When it comes to manipulating income and wealth data, the government and the BLS are second to none (well, maybe only second to China but we digress): after all there is nothing that gets Americans to spend more than thinking Joe Blow down the street may outspend them. And at 70% of GDP, Americans have to consume. And what better way to do that, than to fill the airwaves with propaganda that spending is going up, up, up (even if said surge is nowhere to be seen). So far so good. Yet one place where nominal and real income data can absolutely not be fudged is the Social Security Average Wage Index based on withholding data reported by employers, particularly the median wage, whose nominal change can then be extrapolated in real terms using CPI to create a chained series. And here is where things get messy: as John Lohman demonstrates in the chart below, real income based on median wages, dropped (in real terms) by 1.2% - the biggest year over year slide in over 20 years of data, which is surely news to Joe Blow, whose impetus to spend, spend, spend would be substantially less, if the awareness was there that everyone is making and thus spending less, which in turn would lead to even more accelerated deleveraging, which would ultimately lead to a faster return to the mean for the overall economy: a mean which is sustainable without constant monetary and fiscal intervention. And yes, there will be lots of pain in the transition from the current Frankenstein state to a true equilibrium state - something that Ron Paul has been pounding the table on for years, and is the reason why unfortunately he is unelectable - Americans can not stand to hear the truth. For this and more factual trivia, see the chart below.
Doctor copper that is. Because apparently someone forgot to tell China that "Europe is fine." As a result, over the past 3 days we have seen a relentless selloff in all risk assets and commodities when China is open (the weak GDP print sure didn't help), at time bordering on liquidation, but most notably in copper which is now down 7% on the week, and which in a feedback loop forces domestic speculators to sell anything that is not nailed down, due to copper's use a core Letter of Credit pledge. As a result, any drop in copper leads to leveraged selloffs in all other assets, which leads to even more selling in copper and so on. Perhaps the Beijing editions of the FT or The Guardian can promptly put an end to this lunacy, which can be ignored by vacuum tubes only for so long...
While Morgan Stanley only recently became a second derivative for everything European-related (thank you financial short selling ban in Europe, and also thank you Mr. Gorman for updating investors on your firm's $39 billion gross derivative exposure to French banks (not France the country). What's that? You didn't provide one? Oh, our bad, just as it is "anonymous bloggers" bad that your CDS blew out this quarter and generated over $3 billion in "income" for your firm - you are truly welcome), Bank of America has, for quite a while, been a proxy for all that is wrong with America's mortgage industry, courtesy of that most value-destroying purchase of the insolvent criminal entity that was Countrywide Financials. For a while the market was content that the proxy would not be in need of a shallow grave, unlike the US housing market (go ahead, ask where PrimeX closed today), after the bank managed to bribe enough "plaintiffs" and proceed with a quick and painless $8.5 billion settlement on all of its mortgage putback claims. A settlement that, however, had a very weak link: "Article 77", a critical provision enabling the deal in its current form. And as we first reported and explained back on August 26, said weakest link was attacked by David Grais of Walnut Place, who "filed a request to transfer the lawsuit from State Court to Federal Court where everything basically begins a new." Well, today Grais won, and Bank of America lost after US District Judge William Pauley ruled that "Bank of America Corp.’s proposed $8.5 billion settlement with Countrywide Financial Corp. mortgage-bond investors must be considered in federal court instead of the New York state court where it was first filed." Not content with making a factual statement, the Judge proceeded to skewer the bank which, on top of evertyhing, recently decided to stuff its depositors with a bill as large as $53 trillion should things turn sour, added "The settlement agreement at issue here implicates core federal interests in the integrity of nationally chartered banks and the vitality of the national securities markets." Integrity? From a bank which secretly, though with the Fed's blessing, has tried to put its client interests over those of depositors of over $1 trillion, and over the objections of the FDIC? Don't make us laugh.
Steve Wynn Epic Anti-Obama Rant Part II - Full Audio And Transcript With Complete #OccupyWallStreet ThoughtsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/19/2011 - 18:41
One quarter after going on an epic anti-Obama monologue at the end of his Q2 earnings call, Steve Wynn comes back with a sequel, confirming that when it comes to completely justified anti-presidential rants, he is truly second to none. Topics touched upon include massive government deficits, the business climate, the administration's horrendous handling of the economy, and of course, Occupy Wall Street. His damning conclusion: " I am watching my employees standard of living drop off because of deficits. I think that the American public is beginning to make the connection between deficits and their own loss of the standard... I say right now that the Democratic agenda of spend and bribe the public has bankrupt this country, and until it stops, the citizens of this country are in for more hard times. And fancy speeches aren't going to change that. Only a fundamental realization that citizens are going to have to take real, sophisticated responsibility for how we allocate the resources of this country."
Less Than Two Months After Its First Rate Cut, Brazil Once Again Lowers Key Interest Rate 50 Bps To 11.50%Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/19/2011 - 18:13
The world may not be re-entering a recession (after all just look at the S&P in the past two weeks - reputable economists will tell you there is no way the market can soar like that if the world was entering a double dip - and everyone would believe them because they have a Ph.D.), and America may be decoupling from everyone all over again just like every other time it was supposed to decouple but didn't, however Brazil is not waiting around to see the result. Less than two months after its first rate cut, the Brazil central bank just cut its main "selic" interest rate by another 50 bps, this time citing a "more restrictive global environment" instead of "substantial economic deterioration." At the end of the day, the result is the same. So will China finally follow suit and join the global loosening game?
