Irish Nationwide Now Engaged In "Micro-Quantitative Easing" As It Issues Bonds To Itself To Repay Interest

A new report in the Irish Times discusses how Irish Nationwide, where incidentally sovereign CDS spreads just hit a fresh all time wide record north of 400 bps, discusses how the insolvent bank, in a supreme example of just how prevalent ponziness has become in the current Central Bank subsidized environment, is now issuing bonds... to itself. In a circular issuance scheme that would make the Greek finance minister blush with envy, "Irish Nationwide has issued €4 billion of Government-guaranteed bonds effectively to itself. It can use the bonds to draw €4 billion in funding from the European Central to help tide it over a key refinancing period later this month." At its core, the scheme is nothing new, having been used repeatedly by Europe's most bankrupt countries, although the small scale in this case, and the blatant inability to even cover up the circularity has many worried that if the ECB needs to step in for such "modest" amounts to preserve bank solvency, it is all pretty much just a matter of time before it is game over for Ireland's banks. And elsewhere, confirming that defaults are imminent, the CFO of Anglo-Irish has just said it would be a disaster to default on its bonds. He is, of course, absolutely correct.

Daily Credit Summary: September 2 - Price Not Volume

Spreads compressed for the second day in a row modestly outperforming stocks as the big volume day from yesterday saw very little activity today as the path of least resistance appears higher for now. Intraday ranges today in credit were very narrow as what two-way flow there was seemed more concentrated in HY than IG for a change...Our super-short-term trading pivot is still long credit (from 111.5bps and 593bps for IG and HY respectively), stops never hit today and we would inch our stop to 110bps in IG and 590bps in HY but we get the sense that tomorrow's action will be early and extreme based on the NFP print. 112.25bps and 600bps are entry levels for the short credit should we run so not much room given the recent vol - and anxiety levels high into a long weekend. HY, IG, and the S&P all now closed above their 50-day averages so that offers some support for now but has offered little critical insight in recent weeks.

Why Market Is Now More Certain Than Ever That Greece Will Default, And A European Funding Update

One of the stealthier developments over the past months has been the ever wider creep in Greek CDS, especially in the longer-dated part of the curve. In fact, everything to the right of the 3 Year point is now wider than it was both on the eve of the Greek semi-default, and just after the announcement of the European Stabilization Mechanism (ESM). How is it that with so much firepower, better known as free money, thrown at the problem, have spreads not declined? The CFR provides one interpretation, which speculates that once European banks find a firmer footing, that Greece, with the blessing of Europe proper, will be allowed to finally sever its mutated umbilical cord, and default. The catalyst would be Greece getting its primary deficit under control, at which point ongoing bad debt funding would no longer be necessary. Of course, this hypothesis is based on two very critical assumptions: European banks, especially in the periphery, as the second attached study from Goldman indicates, are still locked out. To think that Europe will be able to get to an equal footing for all countries seems like some wishful thinking at this point, especially if the market does consider the implications of what a Greek default will do to peripheral banking. Additionally, the ramifications to the euro in the case of a default will be dire, although that may be precisely what Europe is after all alone. Regardless, that is how the CFR sees things, rightly or wrongly. Keep an eye on Greek spreads in the coming weeks to see if the theory is validated.

Guest Post: Flight to Mystery

Some happy news for all the bankers who have been living in fear lately of how the new financial regulations – also known as the Dodd-Frank Legislation – will affect their business. I’m proud to announce: Problem solved! It was Morgan Stanley who put me on the track to this brilliant solution a couple of weeks ago when they announced the launching of its first UCITS III Fund on the Firm’s FundLogic trading platform. Since then, I’ve discovered that all the big US, and all global non-European, banks are doing the exact same thing. They are in practice outsourcing their investment bank activity to Europe. The new financial regulations in both US and EU are aimed at traditional hedge funds (who have been blamed for everything from causing the financial meltdown to climate change) and the well-known tax heavens – also known as offshore banking. But the financial industry seems to have found an alternative in EU’s UCITS III Funds. (Undertakings for Collective Investments in Transferable Securities). And the alternative is about to get even better with the introduction of UCITS IV in 2011. In fact, it’s so good that several financial institutions are bringing their offshore accounts from places like Calman Island and Bermuda onshore – inside the EU area.

