The Next Leg Of Eurocrisis 2010? The Hungary Wolfpack Cometh As IMF, EU Cancel $25 Billion Rescue Loan Access

In the most surprising news of the weekend (so far), the IMF and the EU effectively suspended Hungary's access to the remaining funds in a $25 billion rescue loan package created in 2008 to prevent a financial meltdown of the country. The timing of this development is most extraordinary, as only a month ago Hungary served as ground zero for yet another scare that pushed European sovereign bond spreads to new records. The reason given for this dramatic, and very destabilizing action is that the nation must "take tough action to meet targets for cutting its budget deficit." Ostensibly Greece continuing to lie about its own economic deterioration is a necessary and sufficient condition for escalating IMF lauding. Yet, with Europe set to announce results of its Stress Test kabuki next week, the last thing the continent needs is a real liquidity crisis (or the threat thereof) to counteract the smooth talking bureaucrats dead set into hypnotizing the union into "all is well" submission ("and when I snap my fingers, the debt-to-GDP ratio will be back to 10%"). To quote "Brace yourself for Monday, folks!"

Weekly Credit Summary

Spreads closed considerably wider today, with the biggest close-to-close widening since 6/22, as HY dramatically underperformed (pushing back above 600bps for the first time since 7/7) with the macro fears that we have been discussing crystallized and micro issues seem to be turning the same way.

Dismal confidence data along with more worrisome in-/de-flation data set the early tone and stocks and spreads pushed quickly lower (wider) out of the gate. The eight day rally that we have seen, and we have been vociferous in our view of what caused this and what was under the surface, was an exact mirror of the rally a month ago in credit. The swing from wides to tights from 6/10 to 6/21 (8 trading days) was 132 to 104.125 (which was the swing tights since 5/10's 95bps). The recent swing from 7/1 wides to 7/13 tights (126.755 to 106.5) was also over 8 trading days and the same pattern of index outperformance of intrinsics was very evident - which supports our thesis of macro hedge unwinds and underlying selling.

Barclays Sees European Banks Needing Over $100 Billion In Capital After Stress Tests

Barclays analyst Jeffrey Meli has issued a report "European bank stress tests: A preview" in which he estimates that if properly executed, the Stress Test, whose results are to be announced on July 23, will require an infusion of €85 billion to replenish capital levels. Specifically, quantifying the amount of capital needed would include €36 billion for Spanish cajas, a number far greater than expected to date, €34 billion for the German landesbanks, €8.6 billion for Greek banks and €6 billion for Portuguese banks. Meli concludes: "Spreads have rallied over the past two weeks, suggesting the bar is no longer set so low that any disclosure whatsoever will cause a rally." So all those who plan on buying the news - beware.

Goldman Sachs On How To Navigate The Slowdown

Remember when a week ago the world was slowing down? Apparently all it takes to forget reality is for Europe to sweep the fact that its banks are insolvent under the rug courtesy of a systematic farce conducted by the very system the banks are part of, rendered even more "credible" since as of today it appears no banks will fail the stress test. On the US earnings front, a materials company beating reduced expectations and a chip maker having just record the best quarter in its history (what growth next for Intel: 80% margins? 90%? every household in China buying an i7 980 for their 7th toaster in their 5th house?), even as global trade is paradoxically stalling following an all time record month for Chinese trade? Americans may be unemployed and homeless but they sure like their iPads and their fast PCs. Either way, to remind readers that despite the latest market run up on no actual positive economic data, here is Dominic Wilson, Director of Global Macro & Markets Research at Goldman, with advice to clients on how to navigate the "slowdown."

Berlin Pushing For European Bankruptcy Framework With Provision For State Sovereignty Give Up

The big news out of Europe this morning, and the reason for the drag on the euro is an article in Der Spiegel, "Merkel's rules for bankruptcy" according to which Germany is now actively (and very secretly) pushing for a plan outlining a set of insolvency rules, which would require that private investors bear a portion of the rescue burden, and much more importantly, would see at least a partial give up in state sovereignty, where a new insolvency trustee (the "Berlin Club", which we fail to see at least for now, how it differs from the Paris Club) would take implicit control over and override a default nation's treasury, in essence pushing the bankrupt country into a form of Feudal vassal state-cum-reparations subservience. Welcome to financial warfare in the post-globalization period.

Morning Gold Fix: July 12, 2010

Gold gained some ground Friday, opening at 1198.5 and closing at 1209.8, its highest close of the week. The trend seems to be reversing this morning however, as it is down slightly this morning. Also, Part 3 of the Gold/ Comex Arb - The EFP and Pot-Odds

A Glance At The Start Of Earnings Season, And Yet Another Asset Price Decoupling

Tomorrow the Q2 earnings season kicks off, with Alcoa as usual leading the parade. The chart below shows all the S&P stocks that report in the coming week. The key day will be Friday when GE, BofA and Citi all report together. With earnings still expected to post healthy gains over Q2 of last year, it will become increasingly difficult for companies to report the same type of blow out bottom line outperformance that was seen earlier in the year on continuing cost cutting, which is still accompanied by merely tepid revenue growth. If anyone is so confused as to why corporations continue to hoard cash, the record high margins may be a good place to start. CEO are not stupid and know all about the reversion to the mean phenomenon, and are stockpiling cash precisely for that, and for the imminent increase in corporate taxes, whose recent collapse has been a primary reason for the cash stockpile (a topic we discussed first about 3 months ago). Tangentially, for readers who trade across asset classes, in addition to the recurring FX-risk decoupling seen between the carry pair of choice, another notable observation is the recent decoupling between stocks and IG bonds, as represented by the on the run IG CDS index.

