We’re talking about a banking system that is nearly four times that of the US ($46 trillion vs. $12 trillion) with at least twice the amount of leverage (26 to 1 for the EU vs. 13 to 1 for the US), and a Central Bank that has stuffed its balance sheet with loads of garbage debts, giving it a leverage level of 36 to 1.
Government programs created in the 1960s created a culture of dependency, government control, relentlessly higher debt, materialism, and willful ignorance. The incompetence, arrogance, ineptitude and insanity of government officials at the Federal, State, and Local level are stunning to behold. We need to ask ourselves whether we the people are getting better government service and efficiency today; with government spending at 35% to 40% of GDP, than we did in the 1950’s and early 1960’s when government spending was 20% to 25% of GDP. We doubt that most people are getting 60% more value from our benevolent government today than they did in the 1950’s. By encouraging dependency and reliance upon the all-powerful government, the motivation to educate yourself, get married before having children, work hard, and pull yourself out of poverty is diminished. Can a small minority of critical thinking citizens lead a revolution that topples the existing social order and restores the Republic to its founding principles of liberty, self-responsibility, civic duty, and mutual obligation to future generations?
By now everyone knows, even the mainstream media, that in Europe if one is a member of the oligarchy, "when it becomes serious, you have to lie" as the unelected viceroy of neofeudal Europe Jean-Claude Juncker said once upon a time, back when Greece and Spain were still "fine." Everyone also knows that judging by politican commentary and statement, in Europe it has been very serious for the past 3 years, as the lies have not ended. In fact, the more insolvent a country, the more serious it got, and the more gruesome and unbelievable the lies emanating thereof were. The one place where lying was at least somewhat contained was Europe's paymaster, Germany, which now is actively vying to not only not cede banking supervision to the ECB, but is seeking to displace the central bank in the budget and FX central planning category with a push to be elected budget commissioner and FX tsar. Eventually it will get its wish, but more when we cross to that bridge. Which is why it is surprising that today, German financial magazine Spiegel calls out none other than German FinMin Wolfi Schauble for doing precisely what Juncker was caught doing 2 years ago. Lying.
This past Friday, on the 25th anniversary of Black Monday, Bill Gross warned that in the current centrally-planned market "central bank puts" are the modern day equivalent of "portfolio insurance", and he is right. By sending complacency to record levels, and essentially forcing investors to no longer worry, hedge and generally ignore tail risk, the central planners, in their futile attempts to reflate stocks at all costs, are guaranteeing that the market will experience just the type of fat tail event they promise will never occur. As for the catalyst that will make sure of it is none other than our old friend: high frequency trading. Because while central planning is the mechanism by which investing is dragged away from mean reversion, price clearing and fair value discovery, it is HFT that is Bernanke's analogue in the millisecond trading world (as all those who had stop limit orders (that did not get DKed) on May 6, 2010 very well remember). Because when the next Black ___day does happen, it will be due to central planning, but it will be enacted courtesy of HFT (which will never go away until the next and probably final market crash: too much exchange revenue depends on the perpetuation of this parasitic liquidity drain). Which is why it is only appropriate to warn readers that when it comes to system market fragility, the frequency and magnitude of "wild price spike" events (to put it simply) are now both rising at an exponential rate, and fast approaching Flash Crash levels.
Total bailout fund size: €18 billion. Cash bailouts already requested:
- Cataluña: €5.023 billion
- Andalucía: €4.906 billion
- C. Valenciana: €4.500 billion
- C. La Mancha: €0.848 billion
- Canarias: €0.757 billion
- Murcia: €0.528 billion
- Baleares: €0.355 billion
- Asturias: €0.2617 billion
Bailout funding left: €0.821 billion. Oops.
In what follows, we will examine the adjustment process necessary to shift from a system with fiat money and a reserve ratio below 1 (reserve requirement under 100%). Let’s begin clarifying that this proposed delevering process is an ideal situation, applicable if one had the luxury of planning the shift. There is not always time to do so and, if we ever had any, we’re running out of it pretty fast. The adjustment process below could only be done very gradually, by adjusting the reserve requirement and gold holdings by the central bank a few bps every year (say 200bps). The ultra-necessary condition here is that the nation undergoing this process be able to generate an equivalent fiscal surplus, in percentage terms. For instance, the process could demand to cover 2% per year of the gap in the reserve ratio to reach 1 (50 years long!!!). This means that if the reserve ratio is 10%, the gap is 90% and narrowing it over 50 years would require to increase reserves by 1.8% every year (90%/50). Because the delevering process should be accompanied by a pari passu reduction in the fiscal deficit and sovereign debt, that 2% annual adjustment, in the US, this would require a surplus of $324BN every year, over 50 years ($16.2 trillion in national debt x 2%). In 2012 terms, spending would have to be cut by $1.52 trillion ($324 billion + $1.2 trillion annual deficit), if the numbers we have are correct. We suspect they are not: The situation is even worse. But, the bottom line is that, once you see these numbers, you realize that going back to a world of no leverage is politically impossible. Even though it is technically feasible, just like the European Monetary Union was planned and built over decades, it is still politically impossible.
