As part of the weekend's Cyprus parliamentary vote-bypassing "bank resolution", we learned that the second largest Cyprus bank, Laiki, will be liquidated, with the bulk of its good assets rolled into what would remain of the first and only remaining major bank in the island: Bank of Cyprus (whose uninsured depositors would also suffer a haircut, but supposedly a smaller one, less than 30%). Then, in a very surprising move overnight, news hit that the Chairman of this last standing bank, Andreas Artemis, has tendered his resignation. Why now, when everything is supposedly fixed and when the impression of stability is paramount? Perhaps the reason is that as CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera reports from Cyprus, there is now an rumor that the "other" bank - Bank of Cyprus - may also be on the verge of liquidation.
In all of the tortuous moments that have taken place with the European Union the one thing that has become apparent is a radical change of mindset. In the beginning there was a kind of democratic viewpoint. All nations had a voice and while some were louder than others; all were heard. This is no longer the case. There is but one mindset now and it is decidedly German. It is not that this is good or bad or even someplace in between. That is not the real issue. The Germans will do what is necessary to accomplish their goals. There is nothing inherently bad or evil about this but it is taking its toll on many nations in Europe. It is the occupation of Poland in a very real sense just accomplished without tanks or bloodshed as money is used instead of armaments to dominate and control a nation. Politically you may "Hiss" or you may "Applaud" but there are consequences here for investors that must be understood. First and foremost is that they will not stop.
Capital Spending Renaissance Deferred Once More As Nondefense Cap Orders Ex-Aircraft Tumble In FebruarySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/26/2013 08:52 -0400
While last month's durable goods was a huge headline miss of -5.2% due to a collapse in Boeing aircraft orders (just 2), the internals were strong with the core capex spending for nondefense capital goods ex-aircraft soaring 6.3%. Today, the situation is flipped with the headline number soaring by 5.7%, trouncing expectations of a 3.9% print. However, this was due entirely to the unbearably volatile transportation series, which in February saw a 95% surge in Nondefense aircraft and parts and a just as massive 68% surge in defense capital good new orders, driven once again by Boeing which reported nearly 200 airplane orders. As a result durables ex-transportation dipped by 0.5%, on expectations of a 0.6% increase, while the true core capex: non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft tumbled by -2.7% on expectations of a modest -1.1% decline. And with that last month's rise in Year-over-Year core Capex is over and the trendline continues into negative comps territory once more. So much for the great capex renaissance.
Even more bad news for Cyprus, which now has not only a depression to look forward to but a depressionary stagflation to boot. Bloomberg has ranked countries based on their risk of stagflation based on the following methodology: First, the average real Gross Domestic Product and average Consumer Price Index was calculated for each country from 2012 to 2014. Then the Stagflation Score was determined by multiplying average real GDP by average CPI if the average real GDP was negative or by dividing average real GDP by average CPI if the average real GDP was positive. The lower the score, the greater the risk of stagflation. The winner, or loser at the case may be? Cyprus was found to be most at risk of stagflation with a Stagflation Score of -4.733, followed by Portugal (-2.671), Italy (-2.133), Spain(-1.745) and Greece (-1.366). Switzerland was ranked least at risk with a score of (7.560), followed by China (2.612) and Japan (2.446).
After one of the most fabulous verbal faux pas in recent history was committed yesterday, in which the truth briefly escaped the lips of the new Eurogroup head who still has to learn from his masterful "when it becomes serious you have to lie" predecessor and ever since both he and all of uber-incompetent Europe have been desperate to put the genie back into the bottle to no avail, everyone has been caught in a great debate: to template, or not to template? Below is a summary of Wall Street's thinking on this key for so many European (and soon global) depositors.
- Berezovsky Died of Hanging Without Struggle, Police Say (BBG)
- BRICS Nations Plan New Bank to Bypass World Bank, IMF (BBG)
- China pledges more investments to Africa (FT)
- BOJ's Kuroda signals targeting longer-dated JGBs (Reuters)
- North Korea orders artillery to be combat ready, targeting U.S. bases (Reuters)
- Supreme Court to take up gay marriage for the first time (Reuters)
- U.S. Cracks Down on 'Forced' Insurance (WSJ)
- Japanese courts press Abe on electoral reform (FT)
- Vietnam accuses China of attack on fishermen in South China Sea (Reuters)
- Italy's High Court Overturns Knox Acquittal (WSJ)
- Facebook’s Zuckerberg Said to Explore Forming Political Group (BBG)
Yesterday, we first reported on something very disturbing (at least to Cyprus' citizens): despite the closed banks (which will mostly reopen tomorrow, while the two biggest soon to be liquidated banks Laiki and BoC will be shuttered until Thursday) and the capital controls, the local financial system has been leaking cash. Lots and lots of cash. Alas, we did not have much granularity or details on who or where these illegal transfers were conducted with. Today, courtesy of a follow up by Reuters, we do. As it turns out, the Russian oligrachs this whole operation was geared to punish, may have used the one week hiatus period of total chaos in the banking system to transfer the bulk of the cash they had deposited with one of the two main Cypriot banks, in the process making the whole punitive point of collapsing the Cyprus financial system entirely moot.
