IG9 10Y spreads re-surged today and were very choppy into the close as they broke back above 155bps (at 155.5/157.5bps now) for the first time since Mid-December with a 31% rip in the last two weeks. This fits perfectly with our ongoing thesis of this being a tail-risk hedge (not a simple 'spread' as other ignorant commentators presume) whose risk management has exploded in their face. While the skew (the difference between the index and its portfolio fair-value) has collapsed and arbs will be happy and likely exiting - the same correlation shifts (that we discussed earlier) that drove the big bank to sell more and more protection into a spread compressing market are now back-firing as systemic risk re-surges and the correlation shift is forcing them to buy back more and more protection into a spread decompressing market. Oh the fun of negative convexity - especially when you ARE the market and there is no-one to unwind the actual tranches to.
From mid-November last year, S&P 500 futures fell from a high of 1259 to a low of 1136 in around 9 days - 123 points (or 9.7%). This was enough, it seemed, for the Central Banks of the world to get on the phone and press the big green 'print' button in a coordinated response to markets waking up to the dismal reality hidden under the covers. From May 1st highs at 1412 to today's 1300.5 lows is a 112point drop in around 13 days (or a drop of around 7.8%). While the most recent move is slower and smaller so far - today's action in stocks (and even more so in Gold) perhaps reflects the reality that QE3 is inevitable (gold) but not until stocks have fallen enough to warrant 'extraordinary actions' by the Fed. Do we have another 2-3% drop before the Fed picks up the phone?
Now its getting interesting. 30Y yields fell the most in 5 months today back to 5 month lows, 10Y yields crashed to all-time closing lows, and Gold surged by its most in 4 months (and 2nd most in 7 months) as stocks started to accelerate lower. Gold is unch on the week now as 30Y is -21bps and 10Y -14bps to 1 1.69% handle - incredible. Between the Philly Fed's confirmation of deceleration in US macro data and Europe's increasingly crescendo-like implosion, is it any wonder that the decoupling thesis has given way to reality. S&P 500 e-mini futures repeated the early rally late fade pattern of the last 8 days but this time it was more aggressive as ES pushed towards 1300. CAT was a dog today accounting for 25% of the Dow's losses and AAPL tumbled further - heading towards a 20% retracement off its highs. Financials tumbled further with Citi inching very close to red YTD (and JPM falling rapidly). Credit markets, which led the selloff, continue to slide but this time with equities in sync. Equities went out at their very lows of the day at 1300.50 (at 3.5 month lows) as VIX soared over 24% to close at its highest in 5 months.
As was leaked earlier today, so it would be:
- MOODY'S CUTS 16 SPANISH BANKS AND SANTANDER UK PLC
- MOODY'S CUTS 1 TO 3 LEVELS L-T RATINGS OF 16 SPANISH BANKS
- MOODY'S DOWNGRADES SPANISH BANKS; RATINGS CARRY NEGATIVE
In summary, the highest Moodys rating for any Spanish bank as of this point is A3. But luckily the other "rumor" of a bank run at Bankia was completely untrue, at least according to Spanish economic ministry officials, so there is no need to worry: it is all under control. The Banko de Espana said so.
Finally, we can move on:
- FACEBOOK SAYS 421.2 MLN SHARES PRICED AT $38-SHR
Now, all that Facebook needs are those elusive +/-25 billion users to "grow" into its "valuation." We only have four outstanding questions:
- What is Ben Bernanke's IPO allocation?
- Does the CIA use tax or cost basis accounting?
- When do the puts start trading?
- What is the fair value of Like relative to intrinsics and is Bruno Iksil long or short it?
Because the proper trade is to respond only after JCP blew up proving that the US consumer is finished, here is Goldman finally joining the bandwagon of shorting the terminally tapped out all buying, all eating, all charging Joe Sixpack.
Update: JPMORGAN SAYS DIMON TO AGREE TO TESTIFY TO SENATE. Ummmm, there was an option?
As everyone (or at least Zero Hedge) long expected, JPM's prop trading debacle just got political and senators are about to demonstrate to the world just how little they understand about modern IG9-tranche pair trades. Expect to hear much more about JPM's "shitty" prop deal.
Jeff Gundlach discussed mortgages, models, math, and moronic delusion with Tom Keene on Bloomberg TV this morning. Starting with why Europe matters to US Treasury and mortgage markets, the DoubleLine boss goes on to address whether banks/hedge-funds have become too math-centric. "I don't believe in models" is how Gundlach begins his diatribe on the over-confidence in math and empirical relationships. Jeff believes there is no reason to hold any investment grade bonds that are inside of 3 years (and perhaps even 5 years) because they "just basically have no yield" and further, it is non-sensical to think that short-term interest rates are going up in the US. As Socrates said, Gundlach echoes the fact that 'one should not try to know everything; but respect the things that one cannot know' - don't delude yourself - which seems like good advice for all those with such high convictions of sustained reality. Towards the end he discusses his already-infamous short-AAPL, Long-Nattie trade - adding that the trade has 'monster legs' and the biggest mistake investors make is exiting winners too early.
