- Tainted Libor Guessing Games Face Replacement by Real Trades (Bloomberg) - so circular, self-reported data is "tainted" - but consumer confidence is great for pumping a stock market?
- Japan Sets up $12 Billion Program for Dollar Loans, Increases Growth Fund (Bloomberg)
- China Hints at Halt to Renminbi Rise (FT)
- Spain Pressed to Cut More From Its Budget (FT)
- Bailout can make Greek debt sustainable, but risks remain: EU/IMF (Reuters)
- Banks to Face Tough Reviews, Details of Mortgage Deal Show (NYT)
- U.S. and Europe Move on China Minerals (WSJ)
- Use of Homeless as Internet Hot Spots Backfires on Marketer (NYT)
- Obama administration seeks to pressure China on exports with new trade case (AP)
Balestra Capital: "If Government Programs Were Cancelled, The Economy Would Collapse Back Into Severe Recession"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/12/2012 20:52 -0400
While hardly an opinion that would be questioned around these parts, it is still good to see that even some of the smart money shares our views about the Schrodinger Economy ('alive' and 'dead' at the same time, depending if the BLS or anyone else is observing it) and we are not totally insane vis-a-vis one-time, non recurring government bailouts, which just incidentally have become perpetual and endless: "The Federal government has manfully stepped up to fill the gap left by consumers who have been forced to retrench and who are trying to repair their finances by paying down debt and increasing their savings. So the next question has to be: Is this recovery self-sustaining or is the economy still on life support, held together by periodic massive liquidity injections and ultra low interest rates, and accompanied by a dangerous, if not reckless, expansion of government debt? We think that if government programs were canceled, the economy would collapse back into severe recession." And here Balestra's Chris Gorgone explains quite astutely why anyone betting on a decoupling or perpetual USD reserve status may want to reconsider: "the U.S. is no longer in complete control of its own destiny. We exist now in a world of increasing correlation in the arenas of economics, finance, trade, politics, etc. What happens in Europe, China, the Middle East, etc. will have major impacts on American economic, political, and social outcomes. The world is changing rapidly. The old rules that so many investors rely upon may no longer apply the way they did during the great growth years after World War II." Alas, this too is spot on.
The Greek CDS auction has not yet taken place, nor has one quantified how many Greece-guaranteed orphan bonds with UK-law indentures have to be made whole (at a cost to Greece of course, no matter how much Venizelos protests), and somehow the world is already moving on to bigger and better risk strawmen. Because if one sticks their head in the sand deep enough, it will be easy to ignore that European banks have gradually over the past year or quite suddenly (as in the case of Austrian KA Finanz) taken about €100 billion in now definitive losses on their Greek bonds and CDS exposure. Luckily, just like in the US, there is now over $1.3 trillion in fungible cash sloshing in the system, allowing banks to 'fungibly' fund capital shortfalls and otherwise abuse every trace of proper accounting, when it comes to a post-Greek default world. The problem is that none of this actually solves the fundamental insolvency issues plaguing the 'old world', but what it does do, is force the accelerated depletion of an aging and amortizing asset base. That's fine - as Draghi said the ECB can "always loosen collateral requirements even more." So while we await to hear just who will sue Greece and Europe, and how much cash will have to be paid out to UK-law bondholders (before the Greek default is even remotely put to rest), here is a listing of what Bank of America (recall - BofA is the one bank most desperate to remove any lipstick from the pig due to its need for more QE) believes will be the biggest risks to its outlook going forward. In order of importance: 1) Oil prices (remember when a month ago we said this then ignored issue may soon hit the very top of investors worry lists?), 2) Europe; 3) US Economy; and 4) China. That about covers it. Oh and massive debt issuance supply too as well as the even more epic straw man that is this Thursday's stress test. Remember: stress tests will continue until confidence in the ponzi returns!
An economic fiasco, a political football ... and (quietly) a growing export product in a declining market.
The coming years will be marked by a seismic change in the economic landscape in the US. Firstly and most importantly, we are going to see economic growth slow down dramatically. The reasons for this slow down are myriad but the most important are: 1) Age demographics: a growing percentage of the population will be retiring while fewer younger people are entering the workforce. 2) Excessive debt overhang.
Global risk markets and US equity futures were drifting lower together (post China trade deficit data) into this morning's confusion in Europe but around 430ET, equities pushed higher, Treasuries rallied rapidly as we approached the US day session open and broadly speaking risk was off (in everything except stocks). Commodities dropped notably with Oil and Silver losing over 1.5% from Friday's close before heading into the US open. The across-the-board weakness in credit and our broad risk asset proxy (CONTEXT) reversed, as if by magic, as the day-session open in the US dawned and led generally by Treasuries, which staged a 4-5bps sell-off from overnight low yields (with 2s10s30s notably rising on 30Y outperformance and 10Y underperformance), we leaked back to unchanged in ES (the e-mini S&P 500 futures contract) having traded in a very narrow range all day on low volumes (across MAR and JUN). VIX made headlines for its low levels but the steepness of the term structure should be a much bigger concern. AUD weakness spurred much of the early risk-off but accelerated stringer into the US close to maintain equities as close to green as possible. A very noisy day given very little news/event risk and the general confusion in European sovereign markets which all leaked wider. Credit and the vol term structure remain notable canaries as it appears EURJPY has become carry trade-of-the-day once again.
