Over the past 48 hours we had heard pervasive rumors that at least one, maybe more, banks in Europe are on the verge of collapse. Our thought was, naturally, Dexia, which is the modern equivalent of AIG, not to mention the bank most rescued by none other than the Federal Reserve. Well, we were wrong. And if the Daily Mail is correct, the two banks about to kick the bucket are French SocGen and Italy's UniCredit. While the fact that these two banks are in trouble has not been lost on the market, which has been sending their CDS to near record highs, the speculation that they are far closer to implosion likely means that the equity value of the European banking sector is about to be decimated. As the News reports: "The merest hint a major bank might fall is likely to reignite panic tomorrow in the stock market, which is already feared to react badly to the credit downgrade of the U.S. by rating agency Standard & Poor’s." Well, it's now tomorrow.
The Farce Is (Again) Complete: Former Obama Budget Chief Orszag Says Official Economic Projections "Too Optimistic"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/07/2011 22:07 -0500
And so the comedy circle is complete yet again after none other than former White House budget chief Peter Orszag throws cold water in the face of the White House, the Treasury and everyone else who has so far been so stupid to continue to deflect blame for America's horrendous fiscal situation purely on S&P and its "colossal $2 trillion mistake." Because if the guy who up until a year ago personally came up with the White House's voodoo numbers is telling you they are full of shit (the numbers, not the White House), perhaps it does put the administration's claim that it is all S&P excel spreadsheet skills that are at fault, in a slightly different light.
By now every Zero Hedge reader should be familiar with the two step process that is supposed to rescue Europe. First, the ECB will do more of the same whereby its SMP program will purchase billions in bonds, this time Italian and Spanish (after it already tried the same with Greek, Irish and Portuguese bonds) for temporary stabilization. Then, the EFSF will take over, and acquire up to the entire outstanding debt of all the PIIGS and whoever else afterward, with Germany ultimately footing the bill following the French downgrade from AAA which would make it an ineligible funder (and, hence, shortly thereafter: a drain). Well, the ECB is already pregnant to the tune of €74 billion. And shortly, this number will likely double, and taper out there in advance of the EFSF launch in 2 months. Yet as Bloomberg's Michael McDonough demonstrates, the current ECB intervention has been nothing short of an abysmal disaster, with the ECB spending the abovementioned amount only to see average 10 Year peripheral rates double over the same time period. Alas, this is precisely what the chart will show once the SMP resumes and another €150 billion in worthless Italian and Spanish bonds is purchased (yes, none of our Centrally Planned leaders still get that IT.IS.ALL.ABOUT.CASH.FLOWS.... and far more importantly the lack thereof). Net result, spreads will likely double yet again, at which point Germany will say enough as the risk of cumulative 100% loss becomes non-trivial and the potential loss of up to 133% of its GDP forces Germany to close the curtains on the euro experiment. So prepare for a rip in bond yields tomorrow morning as the ECB goes hog-wild in secondary markets, only to be followed by a bleed wider in spreads first slowly, and then very, very fast.
Former PBOC Member: "The Situation Is Unsustainable. The Longer It Continues, The More Violent And Destructive The Final Adjustment Will Be."Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/07/2011 12:07 -0500
Yesterday it was an editorial piece in the main Chinese media outlet Xinhua. Today, China brings its message of helpless (for now) fury to the FT, where Yu Yongding, a former member of the Monetary Policy committee of the Chinese Central Bank has just said what everyone who realizes that mean reversions after 30 years worth of a "great moderation" can and will be a nasty, nasty thing, thinks. Namely: "the situation is ultimately unsustainable. The longer it continues, the more violent and destructive the final adjustment will be. " He is referring to the relentless recycling of Chinese trade surplus in the form of US paper which is increasingly looking like it will never get repaid. His chief rhetorical question is key: "The question is: what losses is China willing to bear in its foreign exchange reserves in order to slow the pace of the renminbi appreciation?" And that's the ballgame. Just like in Europe the question is what amount of gross economic loss is Germany willing to sustain in order to backstop Europe's insolvent countries (and with an imminent French downgrade looming, it will be the only country doing so in the form of sole EFSF funding) simply to keep the euro up and running, and its export sector humming courtesy of no return to a DEM, so in China the question now is how much risk is the country willing to take with its US-based paper holdings in order to keep its own export sector moving along courtesy of a weak CNY. Ironically, the longer Germany and China pretend all is good, the greater the impairment of their natural import partners. And in a globalized economy, even having the cheapest (no matter how artificially contrived) currency does nothing if the global economy tanks and import level implode. Alas, it will be too late for Germany and China to do anything about their flawed mercantilist policies at that point, as the third and final depression will be here. And what is the right move? The former PBOC member spells it out: "The danger for China is that it does not learn the right lesson – namely, that now is the time to end its dependency on the US dollar." And therein lies the rub.
