Illinois Seeks To Issue $8.75 Billion Bond To Pay Overdue Bills As Muni Issuance Market On Verge Of ShutdownSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/13/2011 - 13:54
While Illinois' desire to finally tackle its unsustainable fiscal situation is admirable, the process is starting to disclose some very stinky rot below the surface. On the heels of the recent hike in the corporate tax rate, today Bloomberg reports that governor Pat Quinn is asking lawmakers to authorize an $8.75 billion bond sale. The use of proceeds? To pay $6 billion in backlogged bills: read invoices that the state has been unable to pay so far due to what technically should be classified as a liquidity crunch, and non-technically as complete lack of cash. Luckily, entities that are owed money by the state at least have a chance to get paid. Earlier, state House of Representatives defeated a borrowing bill that was designed to
eliminate the pile of invoices that is at least five months old. The state's payment delinquency also includes pension funds: local underfunded pensions are owed almost $4 billion in payments by the state. In the meantime, Chicago CDS dropped on the news of the tax hike, declining from 28 bps to 300 yesterday, the lowest since December 9. Whether this means that the state will be able to find sufficiently stupid investors whose capital will go to nothing besides funding overdue invoices, is a totally separate matter however. Perhaps a good indication of the ravenous appetite for muni debt (in addition to the fresh 52 week low in virtually every single muni bond fund), is that the New Jersey agency has shrank the size of a proposed $1.2 billion refinancing offering by roughly 40% and hiked yields on the sale as it struggled to market bonds to investors on Thursday. As the secondary muni market is plunging, the primary market for issuance is on the verge of shutting down completely. Cue in QE3.
Today's $13 billion 30 year auction has priced on slightly worse terms than the last 30 year from December: the Bid To Cover came at 2.67, a decline from the prior 2.74, while the high yield printed at 4.515% (40.45% allotted at high), the highest since April 2010, compared to 4.41% in the last auction. The take down distribution was not notable, and unlike yesterday's 10 Year which saw that lowest PD take down on record, Primary Dealers bought just about half of the auction, or 49.9%, with 37.8% left for the Indirects, and 12.4% for the Directs. We are confident that just like all other recent auctions, the PDs will projctile vomit as much of this auction as they possibly can at the first opportunity, which incidentally is on January 20. Lastly, the bond priced wide of the When Issued, confirming that it could certainly have gone better.
History is littered with the carcasses of men that in their exaggerated hubris attempted to stop the forces of nature and the markets only to fall flat on their faces. We tell the stories of these men in history books and myths from prehistory, but it never stops men of successive generations from trying it all over again. What the current political class the world over (at the behest of Wall Street financial terrorists and other big corporate interests) are doing falls into the same exact formula of prior historical failures. Some of the historical figures that attempted to beat back nature were great warriors or kings that just reached too far. Some of them were evil megalomaniacs whose desire was nothing short of absolute power in their hands over any of the unfortunate human beings that happened to be in the way. Ben Bernanke is neither of these. He is a just a little dweeb with an electronic printing press. Tragically, because of modern technology and the way the monetary system works today he has the ability to cause more damage than any other one person in the history of mankind and he is doing it. I shudder to contemplate the ultimate effects of the inflationary holocaust he has unleashed on the six billion mesmerized and helpless souls present on earth at this time. The signs are starting to show up again just like in early 2008. Food is becoming scare at a “reasonable” price in many parts of the globe and the symptoms of this are starting to bubble up to the surface. For example in recent days we have witnessed food riots in Algeria and Tunisia where at least 14 people are reported to have died in each country. These types of events were easily predictable and have been predicted by people like me and many other whose views will never be seen in the mainstream media. Fortunately, the alternative media is taking over (which is why the Obama administration is certain to increase its crackdown on the internet) and people are becoming very informed and linked all over the world. The divide and conquer strategy that has worked so well for millennia will be much harder to pull off this time around.
The just reported death of three muni ETFs means that the ever creative developers of synthetic stock CDOs and other volatility indices have to think of even more creative ways to get retail to put their money into guaranteed profit products. Sure enough, the CME Group has just come up with one such product: the Gold Volatility Index Options (GVP) Contracts. From the press release: "Effective trade date Jan. 24, 2011, the Exchange will list a Gold Volatility Index (VIX) Options (GVP) contract for trading on CME Globex and for clearing through CME ClearPort. The Gold Volatility Index will be a 60-day forward looking index value on option implied volatility. Please note that fees will be waived through Jun. 30, 2011." Which means naturally that the CME is anticipating the ongoing spike in gold vol to persist. But if one were to listen to the ethically pristine gentlemen from the CFTC this morning, one would be left with the impression that there is no volatility in the gold space, and it is all in the eyes of the speculative beholders.
Who would have thought that all it takes for a proposed ETF to be pulled is a complete loss of faith in the underlying. Today, Vanguard has announced it has canceled plans for a short, intermediate and long-term muni ETFs. "We believe that this delay is prudent given the high level of volatility in the municipal bond market, which began in November 2010 and continues today," said John Woerth, spokesman for the Valley Forge, Pennsylvania-based firm. "This volatility could impede the funds' abilities to tightly track their respective benchmarks, deliver on the funds' objectives, and meet shareholders' expectations." Well, what if shareholders expectations were to short the ETFs? It would certainly meet that particular set of expectations.
The worst that might have happened - a systemic financial breakdown - did not happen, and we can be thankful for that. But the alternative has had costs that are only now becoming better appreciated. With constant bending of the rules, the only constant was that every bent rule favored the big banks, often uniquely so. With this special attention given to a favored few, the social mood darkened considerably among U.S. citizens, especially those far removed from the beneficial impacts of the Fed's largesse. Where states are struggling with extremely painful budget deficits measured in the single billions (in most cases), the Fed has been busy printing up and handing out some $75 billion per month to its coziest clients. While millions of people ran out of extended unemployment benefits and lost houses due to completely fraudulent and illegal banking practices, nothing was ultimately fixed and (seemingly) nobody went to jail or was charged with anything. Small, regional banks without access to unlimited and essentially free capital from the Fed are now forced to compete with big national banks that have been granted an unlimited backstop by the Fed. This is how too big to fail leads to too small to succeed.
Today's POMO closed, with Frost Sack playing the F-E-D chime and not only buying up $8.412 billion in bonds, but paying Primary Dealers about $50 million in commissions. Not a bad deal for 45 minutes worth of work. We have already discussed that issue extensively and at this point it is up to Congress to deal with it. And while they are at it, perhaps they can also address the flipping churn of recent issuance that is just getting ridiculous. As the chart below shows, of the $8.4 billion in bonds, a whopping $3.8 billion was represented by just one issue: the 2.750s of 12/31/2017. This is the bond that was issued two short weeks ago, on December 29, 2010. Nobody even pretends not to be throwing the Treasury's feces right back at Ben Bernanke. And if the PDs can pocket billions in the process courtesy of a bunch of NYU students, and an "algorithm" running the whole process (in the absence of Bloombergs), so be it. It is not like anyone will ever make a fuss. After all the US is now just one Mutually Assured Destruction threat away from a complete and total dictatorship.
Not all the leaders who rise to the top during crises have to be supportive of the democratic system. Both Mussolini and Hitler were elected first, and there is a risk of a tyrant with a simple goal-oriented solution will be the choice of desperate voters. Crises are risky. The Western democracies are drifting dangerously close to economic disaster, but the political rhetoric both in the United States and in Western Europe has completely avoided the underlying causes and possible solutions to these problems. Five of the ten largest states in the US are teetering toward bankruptcy and the financial position of the federal government is deteriorating fast, but no leadership is apparent — and the voters are unaware. In Europe the Latvian, Irish, and Icelandic examples are ignored even though they point the way to deprivation and strife. Governments will fall in Europe. The Irish one will on March 23 and the Portuguese will later this spring. The winners will be the ones that make the necessary changes — if they don't, they will be quickly gone. We need real leaders now!
