With even the most compromising politicians on both sides of the aisle admitting at least a brief government shutdown is inevitable (and according to Stone McCarthy the shutdown will hardly be brief and will affect the timely release of such major economic indicators as construction spending, factory orders and the employment number on Friday), the next question arises: how have markets responded to not only shutdowns, but also debt ceiling impasse (with the memory of August 2011 still very vivid) in the past. Here is the full answer from Deutsche's Dominic Constam: "In a shutdown scenario, government agency-compiled economic data releases could be delayed, while essential services, such as Treasury auctions, interest and principal payments on Treasury securities will not be affected. Some federal workers could be furloughed. The most recent government shutdown occurred in late 1995 to early 1996, and lasted about three weeks. Payroll and retail sales data were delayed during that period."
UPDATE: The Bill is currently under debate on the floor - live webcast (Final votes are expected after 11pm ET.)
It appears investors (CDS markets, VIX, T-Bills anxiety) were on to something as each side in the looming government shutdown debate seems mired in their own belief that the other has more to lose. House Republicans are aiming to hold a vote today on a bill to extend government funding through December 15th and ensuring the military gets paid on any shutdown, but...
- HOUSE PLAN WOULD DELAY OBAMACARE ONE YEAR, LAWMAKER SAYS
And as the WSJ reports, Harry Reid has already stated that "we are going to accept nothing as it related to Obamacare," before adjourning the Senate until Monday afternoon (narrowing the gap for a shutdown-avoidance vote). The shutdown-blame-game has begun as it seems the ball is back in the Senate's court...
Earlier in the week we noted the spike in the cost of protecting against a technical default on US Treasuries. While well below "record" wides of 2011, a very interesting event has occurred. The cost of 1Y protection has surged higher than the 5Y protection - something we have only seen in the summer of 2011. However, this time it's different as the inversion is even greater than in 2011 - although not the most liquid instrument in the world - implying a greater chance (albeit a small probability) of a postponed payment in US Treasuries. As we noted previously, there is a way to trade this away from CDS-land.
The last 4 days have seen the price of protection against a default on US Treasuries spike by the most in 4 years. While USA CDS trade on both a default and devaluation basis (as well as technical issues related to which Treasury is cheapest to deliver) this spike to 5-month highs (from what was extremely high levels of complacency) is very notable in light of today's Kocherlakota "whatever it takes" speech. While still well off 2011's debt ceiling debacle panic highs, this move does suggest more than just the politicians are worried about a technical default occurring on US debt. By way of comparison, Germany trades at 23bps and Japan at 61bps against USA's 32bps. But there is a way to trade the debt-ceiling debacle that doesn't invlove leveraged speculation in credit derivatives...
Another signal for investors around the world to buckle their seatbelts.
Despite three attempts to defend the company this morning ( 1) forecast, 2) no equity raise, and 3) still paying vendors), JCP shares are fading back from their squeeze highs as the credit markets dismiss all the hope in stocks. With CDS near record wides (implying at least a 60% probability of default), the bottom line remains that cash outflows are as strong as always and now there are no plans to replenish it. The price action does suggest though, as opposed to what management has said, that JCP will attempt a 2nd lien offering (instead of the equity raise) - which would (of course) leave investors questioning management veracity among other things.
Frequent readers will recall that in the past, on several occasions, we expected that MBIA would rise due to two key catalysts: a massive short interest and the expectation that a BAC settlement would provide the company with much needed liquidity. That thesis played out earlier this year resulting in a stock price surge that also happened to be the company's 52 week high. However, now that we have moved away from the technicals and litigation catalysts, and looking purely at the fundamentals, it appears that MBIA has a new problem. One involving Zombies. These freshly-surfacing problems stem from a particular pair of Zombie CLO’s – Zombie-I and Zombie-II (along with Zombie-III, illiquid/black box middle-market CLO’s). While information is difficult to gather, we have heard that MBIA would be lucky to recover much more than $400 million from the underlying insured Zombie assets over the next three years, which would leave them with a nearly $600 million loss on their $1 billion of exposure which would materially and adversely impact the company's liquidity. And as it may take them a while to liquidate assets in a sure-to-be contentious intercreditor fight – their very own World War Z – MBIA may well have to part with the vast majority of the $1 billion in cash, before gathering some of the potential recovery.
Why is JCP down nearly 6% 16% this morning? Here's why.
Back in April, in a desperate scramble to raise liquidity courtesy of a hail mary Goldman syndicated term loan, we penned "Confused By What Is Going On At JCP? Here's The Pro Forma Cap Table And The Cliff Notes", where in addition to the obvious - that this is merely buying a few months for the melting icecube company which with every passing day is closer to a Chapter 11 (or 7) bankruptcy filing - we also laid out that what Goldman was doing was merely positioning itself to be at the top of the company's capital structure with a super secured and overcollateralized credit facility, through what is effectively a pre-petition DIP... As it turns out we only had to wait for five months before the same Goldman that raised the company's emergency liquidity term loan turned around and launched a vicious attack on the same company that paid it millions in dollars in underwriting fees. Specifically, what Goldman just did is write a report (perhaps one of the best bearish cross-asset investment theses we have seen to come out of the firm in a long time) in which it laid out, in a lucid and compelling manner, why JCP is doomed. The report is titled appropriately enough: "Initiate on JCP with Underperform: Looking for cash in the name"... and not finding it.
