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Meet The French Major Whose Spanish "A" Rating Keeps The ECB €17 Billion Margin Call Away





Egan Jones may be a registered NRSRO, but that doesn't matter to the global status quo perpetuation syndicate ("SQPS" or "the syndicate"). Why? Because the small rating agency misplaced a comma when it was filing its NRSRO application with the SEC and has infuriated the same clueless and corrupt SEC, which 2 years after the flash crash still allows the high freqs to make a total mockery of the market (as seen here). Another reason: it recently downgraded Spain to a CC rating, the lowest and thus most accurate of all rating agencies, with a C rating projected, which means if its rating were to be taken into account by the ECB, the result would be massive margin calls amount to 10% or higher of all the Spanish bonds repoed at the ECB. Instead, the SQPS is delighted to have Canadian-based DBRS on its side. Why? Because the tiny firm's A-rating obviates all others' sub-A ratings, this includes Moodys, S&P and Fitch, at least in the eyes of the ECB and thus Mario Draghi has an alibi to not demand an additional €17 billion collateral call from Spain, which would send its banking system on full tilt (this is money neither Spain, nor its banks has to spare). Which is why we wish to present to our readers the man behind the Spanish A-rated myth: Fergus McCormick (Reed College; BA, with honors, French), formerly of Spanish bank BBVA (surely BBVA is not calling in any favors from its former employee currently head of sovereign ratings at DBRS; none at all).

 
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Post-Election Stress Syndrome





There is one thing that is certain come Wednesday morning; there will be just as many losers as winners and as ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, while the main-event remains too close to call, the psychology of 'losing' will become a critical part of the domestic political process from November 7th onwards. We suggest the Post-Election Stress Syndrome (PESS) will follow the Kubler-Ross model - which means initially 'Denial' and 'Anger' will dominate people's deeds and words. None of this is good news for an efficient resolution to the political Gordian Knot know as the 'fiscal cliff' or to the stability of capital markets going into year-end as politicians and plebeians alike will be PESS'd off - and as a sad reminder, a loss in a sporting contest doesn’t just sting the losing players – it lowers the testosterone levels of male fans that back the unhappy team.

 
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How Canada Became Spain's Best Friend; Or Why The ECB Does Not Need To Haircut Toxic Spanish Bonds





As reported over the weekend, the German press did some work and discovered that despite Spain being rated practically junk across the board, its bonds pledged as collateral with the ECB had virtually no haircuts, despite as we said back in April, them needing to be haircut by a solid 5% or more an amount which would force the Spanish banko-sovereign system to scramble to procure the critical €17 billion margin call. Well, moments ago the Bank of Spain (not the ECB) came out and said that the ECB had applied collateral rules correctly. However, by that they meant not that the ECB had demanded the needed 5% haircut due upon a downgrade into sub A-range, but that the rating agency which absolutely nobody has every heard of, Canadian DBRS, has a "rating that needs to be taken into account." In other words, Spain's collateral call is now dependent not so much on Moody's downgrading the country to junk, which likely will happen soon if Rajoy does not demand the bailout which has been priced in for about 3 months now, but on what a tiny Canadian ratings firm, which has most certainly not gotten any quid pro quo from Europe to keep Spain at is A-low level (for long-term debt, not so much short-term) says is the Spanish rating quality.

 
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So Much For "Sell Bonds, Buy Stocks": Net Long Positions In 10 Year Treasury Highest Since March 2008





Remember when back in March Goldman presented the "Long good buy: the case for equities", when they, and everyone else of course, said the once in a generation opportunity to short bonds and buy stocks is here (and when BlackRock chimed along, saying the time to go all in... BlackRock ETFs.... is here)... Or when in September, right after QEternity, Goldman, having blown up previously on said trade, reiterated its call to go long stocks and short bonds (and when BlackRock chimed along again, saying the time to go all in... BlackRock ETFs.... is here). Well, so much for that. Or rather, those. As of last week, the speculative long exposure in the 10-year Treasury more than doubled in the past week, soaring from 79,296 to 169,456 net contracts, the highest position since March 2008. Looks like Uncle Ben will need to come up with more creative and counterintuitive ways to get traders to stop frontrunning him in purchasing every bond in the open market, and herd them into buying stocks...

