Goldman On Why Things Will Get Worse Before They Get Better And Gives An S&P Target If The Eurozone Breaks UpSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/10/2011 13:33 -0400
In his latest weekly chartology, Goldman's David Kostin takes a different route to recapping the week's events and instead of merely summarizing the market action, explains what the views of Goldman's clients are, especially the bulls among them ("Bullish investors hold more positive outlooks for margins and Europe, and argue that our target is too low. Some investors generally agree with our muted outlook for the economy and corporate earnings, but feel that an agreement to end Europe’s debt crisis will inevitably be reached next year. They argue that the stabilization of sovereign balance sheets, recapitalization of European banks, and clarity in the region’s future will cause a surge in investor confidence. Investors commonly quote 1400 as a target S&P 500 price level in this “risk-on” scenario of multiple-expansion.") and then juxtaposes to its why Goldman continues to be bearish: "We expect the situation to worsen before it gets better with market pressure necessary for progress. EU Summit demonstrates progress but lacked “regime change.” Overall, policymakers are making progress and signaled a commitment to address the twin sovereign and banking system crises. However, lack of clarity on the IMF’s role and no clear change in the ECB’s activities in sovereign debt markets will likely leave some investors disappointed." Which is precisely what we have been claiming for weeks - that unlike the other banks who are preaching rosy outlooks out of sheer terror for what a European crash would mean for them, Goldman is hoping it comes quickly, so that ostensibly several big banks can blow up, and the ECB steps in forceefully but not before Goldman's extended web of control in political Europe allows it to step into the void and become a major market presence on the continent.
Eric Sprott Fights PM Manipulation Fire With Fire: Calls Silver Producers To Retain Silver Produced As "Cash"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/10/2011 03:14 -0400
In what is likely the most logical follow up to our post of the day, namely the news of the lawsuit between HSBC and MF Global over double-counted gold, or physical - not paper - that was "commingled" via rehypothecating or otherwise, we present readers with the monthly note by Eric Sprott titled "Silver Producers: A Call to Action" in which the Canadian commodities asset manager has had enough of what he perceives as subtle and/or not so subtle manipulation of the precious metal market, and in not so many words calls the silver miners of the world "to spring to action" and effectively establish supply controls to silver extraction to counteract paper market manipulation in the paper realm by treating their product as a currency and retaining it as "cash". To wit: "instead of selling all their silver for cash and depositing that cash in a levered bank, silver miners should seriously consider storing a portion of their reserves in physical silver OUTSIDE OF THE BANKING SYSTEM. Why take on all the risks of the bank when you can hold hard cash through the very metal that you mine? Given the current environment, we see much greater risk holding cash in a bank than we do in holding precious metals. And it serves to remember that thanks to 0% interest rates, banks don’t pay their customers to take on those risks today." And the math: "If silver miners were therefore to reinvest 25% of their 2011 earnings back into physical silver, they could potentially account for 21% of the approximate 300 million ounces (~$9 billion) available for investment in 2011. If they were to reinvest all their earnings back into silver, it would shrink available 2011 investment supply by 82%. This is a purely hypothetical exercise of course, but can you imagine the impact this practice would have on silver prices?" And there you go: Sprott 'reputable' entity to propose to fight manipulation with what is effectively collusion, which in the grand scheme of things is perfectly normal - after all, all is fair in love and war over a dying monetary model. Who could have thought that the jump from "proletariats" to "silver miners" would be so short.
We have spent a great amount of time recently discussing both the re-hypothecation debacle and the 'odd' moves in CDS - most specifically basis (the difference between CDS and bonds) shifts and the local-sovereign-referencing protection writing. Peter Tchir, of TF Market Advisors, provides further color on the latter (as the 'Ultimate' trade) and in an unsurprising twist, how the former was much more critical during the Lehman 'moment' and will once again rear its ugly head. Exposing the underbelly of these two dark sides of the market must surely raise concerns at the fragility of the entire system - as we remarked earlier - but the lessons unlearned, on which Peter expounds, from the Lehman period are reflective of regulators so far behind the curve that it is no wonder the market's edge-of-a-cliff-like feeling persists.
If you're bullish about the long term for gold and silver, it's mouthwatering to watch them undergo a major correction after taking earlier profits that added to your deployable cash. For a little historical perspective on pullbacks, consider the following charts.
While the top-down macro perspectives on where we go from here remain stuck in a bi-modal distribution and bottom-up fundamentals may help at the margin but remain dominated by correlated risk asset flows, UBS has created a veritable smorgasbord of charts and technical analysis of the major asset classes. From presidential and economic cycles & secular equity regimes, across precious metals and the USD & the super bull cycle, to bond market bubbles, there is a little here for every connoisseur of cartography or devourer of data.
As we head into the artificial investing horizon of year-end, sell-side research is compelled to offer its best-guess at what will be key for the year ahead. We certainly head into 2012 with considerable potential downside risks - US recession?, breakup of the Euro?, hard-landing in China? - and BofA Merrill Lynch's RIC Report bears these in mind as it suggests investors position for these ten key macro themes (some positive, some negative) from slower global growth to a weakening US consumer and QE in US and Europe. Starting from a neutral equities, long gold, long US corporate bonds, they favor growth, quality, and yield in one of the more complete summaries of expectations we have read.
