A push by the ECB for the euro zone to stand behind banks suffering from bank runs is slowly gaining traction but the bloc has yet to build backstops to prevent, or cope with, a sudden collapse of confidence in banks and mass deposit withdrawals. Last week, European leaders discussed pan European means of supporting banks, measures the ECB hopes will include a bank resolution fund to deal with the fallout from the wind up or restructuring of a failing bank. But a wave of withdrawals by depositors - either for fear that their government is too weak to stand behind its banks or that their country will exit the euro and forcibly convert their savings into a vastly devalued national currency - would represent a crisis of completely new proportions. Greece’s exit and reversion to their national currency, the drachma, could precipitate electronic bank runs in other periphery nations. The risk is that even savers who may trust their bank as being safe, come to the conclusion that there is a risk that their euro deposits may, in the event of a sovereign crisis, be forcibly converted to drachmas, pesetas, liras, punts and escudos.
- JPMorgan dips into cookie jar to offset "London Whale" losses: firm has sold $25 billion to offset CIO losses (Reuters)
- Storied Law Firm Dewey Files Chapter 11 (WSJ)
- The European "Wire Run" - Southern Europeans wire cash to safer north (Reuters)
- Bankia Tapping Depositors for Bonds Leaves Spain on Bailout Hook (Bloomberg)
- Glitches halt new Goldman trade platform (FT) such as reporting prices and seeing trading spreads collapse?
- Japan, China To Launch Yen-Yuan Direct Trading June 1 (WSJ)
- Another fault line? Italy Quake Kills Nine in North of Country (Bloomberg) shortly following another Italian quake
- RIM Writedown Risked With $1 Billion Inventory (Bloomberg)
- China’s Wage Costs Threaten Foreign Investment, EU Chamber Says (Bloomberg)
- Dollar Scarce as Top-Quality Assets Shrink 42% (Bloomberg)
Futures are well bid overnight even though following a modest short covering squeeze of the new record number of EUR shorts, the primary driver of risk, the EURUSD is now back to mere pips above its 2010 lows. It is somewhat confusing why equities are so jubilant about what can only be more imminent bailouts, following statements by the ECB's Nowotny who made it clear that the ECB is not discussing the renewal of bond purchases and that the central bank provides "liquidity not solvency." Adding to the confusion was a release in Chinese daily Xinhua which said that China has no intention of introducing large scale stimulus. All this simply means that the only possible source of liquidity remains the Fed, whose June FOMC decision could make or break the global stock markets, pardon economy, and why this Friday's NFP print is so critical. Absent a huge miss, it will be difficult to see the Chairman pushing through with another $750 bn-$1 trillion in LSAP. Which Europe desperately needs: first we got Italy pricing €8.5 billion in 6 month bills at much worse conditions than April 26, with the yield rising over 2%, or 2.104% to be precise, compared to 1.772% previously, and a BTC of 1.61, declining from 1.71. More importantly, the Spanish economic deterioration gets even worse after Spain just recorded a record (pardon the pun) plunge in retail sales. From AP: 'A record drop in retail sales added to Spain's woes Tuesday as the country struggles to contain the crisis crippling its banking industry and investors remained wary of the country's ability to manage its debt. Retail sales dropped 9.8 percent in April in year-on-year on a seasonally-adjusted basis as the country battles against its second recession in three years and a 24.4 percent jobless rate that is expected to rise. The fall in sales was the 22nd straight monthly decline, and was more than double the 3.8 percent fall posted in March, the National Statistics Institute said Tuesday." So all those focusing on the Greek economic freefall may want to shift their attention west.
Despite closed US stock markets today, FaceBook stock still managed to decline, while Europe dipped yet once again on all the same fears: Greece, Spain, bank runs, contagion, etc. Shortly Europe will reopen, this time to be followed by the US stock market as well. While in turn will direct market participants' attention to a shortened week full of economic data, which as Goldman says, will likely shape the direction of markets for the near future. US payrolls and global PMI/ISM numbers are expected to show a mixed picture with some additional weakness already fully anticipated outside the US. On the other hand, consensus does expect a moderate improvement in most US numbers in the upcoming week, including labour market data and business surveys. As a reminder, should the Fed wish to ease policy at its regular June meeting, this Friday's NFP print will be the last chance for an aggressive data-driven push for more QE. As such to Zero Hedge it is far more likely that we will see a big disappointment in this week's consensus NFP print of +150,000. Otherwise the Fed and other central banks will have to scramble with an impromptu multi-trillion coordinated intervention a la November 30, 2011 as things in Europe spiral out of control over the next several weeks. Either way, risk volatility is most likely to spike in the coming days.