Citi's head FX guy Steven Englander is barely back to the US, and already is pouring the daily dose of fire and brimstone (much deserved) into a market that after nearly 2.5 years of unprecedented complicity, is about to realize that every escalator action has an equal and opposite express elevator reaction (oh, and those same HFTs that make money in an upward momentum environment, are just as effective at putting a minus sign in front of all their signals, wink wink). Some key soundbites from his just released note on what to expect (spoiler alert: nothing good): "The accelerated timing is a surprise and comes at a point at which global market sentiment is extremely weak, so it seems more likely that the reaction in markets will be negative than positive" ..."there may be concern in FX markets that the EUR AAAs are not solid, given the political and economic issues facing the euro zone and how conditions have worsened since the agencies last commented on ratings"..."a downward shock to markets is likely to be USD positive in the near term. This is hardly USD positive once things settle down, but before they settle down, the short term will likely dominate the long-term"..."The odds are that the week will start with FX investors challenging the SNB and MoF to intervene in size"... most importantly, why Europe is sweating bullets after the last bailout attempt announced from Friday has now gone up in flames and the EFSF is seen as being on edge of functionality: "In terms of FX market impact, the biggest would come from a downgrade of one of the AAA eurozone countries who back the EFSF’s AAA rating. This would mean either dropping the EFSF AAA or increasing the contributions of the remaining AAA."and on the topic of everyone's most favorite Federal Reserve: "A Fed response is likely to emerge only if there is turmoil in markets." And here we were warning anyone who cared to listen that the Fed needs a 25% correction before QE3 comes. Well, you may just get it very soon.
Yesterday we showed that when it comes to projections, the CBO's own track record makes S&P shine in comparison. Apparently this fact was not lost on S&P itself which sent out a note explaining which "clarified assumption used on discretionary spending growth." Basically, as S&P says, "Our ratings are determined primarily using a 3-5 year time horizon. In the near term horizon, by 2015, the U.S. net general government debt with the new assumptions were projected to be $14.5 trillion (79% of 2015 GDP) versus $14.7 trillion (81% of 2015 GDP) with the initial assumption – a difference of $345 billion." So yes, while by 2021 the difference could be $2.1 trillion based on the CBO's current baseline model, the truth is that the CBO's own estimate on revenue and spending projections in a decade will likely have a +/- $10 trillion margin of error. So does anyone really care? In essence all S&P did was point out what Zero Hedge and others have been saying: that a "deficit cutting" plan which is massively back end loaded and has about $20 billion in cuts over the next year is absolutely without credit or merit. And the disingenuity on the side of Treasury to believe that someone would think otherwise is simply appalling. That said, while the markets look set to crash very shortly, the overabundance of catalysts means that it will be more than just the downgrade that throws risk into a tailspin. Although prepare for an all out onslaught by the Treasury on S&P as a scapegoat. After all in USSAA(negative outlook) it is never our fault: it is always someone else's.
“Equities in Dallas” was the worst job a trainee at Salomon brothers could get. I have to believe that the G-20 sovereign debt rating group was the equivalent at the rating agencies. It wasn’t volatile and sexy like Emerging Markets. It had nothing to do with the core business of rating corporate debt. It had even less to do with the fast growing structured product business. It must have been a pretty dull place to work. I think that is important because it means, certainly at this stage that all the decisions on sovereign debt are being made at a very high level within the rating agencies. Someone isn’t running some numbers and coming up with a rating proposal. Some people are sitting around in a room, trying to figure out what rating they want to give, or need to give, or can get away with giving. Knowing that these decisions are being made at the highest levels of the firm and have nothing to do with what any analyst in the area says or does is important in trying to figure out where the ratings go next.
The question of what the Fed will do next week in response to what effectively amounts to quantiative easing by the SNB, the BOJ and, as of today, the SNB, is preoccupying everything with a passing interest in finance. Here is the answer of JPM's Michael Feroli, who has recently surged to the league tables of least worst Wall Street economist (even if, for whatever reason, his Goldman competition still sets policy with merely one recommendation).
BB&T Bullshit | One Day Late with Mortgage Payment, Gas Station Owner Could Lose Business to ForeclosureSubmitted by 4closureFraud on 08/04/2011 17:05 -0500
"This is the idiocrasy of this stuff. This is why we're in a worldwide financial crisis because there's no business sense any more in the foreclosure industry, none. And it blows my mind. Totally blows my mind.'' Circuit Judge Amy Williams
Just as as expected:
4 August 2011 - Monetary policy decisions
At today’s meeting the Governing Council of the ECB decided that the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 1.50%, 2.25% and 0.75% respectively.
The President of the ECB will comment on the considerations underlying these decisions at a press conference starting at 2.30 p.m. CET today.
