As Perfectly Expected, Moody's Cuts Revolutionary Egypt From Ba1 To Ba2, Outlook Negative, CDS Spikes

The most predictable, (and certainly worthless: see Mark Zandi) entity in the world has gone ahead and done precisely what Zero Hedge said 24 hours ago it would. Moody's has just downgraded Egypt's bond rating from Ba1 to Ba2, with the outlook changed from stable to negative. The move which was as a surprise to idiots everywhere comes as "Moody's notes that Egypt suffers from deep-seated political and socio-economic challenges. These include a chronic high rate of unemployment, elevated inflation and widespread poverty. These, together with a desire for political change, have fueled popular frustrations." And as we predicted yesterday, Egypt CDS continues to slide ever higher, pushing around 460 on the offer side, in those rare occasions it is actually offered.

Goldman On What Happens To Oil As Egypt Contagion Flares

A week after Zero Hedge first speculated what may happen to oil prices should the Suez Canal be shut down, Goldman arrives on the scene... And as expected, to Goldman it is all (mostly) priced in - the risk of contagion to Saudi is zero. After all, rich people never revolt... And things must always evolve according to what only Goldman Sachs has foreseen.

Step Aside Egypt CDS.... Here Come The Saudi Contagion Vigilantes

By now everyone knows that over the past few days, Egypt CDS has taken a hard right angle and has doubled from 200 bps to well over 400 bps (making it just slightly riskier than Illinois). And tomorrow Egypt risk will add another 80 or so basis points. No surprise there. What may surprise some, however, is that just like Egypt, Saudi CDS has also gone vertical. And with momentum chasers finally realizing that there is a direction other than tighter, expect the contagion vigilantes to do some serious damage here. If history is any precedent, there is a long way to go.

Portuguese, Spanish Bonds Back To All Time High Yields

One would think that judging by all the frequency of lies about Europe's latest CDO knight in shining armor, also known as the EFSF, that bond spreads would be rushing headlong to zero as yet another form of perpetual taxpayer backstop is implemented. One would be wrong. Spreads on the Portuguese and Spanish 10 Years are now back to their widest levels in history. It is fairly complicated to reconcile this stickiness with the daily barrage of mendacity from all ECB apparatchiks. Basically, the market, unlike Goldman (see below), is fairly unconvinced that any of the currently planned rescue plans have any chance of being successful.

Egyptian Stock Market Plunges Over 11% To Fresh Multi-Year Lows; Is A Suez Canal Transit Halt Imminent?

Ever wanted to see what a market plunge looks like into a revolution-inspired bidless open? Look no further than Egypt: after being halted briefly earlier, the market is now in freefall, dropping 11% in the span of minutes. This brings the two day drop to over 16%, and brings the EGX30 to the lowest level since 2009. Egyptian CDS have surged over 10% to 385 mid, a jump of 40 bps on the day. Anyone who purchased protection on the riot-torn country after we first suggested it is about to roll this weekend, congratulations. And while the important part of the world may ignore what is happening in Egypt, after all it is not US banker money thay is being lost, they may want to consider this: according to reports, there has been live fire in Suez, where the police headquarters have been taken over. More importantly, according to the Guardian, we may see the first army insubordination in this city: "a lawyer and executive director for the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, has tweeted that some army units in Suez are refusing to support the crackdown against the people." Which means the government may be about to lose control over Suez... And the Suez Canal.

Nic Lenoir Takes Goldman Head On, Says Time To Sell EURUSD Is Here

Nic Lenoir throws down the gauntlet and takes on Goldman Sachs directly following their recent upgrade of the EURUSD target to 1.40: "Not that many layups or exciting trades in the G10 out there with equities in a slow melt up and the long end in Fixed Income stuck in a range for the last month. If you missed out on the sell-off in metals or did not have the UK GDP data ahead of the market don't despair just yet, we have a very interesting set-up to sell EURUSD here...We stand below the 61.8% of the sell-off since the November highs, the hourly divergence is staggering also. I strongly favor shorts here. Less convinced traders traders can wait for the break of the trend support which comes around 1.3640. Given the recent advance I think we should see a retracement back to at least 1.34 even if we are to utlimately advance further. I am bearish EUR as I don't believe this currency has a place in this world anymore, but even raging bulls should be cautious here."

