Nobody on the Buy Side wants to sue JPM, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley et al for securities fraud on the more problematic deals of the past decade.
Well that didn't take long. The ink on the #Spailout is not dry yet (well technically there is no ink, because none of the actual details of the Spanish banking system rescue are even remotely known, and likely won't be because when it comes to answering where the money comes from there simply is no answer) and we already have an answer to one of our questions. Recall that mere hours ago we asked: "We also wonder how will Ireland feel knowing that it has to suffer under backbreaking austerity in exchange for Troika generosity, while Spain gets away scott free." We now know. From the AFP: "Ireland wants to renegotiate its rescue plan to benefit from the same treatment as Spain, which looks set to win a bailout for its banks without any broader economic reforms in return, European sources said on Saturday." And with Ireland on the renegotiation train, next comes Greece. Only with Greece the wheels for a bailout overhaul are already in motion and are called a "vote of Syriza on June 17." And remember how everyone was threatening the Greeks with the 10th circle of hell if they dare to renegotiate the memorandum? Well, Spain just showed that a condition-free bailout is an option. Which means Syriza will get all the votes it needs and then some with promises of a consequence free bailout renegotiation. In other words Syriza's Tsipras should send a bottle of the finest champagne to de Guindos - he just won him the election.
The wind picked up across the plains, the windmill began to turn and “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha” rode out once more to do battle. The ever faithful Sancho Panza, not wishing to be left behind, was in attendance and the windmills were now the banks and the regional debt of the country. You see, the Troubadour, Mariano Rajoy, does not wish the country to take any responsibility. It is to be the banks, not to injure the pride of the nation, that are the culprits and the banks, run by the empanada consortium, who are to be blamed. The IMF has released a statement claiming the banks need about $46bn which is the typical posture of the IMF these days; underestimating liabilities and then finding that more money is needed later; which they already knew of course. “Under estimate the liabilities and over estimate the assets” is the mantra sung at the IMF these days at the morning prayers as their credibility is as certain as the stature of the giants fought by Don Quixote. The extra money, suggested in the IMF report to ring wall the banks, is another gust of wind as it is directed to the regional debts of course which no one wants to mention as the faceless Men in Black ride into Madrid to claim their latest victim. The beating of chests can be heard in Andalusia as there is no ESM; it does not yet exist regardless of the panderings of the savants that ride the airwaves. Germany has not even voted on it yet so that that ballyhoo that the ESM is the “Saving Grace” is the stuff and fluff from which nonsense is composed.
The European financial ministers' meeting started at 4:00 pm CET. What are they discussing? According to the WSJ, nothing short of "a commitment to provide as much as €100 billion ($125 billion) in support for Spain's ailing banking sector." At least we now know that that Spanish bank trot so widely avoided by the mainstream media was just a little more kinetically-charged than previously expected, because for Spain to actually demand the money, even if implicitly, it means it has a capital shortfall, which can only arise from an outflow of liquidity, as mere real estate impairments do not have any impact on liquidity. So far so good. There is only one problem: Spain has yet to formally request the money! According to newspaper ABC, "Spain wants to convince European partners that IMF shouldn’t participate in aid for country’s banks because of potential stigma. Aim of talks taking place today is to agree legal framework and conditions for a potential rescue, newspaper says." Potential rescue you see: not an actual one. Just because, as we explained patiently to the 5 year old algos out there, Spain will have none of this "conditionality" that would be imposed on it by Germany, and the IMF, should it actually be formally a bail out target. Which of course would also have the unpleasant side effect of pushing its spreads tighter for a few hours, then blowing them out parabolically once carbon-based investors out there realize what has just happened. As for the ultimate question: just where will €1 of money come from in this broke continent, let alone €100 billion... why, better not to bother with details.
