"The economic environment seems to be stuck in a rather unpleasant perpetual loop. Greece is always about to default; the latest bailout is always about to save the day and yet never seems to; China is always about to collapse but instead teases us by inching down; and I swear the Financial Times is beginning to recycle its reports! In the U.S., the fiscal cliff looms along with debt limits and the usual election uncertainties. The dysfunctional U.S. Congress continues for the time being in its intractable ways. The stock market rises and falls and rises and falls again. It is getting difficult to find anything new to say at client meetings. I, for one, wish that the world would get on with whatever is coming next."
We wonder if harsh economic realities could transcend generally accepted logic. The common perception of unravelling events relies, by and large, on politicians remaining in close control of events and in particular in tight control of their societies. There are more than 18 million people unemployed in Europe today and, for as long Europe’s political class stays on its current course, that unemployed rate will climb and climb. That’s a really bad state of affairs; indeed, it’s life-threatening. Eventually, we judge that the smouldering European tinder box will burst forth in to flame and thence on to conflagration. It's this 'direct action' by angry citizens that would scupper the controlled, totalitarian formation of a European superstate. Europe is on the verge of being raped and our own politicians don’t know where to look, still less what to do.
Of course this time is different, right?
Do you believe in miracles? Well, all those managers who were long the QE-sensitive darlings of Financials, Materials, and Consumer Discretionary into the month can breath a collective unchanged sigh of relief - thanks to last week's Draghi drag higher. The Energy sector managed a stupendous 4.9% gain on the month. The S&P 500, Dow, and Nasdaq all finished about 1-1.4% higher on the month (while Dow Transports ended -2.3%) as we came close to some Hindenberg Omens in the last few days. Today's market felt like the start of a sell-the-news day as we leaked back to the edge of the Friday cliff in S&P 500 e-mini futures (ES) - with an after-day-session-close snap down to catch-down to where risk-assets had broadly been biased all day - amid huge volume (leaving ES below its recent swing highs and Fibonacci levels). Commodities generally slid lower but WTI led the way ending down over 3% from Friday's close. Gold, Silver, and Copper all slid even as USD slid lower too. Treasury yields fell back retracing about half of the post-Draghi sell-off. VIX ended testing 19% into the close, up almost 1vol as the term-structure flattened ahead of the events of the next couple of days. The massive rip in volume at the close (and 5pt drop in ES) suggest plenty of short-term exits ahead of the fun-and-games of the next two days and certainly Treasuries were sending similar derisking signals.
Have $2,000 In Cash In Your Fidelity Account? Then You Too Can Qualify To Lose Money On The Manchester United IPOSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/31/2012 16:09 -0400
Have $100,000 in "certain assets at Fidelity" and at least $2,000 in cash for close margin call encounters (you will need it)? Then you too are eligible to participate in the next IPO collapse, coming on August 9th in the form of the Manchester United public offering, which is going to be such an epic disaster it not only has middle market junk bond specialist Jefferies as lead left, that it has already opened itself up to retail participation by all the sub-underwriters, and as of this morning such reputable brokers as Fidelity are seeking indications of interest. Which simply means there is absolutely no interest at the institutional level. The last time this happened? FaceBerg, which went from $43 to $21 in about a month.
The Hilsenrath-Haggle Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is likely to ease monetary policy at the July 31-August 1 meeting in response to the continued weakness of the economic data and the persistent downside risks from the crisis in Europe. While we expect nothing more exciting than an extension of the current “late 2014” interest rate guidance to "mid-2015", Goldman adds in their preview of the decision that although a new Fed asset purchase program is a possibility in the near term if the data continue to disappoint, their central expectation is for a return to QE in December or early 2013.
Not like anyone would expect anything more, technically, less, but it is always gratifying to know there is someone, somewhere willing to fight for the little guy. And lose.
- SEC LOSES LAWSUIT AGAINST EX-CITIGROUP OFFICIAL STOKER - BBG
- SEC SUED CITIGROUP'S BRIAN STOKER OVER CDO REPRESENTATIONS - BBG
Despite record low coupon issuance and a net negative issuance that is enabling technical flow to dominate any sense of releveraging risk in favor of the 'safety' of corporate bonds, the credit cycle is deteriorating rather rapidly in both the US and Europe. As these charts of the upgrade/downgrade cycle from Barclays show, things are as bad as they have been since the crisis began in terms of ratings changes among investment grade and high-yield credit. Combine that with the historically dismal seasonals for credit in the next three months and we urge caution.
