The TEPCO Bail Out Begins: Japanese Government To Foot "A Portion" Of Compensation Costs

As predicted when we outlined the imminent surge in TEPCO CDS nearly two weeks ago, when the utility was trading still in the double digits, we speculated that the Japanese government will have no choice but to step in and rescue the pre-collapse utility. Indeed, that is now reality, with Reuters reporting that "the Japanese government is looking at paying off a portion of the compensation Tokyo Electric Power Co will owe to evacuated residents, local farmers and others directly hit by the emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant." The question we have is how much did Japan bulls such as Buffett purchase in TEPCO stock in advance of this latest pseudo-socialization in which taxpayers once again bail out private shareholders, and just how much of his decision to acquire said stock would have been predicated on the knowledge another taxpayer-to-right pocket transfer was imminent.

Portuguese President Prepares To Accept Jose Socrates' Resignation; Government Collapse Imminent

From Market News: "Portugal's President Anibal Cavaco Silva is prepared to accept the resignation of Prime Minister Jose Socrates and is getting ready to call an election to choose a new government, Portuguese daily Jornal Publico reported on its website Wednesday evening....The political instability that would ensue from a collapse of the government, combined with market tensions that have pushed Portuguese ten-year bond yields to a euro-era high above 8%, seem likely to increase the pressure on Lisbon to seek a financial aid package from the European Financial Stability Facility and the International Monetary fund." Look for Portuguese, Irish and all out toxic fallout (pardon the pun) to be bought with impunity by JC Trichet as the entire market goes bidless.

Bomb Explodes In Central Jerusalem, 25 Wounded, "Apparently Not A Suicide Attack"

From Haaretz: "A bomb tied to a telephone pole exploded Wednesday at a crowded bus stop outside the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, just opposite the central station. At least 25 people were wounded in the incident, four of them seriously. All of the casualties have been evacuated to the Hadassah Hospital in Ein Karem. The Magen David Adom emergency services said that there were no fatalities. The blast could be heard throughout Jerusalem and blew out the windows of two crowded buses, No. 74 and No. 14. An eyewitness in the area at the time of the explosion told Haaretz that she heard a loud blast close to the central bus station and second later sirens began to wail and security forces rushed to the scene. Meir Hagid, one of the bus drivers, said he heard a loud explosion as he drove by the site, located near the main entrance to Jerusalem and its central bus station. "I heard the explosion in the bus stop," he said. He halted his vehicle and people got off. He said nobody in his bus was hurt." Reuters adds: "Israeli embassy spokesman in Washington issues correction, says Jerusalem blast not on bus and "apparently not a suicide attack." At last check Israel CDS were rather well bid.

Irish 10 Year Bonds Take Out Stops, Yield Surges Past 10% For First Time In History

Now that Europe is expected to keel over any minute, starting with the collapse of the Portuguese government, and proceeding right through the bankruptcy of Ireland, the market is starting to once again wake up. The first snooze button: Irish 10 Year bonds just passed above 10%, with numerous stops hit (see chart) for the first time in history. For all those who missed Citi's recommendation to buy Ireland CDS in advance of an event of default, the report can be found here. Said CDS are still a bargain offered at 630, considering they hit 680 in January.

Recent Hitachi CDS Levels

Following the just released post on the Fukushima whistleblower, which completely inverts the liability matrix, with suddenly Hitachi far more on the hook if indeed the company built a plant in full knowledge of faulty structural and support elements, and TEPCO receiving a reprieve, we have been inundated with requests for recent Hitachi CDS pricing. Below we satisfy those requests. We see a lot of levitation in this name's future.

Citi Recommends Buying Irish CDS In Advance Of "Nightmare On Kildare Street"

Earlier today, JPMorgan made waves by claiming, some would say rather uncouthly, that Portugal's government is about to keel over and die (even if it is undisputed- after all, on Wall Street no one can hear you speak the truth). Never one to be left wanting, here comes Citi with some charts of "parabolic" moves in the Irish 2 Year bond, and some even scarier claims. As expected any research report that starts with the words: "Oh dear...The picture on Irish interest rate markets is taking a very grim turn" - well, it is clear where it is going from there. In summary, Citi now believes that Ireland is essentially done for, or as Tom Fitzpatrick ever so more diplomatically puts it "things are about to get ugly", and recommends going long CDS since the entire short end of the curve has gone parabolic, now that Europe seems set to watch the island country explode, 2s10s has inverted in the past few days, and overall the Emerald Isle is now a dead man walking in the dumbest game of chicken since the creation of the euro. Too bad neither side is willing to back out, which will ultimately end with the eventual destruction of the eurozone and the euro. 