- Greek Bailout Payment Set to Be Approved by Euro Ministers After Debt Deal (Bloomberg)
- China Trade Deficit Spurs Concern (WSJ)
- Sarkozy Makes Populist Push For Re-Election (FT)
- ECB Calls for Tougher Rules on Budgets (FT)
- As Fed Officials Prepare to Meet, They Await Clearer Economic Signals (NYT)
- PBOC Zhou: In Theory 'Lots Of Room' For Further RRR Cuts (WSJ)
- Latest Stress Tests Are Expected to Show Progress at Most Banks (NYT)
- Monti Eyes Labor Plan Amid Jobless Youth, Trapped Firemen (Bloomberg)
While hardly expecting anything quite as dramatic as the default of a Eurozone member, an epic collapse in world trade, or a central banker telling the world that "he has no Plan B as having a Plan B means admitting failure" in the next several days, there are quite a few events in the coming week. Here is Goldman's summary of what to expect in the next 168 hours.
If there was any confusion as to who calls the shots in the world, the following anecdote should provide some needed clarity. Hint: it is not the US. After last week India announced it would proceed with a Cotton export ban, two days ago China logged "a formal protest against India's ban on cotton exports amid signs that India is rethinking the ban that was implemented a few days ago." As a result hours ago India announced that less than a week after enacting said ban, it is now overturning it. Of course, there is the diplomatic snafu of just why it did, and for India it has to do with "protecting" the interests of its farmers, who "complained that, due to higher production this year, they were already suffering from lower prices than they had expected and needed to export to recover their domestic losses." Of course, the farmers' position was well-known before the ban overturn. What wasn't known is just how vocal China would be, as suddenly it would scramble to find alternative sources as it fills its strategic cotton reserve. Turns out it was quite vocal. And India, unwilling to risk a trade war with the world's biggest economic power, promptly relented. As a result, any and all commodity traders who bought up the widowmaker trade may find themselves staring into a limit down market post open.
Injection will have its desired affect.
Germany just launched a €480 billion fund that it will use to backstop its banking system should a Crisis hit. And in the fine print, which no one has caught,... the fund will also allow German banks to dump their EU sovereign bonds... as in German banks' PIIGS/ EU exposure disappearing in an instant. So... why would Germany do this?
China is trying to tell you something, are you listening?
China Posts Biggest Trade Deficit Since 1989 As Crude Imports Surge: Is China Recycling Export Dollars Solely Into Oil?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/10/2012 15:51 -0400
In addition to all the US election year propaganda and delayed after effects of central banks injecting nearly $3 trillion in liquidity to juice up the US stock market, something far more notable yet underreported has happened in 2012: the world stopped exporting. Observe the following sequence of very recent headlines: "Japan trade deficit hits record", "Australia Records First Trade Deficit in 11 Months on 8% Plunge in Exports", "Brazil Posts First Monthly Trade Deficit in 12 Months " then of course this: "[US] Trade deficit hits 3-year record imbalance", and finally, as of late last night, we get the following stunning headline: "China Has Biggest Trade Shortfall Since 1989 on Europe Turmoil." Here we must apologize, but blaming the highest trade deficit in 23 years for a country that needs a trade surplus to exist, on the Chinese Lunar new year, which accidentally happens every year, is more than a little naive. Because as the charts below indicate, while exports did in fact tumble in a seasonal pattern as they do every February although more than expected, February imports of $146 billion not only did not drop, but posted a 19% increase compared to January, and soared 40% compared to a year prior. Why? Perhaps the second consecutive record high in monthly crude imports has something to do with it. Which in turn when considering the huge selloff of US Treasury paper by China in the last few months, indicates that the world's fastest growing economy no longer has an interest in taking its export dollars and using them to fund purchases of US paper, but is in fact converting US fiat into real, hard goods. Such as crude (for all those curious where the marginal demand is coming from that is). And most likely gold. But we will only learn about the gold hoarding well after the fact, when China is prepared to see the price of the metal soar as it did in 2009.
Robert Mish has been a precious metals dealer for nearly 50 years and knows what a gold bubble mania looks like. We are nowhere near that stage, in his opinion. Instead, he sees a US populace largely unappreciative of holding precious metal as a store of wealth, and engaged in a slow process of dis-hording their gold and silver to eager foreign buyers who are more than happy to take the bullion back to their shores. In terms of where we are on the gold mania spectrum, he sees us at a "2" out of 10. But he foresees a very rude awakening ahead as the populace eventually wakes up to the increasing damage our over-debted global economy is doing to the purchasing power of world currencies. Because when the general investor finally realizes the protection the precious metals offer against currency debasement, much of the retail supply will already be out of the system in very tight hands, and largely overseas. Moreover, when supply gets tight, there will be more challenges to obtaining physical bullion during a buying mania than there were during the last one in 1980. There are many fewer local sources to exchange bullion these days as much of that business is now transacted by online vendors dependent mail delivery to ship product, which are more vulnerable to supply chain disruptions. And be sure you're aware of how the form you hold your bullion in will affect the price you get during a buying frenzy, when refining capacity is overwhelmed. You may find you gold or silver sells at a hefty discount because it's not in a preferred format for trade.
Looks like it's time to start looking for somewhere else to peddle those Treasuries -- but then, when hasn't it been?