At various stages in the last two years everyone from China, to Germany, to the Fed to the IMF, to Martians, to the Imperial Death Star has been fingered as the latest saviour of the status quo. And so far — in spite of a few multi-billion-dollar half-hearted efforts like the €440 billion EFSF — nobody has really shown up. Perhaps that’s because nobody thus far fancies funnelling the money down a black hole. After Greece comes Portugal, and Spain and Ireland and Italy, all of whom together have on the face of things at least €780 billion outstanding (which of course has been securitised and hypothecated up throughout the European financial system into a far larger amount of shadow liabilities, for a critical figure of at least €3 trillion) and no real viable route (other than perhaps fire sales of state property? Sell the Parthenon to Goldman Sachs?) to paying this back (austerity has just led to falling tax revenues, meaning even more money has had to be borrowed), not to mention the trillions owed by the now-jobless citizens of these countries, which is now also imperilled. What’s the incentive in throwing more time, effort, energy and resources into a solution that will likely ultimately prove as futile as the EFSF?
The trouble is that this is playing chicken with an eighteen-wheeler.
Here are some of the things that David Einhorn likes and does not like, having just started his speech at the Ira Sohn Conference:
- Martin Marietta - stock plunges 10% and triggers circuit breaker.
- France - "a french default is not out of the question" - France not limit down yet. He says that a return to the Franc is not out of the question.
- Einhorn likes GJF.NO - "Norway is the only country which can finance itself."
- Einhorn likes Cairn Energy as it trades at discount to assets in just Britain and India.
- Says China is misunderstood and is not an investment opportunity: not enough money to feed the economy and banks aare becoming illquid; money is leaving the country
- Also does not like Japan for all the usual Kyle Bass and Andy Xie reasons. The Yen will continue strengthening.
- Einhorn likes AMZN, calls it "elephant in the room", but questions profit growth.
- Einhorn likes Dena Co, and Gree Inc in Japan
- Einhorn is short DKS
- Einhorn, who is long about $870MM AAPL as per last night's 13F, likes AAPL. Stunner.
To all Dividend funds who bought AAPL on hope the Dividend would lead them to untold future riches and a perpetual stream of cash we have some bad news: since the March dividend announcement (of $2.65/qtr) you have already forfeited 5.66 years of dividend payments in the form of capital losses. Because what so many forget is that stock dividends also have another side: capital gains. Or in this case losses.
Because it is one thing to predict the inevitable when one doesn't have a PhD in Economics, it is something totally different when it comes from the likes of Goldman Sachs (Huw Pill and Themistokis Fiotakis to be precise). In this case, that something is what happens at T+1, T being the inevitable (there's that word again) point where payments from the ECB to sustain the zombified Greek patient, all of which go to ECB funded entities anyway, stop. The biggest concern is that, as we suggested first thing this morning, the ECB is now engaged in a fatal game of chicken, whereby it is forcing Greeks to vote "Pro Bailout" (something that just dawned on the FT), in exchange for continued funding, because unlike last year when the threat of a referendum resulted in the termination of G-Pap, now there is no leader who can be sacrificed, and Europe has no real leverage over the people who have lost so much already, aside from threatening a full out bank system collapse. However, this could very well backfire as more and more Greeks pull their money out, not wanting to find out who blinks first as it would be their money that could be locked up in perpetuity, in essence making the ECB threat into a self-fulfilling prophecy. And as Goldman says, "If confidence is lost and a run on banks occurs, the implications are hard to assess." Well, as ZH warned yesterday, this is already starting. Again from the FT: "Athens-based bankers said withdrawals exceeded €1.2bn on Monday and Tuesday – 0.75 per cent of deposits – as President Karolos Papoulias failed in two final meetings with conservative, socialist and leftwing leaders to form a national unity government." Or double what was suggested yesterday...
It wouldn't be the same in this post-BTFD-always-works, post-LTRO, post-QE, post-central-bank-supported unreality if we didn't see an early day rally rejected and dump back to its lows in the afternoon in the S&P 500 e-mini futures. Of course JCP's Tilson-crushing continues (-19%) as does the selling of financials - JPM -1.5% ($35 handle), MS -3% (35% off its end-March highs and -8% YTD) - as credit indices do not seem quite done with their unwinds quite yet.
We are constantly told that this time is different and we are on a sustainable magic carpet ride to growth, that stocks are merely 'stabilizing' to allow earnings to catch up with valuations, and that buying-the-dip is the obvious trade. However, as the three charts below indicate - its no different this time at all. As Barclays notes, VIX and credit markets are leaking exactly as they did in 2010 and 2011 in preemptive anticipation of the end of Twist (and LTRO) leaving stocks vulnerable to the real shocks of a real macro event risk world; equity performance remains too good to warrant a central bank response (as we just saw in the FOMC minutes) and TIPS breakevens are far above previous intervention levels; and while bank funding fears, growth slowdown concerns, and sovereign downgrade worries are supposedly lesser than in previous sell-off periods, we suggest they are absolutely rising in anxiety and that is the catalyst for the next leg down before the inevitable QE/LTRO occurs.
Update: not so fast: Bloomberg reports that the whale is still beached: JPMorgan Chase Still Employs Trader Bruno Iksil, Spokesman Says. So... pile into the IG9 trade still?
Yesterday we speculated that the final confirmation that JPM has unwound its disastrous skew trade will only came once Bruno Iksil joins all the other members of the CIO team in being involuntarily retired: "As for the question of how much additional P&L loss JPM has sustained from Friday through today is a different matter entirely, and we are confident the next announcement from JPM will come momentarily, coupled with the announcement that Bruno Iksil, the last remnant of the CIO desk, and now having completed his duty of unwinding the trade that brought so much pain for Jamie Dimon, has been retired." Sure enough, the NYT reports that Iksil is now history.
- SEVERAL ON FOMC SAID EASING MAY BE NEEDED IF RECOVERY FALTERS
- MOST' FOMC PARTICIPANTS SAW GRADUAL DECLINE IN JOBLESS RATE
- MOST FOMC PARTICIPANTS SAW INFLATION SUBSEQUENTLY AT-BELOW 2%
- MOST FOMC MEMBERS SAW UNEMPLOYMENT ABOVE TARGET IN LATE 2014
- SOME PARTICIPANTS SAW RISKS INFLATION PRESSURES COULD BUILD
Actually, nothing new in the minutes which are largely a rehash of the official statement already released.
Canary In The Gold Mine: In Historic Move, Japanese Pension Fund Switches To Gold For First Time EverSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/16/2012 12:36 -0400
As US weak hands keep piling out of gold whether to make space for the Facebook IPO tomorrow, or just to load up on paper currencies in advance of central banks printing much more, two things have happened: China is now on its way to becoming the biggest source of gold demand, surpassing India, but more importantly as of hours ago, in a truly historic move, "Okayama Metal & Machinery has become the first Japanese pension fund to make public purchases of gold, in a sign of dwindling faith in paper currencies." Not our words: the FT's.
When Ron Paul stands up in front of a crowd and explains the fictional-reserve banking system's unreality, some listen, many shrug and bury their heads. When ZeroHedge does the same, comments are heavy but change is slow to come. But when a 12-year-old girl, in a little over five minutes can explain the total farce that is our monetary system, surely people have to listen and break free of the matrix. Victoria Grant, 12, explains how "The banks and the government have colluded to financially enslave the people of Canada," and as CTV notes, 'Grant lays out a brief history of the Canadian banking system, referencing obscure historical figures such as former Vancouver mayor Gerald McGeer and explaining that the Bank of Canada held primary control over government lending until the 1970's. Starting then, she says, governments began borrowing from private banks instead at considerably higher interest rates than those available through the central bank. The result, Grant argues, is a rapidly increasing national debt. The pint-sized pundit is quick to offer a solution. "If the Canadian Government needs money, they can borrow it directly from the Bank of Canada," she says. " ... Canadians would again prosper with real money as the foundation of our economic structure." The truth is out there - whether it comes from Alan Simpson, Ron Paul, ZeroHedge, or a 12-year-old Canadian young lady.
We have all thought it. We have all muttered it under our breaths (and some of us have even written about it on blogs) but the Keynesian Krusader's borrow-and-spend-our-way-to-growth dogma was bazooka'd by former Senator Alan Simpson yesterday. "I say why don't you read our report and then get back to me", Simpson says of Krugman in a must-watch interview on Bloomberg TV, adding that "Paul Krugman is a great economist, but he ain't the best in the world. This is nuts...I love to read his stuff because it borders on hysteria" Critically, he adds on the growing demographic crisis "This is not 20 years ago, it isn't 10. It is now. You have 10,000 a day coming into the system. The demographics are there. It is all different -- it is not the same". The former Senator goes on to discuss whether US will become the next Europe, how lawmakers will sell cutbacks to the American public, whether policymakers keeping rates low are contributing to the problem, and finally on Simpson-Bowles 2.0. - "The people of America are telling their elected people how it is. Erskin and I go all over the country and tell them we do not do BS or mush, but pull up a chair and we will tell you where the country is, and they are thirsting for that."
What we have is a system where the full-time worker to beneficiary is already 1-to-1 and the system pays out 10 times more per person than it collects in taxes. The Medicare system would need about 10 workers for every beneficiary to be sustainable. Right now the ratio is just above 2-to-1. That simply is not sustainable. Tweaking the payouts doesn't change the basic math: "pay as you go" entitlements are not sustainable when the number of recipients equals the number of full-time workers. Programs that pay out $400,000 per person (many of whom did not work a lifetime) and collect $40,000 per lifetime of full-time work are not sustainable.
Wishing the math were different does not make it different.
As Europe opened last night markets were very weak with Sovereigns gapping dramatically wider and equity and credit markets under pressure. Just as in the last few days in Europe though, early weakness has been tempered by a modest belief that the ECB will save us all if it gets bad enough. Today was a little different - as we noted it appeared the ECB was starting to play chicken a little more vocally and while equity, credit, and sovereigns rallied in their usual way off the open - there was one critical difference - financials did not. Early on it was clear that many traders were looking to place the short-financials, long-sovereign credit trade, this implicitly forced LTRO-encumbered banks to underperform (as Greek, Italian, and Spanish banks were crushed in stocks and spreads) moving the LTRO Stigma wider still - back near record wides. The EURUSD was choppy but once the ECB headlines hit and rumors swirled of more bank runs, cessation of support, and capital controls, it fell back below 1.2700 once again (only to surge a little into the Europe day-session close - back to unch. Treasuries and Bunds were in lockstep - leaking higher in yield as the technical support for sovereigns came in (not from the ECB but via our financials-sovereign spreads arb) but this gave way into the close as risk asset weakness dragged yields lower in Germany. US equities faded into the Europe close (as normal) ending back at a balanced VWAP, with EU financial stocks down over 1% on average, and EU stocks overall down around 0.75% (BE500).