The headlines will crow of the resilience of the US equity market, of the outperformance of US financials today and the better-than-expected consumer sentiment print this morning but just below the surface in both European and US credit markets, something is stirring. Investment grade credit outperformed (not exactly as reflection of the need to add risk fast), European financials (senior and sub) were significantly weaker (day and week), high yield credit notably underperformed stocks and investment grade credit, US financial credit spreads have leaked notably wider from yesterday's early US session to the close today - not tracking the stocks higher at all, and just to rub some salt into the wound, sovereign spreads in Europe weren't exactly ebullient as basis swap spreads decompressed (worsened) to over one week wides.
ES (the e-mini S&P futures contract) leaked higher and higher on low volume (accounting for the roll) supported by TSY weakness (and curve shifts) and Oil's exuberance as the S&P had two targets in mind it seems: the 200DMA and the YTD unch line. Commodities rallied with Gold clinging to the USD's weakness on the day but Gold underperformed on the week as Copper led the charge (though all ended the week lower). The squeeze and algo-driven (CONTEXT and ES were very closely correlated today) rally today remains worrisome until we see higher beta credit join the party - and that doesn't mean HYG which saw record inflows this week and helps explain its idiosyncrasies.
We're not used to things falling apart, and so our first reaction is disorientation. What we've been trained to expect by constant intervention in supposedly "open" markets is that Central States and central banks will "save the day" with a new intervention: an interest rate cut, a new round of money-printing, emergency loans, new bailout funds, the list has been almost endless since the initial evidence of the Great Unraveling appeared in 2007. So when official interventions are announced to great fanfare and then fail to goose the market, we're disoriented. The problem with depending on intervention "sugar" for sustenance is that the market slowly loses its sensitivity to the mechanisms of control (insulin), and at some point the sugar no longer generates a response. We are very close to that point now, as the expected "grand EU treaty agreement" is duly issued as expected and global markets are holding their breath, hoping that some new intervention will keep the teetering financial system from falling over the edge. This is desperation.
Evolution Securities Warns Of "Total Carnage And Meltdown" As European Bank Sales Of CDS On European Sovereign Debt SoarSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/09/2011 14:18 -0400
As much as we hate to say it, Europe is now without a shadow of a doubt the new AIG, only this time such heretofore considered insane (in retrospect) activities as doubling down to infinity on ones TBTF status are out in the public record for all to see. At least AIG conducted Joe Cassano's "made in London" $2.7 trillion bet on home prices never dropping in the shadows of Curzon 1. Whereas two days ago we made it clear how the unwind of trillions in rehypothecated securities could be the avalanche that buries first Europe and then the world, we explicitly excluded the impact of synthetic products such as CDS. Now it is time to bring the picture full circle, and put CDS front and center. As Bloomberg reports, "BNP Paribas SA, France’s biggest bank, sold a net 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion) of credit- default swaps on the nation’s sovereign debt, according to data compiled by the European Banking Authority. UniCredit SpA, Italy’s biggest lender, and Banca Monte dei Paschi SpA are net insurers of more than 500 million euros each of their government’s bonds, and Oesterreichische Volksbanken AG, the Austrian lender which has yet to pay interest on 1 billion euros of state aid received in 2009, has guaranteed a net 839 million euros of its national debt, EBA data show." (EBA source - link). For those confused by the above, here is the explanation: European banks, in order to generate modest cash flow from collecting on the pariodic interest premiums owed to them in order to plug increasingly large capital shortfall holes that otherwise would simply keep growing ever larger, have sold and continue to sell massive amounts of default protection on their very own host countries! As a reminder, it was precisely this that destroyed AIG when the illusion of the credit bubble burst.
While consensus forecasts for next year continuing to be muddle-through mediocrity with a crashtastic defensive bias, BofA Merrill Lynch provides a very succinct outline of the bullish, bearish, and interestingly secular cases for risk assets going forward. The cross-asset class implications are noteworthy and provide an excellent jumping off point for asset allocation decisions. We are not sure the seeming knife-catching perspective of "buying humiliation and selling hubris" will work out, but one thing is for sure, with this volatility, relative-value remains the critical alpha as beta chops everyone up. Once again the bull case relies heavily on government printing presses and the bear case on the reality of debt saturation breaking through.
By now, most sane market observers and participants understand that perhaps, just perhaps, everything we believed about neoclassical economics is not without fault. In fact it is possible that the entire macro-economic safety net of Keynesian policy has come into question. One look at the chart below of the changes in US financial stock prices should be enough to show that when S&P downgraded the mighty USA's credit rating, they proved the impossible is possible. The market is now entirely paranoid. Investors have fled the market in droves, as we have discussed endlessly. The banks themselves seem to question their own existence given the plunge in liquidity, and the huge rise in volatility and correlation appear to suggest the market is indeed terrified of its own shadow.
Every year since 2005, more than 50% of China's GDP has consisted of construction-related spending. The law of diminishing marginal returns says this simply cannot continue. It represents a misallocation of the household sector's hard-earned savings on a colossal scale, and I believe it will end badly. Not a day goes by that there aren't riots and protests somewhere in China (including cyberspace) as the downtrodden man in the street reaches his froggy boiling point. Increasingly in China, though, those who see the writing on the wall can see that the days of system stability are numbered. And they're not hanging around.
The Council on Foreign Relations has released their politically-correctly-named 'Preventive Priorities Survey' or put another way - where-in-the-world-is-stuff-going-to-hit-the-fan-next report. The report is designed to help the US policy community comprehend where the next conflict will occur in the world and the relative catastrophe factor. The 3 tiers of chaos offer a menu of drivers-for-war, likely terrorist targets, and political tensions. Notably they include such systemic factors as the European debt crisis, budgetary limits, and Saudi political instability's impact on oil supplies at Tier 1 (most critical) contingencies.