted to know about LTRO but were afraid to read.
Back on December 30, we noted that a little known name in the US, but very well known in Europe, PetroPlus is having significant solvency issues as banks froze a $1 billion revolver. Less than a month later the situation has proceeded to the next evolutionary step, as Europe's largest refiner by capacity has announced it will file for bankruptcy protection. And while operations should not be impacted, the fact that this comes just as Europe imposes an oil embargo on Iran, virtually guarantees that the continent's gasoline prices, already among the highest in the world are likely to set off even higher, paradoxically even as end-market demand is at lows. The bankruptcy will also guarantee that European initial jobless claims will plunge, especially if the BLS opens a Brussels office and applies its own very unique brand of "logic" to Europe.
Yesterday, Reuters' blogger Felix Salmon in a well-written if somewhat verbose essay, makes the argument that "Greece has the upper hand" in its ongoing negotiations with the ad hoc and official group of creditors. It would be a great analysis if it wasn't for one minor detail. It is wrong. And while that in itself is hardly newsworthy, the fact that, as usual, its conclusion is built upon others' primary research and analysis, including that of the Wall Street Journal, merely reinforces the fact that there is little understanding in the mainstream media of what is actually going on behind the scenes in the Greek negotiations, and thus a comprehension of how prepack (for now) bankruptcy processes operate. Furthermore, since the Greek "case study" will have dramatic implications for not only other instances of sovereign default, many of which are already lining up especially in Europe, but for the sovereign bond market in general, this may be a good time to explain why not only does Greece not have the upper hand, but why an adverse outcome from the 11th hour discussions between the IIF, the ad hoc creditors, Greece, and the Troika, would have monumental consequences for the entire bond market in general.
As the buy-the-ratings-downgrade-news surge on European sovereigns stalls (following a few weeks of sell-the-rumor on France for example), the ever-ready-to-comment mainstream media remains convinced that the impact is priced in and that ratings agencies are increasingly irrelevant. UBS disagrees. In a note today from their global macro team, they recognize that while the downgrades were hardly a surprise to anyone (with size of downgrade the only real unknown), the effect on 'AAA-only' constrained portfolios is important (no matter how hard politicians try to change the rules) but of more concern is the political impact as the divergence between France's rating (and outlook) and Germany (and UK perhaps) highlights harsh economic realities and increases (as EFSF spreads widen further) the bargaining power of Germany in the economic councils of Europe. Furthermore, the potential for closer relationships with the UK (still AAA-rated) increase as the number of AAA EU nations within the Euro only just trumps the number outside of the single currency. This may be one of those rare occasions where politics is more important than economics.
Secret Iran Gold Holdings Leaked: Tehran Holds Same Amount Of Gold As United Kingdom, And Is Buying MoreSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/20/2011 20:41 -0400
While it will not come as a major surprise to most, according to senior BOE individuals and Wikileaks, Iran, as well as Qatar and Jordan have been actively purchasing gold well over the amount reported to and by the IMF, in an accelerated attempt to diversify their holdings away from the US dollar. "Iran has bought large amounts of gold in the international market, according to a senior Bank of England official, in a sign of how growing political pressure has driven Tehran to reduce its exposure to the US dollar. Andrew Bailey, head of banking at the Bank of England, told an American official that the central bank had observed “significant moves by Iran to purchase gold”, according to a US diplomatic cable obtained by WikiLeaks and seen by the Financial Times." The reason for Tehran's scramble into gold: "an attempt by Iran to protect its reserves from risk of seizure”. The misrepresentation of Iran's holdings could be so vast that Iran could possibly be one of the largest holders of goldin the world. "Market observers believe Tehran has been one of the biggest buyers of bullion over the past decade after China, Russia and India, and is among the 20 largest holders of gold reserves... with an alleged 300 tons, big enough to challenge the UK at 310 tons, and more than Spain! " As a reminder according to the WGC, Iran is not even disclosed as an official holder of gold. Also, Iran is not the only one: "Cables obtained by WikiLeaks cite Jordan’s prime minister as saying the central bank was “instructed to increase its holdings” of gold, and a Qatar Investment Authority official as saying the QIA was interested in buying gold and silver." Which means that there is far more marginal demand by countries supposedly friendly to the dollar, as many more than previously expected are actively dumping linen and buying bullion. What all this means for the future price of gold, especially with geopolitical tension in the region, and QE3 imminent, is rather self-evident.
Moody's Absolutely Does Not Fail to Issue Timely Non-Downgrade Downgrade on United States and United Kingdom DebtSubmitted by Marla Singer on 12/08/2009 05:22 -0400
The passage of time, in addition to being subject to dilation through the effects of e.g., relative velocity, also suffers numerous perceptual contortions depending on the observer's particular state of mind. For the purposes of day to day affairs, most humans not at relative velocities to their immediate surroundings that reach a significant fraction of the speed of light, would find these subjective changes normally accounting for the largest perceived deltas in the passage of time ("a watched pot never boils, etc.") Of course, as with most of the laws of nature, the regina scientiarum and, if you believe their analysts, even the laws of thermodynamics, when it comes to the ratings agencies, all bets are off and mere humans unable to shift their perceptions into rates more in line with geologic observations will be doomed to frustration and folly. So it is this morning with Moody's, which has, ever so subtly, maybe warned of what might someday develop into conditions that, in exactly the right environment, could potentially result in a downgrade for the Aaa rated United States and the United Kingdom... maybe sometime around 2013 or so, maybe. (Proving once and for all that Moody's finally fired analysts John Cusack and Amanda Peet).