Psychopaths flew financial weapons of mass destruction (derivatives) into the twin towers of our economy, the housing market and the stock market. Ten trillion dollars of wealth imploded in a cloud of dust. Ninety-nine percent of the economic experts – financial planners, economists, economic professors, brokers, and investors – missed the largest bubble in history as well as the systemic risk that the bubble posed. The National Board of Economic Research (NBER) (who is responsible for declaring a recession) was 9 months late calling the worst recession since the Great Depression.
While everyone is focusing on what empty words and promises will come out of Europe this week which continues to valiantly, yet with utter futility, fight simple math, our friends at Religare Research remind us that there is a whole another theater of operations (pardon the phrase) that many are so far forgetting about located in the middle east which is far closer to what at the end of the day really matters: oil. As Emad Mostaque notes: 'While North Africa is busily transitioning to a set of neo-Islamist, GCC-sponsored Sunni democracies (we are positive on this trend), Shia groups in the Middle East have started to stir. In this monthly we focus on some of the key elements of the Shia tradition that may have a significant impact on global markets in the near future." Below are the key takeaways.
While the world continues to be hypnotically captivated with every word out of Europe, the ongoing fiasco in the insolvent socialist continent is a welcome diversion from our own issues here in the US, which as we noted yesterday, has not "decoupled" from the rest of the world's woes but merely is "lagging." After all the European recession is now guaranteed, and no matter how it is spun it will never amount to a positive GDP event for the US, even more when considering that the PBoC's recent resumption of monetary loosening will take at least several quarters to be felt globally. But a lag to what? Why 2012 of course, and specifically the January 24-25, 2012 Fed statement when as SocGen pointed out the Fed is most likely to announce yet another $600 billion episode of quantitative easing. But why then? Why not at the December 13 meeting, the topic of Fed telegraph Jon Hilsenrath's latest piece, according to which the Fed will soon emphasize that it will never hike rates and as a result collapse all refi activity because who wants to go into a 30-year fixed at 4% when it will be available at 2% 3 months later, and at 0% 6 months after that? Simple: the Fed's balance of power is about to shift substantially. With under 30 days left in 2011, the current roster of 4 rotating voting Fed governors is about to be swept out, only to be replaced with 4 new ones. Yet as the chart below from SocGen shows, the rotation will probably be the most dramatic in Fed history as 3 die hard Hawks (and 1 dove) are eliminated only to be replaced with a panel which is almost exclusively Dovish. In fact, at the end of the day the only modest Hawk on the Fed's voting committee will be Richmond Fed's Jeffrey Lacker (the only member to vote against the drop in FX swap line rates), and even he in the past has shown his dovish wings. Which means that for all intents and purposes, the major delay in global events, and market uncertainty, merely has to last until the end of the year when the doves take over. Furthermore to anyone who will point out that in 2012 virtually every single Hawk will be mysteriously out of the voting rotation, all we can say is: "you are correct." And if Europe or Iran or China or any other event serves as a welcome distraction for a few more weeks until the Fed once again does what it does best (and only), so be it.
While EURUSD is off its highs of the evening so far, it remains 20-30pips higher and is mildly supportive (given EURJPY and also AUDJPY's moves) of the 7pt better open in ES (the e-mini S&P 500 futures contract). The Italian austerity measures seem the main driver which is odd given this is not news and was fully expected. Oil is also popping (above $101.50 now), on the Iran news we assume, and Gold is above $1750 as Silver outperforms +0.8% from Friday's close.
Here we go:
IRAN MILITARY DOWNS U.S. DRONE IN EASTERN PROVINCE -TV
IRAN SAYS ITS RESPONSE TO U.S. DRONE VIOLATION OF ITS AIRSPACE WILL BE CARRIED OUT OUTSIDE IRAN'S BORDERS- FARS AGENCY
A few weeks ago, SocGen's Dylan Grice released a piece which quickly became a scathing focal point in the inflation-deflation debate, in that he speculated that it was not the Weimar-unleashed hyperinflation (which incidentally is the primary reason why most Germany now dread what the outcome of a profligate ECB would look like) that led to the surge of the Nazi party, but in fact the opposite: the stinginess of German monetary authorities in the 1930s that further exacerbated the situation and helped unleash the Hitler juggernaut. Many promptly took sides in the argument, the bulk of which were shocked that Grice - traditionally a defender of prudent monetary and fiscal policy, would go so far as suggest that it is the ECB's duty to print or else it may justify another "Hitler"-type advent. Well it seems there was more than meets the eye, and in a follow up piece the strategist says: "The purpose of the historical analysis, therefore, was not to reach conclusions about how adherence to hard money principles will linearly lead to resurgent fascism, or war on a par with that seen in the 1930s. Neither was it in any way a defence of Keynesian fiscal activism. It was to illustrate that adherence to even the best principles must come at a price, making a judgment on whether or not that price is prohibitive or not is unavoidable, and today Germany and the ECB have to make that judgment." And his conclusion: "From the beginning of this crisis I've believed the only way politicians will get ahead of it is to bring in the ECB. Since I believe politicians do want to get ahead of it, I expect the ECB to print, and print copiously. I've repeatedly emphasized that printing will solve nothing, beyond buying market confidence for a while... All ECB printing will do is buy the politicians time and space to reset government and private sector balance sheets, to reform how their economies function and be honest with their own citizens. Whether they use that time or not is a separate question (frankly, I'm not hopeful)." But instead of us putting words in Grice's mouth, here is the explanation straight from the horse's mouth. Incidentally we agree 100% with Grice on the issue that eventual printing is inevitable. Which for the TLDR crowd means the entire Grice missive can be summarized as follows: 'buy gold.'