 
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Gold And Silver Worth $1.4 Billion Carried In Baggage From Turkey To Iran, UAE And Middle East in September





Turkey’s trade deficit has been shrinking and the country has enjoyed the best bond rally in the emerging markets this year due in part to the contributions of airline passengers transporting gold in their baggage. Statistics from Istanbul’s 2 main airports show $1.4 billion of precious metals were registered for export in September.  Iran is Turkey’s largest oil supplier and Turkey has been paying for the oil not only with liras but also with gold bullion. Turkey exported $11.7 billion of gold and precious metals since March, when Iran was barred from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, (Swift) making it nearly impossible for Iran to complete large international fund transfers. Of the $11.7 billion, $10.2 billion or 90% was to Iran and the United Arab Emirates, according to data on Turkey’s state statistics agency’s website. Turkey’s current account deficit is second in the world at $77.1 billion or 10% of GDP while the US currently holds the top spot.   The problem with Turkey switching from a net importer to a net exporter of gold bullion this year is that the foreign trade data is misrepresented. Turkey’s use of precious metals is a key factor to help turn around its nation’s current junk bond rating status.

 
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Pre-election Frenzy Summary





When it all gets just so silly, only an xkcd cartoon can do it justice...

 
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Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: November 5





Equity markets kick started the week on a negative footing, with the troubled Iberian giant back in focus after it was reported that the ECB is checking whether it may have contravened its own strict rules by lending to Spanish banks on overly generous terms, an ECB spokesman said on Sunday. According to press reports, Spanish banks had borrowed funds from the ECB at a preferential interest rate of 0.5% even though the creditworthiness of the T-bills they provide as collateral should have required them to pay 5.5%. The never-ending Greek drama is another factor for the risk-averse sentiment, with only weeks before the country runs out of cash and still no evidence that lawmakers will find a solution to diffuse the situation, there is a risk of another speculative attack on weaker EU states. As a result, credit and bond yield spreads widened, led by Italian and Spanish bonds, both wider by around 9bps in 10s. Despite the evident distress in credit markets, EUR/GBP is essentially flat, with GBP underperforming following the lacklustre PMI report from the UK.

 
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Frontrunning: November 5





  • Obama and Romney Deadlocked, Polls Show (WSJ)
  • NYC Commuter Week Faces Uncharted Ground as Storm Brews (Bloomberg)
  • New York region struggles to move on a week after Sandy (Reuters)
  • Europe's Bank Reviews Collateral (WSJ)
  • Less circuses to pay for the bread? Time Warner Cable misses on falling demand (Reuters)
  • Spanish unemployment total jumps by 128,242 as recession continues to take its toll on economy (Independent)
  • Goldman Sachs Partner List Drops 31 Since February, Filing Shows (Bloomberg)
  • China's mission impossible - a date for Hu's military handover (Reuters)
  • German-Iranian trade booming (Jerusalem Post)
  • Russia supplying arms to Syria under old contracts: Lavrov (Reuters)
  • Russia endorses Egyptian-led regional group on Syria (Reuters)
  • Election Winner Must Win Over Wall Street (Bloomberg)
  • On Google, a Political Mystery That's All Numbers (WSJ)
  • Richard Koo: explain to Americans why $22 trillion in debt in 4 years is good for them.. or something (FT)
 
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RANsquawk EU Market Re-Cap - 5th November 2012





 
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European Rumblings Return As ECB Integrity Questioned





As we warned here first, and as the sellside crew finally caught on, while the key macro event this week is the US presidential election, the one most "under the radar" catalyst will take place in Greece (currently on strike for the next 48 hours, or, "as usual") on Wednesday, when a vote to pass the latest round of Troika mandated austerity (too bad there is no vote to cut corruption and to actually collect taxes) takes place even as the government coalition has now torn, and there is a high probability the ruling coalition may not have the required majority to pass the vote, which would send Greece into limbo, and move up right back from the naive concept of Grimbo and right back into Grexit. Which is why the market's attention is slowly shifting to Europe once more, and perhaps not at the best time, as news out of the old continent was anything but good: Spain's October jobless claims rose by 128,242, higher than the estimated 110,000 and the biggest jump in 9 months, bringing the total number of unemployed to 4,833,521, a rise of 2.7%, according to official statistics released Monday. This means broad Spanish unemployment is now well above 25%.  In the UK, the Services PMI plunged from 52.2 to 50.6, which was the lowest print in nearly two years or since December 2010, and proved that the Olympics-driven bump of the past few months is not only over, but the vicious snapback has begun.

