Not good for Europe: all the posturing about how Greece will never, ever be bailed out was just destroyed courtesy of a few words out of place by the IMF. IMF Managing Director John Lipsky just noted that the International Monetary Fund is ready to help Greece "in any way necessary." The quote comes from a Bloomberg TV interview conducted earlier.Perhaps that is why Greek CDS just hit another all time wide at 410 (+35). And joining the foot in the mouth crew is ECB president Trichet who said that "Debt on both sides of the Atlantic are unsustainable." So should we now assume that even Central Bankers admit we are headed for a brick wall at 120 mph?
Greece Update: Another Risk Record As Prime Minister Openly Talking Against Speculation, Lehman Deja VuSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/28/2010 10:14 -0400
At this point using the words "Greece" and "record" in the same sentence is starting to get uncool. Alas, today, it has to be said one more time. The country's CDS is now at 387 bps, another all time wide, while the spread to Bunds is just getting plain silly. Of course, the chorus of voices begging for calm is increasing, with Spain's prime minister the latest to claim that "nobody will be leaving the euro." It is unclear at this point if he is referring to Greece or Spain. This is coupled with Papandreou saying that he is "seeing speculation in world financial markets" regarding his country's risk, and the ever ubiquitous " rumors can create problems." Dick Fuld surely can sympathize.
Update: here is a first run of the data, with a focus on Goldman Sachs.
The previously top-secret Schedule A has been released and is attached. We are currently going through the data, focusing on prices, ratings, LTVs and other taxpayer critical data. Stephen Friedman saying, as we type, that revealing Schedule A will injure the taxpayer interest, as when the Fed will try to sell these CUSIPs, buyers will have an advantage. Of course, we note, these sophisticated buyers will exist only because this list was offloaded to the taxpayers in the first place.
On and someone tell those doomsayers in Congress today this info was leaked and the market did not crash... Stunning, we know.
With Bernanke at the FOMC meeting, one wonders where the Chairman finds all the time to deal with these assorted "distractions." In other news, Bernanke claims he was not directly involved in counterparty talks... So Geither was not, Paulson was not, Bernanke was not...Uh, did anyone at all authorize the biggest bailout in American history? Or was Goldman Sachs given a proxy exclusion on this one "very rare" occasion? To wit:
"I was not directly involved in the negotiations with the counterparties."
"I was not directly involved in the discussions with AIG related to this decision."
"I was not involved in discussions with the SEC about any disclosure issues involving AIG."
Remember how that "massively" oversubscribed Greek bond deal (at HY spreads) was supposed to bring peace and prosperity to the gyro makers? Well, oops... Today, the spread between Greek 10 Years and Bunds just hit a record wide of 406 bps, as CDS also hit another all time wide at 370 bps. The chart below shows how Bund spread has moved over time: basically the funding problem in Greece just got worse despite of the bond sale, and now the Greek finance ministry has entered desperation mode. Just how desperate? The latest development which is precipitating this move (which of course involved Goldman Sachs), is the rumor that Greece has hired GS to sell €25 billion of Greek bonds to... Beijing. Welcome to the new lender of last resort: China has just become the world's Federal Reserve.
- Main Street vs Wall Street battle lines getting clearer: Bankers unite against Barack Obama and Gordon Brown in call for world regulation (Evening Standard)
- Geithner AIG recusal was "After the fact" Issa says (Bloomberg)
- Throw Bernanke and Congress overboard (Portfolio)
- Blocking Bernanke is smart economics, smart politics for democrats (The Nation)
- Split in the UK: Mervyn King rubbishes Gordon Brown's Tobin plan, allies himself with Obama (Telegraph)
- As long expected, sovereign CDS trading is the new black (and FX): Swap trading surges as national deficits rise (Bloomberg)
We are currently going through the recently released Special Report by Darrell Issa: "Public Disclosure As A Last Resort:
How the Federal Reserve Fought to Cover Up the Details of the AIG Counterparties Bailout From the American People," and a cursory perusal indicates that this could be proverbial end for Tim Geithner...and Sarah Dahlgren is, not surprisingly, mentioned rather prominently...as is Davis Polk. The report's conclusion bears repeating: "The fact that a quasi-government agency, unaccountable to the American people, likely wasted billions of taxpayer dollars and went to great lengths to prevent Congress and the American people from learning about these actions demonstrates the threat that the Federal Reserve poses to basic principles of American democracy."
