While the euro itself has recovered a bit from its worst levels in recent sessions, euro basis swaps have fallen deeper into negative territory on par with the epic nosedive of 2011. We are not quite sure what the move means this time around, since there is no obvious crisis situation – not yet, anyway. A negative FX basis usually indicates some sort of concern over the banking system’s creditworthiness and has historically been associated with euro area banks experiencing problems in obtaining dollar funding. This time, the move in basis swaps is happening “quietly”, as there are no reports in the media indicating that anything might be amiss. Still, something is apparently amiss...
Bankers who took up their business in the Square Mile of London’s banking heart could smell the Eurodollars in the air. As Anthony Sampson wrote, “Young British bankers and their foreign counterparts began to earn higher salaries than other bankers. Skyscrapers shot up by the old classic architecture near St. Paul’s Cathedral. Far Eastern and Arabic banks appeared, as did Mercedes and Cadillacs to cart bankers around the thin London streets.” The Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries needed dollars for trade but wanted to avoid adverse US policy by not keeping or borrowing money in the United States. So they stuck funds in the London offices of British and American banks, causing the City of London to grow as a banking center and recoup some prewar financial glory.
Debt saturation and debt fatigue = diminishing returns on central bank tricks. The diminishing returns manifest in three ways: the gains from each round of central-bank tricks are declining, the periods of stability following the latest “save” are shrinking and the amplitude of each episode of debt crisis is expanding.
That the unraveling is speeding up is not just perception - it’s reality.
If it was the Fed's intention to slow down the relentless surge in the dollar with yesterday's "impatient" removal which blamed the dollar strength on the "strength" in the US economy, it promptly failed after algos and a few carbon-based traders looked at the Atlanta Fed and realized that a 0.3% Q1 GDP print is anything but "strong." As a result the EURUSD, after soaring by nearly 400 pips yesterday in a market reminiscent of a third-world FX pair's liquidity especially following the previously noted USD flash crash, the dollar has recoupped nearly all losses, and the DXY is once again on the way up and eyeing the resistance area of 100.
Borrowing in USD was risk-on; buying USD is risk-off. As the real global economy slips into recession, risk-on trades in USD-denominated debt are blowing up and those seeking risk-off liquidity and safe yields are scrambling for USD-denominated assets. Add all this up and we have to conclude that, in terms of demand for USD--you ain't seen nuthin' yet.
An epic decoupling in the cost of put protection and S&P earnings multiples may be a bad omen for stocks as Goldman suggests a "substantial market correction may be on the horizon."
Yields can always go lower… but at some point investors will have to ask, “how much am I willing to pay the Government to sit on my money? 1%? 2%? 3%?”
Single-name CDS performance suggests investors are buying the "opportunity" Citi and Goldman are selling, providing further proof that we truly will never learn.
Despite all of the talk of cutting the deficit and the like, the political class continues to throw taxpayer money around at a pace that is bankrupting the nation.
Just in time for both total auto loans and total student debt outstanding to top the $1 trillion mark, we get a match made in FICO hell as the subprime lending unit of AIG Springleaf, has purchased OneMain, another subprime lender that’s been relegated to Citi’s Citi Holdings trash bin for years. The deal creates a subprime lending powerhouse with some $14 billion in possibly-not-toxic receivables.
Recency bias no doubt once again playing a role, but more likely it is this new-ish trend to deny any damaging economic possibility as it might disrupt the balance of financialism. Any system that cannot even countenance just a small possibility of contrary thought is not robust or “resilient” at all. As we saw in 2008-09, oil liquidations were entirely appropriate for economic conditions; how can “everyone” deny outright something even slightly similar?
Not "contained." Just six short months ago, the 2Y bonds of Austria's bank bank - HETA Asset Resolution AG - were trading well above par as the world and his mom reached for yield (~6%) in all the wrong places. Today, following the "spectacular development" over the weekend that the bank will be wound down due to the discovery of an $8.5bn "hole" in its balance sheet, the 2Y HETA bonds are trading below 50c on the dollar (at a yield of 54%). This is indeed Austria's "Lehman" moment as for the first time in the new European 'bail-in' era, senior debt is getting a massive haircut.
As the rest of the world appears happy to assume everything is fixed in Europe (and if it's not, Draghi will buy it back to being awesome), Greece is looking unwell once again. Initial exuberance has faded dramatically in the last 3 days as IMF default warnings and a 22.5% plunge in tax revenues has sparked concerns about Greece's sustainability once again. Default (or restructuring) risk is soaring, Greek bond yields are surging, stocks sliding, and Greek banks (bonds and stocks) are getting hammered. As The Guardian's Helena Smith notes, "the country is in a strategic vacuum," and next week's T-Bill auction could be a major catalyst.
Despite some compression today in anticipation of ECB QE (as if that was not anticipated enough in the idioctically marginal yields across European peripheral bonds), it appears Europe is 'not' fixed. With Brexit odds around 1 in 6 and Podemos' lead in Spain extending, it appears redenomination risk (as we discussed, clearly lacking in many spreads) is re-emerging. Since the Greek election, Spanish credit risk is up 30%... more than Greece!
If "everything is awesome" in Greece (and Europe) then why - oh why - did Greek government bond yields surge higher today, Greek stocks tumble, Greek bank stocks (and less so bonds) collapse, and Greek CDS jump? It appears that as the euphoria relief wears off, as WSJ reports, doubts over the willingness of Greece’s left-wing government to follow its creditors’ orders on budget cuts and economic overhauls spilled into the public today. IMF's Lagarde stated that the Greek proposal "is not conveying clear enough assurances that the government intends to undertake the reforms," and even Syriza officials admitted, "it is difficult to determine how the government can fulfill its promises, including the debt write-off, with this agreement,” as doubts arise across Europe's policymakers and markets.