 
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After The Flood Comes The Freeze: "Tens Of Thousands Need Housing" Says Cuomo, As Nor'Easter Approaches





First the flood, now the freeze (and the lack of fuel and gas and heating just making it much worse). And for tens of thousands of residents of New York and New Jersey this means that as many as 40,000 will need to find alternative housing, especially ahead of Wednesday when a Nor'easter formation is expected to hit the Tristate area and bring even more freezing rain and cold to the region. From Reuters: "Tens of thousands of people affected by superstorm Sandy could soon need housing as cold weather descends on the state of New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday. Cuomo, in a televised press conference nearly a week after the storm hit the U.S. East Coast, said the fuel shortages are improving but problems will persist for "a number of days."" Elsewhere, and also from Reuters: "Victims of superstorm Sandy on the U.S. East Coast struggled against the cold early on Sunday amid fuel shortages and power outages even as officials fretted about getting voters displaced by the storm to polling stations for Tuesday's presidential election. Overnight, near-freezing temperatures gripped the U.S. northeast. At least two more victims were found in New Jersey, one dead of hypothermia, as the overall death toll from one of worst storms in U.S. history climbed to at least 112. Fuel supplies continued to rumble toward disaster zones and electricity was slowly returning to darkened neighborhoods after a storm that hit the coast last Monday. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it would be days before power is fully restored and fuel shortages end."

 
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Is The Age of IT Outsourcing Over (For Now)?





With the dominance of IT spend (whether consulting or outsourcing) in many of today's investment theses, Morgan Stanley's new forward-looking models should have more than a few long-only money managers rocking quietly in the corner of the office (especially given IBM's dominance of the Dow). Their proprietary models (discussed below) predict decelerating revenues in both consulting and outsourcing through Q2 2013 reflecting the weak discretionary spend environment. The inflection in outsourcing is particularly notable and is far from priced in with the velocity of the fall suggesting 2009-like cutbacks. After the last recession's drop, IT outsourcing was a key area of cost reduction that also provided additional revenues for a new sector; one has to wonder if the recovery this time would be so acute (since sooner rather than later the cutting of fat leads to lascerations in the muscle).

 
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Is A 15%-Plus Devaluation Coming For Spain And Greece?





Countries that have the luxury of their own exchange rate are able to eliminate any loss in competitiveness through an exchange rate depreciation, but (as is broadly recognized by now) UBS reminds that in a single currency area the only route available is an adjustment in relative wages. "Integrate or die" is how they describe it as the impact of even a Greek exit is now well-known as the start of the end for the euro as bank runs would instantaneously begin. Instead of instantaneous devaluation (exit) - akin to tearing the (admittedly big) band-aid off, the devaluation will be undertaken over time to restore competitiveness, with the brunt of the adjustment taking place through wages and inflation. This equilibrium 'devaluation' is impossible to know with certainty, but UBS estimates it is over 20% for Greece and 15% for Spain. How patient will the market be in waiting for the promise of integration to cover this slow and steady competitive devaluation; or alternatively how patient will Greece's poverty-stricken population put up with it? The reflexive nature of the market will accelerate any perceived move in this direction... a 'painless' 15-20% devaluation in Greece and Spain backed by the ECB's promises seems to us the stuff of hopes and dreams and unicorn farts.

 
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Complete European Sovereign Event Calendar Until 2013





The following is a list of key events (and commentary) to watch over the next two months. From Germany's voting phases for Greek aid to various national strikes and regional elections, there's plenty here of critical importance to the future of the sovereign debt crisis.

 
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Israeli War Game Does Not See Attack Of Iran Starting World War III





It would appear, based on the latest war games from Israel's Institute of National Security Studies, that we should all go back to sleep and not worry about the impact of an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear infrastructure. The reason not to worry is simple - either it ignites World War III (which we presume means it will be all over very rapidly and we will be blissfully unaware until its too late to be capable of achieving anything) or - as they suspect (and gamed out) - there will be a focus on 'containment and restraint' with Iran unable to ignite the Middle East. The result is predicated on 'actors' motivated by rational considerations; which seems entirely irrational. All the gory details below...

 
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