I am not exaggerating.
This is Finnish writer Pentti Linkola — a man who demands that the human population reduce its size to around 500 million and abandon modern technology and the pursuit of economic growth — in his own words.
Forget that S&P 500 e-mini futures plunged to four-month lows at 1290; or Treasury yields crashed back to their record lows; or Gold and Silver's surge today; or WTI's plummet to almost a $90 handle; or Citi joining Morgan Stanley in the red year-to-date; or credit markets continuing into the red for the year; or IG9 10Y soaring further to 160bps - widest in 6 months; or VIX closing above 25% for the first time in 5 months (and decompressing to Europe's pain). Today was all about one thing - the disaster that was/is/and will be Facebook - between late openings, overwhelmed systems, a dump to the syndicate bid and almost 600mm shares traded with the syndicate just soaking it all up at $38.00 early and into the close. Is it any wonder that every other social media stock plunged and how do they expect to ever get another internet IPO off again (at anything but a massive discount). No matter what correlation trick was tried to juice markets today - for the tenth day-in-a-row markets saw a BTFD turn into a STFR. Not a pretty end to the ugliest week in six month for the S&P 500 as it nears its 200DMA into the close.
Just when we though that nobody would take advantage of the cover provided by the epic flame out of the FaceBomb IPO and the ongoing market crash, here comes Spain. Because there is nothing quite like a little Friday night action following a market drubbing and an "IPO for the people" shock in which to sneak the news that, oops, sorry, we were lying about all that austerity. Because while it came as a surprise to the market back in December when Spain announced it would post a 2011 budget deficit of 8.5% instead of the previously promised 6%, the market will hardly be impressed that Spain actually overspent by another €4.2 billion, to a brand new total of €95.5 billion of 8.9% of GDP. So Monday now has two things to look forward to: the Spanish bond margin hike on one hand courtesy of LCH.Clearnet earlier, and the fact that despite spending even more than expected, GDP growth has disappointed and the country is now officially in a double dip. Hardly what the country with the record wide CDS needs right now.
In an interview with Louis James, John Hathaway discusses the US's economic outlook and why he's delighted by the current bearish sentiment toward gold. "I think we're at the end of a correction that resulted from the peak last summer. It was overcooked, kind of hyperventilated hysteria over the debt-ceiling talks, the rating downgrade of the US sovereign debt, and I think basically the stocks and the metal had been working off that boiled down to what we now have is a simmer. I think we are at a position where there's not a lot of downside, and I would not be surprised by revisiting the previous highs of $1,900 and maybe even new highs over $2,000 this year."
The social bubble may be on the verge of popping, but that doesn't mean that various soon to be extinct offshots can't provide cheap bang for the taxpayer buck. Such as this particular offer which we are fairly certain the Chairman, with Willem Buiter whispering in his ear, is taking a long, hard look at...
Unless Greece chooses to leave the Euro area, which JPMorgan doubts will happen, the rest of the region will have to push Greece out. The mechanism for this will be the ECB excluding the Greek central bank from Target2, the regional payments and settlement system. Although this might look like a technical decision about monetary plumbing, the ECB will elevate this to Euro area Heads of State. There is understandably a lot of interest in the mechanics of how a possible Greek exit from the Euro would play out in relation to the ECB. Reports of significant deposit withdrawal from Greek banks also direct attention toward the support for Greek banks coming from the Greek Central Bank and the Eurosystem. And yesterday’s announcement by the ECB of restricted access to regular repo Eurosystem financing for a number of Greek banks adds some more complication. Though JPMorgan would not place a lot of emphasis on what the ECB announced yesterday as a signal of broader attitudes toward Greece, understanding the mechanics matters more broadly.
Bob Farrell's rule #9 is: "When all experts and forecasts agree — something else is going to happen." This statement encapsulates the basic tenant of being a contrarian investor. As Sam Stovall, the S&P investment strategist, puts it: "If everybody's optimistic, who is left to buy? If everybody's pessimistic, who's left to sell?" Going against the herd as Farrell repeatedly suggests can be very profitable, especially for patient buyers who raise cash from frothy markets and reinvest it when sentiment is the darkest. However, being a seller in exuberant markets or a buyer in major rout is very tough, if not impossible, for almost every investor as the emotions of "greed" and "fear" overtake logical buy and sell decision making.