Last week, when we reported on the then brand new record number of EUR non-commercial short contracts as reported by the CFTC, we said: "with such a massive surge in shorts in a short period of time, this means that the likelihood of major short squeezes is substantial on even the most innocuous of news, such as a G8 summit which promises much but delivers nothing, or China once again saying it will gladly focus on growth (as opposed to what? non-growth?), or some DieBold-inspired leadership change in the Greek pro/anti-bailout polls. Our advice to FX trading readers: be very careful with EURUSD stops: it is very likely that in their pursuit of short covering squeezes, (BIS) algos will take the pair substantially into the offer-side stop limit buffer just to force short hands out, which in turn may initiate short-term covering ramps." As of last Friday, the record number of net short contracts (-173.9K), just rose to a new all time high of -195.4K. The result: something as worthless and meaningless as uber-volatile Greek political polls (which had Syriza with a 4 point lead last Friday, which somehow dissolved and is now in second place about 24 hours later), was enough to send the EUR higher nearly by 100 pips overnight. Obviously, with ever more record shorts in the currency, expect the desperate continent to come up with nothing but more flashing red headlines in attempts to spook weak hands and incite even more very transitory short covering.
A reminder of the sharp increase in demand for gold and silver, particularly store of wealth demand, in recent years was seen in the figures released by the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association in Shanghai today. China’s gold consumption rose 33% to 761 tons in 2011 and China’s silver consumption rose 6.8% to 6,088 tons last year. China’s gold consumption rose 190 metric tons last year to 761 tons, Wang Shengbin, China Gold Association Vice Chairman, said in a speech in Shanghai as reported by Bloomberg. China’s jewelry consumption jumped 28 % to 456.7 tons last year, gold bar consumption surged 51% to 213.9 tons and gold coin consumption gained 25% to 20.8 tons, Wang said. China’s silver consumption, including industrial use, jewelry and coins, rose 6.8% to 6,088 metric tons last year, the vice chairman said. The amount shows a surplus given China’s output of 12,348 tons last year, which gained 6.3%, Wang said.
- Merkel Prepares to Strike Back Against Hollande (Spiegel)
- China to subsidise vehicle buyers in rural areas (Reuters) - what could possibly go wrong
- Bankia’s Writedowns Cast Doubts on Spain’s Bank Estimates (Bloomberg) - unpossible, they never lie
- Shares in Spain's Bankia plunge on bailout plan (AP) - oh so that's what happens when a bank is bailed out.
- SNB’s Jordan Says Capital Controls Among Possible Moves (Bloomberg)
- Greeks Furious Over Harsh Words from IMF and Germany (Spiegel)
- Tehran defiant on nuclear programme (FT)
- Finally they are getting it: Greece needs to go to the brink (Breaking Views) - of course, Citi said it a week ago, but it is the MSM...
- OTC derivatives frontloading raises stability concerns (IFRE)
- Wall Street Titans Outearned by Media Czars (Bloomberg)
As Americans mindlessly celebrate another Memorial Day with cookouts, beer and burgers, the U.S. war machine keeps churning. As we brutally enforce our will on foreign countries, we create more people that hate us. They don’t hate us for our freedom. They hate us because we have invaded and occupied their countries. They hate us because we kill innocent people with predator drones. They hate us for our hypocrisy regarding democracy and freedom. Just when we had the opportunity to make a sensible decision by leaving Iraq and exiting the Middle East quagmire, Obama made the abysmal choice to casually sacrifice more troops in the Afghan shithole. We have thrown over $1.3 trillion down Middle East rat holes over the last 11 years with no discernible benefit to the citizens of the United States. George Bush and Barack Obama did this to prove they were true statesmen. The Soviet Union killed over 1 million Afghans, while driving another 5 million out of the country and retreated as a bankrupted and defeated shell after ten years. Young Americans continue to die, for whom and for what? Our foreign policy during the last eleven years can be summed up in one military term, SNAFU – Situation Normal All Fucked Up. These endless foreign interventions under the guise of a War on Terror are a smoke screen for what is really going on in this country. When a government has unsolvable domestic problems, they try to distract the willfully ignorant masses by proactively creating foreign conflicts based upon false pretenses. General Douglas MacArthur understood this danger to our liberty.
“I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.”
