In continuing efforts to save governmental money (and waste) the Washington Post is reporting that the United States Mint will cease production of Dollar coins (with each carrying a deceased President's likenesses), saving a stunning irrelevant $50mm. More than 40% of the coins have been returned to the Fed because no one wants them. Who needs real money when 1s and 0s are all that counts nowadays?
Greek Bank Run Hits Record: Unprecedented €6.8 Billion In Deposits Pulled From Greek Banks In OctoberSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/13/2011 13:42 -0400
While it is no surprise that Greek bank deposits are rapidly fleeing both the country's banking system, and the country, following September's record outflow of €5.5 billion, the situation just got far worse, after October data reveals that a record €6.8 billion was taken out of corporate and household deposits in one month. This is unprecedented 4% of all of the country's period end deposits of €176 billion at the end of October, and represents a €33 billion decline, or almost 20%, of the country's deposit base in 2011 which started with €210 billion in bank cash buffer, and is now down to €176 billion. Furthermore, according to recent article in the German press, this number has supposedly ramped even more in recent months to double digit withdrawals, an event which means the Greek financial system is completely and totally finished. Because as history always shows there is no such thing as a bank run that gets fixed on its own. One thing is certain: November data, and then December, and so forth, will only be worse and worse and worse, until the whole country finally implodes.
In a double-whammy of downbeat dystopian discussions, GMO and Kyle Bass are active on the inevitability of Europe's demise. Perhaps that is too strong but the two are focused directly, in separate pieces, on the huge need for capital and the dire dearth of it available. GMO's central focus on the direct capital needs of the European banking system in the case of a recovery (but under Basel III) and under stress scenarios. Dismissing the EBA's efforts, and recognizing that the problem is capital/solvency (if there were more, the market would not be worrying about liquidity and deposit flight), their 'neutron bomb' scenario where sovereign debt is recognized as a 'risky asset' (which seems more than plausible to us), the capital needs are almost EUR300bn with Spanish and French banks dominant but Italian and German banks are close behind. As Kyle Bass notes "There is no savior large enough with a magic potion of capital to stave off this unfortunate conclusion to the global debt super cycle.". This leads to only a bad and worse outcome for Europe, as the cataclysm plays out because the banks do have an alternative to raising capital – shrink the balance sheet. Deleveraging is already going on in a number of countries, with loan-to-deposit ratios dropping in recent months in Portugal, Spain, and Italy. This reduces the capital needs of banks, but fairly quickly starts to cut into the muscle of the financial system. The banks have little alternative but to keep holding sovereign debt in the short term, since it is the collateral for their borrowing needs. And as we have been so vociferously explaining recently, should they be forced to delver even more, and sell reduce these sovereign assets, then the daisy-chain effect of de-hypothecation on shadow banking will not end well for anyone.
As we said last week, when the S&P, in desperate hope that the Euro summit would achieve something, anything, to avoid an eventual downgrade of Europe, called Europe's bluff... and Europe was found to hold 2-7 offsuit. Now, when it has no choice but to downgrade the EuropeAAAn-club, S&P is practically apologizing for its action, and is today saying that since nothing happened to change its opinion, it will have no choice but to proceed with pervasive downgrades, only this time not only sovereigns (which it is expected to conclude on shortly) but also corporates of all shapes and sizes. Unless of course it doesn't, at which point the rating agency can just tell the last guy to turn the lights out on their way out.
UPDATE: European credit closed abruptly negative (especially Financials) - even as stocks managed a small gaiun into the close
It has been an extremely volatile start to the US day session as QE3 rumors and Oil geo-political concerns set the markets on fire only for denials and Merkel's straight talk to dash those hopes. EURUSD is 180 pips off its earlier highs having broken through 1.31 to 11 month lows. European credits are rolling over rapidly (especially financials and XOver) as are US credit and equity markets with financials, tech, and consumer discretionary now in the red on the day. HYG is selling off tick for tick with the broad equity and credit markets which is what we were concerned about yesterday with its impact on secondary bonds if we see outflows. Commodities have continued their week of chaos with Oil having retraced about 50% of its spike but Gold and Silver now significantly below the pre-QE3-rumor levels (down over 3% on the week).
