Tense and terrible times inevitably summon an odd coupling of two very different and difficult human conditions; honesty, and brutality. Certain painful truths are revealed, and often, a palpable fury erupts. Being that times today are particularly tense, and on the verge of being spectacularly terrible, perhaps we should embrace both conditions in a constructive manner, and become brutally honest with ourselves. This begins by admitting to that which most ails us. It begins by admitting how far we have fallen…
RANsquawk European Morning Briefing - Stocks, Bonds, FX etc. – 07/02/11
How Hank Paulson Broke The Law: "This Will Be A Disclosable Event And We Do Not Want A Disclosable Event" - Parsing The Ken Lewis "MAC" DepositionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/06/2011 19:47 -0400
Among some of the discoveries of the financial crisis is that the entire financial system is now, following the Lehman bankruptcy, built entirely on fraud. And while Ken Lewis may spend the remainder of his days on some private island with stolen taxpayer money providing for his every last wish, it was he, in following the Fed's and the Treasury's orders to make a mockery of fiduciary responsibility, that was among the first people to confirm that there is no rule of low in America, or rather whatever law there is, it only applies to the less than immortal (i.e. the sub-banker class). Below, in an indication that Zero Hedge will never forget, we present the salient highlights from the Ken Lewis deposition on the MAC clause surrounding the Merrill transition, emphasizing the threats from Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke. For as long as neither of these three is in jail for what is documented shareholder (and taxpayer) fraud, we fail to see why the remaining 300+ million Americans continue to diligently pay their share of taxes into a government that is now beyond (and in full documentation) corrupt. Also, how BofA's lawyer Wachtell was not at all present during the discussion of the MAC clause, makes a complete mockery of the US legal process in its entirety. We wonder just when the official scribe of the kleptocracy, Andrew R. Sorkin, will write a book disclosing the truth of what happened, including a listing of all the laws broken with full premeditation by every single player, and not the watered down, PG13 (and rather expensive)version that makes everyone come out like a law-abiding superman.
Since September 2010 silver has broken its golden shackles. The algorithmic trading that kept the price of silver subdued for seven years has been completely annihilated. On Friday silver closed in complete backwardation on the Comex. Spot silver closed at $29.075/oz while FEB 2011 closed at $29.064/oz and DEC 2015 closed at $29.026/oz. I believe this is the first time in history that this has happened. Silver traded in backwardation between the spot price and futures contract up to one year out during the blatantly manipulative precious metals bashing of January, but now the entire futures structure is in backwardation. This is a sure sign there are shortages of silver because it means that buyers will pay a premium for silver delivered sooner rather than later.
Cotton, wheat, rice, and now corn. If revised Chinese import estimates by the US Grain Council are even remotely correct, look for corn prices of $6.80 a bushel at last check to jump by at least 15% in a very short amount of time. As the FT reports, "Corn prices – and with them, the price of meat – are set to explode if the latest import estimates from China are correct. The US Grain Council, the industry body, said late on Thursday that it has received information pointing to Chinese imports as high as 9m tonnes in 2011-12, up from 1.3m in 2010-11." Why is this a concern? Because "the US Department of Agriculture, which compiles benchmark estimates of supply, demand and stocks, forecast Chinese imports at just 1m tonnes in 2011-12." In other words, the whole forecast supply-demand equilibrium is about to be torn to shreds. And all this excludes the impact of neverending liquidity by the one and only, which will only make the speculative approach to surging corn relentless.
The week ahead is relatively light on the data front with the US only reporting on the trade balance (likely wider), claims and consumer confidence. However, there will be a slew of speeches and testimonies from Bernanke and regional Fed Presidents, in particular early in the week. Outside the US the key policy event this week will be the BOK meeting with consensus now expecting a hike, whereas GS still thinks on balance that rates will remain on hold. The other important development to watch is China's return from a week-long holiday on Wednesday. With inflation pressures rising and the Government increasingly vocal in promising price stability further tightening measures are possible. China money supply and credit numbers will be particularly interesting in that context. Outside the macro data, the rapid sell-off in US rates and the impact on interest rate differentials will likely remain the most watched development for FX investors in the upcoming week. Finally, developments in the Middle East continue to deserve some attention, given the fluidity of the political situation and the potential spill-over into commodity markets.
