The best thing about veteran traders, such as Art Cashin, is that they have truly seen it all, not just one or two gyrations of the business cycle, or in most cases, half. Which is why we are delighted to share this anecdote from the grizzled UBS trader and Fermentation committee chairman, of his personal remembrances on this anniversary of the day in which the Dow Jones plunged than 22%, and has since entered popular folklore as Black Monday.
To everyone needing a big picture refresh of all that is happening in the world, and to focus on the forest behind the trees of endless headlines, here is Damien Cleusix' latest macro markets update. "We will start with some rumblings on the financial sector in general and banks in particular. For those only interested in the financial market calls they are at the end... THE KEY for the future of the system has we know it will be the decision which will be made in the weeks/months to come with regard to banks. If politicians screw this once more we are afraid that this will be remembered as the final trigger toward a radical change on how our financial system work. This won't happen overnight but be sure that the system you will be living in in 5 years will be RADICALLY different than today's. While the "Occupy Wall Street" movement remains marginal, be sure that it will grow exponentially if politicians make the bad choices. It will grow so much that it might ultimately dictate the political (regulator) agenda. Far fetched? Probably but we have done some far fetched prediction in the past 10 years and they have come to pass to why not try our luck once more. How could politicians and regulators screw it once more? Simply by not letting the losses fall upon those who made the wrong bets. Did they learn from the 2008-2009 mistake? We don't think so and so there is a very high probability that they will screw it again (we apologize for the choice of word but this is really what they are doing, they are paving the way for a whole generation toward insecurity, poverty and despair)."
Greek riot resumption? Debunked European bailout rumor? Spain downgrade? Apple miss? Failed German Bund auction? Continued freezing in the interbank market? No, none of these are enough to dent risk appetite overnight, driven one again exclusively by the EURUSD, which has picked over 100 pips overnight. The driver? THe same old that always drives the EUR higher: hopes, rumors and hopes that the rumors are true. Here is Bloomberg with a summary of reality and the opposite, lately better known as "capital markets."
Remember when it was your job to be cheerful and optimistic if creating forecasts for insolvent and nationalized entities, whose entire pseudo-business model is predicated upon the return of the housing bubble and the overall Ponzi resuming? Apparently not, especially if one has read the following forecast from none other than Fannie Mae. So while we have Barclays, Deutsche, JPM, TCW, and any other axed bank , you name it, defending PrimeX which is nothing more or less than a bet on the "safe" tranche of US home price prospects and housing overall, here is the one entity with more mortgages on its books than any other organization, telling us how it really feels.
First it was Citi's turn, when earlier, via Willem Buiter, it explained in granular detail, how the EFSF's latest incarnation as a 20% first loss insurance fund, will be not a bazooka but a "peashooter." Now it is the turn of RBS' Harvinder Sian (yes, yes, the same guy who in February 2010 accused Zero Hedge of falsely concluding Greek banks are insolvent... ahem) to mock and ridicule the Guardian's blatant attempt to lift the EURUSD just so momos and piggybackers provided a convenient receptacle for assets that French banks were offloading beginning at 3pm courtesy of this bogus plant, since refuted by Dow Jones. Seeing how Harvinder works for RBS (and was protecting his bank's Greek bond exposure last year...how did that work out), don't expect much original thought. After all, the specter of no Christmas Party must put what few employees the bank has in a perpetually ill mood. That said he does provide a convenient echo chamber for those who have already said the original things ahead of him.His conclusion is sufficient: "If this is delivered alongside more detail on a harder Greek PSI and an early ESM adoption, then expect the crisis to get more elevated and seriously engulf the early-stage stressed Belgian and French markets. In the meantime, such news headlines will make for choppy price action and destroy low conviction trading positions." Hear that momos? This Bud's for you.
A key reason why a preponderance of the population is fascinated with the student loan market is that as USA Today reported in a landmark piece last year, it is now bigger than ever the credit card market. And as the monthly consumer debt update from the Fed reminds us, the primary source of funding is none other than the US government. To many, this market has become the biggest credit bubble in America. Why do we make a big deal out of this? Because as Bloomberg reported last night, we now have prima facie evidence that the student loan market is not only an epic bubble, but it is also the next subprime! To wit: "Vince Sampson, president, Education Finance Council, said during a panel at the IMN ABS East Conference in Miami Monday that lenders are no longer pushing loans to people who can’t afford them." Re-read the last sentence as many times as necessary for it to sink in. Yes: just like before lenders were "pushing loans to people who can't afford them" which became the reason for the subprime bubble which has since spread to prime, but was missing the actual confirmation from authorities of just this action, this time around we have actual confirmation that student loans are being actually peddled to people who can not afford them. And with the government a primary source of lending, we will be lucky if tears is all this ends in.