Update: It's Not On Just Yet: Iran Denies Earlier Reports:... Iran Closes Straits Of Hormuz, Oil ExplodesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/13/2011 10:53 -0400
HORMUZ STRAIT IS NOT SHUT: IRAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN - BLOOMBERG
...but if Fitch changing the outlook from positive to stable on Bulgaria, Czech, Lativa, and Lithuania can push us down 0.5% then if you are long, you need to be putting on some sort of a hedge. I'm not a big fan of puts, and maybe this isn't the news that caused the market to go down, but if it is, then that is scary.
Having surged on earlier speculation that the Fed may hint at QE3, and follow up reports from RanSquawk that the Straits of Hormuz are either closed or in process of doing so, it is now time for the roundtrip, after Reuters just reported that hopes of EFSF-like expansion for the ESM have been dashed.
- MERKEL REJECTS RAISING UPPER LIMITS OF FUNDING FOR ESM BAILOUT MECHANISM -SOURCES IN RULING COALITION - RTRS
Summary: Risk On -> Risk Off
Just in case the general population was getting accustomed to the image of a demonic creature from the depths of hell every time the name "Chairsatan" was invoked in impolite conversation, here comes Jon Hilsenrath via the WSJ's blog, to attempt to humanize the man who together with 9 other academics who have no real world experience, runs the world out of a private (and locked) conference room in the Marriner Eccles building. So lest someone expect pentagrams to accompany today's FOMC statement, coupled with Bernanke breathing fire and smelling of sulfur at the next Fed conference, here is WSJ's Jon to put a humanly halo around the printer operator himself...
Perhaps it is time for the stick-jockeys who are controlling US drones to put down the twinky and focus a little more. Reuters is reporting that yet another US drone has crashed, this time while it was vacationing in the Seychelles. The Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) confirmed the incident and said that the plane was on a "routine patrol" and had crashed because of mechanical failure. On the bright side, this has to be good for GDP as Durable Goods orders (or maybe they should be repositioned as non-durable) will get a bump as General Atomics gets some new Predator orders.
It is always amsuing to listen to market narratives, however goal seeked they may be, when presented by market veterans such as Art Cashin, who in this case deconstructs the violent clash between reality and post-summit hype as represented by yesterday's amusing market action.
As expected banks couldn't agree to a haircut. Now Greece, the EU, the IMF, and taxpayers, will pay out about about $11 billion of principal and interest before the end of the year. I don't know who holds the bonds maturing this year, but some of that money is probably finding its way into banks that survive solely on the grace of central bank funding. Why would any bank agree to a haircut when they are getting unlimited virtually free funding on the one hand, and the Troika has shown zero willingness to stand its ground and force a default?
A core portion of the MBIA thesis has been validated. Furthermore, the settlement hit to earnings of $1.8 billion is precisely as we expected back in March when we stated, "As Morgan Stanley Unwinds Its Massive MBIA CDS Losing Position, Is A Billion+ Hit To Earnings Coming?" Expect the short covering in MBIA to spring into action today. And hilariously, MBI short interest rose into the end of November! To those who followed our suggestion back in September and bought MBIA, congratulations on the 50% gain. It is likely that the true "squeeze thesis" upside is only yet to be uncovered.
Its not just our European colleagues who are struggling under the weight of collateral value losses and de-hypothecation, the USD funding shortage is just as evident in Japan. As part of the globally coordinated central bank swap line extension, the Bank of Japan saw bids for their 84-day USD loans explode by 48 times to around $4.8bn. After jumping 25x the previous week, the short-dated loans (one-week term) demand drifted as demand for the 84-day loans (which would get them over the holiday/end-of-year funding debacles and a decent way into the first quarter refi-ganza of next year) was far preferred at the obviously preferential rate of 50bps over 3 month OIS (0.61%). It's also worth noting that the size and demand for Euro-based USD funding is still significantly higher and while cross-currency basis swaps for both JPY and EUR are leaking back towards extreme stress levels, the EUR-USD is getting worse faster than the JPY-USD level (as the differential has widened from 56bps to 78bps in the last week).