Every summer, my colleagues and I invite young people from all over the world for an intensive 4-day workshop about freedom and entrepreneurship. This year’s workshop just concluded yesterday afternoon, and it was, without doubt, the best one ever. For the past several years, we have been conducting this event at a lovely resort in the Lithuanian countryside. It’s a pretty place– a nice, comfortable, relaxing environment away from all the noise and distraction of daily life. Now, I pay for the whole thing myself. I rent out the entire resort and pick up the total cost of food, lodging, entertainment, etc. For this year’s event, my staff was able to negotiate the same price as last year, and I was happy about this. But after the first two days, we began to notice something different: the resort was actually skimping out on our food portions! In other words, they kept the price the same as last year… but they were delivering less value than before. In this case, it was in the form of food portions that were at least 10% smaller!
First thing today we reported that India just suffered what may have been the biggest blackout in history, after half of the country's population of 1.2 billion, or just under 700 million was without power, as the electric grid of more than a dozen states suffered an epic collapse. Below we shares some pictures courtesy of Times of India giving some sense of what it means for two Americas worth of people to live without electricity indefinitely. Of note: the calm, peace and order despite the epic traffic jams and crowds. One wonders what would happen in the US if the entire country was without electrcity for even just one hour. Finally, one wonders what the impact to the Indian, Asian, and Global economy will be as a result of the complete halt that at least half of India - one of the world's core marginal economies - has ground to do.
In an administration that has completely lost its mind, and in which the solution to every problem is the forgiveness of debt to those who lived beyond their means, FHFA's Ed DeMarco is a lone voice of sanity. In a letter to Tim Geithner, the FHFA has the temerity to tell the truth and say that "after extensive analysis of the revised [Principal Reduction Act]...FHFA has concluded that the anticipated benefits do not outweigh the costs and risks... FHFA concluded that HAMP PRA did not clearly improve foreclosure avoidance while reducing costs to taxpayers relative to the approaches in place today."Via Bloomberg:
- *FANNIE MAE, FREDDIE MAC WON'T WRITE DOWN LOANS, DEMARCO SAYS
- *FHFA'S DEMARCO SAYS PRINCIPAL REDUCTION WON'T BENEFIT TAXPAYERS
Needless to say, when presented with a minority opinion that socialism just may not be the answer, Geithner was not happy and penned his own response. Both are presented below.
The catalyst for the major turnaround in markets last week was comments from ECB President Draghi that he was prepared to do whatever it takes to preserve the Euro and ensure monetary policy transmission. While this is nothing more than stating his mandate (and that water is wet), the focus on 'transmission' caught the attention of many and Barclays provides a succinct flowchart of just where those transmission channels are broken. However, with SMP empirically a losing proposition for sovereign spreads, LTROs having had no impact on loans to non-financial corporates, and rate cuts not reaching the peripheral economies (and in fact signaling further divergence); it seems that short of full-scale LSAP (which JPM thinks will need to be a minimum EUR600bn to be in any way effective), whatever Draghi says will be a disappointment and perhaps that explains the weakness in European sovereigns this week as exuberance fades (or is the game to implicitly weaken the EUR to regain competitiveness).
We have long argued that auto manufacturers have been channel-stuffing (and subprime-lending) themselves back into a disaster and as such class-action lawsuits have begun. Recently we also pointed out the epidemic of dealer-inventory-stuffing in China (and again this morning the Chinese luxury car market's over-stuffing). So today's report from Reuters that German auto manufacturers have been stuffing dealer channels just like the rest of the world as Europe's largest car market is in recession even if few outside of the industry would know it. "Essentially, the carmakers are deceiving their shareholders, since they make it look as if the vehicles were actually sold. They want to pull the wool over their eyes," as three in every ten new vehicles in Germany are sold not to customers, but to carmakers and their dealers - a type of automotive industry pump priming known as "self-registration". At nearly half a million such registrations in the six months through June, the total is greater than the entire new car market in Spain. Is Germany's economy really what it is reported to be given all this fake demand pull-forward - or is it a total fraud?
While expectations of a Draghi rescuing us all from our bad selves remain extreme - well he did promise! - it seems the market that one would expect to be the most likely to benefit from his 'Aid' is increasingly not Kool. The last two days have seen Italian and Spanish sovereign bond spreads turn back down - even as stocks in those countries keep up the good wealth-building work (with the front-end wider by around 30bps today alone). At the same time, financials have seen their credit risk widen back out (especially seniors) and XOver (the European high-yield credit market) did not exude the kind of equity ebullience that we are used to in a pure risk-on, central-bankers-have-our-back period.