The last time the Fed tried to dump Maiden Lane 2 assets via a public auction in a BWIC manner, it nearly crashed the credit market. This time, the FRBNY, headed by one ex-Goldman Sachs alum Bill Dudley, has decided to go back to its shady, opaque ways, and transact in private, with no clear indication of the actual bidding process or transaction terms, and sell $6.2 billion in Maiden Lane 2 "assets" to, wait for it, Goldman Sachs, the same firm that would benefit in the first place if AIG's assets imploded (remember all those CDS it held on AIG which supposedly prevented it from losing money if AIG went bankrupt?). One wonders: does Goldman have a put option on the ML2 portfolio if the market experiences a sudden and totally impossible downtick some day? But all is well - we have assurance from the Fed that the sale happened in a "competitive process." Luckily, that takes care of any appearance of impropriety.
While hardly new to anyone who actually has been reading between the lines, and/or Zero Hedge, in the past few months, the Greek endspiel is here, and as a note by Goldman's Themistoklis Fiotakis overnight, the Greek timeline, or what little is left of it, "allows little room for error." Furthermore, "Due to the low NPV of the restructuring offer it is likely that part of this investor segment may be tempted to hold out (particularly owners of front-end bonds). How the holdouts are treated will be key. Paying them out in full would probably send a bullish signal to markets, yet it would be contradictory to prior policy statements about the desirability of high participation both in practical terms as well as in terms of signalling. On the other hand, forcing holdouts into the Greek PSI in an involuntary way would likely cause broad market volatility in the near term, but could be digested in the long run as long as it happens in a non-disruptive way (as we have written in the past, avoiding triggering CDS or giving the ECB’s holdings preferential treatment following an involuntary credit event could cause much deeper and longer-lived market damage)." Once again - nothing new, and merely proof that despite headlines from the IIF, the true news will come in 2-3 weeks when the exchange offer is formally closed, only for the world to find that 20-40% of bondholders have declined the deal and killed the transaction! But of course, by then the idiot market, which apparently has never opened a Restructuring 101 textbook will take the EURUSD to 1.5000, only for it to plunge to sub-parity after. More importantly, with Greek bonds set to define a 15 cent real cash recovery, one can see why absent the ECB's buying, Portugese bonds would be trading in their 30s: "Portugal will be crucial in determining the market’s view on the probability of default outside Greece... Given the significance of such a decision, markets will likely reflect concerns about the relevant risks ahead of time." Don't for a second assume Europe is fixed. The fun is only just beginning...
- Greek Premier to Seek Bailout Consensus Amid Political Quarrels (Bloomberg)
- Merkel makes case for painful reform (FT)
- Bernanke Cites Risks to Progress of Recovery (WSJ)
- Proposed settlement with banks over foreclosure practices dealt a setback (WaPo)
- Merkel Approval in Germany Climbs to Highest Level Since 2009 Re-Election (Bloomberg)
- Francois Hollande will spark next euro crisis (MarketWatch)
- China’s Central Bank Pledges Support for Housing Market (Bloomberg)
- Italy Pushes for Europe Growth Policy (Bloomberg)
- Santorum bounces back in Republican race (FT)
- China 'Big Four' Banks Issued CNY320 Billion New Yuan Loans In Jan (WSJ)
- Gasoline and diesel prices raised (China Daily)
And so we've come full circle. The WSJ is reporting that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York will be seeking bids by the middle of this week for roughly $6 Billion dollars worth of residential mortgage backed securities currently held in Mainden Lane II. This would be on the heels of a $7 Billion dollar sale on January 19th to Credit Suisse.
Had to cross post this discussion with my brother Michael Whalen from The Institutional Risk Analyst. The past articles in The IRA require a $99/yr subscription, but the most recent is free.
Also note link to comment by Barry Ritholtz on The Big Picture re: the Facebook IPO. Actually Goldman Sachs led the covert IPO and hype festival last year, but the folks at the SEC and FINRA were sound asleep.
