Last week we pointed out that the export miracle leg-of-the-global-growth stool had been kicked out. Today , the second leg of the stool of main GDP drivers appears to be splintering as Wholesale Inventories dropped MoM for the first time since Dec09 (-0.1% vs +0.5% expectations). We patiently await LaVorgna's GDP downgrade...
Moving from this granular level to a bank-wide basis, the authors found that the CPP banks increased asset risk (using ROA & earnings volatility as proxies) while decreasing their leverage (perhaps because they knew that regulators would be keeping an eye on this metric in addition to the capitalization ratio.) What does all this mean and how should this shape actions in the future? The bail-out itself increased our chances of having the bail the banks out all over again. Moral hazard is no longer in the realm of the abstract. Further, my guess is that the bailed-out banks took on more risk so that they could earn enough to speed repayment of the aid and therefore escape the onerous strings attached. So perhaps the limits on executive compensations, dividends, etc. in a perverse way increased our chances of having to bail the banks out all over again.
Goldman's Francesco Garzarelli has just released a follow up to the "next steps" piece from yesterday (which so far has been woefully wrong in predicting a ceiling to Italian spread). So perhaps this time Goldman will be a little more accurate, which for those who may be buying Italian bunds on the dead cat bounce, will not be a good thing. Here's why: " Should Italian BTPs trade above 450bp relative to AAA-rated EMU sovereigns over a period of time, the initial margin would increase by a further 10%. Currently, the initial margin for repo on Italian securities on LCH ranges between around 4% and 20%, increasing along the maturity structure." The take away from the above - another 10% margin hike is coming. As for those who bought Italian bonds from Goldman yesterday on hope that the bottom is in, better luck next time - as Goldman says "In the meantime, the higher priced Italian government bonds will continue to be sold, as commercial banks raise liquidity buffers as higher margin requirements are applied. On our central case, intermediate to long-end bonds should continue to be supported relative to AAA-rated securities by the ECB." Considering the 5s10s is most inverted since 1994, this is not a very controversial call.
UPDATE: and in case you thought it was just Italy, the contagion is truly rotten to the core as OATs crack over 17bps wider to Bunds - the largest single-day widening in history and over 8 standard deviations.
Presented with little comment as we note the record-breaking move in today's spread between BTPs and Bunds is almost unprecedented and at 10 standard deviations is likely to have risk managers tapping trader's shoulders across many trading rooms. 2s10s and 5s10s curve inversion and a CDS-Cash basis that is now widening once again after some early compression just adds to the running-at-the-cliff's-edge feeling.
The FoF Chairman speaks.
When we were hitting 1100 the market was in deep fear mode. Investors were on the verge of panic. Default was on the tip of everyone's tongue. Now at 1250, we are all waiting patiently for some positive announcements. There is little (if any) fear out there. Up here, I would want to be much more credit, and even bond specific. Italian 5 year bonds at 7.5% yield more than HYG (7.1%) and certainly have a lot more people trying to help them. I'm not sure I would put that trade on, but it may crowd out some investment in the high yield space, especially as we see some defaults rise. It is a credit pickers market here, not a broad asset class decision (particularly from the long side).
Previously we showed what the sovereign gross level exposure to Italy is. Now, it is time to get granular and show the data at a discrete level. Below are the banks most exposed to Italy. Don't forget that courtesy of our wonderful fractional reserve financial system, with everyone's asset being someone else's liability, the question then becomes who has most exposure to these banks, and then most exposure to banks that have exposure to these banks, and so forth.
Yesterday's Barclays report that Italy is past the point of no return was very prescient. As of today, nobody can deny that Italy is about to drag the entire Eurozone down unless the ECB can come up with a real plan to monetize the debt, as opposed to backing some retarded contraption such as the EFSF which only the criminally stupid eurocrats can conceive, and which even the perpetually optimistic market has seen right through at this point. In other words: print. Lots. So until Mario Draghi gets off the phone with the corner office at 200 West for instructions on how to best proceed, here is a visual summary courtesy of Reuters, of where the max pain is concentrated. Needless to say, we are all so lucky that French banks managed to sell off their exposure to unwitting bagholders who took the sticky EURUSD as an all clear signal, instead of what it was this entire time: a side-effect of EUR repatriation as French banks were dumping USD-denominated assets and shoring up capital.
The much dreaded LCH margin hike came and went and while initially the market participants thought it was just a joke as nothing bad is ever allowed to happen anymore in these neverneverland markets, a few hours later the realization that this is all too real has finally dawned. The result is an epic bloodbath everywhere, but nowhere more so than in Europe, where one can kiss Italian bonds goodbye, and shortly French too, as the bond vigilantes demand that the ECB print now or else. Visually this is presented as follows: a 30 point drop in the ES, an unseen collapse in Italian bonds, and an explosion in the French-Bund spread. And since nobody can demonize CDS any more, we expect Europe to make selling sovereign bonds illegal next.
French Bund spreads have just crossed 147 bps as the "cash bond long yet unable to hedge with CDS" crowd realizes that the Italian contagion is about to hit Paris. And unable to hedge using creative modern financial instruments, said crowd has reverted to the good old fashioned version thereof. We call it selling. Expect the spread to hit 150 bps momentarily.
Since it has become fashionable to expose one's dirty laundry, we would like to simply bring it to our readers' attention that as per the just released Goldman Sachs 10-Q, the bank has revealed that it has $56 billion in pure exposure to European banks and governments, of which the most is to France, followed by Germany and the UK. We have excluded the "other" category as there is absolutely no clarity what "assets" are contained here.
So far, gold has not managed to rise above the psychologically important $1,800 level. However, the real risk of contagion in the eurozone and the breakup of the European monetary union means that gold’s safe haven properties will be increasingly appreciated in the coming months. While much of the media attention has been on the political ‘punch and judy’ show in Athens, Rome and in the European Union there continues to be a failure to soberly analyse the ramifications of the crisis for consumers, investors and savers. The unprecedented scale of the debt crisis means that inflation and currency devaluations will almost certainly result from the crisis. Savers and those on fixed incomes will be very vulnerable as they were in the stagflation of the 1970’s and in the economic meltdowns seen in Argentina, Russia and in Belarus as we speak. Ron Paul gave another perceptive interview to CNBC yesterday and warned of hyperinflation and the possibility that the dollar could become worthless
- LCH.Clearnet lifts margin on Italian debt (FT)
- Chinese Banks May Issue $102 Billion In New Yuan Loans (China Securities Journal)
- Greece Extends Suspense on Choice of Premier (WSJ)
- IMF's Lagarde: Some Asian Countries Can Loosen Money (WSJ)
- Berlusconi’s Resignation Shifts Focus to Forming Government (Bloomberg)
- Merkel Advisers See German Growth Slowing (Bloomberg)
- Fannie Mae taps $7.8 billion from Treasury, loss widens (Reuters)
- Fed up! McCain predicts rise of third political party (Reuters)