With the meaningless focus on such distracting noise as daily POMOs, will/won't the Fed taper, how many shorts will the Fed's Markets desk squeeze today, and how massive will the second Fed housing bubble be, it is easy to lose sight of the big picture, namely just where is the debt juggernaut that is the US, heading? Conveniently, the US debt clock has a "time machine" function that extrapolates, at current rates of change, what the key metrics behind the US economic facade will look like.
Greek Prime Minister Samaras offers to allow the immediate restart of ERT broadcasting: government source #breaking
— Reuters World (@ReutersWorld) June 17, 2013
Why do the debt crisis in Cyprus and the subsequent "bail-in" confiscation of bank depositors' money matter? They matter for two reasons: 1. The banking/debt crisis in Cyprus shares many characteristics with other banking/debt crises. 2. The official Eurozone resolution of the crisis--the "bail-in" confiscation of 60% of bank depositors' cash in an involuntary exchange for shares in the bank (which are unlikely to have any future value)--may provide a template for future official resolutions of other banking/debt crises. In other words, since the banking/debt crisis in Cyprus is hardly unique, we can anticipate the resolution (confiscation of deposits) may be applied elsewhere.
Eager to take advantage of NSA-whistleblower Edward Snowden's current unincarcerated status and to ask him questions about his motives or thoughts? Here is your chance courtesy of the Guardian which is holding a live Q&A session with the famous leaker. As the Guardian notes: "He will be online today from 11am ET/4pm BST today. An important caveat: the live chat is subject to Snowden's security concerns and also his access to a secure internet connection. It is possible that he will appear and disappear intermittently, so if it takes him a while to get through the questions, please be patient." Some more from the Guardian:
- Edward Snowden is answering your questions about the NSA leaks live
- Post your questions in the comment section below and recommend your favorites
- We are posting Snowden's replies above the line
- You can also follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #AskSnowden
The live blog can be reached at the following link.
While we have been told vehemently that the Cypriot deposit confiscation was not a template, yet another European nation is embarking on an until-now-considered-safe asset class to recapitalize its banks. As The Telegraph reports, pensioners and other retail investors in the Co-operative Bank are facing massive losses under a GBP1.5 billion rescue plan for the ailing mutual as investors and the bank's parent would make "a joint contribution" to the bank's recapitalisation, without any help from taxpayers. It seems the days of 'hoping' for a bail-out are over and perhaps that is why European financial credit has been underperforming - as that reality has yet to strike equity holders. The realization that deposits (or their mutual equivalent) are nothing more than loans to highly levered institutions may begin to dawn on a European (or in fact global) depositor base.
Not so long ago, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said it expected the U.S. government to register a budget deficit in the current fiscal year of $642 billion. But hold on a minute... The budget deficit so far (as of May 31, 2013) has already hit $626.3 billion, and we still have four more months to go in the government’s current fiscal year! The U.S. has been the family that spends more than it earns for many years now. In the short term, spending more than one takes in can work (especially if the Fed just prints new money and gives it to the government to pay its bills). But in the long term, if fundamental changes are not made to the government’s spending habits, financial chaos just starts all over again. Posting a budget deficit year after year is not sustainable. The debt-infested eurozone nations did very much the same; they borrowed to spend. Look where they are now.
Is recent market behavior the beginning of a market turndown? No one knows, although it is easy to find people providing “answers.” The value of these predictions approach those of astrologers and fortune-tellers.
Our "silver lining" concluding remark to last week's lackluster 10 Year bond reopening auction was that "the good news is that with the reopening, dealers should have some additional collateral for a while, or at least until the Fed monetizes it. Look for this CUSIP - VB3 (On The Run) to remain on the POMO exclusion lists for white a while." Sure enough, following the Friday settlement of this auction, things in the Treasury repo market have normalized somewhat after hitting very dangerous levels. How bad did it get? The following chart of failures to deliver from the NY Fed shows just how acute the shortage of "high quality collateral" (where the 10 Year is the fulcrum instrument) got in the past two months, with the total rising to $129 billion, or the biggest freeze in the repo market since the debt-ceiling crisis in the summer of 2011 when this number hit $280 billion.
