UPDATE: Full Statement to the EC attached
Noting that the Italian political parties are aware of their responsibilities, new Italian PM Monti expects to complete his initial consultations tomorrow as Bloomberg reports having received a copy of a letter to the European Commission. Bloomberg notes that the letter expects 300,000 public sector job cuts, raising the retirement age quicker than other nations and a tax system overhaul. All credible moves, but we wonder just how this will jibe with the increasingly recession-prone deleveraging that seems likely to occur next quarter at the latest. It brings the ball squarely back into the ECB's hands as monetary saviors while the slow process of fiscal correction occurs - and as we have noted, we believe that another risk-off cluster is likely before the ECB will retract its words.
The United States is a country built upon the four C’s: Crude, Cars, Credit, and Consumption. They are intertwined and can’t exist without crude as the crucial ingredient. As the amount of crude available declines and the price rises, the other three C’s will breakdown. Our warped consumer driven economy collapses without the input of cheap plentiful oil. Those at the top levels of government realize this fact. It is not a coincidence that the War on Terror is the current cover story to keep our troops in the Middle East. It is not a coincidence the uncooperative rulers (Hussein, Gaddafi) of the countries with the 5th and 9th largest oil reserves on the planet have been dispatched. It is not a coincidence the saber rattling grows louder regarding the Iranian regime, as they sit atop 155 billion barrels of oil, the 4th largest reserves in the world. It should also be noted the troops leaving Iraq immediately began occupying Kuwait, owner of the 6th largest oil reserves on the planet. Oil under the South China Sea and in the arctic is being hotly pursued by the major world players. China and Russia are supporting Iran in their showdown with Israel and the U.S. As the world depletes the remaining oil, conflict and war are inevitable. The term Energy Independence will carry a different meaning than the one spouted by mindless politicians as the oil runs low.
On Friday, when we learned about Goldman's latest FX recommendation which said to "go long EUR/$ with a narrow stop at 1.35 for an initial target of 1.40 (currently at 1.3715)", we said: "Time to sell the EURUSD with both hands and feet, not to mention with MF Global-type leverage: that uber-contrarian FX indicator, Goldman's Thomas Stolper, who has not had a notable call correct in the past 2 years, just came out with a long EURUSD call, calling for a 1.40 target and a 1.35 stop loss. Yes, this means Goldman is now selling EURUSD until 1.40 and will begin buying it at 1.35. As a reminder here is how Stolper's last EUR/$ recommendation ended." Sure enough, 24 hours later, Goldman is under 100 pips from being stopped out: at last check the EURUSD just touched on 1.3596.
For the moment we appear to be in limbo, where stocks and other risk assets will rally no matter what? The view seems to be that if European sovereign debt improves, then risk will do well. There is little fear right now, as the assumption is that if sovereign debt does poorly, Germany will relent and the ECB will officially begin printing money (we say officially, because it is getting harder and harder to believe they are truly "sterilizing" their purchase in a true market neutral fashion). So that seems to be the idea out there, be long risk because if Europe improves, you will win, and if Europe gets worse, it will print, and you will win. That just doesn't make sense to us, as we think Germany is further from capitulating on printing than the market seems to have priced in.
Just hitting the tape... and the EURUSD:
- MERKEL'S CDU VOTES TO ALLOW EXITS FROM EURO AREA
There's that name again: BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, and the firm that was forced to deny last Wednesday it is in any trouble courtesy of accumulating unknown amounts of Italian bonds (how about a nice little Cusip list there Rick Reider?), just made the news following a report in Reuters that the firm anticipates massive haircuts in 3 of the 5 PIIGS. From Reuters: "Debt restructuring in Greece, Portugal and Ireland with write-downs for private creditors of 75 percent to 80 percent are needed to help stop Europe's debt crisis turning into a global meltdown, said BlackRock, one of the world's largest asset managers. "Governments are falling, bond yields are zig-zagging by whole percentage points and markets around the world are locking up: the euro zone turmoil risks turning into a global crisis," BlackRock said in a research note on Monday." So, let's see: Greece, Portugal and Ireland... But not Italy of course? The country that has the second largest amount of debt in Europe is somehow excluded from a very conflicted BlackRock's "objective" analysis. Why is that? "BlackRock also said the European Central Bank should buy more bonds and that policymakers should provide more details on the rescue fund and implement fiscal discipline without hurting growth, according to the note." Is BlackRock betting the farm that the ECB will bail it out? That didn't work too well for MF... Seriously, Rick, some CUSIP level breakdown of your Italian exposure would be terrific. Even if it is at the "net" level. We can wait. So can the market.
Whether it's Chuck Schumer or another headline-hungry banker/politician/long-only-equity-strategist, the one note of constancy among global macro perspectives has been - China needs to re-value the Yuan. The "it's not fair" crowd or "everything will be fixed if we can just compete on equal terms" talking-heads may want to take a look at the BIS effective exchange rates. It is evidently clear that since 2005 the USA has been on a path of very considerable currency devaluation - down almost 16% while the Yuan has strengthened almost 38% based on the BIS effective exchange rates. The effective exchange rates (EER) provide a better indicator of the macroeconomic effects of exchange rates than any single bilateral rate and are described here. After this morning's comments from China, perhaps it is time for our Asian trade partners (or should we say vendor financiers) to raise the rhetoric that the US is the one not playing fair?
