Announcement that Muamar has slipped into a coma to hit within 3-6 hours. As a reminder, Libya had 143.8 tonnes of gold.
With pervasive shooting across Libya, stoppage of oil production, and overall revolutionary activity, it makes sense to take a look at the biggest holdings of some of the key Libyan investment players. We start with the country's Sovereign Wealth Fund, the Libyan Investment Authority. We find some interesting names...
Courtesy of endlessly trading and constantly front-run electronic markets, after watching the geopolitical carnage overnight with little reaction futures have suddenly gapped down by over 10 points to below Wednesday's closing levels, wiping out the levitation from both Thursday and Friday. Indicatively, as stocks finally appear mortal once again, silver (now a quarter away from $34) is up 11.63% from its Wednesday lows, and even gold is up 2.7%. The former traditionally takes a while to pick up momentum. Once it does, not even JPM can stop it.
With just 4 days left before the Irish General election, the Irish Times reports that Fine Gael is now guaranteed to be the winner of the upcoming popular vote. The only question is whether the government will be a monopoly one or coalition based. Reports the Irish Times: "When people were asked who they would vote for if there were a general
election tomorrow, the figures for party support (when undecided voters
were excluded) compared with the last Irish Times poll on
February 3rd were: Fianna Fáil, 16 per cent (up one point); Fine Gael,
37 per cent (up four points); Labour, 19 per cent (down five points);
Sinn Féin, 11 per cent (down one point); Green Party, 2 per cent (up one
point); and Independents/Others, 15 per cent (no change)." Not surprisingly, lagging Labour party is scrambling to get some last minute votes: "Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore has urged voters not to give Fine Gael
a “monopoly of power” and called on people to “switch to Labour” when
they cast their vote on Friday." Sounds like a call for a vote for hope and change. That worked swell back in the US. So now that the election outcome is certain, and Brian Cowen's tenure has at most 3 more days to go, here is a profile of the new Irish leader: Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny.
Italian Eni SpA Joins BP, Royal Dutch Shell, RWE, Statoil And OMV In Shuttering Libyan Operations, Stock PlungesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/21/2011 10:05 -0400
Italy oil producer Eni SpA, which also happens to be the largest foreign oil producer in Libya, plunged over 5% on concerns the company's output will be crippled, after the company announced it is following BP in relocating all non-essential (for now) personnel away from Libya. Per Bloomberg: "Eni, which produced 244,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day in Libya in 2009, fell as much as 5 percent, the most since May. The company said in a statement that production is continuing as normal. BP has no producing assets in Libya and is evacuating families and non-essential staff, said David Nicholas, a spokesman for Europe’s second-largest oil company." As we have reported on numerous occasions in the past, unlike Egypt Libya has a substantial amount of oil reserves: in fact, it holds the largest crude reserves on the entire continent, and Europe, particularly Italy and Spain are primary beneficiaries, which explains the plunge in those two stock markets.
As was reported on Saturday, the culprits for the surge in borrowing on the Marginal Lending Facility have been supposedly identified, with Ireland once again to blame. The flawed explanation provided was that insolvent Irish banks are paying an extra 75 bps in interest just so they have access to capital on a day's notice (as opposed to a week) as they unwind their collateral. Needless to say, we are skeptical of that "explanation." And judging by the fact that today total borrowing on the MLP, while still near record highs, dropped by €2 billion, without any news of collateral unwind to free up asset sales by either Anglo Irish Bank and the Irish Nationwide Building Society, puts the credibility of the FT source at question. What is without doubt, is that borrowings on the MLP will persist for a long time, as was insinuated in the original piece. After all the whole point was to make this latest outlier event "priced in."
As many are always quick to point out, any talk of a record price in silver is preliminary as long as the Hunt Brothers nominal high of $50 set in 1980 remains in the history books. However, when priced in EURs, this is not exactly the case. As can be seen on the chart below, our European readers have full permission to say that silver is now at an all time high, with no caveats or footnotes.
Emerging reports early Feb. 21 indicate the unrest in Libya is spreading from eastern Libya to the capital of Tripoli. According to initial reports, heavy gunfire was heard in central Tripoli and in other districts with Al Jazeera reporting 61 people killed in Tripoli on Feb. 21. Other unconfirmed reports say that protesters attacked the headquarters of Al-Jamahiriya Two television and Al-Shababia as well as other government buildings in Tripoli overnight. According to Saudi-owned al-Arabiya, the government-owned People’s Conference Centre where the General People’s Congress (parliament) meets when it is in session in Tripoli was set on fire. U.K. energy firm British Petroleum reportedly said it would evacuate its personnel from Libya and suspend its activities due to massive unrest. Spain’s Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez said on Feb. 21 that the EU member states are coordinating possible evacuations of European nationals from Libya. A Turkish Airlines flight was arranged to evacuate Turkish citizens from Benghazi but was denied the opportunity to land by Libyan authorities and returned to Turkey.