The simmering situation in Ireland may soon be coming to a boil once again. The Irish Times reports that "speculation is growing in Leinster House that a motion of no confidence against Mr Cowen may be tabled by backbenchers at a crunch Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting this afternoon. [His] position is looking increasingly under threat following further revelations about his contacts with Anglo Irish Bank officials in the lead-up to the controversial bank guarantee in September 2008." Not surprisingly, this is the same bank that we wrote about in October, spotting one Goldman Sachs among the list of bailoutees. And, as we described in painful detail over two months ago, it is very likely that one Peter Sutherland, Chairman of Goldman Sachs International, may have been instrumental in discussions with the Irish government which led to a taxpayer funded bailout of not only AIB, but the preservation of Goldman interests. We are confident that if related allegations are proven, being fired from his post will be the last of Mr. Cowen's concerns.
Unfortunately, the Ministry of Disinformation and Data Revision will not be able to blame the latest major economic data point revision on dyslexia. After as we previously noted, the Chicago PMI was revised lower from 68.6 to 66.8 just three short days ago, today that other standout number, the Philly Fed, which had originally printed at the better than expected level of 24.3, has just been revised much lower to 20.8. Since this number means the Philly Fed actually declined from the November print of 22.5, one can see why even the Chinese are seeing their jaws drop at the ceaseless "adjustment" of what has now become an unrepentantly upwardly economic data stream. Specifically, the December Employment Index has been lowered to 4.3 from 5.1, the December New Orders Index has swooned to 10.6 from 14.6, the December Current Inventories was lowered from -2 to -5.9, the Current Number of Employees dropped from 5.1 to 4.3, and the Current Average Employee Workweek contracted from 19.3 to 16.8. The silver lining: the December Prices Paid Index to 47.9 from 51.2. Also, virtually all the future indices improved. Then again, as today's PPI indicated, and as surging commodity costs validate, nobody doubts the margin collapse any longer. We can't wait to find out just how many more of the melt up inducing December economic indicators will continue to be revised lower (even as the BLS continues to backward revise jobless numbers higher).
As part of the most recent observations on the boil up (melt up is so QE1) in the S&P, we find something quite interesting. A quick glance at the chart below shows the general market 45% climb since Bernanke's leak of QE2 in August, as well as the market's 10 day (purple line) and 50 day (green line) moving averages. As a point of reference the S&P has been above the 10 day average for 30 days straight, and above the 50 day average for 92 days straight. What is remarkable are some statistical findings as pertain to the average's movement with respect to the SMAs. Sentiment Trader points out that while as part of the recent surge in the S&P, the market has gone for "92 days without closing below its 50-day average, which has been matched only 17 other times since 1928." Where it gets scary, is that as pointed out, during this time market has not closed below the 10 DMA once during the past 30 days. And as Sentiment Trader notes, "this has never happened before, in 82 years of history." Congratulations to the Centrally Planned Socialist States of America: its Chairman has just made the Guinness Book of Manipulation Records.
The CFTC webcast on position limits and how to best preserve the status quo in precious metal market manipulation is starting. Readers can watch it at the following link.
Gold and silver have fallen by less than 1% in all major currencies today. Asian equities were mixed with strong selling seen in India and European equities and US index futures are tentatively higher. Eurozone periphery bonds yields have fallen as have those in Germany (10 year) after rising above 3% in recent days.
Just out from Goldman's FX group: another "tactical" top tick call extraordinaire: "From an FX point of view we would go long EUR/$ at current levels of 1.3180 for an initial target of 1.37 with a 1-day stop on a close below 1.2850." Of course, that Goldman had a "strategic" 1.55 EURUSD target as the pair plunged by 1,500 pips is irrelevant. Time to take the other side of the trade (i.e., the same as Goldman's 50% margin prop desk).
EURUSD Surges By 200 Pips (To China's Delight) On Trichet Comments That Inflation Cracks Starting To AppearSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/13/2011 - 08:58
Those looking for vol in stocks really should shut down their E-Trade account and get some forex terminal. As we have been stating for well over 6 months now, with the Fed artificially ramping stocks, and making stock vol extinct, daytraders continue to be forced to find other avenues to day trade volatility. And the FX is just that market. The EURUSD has just done its daily 200 pip song and dance, putting yet another several hundred Japanese housewives using 50x leverage underwater by 10 times their capital amount. But at least China is happy. Oh and yes, with $4 trillion in FX turnover per day in 2010, this kind of mindblowing volatility is sure to end well.