Yesterday we predicted it was imminent, and sure enough, adding insult to injury for any muppet who rode the "once in a lifetime" opportunity to buy stocks and sell bonds, Goldman just hit the stop loss on its 10 Year Treasury short, after getting stopped out in its Russell 2000 long two days prior.
FHFA Acting Director Edward DeMarco offered some prepared remarks today making it abundantly clear that his preference is for forbearance over forgiveness in the great mortgage hole in the US balance sheet's dam. As Bank of America's Chris Flanagan noted this evening "[DeMarco] effectively nixed the idea of broad-based principal forgiveness by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac" in his comments on the Treasury's incentives to forgive principal on underwater borrowers. Citing three factors - NPV Impact to taxpayer, moral hazard, and operational costs - the FHFA Director indicated that forbearance (simply put - delaying foreclosure) is effectively a shared appreciation mortgage (SAM) without the operational complexities of a more formal SAM. BofA concludes: "his preliminary remarks on the incentive approach to principal forgiveness of GSE loans [mean] that there will be zero to minimal scale of such an approach." Back to the drawing board for the Treasury (or more forced-through unintended consequences?).
A Modest Proposal: Students Refuse To Become Debt Slaves, Opt To Sell Equity In Their Future Wealth InsteadSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/10/2012 16:23 -0400
The topic of the student loan bubble (and even its popping) has been digested to death on Zero Hedge. One topic that has been avoided however, is that of the student equity bubble, for the simple reason that until now the concept did not exist. That may change soon: as the Economist reports, some California students have a modest proposal to the symbiotic University-Banker net worth extraction mechanism - shove your debt. Instead, they will pay for their unaffordable education (except when funded with copious amounts of unserviceable and non-dischargable debt) with equity.
Since Goldman continues to press clients into the worst trade recommendation in the firm's history (remember that once in a lifetime long equity, bond short? no? look here) it means that at least the Goldman version of Bruno Iksil who sits on the firm's prop desk (but only hedge for god's sake, don't go getting any ideas) is having a great time since he is on the other side across from Goldman's clients. Still, while we won't feel bad for them, it is always interesting to note what are the things that Goldman watches for during market wipe outs, such as today, the worst day of trading so far in 2012. So without further ado, here is Goldman's Tuesday roundup.
Federal debt has expanded by $9.5 trillion - from $5.7 trillion in 2000 to $15.2 trillion at the end of last year and, as Neal Soss of Credit Suisse notes, is still growing over $1 trillion a year (or $5 billion per day). The state of fiscal sustainability, as explained in this compendium of slides, is perilous, but as Soss notes - interest expense did not go up because interest rates fell faster than debt went up. Looking ahead, he notes that political choice theory suggests that taxes can go up, but not a lot (even as the change-maker-in-chief presents his case) and at the same time an unprecedented aging (demographic) shock limits the ability to control expenditures. None of this is news to readers but the financial implication is critical: interest rates must be kept as low as possible to avoid explosive debt dynamics. As Soss concludes therefore, and something we have been clear about for a long time, the era of independent central banks is closing as those institutions revert to their foundational role as fiscal agents of the state.
Equities suffered their largest single-day drop in 4 months as for once Apple was unable to single-handedly hold up the index letting it drop closer to its credit-oriented risk. A monster day for NYSE and ES (S&P 500 e-mini futures) volume saw Financials and Discretionary sectors underperforming and the Energy sector joining Utilities in the red for the year. The S&P closed at its lows as it broke its 50DMA for the first time since DEC11 as AAPL dropped 1.25% for the day (and -2.5% from the highs) but most notably equities and Treasuries are back in sync from early March as 10Y closed under 2% for the first time in a month. Gold and Silver surged around the European close, on little news, as we suspect safe-haven buying and an unwind of the gold-hedged bank-stress-test rally - with another relatively unusual divergence between Gold and stocks on the day. VIX broke above 21% closing just below it back near one-month peaks as the term structure bear-flattened (but notbaly pushing ahead of its credit-equity implied fair value). JPY strengthened all day (and AUD weakened) as carry trades were unwound in FX markets leaving the USD marginally higher on the day (and EUR marginally lower despite the turmoil in European markets). Oil fell back below $101.50 but it was Copper that has suffered the most - down almost 4% since Last Thursday. Credit markets were weak with HY marginally underperforming IG (beta adjusted) but still implying further weakness in equities as HYG closed just shy of its 200DMA.
Here is a number for you: 70% That is roughly how many economic reports have missed their mark in the last month. Why is this important? Believe it or not - It has a lot to do with the weather. We have written many times recently about the weather related effects skewing the seasonal adjustment figures in everything from the leading indicators and retail sales to employment numbers. Now those weather related boosts are beginning to run in reverse as weather patterns return to normal and realign with the seasonal adjustments. This resurgence of economic weakness is only just beginning to appear in the fabric of the various manufacturing reports. The Chicago Fed National Activity Index (a broad measure of 85 different data points) has declined from its recent peak in December of .54 to .33 in January and -.09 in February. The ISM Composite index (an average of manufacturing and non-manufacturing data), Richmond, Dallas and Kansas Fed Manufacturing indexes all posted declines in March.
Earlier, we heard Santorum bidding a fond adieu to the public world, most likely forever, and now it is the turn of the president. Only he won't be resigning, but instead he will once again make the argument why the rich have to pay more in taxes, and why the The Crony Capitalist Cramdown, pardon the Buffet Rule, should be enacted for everyone and why Congress must pass it. We can only wish that the president dedicated as much time and energy to getting America a budget (it still does not have one) as he does to delineating various class distinctions. Today's challenge, should anyone chose to accept it: take a shot every time the TOTUS says "fair" and any variation thereof.
As of earlier today, Sino Forest is official bankrupt, courtesy of ISDA's determinations committee which found just that, despite Sino's attempt to scapegoat Muddy Waters in an idiotic attempt at redirection. So is Muddy Waters sitting on its laurels, having been vindicated? No: the company just released the following analysis this time focusing on "The Fraud School', our old friend RINO as well as new entrant to the alleged fraudcap space: FSIN.
According to various media reports, still officially unconfirmed, Rick Santorum will end his presidential campaign. Such as this one from CNN: "Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum will announce he will suspend his campaign on Tuesday at an event in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, a senior adviser to the campaign tells CNN." The live webcast to the Santorum address can be watched below after the jump.
One of the most-watched stress indicators from the European crisis (pre-LTRO) is starting to flash orange warning lights again. The 3-month EUR-USD basis swap (or how to get USD funding when no-one else will help) has just deteriorated its most over the past 5 days since mid-December. Having never realized more normalized levels from early last year, the rapid acceleration in this funding instrument's use last year and now this year is perhaps why bank stocks are under such incredible pressure as insolvency meets illiquidity head on once again.