Now that the LTRO flop has been digested, one of the more curious explanations for the failure comes from Citi's Steven Englander, who suggests that, surprise, surprise, Italian banks were lying yesterday when they said that they were ready and willing to buy Italian debt with LTRO proceeds. To wit: " One dose of cold water were comments from the Italian Bank Association that EBA rules won’t permit Italian banks to buy sovereign debt – this is a complete reversal from reports yesterday that indicated that Italian bank collateral would benefit from government guarantees in going to the ECB and lead to incremental Italian bank buying of sovereign debt." Gee: someone lying? NAR who could possibly conceive of that... And more to the point, Englander has an interesting observations on the market reaction to the upcoming French downgrade: "the S&P downgrade of euro zone sovereigns is hanging over the market but there is no definite timing – every day brings one rumor or another of an imminent moves. More concretely there is a chorus of French and euro zone officials managing expectations downward. S&P probably wants to manage the announcement so as to have the least market impact, but it is unclear whether that means doing it when most investors are inactive but liquidity is low or the opposite. At this point a French downgrade is no surprise. A one-step downgrade would be a positive surprise, but downgrading core-core Europe – Germany, the Netherlands, Finland – would still be a negative. Today’s LTRO may be a (reverse) template for the reaction to a downgrade: kneejerk selling followed by a rebound." Well, only one way to know for sure what happens post the downgrade - bring it on.
Once again we seem to have a discrepancy between what “credit” people think and what “equity” and “FX” people think. The broad market rallied strongly today, at least in part because of the LTRO. On one thing, everyone agrees, the take up rate will be high. There will be strong demand for the LTRO. What differs is the impact that will have on the market. At one end is a belief that banks will be borrowing this money so they can purchase new assets. The allure of carry will be too much to pass up, and with government encouragement, they will rush to purchase new sovereign debt and maybe even lend more. That will turn the tide in the European debt crisis since there will be buyers for every new issue, and the market can move on to “strong” economic data in the US. The other end of the spectrum is that the banks will use this facility to plug up existing holes in their borrowing. They won’t have to rely on the wholesale market or repo market as much as they can tap this facility. It will take some pressure off of the “money market” as banks won’t be scrambling for as much money every day, or over year end, but it won’t lead to new asset purchases by the banks. Banks need to deleverage and that hasn’t changed. The bonds can have a 0% risk weighting, but that doesn’t mean anyone, including the banks, believe it. The road to hell is paved with carry. That is an old adage and likely applies here.
Nearly two years ago, we first breached the topic of the Fed's nuclear option: the possibility (or is that likelihood) of the Fed stepping out of the continental US and proceeding to monetize European bonds. Back then we noted: "One thing learned over the past year is that everything is a distraction for something else, and that something else, quite usually without failure, ends up being the Marriner Eccles building on Constitution Avenue in D.C. What we refer to is disclosure from a paper written by none other than the Maestro Jr, in 2004, titled "Conducting Monetary Policy at Very Low Short-Term Interest Rates" (oddly appropriate). In this paper, Bernanke discusses not only the possibility of purchasing corporate assets (bonds and stocks), but emphasizes that one other security class which the Fed may be inclined to acquire under conditions such as those today, and has an explicit authority to do so, are foreign government bonds." The specific text referenced was the following: "In simple terms, if the liquidity or risk characteristics of securities differ, so that investors do not treat all securities as perfect substitutes, then changes in relative demands by a large purchaser have the potential to alter relative security prices. The same logic might lead the central bank to consider purchasing assets other than government securities, such as corporate bonds or stocks or foreign government bonds. (The Federal Reserve is currently authorized to purchase some foreign government bonds...)" So the question then becomes: with the ECB stubbornly refusing (for now) to proceed with outright monetization, and with its balance sheet already surpassing all time records as noted earlier (see below), coupled with tomorrow's LTRO which as discussed over the weekend will be a "Risk On" attempted failure, even if providing a brief relief rally in the interim, not to mention the complete lack of any long-term viability plan out of the Eurozone (EFSF failure due to lack of demand; IMF bailout plan failure due to the UK's veto and the circular joint and several funding by Italy and Spain of an Italian and Spanish bailout), will it be, once again, the Fed which at the end of the day will have to, by covert pathways or otherwise, be forced to step in and monetize European bonds: the so called Nuclear Option? Providing the latest thoughts on the topic is SocGen's Aneta Markowska...
The numbers tell us America is in decline... if not outright collapse. I say "the numbers tell us" because I've become very sensitive to the impact this kind of statement has on people. When I warned about the impending bankruptcy of General Motors in 2006 and 2007, readers actually blamed me for the company's problems – as if my warnings to the public were the real problem, rather than GM's $400 billion in debt. The claim was absurd. But the resentment my work engendered was real. So please... before you read this issue, which makes several arresting claims about the future of our country... understand I am only writing about the facts as I find them today. I am only drawing conclusions based on the situation as it stands. I am not saying that these conditions can't improve. Or that they won't improve. The truth is, I am optimistic. I believe our country is heading into a crisis. But I also believe that... sooner or later... Americans will make the right choices and put our country back on sound footing.
