Prosecute the criminals, or else the economy won't improve...
I have found evidence that this bank has $32 billion of naked (as in apparently unhedged) swaps on its books - just like AIG. The difference is this bank is bigger, probably has more exposure, and has already been bailed out - several times. Oh, did I mention the insured collateral is nearly half BBB rated or lower??? How about extreme management issues at the top, and I mean all the way to the top. A trunk full of junk, surrounded by drama! It should be an interesting conference call tomorrow when they report, that is if anybody decides to ask the right questions...
Spreads were tighter in the US as all the indices improved albeit marginally as intraday ranges remained very low (but equity is still the dramatic outperformer of the last two weeks or so as IG experiences its longest period of low volatility since August of 2008). IG trades 1.5bps tight (rich) to its 50d moving average, which is a Z-Score of -0.2s.d.. At 100.5bps, IG has closed tighter on only 19 days so far this year (204 trading days). The last five days have seen IG flat to its 50d moving average.
The place where the real big boys play, high yield cash bonds and CDS in IG, has seen unprecedented activity over the past year. Overall, more than $1 trillion in corporate issues were sold in 2009, although in fairness $192 billion of this amount is courtesy of taxpayer subsidized TLGP sponsored financial issuance (Mr. Blankfein, speaking of transparency, when do you plan on paying back your portion of TLGP debt?). Yet real speculative mania has never been as evident as what has transpired in the junk bond domain: YTD more than $103 billion of BB- and below rater paper has been issued, compared to just $48.8 billion for all of 2008.
Three months ago Zero Hedge, amidst a whole lot of hyperventilating, schizo-paranoid ramblings, managed to discuss sponsored, or naked access, as a key concern in the ongoing debate against HFT. Once again, we feel humbled that the WSJ (SEC) has decided to read between our disjointed commentary and make a prominent article (regulatory issue) of this critical topic.
Beneath all of the rhetoric, here is the REAL reason by big boys are fighting to keep CDS from being regulated.
- Unemployment will supress U.S. consumer spending, survey shows (Bloomberg)
- California bond sale pushes munis down, lifts yields most since June (Bloomberg)
- Fed begins testing reverse repo trades (FT), also Fed said to consider clearing banks, facility to drain reserves (Bloomberg)
- Thomson CDS settlement snarls Europe restructurings (Bloomberg)
- The most hated rally in Wall Street history (Ritholtz)
We remain fascinated by the divergence that we have seen in equity and credit in the last few days and suggest that with the curve action (in cash and synthetic), TSY moves, and today's lack of follow through on good numbers, that credit may just have this one right again. The S&P is 25pts higher from the 10/5 close, IG is around 1bp wider in that same period, HY is unch (notable given the recent voracious appetite for risk), and against all of that vol is down 2.5pts (which might have helped explain the difference but in this case does not). It appears from the bottom-up that the aggregate relationships between CDS, equity, and vol are somewhat convergent currently (after compressing recently) but top-down there is some significant divergence to fill.
Spreads were wider in the major indices today as single-names actually led the way weaker today and high beta underperformed low beta with wideners outpacing tighteners by almost 8-to-1. Credit continues to underperform stocks and a lifting in compression trades today and strength in TSYs suggests far less confidence in the recovery in fixed income investors than equity investors.
Securities Industries News discloses that the SEC has requested it be granted authority to have "direct access to real-time data" on CDS and other derivatives. One wonders how the SEC was operating up until this point without this information. Yet of course, this is merely just another pretext for the SEC to deflect allegations about its utter uselessness, with claims that "lack of such information hampered its efforts to investigate potential fraud and market manipulation in the over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives markets during last fall’s financial crisis." Well, duh. The SEC is finally realizing that the credit market is, oh, about 10 times bigger than equities, and that virtually everyone trades CDS now over cash products. CDS is, incidentally, also where all the insider trading occurs these days, a fact abused all too well by CDS traders, who have known about the SEC's inability to closely track the action in the credit market. This is also why if the SEC were to look at CDS buying action of LBOs names in 2006/2007 it may actually find some amusing results. In the meantime, the SEC should spend $10,000 a year and get a MarkIt subscription.
In a repeat of its actions with the Lehman ad hoc committee, PIMCO has now decided to abdicate its role on the CIT steering committee, and sell off its associated holdings. Several questions emerge: the broad public is already aware of the CDS windfall that Goldman stands to reap if CIT ultimately does experience an "event of default" which at this point is a merely formality. So, in a parallel line of thought, just how much is PIMCO hedged to its CIT exposure? And if the answer is "much to quite much", will the combined interests of Goldman and PIMCO to effectively let the company sink be enough to warrant what may otherwise not have been a foregone conclusion on the viability of the company. Furthermore, while part of the Steering committee, how muchrestricted data was PIMCO privy to? One imagines CIT is a veritable treasure trove full of insights into the lending practices by its millions of customers. Obviously while PIMCO was a committee member, it was unable to trade on this data (right SEC?). Now that it is officially separate from this restriction, an appropriate question would be just what are the limitations in place for preventing it from taking advantage of its huge capital base and all the confidential information it may have gleaned?
Spreads are mixed in the major indices today as single-names lagged any underperformance intraday and credit notably underperformed equities all day. Aside from very early trading tights in IG12/13, the on-the-runs were unable to break yesterday's tights (while SPY managed to gap up and hold well off yesterday's highs). Intraday ranges in IG and HY remained very muted again despite a pick up in volumes (as talk was of elevated activity in rolls and curves once again).
Dear Congressional Aides:
Here are the questions which should be asked of Gary Gensler and Henry Hu in tomorrow's hearing before the House Committee on Financial Services
Everyone who grew up watching James Bond must have had a kick reading the news last night or this morning, and finding out about secret meetings between China, Russia, Gulf countries, France, and Brazil, plotting to organize the demise of the US dollar. Unlike in Goldfinger, the villains this time weren't planning to plant a bomb in Fort Knox, but rather stop using the greenback, and instead price currencies against a basket of currencies composed of (drums please): the yuan, the ruble, a newly created Arab currency, the euro, the yen, and gold. I don't remember reading the Brazilian real but we could throw it in there so we don't hurt anybody's feelings.
If so, that would explain the significant more lower in the stock intraday (see previous post) as well as the drift wider in CDS, which opened 100/105, rose to 103/108 and jumped to 107/112 on the rumor. (Ignore the stock's move higher over the past few minutes. That's just computers responding to the stock bouncing off of the closing VWAP).