The middle of the week appeared to be the storm before the quiet of today before the potential storm of next week with aggressive action by the ECB this morning seeming to calm fears (and raise hopes of more) as risk assets were generally calmer today. Amid dismally low volumes, ES ended the day very marginally lower (led by Tech and Energy), commodities were mixed, IG credit outperformed TSYs and HY credit, and FX vacillated back to unchanged in general capping another week of strengthening USD vs the Majors (except JPY). US equities shrugged off a broad risk-off shift early in the day (driven by Oil and TSYs mainly) as OPEX seemed the focus of controlling intraday vol with CONTEXT and ES closing the week in almost perfect agreement (leaving cash S&P -3.3% YTD vs Gold +21.3% YTD).
As the hopes and prayers of every European central banker (and long-only manager) rest on age old battles; 'good vs evil', 'woman vs man', 'Germans vs the-rest-of-us', we found today's helpful note from The House Of Squid very amusing. Goldman, in their puppet-masterly way, suggest (in an ever so logical manner) that perhaps Mrs. Merkel should allow for the print-fest and provide their right-hand man Draghi with the ammo he needs to have that discussion.
"There are no easy choices and it would have been, no doubt, better if the ECB had never got in the position it is in now. But the current situation demands a careful weighing of the risk involved with any decision taken. The inflationary risk thereby seems to be getting an unduly high weight in the consideration of German policy makers."
Not only is Germany at the epicentre of the Italian-Spanish-French save-us 'discussion', they have now managed to add Ireland to their 'Uber Alles'. Reuters is reporting the leak of confidential Irish budget information by German lawmakers and Irish parliamentarians are seething - viewing the leak as 'incredible' and 'unprecedented'. Given the new laws, Germany now has the right to be fully informed about bailout countries' progress before new tranches of funds are paid out. As the Irish Daily Mirror put it perfectly "Germany is ourt new master." It is evidently clear that sovereignty is indeed blurring at the edges - cue Nigel Farage.
As the super-committee seems more and more likely to hit a brick-wall, we present with no comment, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma's 'helpful' prose.
Americans are generous and do not want to see their fellow citizens go without basic necessities. Likewise, we expect everyone to contribute and to demonstrate personal responsibility. Government policies intended to mainstream wealth redistribution are undermining these principles. The tragic irony is the wealth in these cases is trickling up rather than down the economic ladder. The cost of this largess will thus be shared by those struggling today and the next generation who will inherit $15 trillion of debt that threatens the future of the American Dream. These consequences are the results of shortsighted spending and tax policies like those outlined in this report that should be eliminated.
Imagine you are Ben Bernanke, or on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. The time frame is July and August of 2011 and the price of gold is on a tear. Commodities inflation has been persistent and is breaking out everywhere. Your prediction that inflation “is contained” and is a “temporary phenomena” are beginning to look absurd. What do you do? Simple. Hint that QE3, the primary drive of inflation, is coming and then fail to deliver at the September FOMC meeting. That takes care of the price of gold and the gold stocks. Ah, but those pesky commodities speculators keep making money and trading against what you want the markets to do. So what is to be done there? Hey Jon Corzine, how about you tank the largest broker for the small commodities punters in the world, and we let them twist in the wind? That will serve them right. Teach them to bet against the government approved scenario.
CLWR faces $474mm in interest expense for the next 4 years so 'skipping' this interest payment shouldn't be a problem, right? $7.93bn in principal and interest and a $1.5bn market cap (well before today that is) - all is well in the HY wireless broadband market. Paging ISDA...
Some version of the following BIS-sourced chart from the BBC appears every week somewhere, and by now the default Pavlovian reaction to seeing it should be to think of the Klein bottle. Yet this one may be the prettiest so far. In case anyone was still wondering what happens in a world in which every financial asset is someone else's liability, and that same liability is a third bank's asset (and so on), and where the amounts involved are in the tens of trillions, and when even the smallest debt haircut starts an avalanche of remarking to market, here is the explanation. Oh, and whatever you do, don't click on the US. Because the "US is fine."
Dramamine market got you down? You are not alone. David Rosenberg explains: "Yesterday's trade was rather telling. The Nasdaq dropped 2% and not only did volume rise but the breadth was awful with losers beating winners by a 5-to-2 margin (9-to-2 on the NYSE). The fact that the Nasdaq sliced below support of 2,600 and dipped below its 50-day moving average for the first time in six weeks is a bit ominous to say the least; while the S&P 500 undercut its lows of the past four weeks (even though it has managed to hold above the 50-day m.a. of 1,205). But between the slide in equities, commodities, oil and gold, coupled with the rally in Treasuries, yesterday had a certain eerie 2008 feel to it. And did you see the huge 70 point rally in the Dow just in the last couple of minutes? The volatility is incredible. Look at the charts below — they look the same, but one is the Dow's closing level each day this year and the other is the minute to minute ticker on any random session (we chose October 7th out of the hat). The new normal is seeing a year's worth of volatility bunched into 6 ½ hours!"