Let the banks implode in bankruptcy, clear the worthless "assets" of debt from the books, and let the market price currencies and everything else. The only other choice is debt-serfdom. All the other schemes and proposals are simply variations of one single fantasy: that the feckless leadership can fool the repricing genie with parlor tricks. They can't. Everybody with any understanding of the situation knows that the debt bubble has already burst, an risk and debt cannot be repriced back to fantasy levels. That repricing has already occurred, and cannot be revoked or shoved back in the bottle. The Great European Debt Bubble has already burst, and so now it boils down to a simple choice: debt serfom or open rebellion against the banks that profited so handsomely from the euro-fantasy. There is no middle ground, as the debt cannot be repaid, not now and not in the future. It cannot be reshuffled, masked, or hidden; it can only be renounced. It's your choice, Europe; choose wisely. If you want a model for sanity and growth, look to Iceland. They renounced their unpayable debts and debt-serfdom, and let the market reprice their currency, debt and risk. The nightmare is past for them; they chose wisely. Now it's your turn to choose. The debt-serfdom will fall to you, not the banks or your Elites.
Iran and the United States broke diplomatic ties following the 1979 Islamic revolution and the storming of the U.S. embassy in Tehran 32 years ago. Here are details of ups and downs in their relations since the 1950's.
Lately, the Egan-Jones credit ratings agency has experienced a lot of bad publicity from the co-opted and conflicted media, especially those in which GE has a minority stake, for no other reason than being the only organization that is in some way a part of the status quo yet dares to constantly lash out at the lies behind the scenes and expose the fraud and corruption that permeates the modern Ponzi system. Frankly, we have had it with this propaganda. Confirming that when it comes to honesty and integrity, EJ may or may not be at the front of the pack, but they sure tried to warn other about the impending systemic collapse. Presented below is an interview conducted by Kate Welling with Sean Egan back on June 30, 2006, or the absolute peak of the credit bubble frenzy, in which everything Egan said: down to the most dire prediction, has occurred. Somehow we are confident people slighted, mocked and ridiculed him then as well. He was right then. He will be right again.
Perhaps it is time to point out the "trade of the day", which for some reason has seen no action yet since the Iran news has broken. Presenting the InTrade "USA and/or Israel to execute an overt Air Strike against Iran before midnight ET 30 Jun 2012" contract, which at last trade yesterday (no trades today yet), was seen trading at $24.3, or at about 24.3% implied probability. Following today's news, we would venture to guess that the upside/downside here is attractive to quite attractive.
That Commerzbank, effectively Germany most insolvent lender (after the bank that shall not be named because if it falls, so goes Europe) and the first international bank scrambling to demand Discount Window cash from the Fed not in 2008 but all the way back in 2007, is broke is no secret. The only question was when will the bank which is a pseudo-TBTF, be nationalized. According to Der Spiegel the time is rapidly approaching. Specifically, "Germany's government is preparing plans for a potential nationalization of Commerzbank AG, in case the Frankfurt-based lender isn't able to raise additionally needed capital, German magazine Der Spiegel reports Sunday, citing government sources. Germany will reactivate its bank bailout fund, SoFFin, to acquire additional shares in Commerzbank if the bank hasn't raised necessary capital by next summer, according to the report. Germany already took around a 25% stake in Commerzbank to keep it afloat during the financial crisis following its acquisition of Dresdner Bank. According to the report, it is assumed that the majority of new shares would fall to the government in the event of a capital increase for Commerzbank. Germany has ruled out taking over Commerzbank's Eurohypo public finance unit, which it is required to sell to fulfill a European Union restructuring mandate tied to its use of state aid, according to the report." And so the world's most undercapitalized banks as so often demonstrated by Zero Hedge continue dropping like domino. Below we recreate the most recent list of Tier 1 casualties (seen most recently when exposing Credit Agricole as one of Europe's most dire casualties of a USD funding shortage), or banks that have the lowest capitalization, and thus highest leverage ratios in the world. If we were betting people, we would say that Deutsche Bank (and Postbank), Credit Suisses and BNP may well be next...