Is Goldman Preparing To Reevaluate Its EURUSD Target... Again?

The firm, whose calls so far in 2010 on the EURUSD have been a reactionary disaster and cost clients millions, once again contemplates its navel, after the EURUSD has been trending increasingly away from its latest mid-term 1.35 target (but directly toward its 3 month target of 1.22). That said, it appears the Goldman FX guys are about to drop their 6 and 12 month forecasts on the pair once again, now that the EURUSD has tumbled almost 700 pips from recent 1.33+ highs, at the peak of Europe's artificial and so very temporary, export-driven economic golden age. Goldman's Mark Tan explains why.

Phoenix Capital Research's picture

In today’s world of trillion dollar bailouts, $2-4 billion doesn’t sound like much, so let’s give some perspective here… in its golden days, Lehman Brother’s market cap was roughly $47 billion. So you’re talking about bets equal to an amount between five and 10% of its market cap. Not exactly chump change.

And Lehman had no idea where it was or how much it really owed.

Mind you, we’re only addressing Lehman’s options and futures derivatives, we’re completely ignoring its mortgage backed securities, collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), and other Level 3 assets. Options and futures are literally the “tip of the iceberg,” the most visible portion of the behemoth that was Lehman’s off balance sheet derivative issues. After all, these are regulated securities unlike most derivatives.

Lehman Had "Absolutely No Idea” How Big Its Derivative Book Was In Days Following Bankruptcy

In an indication of just how good "redundancy" record keeping is within the financial industry, Bloomberg discloses that according to testimony by Barclays' Elizabeth James, a director of
Barclays’s futures business, in bankruptcy court, Lehman Brothers basically had no idea whatsoever how big its derivative book was within a +/- range of $2 billion. In addition to robts running wild and jeopardizing flash crashes on a daily basis, this should certainly restore some credibility to the market. “Lehman’s books were in such a mess that I don’t think
they knew where they were.” She said she received an e-mail from former Barclays
trading executive Stephen King saying Lehman had “absolutely no
” if it had sold $2 billion more options than it had
bought, or whether it owned $4 billion more than it had sold. Just lovely.

Jim O'Neill Suggests It May Be Time For The US To Give Up On Our Own Middle Class, And Focus On China's

A floundering Jim O'Neill has never seen decoupling as wide as it is now, and the man is now openly hallucinating, seeing every non-developed country as a potential BRIC (see this Friday's FT OpEd: How Africa can become the next Bric). Well, of course, China needs its resources. Soon every open mine will be a "BRIC" to be exploited by Chinese interests, which come, see, and suck the place dry as they build yet more vacant cities, ghost towns, and highways to nowhere, hoping they can sustain the illusion of the world's greatest bubble for a few more months. Which is precisely all those who are betting on a collapse of China are playing it not with China CDS, but those of Australia: for when the worm turns, Bad in Beijing, will be nothing compared to the Massacre in Melbourne. Yet even Jim's nagging conscience is not allowing him to blindly continuine to ignore the other side of the coin, namely that he is once blatantly wrong, and decoupling never did, and never will occur: "What can emerge if Ben Bernanke and the Fed is wrong? What if this
slowdown is sustained, and we actually move into another recession? The
American Dream needs something new. In conventional terms, it needs
booming private investment and booming exports. And they might happen. I
find it hard to see how net exports were such a genuine real negative
contributor to Q2 GDP as reported today, and I strongly suspect this
will be reversed. But what if it isn’t? The scope for more conventional
fiscal stimulus is hardly available. So in this light, the US needs its
own BRIC equivalent. How about something real on the infrastructure
front ? ( a nice mode of transport downtown Manhattan from JFK would be a
sign). How about literally some forced measures to shift the auto user
on masse from conventional fuels ( combined with a major hike in
gasoline taxes)?" Jim's conclusion: now that China is actively moving to developing its own middle class, perhaps it is time for the US to finally roll over and admit its consumer are on longer the world economic dynamo. He asks whether it is time to "borrow a few hundred million BRIC consumers?" Surely China will be ecstatic that the US will now be funding the development of its own middle class. As for ours...Oh well.

