China Bailing Out Europe (Again)? Don't Make The Head Of Greater China Research At Standard Chartered Bank LaughSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/16/2011 - 14:00
With the G20 meeting in Paris such an epic dud there is nothing even the permaspin media can write about (there was no news of a bailout. Nothing), it is time for some paywalled publications to recycle the gibberish about China bailing out Europe all over again. Sorry, it's too late. Courtesy of last week we now know that China is much more focused on bailing out its own largely underwater banking system (first facts, then analysis), than worrying about buying the 17th Community Bank of Thessaloniki. Yet we can keep repeating this so very simple fact until we are blue in the face. So we will leave it Stephen Green, head of Greater China research at Standard Chartered Bank.
Michael Lewis' latest compilation of Vanity Fair articles into book format, Boomerang, is the usual entertaining romp around those back and front waters of the world that are currently on the verge of bankruptcy: from Greece, to Ireland, to Germany and, of course, to California. The premise at its core is an interview that the former Salomon bond salesman had with investing wunderkind Kyle Bass several years back which inspired to him to ask what it is that the Texan saw three years ago that so few others, due to a permafrosty cognitive bias or what have you, could (i.e., that the world is bankrupt and getting much worse). Oh, did we say wunderkind? We meant billionaire. Because unlike that other "anti-Midas" who only piggybacked on the good ideas, while blowing up LPs when left to his own non-Goldman Sachs facilitated devices, Bass actually could always see the big picture for what it is. So courtesy of Lewis' latest book, here are three pieces of advice from Bass to people everywhere, which will surely bring the fanatically jealous anti-gold crew to accusations that Bass made his billions from buying and reselling tinfoil hats.
We won't spend too much time to dwell on the following pamphlet of sheer "buy, buy, buy" desperation from Barclays' Sandeep Bordia, suffice it to say that we now know which would be the first European blue light special "rescuer" of Lehman to go under courtesy of a massively wrong bet on PrimeX should the "illiquid" market continue to flounder. Which it will. We will add, however, that it would be damn poetic, not to mention hilarious, if while long and wrong bets on Subprime is what detonated Lehman, then being John Holmes'd in Prime is what leads to Barclays' bankruptcy (and we do already know that Barc is the bank with the second largest capital shortfall in Europe courtesy of that other bank which hopes to pick up the pieces upon blue's implosion, Credit Suisse). It would appear that the vultures are already circling... And where the vultures are, the squid can't be far behind.
Europe is far too reliant on Germany and the other ‘strong’ countries for the various individual nations to be able to take care of their own problems - particularly if any localized bank recapitalizations are to be in addition to the already pledged EFSF contributions by each nation (left). What is far more likely is some kind of ‘bazooka’ or ‘shock & awe’ (to use two tired cliches) approach using the newly-approved EFSF. If France had to recapitalize BNP and Soc Gen to the tune of €11 billion in addition to its €158 billion stake in the EFSF (as is widely suspected), it could well kiss goodbye to its AAA rating now that the ratings agencies seem to have finally found religion (Italy & Spain saw downgrades this week) and that, for a country currently running a debt-to-GDP ratio of 84%, would NOT be a good thing. Whether a ‘station-to-station’ plan is in the works or not, it will rely on a nice, orderly procession from one country to the next and I think it has been made abundantly clear over the last year that Europe DOESN’T do ‘orderly’. There is absolutely no way that the Eurocrats can stop the markets turning their collective eyes towards the next domino in the line at every point in the process. As they struggle to ‘fix’ the Greek situation, the markets have already done it for them and Greek 1-year bonds now yield 166%. Job done. Next up? Whether the architects of a solution are ready for it or not, it’s Spain and Italy... and France.
With the near record melt up in stocks last week already history, vacuum tubes are already eagerly awaiting the next week of wild and crazy momentum swings in which earnings season comes with a bang as 100 of the S&P 500 companies, or 33% of the total market cap, reports earnings. And even with lowered earnings expectations, hence the upcoming beats, the trailing 4 quarters of S&P 500 earnings which are now expected to come at $94, will represent a new all time high, over the $91.47 record set in Q2 2007, and well above the $90.91 LFQ posted last quarter. As Goldman notes, "To remain below the previous peak, earnings would have to miss current bottom-up consensus expectations by 10%, which would represent a significant shortfall." As for what Goldman, or specifically what its clients expect, here is the rundown: "Conversations this week focused on the 3Q earnings season as investors look to use this earnings season to benchmark company performance in light of the uncertain macro environment. Solid micro data from earnings results could represent a stabilizing force in a market where volatility had been extremely elevated. Better-than-expected or in-line results would indicate firms can continue to produce strong profit growth despite weaker economic data, matching the pattern in both 1Q and 2Q 2011. However, high correlation will act as a market headwind if earnings disappoint. Average 3-month stock correlation for S&P 500 stocks rose significantly in August to nearly 0.75 and remains near record-high levels." However, so far earnings have been more or less a dud, with the exception of Google: "This week AA reported earnings below consensus estimates on higher costs and slowing European demand. SWY beat EPS estimates despite margin pressure. JPM results were largely in line with expectations after excluding one-time items." Well, no, absent the "benefit" of JPM effectively buying CDS on itself, it would have missed consensus by 20%. Expect the same gimmick to be used by all other financials.