In the following video Chris Martenson - economic analyst at chrismartenson.com and regular guest contributor to Zero Hedge, and James Turk, Director of the GoldMoney Foundation talk about the problems facing the eurozone as well as the global economy. Chris Martenson points out that the whole world simply has too much debt. This is why he believes that there won’t be a real solution to the euro crisis. The big question will rather be who will take losses on the debt, which can’t possibly be repaid. The lack of political leadership and unwillingness to accept reality is contributing to this crisis. Additionally, the monetary tools central banks have traditionally used to revive economies are starting to show less and less effect. In Martenson’s view, the financial sector has become way too large and interlinked across borders, so that a default by one country could bring down the whole financial systems, because credit default swaps would get triggered and could bring down the writers of those derivatives.
In the latest note from the masters of the arcane at ConvergEx, Nick Colas' team looks at the historically very strong correlation between home prices (which recently hit an 8 year low: here and here) and unemployment, a foundation stone in every single QE episode as to the Chairman the only controlled variable to set the unemployment rate are average home prices, and flips it. In other words, in their Friday analysis ConvergEx try to extrapolate just by how much home prices need to rise to hit the Fed's projected unemployment rates of 8.7% in 2012 (absent the now generic labor participation rate fudge of course), 8.2% in 2013 and 7.7% in 2014. The answer is disturbing: "In order for unemployment to reach 8.7% in the Composite-10 next year (2012), home prices will have to rise by an average of 3.5%. To reach 8.2% in 2013, they will have to climb 9.4% from their current prices. For a 7.7% unemployment rate in 2014, the necessary rate of increase is 15.4%." It is disturbing because while Case Shiller predicts a 2.7% rise in 2012, we have now seen the 5th consecutive drop in home prices, and the largest sequential decline since March 2011. In other words, not only are home prices not rising, or even stabilizing, they are suddenly deteriorating at an alarming pace yet again. ConvergEx continues: "we have no doubt that the Fed knows these numbers... If it costs a QE III to get the 3.5% bump in real estate prices, or even a QE IV, then markets should not doubt that the current Federal Reserve will seriously consider it." At the end of the day, the only thing the Fed thinks it can control are asset prices for that most critical of assets: housing. And if rising home prices means diluting a few hundred billion more dollars, so be it. After all, we are now less than 12 months from the presidential election, and all bets are off. As SocGen predicted, expect to see massive monetary easing resume as soon as January when Obama realizes he needs something to go right or else he can kiss that second term good bye. Ironically, the lower the president's interim rating, the higher the price of gold will ultimately rise when all is said and done. Who would have thought that the worst president since Carter would be a gold bug's biggest friend.
Even as Joe Sixpack was maxing out that last credit card on useless gadgets (but not flat screen TVs as Corning was so nice to warn), he was making sure to have enough in store for that one final Plan Z purchase. Guns. As KNDU reports, "Gun dealers flooded the FBI with background check requests from shoppers, smashing the single day record with a 32% increase from last year." USA Today has more: "Deputy Assistant FBI Director Jerry Pender said the checks, required by federal law, surged to 129,166 during the day, far surpassing the previous high of 97,848 on Black Friday of 2008." And in reality, the number is likely far greater: "The actual number of firearms sold last Friday is likely higher because multiple firearms can be included in a transaction by a single buyer. And the FBI does not track actual gun sales." And while Saudi Arabia is warning that women driving leads to the end of the world, in America women are now the marginal guy buyer: "Some gun industry analysts attributed the unusual surge to a convergence of factors, including an increasing number of first-time buyers seeking firearms for protection and women who are being drawn to sport shooting and hunting. Larry Keane, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said 25% of the purchases typically involve first-time buyers, many of them women. "I think there also is a burgeoning awakening of the American public that they do have a constitutional right to own guns," Keane said. Yet Keane said last Friday's number appeared to defy complete explanation. "It's really pretty amazing," he said." Indeed it is, and unlike Europe, where with the exception of Switzerland the best the local rioters can do is some imported (from the US) tear gas, when the Arab Spring finally makes landfall, it will be time to use up those one way international frequent flier miles (assuming of course that American and soon others don't cancel them).