If the state is “an evil inflicted on men by men,” yet the preservation of society nonetheless “justifies the action of the organs of the state,” then the inescapable conclusion is that the state is indeed “a necessary evil.” But how can this be? How can this or any other evil be necessary without rendering evil itself necessary? And if evil itself is necessary, then what of right and wrong, and thus of human morality? For surely the necessity of evil renders human morality null and void, as any action, no matter how heinous, can therefore be justified. Law is then whatever anyone who has the power to back it up says it is; might then makes right; and the state, which is inherently an instrument of might, is then the only legitimate authority, never mind that legitimacy itself is rendered null and void.
Why Dylan Grice's Commodities "Pair Trade" Is Irrelevant During Times Of Central Planning And Failed Market EfficiencySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/06/2011 15:25 -0400
Some time ago, SocGen's Dylan Grice wrote an extended essay which could be synthesized in the following line: "to be 'long commodities is to be short human ingenuity'." Many took this statement as a sign of capitulation from the otherwise highly skeptical Grice, who not once has criticized the current financial and economic status quo. Last week, as Zero Hedge pointed out, Grice made the effort to clear up any confusion about why gold is not and was never meant to be included under this broad umbrella defintion: "although I've said I'm not a fan of plain commodities as investment vehicles because buying commodities was equivalent to selling human ingenuity, I exclude gold from that logic. I prefer to see buying gold as buying into the stupidity of governments, policy-makers and economists, and I'm comfortable doing that." Then over the last few days, Diapason Securities' Sean Corrigan, took a turn at also deconstruction the corollary to the Grice "pair trade" adding the key qualifier: "while Mr. Grice is right in so far as he goes, he has only stated half the case. The true dictum is that 'to be long commodities is to be short human ingenuity but also to be long political stupidity and avarice.'" What has gotten Corrigan so riled up? Why the same underlying premise that makes all those who once had a fascination with the stock market, deride and ridicule it: namely the fact that in doing all he can to flip reality by 180 degrees, Ben Bernanke has completely destroyed the core principle of capital markets: price formation by way of proper information content, i.e. "the free market [must] be allowed to work its magic and that price formation not be deprived of much of its crucial informational content by our dysfunctional monetary and, hence, corrupted financial systems." Sadly, free markets are now only a topic best left to the history books, and as such any idealistic perspective on commodities and the like must take this key persistent variation from the mean into account.
With all the hoopla over Egypt some have forgotten that this is merely a geopolitical event (one of those that absolutely nobody, with a few exceptions, was talking about less a month ago, so in many ways this is a mainstream media black swan which once again exposes the entire punditry for the pseudo-sophist hacks they are), and that the actual mines embedded within the financial system continue to float just below the surface. Below we present the five key fat tail concerns that keep SocGen strategist Dylan Grice up at night, which happen to be: i) long-term deflation, ii) a bond market blow-up, iii) a Chinese hard-landing, iv) an inflation pick-up, and v) an Emerging Markets bubble. Far more importantly, Grice provides the most comprehensive basket of trades to put on as a hedge against all five of these, while also pocketing a premium associated with simple market beta in a world in which the Central Banks continue to successfully defy gravity and economic cycles. For all those who continue to trade as brainless lemmings, seeking comfort in numbers, no matter how wrong the "numbers" of the groupthink herd are, we urge you to establish at least some of the recommended trades in advance of what will inevitably be a greater crash than anything the markets experienced during the depths of the 2008 near-cataclysm.