One Minute Macro Update - And Then There’s The Middle East

The Nikkei 225 finally saw a rebound yesterday, moving up 5.7% after its biggest two day fall in over twenty years. Nevertheless, the threat of nuclear disaster lingers and investors are demanding higher premiums on the country’s debt. Japan sold ¥1.1T in 20Y JGBs today at 2.13%, steepening the curve. S&P sees Chinese expansion slowing in 2011, forecasting GDP 9.1-9.6% with CPI in the 4.3-4.8% range. PBOC household inflation expectations weakening. February data indicate that money supply and lending activity have slowed, with lending down almost 50% from January’s flows. In its FOMC meeting yesterday, the Fed reported that the economic recovery is on a “firmer footing” while it made no mention of the current turmoil in Japan. The Fed acknowledged an increase in commodity prices, but qualified them as temporary. In our opinion, the Fed appeared more hawkish than in the last meeting in January, especially given the circumstances. The usage of the stronger language, however, does not foretell any significant change in our opinion, but rather should serve to shift the market focus even more towards jobs data. Mortgage applications for last week dropped 0.7% v +15.5% the week prior. Meanwhile, as anti-government protests continued, Bahrain declared a three month state of emergency yesterday. Along with the declaration came a second unit of military support from neighboring Gulf nations and a Fitch ratings downgrade from A- to BBB on the country’s long-term sovereign debt. Bahrain closed its stock market today and CDS spreads widened significantly.

Overnight Nikkei Heatmap

Below is a heatmap of the Nikkei "no news is great news, as is 26.5 trillion in fiat injections" relief rally. Note the main equity outlier, TEPCO, which however has seen its CDS tighten substantially overnight from 390-440 to just 285-315. The reason for the credit melt up is that according to an article, the operator of a nuclear facility will not be responsible for any damage caused by their reactor if it was due to "a grave natural disaster of an exceptional character or by an insurrection." Which simply means that the nationalization of TEPCO will be indirect and that Japan will have to issue that much more debt.

TEPCO CDS Surges To 390-440

When we looked at TEPCO last two days ago, we said that as a result of the catastrophe in Fukushima its CDS which then had jumped by 90 bps to 133 bps, "we expect this number will soon be at multiples as the fall out to the company is increasingly exposed to the market." Alas, as predicted, the CDS is now trading 390-440 and will likely go points up very soon. Recall that the utility has over $90 billion in debt, which may or may not be nationalized, but any "conservatorship" treatment will likely trigger restructuring clauses. And the latest news out of Kyodo goes from bad to worse for the electric company: "TEPCO unable to pour water into No. 4 reactor's storage pool for spent fuel."

One Minute Macro Summary - Overestimating Support

The Nikkei 225 plummeted to its lowest point in two years as the damage due to Japan’s recent earthquake became realized. The Bank of Japan injected ¥15T ($183B) into money markets this morning to maintain financial stability within Japan’s economy, while boosting asset purchasing capability to ¥40T from ¥35T to head off a likely decline in business sentiment. Reports put Japan’s insured earthquake losses at $14.5-35B, excluding tsunami-related losses. As a leading global consumer, Japan’s weakened state will likely affect commodity prices and its main trade partners. Although Australia’s second largest export market is Japan, the Australian press reported that its companies are not exposed to Japan’s recent disaster.

TEPCO CDS Surges 92 bps Wider At 133 As Japan Government Announces Will Release 3 Days Worth Of Oil Reserves

Our expectation that TEPCO CDS will fly this morning has just been confirmed with a market indicated 92 bps wider from Friday close at 133 bps. We expect this number will soon be at multiples as the fall out to the company is increasingly exposed to the market: to wit - news from Kyodo that the fuel rods at Reactor number 2 at Fukushima (which has so far not exploded) have now been fully exposed. Should there be a trifecta of explosions at Fukushima, TEPCO will likely not survive the public fury aftermath. And in related news, the Japanese government had just announced it will release 3 days worth of oil reserves. Per Wikipedia, Japan has the world's second largest strategic reserve, with state controlled reserves of petroleum at eleven different locations totaling 324,000,000 barrels.

TEPCO: With $91 Billion In Debt, Got CDS?

Now that the market has had some time to digest the events over the weekend, it may be time to hedge risk on the company most exposed to the nuclear shock in Japan, Tokyo Electric Power Company. The company was just downgraded by Goldman Sachs to Neutral (which means it held it as a Buy until now) as the firm does not see "a dividend hike"... We see far greater issues for the company's equity investors than just a dividend hike. Number one: TEPCO (9501.T) has over $90 billion in debt and roughly $30 billion in equity buffer. As Bruce Krasting points out vis a vis the equity - "it's gone." More from BK: "I used to work on financing these things. It's all long term leases. The actual debt behind the power plants is multiples of what they show on the balance sheet."

As Greece Embarks On The Road To Hades, Here Is How To Trade The European Implosion

While a crippled Europe continues to gladly enjoy being in the shadow of Fed-driven revolutions and natural disasters, its time in the sun is coming to an end. Soon everyone will realize that just today, 2 Year Greek bonds traded at all time wides of over 17%. That's right - holders of Greek bonds for 2 years will be rewarded with a 17% gain if the country actually repays these at maturity. Alas, for those who are paying attention, this has a snowball's chance in Hades of happening. And speaking of Hades, Knight Capital's Alfredo Viegas has released a note explaining not only why Greece has just passed the Rubicon following the release of its disastrous budget deficit details earlier, but also advising those who care, how to be positioned to best profit from Greece's descent into Hades, which will be promptly followed by the rest of the Eurozone. His advice: short Spanish and Italian cash bonds (this trade will work just as well using horrible, evil CDS which no politician still understands and therefore continue to be the scapegoat for everything).