We are still waiting to see the final form of the "Grand Plan" and what novel ways the EFSF guarantees will be applied to save the day. At the risk of sounding incredibly stupid, I have this feeling that Europe didn't actually work on any details until this past week, and Germany is suddenly realizing how bad the details are for them. Is it possible that some politicians got so caught in the moment of "saving Europe" and "fighting the speculators" that they kept promising more and more, without thinking whether they could or should deliver? You would like to think they didn't, but since none of the politicians are detail oriented, most of their contacts at investment banks are high level, former bankers, rather than traders, it is quite possible they didn't realize what they had agreed to. If some new EFSF is created, all of the future bargaining power in Europe will be shifted from France and Germany to PIIS. (it is a shame Ireland wasn't named Shamrock, it would make the acronym so much better).
Another Quarter, Another Blatant Window Dressing By The Primary Dealer Banks To Make Their Balance Sheets Seem StrongSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/17/2011 20:56 -0500
When back in 2010, Lehman examiner Anton Valukas exposed the bankrupt bank's Repo 105 practices (which subsequently we learned were also partaken into by most other banks, although the trail ends there and nobody was prosecuted for it, let alone went to jail -after all, everyone was doing it, and everyone knew about it), many were shocked and appalled that such a blatant window dressing practice was allowed to continue quarter after quarter. Which is why we suppose nobody will be surprised to learn that glaringly "in your face" window dressing continues to this very day quarter in and quarter out by the same Primary Dealers who already leech billions in free Fed (i.e., taxpayer) money courtesy of a collusive BWIC/OWIC spread-to-market in the Fed's daily POMOs. The quote-unquote shocking chart below is one we have demonstrated on numerous occasions in the past: it shows total primary dealer assets on a weekly basis as reported publicly by the New York Fed. We have made it clear time and again, that this chart demonstrates nothing short of the end of quarter window dressing, when PDs convert their asset holdings into cash to make their Tier 1 Capital much more robust than it truly is. After all, none other than JPM and Citi were praising just how prepared for Basel III they are with their "sterling" capitalization ratios... which were only sterling courtesy of precisely the highlighted window dressing which occurs each and every quarter. We expect nothing less from Bank of America and Morgan Stanley when they report their own numbers in the coming days. We also expect the regulators to do absolutely nothing to prevent this blatant abuse of fiduciary duty which has no other purpose than to hide the true sad state of America's banking system.
First we have Credit Suisse saying 66 European banks will fail the 3rd stress test, and will need hundreds of billions in fresh capital, something the market ignored entirely last week but may want to reevaluate now that the idiocy appears to have subsided. And now, inexplicably, we have Deutsche Bank warning that France may well be put on downgrade review by year end. "We highlight in this note that the French corporate sector is already financially stretched, with poor profitability and large borrowing requirements. We consider that the deterioration in economic conditions is now creating a distinct risk that France could be put under “negative watch” by the rating agencies before the end of this year. We think that France has the wherewithal to react to such an outcome and could avoid an outright downgrade by taking corrective measures quickly, but this naturally would be a very sensitive political decision a few months before a major election." Why either Credit Suisse or Deutsche Bank would jeopardize their own existence by telling the truth, we have no idea. If either of these two banks believe they can survive a vigilante attack on French spreads, and the subsequent shift of contagion to none other than Germany, we wish them all the best. Yet that is precisely what will likely happen, especially now that the market can no longer pull the trick it did for the past two weeks, and stick its head deep in the sand of complete factual avoidance.