The concept of a foreign tax repatriation holiday is nothing new to Zero Hedge, and has been discussed extensively before (here and here). There are those who believe that this "holiday", should it be allowed by Congress, will have a far greater stimulus on the economy than the ongoing "QE to infinity" rolling fiat destruction, which does nothing for real asset values and merely revalues prices in nominal terms. Today we present the thoughts of Citi's FX strategist Steven Englander on the topic of a second "Homeland Investment Act" which soon enough may be the last trump card to jump start a once again sputtering "recovery" despite the ongoing impact of QE2 and the unwind of the SFP program. And just like Goldman 10 days ago, Citi is the second major bank to reach the conclusion that louder whispers of a HIA2 will be broadly dollar positive (something to keep in mind considering net USD spec non-commercial bets are at multi-year bearish positions), with the following key differences from HIA1: "1) Be more front-loaded; 2 ) Result in much higher volumes; 3)… And maybe a higher USD component; 4) But will result in more selling flows from reserve managers into the buying by the private sector."
We are experiencing unprecedented moves in financial equity markets as a direct result of the US Federal Reserve money printing operations. The Federal Reserve is no longer operating as the traditional "Lender of Last Resort" but rather is now experimenting in untested waters as the "Buyer of First Resort". Everything is being done by the US government to restore consumer confidence in an attempt to restart the US economy, which even after trillions of government spending, lending and guarantees is at best lethargic. Employment is no longer just a US problem as systemic growth and rebalancing issues face the entire globe. These issues are acute enough to now be seen to be igniting social unrest in many countries other than just the EU. - LCMGroupe
Today, for the first time in two weeks, the Egyptian banking system will be open, and the result: huge lines and a very possible bank run at the 200 or so banks which the Egyptian central bank announced would be open between 10:00 am and 1:30 pm today. And just to make things a little bit easier (yet harder) on itself, courtesy of a withdrawal limit of 50,000 Egyptian pounds and $10,000 a day, depositors will take out the max which should promptly deplete bank stores, and also set the population on edge, which withdrawal limits tend to do virtually everywhere. Also, the Egyptian central bank, which has one upped Blackhawk Ben, and been restocking through a military cargo plane, will soon need a far bigger one: "The central bank moved 5 billion pounds ($854 million) of cash into the financial system as depositors gained access to their savings. The regulator, which has $36 billion in reserves and guarantees deposits, used military cargo planes to bring in the funds, Governor Farouk El-Okdah said yesterday on state-run television." And another lesson Egypt has learned from both the US and the EU: mask any smell of insolvency with that truty old pyramid scheme known as bond issuance: "The government plans to sell 15 billion pounds in treasury bills tomorrow after canceling last week’s auction as protests against Mubarak intensified. Yields on Egypt’s bills may surge about 30 percent, said Shahinaz Foda, the head of treasury at BNP Paribas Egypt."
Goldman's John Noyce once again lays out all the main charts to keep a track off in the coming week, with a particular focus on the EURUSD, EURUSD 2 Year swap spreads, USD 2 and 10 Year swap spreads, but most interesting are Noyce's observations about the 2s10s treasury curve, which he believes Noyce is set to resume flattening from record steep levels: "Putting all the pieces together; the aggressive weekly moving average setup and triangle like consolidation on 2-year swaps, the relatively less aggressive weekly moving average setup on 10-year swaps and the current extreme level of the 10-year/2-year curve, it seems the market is at a juncture where a break higher in short-end yields would be very significant both in specific yield related terms and also due to the USD’s +ve correlation to short-end U.S. yields in a number of currency pairs."
As we have highlighted over the past week, one of the best performing asset classes in trecent days has been rice. And judging by the just released CFTC Commitment of Trader data, the speculators are waking up to the possibility that rice has along way to go higher. The Non-Commercial Net Speculative positions in Rough Rice (per CBOT), have jumped to 5,811 in the week ending February 1, and are now the highest they have been in over a year. They are also double where they were less than 4 weeks ago. Of course, with increasingly more popular speculative positions, the concern that profit taking rallies will appear should be widely anticipated. We expect at least one-two broad selloffs in rice in the coming days, following which distribution the path for continued moves higher in the grain should be wide open.