So far the Fed's 4 year old QEasing strategy has failed for the simple reason that the smart money instead of being "herded", has far more simply decided to just front-run the Fed thus generating risk-free returns, while the "dumb money", tired of the HFT and Fed-manipulated, and utterly broken casino market, has simply allocated residual capital either into deposits (M2 just hit a new all time record of $10.2 trillion) or into "return of capital" products such as taxable and non-taxable bonds. Alas none of the above means that the Fed will ever stop from the "strategy" it undertook nearly 4 years ago to the day with QE1. Instead, it will continue doing more of the same until the bitter end. But how much more is there? To answer this question, below we present the entire universe of marketable US debt, in one simple chart showing the average yield by product type on the Y-axis, and the total debt notional on the X.
Yesterday's massive car bomb in Lebanon, which killed and wounded dozens including the country's police intelligence chief and has thus been dubbed as the most "high-profile assassination in seven years", confirmed once again that when it comes to regional powder kegs, the middle east is second to none, and is the 21st century equivalent of Eastern Europe. While nobody has claimed responsibility yet for yesterday's brazen attack (although the "agenda-less" media is once again insinuating it is the doing of Syria's leader Bashar al-Assad) one thing is certain: provocations of this nature will continue indefinitely until they escalate into something much more lethal. The reason: the melting pot melange of different sects in Syria and Lebanon, which co-exist in perfectly mutual hatred despite, or rather because of, the artificial political borders imposed between the two countries provides a terrific backdrop to which merely add a spark and watch everything go up in flames. Which also means that those seeking to provoke further military escalation in the region, now that attempts to stoke a conflict between Syria and Turkey have so far failed, will likely look to Lebanon as a new conduit for escalation. . Because remember: as David Rosenberg pointed out yesterday, in a time of record partiasniship, political bickering and lack of consensus, "it may end up taking some sort of a crisis, in the end, to galvanize the two parties to work towards a resolution to the fiscal morass." And that is precisely what the endgame here is: the intention to unify a hopelessly split congress (and senate) behind the patriotic banner of war. It is only a matter of time (but certainly in time to address the Fiscal Cliff).
Earlier this week two former Merrill colleagues, since separated, were reunited on several media occasions, and allowed to spar over their conflicting views of the world. The two people in question, of course, are Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg, best known during the past 3 years for not drinking the propaganda Kool-Aid, and systematically deconstructing every "bullish" macroeconomic datapoint into its far more downbeat constituent parts, and his ebullient ex-coworker, Richard Bernstein, formerly head of equity strategy at a firm that had to be rescued by none other than Bank of America and currently head of RBA advisors, who just happens to be bullish on, well, everything. And since any attempt at holding an intelligent conversation on CNBC is ultimately futile (as can be seen here) and is constantly broken up by both ads, and interjecting anchors and show producers who care far less about facts than keeping the presentation 'engaging' (and going to such lengths to even allow Jim Cramer to have his own TV show), Rosenberg decided to dedicate his entire letter to clients today to "providing a rebuttal" of the slate of reasons why according to Bernstein the "we are on the precipice of a 1982-2000 style of secular market." What follows is one of the most comprehensive "white papers" debunking the bullish view we have seen in a while. Read on.
With less than 20 days to go to the election, the Presidential race has tightened following Romney's performances in the debates, as the Republican challenger has overtaken the president in the national averages for the first time this year (and RealClearPolitics has him with an edge in the electoral college also). But ever the fair-and-balance bank, Citi believes that Obama's advantages remain substantial, as an incumbent president in an improving economic environment. In this broad discussion, the Pandit-less bank addresses 'the data' driving their Obama call, what would have to happen for a Romney win, the Senate and House split, The Tea Party (and other unusual events), and the 'bungee jump'-causing headline risk of the pending Fiscal Cliff debate. Everything you need to know about the election-critical states, players, and events (and who would win in a fist-fight), but were afraid to ask Wolf Blitzer.