Obama's Attempt To Use #OWS As A Diversionary Smoke Screen Fails: 56% Believe Washington To Blame For Crisis And RecessionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/17/2011 14:21 -0500
Zero Hedge is the last to cut Wall Street, with its rampant criminality, conflicts of interest, and corruption, any slack - in fact we are often the first to expose it. That said, we have long found it surprising that popular anger is focused on this particular group of individuals, instead of targeting the just as, if not far more, culpable for the current economic collapse enabling focal point known as Washington D.C. As has been discussed previously, it is no surprise that none other than the president has been quick to embrace the Occupy Wall Street movement and its offshoots as his own: after all it cleanly and efficiently deflects attention from his own near-3 year performance as president. Surely Obama is neither the first (nor last) to recognize that the scapegoating of a "minority" group (as the Wall Street "1%" clearly is) and use it as a catalyst for class warfare, is a historically very successful tactic. Well, while thousands of people may express their displeasure with their plight openly before the traditional symbols of Wall Street, it would appear that Obama is failing in his attempt at global diversion from the place where popular anger should truly lie: Congress, Senate, and of course, the White House, without whose (and by 'whose' here we clearly envision Tim Geithner, Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke) blessings Wall Street would not exist in its current form. Yet it does, and many have figured that out. According to a brand new poll by The Hill, "in the minds of likely voters, Washington, not Wall Street, is primarily to blame for the financial crisis and the subsequent recession. The movement appears to have struck a chord with progressive voters, but it does not seem to represent the feelings of the wider public. The Hill poll found that only one in three likely voters blames Wall Street for the country’s financial troubles, whereas more than half — 56 percent — blame Washington. Moreover, when it comes to the political consequences of the protest, voters tend to believe that there are more perils than positives for Obama and the Democrats." Sorry Obama, your attempt to demonize bankers (who richly deserve the public pariah status they have achieved, not least of due to the in vitro world they occupy, where anything less than $1 million is pocket change) has failed, and the people recognize that real social change, one that must and will impact Wall Street, has to begin with the commodity most often purchased by Wall Street: politicians... such as yourself.
SocGen Asia Strategist Has Near Fit On Bloomberg TV After Making It Clear That It's All The Blogosphere's FaultSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/17/2011 09:58 -0500
SocGen's Todd Martin, who is the bank's Asia equity strategist, appeared on Bloomberg earlier today to discuss the Volcker Rule and prop trading, against which the anonymous blogosphere had some very "strong views" back in 2009 before anyone had even considered prop trading. Sure enough, prop trading ended a few months later with the adoption of the Volcker Rule. Somehow, the topic of the Volcker rule shifted to the topic of whether or not Morgan Stanley is exposed to France, and its insolvent banks (ahem), and who is to blame. Take a wild guess on Mr. Martin's opinion in the matter: "For example one blog just a week ago, had a very, very strong view against Morgan Stanley. They quoted Sanford Bernstein who actually was telling people to buy the stock. And then they were quoting Gross Exposures not Net, and then concluding that Morgan Stanley had to go down and be dismembered [sic]. Now I have a serious problem with this.... If I get regulated why isn't this place regulated. It's also very dangerous because they are using psudonames [sic] and we don't know who they are. They could be the guy on the street. They could be a hedge fund dangling out information. It could be the head of a prop desk. Thing is it is supposed to be regulated. And they get their revenues from trading platforms on US soil. And I don't think it's fair. And I think the US should go and take a look and regulate the blogosphere. I think it's really, really out of control." In other words: it is all the blogosphere's fault.
Gleacher's head of rates submits: "Last Thursday I walked from Town Hall in N.Y.C to Wall St. wearing my navy blue pin-stripped suit, asking for directions to the NYSE from PROTESTERS and ORGANIZERS. You should have seen the look on their faces. Kill em with kindness and a smile. Everyone was there. SEIU, ACORN, Longshoremen and other organizers, faceless, unemployed, faceless employed, moms, dads, and lost souls. I felt like a lost soul during a slow motion walk near frozen in time. There were almost more press corps than protestors but they achieved one of their goals, virtually shutting down a major grid of commerce in one of the most travelled corners of the nation, Wall Street. Ironically, I was on my way to a conduit in support of affordable housing goals aided by a bunch of bankers in the iconic figment of capitalism, the NYSE. It was a surreal walk accentuated by Contrast and Conflict, my own and others For me there was a conflict of the realization of a mis-understood marriage and divorce of catalyst Congressional public policy initiatives and government sponsored support, in which I was in route meeting, and with private partner capitalist mandates of mortgage finance, me. I’ve been asked often in my own community recently, “What is Occupy Wall St.?” I sense the answer is different for different people. A dis-organized expression for many. But a highly organized expression for others from the likes of quotes from organizers above. Caroline Baum asked demonstrators AND HERSELF the question recently. Just as I side-stepped the blitz with a silhouette of a Bull in the distance. An organizer?!$!$% I ask what is a banker? Who are these evil people? Is it loan officer? FX trader, teller, IG trader, taxable fixed income salesperson, middle office operations employee?"
