Maybe we can call today bad loan day: earlier today the Bank of Spain announced that Spanish bank loans, already rising in a rather disturbing diagonal fashion, have surpassed 8% of total for the first time since 1994. Now it is Italy's turn, where we find courtesy of ABI, that gross non-performing loans, aka bad-debt, has just reached €107.6 billion, or 6.3% of total, and the highest since 2000, not to mention a doubling of the 3.0% in June 2008. It gets worse: as Reuters reports, while domestic deposits in February rose by a heartening 1.6% in February, it is foreign deposits that confirm that not all is well with the country's financial system, declining a whopping 16% in February y/y, and the 8th consecutive monthly decline, a chart which resembles that of Greek deposit outflows. The reason why Italy, like all the other peripherals, is now a ward of the ECB? Simple: "Net funding from abroad stood at 182 billion euros, down 32.5 percent year-on-year." And if there is no external money, the Central Bank will need to save.
The Centre for European Policy Studies published their own findings this week and they estimate that the Real Estate accumulated overhang is actually almost $500 billion which equates to 59% of the IMF revised projections for Spain’s GDP. The EU and the ECB may not mandate that the Spanish banks have to mark-to-market in the normal fashion but a quick calculation indicates that the equity of the major Spanish banks is well into the red and past the blood line of any sustainable position. In my opinion, I would state, that the Spanish banks are in fact bankrupt and are only still alive given the financial shenanigans of how Europe allows the numbers to be calculated. I am well aware that many in Europe do not like to be confronted with the truth and that the stock market in the United States is so myopic that they wish to ignore the truth but the numbers are right in front of your nose if you care to look and reality has a funny way of catching up with the markets and reminding them one still equals one in the end. I am an adherent of the Greater Fool Theory and the trick is to let the other guy be the Greater Fool and not one of us. The “when” is unknowable but the “if” is behind us now and I suggest great caution.
The campaign of Barack Obama in 2008 was a perfect example of the propaganda pageant, complete with visceral slogans like “Hope” and “Change”. After eight years of the clownish George Bush Jr., when our country spiraled down into a state of disturbed and vicious adolescence, people were looking for a renewal. They were looking for a path away from the edge of the abyss. Instead, they were given a better liar, with a brand new costume. The American Dream has become harder to sustain since…to say the least. In 2012, what I see is like a lightning bolt in slow motion. I can sense it branching out across the sky towards the ground and tearing through our surroundings, upending everything we know. Both the President and Congress have some of the lowest approval ratings in history. The question of whether anything can be accomplished through government has been answered for most people with a resounding “no”. The citizenry is on the verge of total fury. I wish I could say that most have abandoned the fleeting hollow satisfaction of choosing the “lesser of two evils”, but that would not be accurate.
Nothing dramatic here, but the Chairman of the fermentation committee just has that unique flair in explaining things so simply, even an economics Ph.D., a caveman, or the other kind of 'Chairman', would understand...
One of the more peculiar developments this morning was the odd divergence between the Spanish stock market, which was down over 3% at last check, and Spanish 10 Year bonds (that catalytic instrument to get LTRO 3, as all they have to do is rise to 7.50% and all shall be well), which had been green on the day all day, until now. As of seconds ago, the Spanish benchmark bond just crossed back into red territory with the yield spiking from an intraday low of 5.717% early to 5.89%, finally catching up with Spanish CDS which have been wider for a while, now that CDS is once again more liquid and credible than cash bonds... At least until ISDA is called upon to decide if and when a credit event has (never) occurred with respect to Spain. And since contagion feeds on itself, tomorrow's Spanish auction is starting to look more and more concerning.
Just because these "contagion" things are never contained, as of minutes ago, French CDS has just passed over 200 bps for the first time since January, as the fact that Spain can issue debt maturing in a few weeks or months is completely forgotten (rightfully so), and as the market remembers that both Spain and France have critical bond auctions tomorrow, of which the Spanish one does not mature within the LTRO. So will Paulson publicly shorting Europe be finally correct this time? For now we don't know. What we do know is that the French contagion fear is spilling over to the country's bank sector where SocGen was down 6% at last check, and EURUSD is tumbling as of moments ago. Time to reimpose the financial short-selling ban yet?