Another session in which the market continues to be "cautiously optimistic" about Europe, but is confused about Cyprus which keeps sending the wrong signals: in the aftermath of the Diesel-Boom fiasco, the announcement that the preciously announced reopening of banks was also subsequently "retracted" and pushed back to at least Thursday, did little to soothe fears that anyone in Europe has any idea what they are doing. Additional confusion comes from the fact that the Chairman of the Bank of Cyprus moments ago submitted his resignation: recall that this is the bank that is supposed to survive, unlike its unluckier Laiki competitor which was made into a sacrificial lamb. This confusion has so far prevented the arrival of the traditional post-Europe open ramp, as the EURUSD is locked in a range below its 200 DMA and it is unclear what if anything can push it higher, despite the Yen increasingly becoming the funding currency of choice.
Nobelist Paul Krugman has a propensity to spin and conceal. This allows for deception – the type of thing that hoodwinks some readers of his New York Times column. While deception doesn’t qualify as lying, it also fails to qualify as truth-telling. Prof. Krugman’s New York Times column, “Hot Money Blues” (25 March 2013) is a case in point. Prof. Krugman sprinkles holy water on the capital controls that will be imposed in Cyprus. He further praises to the sky the post-1980 capital controls that were introduced in a number of other countries.
With news this evening that the Cypriot banks will not now be re-opening tomorrow (as perhaps - as we noted earlier - a little more of those precious deposits leaked away during the closures than expected):
CYPRUS BANKS TO REMAIN CLOSED THROUGH MARCH 27: CENTRAL BANK
We thought it useful to consider Cyprus in relation to the longest bank closures in history. Cyprus has now shutdown its banking system longer than Argentina, Ecuador, and Uruguay and as far as President Anastasiades comments that capital controls are temporary - we can only hope for the depositors sake - that it's not as temporary as Argentina's 120 month 'restrictions' starting in 2001.
Self-admitted 'crazy-guy-at-every-cocktail-party', Santiago Capital's Brent Johnson believes there is something really wrong in the world today. But as he notes as an introduction to his presentation, "while I am not naive to the way the world works, I at least want to try to make it better." Rather than tell us what we should do, he tells us what he believes in the hope that just maybe, we may believe in many of the same things... for instance, that despite the S&P 500 returning to its all-time highs, the real economy has not recovered; that holding interest rates at less than 1% for 5 years is an indicator of a recession if not a depression and that the fact that that middle class jobs have not returned is indicative of an economy in trouble. This brief but full presentation is a litany of all that is wrong today - see how many of his 'beliefs' you agree with...
After the strongest 4-day surge in 11 months, it would appear that the BoJ is on full-court-press tonight to jawbone the world back to the new normal. The sad truth is though, they can't even make up their own punchlines anymore:
*KURODA: BOJ WILL DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO END DEFLATION.
Well, why not, it worked for Draghi for a few months? Of course JPY is leaking back lower a little as they talk up their devaluation strategy (and all their various shiny new options - that have never been tried before) - even as: *KURODA: UNCERTAINTIES ARE HIGH FOR JAPAN'S ECONOMY. Between Dijsselbloem's slip of truth (and rapid retraction) and now this 'copycat-ism' by a desparate BoJ, it appears, simply put, we are being taken for fools.
While hosting his weekly radio show this past Friday, Your Royal Highness Mayor Michael Bloomberg explained to the serfs of NYC that privacy is dead and that you just "can't keep the tide" of the surveillance state from coming in. His quotes perfectly demonstrate the attitude he takes toward his subjects and are quite revealing. For instance: "Everybody wants their privacy, but I don’t know how you’re going to maintain it. It’s just we’re going into a different world, uncharted, and, like it or not, what people can do, what governments can do, is different." This whole thing comes across as a gigantic Jedi mind trick to me. ”It’s inevitable you will lose your freedoms. Resistance is futile. Just accept it.” Sadly, unlike the proud citizens of Seattle, New Yorkers are still too traumatized from 9/11 to get off their knees.
It was only yesterday that we wrote about comparable problems to those which Russian depositors may (or may not be?) suffering in Cyprus right, this time impacting wealthy Americans and their Swiss bank accounts, where as a result of unprecedented DOJ pressure the local banks will soon breach all client confidentiality and expose all US citizens who still have cash in the former tax haven under the assumption that they are all tax evaders and violators. And in the continuum of creeping wealth taxes which first started in Switzerland, then Cyprus, and soon who knows where else, there was just one question: "The question then is: how many of the oligarchs, Russian or otherwise, who avoided a complete wipe out and total capital controls in Cyprus, will wait to find out if the same fate will befall them in Switzerland? Or Luxembourg? Or Lichtenstein? Or Singapore?" Today we got the answer, and yes it was one of the abovementioned usual suspects. The winner is.... Lichtenstein.