On Rick Santelli's "Meet The Press" Appearance, A $113 Trillion Future Rounding Error, And The Metamorphosis Of The American Dream To A NightmareSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/20/2011 15:12 -0400
Today, appearing on Meet The Press, in addition to Susan Rice, Dick Durbin, Lindsey Graham, Jennifer Granholm, Harold Ford, and Ed Gillespie was CNBC's uber contrarian voice, Rick Santelli. The topic: reigning in government spending, a topic which will be with America until its last bond issuance, sometime in the next 5 years. And while Rick was quite subdued this time around (it seems the CBOT voice only sees red when confronted with the likes of Steve Liesman), he did compare the crisis facing America now to the events from 9/11... "I think this is an issue that needs to be put out into the air and
see--many, many other states, ultimately, might have--not have the same
balance sheet as Wisconsin, but I think, ultimately, collective
bargaining, even from a federal level, these are big issues, and these
costs need to be put under control. If the country is ever attacked
like it was in 9/11, we all respond with a sense of urgency. What's
going on on balance sheets throughout the country is the same type of
attack." He also noted the critical Illinois muni situation whose alternative is a forced austerity plan (and considering that various Wisconsin politicans received death threats over what is finally being perceived a loss in some entitlement benefits, the outcome of inevitable austerity in America will not be pretty): "Senator Durbin is from my state: $3.7 billion muni issuance that they need to bring to the market. They
haven't paid vendors. You know, it has come to the crossroads where if
we don't start to make the changes that the governor and the congressman
know are going to take time, we will have austerity forced on us, and
that type of austerity is going to be much messier. There really isn't
much opportunity for debate here. We do need action." But most importantly is the realization that nobody has any idea what to do, and as an article just penned by the Global and Mail screams, "Wake up, Americans. Your economic dream is a nightmare." Luckily, with everyone's head in the sand, nobody really minds.
RANsquawk European Morning Briefing - Stocks, Bonds, FX etc. – 21/02/11
As we pointed out earlier, the upcoming week will be quiet on economic and market events. What it, however, will be heavy on is revolutions, riots and the good old ultraviolence. Below is a useful primer from Stratfor for what is becoming an increasingly more complex geopolitical chess game, for the time being confined in the Maghreb, but soon spreading all across the Muslim crescent and soon thereafter into East Asia.
Silver takes out $33.10, hitting a fresh 31 year high, as the relentless short squeeze leads to more body bags, and the only flight to safety currency is now the non-dilutable one (with gold on the verge of $1,400). Only $20 more to go until the all time Hunt Brother record is smashed - one/two more revolutions should do it; even better: hopefully the CME hikes margins next week: that would bring $40 silver 24 hours later. And on a more somber note, please join us for a moment of silence in remembrance of the great, the legendary, the soon to be departed Blythe Masters whose most recent zero margin, infinite PM short contraption has just sang its swan song.
As part of GATA's ongoing crusade against the Fed's gold price manipulation efforts, the organization recently succeeded in extracting some novel clues on how and why the Fed views its sworn duty as keeping the price of gold low. While much of the requested documents demanded by GATA in a lawsuit with the Fed have been exempt from disclosure under the law, one that was made public consists of the minutes of a private meeting of the G-10 Gold and Foreign Exchange Committee in April 1997. And while we will leave it up to our readers to parse through the bulk of the comments (attached below), we would like to draw attention to one, attributed to Peter R. Fisher, head of open market operations and foreign exchange trading for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, or in other words the equivalent of our very own Brian Sack. Fisher's comment relates to what would happen to the Fed's securities portfolio should there be a sudden or gradual revaluation in the price of gold. His conclusion is that in order to keep the Fed's balance sheet stable, an (acknowledged) surge in the price of gold would lead to a forced selling in Treasurys. Of course, that would mean that the Fed would have to actually value gold at its actual market price, instead of that relic price of $42.22 per ounce. Which means that valuing gold at fair market value would result in dumping over $300 billion in Treasurys, something the Fed can not afford to do at a time when it is engaged in purchasing $100+ billion each month.
"Massive Collapse" For Angela Merkel Following Today's Hamburg Election As Germans "Just Say No" To More European Bail OutsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/20/2011 17:37 -0400
As the results of the first of seven German regional elections hits the wire, the German people are heard loud and clear: "no more bail outs." The outcome of the Hamburg election is nothing short of a disaster for Angela Merkel and her ruling (for now) CDU party. Bloomberg reports that "Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party lost control of Hamburg, Germany’s richest state, in the first of seven state votes this year that threaten to limit her scope to respond to Europe’s debt crisis, television projections show." Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union took 20.8 percent in today’s election, its worst result in the port city since at least World War II, ARD television projections showed. The Social Democrats, the main national opposition party, took 49.8 percent, enough to end the CDU’s 10-year rule in Hamburg and form a majority government without need of a coalition partner. The CDU suffered “a massive collapse of support in this
booming city that must set off hand-wringing in Berlin,” said
Hans-Juergen Hoffmann, managing director of Hamburg-based
pollster Psephos. “Merkel will surely be concerned now that
this disaster won’t be repeated in upcoming state elections.” To their great chagrin, the young participants on the FRBNY's OMO desk will have to be absent from their President's Day NYU mixers overnight as they are urgently needed by JC Trichet: the reason - buying up every single Portuguese bond as soon as the market opens tomorrow: "There’s a risk to peripheral bonds if Germany is seen not to be displaying support for the countries that are in trouble,” said Orlando Green, assistant director of capital- markets strategy at Credit Agricole Corporate & Investment bank in London. “The market would have been hoping that a deal would have been struck already” before the elections." And while German people are just modestly more civilized than their North African peers, what has happened in Germany is nothing short of a revolution to the existing status quo. The attempt to cover up European bail outs with endless rhetoric is over. If Merkel continues the course she is on, she is history... and she knows it too well. Time to be less than bullish on the EUR's prospects.
The week ahead is light on data releases with probably the key prints at the start and the end of the week. On Monday, the focus will be on the flash PMIs out of Euroland and the German IFO. Japanese CPI will be important and the US Q4 GDP print will be watched for revisions. Otherwise, attention will continue to be paid to the DM/EM rotation theme, the events in the Middle East and the European Sovereign issue. Also, lots and lots of POMOs.