It has been a quiet start to Quadruple Witching Friday (expiration of stock index futures, stock index options, stock options and single stock futures) but expect that to change, as erratic price action is a recurring hallmark of Quad Witches, especially with persistent low volume and markets that tend to shut down for no reason. So far stocks have traded steady in Europe this morning, credit spreads widened and Bunds traded in positive territory as market participants positioned for the much-anticipated German elections which are to be held on Sunday, with exit polls to be made available after the close of polling stations at 6pm local time. Ahead of that, and as reported here previously, Germany’s AfD Eurosceptic party could win enough support in the general election on Sunday to gain seats in the German Bundestag, an opinion poll published for a leading newspaper has forecast for the first time. Basic materials and utilities underperformed in Europe, with RWE trading sharply lower in Germany after the company announced plans to cut its dividend by half (and with the Adidas fiasco yesterday, one wonders just how bad things in Europe really are).
Overnight trading started with Asian markets continuing where yesterday's S&P 500 fizzle ended, wishing Summers could withdraw from Fed running again, as both the Nikkei and SHCOMP were well lower by the close. Perhaps all the easy multiple-expanding, headline-driven money is made, or perhaps economic fundamentals will finally start having to justify a 17x multiple on the S&P (a good is good regime for those who may be too young, or old, to remember), but overnight US futures were dull, and no doubt anticipating today's start of the "Most important FOMC meeting ever", which concludes tomorrow with an announcement by the Fed of what and how much (if any) tapering it will commence with an eye toward halting QE next summer, although more realistically what will happen is an Untaper being announced before then. While the start of the FOMC meeting is the main event, today we get CPI, TIC flows and the NAHB housing market index. Today's POMO is another modest $1.25-$1.75 billion in the long-end sector.
While the only market moving event of note had nothing to do with the economy (as usual), and everything to do with the Fed's potential propensity to print even more dollars and inject even more reserves into the stock market (now that Summers the wrongly perceived "hawk" is out) some other notable events did take place in the Monday trading session. Of note: while India's August inflation soared far higher than the expected 5.7%, rising to 6.1% from 5.79% (making life for the RBI even more miserable, as it is fighting inflation on one hand, and a lack of liquidity on the other), in Europe inflation decelerated to 1.3% from 1.6% in July driven by a drop in energy prices, while core inflation was a tiny 1.1%. In a continent with record negative loan growth this is to be expected. Additionally, as also reported, Merkel appears to be positioned stronger ahead of this weekend's Federal election following stronger results for her CDU/CSU, if weaker for her broader coalition. In Libya, oil protesters said they would continue stoppages at oil terminals until their demands are met in yet another startling outcome for US foreign intervention. Finally, some headline on Syria noted a Kerry statement "will not tolerate avoidance of a Syria deal", while Lavrov observed that it may be time to "force Syria opposition to peace talks." And one quote of the day so far: "Don't want market to become excessively exuberant" from the ECB's Mersch- just modestly so?
Yesterday's record Verizon bond offering, which to some had an eerie sense of deja vu to the TXU 2007 mega-LBO just before the market blew up, caught many by surprise: not only did the underwriters have no problem obtaining over $100 billion in orders to oversubscribe demand for the $49 billion offering, but following the break the bond immediately proceeded to trade a whopping 40-70 bps tighter implying yield pricing could have been done well lower, but the CDS also ripped 11bps tighter. Because nothing says less default risk like $49 billion more in debt. But where did all this demand come from? Did accounts simply have $100 billion in cash lying around? The answer is no, and as the following breakdown of the post-break action in VZ from Deutsche demonstrates, what happened yesterday was a great rotation into the NSA-favorite company and the Telecom space in general, and out of virtually every other credit in the market.
Smashing the previous record $17 billion deal from Apple which is doing so badly (in yield and spread terms), Verizon - in order to fund the mega deal with Vodafone - is launching an 8-part $49 billion deal done at what appear reasonable spread levels (though spreads are dramatically wider than a month ago as one would expect for such a releveraging). With the bulk of the deal ($36 billion) maturing 7 years or longer, it would appear that (and desk chatter confirms) demand was relatively high and BofAML also notes that Verizon will now have a huge $69 to $79 billion of index-eligible bonds. This will make Verizon the 4th largest issuer in the US high-grade market index, right up their with Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. Amid all this exuberance though, something odd popped up:
- *VERIZON POSTPONES EUROPE INVESTOR MEETINGS ABOUT VODAFONE DEAL
Reuters is reporting that with a $101 billion order book already, it appears they had no ned to shop the deal in Europe. Amazing what ZIRP repression will do...
Overnight, the market continued to digest news out of the UK that the formerly solid pro-war alliance has splintered following a historic vote by the House of Commons, leaving Obama to "go it alone." The result was a rather sizable slamdown in both crude and gold, accelerating as Europe opened for trading, and pushing gold back under $1400. This happened even as data out of Europe showed that European unemployment remained at a record high 12.1%, while inflation missed expectations and printed at 1.3%, or below 2% for the seventh month. Earlier in the session, headline data out of Japan showed that inflation had risen at the fastest pace since 2008. However, before the deflation monster is proclaimed dead, the core-core figure (excluding foods and energy) of the Tokyo CPI was down 0.4% yoy, unchanged since June for three months, suggesting that prices are still largely driven by energy-related costs. In other words cost-push inflation is rampant, which is the worst possible scenario and means the BOJ's QE is going to all the wrong place.