First we got Spain miraculously announcing late at night local time, but certainly after close of market US time, that the bailout so many algorithms had taken for granted in ramping stocks into the close may not be coming, because, picture this, Germany may have conditions when bailing the broke country's banks out, and Spain is just not cool with that, and now, after the close of FX and futures trading, we get Moody's giving us the warning the after Egan-Jones, S&P, and Fitch, it is now its turn to cut the Spanish A3 rating."As Spain moves closer to the need for direct external support from its European partners, the increased risk to the country's creditors may prompt further rating actions. The official estimates of recapitalising Spain's banking system have risen significantly and the country's indirect reliance on European Central Bank (ECB) funding via its banks has been growing. Moody's is assessing the implications of these increased pressures and will take any rating actions necessary to reflect the risk to Spanish government creditors. Moody's rating on Spain is currently A3 with a negative outlook." Moody's also warns, what everyone has known for about 2 years now, that Italy could be next: "However, Spain's banking problem is largely specific to the country and is not likely to be a major source of contagion to other euro area countries, except for Italy, which likewise has a growing funding reliance on the ECB through its banks." Of course none of this is unexpected. What will be, however, to the market, is when all 3 rating agencies have Spain at BBB+ or below, which as ZH first pointed out at the end of April will result in a 5% increase in repo haircuts on Spanish Government Bonds, resulting in yet another epic collateral squeeze for the country which already is forced to pledge Spiderman towels to the central bank.
The S&P 500 gained over 3.5% this week (with a dip-and-rip today on dismal volume). This is the best week of the year amid the lowest volume of the year (ex-holiday weeks). Gold, Stocks, Treasury yields, and the USD all recoupled from last Friday's decoupling and limped higher, ending at the top of the day's range today. Financials and Tech outperformed - up over 1.1% - with the majors best as financials won on the week +4.8%. Treasuries close to close were dull but intraday saw rather notable vol as 30Y yields dropped over 10bps before round-tripping back to its high yields of the day. All-in-all, broad risk assets did leak higher today but nothing like as exuberantly as stocks which was somewhat surprising into a weekend likely full of equity dilution for Spanish banks (and more burden for Spain) - or none at all. The USD rallied into the European close and sold off after for the fifth day in a row. HYG outran stocks on the day and maintained the bid (ES closed at overnight highs) but IG and HY credit lagged on the day - though are al better on the week. Cross asset-class correlations dropped notably into the close, as implied correlation dropped and VIX was very stable given the rally into the close, holding above 21% - even as S&P 500 e-mini futures ended the day more than 2 sigma above VWAP (as we suspect futures roll effects kept some out into the weekend). Lastly, this push higher today in stocks saw a major drop in average trade size - certainly not offering the kind of follow through to yesterday's (or the week's) gains that one would expect on a new bull leg.
Update 2: In her own words - dispelling rumors of new instruments: "In view of the current difficulties, it’s important to emphasize that we have created the instruments of support in the euro zone, that Germany is ready to work with these instruments whenever that is necessary and that this is an expression of our firm desire to keep the euro area stable,”
Update: here is the counterrumor, just as expected courtesy of the summer and fall of 2011: Merkel willing to back use of EXISTING Euro-area instruments... Where Euro-Bonds just happen not to figure.
Just out from Bloomberg:
- MERKEL SAYS GERMANY READY TO BACK USE OF EURO-AREA INSTRUMENTS
Ignore that it is unclear what instrument is mentioned (not Euro Bonds as Merkel made very clear 48 hours ago), she probably just is referring to the Redemption Pact, which she would of course be in favor of, as noted before, and where Europe funds its loan-loss exposure with gold. We look forward to the PIIGS agreeing to hand over their gold to Das Deutsche Pawn Shop.
Well, risk is on. Not so much because of the ECB, or BOE, both of which did nothing, but because everyone is hoping and praying that in two weeks the Princeton professor will unleash the 4th round of quantitative easing in the US (yes, Twist was a flow-shifting operation and thus QE3). And the reminder that China is not immune, and did its first rate cut since 2008 only validated the realization "that they have every idea just how bad it is", as Cramer would say. Sure enough, risk is ripping, although considering the world's 2nd largest economy just joined the monetary easing pants party, the 10 point ES response is oddly subdued. Where the reaction is yet to manifest itself is in gold: we expect the PBOC will take a little longer before it announces its meager 1000 tons of gold holdings have at least doubled following 100 ton/month gold imports as recently announced. But announce it will. In the meantime, China's aggressive step likely means that unless we get a global coordinated intervention at 9 am today, as was the case on November 30 after the last notable move by the PBOC, which was the first reserve cut also since 2008, there will be none this time around and Bernanke will be on his own. God save the markets if he does not deliver, either today at the JEC testimony at 10 am or at 2:15 pm on June 20, as the S&P has now priced in at least 75 points of NEW QE intervention.