Two weeks ago we reported that the first unintended but perfectly expected consequence of the French socialist revolution, was the plunge in Paris luxury real estate prices as in the aftermath of Hollande's plan for a 75% millionaire tax, the wealthy promptly decided it is time to seek greener pastures and have launched a housing firesale, flooding the market with expensive (but getting cheaper by the day) housing. Now, we find that another consequence of Hollande's creeping government-enforced subsidies to uncompetitive sectors (coming soon to an insolvent country near you) may be none other than the French internet, as the world's biggest agregator of content, Google, is threatening to boycott French media websites if France demands it start paying for linked content.
Och-Ziff Calls Top Of "REO-To-Rental", And Distressed Housing Demand, With Exit Of Landlord BusinessSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/17/2012 18:25 -0500
The primary, if not only, reason there has been a brief spike in subsidized demand for housing in recent months, has been the GSE/FHFA endorsed REO-To-Rental plan, and associated securitization conduits, in which large asset managers have been encouraged to take advantage of government funded, risk-free financing (and entirely bypassing banks who have given up on loan origination due to legacy liability issues which have every bank tied up in litigation from now until Feddom come - just see today's Bank of America results) and purchase foreclosed properties in bulk, with the intention of converting them into rental properties. Needless to say, the subsidization of this wholesale purchasing of foreclosures, coupled with the ongoing "foreclosure stuffing" pursued by the big banks (as a reminder days to foreclose in New York just hit a record 1,072 per RealtyTrac as banks simply refuse to clear housing inventory faster knowing full well withheld inventory is an additional clearing price subsidy) is the main reason why the punditry has been confused into believing there is a housing rebound. That this "rebound" is merely a subsidized demand pull phenomenon a la the "cash for clunkers" auto sales program is patently clear to most. Nonetheless what little confusion is left, is finally coming to an end, thanks to none other than one of the first entrants in the REO-To-Rental space, $31 billion hedge fund Och Ziff, which a year after entering the program with hopes of quick riches, is now looking to cash out.
The ability of reflationary policy to mute the worst risks of debt deflation has been a source of enormous frustration for stock market bears ever since the 2008 collapse. Yes, the initial moderate rally out of the S&P500’s black hole was perhaps not so surprising in 2009. Bombed-out stock markets can always manage some sort of rally. But the ability of the rally to continue through 2010, and then 2011, and now 2012 has been quite vexing and painful for bearish investors. Indeed, the entire post-2008 market phase has now produced an era of consistently poor performance for hedge funds. Recent data, for example, shows that an incredible 90% of hedge funds are underperforming the S&P500 through mid-September. Will the pain continue? If OECD policy makers do in fact lose stock markets as the main transmission mechanism for reflationary policy, then trouble of a very serious nature will make itself known in the biggest way imaginable since the 2008 crisis began.
"The consensus view was that QE3 was going to send the stock market to the moon. Yet the peak level on the S&P 500 was 1,465 on September 14th, the day after the FOMC meeting. The consensus view was that the lagging hedge funds were going to be forced to play some major catch-up and take the stock market to the moon too. Surveys show that the hedge funds have already made this adjustment...Q3 EPS estimates are still coming down and now stand at -3% YoY from -2% at the start of October....this is the first time the Fed embarked on a nonconventional easing initiative with the market overbought and with profits and earning expectations on a discernible downtrend. Not only that, but the fact the pace of U.S. economic activity is still running below a 2% annual rate, which is less than half of what is normal at this stage of the business cycle with the massive amount of government stimulus, is truly remarkable. Keep an eye on the debt ceiling being re-tested — the cap is $16.394 trillion and we are now at $16.119 trillion. This is likely to make the headlines again before year-end — the rating agencies may not be taking off much time for a Christmas break."
Anyone wondering what the reason for today's dramatic gold price dump is, look no further than South Africa, where we learn that after nearly two months of endless strikes in the metals and mining complex, the country - the world's fifth largest producer of gold - is nowhere nearer to restoring its mining output. This of course means that less and less gold will hit the market. Which in centrally planned and regulated markets, means gold will collapse far more than the 1% so far, and likely close limit down, with Bernanke's compliment (don't worry that none of this makes logical sense: Heidelberg toner cartridge did a hostile take over of logic long, long ago).