Stop us when this sounds familiar:
What a no-brainer to suck at the teat and go long some very transparent and liquid debt that matures in less than three years (how can there not be a rally in global risk assets when Europe's central bank pumps a combined $1.3 trillion into the financial system? Not to mention a second bailout for Greece we were told a year ago there wouldn't be any!). This must be the safest carry trade ever, or at least that is the perception (1% LTRO loan for a 5% Italian bond or a 2% short-term note even ... back up the truck!). Put up a tiny bit of capital and lever it up. It is incredible that we live in a world where the difference between going out of business as a bank and prosperity lies with cheap money being accessed from the central bank balance sheet.
At least LTRO1 was dealing with a possible breakdown of the system since the banks weren't lending to each other. LTRO2 is clearly an overt policy move from the traditional central bank role of being the lender of last resort (which even LTRO1 was to a point) to being the lender of first call, as Peter Tchir aptly puts it. There is no such thing as a free lunch, but there is such a thing as the law of unintended consequences. I can't say I know for sure what they will be or when they will show up, but there are going to be repercussions from a central bank morphing from a bona fide lender of last resort to a gift-giving institution.
Somehow a long gold, short euro barbell looks really good here. Bernanke, after all, now seems reluctant to embark on QE3 barring a renewed economic turndown while the ECB is moving further away from the role of a traditional central bank to take on the role of quasi fiscal policymaking, The German central bank, after all, is responsible for 25% of any losses that would ever be incurred by the massive Draghi balance sheet expansion. Why would anyone want to be long a currency representing a region with a 10.7% unemployment rate, rising inflation rates and free money? Mind you — the same can be said for the US (where U-6 jobless rate is even higher), which is why the best currency may be physical gold (or the producers that trade very inexpensively here and you pickup some leverage).
Short and sweet.
From David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff