Gold edged down on Monday due to the pressure from a stronger dollar, as worries about the Eurozone debt crisis grew after Spain looked like the next candidate for a sovereign bailout. Spain has two regions seeking aid from the central government and El Pais reported that six Spanish regions may ask for aid from the central government while Spanish bonds yields continue to rise. As the 4th largest economy in the Eurozone Spain looks likely to follow Greece, Portugal and Ireland seeking an international bailout. Greece’s creditors meet this week as many doubt they will meet their bailout commitments. German Vice Chancellor Philipp Roesler said he’s “very skeptical” that European leaders will be able to rescue Greece. China’s economic expansion may fall for a 7th straight quarter to 7.4% in the three months to September, said Song Guoqing, a member of the People’s Bank of China monetary policy committee.
- Greece should pay wages in drachmas - German MP (Reuters)
- Greece Seeks More Cuts as Deadlines Loom (WSJ)
- Greece Back at Center of Euro Crisis as Exit Talk Resurfaces (Bloomberg)
- Berlusconi seeks return to liberal roots (FT)
- For brokers like Peregrine, from bad times to worse (Reuters)
- Japan Sees More ‘Widespread’ Global Slowdown With China Cooling (Bloomberg)
- China Central Bank Adviser Forecasts Growth Slowdown to 7.4% (Bloomberg)
- London Out to Prove It's Still in the Game (WSJ)
- Stockton Reveals Bondholder Offers From Mediation (Bloomberg)
- US lawmakers propose greater SEC powers (FT)
The last time a sovereign bond issue was imploding at this rate without the ECB's intervention, Silvio Berlusconi was about to be forcibly retired. This time, however, we fail to see what the assorted globalist elements will benefit by having Rajoy displaced: after all he has been a studious and versatile pawn of the status quo, who squawks repeatedly and whenever needed that Spain is solvent and that its banks are not in need of a bailout. That said, stick a fork in Spain, and all those newsletter writers who were saying to buy its bonds, or equities: at last check the IBEX was down nearly 5%, after falling by the same amount on Friday. This is the equivalent of the Dow Jones tumbling by just about 600 points. The catalyst - the 10 Year which touched on 7.565% minutes earlier, as virtually all hope is now lost - it is now every country and region for himself, and he who panics first, panics best.
For over four years, virtually everyone in the finance industry knew that Libor was manipulated. The stench of manipulation rose to the very top and thanks to a document release of formerly confidential information, we now know for a fact that even the Fed was in on it - recall that as part of production, the Fed provided a transcript of an April 2008 phone call between a Barclays trader in New York and Fed official Fabiola Ravazzolo, in which the unidentified trader said: "So, we know that we're not posting um, an honest LIBOR." And yet without any tangible, black on white evidence, there was no catalyst for pursuing legal action. That all changed when in a desperate attempt to protect its ass, Barclays decided to rat out everyone by settling with regulators, and "turn state" producing e-mail based evidence, most of it quite visual (after all what is more tangible to the common man that evil bankers sipping on Bollinger), which essentially threw years of quiet cartel cooperation under the bus. As a result, regulators, enforcers, and legal authorities, many of whom were in on this manipulation from the beginning, no longer had an excuse to not pursue civil and criminal charges against perpetrators, who until recently were footing the tabs at various gentlemen's venues and ultra expensive restaurants. And while the imminent waterfall of civil prosecution will force bank litigation reserves to go through the roof, here comes, with a very long delay, the criminal charges. As Reuters reports, here come the arrests.
Russia and the southeast Asian countries are analogs for Greece, Spain, and Cyprus, with no particular association between their references within the timeline. The timeline runs through the Russian pain; things begin to turn around after the timeline ends. This is meant to serve as a reference point: In retrospect it was clear throughout the late-90s that Russia would default on its debt and spark financial pandemonium, yet there were cheers at many of the fake-out "solution" pivot points. The Russian issues were structural and therefore immune to halfhearted solutions--the Euro Crisis is no different. This timeline analog serves as a guide to illustrate to what extent world leaders can delay the inevitable and just how significant "black swan event" probabilities are in times of structural crisis. It seems that the next step in the unfolding Euro Crisis is for sovereigns to begin to default on their loan payments. To that effect, Greece must pay its next round of bond redemptions on August 20, and over the weekend the IMF stated that they are suspending Greece's future aid tranches due to lack of reform. August 20 might be the most important day of the entire summer and very well could turn into the credit event that breaks the camel's back.
The week ahead brings a batch of Q2 GDP prints, which will provide guidance on the strength of activity in that quarter, as well as a bunch of business survey data which will offer insights into the strength of momentum at the start of Q3. Starting with the GDP data, the main attraction is likely to be the print from the US. Goldman expects a below trend print of 1.1%qoq, vs the consensus at 1.5%qoq. The Q2 print from the UK is expected to be negative. While only a few Q2 prints have been published so far, only China has recorded a recovery on Q1. The consensus expects soft prints for the business surveys out this week. The Euroland flash PMIs are expected to be unchanged, leaving them at levels consistent with a continued contraction in activity. The German IFO is expected to fall slightly, as is the Swiss KoF. There are no consensus expectations for the China flash PMI, however if it does not pick up from current levels around 48, questions over the extent/effectiveness of stimulus in China will remain.
While many have discussed the extreme analogs of the last few years in equity market performance, few have looked at the relative performance of the most explicitly impacted asset class of Central Bank largesse - the US Treasury bond market. Based on the almost perfect correlation between 2010, 2011, and this year's yield movements over the past few months, traders could be forgiven for considering that the 10-year yield will be below 1% by the end of August - no matter how many times they are told "but rates cannot fall any more" or this time it's different. One has to wonder just how long the Fed can control this herding of cats (by forcing everyone to front-run it) and what the hyper-inflating solution to asset-deflation expectations will look like this time.
The euro has depreciated to its lowest level in nearly nine years when measured in trade-weighted terms. Common wisdom is to assume that this might trigger a GDP forecast upgrade for the common currency area. UBS says "no", while at first sight, this 'devaluation' should boost output, the exchange rate response is simply part of the bigger, well-known picture of economic stress in the common currency region. Simply put, the currency has depreciated on fear and risk aversion - and economic growth tends to suffer rather than flourish in that environment - and furthermore, the two structural measures that help determine the outlook for the currency - the internal balance (output gap) and the external balance (current account) - point to further weakness.
EURUSD is down over 50 pips from Friday's close, about to test a 1.20 handle for the first time in over 25 months, as headlines pour from the beleaguered disunion. The AP reports of the German vice-chancellor's "more than skeptical" view that Greece can fulfill its obligations; after which "there can be no further payments" seemingly confirms our earlier note on the IMF's reluctance (and dismisses any hope that the IMF's call for more ECB 'assistance' will go unheeded. More worrisome is the Athens News story on Alexis Tsipras (leader of the Greek Syriza party) forecasting that the government will "soon present a return to a national currency (drachma) as a national success." He went on to state rather honestly for a politician that any payment extension (of the already re-negotiated TROIKA deal) is "essentially a longer rope with which to hang ourselves." The elite-perpetuating status-quo-sustaining unreality is summed up perfectly as he notes the Greek finance minister is the definition of a finance minister that the TROIKA would have chosen. Germany's Roesler adds a little fuel to the conflagration by adding that "for many experts,... a Greek exit from the eurozone has long since lost its horror."
The latest details on the Spanish financial sector bailout continue to remind us not to underestimate politicians’ readiness to undermine whatever is left of a free market capitalist system. Instead of adopting Economist Juan Ramón Rallo' (as we discussed here), who has suggested a “bail-in” formula to effectively restructure and recapitalize the financial sector in a more transparent and fair manner - which would teach the resulting bank owners to learn the lesson of the dangers involved in placing politicians and ballet dancers on banks’ boards; the actual plan is to cleanse the Spanish banking sector of its toxic assets by means of transferring them into “bad banks” has a new twist: instead of reflecting such assets’ real market value, the idea is to impose a markup (based on an estimated “long-term value”) to minimize losses. In contrast to Rallo’s “bail-in” proposal, the current Spanish banking sector reform is aimed at bailing out and protecting those who have benefited from the practices which caused the problem in the first place: the political class, inefficient regulators, as well as private companies close to the establishment.
It appears that following the resignation letter fiasco from Friday, the venerable IMF is trying to regain some level of credibility in the world. In a note obtained by SPIEGEL, senior IMF officials patience has clearly come to an end and has decided that, with Greece likely to go bust by September, it is no longer willing to provide additional Greek aid (we assume in light of the push-backs on the promised cuts that the aid was based upon). Pointing to this now being a euro-zone problem, their cessation of Greek aid is even more critical since both Holland and Finland pledged support because the IMF was involved. August 20th marks an important short-term hurdle as Greece is required to pay back EUR3.8bn to the ECB - and with collateral being withdrawn, we wonder how long before the ECB pulls the plug entirely - even on Greek T-Bills. Whether this is sabre-rattling before the delayed TROIKA visit or the IMF (and the rest of the TROIKA) indeed deciding enough is enough and realizing finally that more debt (or even maturity extensions) does not solve the problem of too much debt - only default will do that!
All organic structures can be modelled using evolutionary theory and governance, politics and economics, which involve the cooperation of millions of human beings are no exception. Because everyone is more familiar with evolutionary theory being used to model changes in the natural world, we’ll start by looking at examples in the natural world where revolution occurs as part of the process of evolution, demonstrating that revolution is not an artificial human construct but actually quite normal under particular circumstances. Revolution occurs in the natural world when a lifeform becomes extinct because the environment it depends on for survival changes at a faster rate than it can evolve. This can happen in two ways, either the environment is subject to sudden change, as in the case of the dinosaurs or, far more commonly, the environment changes gradually and the lifeform finds itself increasingly ill-adapted before becoming extinct. Because each lifeform has a relationship with other lifeforms there is a knock on effect.
In their Ten Thousand Commandments 2012 report which was released in June, the CEI estimates the cost of US government regulation at $US 1.75 TRILLION. That is just under half (48 percent) of the budget of the federal government. It is almost ten times the total of all corporate taxes collected and almost double the total collected from individual income taxes. It is also one-third higher than the total of all pre-tax corporate profits. It is the hidden cost of doing business in an interventionist economy. The fact that the cost of complying with these regulations is substantially higher than the total of corporate profits is a stark illustration of the end result of economic intervention. That end result is capital consumption.