Not saying anything, but wink wink nudge nudge. Because you know when dealers need to hedge massive cash exposure in suddenly mispriced commercial real estate (oh, look, it's a Chinese fighter jet, it's the stock price of Morgan Stanley, it's a REIT) the one place they all go to next is... And there is nothing like some concerted selling in a brand spanking new product in which the entire dealer community is long.
The Biggest Market Headfake Ever: Is A Wholesale French Bank Liquidity Run The Sole Reason For The Euro, And S&P, Surge?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/15/2011 - 17:19
Over the past two weeks, there is one simple thing that has been bugging skeptical macro observers: namely the paradox of i) just how ugly the European funding and liquidity situations have gotten, on the one hand, confirmed by the blow out in French bond yields (the French-Bund 10 year spread just hit an all time record yesterday) as well as continuing deterioration in credit spreads across core European nations, yet, on the other, ii) the euro, especially in that critical pair the EURUSD, has seen one of its most explosive rises in recent history, which as Zero Hedge pointed out yesterday, has totally decorrelated with the French-Bund spread, to which it had been firmly 'pegged' previously. As a result of ii), equity markets have surged due to legacy correlation arbs, which see Euro strength, and hence dollar weakness, as an empirical signal of equity "cheapness", which in turn leads all algos to treat a rise in the EURUSD as a buying signal. So how is it that even with the interbank liquidity situation in Europe frozen and getting worse, further keeping in mind that European banks are now expected to (or have already commenced - see yesterday's move in PrimeX) engage in widespread asset liquidations, that broad market risk is perceived as cheap? Simple. As the following note by Deutsche Bank's Alan Ruskin explains, the sole reason for the EUR (and hence S&P and global 100% correlated equity risk) surge in the past 9 days is not driven by any latent "optimism" that Europe will fix itself, but simply due to the previously discussed wholesale asset liquidations (as none other than the FT already noted), which on the margin are explicitly EUR positive due to FX repatriation, courtesy of the post-sale conversion of USDs to EURs. Which means that the ever so gullible equity market has just experienced one of the biggest headfakes in history, and has misinterpreted a pervasive European, though mostly French, scramble to procure liquidity at any cost by dumping various USD-denominated assets, as a risk on signal!
When it comes to economics, our ridicule of the underpinnings of the dismal voodoo science are well known. Only Ivy league professors can profess to predict the future based on special case equations that isolate a system in vacuum, completely oblivious of the fact that nothing in the world is linear and if anything, a system based on Lorenz attractors and Mandelbrott theory would be far better suited to demonstrate that as far as predicting the future is concerned, it is nothing short of an exercise in futility. That said, we do appreciate the work of those economists who are first to admit not only their own limitations but the limits of the art, not science, that they engage in. Chief among them is Australian Steve Keen, whose work and analysis we always enjoy. For those unfamiliar with Keen, we have attached the following just released interview with Ross Ashcroft of The Renegade Economist in which he deconstructs the failings of contemporary interpretations of Keynesianism (in essence the usurpation of theory by those in power to perpetuate their own greedy practical pursuits), and exposes the core of neoclassical economics that guide every day macroeconomics for the sham it is: "fundamentally neoclassical economists are the priests of Capitalism, but the priests don't necessarily know there is god. They have this model of god and ditto with neoclassical economics: they have a model of capitalism which is almost but not quite, completely unlike actual capitalism. And they don't even realize that they have erected a smokescreen behind which if people want to rip the system off, then there is plenty of avenues created by these guys." Just a thought, but perhaps it is time for #OccupyWallStreet to pay a visit and #OccupyNYUEconomicsDepartment...
As talk about an actual restructuring of Greek debt increases, the EU continues to think avoiding a CDS Credit Event is a good thing. More and more stories and leaks indicate that a real restructuring of Greek debt is on the table, with write-offs of as much as 50%. Whether it will be real, permanent reductions in principle this time, or some other form of principle protected rollover with a subjective NPV calculation like the 21% haircut, remains to be seen. In any case, the EU continues to head down the path of bending over backwards to avoid trigger a CDS Credit Event. They are wrong to be avoiding a Credit Event on the Hellenic Republic. If they are really pushing for a true restructuring where banks and insurance companies are for all intents and purposes forced to accept a big haircut, they should want to trigger a CDS Credit Event. They are allegedly avoiding a credit event because it “could unleash a cascade of losses” according to a bloomberg article. That just makes no sense. It also seems that pride plays a role as the EU doesn’t want to be impacted by the stigma of a default – a 50% write-off is even, but they don’t want to be called defaulters. That is plain silly. They also seem to want to punish speculators, and this is where they really have it wrong, not only are few hedge funds short Greece via CDS at this time, the problems this creates for bank risk management desks is big and will have long term negative consequences for sovereign debt demand.