Frontrunning: January 26

  • Mandatory Prison in Securities Frauds Sought by New York's District Attorney Cyrus Vance (Bloomberg)
  • Financial Meltdown Was ‘Avoidable,’ Inquiry Concludes (NYT)
  • Default worry sees US muni bond sales dry up (FT)
  • Greece Default With Ireland Breaks Euro by 2016 in Global Poll (Bloomberg)
  • Lehman Brothers amends bankruptcy plan (Reuters)
  • Davos Moguls Adjust to Fast, Slow, Reverse: Mohamed El-Erian (Bloomberg)
  • Bernanke Gets 66% Approval From Investors Disliking QE2....all of whom can afford a Bloomberg terminal (Bloomberg)
  • Fed warns banks to be weary of expensive CDS: Impact of High-Cost Credit Protection Transactions on the Assessment of Capital Adequacy (Fed)
  • China Is No White Knight in Euro's Debt Crisis (Bloomberg)

Guest Post: Another Call For The Fed To Raise Rates, So Big Banks Can Start Lending And Hiring Again

As we explained in our previous article Seeking an interest rate solution, real interest rates are negative and nominal short term interest rates are near zero. That is not healthy. What is a healthy interest rate? My view is that short term rates should be above 1% to make them positive and closer to 2%. It has caused consumer credit to contract. Of course, banks would argue that a healthy spread is the key to a healthy banking sector. Raising the rate would likely flatten the yield curve. What gives?

Guest Post: The Opposite Of Apocalypse

November 2008: the situation was dire. But was it ever really an apocalypse? We were all conditioned to think that without government intervention a waking hellscape of crappiness awaited. And it continues. Over and over, we are told of being just a step away from US government default if someone dares fiscal sensibility. Or some variation of bank implosion catastrophe, or everyone going into foreclosure immediately, or something else equally horrible. These outcomes are debatable, and they deserve to be debated. Everything that happens in the future is debatable. What is not debatable is that we continue to be threatened with imminent doom if politicos don’t get what they want. I’m not a believer in global conspiracy theories, much less a perpetual ruling class, but I am a believer that democracies are absolutely awash with propaganda, veiled threats, and fear-mongering. Why? Fear is where the power is.

The Week Ahead According To Nic Lenoir

Markets have remained range bound since the start of the year in Fixed Income and very little conviction seems to be present. Equities have been grinding higher but a lot of technical signs are flashing red and volumes are anemic so participation is minimal. Finally in FX the USD has also been range bound with the dollar index stuck between 77.5 and 81.5. Last week was another example, with slightly higher yields and weaker USD, but overall not much worth expanding on in the G10. However emerging markets took a beating from Wednesday onwards. Mexico & Brazil's stock markets are posting worrying technical patterns, following Asia which has been leading the way south. AUDUSD is sitting just above the 01/12 lows and the 100-dma and a break would confirm a move lower towards at least 0.95. The market broke the trend since last May on Wednesday while a retest pf the trend line as resistance is customary we would only look for selling opportunities here. This is in line with poor trading in emerging market bonds of late and China seems to be experiencing a liquidity crunch with the Shibor experiencing a lot of volatility. - Nic Lenoir