Not only did all three segments of the NAHB's index rise but the headline print saw its largest month-over-month increase since 1996. Despite falling mortgage applications, an REO-to-rent model that is disintegrating amid higher rates (which notably saw no mention in the text of the NAHB's PR), and slumping Lumber prices, the homebuilders (and sellers) remain self-confirmingly exuberant at the outlook for their industry as the index hits 52 - its highest since March 2006 - surging to its best 2-year gain in the almost 30 years of recorded data.
While the headline print of this morning's Empire Fed beat expectations, as we noted earlier, the underlying characteristics were an unimitgated disaster by any measure. The current business climate, reflecting more a rear-view-mirror-based world was weak but the future expectations index - which should be more important for an equity market that supposedly discounts the future - had some significant headline risk. There is however, one chart that sums up the confidence of the CEOs in this nation. Capital Expenditure expectations (the measure of reinvesting in organic growth producing assets - as opposed to buybacks and shareholder-reacharound funding) plunged at its fastest rate on record and printed at its lowest since the collapse in 2008/9. It seems, to us at least, that the future is not so bright.
Over the weekend, Dick Cheney emerged from his lair, and staunchly defended the NSA surveillance programs that started under his tenure as Vice President, telling Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday that the programs could have stopped 9/11 had they been in effect. More to the point, Cheney shared his view of Edward Snowden, whom he accused of being a traitor and went so far as hinting that he could be a spy for China. "I'm suspicious because he went to China. That's not a place where you would ordinarily want to go if you are interested in freedom, liberty and so forth," Cheney said, adding: "It raises questions whether or not he had that kind of connection before he did this." The last statement finally generated an official response from China whose Foreign Ministry on Monday, which had been silent for the past week over all issues surrounding the whistleblower, denying Edward Snowden was a Chinese spy and said the United States should give the world an explanation regarding its international internet surveillance programme.
It is difficult enough, in our world, to ferret out the truth and then make rational decisions based upon what you have found. Europe is a good example of this as liabilities are not acknowledged or counted while the propaganda machines roll out the officially mandated numbers. It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to get at some of the truth though and liabilities, counted or not, still have to be paid. In the case of Europe a great deal of enlightenment may be found in the data available from the Bank for International Settlements and that has been my primary source for arriving at some reality. Every Chinese joke starts in the same way. "First you look over your shoulder." In the case of China, and trying to find some glimmer of truth there, the situation is far more difficult.
And yet another baffle with absolute and unbelievable BS economic number is out, this time the Empire Fed index which magically spiked from -1.43 to 7.84 on expectations of a 0.00 print. We say magically, because besides the headline number, virtually everything else was down! To wit: New Orders down, Shipments down, Unfilled Orders down, Delivery Time down, Inventories down, Number of Employees down, Avg Workweek down, should we continue? The Empire Fed report admits as much: "The general business conditions index—the most comprehensive of the survey’s measures—rose nine points to 7.8. Nevertheless, most other indicators in the survey fell." Almost as if the NY Fed apologized for having to make up headline numbers.
In the week ahead, we get the usual middle-of-the-month batch of early business surveys, including the New York Empire, Philly Fed and Eurozone Flash PMIs. The second key focus will be a number of important monetary policy meetings, including the FOMC, as well as the Swiss, Norwegian Turkish and Indian policy decisions. The latter two are particularly interesting in the light of the recent EM weakness. The main event this weak will be the FOMC meeting after the recent market focus on the timing of tapering of the QE3 program. Swings in bond markets related to the FOMC meeting could be the primary source of FX volatility this week.
- Obama prepares for chilly talks with Putin over Syria (Reuters)
- G8 opens amid dispute on Syria arms (FT)
- Economists Blame Fed for Higher Bond Yields (WSJ) - wait... what? Isn't the "stronger economy" to blame?
- What a novel concept - In the Czech Republic, a spying scandal has forced the PM to resign (BBG)
- Rigged-Benchmark Probes Proliferate From Singapore to UK (BBG)
- Economists Wary as Fed's Next Forecast Looms (Hilsenleak)
- Banks Balk at New Rules for Small Loans (WSJ)
- Sporadic clashes in Turkey as Erdogan asserts authority (Reuters)