The Biggest Market Headfake Ever: Is A Wholesale French Bank Liquidity Run The Sole Reason For The Euro, And S&P, Surge?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/15/2011 16:19 -0500
Over the past two weeks, there is one simple thing that has been bugging skeptical macro observers: namely the paradox of i) just how ugly the European funding and liquidity situations have gotten, on the one hand, confirmed by the blow out in French bond yields (the French-Bund 10 year spread just hit an all time record yesterday) as well as continuing deterioration in credit spreads across core European nations, yet, on the other, ii) the euro, especially in that critical pair the EURUSD, has seen one of its most explosive rises in recent history, which as Zero Hedge pointed out yesterday, has totally decorrelated with the French-Bund spread, to which it had been firmly 'pegged' previously. As a result of ii), equity markets have surged due to legacy correlation arbs, which see Euro strength, and hence dollar weakness, as an empirical signal of equity "cheapness", which in turn leads all algos to treat a rise in the EURUSD as a buying signal. So how is it that even with the interbank liquidity situation in Europe frozen and getting worse, further keeping in mind that European banks are now expected to (or have already commenced - see yesterday's move in PrimeX) engage in widespread asset liquidations, that broad market risk is perceived as cheap? Simple. As the following note by Deutsche Bank's Alan Ruskin explains, the sole reason for the EUR (and hence S&P and global 100% correlated equity risk) surge in the past 9 days is not driven by any latent "optimism" that Europe will fix itself, but simply due to the previously discussed wholesale asset liquidations (as none other than the FT already noted), which on the margin are explicitly EUR positive due to FX repatriation, courtesy of the post-sale conversion of USDs to EURs. Which means that the ever so gullible equity market has just experienced one of the biggest headfakes in history, and has misinterpreted a pervasive European, though mostly French, scramble to procure liquidity at any cost by dumping various USD-denominated assets, as a risk on signal!
It is probably not too surprising that the negative news of the day, namely that the US has decided against expanding the IMF and thus leaving the European bailout to the Europeans (at least for now), was released quietly long after happy hour started on Friday. Yet that is precisely what happened after Reuters dropped a Friday night bomb that with hours before a communique is issued by the G20 in Paris, contrary to previous rumors and representation "U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his Canadian and Australian counterparts poured cold water on the idea" of injecting $350 billion into the International Monetary Fund. As a reminder, the IMF expansion myth was one of the latest rumors floated today by none other than the tag team of Geithner and Liesman. It lasted less than24 hours but it served its purpose. The full on media onslaught of never ending lies has never been more acute, more relentless, and more blatant: with every central bank and trade surplussed nation all in, the very nature of the global ponzi is at risk.
Precisely a week ago, a fringe blog had the temerity to warn that PrimeX could very well be the next coming of Subprime (and make those who got on board early very, very rich). A week later, those who got in early may not be very, very rich... but they are richer (there is time for the very, very part), while PrimeX is the worst weekly performing fixed income product in the known universe. Today, following Jeff Gundlach's presentation to David Faber which agreed with the ZH outlook that PrimeX is substantially overpriced, the entire PrimeX rack has seen its biggest plunge yet. At this rate, by Monday even the most sturdy PrimeX FRM1 will be trading below par. At that point it is Sayonara, Sam. Oh, and for those who don't realize that European banks which are now entering asset liquidation mode, are substantially pregnant with exposure to both synthetic and unhedged cash product (recall which entities were stuck holding ABX on the wrong side of the trade back in 2007) we have one thing to say: "European banks which are now entering asset liquidation mode, are substantially pregnant with exposure to both synthetic and unhedged cash product." Have fun spinning that as a function of liquidity (which for some odd reason none of the structured and synthetic product "experts" out there appear to not realize that notional outstanding can and will soar overnight if there is sufficient client demand - a bank can write $10BN or $100BN of product in a second) when the bottom falls out. Lastly, once contagion spills out from the synthetic product to cash, have fun trying to ramp stocks to unch for the year on nothing but the most recent short covering spree. Oh, and remember: the basis trade is different this time...