Well, it is not just the CDS ban, the fact that Greece is now done is also a modest factor, but since nobody can short Greek default risk unhedged, the only option is to short the bonds. As they did today en masse. Greek 1 Year bonds: the most liquid proxy for default in the absence of 1 Year CDS, closed at 183%, after hitting an all time high of 188%, following yesterday's 173% close. To all those who bought 1 Year Greek bonds when yields hit 100% a month ago because "they just couldn't possibly drop any more, and you would double your money in one year guaranteed", condolences for the 50% loss. We are certain that a new batch of bottom callers will emerge, this time calling for doubling your money in six months.... Then three.. Then one and a half... etc... Until finally Zeno's paradox catches up and you either double your money overnight or you lose it all.
Earlier today we presented Bloomberg's Chart of the Day which represented the GDP and Debt per capita on a historical and projected basis, and we hysterically, and tongue-in-cheekly, dubbed it "the scariest chart ever" because it confirmed that at some point, very soon, US Debt will surpass GDP and never look back. We decided to dig into the actual numbers (cancelling out the per capital denominator as it is the same on both sides of the equation) and came to a very disturbing revelation: as of today, total US Debt, is $14.942 trillion (source), obviously an all time high. Q2 GDP as was reported by the BEA three weeks ago, was $15.012 trillion in current dollars. In other words, the spread between total GDP and total debt has now collapsed to an all time low $70 billion. Incidentally, this number was $1.8 trillion at the beginning of 2010. Then we decided to take a quick look at the upcoming bond issuance and find that tomorrow the Treasury will announce approximately $99 billion in 2, 5 and 7 Year bonds to be auctioned off October 25 through 27... With a very appropriate settlement date: October 31, elsewhere known as Halloween. Yes, ladies and gentlemen: All Hallows E'en will be doubly scary this year: for the first time since World War II, US debt will officially surpass GDP on Halloween 2011.
FT Reports Europe To Sacrifice Its Banks To Bailout Sovereigns - Under €100 Billion In Bank Recap Funding AvailableSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/19/2011 - 15:22
It's 3pm: do you know where you last hour of trading bailout rumor is? Today, the Guardian passes the baton back to the FT, which however has released a report which when digested will be very negative for the zEURo.qq. It appears that in order to accommodate more funds for sovereign bailouts under the total max EFSF guarantee cap, as reported on several occasions yesterday by Zero Hedge, only €100 billion will be set aside for bank recapatialization. There is a problem with this number: it is predicated on the European Banking Authority's estimates of capital shortfalls of between €70-90 billion, the is the same EBA which 4 months ago said Dexia was in sterling health when it passed the 2nd Stress Test in pole position. As a reminder, Goldman predicted a €1 trillion capital shortfall, while Credit Suisse said €400 billion. No matter: the EU will come out with a number from its lower colon, just to make the residual maximum sovereign debt "guarantee" notional appear that much bigger. Too bad, however, that in the process it will once again crush Europe's banks which the market will suspect, rightfully so, that they are undercapitalized even post the recap, anywhere between 90% and 75% and will have to accelerate their asset liquidations to fund themselves one more day in lieu of a functioning interbank liquidity market. And so the risk flaring will shift from Europe's sovereign to Europe's banks, and their main proxy in the US - none other than Morgan Stanley which repeatedly refuted it has any exposure to France... but said nothing about its gross (gross because counterparties will blow up fast and furious) to French banks. End result: this is very bad for Europe because it means they have finally done the math and realize that to get the €2 trillion or so in EFSF insured capital they have to sacrifice their banks. Alas, there is no outcome that saves both the banks, and guarantees future European sovereign issuance under the currently contemplated structure. None.
It appears that any hope for a quick resolution (not like one was even available) over the weekend may have just been jettisoned. According to FAZ, the German parliament, which made it all too clear wants to be heard in all future European bailout instances courtesy of the constitutional court decision in early September, has just announced it wants to be heard, this time for real, and decide, on any EFSF expansion facility and specifically the usage of more leverage to fight already unbearable systemic leverage. To wit: "Before the meeting of Heads of State and Government of the Euro zone, which will decide on Sunday in Brussels on the guidelines ("Guidelines") of the euro rescue fund EFSF, the federal government is faced with demands from parliament. The fractions from the CDU and FDP want to discuss this Thursday in special session on the voting behavior of their representatives on the Budget Committee, according to the Law on the Participation of the Bundestag, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) in Brussels to rely on an affirmative vote of the Committee." Unfortunately for Merkozy, their despotic and tyrranical measures according to which they represent the will of the people yet really all they do is preserve the viability of insolvent French banks, will no longer fly.