Nothing could be more appropriate than topping a week of surreal newsflow than what just happened with the EURUSD, which soared by 80 pips on absolutely non news, in what can be attributed to either some algo going apeshit and lifting every offer, a fat finger, or just the tried and true Bank of International Settlement stop hunt seeking to send correlated risk assets higher courtesy of a spark in upward momentum. Sadly today not even this glaring attempt to jump broad risk into the stratosphere is working. And ahead of a weekend where it is rumored Europe may reopen on Monday, we can't wait for the inevitable snapback.
Instead of his usual rant, Charles Biderman of TrimTabs discusses the reality of the macro environment with Madeline Schnapp - though do not worry as the sense of sarcasm and disbelief at the government's actions and hopes is palpable. Noting that our economy is at best growing 'sluggishly' based off her real-time macro data, Biderman's right hand goes on to explain to him that inflation is running hotter than the government would like us to believe. More importantly, she hits the nail on the head with regard to what Biderman notes is the wasted stimulus money, saying that the economy needs to clear the malinvestments, not sustain them through stimulus transmission mechanisms, in order for growth to once again re-appear. Historically QE2 did manage to create some inventory restocking and pick up in wages/salaries in Q1 2011 but Operation Twist appears to have little to no impact on the real economy (outside of government statistical modelers) - which as we have said before indicates the diminishing returns to government intervention. What is clear is that, as we have noted, that post the 1971 modified gold standard, over a long-period of time it has taken an 'unsustainably' increasing amount of government debt to create economic growth - with the post-2008 insanity that we need $2.50 to create $1 of economic growth. The two end with a discussion of the debt ceiling and deficit potential for a black swan event.
A few days ago we suggested that this action by LCH.Clearnet was only a matter of time. Sure enough, as of minutes ago the bond clearer hiked margins on all Spanish bonds with a duration of more than 1.25 years. Net result: the Spanish Banks which by now are by far the largest single group holder of Spanish bonds, has to post even moire collateral beginning May 25. Only problem with that: it very well may not have the collateral.
Well, better late than never.
While all eyes are focused on Greece (and contagiously Spain), they have forgotten that two far weaker countries still exits - and combined have the power to do as much (if not more) damage than Spain. Portugal and Ireland have moved back into the Red-Zone of risk in Europe's credit markets. Ireland back over 700bps and Portugal back over 1200bps reflects both their idiosyncratic issues (that we have discussed at length) or the systemic issues (which we discussed most recently this morning here). In the case of Portugal, it appears the Dan Loeb trade (we said to fade it) is now being unwound en masse as the reality of the fundamental risks we discussed here seem to be realized. In the case of Ireland, not only is there a rising chance of a 'no' vote at the forthcoming referendum (discussed here) but as Deutsche Bank notes today, via Bloomberg, that Irish banks may face a further $5.1 billion capital call to cover loan losses as "A new, even modest, increase in capital requirements could deter sovereign investor participation and tip the balance in favor of the sovereign requiring a second loan program." Of course the CDS reflect not just the chance of these nations restructuring but also the probability of a EUR devaluation (since the instruments are denominated in USD) but still - we thought Ireland was the template for the success of austerity?
So stepping aside from the biggest aggregator of private data for a few minutes, and focusing on what actually matters, here is Citigroup telling our European readers who have those fancy multi-colored bills in their wallets, that they are in deep trouble.
To summarize from Citi:
- There are many scenarios for a Greek exit; almost all of them are likely to be EUR negative for an extended period
- Some scenarios could be positive in equilibrium but the run-up to the new equilibrium could be nasty, brutal and long
- The positive scenarios for the euro involve aggressive reduction of tail risk; none of these seem likely
- It is unlikely that central banks busily substitute EUR for USD in their portfolios during periods of intense political uncertainty.
Remember there is no short-selling - only long-adds and long-exits. Syndicate fall back...26.7mm shares at $38.00, 9mm shares at $39.00, and 42mm at $40.00 - leaves a VWAP (or average price at which everyone is in Facebook) at $40.36 (green arrow) with over $10.5b billion traded so far as over 60% of the float has 'turned-over' this morning.