There have been many scary parabolic charts associated with Spain demonstrated here over the past few weeks. Today, the market is focused on the following line that goes from the lower left to upper right, which if not parabolic yet, may be getting there soon. The chart shows Spanish banks' bad loan ratio, which at 8.16% of the total €1.763 trillion in loans, or €143.8 billion, is the first time loans more than 3 months overdue were greater than 8% since October 1994. Indicatively bad debt levels were about 1% in the years prior to the collapse of the country's property market. Furthermore, with the rapid deterioration in Spain in the past 2 months, expect this chart to leg up substantially in June when the series catches up to April real time data, most likely crossing double digit territory. But for now the fact that of the country's roughly €1.4 trillion in GDP, over 10% in debt is "bad" and surging, should be a sufficiently loud wake up call.
The U.S. Department of Homeland security is working on a project called FAST, the Future Attribute Screening Technology. FAST will remotely monitor physiological and behavioural signals like elevated heart rate, eye movement, body temperature, facial patterns, and body language, and analyse these signals algorithmically for statistical aberrance in an attempt to identify people with criminal or terroristic intentions. It’s useful to briefly talk about a few of the practical problems that such a system would face.
Several days ago we published the latest seminal paper by Artemis Capital Management, a must read for everyone confused about market dynamics in the "central-planning normal." Since a core focus of Artemis' long-running narrative has been the impact of endless interventions in markets, and their distortions of volatility, the firm's Chris Cole has prepared the following addendum animation showing the vol curve over the past 20 years, which ultimately has led to what we have dubbed a "centrally-planned, liquidity addicted, temperamental abortion".
As Europe approaches the halfway point of the week, equities are suffering losses on the day as North America comes to market, with underperformance observed in the CAC and peripheral bourses. Markets have been weighed down upon from the open with commentary from the Portuguese PM garnering attention in the press, saying that there are ‘no guarantees’ that Portugal will return to the financial markets as planned. A Bank of Spain release has shown the bad loan ratio for the country’s banks has increased to 8.16%, further weighing on sentiment. There was also market talk of stop-loss buying of German Bunds at the cash open, the security had sold off since then but safe haven flows have kept the Bund in positive territory.
- First Japan now... Australia Ready to Help IMF (WSJ)
- "Not if, but when" for Spanish bailout, experts believe (Reuters)
- Spain’s Surging Bad Loans Cast New Doubts on Bank Cleanup (Bloomberg)
- Spain weighs financing options (FT)
- Spanish Banks Gorging on Sovereign Bonds Shifts Risk to Taxpayer (Bloomberg)
- Spain and Italy Bank on Banks (WSJ)
- Chesapeake CEO took out $1.1 billion in unreported loans (Reuters)
- China preparing to roll out OTC equity market – regulator (Reuters)
- Angry North Korea threatens retaliation, nuclear test expected (Reuters)
- North Korea Breaks Off Nuclear Accord as Food Aid Halted (Bloomberg)
Central Banks Favour Gold As IMF Warns of “Collapse of Euro” and “Full Blown Panic in Financial Markets”Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/18/2012 07:40 -0400
The Eurozone could break up and trigger a “full-blown panic in financial markets and depositor flight” and a global economic slump to rival the Great Depression, the IMF warned yesterday. In its World Economic Outlook report, the International Monetary Fund said the collapse of the crisis-torn single currency could not be ruled out. It warned that a disorderly exit of one member country would have untold knock-on effects. "The potential consequences of a disorderly default and exit by a euro area member are unpredictable... If such an event occurs, it is possible that other euro area economies perceived to have similar risk characteristics would come under severe pressure as well, with full-blown panic in financial markets and depositor flight from several banking systems," said the report. "Under these circumstances, a break-up of the euro area could not be ruled out." “This could cause major political shocks that could aggravate economic stress to levels well above those after the Lehman collapse," said the report. The risks outlined by the IMF are real and are being taken seriously by central banks who are becoming more favourable towards diversifying foreign exchange reserves into gold. Central bank reserve managers responsible for trillions of dollars of investments are shunning euro assets and questioning the currency’s haven status because of the region’s sovereign debt crisis, research has found, according to the FT.... Elsewhere, gold demand in India, the world’s biggest importer, may climb as much as 25 percent during a Hindu festival next week, according to Rajesh Exports Ltd., reviving jewelry buying that was curtailed by a nationwide shutdown.