It seems that rotating a few pawns at the top is not quite the bazooka everyone expected it to be last week. Case in point: CDS in the core European trio of France, Spain and Belgium just hit new all time wides. But before anyone blames evil CDS speculators, it is notable that CDS is significantly outperforming cash bonds. And since everything that can be said about Europe's ongoing implosion has been said already, the only question is which Goldman "advisor" will replace Sarko in a few weeks.
Main China Daily Xinhua Pens Epic Anti-US Tirade, Bashes America As Source Of All Global Financial IllsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/14/2011 11:12 -0400
You thought China was going to take this weekend's endless bashing by Obama, telling it to grow up and act as "an adult", lying down? You thought wrong. China main daily publication Xinhua has just released possibly the most scathing anti-America editorial via Liu Tian, to ever see the very public light of day. "For the United States, it should put its house in order before chiding others. Since the onset of U.S. subprime crisis in 2007, it was the country's domestic economic problems that triggered a disastrous financial crisis that swept the world. Excessive spending for many years has added up debts. Meanwhile, traditional strong industries such as finance and auto were devastated by the crisis, pushing up unemployment. In face of such serious domestic problems which probably could trigger a new global economic tsunami, many U.S. politicians seemed only to care about how many votes they could get, without having a single thought about what kind of the global responsibilities the country should take. Thus it should come as no surprise that the angry "Occupy Wall Street" protesters are calling for an end to the political tricks in Washington." Ball is in your court president Obama: it is now your turn to piss off your biggest creditor (at least until QE3 ends) even further.
The world has reached the point of debt saturation. Creating more debt no longer generates "free lunch" growth, even in China, though the central bank in China is still playing as if shifting debt off-balance sheet into a "shadow" system will fool the money gods. It won't. Everybody in Europe is playing the same sort of games, hoping to fool the money gods and keep the "free lunch" economy "growing." While everybody focuses on the circular firing squad in Italy, untold billions of euros of impaired private mortgage debt in housing-bubble-popped Spain still sits on the books of Spanish banks at full value, lest a sneeze of reality send Spain's entire banking sector to Davy Jones Locker. Though no official publicly admits it, nobody really knows how much debt there is in Greece, or who even holds it. Here's the fig leaf confession: "Scarce data makes estimates difficult." Yes, I'm sure it does. So the true size of Europe's debt is unknown because everyone with a stake in the charade is trying desperately to keep the true scope hidden. (Ditto in China.) The debt will get renounced, and debt as the "engine of growth" will also be renounced. Europe is an inept 3-card monte player attempting to swindle the money gods. The gods aren't fooled by such shallow shuffling games, in fact they are greatly annoyed that humans even dare to attempt such flimsy tricks. Their wrath is building, and human hubris will only make the reckoning worse.
Since the derivatives and housing market implosion of 2008, America and the rest of the world has been spiraling down a chasm some in this country still refuse to take note of. The question has never been whether there “will be” a full scale financial disaster. The end to that chapter of this story was already written years ago. Rather, the real question has been “when” will this inevitable event culminate? Sadly, speculation on the matter has met an irreconcilable road block. The fact is, all the necessary elements are in place to bring down our fiscal shelter not in five years, not in one year, not in six months, but today. That’s right…..the economy as we know it has the potential to derail completely before you wake up for your morning poptart. Some skeptics might shrug off this statement as mere sensationalism for effect. I wish that were the case. Frankly, I would enjoy writing a little fiction for once. The truth is far too bizarre and disturbing lately. In the case of economics, traditional views and standards have gone completely out the window in a way that I and probably every other analyst in the field have never heard of or encountered. All expectations are now null and void. Manipulation of the marketplace is no longer a subversive and secretive process, but open government and central banking policy! Who could have guessed five years ago, for instance, that U.S. taxpayers would be saddled with bailouts of the EU? Who could have predicted that global stock market psychology would be dominated for over a year by the debt drama of a country as economically insignificant as Greece? And, who could have foreseen that destructive fiat stimulus policies would soon be common knowledge events amongst the citizens of various faltering nations?
As was just reported by the ECB, the amount of debt monetizations (sterilized supposedly, but when the banks exist purely due to ECB funding it is not really sterilization) in the past week was €4.5 billion. As explained previously, this does not include T+3 operations since Wednesday which have yet to settle, and which is where the kicker is as can be seen on the chart below as the move from 82 to 89 on the 4.75% of 2021 occurred on Thursday and Friday. The week's number is notable because in the week before €9.5 billion was monetized (bringing the total purchases under the SMP to €192.5 billion). Of course, by Thursday Silvio was out. And that's when the buying really started. Expect to see a surge in the next week's reported ECB purchases even as the Italian bond market once again begins selling off.
For what it's worth, Goldman likes gold. "Consumers: We expect gold prices to continue to climb in 2011 given the current low level of US real interest rates. Further, with our US economics team now forecasting slower US economic growth in 2011 and 2012, we expect US real interest rates to remain lower for longer, supporting higher gold prices through 2012. Consequently, we recommend near-dated consumer hedges in gold through 2012. Producers: With gold prices expected to continue to climb through 2012, we find hedging opportunities less attractive for gold producers at this time." In other news, Goldman also likes Silver, Copper, Zinc, WTI and Brent. In other words: QE3 is coming.