Presenting Why The SEC's Proposed "Market Volatility" Contingency Plan Is A Failure, Even As The SEC Continues To Lie To EveryoneSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/03/2011 17:25 -0500
The rational and efficient market mythbusters at Nanex have made another major discovery, having gone through the SEC's proposed plan to deal with extraordinary market conditions, better known as Limit Up/Limit Down Plan to Address Extraordinary Market Volatility, brilliantly abbreviated to LULD, and find that even if said been had been in place before May 6, 2010 it would have done absolutely nothing to prevent the 1000 swing in the Dow. Cutting through the chase, and partially explaining once again why there has been over $150 billion in domestic equity mutual fund outflows since the beginning of 2010, is that "The SEC has proposed many band-aid fixes since May 6, 2010 in an effort to make investors feel confident again about the equity market. The sad truth though is that none of their proposals so far will prevent another flash crash. Worse, some proposals, such as this one, will likely make things even worse." Bottom line: investors have no confidence that this market is at all better, and in fact it is very likely that the market could crash just as violently as May 6, at any given moment, as the SEC has done nothing to fix the underlying problems, but merely redirect and pretend that it is on top of things, while taking a nip and a tuck at some of the easily remedied symptoms. And as long as this mutually acceptable delusion continues, stocks are in constant danger of another epic wipe out courtesy of the SEC, which will eliminate what little confidence there is, even among those who trade purely with "Other People's Money." We thank Nanex for their ongoing pursuit of the truth behind the SEC's endless lies. Because if the regulator itself is corrupt and incompetent, then there really is no hope for market efficiency and fairness.
The Treasury's Borrowing Advisory Committee, chaired by such luminaries as JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, which according to some (and by some we mean anyone who cares about such things) is the brains behind the decision-making process of US debt issuance has released its quarterly minutes, in which it has issued one of the most stark warnings about the fate of the US Dollar to date. While it is now a daily occurrence for China and Russia to bash the dollar, for the most part still powerless to provide an alternative (but rapidly gaining), the same warning coming from Jamie and Lloyd has to be taken far, far more seriously. Which is precisely what happened today. As Bloomberg reports, "The Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee... said the outperformance of haven currencies and those from emerging nations has aided in the debasement of the dollar’s reserve status, according to comments included in discussion charts presented ahead of the quarterly refunding. The Treasury published the documents today. “The idea of a reserve currency is that it is built on strength, not typically that it is ‘best among poor choices’,” page 35 of the presentation made by one committee member said. “The fact that there are not currently viable alternatives to the U.S. dollar is a hollow victory and perhaps portends a deteriorating fate.”"
As if we needed another confirmation that the US consumer is running on empty, here comes Bloomberg with valuable disclosure from an internal, and supposedly confidential, Wal-Mart memo on store traffic patterns which indicate that in US store locations open for at least a year have seen a 2.6% drop in traffic in the February to June period compared to a year earlier. While this may not sound huge, keep in mind the company is massively leveraged to even the smallest marginal moves in traffic, courtesy of already razor thin margins. Specificall, the Wal-Mart stores in question had "82.8 million fewer visits through the first five months of the company’s fiscal year." More than anything this is an indication of just how exhausted the US consumer is becoming if even the most beloved, widespread and cheapest option for purchases is now being shunned outright. Bloomberg continues: "Wal-Mart’s plan to recapture customers by returning thousands of products to U.S. store shelves has failed to reverse a decline in foot traffic at the world’s largest retailer, said Jeff Stinson, an analyst at Cleveland Research Co. That’s primarily because Wal-Mart’s core low-income customers are shopping less and going to other retailers more often, according to two recent shopper surveys." This should not come as a surprise to anyone, since frequent Zero Hedge readers will recall the post in which the CEO of Wal Mart America said that "shoppers are running out of money"; and there is no sign of a recovery." When it comes to marginal traffic, it appears shoppers have just run out of money. And that includes those who no longer pay their mortgage and pay for everything with their now well maxed out credit cards.
Joining the Manufacturing ISM in the disappointment column is the just released Non-Manufacturing ISM which printed at 52.7 below consensus of 53.5, down from 53.3 previously. This is the lowest reading since January 2010. The employment index dropped from 54.1 to 52.5, the New Orders index missed contractionary territory barely at 51.7 down from 53.6, and lastly, the Prices Paid was down from 60.9 to 56.6, potentially opening up the way for QE3, even more that is. Elsewhere, June factory orders dropped by 0.8% in line with expectations, down from 0.6%, meaning no dramatic revisions to the already abysmal Q2 GDP, and Durable Goods was revised from -2.1% to -1.9%. Altogether another ugly economic data set, with the bounce in stocks most likely dictated by even higher QE3 expectations.
Claiming he wasn't afraid to let everyone in attendance know about "the real mess we're in," Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke reportedly got drunk Tuesday and told everyone at Elwood's Corner Tavern about how absolutely fucked the U.S. economy actually is.