Do Hedge Funds Trade On Insider Information?

A very interesting research paper currently in publication by a team from York University headed by Nadia Massoud asks "Do Hedge Funds Trade on Private Information? Evidence from Syndicated Lending and Short-Selling" and analyzes whether or not hedge funds actively trade in the public securities of companies that had approached said hedge funds with private, capital structure specific (in this case loan syndication and amendment) information. The paper focuses on the period between 2005 and 2007, when the first wave of second- and third-lien debt that had been issued by crappy companies to hedge funds, was starting to become impaired and led to wave after wave of covenant and other bank loan amendments, designed to allow the borrower some breathing room. Massoud also tracks whether or not in the days preceding the public announcement of a covenant amendment, traditionally seen as a sign of weakness by any borrower company, there was a spike in short-selling activity by hedge funds, courtesy of an interval between January 2nd 2005 to July 6th 2007, when RegSHO had made public extensive detail on equity short-selling data (why this is no longer the case one has to ask the corrupt SEC, but that is a question for after the next 10,000 point Dow flash crash when the SEC's headquarters will finally be surrounded by rioting former investors who have had enough). The paper finds conclusive evidence that companies that come to lenders in hopes of amending syndicated credit facilities do indeed see aggressive shorting of their stock into the days preceding the formal announcement, implying that there is obviously material non-public information abuse and frontrunning. Here, the authors of the paper however, make a blatantly wrong assumption that this frontrunning originates almost exclusively from within the hedge funds that had been approached with the material non-public disclosure of weakness. We are happy to demonstrate that not only is that not necessarily the case, but to explain why certain sections of FT holding company Pearson can charge over $100,000 a year for premium subscription to their content by rich hedge fund subscribers, thereby once again creating a very tiered information market. We speak of course of Pearson niche media subsidiary

The Next Leg In The European Crisis? Money Markets Lead The Way With Puttable CDs

The last few weeks there have been a whole bunch of puttable CDs being issued by European banks, and overall apparently that has given money markets some confidence and money is being put to work. That also explains why people have been buying EDU0 99.50 and 99.625 calls or the future outright, a thawing of the funding market would clearly lead to lower Libor, and the Fed which had started pulling liquidity away has basically stopped with global liquidity indicators showing signs that cash has been added to the system. Those puttable securities allow money market funds to treat it as a trade of maturity the put notice, rather than the full duration of the CD is the option is not exercised: you basically get a 1Y rate for a 7 day deal yeeeehhaaaaw! So Money Funds love it, and even though the banks don't get credit for full duration liquidity but instead liquidity that has the put notice as duration, it allows them to fund themselves. No wonder European banks love it too. It then makes complete sense to see EURUSD doing a bit better even when stocks sell-off, and we get compressing swap spreads and lower vol as well (helped by both selling of the optionality by money market funds who only really care about going around their new SEC regulation not buying options, and a slew of agency issuance being digested).

Nic Lenoir

Market Talk Deutsche Post Bank Has Failed The Stress Test

Just a rumor for now. On the other hand, it conforms precisely to Credit Suisse's earlier announcement that Post Bank, in addition to Greek ATE, Piraeus, Helenic Postbank NBG would fail the Stress tests. (more to come).

Confirmed - Eurozone "Stress Tests" Will Not Include Any Default Scenario

And now the latest joke - the increasingly more incorrectly named "stress" tests being conducted in Europe are now officially confirmed to be anything but. As Market News reports: "Planned stress tests for European banks will cover their resistance to a crisis in the market for European sovereign debt, but not the scenario of a default of a Eurozone state since the EU would not allow such an occurrence, a German newspaper reported Wednesday." Now that is some serious downside stress testing. Of course, by the time the stress tests are found to have been a joke, and the country hosting the bank blows up just becase the bank's assets are 3x the host nation's GDP, and the country is forced to bankrupt, it will be far too late. So let's get this straight - the very issue that is at the heart of the liquidity crisis in Europe, namely the fact that a bankrupt Greece has managed to destroy the interbank funding market in Portugal and Spain, and the other PIIGS, and has pushed EURIBOR and other money market metrics to one year stress highs, and forced the ECB to lend over $1 trillion to various central and commercial banks, will not be tested for? Fair enough - if the ECB wants to treat the CDS vigilantes as a bunch of idiots, only to be hounded in the press with derogatory words as "Wolfpack" and much worse, so be it. But it certainly should not be surprised if this is latest show of idiocy by Trichet's henchmen serves as the springboard for the latest round of spreads blowing up across Europe.

CDS Traders Attempting Another European Ambush

Another week, another major derisking of European names. While the drop of China out of the Top 10 can only be attributed to the summer doldrums, the top countries are mimicking the World Cup Final, and are all European, amounting to over $1 billion in net notional derisked in the past week. These are Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and the Netherlands, with Greece and Poland at 6 and 7, and Brazil, South Africa and Colombia rounding out the top 10. On the other end, by a smaller margin, the rerisking of France and Portugal amounted to just over $500 million in the past week. The most active name was Brazil with 1,109 contracts unwound or almost $10 billion in notional, even as the net change was one of derisking. It appears Europe will have no peace from CDS "speculators" testing out the ground in each and every country, until it the rolling wave of defaults finally sets in as Niall Ferguson stated earlier.