It seems so bizarre that a country once regarded as the freest, most economically enviable in the world would treat its productive citizens with such hostility. This is where Eduardo Saverin comes in. The Facebook co-founder, who finds himself a few billion dollars richer this week, recently renounced his US citizenship. And, to the intelligentsia, it’s not ‘fair’. ‘Saverin needs to pay his fair share! He owes America more,’ they whine, completely ignorant that the 30-year old is already forking over a $500+ million exit tax (which may end up in the billions). Apparently it’s not good enough that the company Saverin co-founded has created tens of thousands of jobs, spawned entire industries, and produced oodles of new millionaires. Oh yeah, it’s also made things damn easy for the CIA, NSA, and FBI. You’d think Uncle Sam would pin a medal on his chest. But no. Saverin left behind a lot of value and decided to move on to greener pastures in Singapore. Now the do-gooders in Congress are cooking up new legislation (the EX-PATRIOT Act) designed to permanently bar ‘renunciants’ like Saverin from re-entering the United States.
As many already know, earlier today Senator Schumer announced the cleverly named Ex-PATRIOT act, which seeks nothing short of exile for anyone who effectively declines their US citizenship for tax avoidance purposes. So far so good. We have, however, one simple question. In light of recent media reports of rampant abuse of various international tax loopholes by US corporations (recall the Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich), but much more importantly, the glaring abuse of offshore tax shelters by hedge funds - organization such as Paulson & Co., RenTec, York Capital, etc., and financial institutions, such as Lazard, Blackstone, and Credit Suisse, can Senator Schumer please rep, warrant and guarantee that none of his corporate sponsors, i.e., his Top 100 Contributors, have ever engaged in any form of explicit or implicit tax avoidance, tax offshoring, and tax shelter. To facilitate his checklisting, we have presented his top 100 contributors below. Because if he can't, one may be left with the impression that his whole anti-tax tirade and legislation is, you know, hypocritical.
The business cycle ought to be thought of as a series of discrete phases, each one quite distinct from the other, rather than as a smooth and uninterrupted process through time. This is how Goldman Sachs describes what is a compelling view of the dynamics of macro acceleration-and-deceleration and expansion-and-contraction and how these separate phases of their so-called 'swirlogram' can be mapped into asset class performance. This means that unlike traditional business cycle momentum jockeys and the extrapolating 'rulers' of the world, trade positioning should depend not only on the current state of the cycle but also on the near-term phase transition. As the cycle turns, so do assets; economic acceleration serves as an early indicator of looming shifts. Hence, vigilance in monitoring the business cycle with an eye towards identifying cyclical turning points is instrumental to a disciplined investment process. These lessons are timely too. Back in March, the business cycle peaked. The GLI shifted from the Expansion phase to the Slowdown phase; growth remained positive but acceleration turned negative. More ominously, April GLI growth was quite modest, with downward revisions to the last few months of data too. If the current downbeat data trajectory is extended, current GLI readings may prove to be overly optimistic. And should acceleration remains negative (which today's Philly Fed will drive), there is not much of a growth buffer to prevent the cycle from slipping into the Contraction phase, where the message for asset markets is clear and sobering.
- From March 13: Fitch upgraded Greece's credit rating by one notch to B- following a successful debt swap finalised this week that erased some €100 billion from the country's crippling debt
- From May 17: Fitch Ratings-London-17 May 2012: Fitch Ratings has downgraded Greece's Long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) to 'CCC' from 'B-'. The Short-term foreign currency IDR has also been downgraded to 'C' from 'B'. At the same time, the agency has revised the Country Ceiling to 'B-'. The downgrade of Greece's sovereign ratings reflects the heightened risk that Greece may not be able to sustain its membership of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The strong showing of 'anti-austerity' parties in the 6 May parliamentary elections and subsequent failure to form a government underscores the lack of public and political support for the EU-IMF EUR173bn programme.
It would be laughable if it wasn't so... nevermind, it is laughable.
Something funny happened in the aftermath of the US fraudclosure settlement, in which millions of backlogged housing units were supposed to enter the foreclosure process and begin the clearing of the nearly 9 million housing units in shadow inventory: nothing. Because as RealtyTrac disclosed overnight, in April the US saw a mere 188,780 foreclosures events of various type (NOD, auction, REO) take place. Why is this number significant? Because it is the lowest in 5 years, despite shadow inventory in the US now being virtually the highest ever. But, but, "this is precisely what the foreclosure settlement was supposed to prevent" one may ask... That would be correct. Next question. In other words, not only did banks get away scott free from being litigated to the 7th circle of hell, but for them the "profitable" business model continues to be one where house lending is largely irrelevant. And why not: with NIMs are record lows, banks couldn't care less if the houses and marked down loans against them in the asset pool go up or down. The real money is made elsewhere: like hedging the IG9. In the meantime for everyone else hoping to get a true clearing price on housing and millions in units in shadow inventory being finally absorbed by the market: good luck. Not only has the foreclosure process in America ground to a complete halt but as the second chart below shows, the time to liquidation once a property enters 60 day-delinquent status just hit an all time high: that's right, the average time during which a deadbeat can occupy a home without payment if they so choose is 31 months. Thank you central planning politburo and USSA.
John Maynard Keynes, Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett all said or implied that gold was a barbarous relic. But what’s the barbarous relic? The precious metal that shows prices without a veneer of manipulation, or the paper currency that smudges the true state of supply and demand through money printing, thus misleading markets and society? Charlie Munger says gold is not for civilised people, but in reality gold may be the most civilised currency of all — because it allows civilised people to purchase insurance against the risk of civilisation failing.