While European banks may or may not succeed in delaying the inevitable unwind of the Eurozone by a month or two, the European credit catastrophe is taking on a grotesque form, first in Greece, where following news that the budget deficit will soar past an unprecedented 10% of GDP, the Greek government has halted virtually all cash outflows. Ekathimerini reports that "The government has decided to stop tax returns and other obligation payments to enterprises, salary workers and pensioners." In other words, the entire government has now virtually halted one half of its operations - the outlays - as the country reverts even more to its status as European bank debt slave, in perpetuity, or until the country breaks away from the Eurozone and reinstitutes the Drachma (which as Zero Hedge pointed out first in August, continues to trade When Issued at various desks) whichever comes first.
Democrats: Here’s How to Force President Obama to Debate Endless War, Assaults on Our Freedom and the Out-Of-Control FedSubmitted by George Washington on 12/19/2011 14:45 -0500
Do we want a real debate?
Paul Mylchreest, author of the Thunder Road, releases his much anticipated latest report, and it's a doozy: "2012: Dear Portfolio Manager, you are leaving the capitalist sector and heading into a full-spectrum crisis." He continues: "You were to hear a report on the world crisis. That is what you are going to hear. For twelve years you have been asking: Who is John Galt? This is John Galt speaking….Now it’s getting serious. 2012 will be a year to remember as the globalist agenda comes into focus amidst economic and geo-political crises: The titles of the last two Thunder Road Reports were prefaced with “Helter Skelter” - “The Illusion of Market Stability” followed by “Gentlemen Start Your Engines”. Sadly, the Helter Skelter I was writing about – the second part of the Great Financial Crisis is in progress and I’m expecting it to come to a head next year (2013 if we’re very lucky). The only question is WHAT brings it to a head? We’re not short of possible causes – a bank failure, sovereign default, Eurozone tipping into recession or the Middle East. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, like overwhelming debt levels and insolvent banks/sovereigns, the consensus seems convinced that we can “muddle through”. Dow Theory veteran, Richard Russell, explained it best: “In the coming two or three years we will be going through unprecedented situations beyond the understanding of most analysts.”"
In April 2007, former New Jersey governor, 'honorable', Jon Corzine had an altercation with a Garden State Parkway guardrail. A year later, he addressed a bevy of reporters at the swanky Drumthwacket mansion and expressed appreciation for “family, friends, and the fragility of life.” During his recovery period, he advocated seatbelt safety, before returning to New Jersey's budget, extracting $500 million in austerity measures from farmers, educators, and environmentalists, and hiking tolls on New Jersey roadways. On the one-year anniversary of his accident, his chief-of-staff, Bradley I. Abelow declared, “Corzine has returned to his former self as a thorough and exacting boss.” (Italics mine.) Fast forward to the current MF Global flameout. Abelow shifted to Corzine’s Chief Operating Officer. And not only did Corzine ratchet up the ante on ways to really piss off farmers, but after several days of engaging in verbal dodge ball with Congress, this ‘thorough and exacting boss’ maintained his Forest Gump type cloak of secrecy regarding the stolen $1.2 billion of his customers’ segregated money. After days of political-reality TV, we knew nothing more about its evaporation. Corzine and his stewards, Abelow and Chief Financial Officer, Henri Steenkamp, executed a perfect chorus of ‘I don’t recalls’, ‘I didn’t intends’ and ‘the butler did its’.
Two weeks ago in "Has The Imploding European Shadow Banking System Forced The Bundesbank To Prepare For Plan B?" we suggested that according to recent fund flow data, "the Bundesbank wants slowly and quietly out." Out of what? Why the European intertwined monetary mechanism of course, where surplus nations' central bank continue to fund deficit countries' accounts via an ECB intermediary. We speculated that according to the recent ECB proposal, the primary beneficiary of direct ECB intermediation in fund flows, as Draghi has been pushing for past month, would be to disentangle solvent entities like the Bundesbank, allowing it to prepare for D-Day without the shackles of trillions of Euros in deficit capital by virtually all of its counterparties. Today it is the turn of Goldman's Dirk Schumacher to pick up where our argument left off, and to suggest that it is indeed a possibility that the Buba would suffer irreparable consequences as a result of Eurozone implosion, and thus, implicitly, it is Jens Wiedmann's role to accelerate the plan of extracting the Buba from the continent's rapidly unwinding monetary (and fiscal) system. Needless to say, the possibility that a European country can leave at will, as the European Nash Equilibrium finally fails, is something the Bundesbank not only knows all too well, but is actively preparing for: here is what we said on December 6: "we may be experiencing the attempt by the last safe European central bank - Buba - to disintermediate itself from the slow motion trainwreck that is the European shadow banking (first) and then traditional banking collapse (second and last). Because as Lehman showed, it took the lock up of money markets - that stalwart of shadow liabilities - to push the system over the edge, and require a multi-trillion bailout from the true lender of last resort. The same thing is happening now in Europe. And the Bundesbank increasingly appears to want none of it." After all, Germany has been sending the periphery enough messages to where only the most vacuous is not preparing to exit. The question is just how self-serving is Germany being, and whether once Buba is fully disintermediated, Germany will finally push the domino, letting the chips fall where they may?
