If there was one piece of news that could force an all out panic in a market already on the edge, it is that outgoing (as in finally departing) US Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, was getting involved in the European Crisis. Sadly, this is precisely what happened.
- SPAIN DEPUTY PM: US TREASURY'S GEITHNER AGREES TO WORK WITH SPAIN TO RESOLVE BANK CRISIS - DJ
- SAENZ DE SANTAMARIA SAYS GEITHNER URGES SPAIN BANK SOLUTION
- SPAIN'S SAENZ DE SANTAMARIA TOLD GEITHNER OF REFORM EFFORTS
- GEITHNER DISCUSSED SPAIN'S PLANS TO STRENGTHEN FINANCE SECTOR
- SPAIN'S SAENZ DE SANTAMARIA TOLD GEITHNER OF REFORM EFFORTS
Sorry, Europe, you are now doomed.
Focusing on his supply-demand perspective of what drives stock prices and the heavy volume of corporate selling combined with mutual fund outflows that we have been so vociferous about, Charles Biderman of TrimTabs provides color on why, just like in 2010 and 2011, markets sold off in May. Whether you believe it is explicitly the angst-inspiring European malaise, Facebook's flop, or US macro deterioration and a pending fiscal cliff - the real driver is more shares chasing less cash as he puts it and reflexively the news exaggerates it or stalls it. Stock prices are likely to keep dropping, no matter what, until the Fed announces the next stimulus/easing (as we all know) but unfortunately this will have no impact on the real economy (though stocks will pop). Biderman berates the Fed for its constant insistence that this time is different and as far as the election 'our policies will bring about sustainable recovery and jobs' promises we will hear from both candidates, he succinctly summarizes thus: "What Bullshit! Where we are now as a world is: it's ok for government to lie for their own benefit".
One of breakout standup routines from the late, great George Carlin was his 1972 monologue “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” In the presence of polite company, I shall not repeat them… but rest assured, the routine is still hilarious to this day. I wish I could say the same about the Department of Homeland Security… I wish I could say this is all a big joke… that the government’s “377 words you can never use online” is just some stupid comedy routine. But it’s not. And you just can’t make this stuff. After vigorous resistance, the Department of Homeland Security was finally forced into releasing it’s 2011 Analyst’s Desktop Binder. It’s a manual of sorts, teaching all the storm troopers who monitor our Internet activity all day which key words to look for.
Everyone knows that Europe is divided into the Periphery (aka the PIIGS), and the Core (aka the countries that are supposed to be safe). What everyone also knows, is that the core, naively represented by Germany and France, supposedly has homogeneous distribution of economic growth and prospects. That all changed last year, when France moved from being a AAA-rated country, to a fallen superduper angel following the Moody's downgrade to AA+. Yet nowhere is the glaring divergence between these two formerly comparable economies than in the two articles cited below, both from the same publication, and both from today.
Well, they sold in May but did they go away? If today is any guide, they did as the swings across asset classes intraday were very reminiscent of 'death rattles' with trading scenarios becoming more and more binary and more and more extreme. Into the US macro data this morning risk assets in general were behaving in a synchronized manner. As the dismal data hit, it got wild with gold and stocks gapping down and Treasury yields crashing lower (10Y 1.53 handle!) only to be saved around the European close by chatter of IMF aid for Spain (funded by the selling of unicorn tears) at which stocks erupted (and while bonds, the USD, and Gold also reacted - they were far more muted). The afternoon was quiet until stocks had a mind of their own and went on a stop-hunt up to yesterday's late day highs (and that magical 1315 level) - pulling well away from any other asset-class reality - only to fail dismally, ending with an abrupt tumble back to sanity (just slightly in the red for the day) grabbing VWAP into the close. The signals were everywhere that risk was not 'on' no matter how hard stocks tried with high-yield credit (most notably the ETFs) surging and purging ending with a terrible dive (after popping up to VWAP after our earlier note) on heavy volume.
So Facebook keeps falling, and is now floating around the $27 mark. We’re a third of the way down to my IPO valuation of FB as worth roughly $2-4 a share (or 5-10 times earnings), although I wouldn’t be surprised for the market to stabilise at a higher price (at least until the next earnings figures come out and reveal — shock horror — that Facebook is terrible at making money). The really stunning thing is that even after all these falls, FB is still trading at 86 times earnings. What the hell did Morgan Stanley think they were doing valuing an IPO without any viable profit model at over 100 times earnings? The answer is that this was an exit strategy. This IPO was about the people who got in early passing on a stick of dynamite to a greater fool which incidentally is precisely the same bubble mentality business model as bond investors who are currently buying negative-real-yielding treasuries at 1.6% hoping to pass them onto a greater fool at 0.5% (good luck with that).
While stocks, gold, and the dollar are generally in sync, Treasuries appear modestly more bearish now (for stocks) but it is the high-yield bond ETFs that is making a few people nervous as they plunge on heavy volume (and well below their intrinsic value). Obviously no-one really knows what i going on at JPM, but fort some more color we note that IG9 10Y is trading wider once again offered at 169bps - so one wonders if the liquidity in HYG is allowing some unwinds (or more hedges to be laid out). Certainly stocks remain ignorant of it for now - though month-end may be impacting both.