- Greeks Struggle to Resolve Their Differences (WSJ)
- China May See Deeper Slowdown on Crisis: IMF (Bloomberg)
- Banks to take a hit on US home loans (FT)
- Europe’s banks face challenge on capital (FT)
- Smaller Interest-Rate, Credit-Default Swap Trades Seen On Horizon (WSJ)
- Pro-European elected Finland president (FT)
- Push Sputters for Credit-Default Swap Futures (WSJ)
- China Money Rate Rises as Central Bank Gauges Demand for Bills (Bloomberg)
- China Takes On Skeptics of Aid to Euro Zone (WSJ)
A lot of stuff in here this morning.
In 20 minutes we will get the only market moving piece of news, which many hope will bring back volatility to the market. Or it might not. As Goldman says, 'nonfarm payroll growth should slow on seasonal and weather-related factors'
The World's First Phenomenally Forensic Facebook Analysis - This Is What You Need Before You Invest, Pt 1Submitted by Reggie Middleton on 02/02/2012 17:14 -0400
As we pick apart the Facebook offering the BoomBustBlog way...
Smart money selling again.
Yesterday we noted how a CBO analyst may have been terminated for her conflicting views on model assumptions, especially when they veered away from the Wall Street-defined norm. Today, we find that the same approach to dissent may have been the reason why MF Global ended up taking inordinate risk, and ultimately blowing up, leaving over a billion in client money transitioning from liquid to gas phase overnight. According to Reuters, "The former chief risk officer at MF Global who raised red flags about the firm's aggressive trading bets told lawmakers that his warnings contributed to the firm's decision to let him go in early 2011. Michael Roseman, who was ousted in January 2011 from the now-bankrupt futures brokerage, said he rang alarm bells about the firm's exposure to European sovereign debt a year before the firm collapsed in late October of 2011." Roseman's statement on whether his skepticism to Corzine's get rich quick scheme was the reason for his termination? ""My views on risk certainly played a factor in that decision," Roseman told a House Financial Services subcommittee, about why he was asked to leave the firm." And so the status quo continues: any time anyone ever dares to disagree with broad misconceptions, whether it is regarding infinitely rising home prices, broad global compression trades, or the ability of European banks to onboard toxic CDOs in perpetuity is always promptly shown the door. The flipside to this complete lack of checks and balances? Why the bailout culture of course, in which finding one company responsible for gross complacency would mean all are guilty. Which is nobody will ever go to prison as it would set the "worst" possible precedent ever: that one is ultimately responsible for their own stupidity. Said otherwise: the best qualification one can hope to add to one's resume: "distinguished yes man with honors."
With the IMF cutting its global growth forecasts and signs of slowing evident in the dramatic contraction in World Trade Volume in the last few months, it is perhaps no surprise that the central banks of the world have embarked upon what Goldman Sachs calls an 'Unprecedented Alignment of Monetary Policy Across Countries'. Our earlier discussion of the European event risk vs global growth expectations dilemma along with last night's comments on the impact of tightening lending standards around the world also confirms that this policy globalization is still going strong and is likely to continue as gaming out the situation (as Goldman has done) left optimal CB strategy as one-in-all-in with no benefit to any from migrating away from the equilibrium of 'we all print together'. Perhaps gold (and silver's) move today (and for the last few months) reflects this sad reality that all your fiat money are belong to us, as nominal prices rise (but underperform PMs) in equities (and risky sovereigns and financials).
There are two pillars that have supported the recent cross-asset class rally: 'improving' macro news and a reduction in concerns about European and financial risks. While this pattern is not new, as the interplay between the two has been a key focus for some time, Goldman manages to differentiate the impact of both and quantifies which assets have more sensitivity to each pillar. Unsurprisingly, European assets have been driven more by Euro area risks than non-European assets, equities (even in Europe) have been driven more by growth views, and credit spreads (including in the US) have been more responsive to Euro area risks. A number of other assets are much more closely to the market's view of growth than to the Euro are risk perceptions and global FX ranges from highly cyclical to highly Euro-sensitive while many of the major EM currencies are stuck in the middle. Overall they find that the market has more confidence in global growth (with markets pricing little more than +1.75% US growth for instance so not over-confident) but that Euro-area risk has been discounted excessively given the nature of the ECB's actions relative to the underlying problems (as we discussed this morning). Goldman provides a good starting point for consideration of which risks (and how much is priced in) across global asset classes.