As European Spreads Blow Out Post The Irish Downgrade, One Bank Continues To Use the Fed's FX Swap Line

As we earlier predicted, the S&P downgrade of Ireland has thrown all of Europe a curve ball: CDS spreads are wider across the board. Also in cash land, the Irish-Bund spread hits the widest since early May at 335 bps (+17), and its CDS leaking to 315 (+8 bps) while Portugal is slowly starting to catch up, hitting 316 bps in spread to Bunds. Portugal also auctioned off €1.3 billion in bonds maturing 2016 and 2020. The auctions were disappointing with yields continuing to leak wider:the 4.2% €0.628 bn due 2016 closed at 4.371% compared to 4.128% previously, and a 2.1 bid to cover, in line with the previous 2.0, while the 4.8% €0.672 bn due 2020 closed at 5.312% and a 1.8 bid to cover, also closing wider than the previous of 5.225%. Yet the most Yet the most underreproted, and most troubling news, continues to be that one solitary bank persists in taking advantage of the Fed's FX swap line: today it bid for $40 million in a 1.18%-fixed rate USD-based tender. This is an increase from last week's $35 million, meaning that while most banks are still finding themselves in a EUR shortage (3M Euribor was once again wider), one bank has gone completely against the grain and will not benefit from the traditional ECB liquidity boosting measures.

Leo Kolivakis's picture

If forced liquidation becomes a pattern among US (and global) pension funds, watch out, the pension tsunami will have far reaching effects which will make the whole AIG fiasco look like a walk in the park...

Illinois Teachers' Retirement System Enters The Death Spiral: AIG Wannabe's Go-For-Broke Strategy Fails As Pension Fund Begins Liquidations

Two few months ago we disclosed how the Illinois Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) was doing all it can to become the next AIG. In addition to, or maybe precisely due to, its deplorable fundamental condition, which can be summarized as being 61% underfunded on its $33.7 billion in assets, with a performance record of down $4.4 billion in 2009 and 5% in 2008, the fund, courtesy of a detailed analysis by Alexandra Harris of the Medill Journalism school at Northwestern, was found to be on its way to trying to become a veritable self-made TBTF: as was described then, "TRS is largely on the risky side of the contracts, selling and writing OTC derivatives, including credit default swaps, insurance-like contracts that guarantee payment in the event of a default." In other words, TRS was selling substantial amounts of derivatives, which held the fund's other assets as hostage in case the collateral calls started coming in, as should the market broadly decline, the value of the downside derivatives would "increase" and the seller (in this case TRS) would need to pledge ever more collateral against these wrong way bets. Not only that, but the Fund is currently getting annihilated on its curve exposure: "TRS appears to be betting that long-term Treasury yields will greatly increase" we wrote back then. So as a result of i) its massive underfunded fundamentals and ii) a bet that the market would turn bullish, i.e., spreads would drop (they are rising), and treasuries would plunge (we all know where they are today), which was supposed to happen by now but isn't as the economy is now officially double dipping, the fund has basically thrown in the towel and is proceeding with liquidations. The problem there is that due to its derivative exposure, liquidations now become self-reinforcing, as more cash needs to be pledged as collateral in a declining market, and the AIG death spiral we all know and love, follows. The only thing missing is for Goldman to raise its overnight variation margin requirements and it's game over, as we get a brand new AIG on our hands. And since Goldman is among the 60 or so asset managers that actually decide how the fund invests its meager assets, it is fully aware of its precarious position, and it is a sure bet that Goldman is currently deciding when to pull the plug on the TRS life support.

Goldman Expects "Sizeable Additional QE By The Fed", Provides EUR Update

The often ridiculed (for some incomprehensible reason) John Taylor of FX Concepts is once again proven spot on with his EUR top call, which came when the European currency was at 1.33, at about the time when Goldman reinforced its long EURUSD call. A few weeks and 6% lower, here is Goldman explaining what they really meant (again). In a nutshell - despite the transitory economic boost driven by a plunging EUR export-boom is over, Goldman is hopeful the lingering effects will remain forever. And Goldman continues to be very bearish on the dollar, for one simple reason: "Our expectations for sizeable additional QE by the Fed will only add to the Dollar negative mix towards the end of the year." We are waiting for the Jackson Hole announcement with bated breath: rumor is the Chairman has mastered the alchemy process of converting linen to gold, and will commence printing the shiny metal shortly.