After Six Hours Of Deliberations, Sergey Aleynikov Found Guilty

Score one for the farce team. That scourge to market efficiency, fairness and integrity, Sergey Aleynikov, about whom we have written tomes, has been found guilty. The HFT code in question, that can "manipulate markets" is safe and sound, back with its true master, Goldman Sachs, which firm promises its malicious attempt to squeeze CDS traders in 2007 is completely irrelevant, and the sheeple once again don't understand that the firm's intentions were nothing but pristine.

Daily Highlights: 12.10.2010

  • Asian stock markets were mostly lower Friday, on rate hike fears from China.
  • China regulators warn of risk linked to real-estate trusts.
  • China's trade surplus sharply narrowed in November to $22.9B from $27.1B in Oct.
  • India’s factory output grows 10.8%, fastest pace in three months.
  • Italy's Draghi warns of risks in ECB bond buying.
  • Oil rises to near $89 in Asia as traders eye OPEC crude output policy at meeting.
  • US cos held $1.93 trillion in cash and short-term assets at the end of Q3.

Goldman Implicated In CDS Price Manipulation Scandal

One of the recurring topics on Zero Hedge since inception has been that Goldman's flow/prop operations, simply by dint of their massive, monopolistic size, allow the firm to manipulate various securities, among which equities, structured products, and especially CDS. And while the firm has migrated to a more wholesale market manipulation paradigm when it comes to equities due to the far smaller bid/ask spreads, requiring the need for Goldman to become either an SLP on the NYSE, or to create market manipulating algorithms, such as that it is currently accusing Sergey Aleynikov of stealing, where the firm has always excelled has been in the far thinner, and far more profitable, courtesy of wide bid/ask margins, CDS market. Today, we get confirmation from Senator Carl Levin, to whom it appears Goldman has the same trophy value as SAC to the New York District Attorney and Federal Task Force, that Goldman was engaged in precisely the kind of CDS manipulation we have previously alleged the company was involved with.

Market Recap: 12.9.2010

A recap of the most important events in equities, corporates, rates, vol and FX.

Treasury Bond Volatility Hits Highest Since Flash Crash, First European Bankruptcy

The MOVE index measuring bond volatility has hit 112, a 2010 peak second only to the turbulent days following the flash crash and the first European bankruptcy. And speaking of European bankruptcy, CDS on Italy is back on the upward sliding track, last seen at over 200 bps, over 10 bps move on the day. And since there is no volatility left in a levitating market, the only market that vol hunters are now pursuing is the sovereign bond and FX markets. If and when intraday gyrations in the 10 year approach the equivalent of a stock VIX of 20+, then Bernanke will have finally achieved his goal of complete subjugation of the Banana States of America.

ASSGEN Version 1.1: The Shoe Is Dropping... Slowly

A few days ago we provided a brief overview of Italian insurance company Assicurazioni Generali (whose corporate ticker appropriately is ASSGEN) and shared our view of why its CDS will shortly continue pushing far wider. To be sure, once the brief respite provided by Trichet's drunken sailor-style purchasing of sovereign bonds anywhere and everywhere ends today, we will once again see drifting in Europe (two days of about a billion in notional purchases does exactly nothing about resolving the underlying issues). Although as we noted, betting on a failure of the next batch of distressed countries, among which Italy sticks out like a sore thumb may be short sighted: after all Trichet will merely change the rules once again, the failure of such sovereign risk derivatives as re/insurance companies is far more questionable. Over the weekend, we will provide more on shy we believe ASSGEN is due for a major beatdown, and in the meantime we wanted to provide this teaser courtesy of BNP.

Howard Marks' Scrapbook On Lessons From A Rhyming History; And Why We Believe This Time It Is Different

As always, a must read letter (which is a compilation of many prior Howard Marks missives: "Thanks to the tendency of investors to forget lessons and repeat behavior, it sometimes seems there’s no longer a need for me to come up with new ideas for these memos. Rather, all I have to do is recycle components from previous memos, like a builder reusing elements from old houses") from the chairman of Oaktree who, prudent as always, cautions against the latest episode of Fed-funded irrational exuberance: "Investors who engaged in aggressive behavior just a few years ago experienced significant pain as a result. Perhaps the punishment was too brief, and perhaps it was reversed too soon. Thus some are acting aggressively once again. It’s possible that such behavior won’t be punished again the second time around, but prudent investors shouldn’t take the risk." On the other hand, whole countries are now at stake should the market decline. Taking on one central bank is tough... Taking on all the printers in the world may be a task that only nature can eventually tackle.

A Look At Upcoming LCH.Clearnet Margin Hiking Milestones

While today's rumor of a massive QE program by the ECB to be announced tomorrow has temporarily stopped the sovereign spread widening, we are skeptical that it will achieve much in the mid-term. As in all other recent cases of CB intervention, the half life of this particular involvement will likely have short-term benefits at best. So what happens when the leakage resumes? The first immediate response will be a hike in various repo margins by LCH. Clearnet, as was the case with Irish bonds. Goldman's European Equity Research provides an overview of the key milestones and trigger events in LCH's methodology as it evaluates who may be affected next.

The Next Shoe To Drop: European Insurance Companies - Assicurazioni Generali CDS Explodes

As the idiot market relishes in yet another day of foolish self-delusion that the most globalized market in history can simply decouple between the two largest economies in the world (Europe as a whole is far larger than China), things are starting to stir beneath the surface in Europe. While it is now given that no state will be allowed to default, no market will be allowed to trade down, and no bank will ever be impaired as long until the current flawed economic fundamentalist religion is violently overthrown, the question now becomes (just like it did in the America in late 2008) how far down the foodchain with the global Bernanke put stretch? Case in point: Italian insurance company Assicurazioni Generali (CDS ticker: ASSGEN). The proximal reason - today the company's CDS spread has gone vertical, wider by 34 bps on the day, or about 20%, to 184 bps. Why is this happening? Simple: ASSGEN has total assets of €423 billion, and more worrisome, a fixed income portfolio of €262 billion, of which 93% is European-bond based (Italy 28%, France 22%, Germany 25%). We all know what has happened to Italian bond prices in the past weeks: as of today, Bund spreads have just hit a fresh all time high. But all this is irrelevant since the bank must have a capital buffer to accommodate the losses. After all, what idiot would run a company with almost €300 billion in Euro-facing bond exposure and not factor for deterioration in risk after the events of May... Well the ASSGEN CEO may be just such an idiot. The company's balance sheet as of 9/30 discloses that the firm had a mere €10 billion in tangible capital (excluding €10.7 billion in intangible assets). So let's recap: €262 billion in Euro bonds on.... €10 billion in tangible equity! A 26x leverage on what is promptly becoming the most impaired asset class in the world. We are amazed that it has taken the market so long to realize that European insurers are the next shoe to drop, and doubly amaze that instead of trading points up, ASSGEN is only 184 bps. We give it a week.