Two months ago we suggested that as part of the transition of austerity's center from Greece to Rome, we would soon see the launch of "The Piazza Navona Strike Cam." Close enough: as of this afternoon local time, Rome is literally burning, as expected yesterday when we covered the most recent events in Milan. From the Telegraph: "Demonstrators in Rome set fire to two cars and broke shop windows during a protest in the Italian capital, as activists organised a series of rallies in 82 countries. Inspired by the Occupy Wall St movement and Spain's "Indignants", demonstrators from Asia to Europe took to the streets. Riot police in Rome charged hundreds of protesters and fired water cannons, while a group of activists set alight a defence ministry annex nearby. Flames could be seen coming out of the roof and windows of the building on Via Labicana as firefighters struggled to tame the blaze. Dozens of masked protesters could be seen in the area, which had not been cordoned off. The violence was said to be caused by hooded militants known as "black blocks," who have infiltrated demonstrations in the past. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Television images showed one of the cars in flames and spewing thick black smoke over the route of the demonstration, which was otherwise peaceful." Whether due to a subversive group, or representative or broader pent up anger, increasingly more people are waking up to the fact that the current system does not work and needs a reset. Alas, for the "resistance movement" to be truly effective, things will have to deteriorate far more, and the welfare state structure will have to be truly on its last breath. As long as the status quo can dangle promises of (completely insolvent) pension benefits and retirmenet plans to the 99%, all of "this" is mostly for show.
Through the ages, nations and cultures of spectacular proportion and prominence have risen to prosperity, and fallen to chaos, on very particular and fundamental principles. In some cases, these great and terrible declines have taken centuries to culminate (as was the story of the Roman Empire), and only a few years in others (the Soviet Union comes to mind). In every example of societal destabilization, however, there were many signs of danger long before the final plunge; some unique to each particular culture, and some common to all. One of the most enduring and frightening similarities between crumbling nations is an overwhelming belief amongst the people that they have somehow “advanced” beyond the need for concern. Each self-destructing society presumed itself invincible. Each country thought itself the pinnacle of human potential, only to discover yet again that in abandoning or subverting the principles of freedom, and the bedrock pillars of conscience, reason, and wisdom, they had become merely another footnote in a long marathon of footnotes. Ultimately, the vast and sordid history of collapse could be summarized simply as a series of breaking points; moments at which opposing ideals and forces hyperextend the prevailing mechanics of a system, changing it entirely.
A few weeks ago we discussed the growth of the "virtual" economy. The argument was that metal consumption (in particular copper and zinc) grew in accordance with global GDP until the mid '70's, after which metal consumption grew markedly more slowly than did global GDP. Our thesis was that global GDP (the "official" economy) has at least partially increased by management of perceptions and addition of a lot of economic "activity" which does not increase wealth. It has troubled me in the past that I could file lawsuits against present and past associates, who in turn might file suits against me. In the very best scenario all that would happen is a redistribution of existing wealth, yet all the legal fees would be additive to GDP. Yet no wealth would be created (except from the lawyers' perspective) and a great deal would be lost. It has always seemed to me that economic activity of this type forms a component of GDP the magnitude of which is unknown. A reader questioned whether the reduction in growth of consumption of these metals could be due to their replacement by less expensive alternatives. Although I believe that there may be a slight effect, as seen in relative increases in aluminum and stainless steel--I discount most of this because copper, for many of its applications, is very difficult to replace. It is why the price of Dr. Copper is thought to be such a good leading indicator for the economy.
It is probably not too surprising that the negative news of the day, namely that the US has decided against expanding the IMF and thus leaving the European bailout to the Europeans (at least for now), was released quietly long after happy hour started on Friday. Yet that is precisely what happened after Reuters dropped a Friday night bomb that with hours before a communique is issued by the G20 in Paris, contrary to previous rumors and representation "U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his Canadian and Australian counterparts poured cold water on the idea" of injecting $350 billion into the International Monetary Fund. As a reminder, the IMF expansion myth was one of the latest rumors floated today by none other than the tag team of Geithner and Liesman. It lasted less than24 hours but it served its purpose. The full on media onslaught of never ending lies has never been more acute, more relentless, and more blatant: with every central bank and trade surplussed nation all in, the very nature of the global ponzi is at risk.