Fed Vice Chair Yellen Says Scope Remains For Further Policy Accommodation Through Additional Balance Sheet ActionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/06/2012 20:08 -0400
That former San Fran Fed chairman Janet Yellen would demand more easing is no surprise: she used to do it all the time. That Fed Vice Chairman, and Bernanke's second in command, Janet Yellen just hinted that she is "convinced that scope remains for the FOMC to provide further policy accommodation either through its forward guidance or through additional balance-sheet actions", and that "while my modal outlook calls for only a gradual reduction in labor market slack and a stable pace of inflation near the FOMC's longer-run objective of 2 percent, I see substantial risks to this outlook, particularly to the downside" is certainly very notable, and confirms everyone's worst dream (or greatest hope assuming they have a Schwab trading platform or Bloomberg terminal) - more cue-EEE is coming to town.
From early October of last year (Grand Plan and Global CB intervention) until the start of the LTRO program in Europe, Gold and Stocks (and Treasuries and the USD) all traded in sync with one another. Since the LTRO program, the equity market has generally been on its own in terms of belief. While growth hope, Europe's recovery, and the Bernanke Put (as well as a short-squeeze of epic proportions) were at play, it seems to us that the Fed's Twist program has been ignored by the money-printing crowd (since Twist was sterilized and did not expand the monetary base (excess reserves) - which gold reacts to; but did provide flow - helping stocks - as the Fed's DV01 increased; implicitly devaluing the currency even though Fed's efforts to dissuade have worked) while the ECB's LTRO provided a liquidity overhang that at-first-glance removed one short-term structural risk from US markets (the Europe contagion). Since we made clear that LTRO is in fact an encumbrance and not 'clean' debt monetization (which fits with gold not moving as much), equity markets in Europe have retraced all of those gains - leaving US still elevated. The last few days, gold and stocks have surged together as hope for LTRO3 (seemingly gone now) and Fed QE3/4 (not sterilized; with ES -7.75% from its highs?) has become imminent. However, Gold and stocks remain very far apart in the medium-term and Rick Bensignor sees trendline support and DeMark TD Setups providing an excellent risk-reward for a Short Stocks, Long Gold trade from here.
As we look forward to tomorrow's scorched-earth policy-fest from Draghi-et-al., Jefferies' David Zervos, in his typically understated manner, notes "I love the smell of napalm in the morning. We are back in the kill zone - Apocalypse Europe." There will be no more strategizing, no more war games, no more speeches imploring the politicians to act. This is the real deal - a full scale European led global financial crisis that requires immediate and aggressive response from the only entities with the authority to act in the world financial "theatre". We should all keep in mind that the Europeans have not been able to generate an effective response to their debt/deflation crisis as of yet, and of course it is having global consequences. This is why we are here again looking into the deflationary abyss. The ECB was only set up with a price stability mandate, and its leaders are hence much more constrained than Federal Reserve officials. Simply put, the European armies were not set up with effective weapons.
When it comes to the future, suddenly torn by economic uncertainty driven by a plunging stock market and a tanking economy, the talking heads and the sellside brigade have opined: more QE, preferably in the form of asset purchases. After all it was none other than Goldman earlier today who said that "our confidence that the FOMC will ease policy once more at the June 19-20 meeting has also grown... Our baseline remains that Fed officials will purchase a mixture of mortgages and long-term Treasuries, financed via balance sheet expansion... If they decide to extend their balance sheet, they could add excess bank reserves or “sterilize” the reserve impact via reverse repos and/or term deposits." In other words: not sterilized, or bye bye Chubby Checker (recall that even Goldman finally admitted two months ago that when it comes to Fed intervention, what matters is flow - as a result Twist has been largely ineffective in recreating the effect of QE1 and 2). To be sure even more respected investors like Pimco have bet the house that the NEW QE will constitute primarily of more MBS purchases. Yet the real question is what is the bond market telling us: after all when it comes to matters such as these, one should completely ignore stocks, and certainly the talking heads, and instead focus on what bonds are saying. And here is where the stock market may be headed for a great disappointment: because now that the bar has been set so far, anything less than full blown LSAP, or a merely extension of Twist, would likely send stocks plunging. Which, ironically, and completely in opposition to stocks, is what bonds are expecting...
Headlines & stories from the day
The employment numbers that came out Friday were very bad and caught most economists and analysts by surprise. Nothing the Fed has done has worked. Once again the ranks of the unemployed grow, wages flatten out, manufacturing weakens, GDP declines, and savings are spent to maintain lifestyles. The U.S. and much of the rest of the world is heading toward stagnation, if not recession. Yet, despite the failures of central bank policies, they will persist in doing the same wrong thing again. Here we review the data and explain why things are heading south.