As we wind down 2011, the time for predictions for what is to come as nigh. Having posted what UBS believes their biggest list of surprises for 2012 will be earlier, we next proceed with out long-term favorite - Saxobank's list of "Outrageous Predictions" for what the bank has dubbed "2012: the Perfect Storm." Mostly proposed tongue in cheek (unlike predictions by other pundits who actually believe their own delusions), the list of 10 suggestions represents nothing less than an attempt to force people "out of the box" and look at the world with a set of "what if" eyes. Because if there is anything 2011 taught is, it is not to discount any one event from happening. As Saxo says: "Should one, two or three of our Outrageous Predictions come to pass, it would make 2012 a year of tremendous change. This may not necessarily be a negative thing either - and given the structure and uncertainties in the marketplace here at the end of 2011, we would suggest that even if none of our predictions come to pass, equally important and totally unanticipated events will. Sometimes we need to get to a new starting point before we can gain the right perspective. We hope 2012 will be the year where we start on the long march towards re-establishing jobs, growth and confidence." Naturally, the best outcome for 2012 would be the end of the broken status quo model, and a global fresh reset... but not even we are that deluded to believe that the quadrillions in credit money (real or synthetic) will allow such a revolutionary event to occur in such a brief period of time. At least not before everything is thrown at the intractable problem unfortunately has just one possible long-term outcome. In the meantime, here, to help readers expand their minds, is Saxo Bank's list of "Outrageous Predictions" for 2012.
If you’re not trading 24 hours a day, you’re liable to wake up in the morning and have your positions wiped out.
So with just a 3 years delay, the SEC has finally put down the porn channel remote, and decided to do what it should have done back in 2008, which is to sue the former heads of Fannie and Freddie for "misleading investors about risky mortgages" in the case below, former Fannie CEO Daniel Mudd, who was paid $13.4 million in 2007. With MF Global telling everyone it had no European exposure as recently as September 30, this appears to be a recurrent theme. So at this pace, Corzine should expect the SEC to sue him... about 8 years after he passes away? Per Reuters: "The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued three former executives at Fannie Mae and three at Freddie Mac, including former chief executives of both companies. The civil charges were filed in two separate lawsuits. The SEC said both firms have agreed to cooperate with the agency and have entered into non-prosecution agreements." Yes, your honor, we don't admit or deny that we got paid tens of millions to blow up the companies at the backbone of the American mortgage industry by lying what we were investing in, but we will cooperate... We promise. In the meantime, we won't hold our breath for the SEC to clawback even one cent from Mudd in this purely theatrical spectacle, of which we will see many more as the US enters election year. Incidentally, any and all LPs of Fortress Group may want to ask themselves what else (if anyhting) the current CEO of the company, who just happens to be Dan Mudd, is misrepresenting these days.
One of the most idiotic concepts we have heard to come out of the current depression has been the completely meaningless "muddle through" which we took to the toolshed back in September (together with presenting BCG's proposal for a global financial tax - a concept which we believe will see far more play in 2012). Today we were delighted to hear the chairman of the fermentation committee also agree with us, by quoting none other than the ECRI's Achutan who said on 'muddling through' - "I would point out that that’s never happened. We never muddle through." Correct: the current economic situation merely continues to be the eye of the hurricane which has been made artificially and untenably larger only courtesy of the world's central banks. And in the battle of central planning against the laws of nature, we know who our money is on.
The truth has a unique sting, and an equally unique ability to heal the destruction wrought by dishonesty, fraud and lies. The truth hurts, because the daylight of truth demands changes that the self-serving and those in denial desperately wish to avoid. But there can be no healing or reconciliation without the truth, baldly stated and plainly spoken without artifice or spin. If we can finally be truthful with ourselves as a nation, then we must admit that our financial system is fundamentally based on lies, fraud, embezzlement, misinformation, perverse filters and incentives, shadow systems that mock transparency and regulation, class privilege and the systemic flouting of the rule of law. This is the truth that hurts because it reveals the financial system as one stupendous exploitative fraud; but it also reveals the complicity and irrelevance of our judicial system and the complete capture of the legislative and Executive processes of governance. There is a system of government in which rule of law is merely a propaganda screen, where financial and political Elites run the show and escape the consequences of their actions: it's called tyranny. The truth is that we live in a financial tyranny. There is no other truthful way to describe the U.S.
Many are doing their damnedest Ph.D.-best to somehow fuse economic theory and technical charting, and state that a breach of the 200 DMA in gold is indicative of imminent price collapse. And then there are facts. Such as this nugget from Stone McCarthy which looks at previous episodes of the 200 DMA breach and concludes based on severity of trendline penetration compared to average, that "this is just one reason we see strong potential for a rebound as participants reduce short exposure." So much for technicals.