If it appears like it was only yesterday that Goldman was advising clients to short the 10 Year Treasury, it is because it was... give or take a few months: From January: "Since the end of last August, we have argued that 10-yr US Treasury yields would not be able to sustain levels much below 2% in this cycle. Yields have traded in a tight range around an average 2% since September, including so far into 2012. We are now of the view that a break to the upside, to 2.25-2.50%, is likely and recommend going tactically short. Using Mar-12 futures contracts, which closed on Friday at 130-08, we would aim for a target of 126-00 and stops on a close above 132-00." We added the following: "As a reminder, don't do what Goldman says, do what it does, especially when one looks the firm's Top 6 trades for 2012, of which 5 are losing money, and 2 have been stopped out less than a month into the year." Sure enough, as we tabulated last night, those who had listened to this call, and also gone long stocks as Goldman urged on March 21, have lost nearly 30% in about 2 months. Those who listened to us and did the opposite, well, didn't. Which is why the just released note from the very same Garzarelli who 4 months ago was so gung ho on shorting bonds, just cut his bond yield forecast for the entire world, US Treasurys included: "We now see 10-year US Treasuries ending this year at 2.00% (from 2.50% previously, and 30bp above current forwards), rising to 2.50% (previously 3.25%, and 60bp above the forwards) by December 2013. The corresponding numbers for German Bunds are 1.75% and 2.25%." In other words, it is now that Doug Kass should have made his short bonds call: not when he did it, a month ago and got his face bathsalted right off. For those asking - yes: Goldman is now selling bonds to clients.
While it will be no surprise to any ZH reader (with our attention to Swiss 2Y rates) the world is undergoing a massive capital flight to safety. Rick Santelli gave this topic his special treatment today, pointing out that "capital is detouring - to avoid risk", and outlining just how big a 'crash' lower in yields we have seen among many of the supposedly safest sovereigns as money floods to safe-havens (including UK, US, Japan, Germany, and Holland). What is most important is that Rick outlines why we should care - when all around are yawning on about how cheap 'dividend' stocks must be given low interest rates - since it changes the nature of capital (the life-blood of our markets) from risk-taking to absolute safety-seeking - as he points out that "it isn't necessarily about our own economy's numbers, it isn't even about who we export to; it's the fact that if capital continues to get somewhat impaired, you'll have more data points as investors not only rethink about their capital but everybody rethinks everything in the capital structure that makes business go round."
With any possible majority likely to be quite weak, and about two weeks to go, the outcome of this second election remains highly uncertain. While we're happy to leave the ever-changing chances of all the possible government combinations to the Greek political commentators (or media pollsters asking 1000 people), we think that the chances of a pro-bailout majority in parliament – at least for a short while – are slightly less than even at best. Morgan Stanley recently opined on the four possibilities with all centered on Syriza's actions.
By now, the bubble in student loans is becoming more widely understood. The absolute level continues to rise significantly and growth is accelerating with 8% YoY growth just reported, via the WSJ. Of course the reasons are anathema but attending college on the back of hope of a better-paying job when everyone else is also attending college in that hope (thanks to endless student-loan funding from your helpful government) seems to be self-defeating as the supply of supposedly better-qualified workers into a stagnant economy will do nothing but reduce higher-end wages further? Of course this is over-simplified but as the rest of the country delevers, pays down credit cards, or BKs, those that remain jobless heading to college for a way out are now struggling also - as is clear from WaPo this last weekend where dropout rates are increasingly dramatically. What is more worrisome is that while every other class of debt, according to the New York Fed's data, is seeing delinquency rates dropping, Student Loans 90+ days delinquent surged in Q1 to 8.7% - near its peak crisis highs and remains above peak mortgage delinquency rates.
Update: as expected, "IMF Says Spain Discussions Internal, No Talks With Spain"
Wondering what prompted the most recent "month end mark up" ramp in stocks? Look no further than the IMF, which one month after failing miserably to procure a much needed targeted amount of European bailout funds as part of Lagarde's whirlwind panhandling tour, hopes that markets are truly made up of idiots who have no idea how to use google and look up events that happened 4 weeks ago. So here it is: the Spanish bail out courtesy of the IMF. Well, not really. Because according to other headlines the IMF claims no plans are being drafted for a bailout. Why? Simple - if the IMF admits it is even considering a bailout, it will launch a bank run that will make the Bankia one seem like child's play, as the cat will truly be out of the bag. So instead it has no choice, but to wink wink at markets telling them even though it has been locked out from additional funding by the US, UK, Canada and even China, it still has access to funding from... Spain.
Three years of anti-Goldman bashing and exposing the company's legal and illegal dirty laundry have clearly had an impact on society:
*COHN SAYS SUMMER PROGRAM APPLICATION POOL WAS BIGGEST EVER
The Borg zombification shall continue until everyone wants to work solely at "The Goldman Sachs"
It seemed the 'but but but we're oversold' argument was holding up in early trading in Europe as EURUSD, sovereign bonds, corporate and financial credit, and stocks rallied out of the gate. It didn't take long however for the technicals from CDS-Cash traders to wear off and Spain and Italy sovereign debt started to leak back wider. This accelerated pushing everything off the edge as European stocks and financials & investment grade credit fell to recent lows. Interestingly high-yield credit (XOVER) remains an outperformer. By the close, credit markets were pretty much unchanged from last night's close having given back all the knee-jerk improvements on the day but equities remained lower - with a late day surge saving them from total chaos. EURUSD gave back all of its early gains to end the European day lower once again - though off its lows - even as Germany 2Y trades with 0.2bps of negative and Swiss 2Y rates plunge below -25bps. For the month, EMEA stocks were a disaster - Italy and Spain down 12 and 13% and the broad Euro-Stoxx -8.3% (-8.7% YTD).