Volatility Observations: Can Rates Swing Without Pain

For technical reasons already discussed, I am generally bearish on US Fixed Income for the near/medium term. What bothers me with the way we have traded is that since December we are essentially stuck in a range which is much more reminiscent of a bear flag than a bottom in the long end. Also, while implied volatility has come in a lot since the local lows of 12/15, realized volatility is actually very high in Fixed Income. As a matter of fact the spread between Fixed Income realized volatility and Equities realized volatility is at historical levels. Lastly, while in this ZIRP environment sell-offs have been associated with steepening of the curve, given the reflation arguments in vogue and all the hype about inflation, it would make sense to see this sell-of capped by some proper pressure in the short-end or at least the belly of the curve. We caught the bounce from 103 in 10s30s up to 120 but here I suspect pressure on the curve in the long end is about to return. To better illustrate these last 2 arguments, we were able to buy for our clients some 99.00 puts expiry February on EDH2 for only 5bps on Wednesday. Knowing that hardly 2 weeks ago the contract was trading at 98.85, it seems that implied volatility was quite shy of reflecting what is realized in the market. This is indicative of a quite high level of complacency despite high realized volatility. I have added charts for the 10Y US Treasury future. Targets indicate targets of 117-14 to the downside at the minimum. The support of the recent range is 119-20, this will be the acceleration level confirming the next leg lower is on its way. For the Bund I had already specified I was looking for a move towards 121.45 at least.

NYT Reports States Looking For Ways To File Bankruptcy, Muni Bondholders To Be GMed

A few days ago we reported that Newt Gingrich was pushing for legislation to allow states to file for bankruptcy, "allowing Them To Renege On Pension And Benefit Obligations." As we speculated back then "obviously what this means for equity investors in assorted muni
investments is that a complete wipe out is becoming a possibility, as
Meredith Whitney's prediction, which everyone was quick to mock and
ridicule, is about to come back with a vengeance." Sure enough, this most recent development in the states' path to insolvency was quickly ignored as it was not a dipping mushroom cloud that could be bought. Until tonight: the NYT has just rehashed the post in an article that would not only validate the Whitney thesis if true, but make a Cramer-Bove out of everyone who has been caught on tape in the past two weeks kicking and screaming that there is no chance in hell the carnage predicted by the scourge of Citigroup (and yes, back in 2007 everyone said that Citi could never fail either). From the NYT: "Policy makers are working behind the scenes to come up with a way to let
states declare bankruptcy and get out from under crushing debts,
including the pensions they have promised to retired public workers." Which means that up to $3 trillion in muni debt has a high probability of being GMed, precisely as we predicted: "proponents say some states are so burdened that the only feasible way out may be bankruptcy, giving Illinois, for example, the opportunity to do what General Motors did with the federal government’s aid." Oh, and since all this constitutes an EOD, readers are strongly urged to re-read the primer on what pervasive state bankruptcies will mean for muni CDS (hint: the MCDX is cheap).

The Cartoon Story Of Hu Did What: A Look At What Really Happened During The Chinese President's US Visit

Who says the bears have a monopoly in explaining arcane economic concepts, from CDS to QE? The following cartoon from the geniuses at Next Media Animation depicts without any reservations the theater behind the theater, and shows what happens when your biggest creditor (after Ben Bernanke of course), comes to check in on you (in a stealth fighter jet)... Let the "Hu" jokes begin.

A Muni CDS Market Primer

With increasing confusion over the cash muni bond market, very little has so far been said about the even more confusing muni CDS market. However, as municipal bankruptcies are likely about to take the country by storm, it is really the synthetic market that should be occupying investors' attentions. This is especially true with yesterday's disclosure that the bankrupt city of Vallejo is offering recoveries of only 5-20 cents to its sub creditors: it means that muni insolvencies will be not only a "survival" issue but one of recovery as well, considering assumptions embedded in cumulative loss forecasts that predict 80% recoveries by default. Below we present the most comprehensive report we have read so far on the matter of muni CDS, which should serve as a primer to anyone who wishes to be abreast not only of events in the muni cash space (where cash outflows are now comparable to what happened to equities following the flash crash), but in the wonderful world of synthetic paper.