It is no surprise that everyone's attention, hopes and dreams, are now on the shoulders of a principled and sensible Bundesbank as they fight-the-good-fight against a torrent of seemingly-sensible print-baby-print commentators (and politicians). Of course, if they did the equity markets would rally (despite the circular EUR weakness, correlated equity weakness, equity strength on we-are-all-saved, EUR strength game theory response) and the trade would be equity to outperform credit (as we've seen before). The pragmatist might argue that this is not a solution, but interestingly Dylan Grice of SocGen, suggests that as opposed to prospectively common-knowledge (and Germany's anti-Weimar reputation), the notion to devalue first, does best and maybe it is time for the ECB to take that plunge. This is somewhat opposed to his previous views on the path to hyperinflation (as akin to being half-pregnant) and our perspective remains that once the ECB starts, how will they ever stop?
Who would have thought that doing away with your prop trading unit would have consequences? Surely not Goldman spokesman Lucas van Praag or anyone who read his response to Zero Hedge from December 2009 in which he made the argument that Goldman's prop trading unit is largely irrelevant to the firm. Alas, as the last quarter showed, it was. A lot. $2.5 billion worth. Net result: GS stock is now trading at imminent MBO levels, and more importantly, there is no joy in bankerville:
- GOLDMAN NAMES SMALLEST CLASS OF MANAGING DIRECTORS SINCE 2008
- GOLDMAN SACHS PROMOTES 261 EMPLOYEES TO MANAGING DIRECTOR
However as the video below proves, it still does, and always will, feel good to be a banker.
Instead Of Relenting To Demands To Let ECB Print, Germany Is Preparing To Kick Countries Out Of EurozoneSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/18/2011 11:01 -0400
It's official - Germany has become just like China (or, rather, has always been like it): the more it is pushed to do something (let ECB print), the more it will do the opposite. Half a year ago we discussed that the weakest point of the European bailout language was its reliance on Collective Action Clauses which imply that any resolution which does not have 100% backing of all bondholders would potentially push a country into default. In essence, this took control out of the hands of the Eurozone head, Germany, and put it to the bondholders. Well, according to a preliminary draft released by the Telegraph and FT, as part of the new bailout 'indenture' contained in the ESM, "under a section headed “The establishment of a procedure for an orderly default as part of the ESM”, Berlin makes clear that countries which are deemed to be insolvent – rather than just suffering a temporary loss of access to the financial markets – would be allowed, in effect, to declare bankruptcy and default on their bonds: If [a debt sustainability review] is negative, the affected member state would instead receive loans for a limited time only, during which the procedure for an orderly default would be prepared. In order to make sovereign defaults possible where they are unavoidable, the threat of instability in the financial system resulting from such a default must be able to be credibly excluded. A plan to maintain the stability of the financial system in the event of an orderly default needs to be developed in close co-operation with European banking regulators. This would determine which banks would be restructured and/or recapitalised, which will necessitate the drawing up of Europe-wide rules on bank restructuring." And as we discussed previously, the voluntary language will likely be taken out from the final draft, effectively giving Germany the unilateral ability to kick countries out. Which explains why the market is about to plunge: according to just released information from DPA, "the German Foreign Ministry on Friday confirmed that Germany was considering the possibility of more eurozone "orderly defaults" beyond that of Greece, as suggested by a paper leaked by the British press." In essence, what this means is that instead of relenting on the ECB issue, which as every investment bank has said would be the end of the world unless massive printing is permitted, Germany would rather kick countries out of the Eurozone instead of entering a hyperinflationary collapse. Perhaps it is now time for the banks to start toning down their language on the imminent destruction that would ensue if the ECB does not print, as this is apparently not happening...
General Maritime filed for bankruptcy yesterday. So far it has been treated as a non event, but it may actually be start of another wave of bank write-downs (given the loan status and the fact that many of the banks will have held this loan and other shipping loans at par). The default isn’t in itself a big issue, but if it forces write-offs or provisions against other shipping loans at the weaker banks, it could add to the banking crisis more than people currently think.
We like Dick X Bove. He is a funny guy. After all, who doesn't like Dick appearing every day on CNBC. Yet comedic value is all one should hope to extract out of Dick. The problem is that anyone who has listened to Dick over the past 5 years, is most certainly bankrupt, in some cases twice over. While we will ignore his Buy upgrade on Lehman days before the bankruptcy, below we have shown two simple charts ever since his move from Ladenburg (which he left for obvious reasons in the Lehman aftermath), to Rochdale. The first chart shows the price of Bank of America, together with Dick's buy recos (green) and his price target. The second chart shows how Dick has performed compared not to the market, but to his peer group! In other words, while he has been massively wrong on stock calls, one would think he may at least be in line with his permabullish cheerleaders. No. In fact, he has underperformed his peer universe by 25% in the past two years. As for anyone who has listened to his Buy reco on Bank of America... well, do the math.
While the disquieting calm (before the storm) of the last hour in European markets suggests traders sitting on their hands into a bazooka-ridden weekend, we thought a look at what happens when the ECB stops playing may help. Based on the velocity of price-jump, the last two weeks have seen at least 16 interventions by the ECB into the BTP market and still the price is down significantly. Most importantly, on the two occasions when the ECB has deemed to let free markets reign, we have seen BTP prices free-fall. Have a great weekend, Europe.