Presenting The BlackRock-AIG Presentation In Which It Becomes Clear That Soc Gen Had Pledged Sub-50 Cent Securities To The Fed's Discount WindowSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/26/2010 18:17 -0400
As expected, Goldman did approach AIG about contract tear downs of its CDS contracts, and "Goldman would likely accept a small concession." This makes sense due to the draconian collateral margin demands that Goldman had previously extracted from AIG (12% positive haircut), and also due to spurious collateral demands made by Goldman ($1.3 billion more than BlackRock's estimated fair value). This is all as Zero Hedge reported yesterday. Yet another smoking gun emerges, this time not from Goldman, but from French bank Societe Generale...
"With respect to these investigations, it is SIGTARP's policy not to comment publicly on non-public, ongoing criminal or civil investigations, and thus we cannot comment further at this time, other than to note that these assertions do not at this time constitute a factual finding by SIGTARP. At the conclusion of the investigations, however, we anticipate that the details of our findings will be reported to Congress, as appropriate, either through formal court filings or in the form of Investigative Reports." - Neil Barofsky
Federal Reserve Moral Hazard Smoking Gun: In August 2008 Goldman Was Willing To Tear Up AIG Derivative Contracts, Offered To Take HaircutSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/25/2010 23:08 -0400
As observant readers will recall, a week ago we pointed out a letter in which the New York Fed's Steven Manzari instructed AIG to stand down on all discussions with counterparties on "tearing up/unwinding CDS trades on the CDO portfolio." At the time we focused on the word "stand down" as an indication of the Fed's lead role in the process. At this point there is no doubt that the FRBNY, together with its law firm, Davis Polk, were in the pilot's seat during the entire AIG negotiation, and while Tim Geithner may not have been the responsible man for this, someone must have been - and for the record, our money is a double or nothing on recently promoted FRBNY Senior Vice President Sarah Dahlgren, who as of January 21st is in charge of the Fed's Special Investments [AIG] Management Group. We sure hope Sarah gets the chance to recall her memories beginning in the fateful month of September 2008 when she became the person in charge of the FRBNY's AIG relationship. But back to the letter - little did we know that our focus was on the right sentence... but on the wrong word. What should have struck us front and center, was Habayeb's admission that contract "tear downs" had been evaluated. This means that someone, aside from AIG, must have expressed an interest in a tear down, which if true would have dramatic consequences for the entire AIG debacle. Today, the WSJ presented the missing piece of the puzzle.
The Volkswagen Soap Opera Rises From The Dead As Perry, Elliott And Glenhill Sue For Alleged Stock ManipulationSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/25/2010 15:17 -0400
Regular readers know our fascination with the Volkswagen "soap opera" which, as a result of a massive short squeeze in late 2008, resulted in VOW stock being the single most expensive stock in the world, albeit for a short period of time. In fact, last February we noted: "If hedge funds are successful at proving manipulation, which this disclosure may have made significantly easier, Porsche could be on the hook for a full refund of the option proceeds, in addition to further civil disgorgement and/or criminal liabilities. While the luxury carmaker is currently in swimming financial health with a huge cash war chest thanks to the options trades, any regulatory escalation could result in a rapid and dramatic downfall of the company which has a €10 billion term loan maturity in March, as banks may run away from a debtor that may be liable for a €7 billion cash outflow. And if the dominoes really collapse and Adolf Merckle's suicide is found to be a result of the alleged stock market manipulation, the life of Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking may get really ugly fast." Sure enough, today the life of Porsche, and its now-former CEO Wendelin Wiedeking, just got pretty ugly. Dow Jones reports, that the bulk of the hedge funds, that were in the groupthink trade de jour at that time, the very same hedge funds we speculated may sooner or later end up suing the carmaker-cum-busted hedge fund, just came out, guns blazing, and are alleging stock manipulation.
Goldman's "go to" bull, Jim O'Neill, starting to get decidedly bearish. Also, as if economic commentary interspersed with soccer from Janjuah wasn't enough, O'Neill is here to offer the Red Devil perspective.
Economics 101: when supply is greater than demand, prices fall; when supply is $700 billion greater than demand, prices plunge. An in-depth look at the supply-demand mismatch of the 2010 US Treasury market demonstrates that the truth is much worse than you may think, and why Bernanke's first act upon reconfirmation will likely be the announcement of the second part of Quantitative Easing.
Forget TARP, the AIG bailout and FDIC debt guarantees. The real bank bailout lives on courtesy of Helicopter Ben’s zero interest rate policy. Why should you care? Because low rates punish savers in the name of nursing the banks back to health. After all the trouble the banks have caused over the last 2 years this just adds insult to injury.
Whether this week was THE turning point or A turning point we will not know for a while (though we have our suspicions) but it was the largest week-over-week widening since JUN09 in absolute and relative terms for IG credit. IG has not closed a week above 95bps since 12/4 and HY still has some room to go to revert empirically back to same date levels of risk.