The European headlines continue to roll in. As far as I can tell, they either hired someone to play devil's advocate, or for the first time since at least July they actually tried to translate some of their words into action. They are running into legal roadblocks, death spiral scenarios, the reality that once they give the money to the PIIGS that the power reverts to the PIIGS, that everything is circular and self-referencing, that debt markets in the end can decouple from CDS markets, that Germany and France are going to see borrowing costs spike (even after the ECB rate cut), and that there are so many holes to plug - bank capital, bank bonds, PIIGS debt, Belgium debt, something about Dexia that no one even remembers, voters are against it, Greece isn't going to fool anyone, etc.
We may have posted this already minutes ago, but at this point it is all one big blur, so we will go ahead and regurgitate. The latest counter-disinformation from Europe comes from Reuters: "Plans to tackle the euro zone debt crisis have stalled with Paris and Berlin at odds over how to increase the firepower of the region's bailout fund, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Wednesday. Sarkozy told French parliamentarians the dispute was holding up negotiations. He then flew to Frankfurt to talk with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in an attempt to break the deadlock ahead of a make-or-break European leaders' summit on Sunday. A French presidency source said the French and German leaders were meeting other euro zone policy chiefs and International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde on the sidelines of an event mark the end of Jean-Claude Trichet's presidency of the European Central Bank. France has argued the most effective way of leveraging the European Financial Stability Facility is to turn it into a bank which could then access funding from the ECB, but both the central bank and the German government have opposed this. "In Germany, the coalition is divided on this issue. It is not just Angela Merkel who we need to convince," Sarkozy told the parliamentarians at a lunch meeting, according to Charles de Courson, one of the legislators present. His comments fuelled doubts about whether euro zone leaders will be able to agree a clear and convincing plan when they meet on Sunday. " Judging by the reaction of the EURUSD, this IS news because it only made Bloomberg minute ago, even though it hit Reuters about 45 minutes earlier.
With $30 Billion In Structuring Fees On The Table, Moody's Calls For Larger EFSF Even As WSJ Reports It May Be DOASubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/19/2011 - 13:54
Even as the realization that the "EFSF as an insurance policy" is dead on arrival, just as Zero Hedge predicted following some simplistic math exercises yesterday, is spreading following a report just out by the WSJ that "EU lawyers have rejected direct EFSF guarantees", the multi-trillion CDO-insurance hybrid has received an endorsement from a most surprising source: Moody's which "called for increasing by as much as fivefold the firepower of the euro area’s temporary rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility. A 2 trillion-euro ($2.8 trillion) EFSF “is not an unfair figure. What is needed is that there are resources to cover the entire area including Spain and Italy." Well, when one considers that there are about $30 billion in structuring fees on the table, a lot of it payable to the rating agencies, and quite a bit due to the EU's financial advisor (which has remained very stealthy through this point: we wonder just who is advising the EU and Eurozone on the daily changes to the bailout proposals - is it Goldman Sachs? BNP? SocGen? Inquiring minds deserve to know), it is probably not that strange that Moody's will pull a 180 and now demand a far larger "rescue facility." After all, without one, not only will the rating agency make billions less in the current fiscal year, but it will have no excuses to not downgrade the countries in Europe's core whose fiscal situation is deteriorating with each passing day.
David Rosenberg On The Insanity Of Fixing Excess Leverage With More Leverage, And The Relentless Euro RumormillSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/19/2011 - 12:51
We though we were the only ones brought to the verge with the relentless lies out of a completely clueless Europe, which as we learned at last weekend's G20 meeting, has 3 more days to get is act together. Oh wait, they were lying too? Got it. Well, no, David Rosenberg has also had it pretty much up to here. More importantly, Rosenberg also, like us, but also like Citi's and RBS, to throw some more "credible" names, is convinced that this latest deux ex machina is D.O.A. To wit: "How cool is it that we live in a world where complicated financial engineering in a radically overleveraged system forms the cornerstone of the solution to these debt problems...Why are we so skeptical? Well, when you go back to the opening months of 2010, it was all about Greece and the prime goal was to prevent contagion to Portugal and Ireland. We know how that went. Then that fall, the risk was Greece, Ireland and Portugal and this was when the term PIG was coined. At that time, the goal was to protect Spain and Italy. And we know how that went. Then just this past July, the crisis moved beyond just Greece, Ireland and Portugal to include Italy and Spain (and this is where PUGS was coined). At this point it was about preventing contagion to the banks, but nothing has worked. The contagion has merely spread, and this is not the first time a late-day press release or policy announcement was leaked to juice the market. So, we are still living in a world were levering up is somehow deemed to be a solution to a world of excessive credit and all this will do, again, is just kick the can down the road." As we made it all too clear, far less diplomatically yesterday, "Are we the only ones dazed, confused, and tired beyond comprehension with this endless, ridiculous, pathetic, grovelling Groundhog Day bullshit? Stop risking civil and international war just to satisfy your bureaucratic vanity. THERE IS NO MONEY! YOU KNOW IT, WE KNOW IT, THE PEOPLE KNOW IT. ENOUGH!!!" So much for enough: 6 hours later we had the latest European rumormongering fiasco courtesy of The Guardian which has now devolved to the status of England's latest "paid for publication" tabloid.