In twenty or thrity years, I expect future monetary historians looking back on this period of history to frequently misquote Ernest Hemingway:
How did the dollar die? First it died slowly — then all at once.
The slow death began with the dollar’s birth as a global reserve currency. America was creditor and manufacturer to the world, and the capitalist superpower. People around the globe transacted overwhelmingly in dollars. Above all else, people needed dollars to conduct trade, and they were willing to pay richly for them, and for dollar-denominated debt
While various three letter economic schools of thought continue sprouting left and right, in an attempt to validate endless spending predicated on one simple thing: transitory reserve currency status, and we emphasize transitory, reality moves on, oblivious of what economic theoreticians believe it should be doing. As Yomiuri Shimbun reported last night, China and Japan are set to launch direct currency trading, bypassing the dollar, and the associated benefits and risks, entirely. "But how can that be?" dollar purists will scream. After all, when one bypasses the dollar, one commits blasphemy to a reserve currency. Somehow we think China gets that. From the AP: "Japan and China are expected to start direct trading of their currencies as early as June as part of efforts to boost bilateral trade and investment, according to reports. With the planned step, exchange rates between the yen and the yuan will be determined by their transactions, departing from the current "cross rate" system that involves the dollar in setting yen-yuan rates, Kyodo News said on Saturday."
From around two minutes into this CNBC clip, Marc Faber brings the conversation back into sharp focus. Noting that "whenever everybody focuses on just one thing - Greece and Europe in this case - there are other things that are far more important - such as a meaningful slowdown in India and China - going on that are being ignored". But remaining on the topic of Europe, Faber consistently opines that the next event risk will be the Greek exit - even though Faber suspects strongly that Germany will cave to Eurobonds eventually - as he comments that the longer the delay of a restructuring/default/exit/euro-bonds takes the higher the probability of a gigantic systemic failure. This subject brings up (at around 3:30) an interesting perspective that the European market would be oddly relieved (not plunging 50%) if Greek exited the Euro as there would be some clarity (though Faber adds that bank and insurance stocks would likely be crushed). At five minutes in though, Faber ramps up the rhetoric noting that while stock indices are not performing terribly, there are many economically sensitive (and luxury) stocks that are down very significantly - which suggests to him that the huge asset price run of the last decades in come to an end prompting the question of the day from CNBC's Cramer-stand-in "You're not looking for a recession in the US are you?" Faber, in his calm, thoughtful way responds, "I think we will have a global recession late this year, early next year", to which a stunned Wapner asks for odds (surely 30%, 50%?) of this recession - "100% certainty" comes the reply to leave Wapner throwing in the towel on any positive spin as Faber suggests the only 'investment' in this case is 'Cash USD' and investors must own some gold.
No comment necessary, but a reminder that for a market pricing in LTRO, QE, China Easing (or Cheasing), good news is truly horrible news.
Today, the deputy chairman of Russia's central bank, Sergey Shvetsov, said that the Bank of Russia plans to keep buying gold on the domestic market in order to diversify their foreign exchange reserves. "Last year we bought about 100 tonnes. This year it will be less but still a considerable figure," Shvetsov told Reuters on the sidelines of a financial conference in Milan. Russia's gold and foreign exchange reserves fell to $514.3 billion in the week ending May 18, from $518.8 billion a week earlier. However, they have risen from the $498.6 billion seen at the end of 2011. Yesterday, Shvetsov said that Greece has plans for a parallel currency and that it is a “necessity” for Greece to leave the euro.
European stock futures saw a jump higher at the cash equity open as the Eurostoxx broke through yesterday’s high of 2160. Comments from the Italian PM from late yesterday, who said that the majority of ministers are in favour of Euro bonds was noted but the move was largely technically driven with stops tripped on the ascent. In reaction to this the European bond yield spreads in the 10yr part of the curve tightened aggressively with OAT’s outperforming once again edging back toward the psychological 100bps level. Meanwhile in the FX market the USD weakened in early trade on the renewed risk appetite which bolstered the gains in EUR/USD alongside touted option defence by a Swiss name at the 1.2500 level. Commodity linked currencies such as the AUD was the main benefactor of a moderate move higher in crude futures and precious metals but has been capped so far by offers at 0.9800. Into the North American open prices have pared, with European equities in the cash and futures both slipping into the red, excepting the DAX. A distinctly light calendar from the US with only the May final Michigan report due, coupled with an early closure in the Treasury pit today, ahead of the Memorial day holiday, means that volumes will likely decline into the latter stages of the US session today.