• Tim Knight from...
    12/21/2014 - 09:37
    The five remaining equity bears on Earth are all saying the same thing: "We'll get 'em in 2015." To which I ask: why? What's going to change?

CDS

CDS
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As Ukraine Launches A Debt Restructuring, Is Russia About To Become A "Holdout" Activist Investor?





what will make the Ukraine restructuring fascinating is if the "activist" bondholder investors, aka vultures, aka holdouts, are not your usual hedge funds, but none other than the Kremlin, which after accumulating a sufficient stake to scuttle any prenegotiated, voluntary transaction can demand virtually anything from Kiev in order to allow the country to make the required adjustments on its bonds to avoid an outright sovereign default. Because who else can't wait for Putin Capital Management LP?

 
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Argentina Bonds Tumble Further After 'Swap' Plans Unveiled, Then Ruled In Violation





After 2 days of weakness following the SCOTUS decision against them, Argentina unveiled a plan to restructure their debt - swapping existing foreign law debt to local law (more manipulatable and less legally enforceable) bonds, though Citi warns "implementing [the swap] may be technically challenging.". This 'voluntary swap' action is not a clear 'default event' but CDS spreads surging to over 3000bps and longer-dated bond prices tumbling once again suggest the market believes the path is clear as holdouts will once again hold out. As we explained here, there are five main scenarios and it appears, given these actions - that Argentina is playing hardball and will restart negotiations over the debt exchange. As Jefferies warns, "there's a high chance of default," but Argentina's economy minister Kicillof explained "everyone stay calm, the reconstruction of Argentina is not jeopardized." This plan was then ordered in violation of the anti-evasion policy SCOTUS set in place.

 
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Bailed-Out Cyprus Is Not Kenya - Sells 5Y Bonds At 4.85% Yield





"Simple Jack" is back. Yesterday it was the 4x oversubscription for Kenyan debt at 7% yield; today we see bailed-out Cyprus (yes that Cyprus - in "emergency situation" and still with capital controls) managed to sell EUR 750 million of 5 year maturity debt at a 4.85% yield. As Reuters reports, this is the fastest comeback to the public markets of any bailed-out European country. "People are searching for yield," said of Martin Wilhelm, founder of IfK, a German Kiel-based bond boutique, which runs a bond fund with Acatis; and that is clear as Cyprus just issed at a cheaper cost of funding than Greece (4.95% 2 months ago). In the understatement of the day, Michael Leister, senior strategist at Commerzbank.  said "the risk is that valuations and primary market dynamics aren't related to fundamentals anymore." Cyprus economy is expected to contract 4.2% this year. Like Greece's deal in April, the buyers are expected to largely British- and U.S.-based hedge funds.

 
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Adding Insult To Injury, Argentina Is Downgraded By S&P: What Happens Next





As reported yesterday, The SCOTUS dealt a major blow to Argentina hopes it would avoid making payments on its "holdout" bonds when it enforced a lower-court ruling that said Argentina can't make payments on its restructured debt unless it also pays holdout hedge funds headed by Elliott Management, best known for briefly seizing an Argentina ship in late 2012. The immediate result was a major rout in the country's sovereign bonds, which also sent Argentina CDS soaring. Sadly for Argentina, this would hardly be the end of it, and about an hour ago, Standard & Poor added insult to injury and lowered its long-term foreign currency rating on Argentina to CCC- from CCC+ citing a "higher risk of default on the country's foreign currency debt." As a result, yesterday's drop in bonds has continued, if at a more moderate pace, and the country's USD bond due 2024 hav continued to sink in intraday trading.  So what is next for the cash-strapped Latin American country for which the road ahead is suddenly quite "challenging" and default appears increasing like the only way out? For the answer we go to Citi's Jeffrey Williams who has laid out the five most likely developments.

 
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At Least A Quarter Of All M&A Deals Involve Insider Trading, Study Finds





As if the market needed any further proof it is not only manipulated and rigged (at least under a legal system that classifies trading on insider information as illegal), but is constantly abused by those with material, non-public information - i.e., insiders - here comes a study conducted by professors at McGill and New York Universities, which, as the NYT summarizes, finds that "A quarter of all public company deals may involve some kind of insider trading."

 
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Sharp USDJPY Overnight Sell Off Pushes US Equity Futures Into The Red





Yesterday's market action was perfectly predictable, and as we forecast, it followed the move of the USDJPY almost to a tick, which with the help of a last minute VIX smash (just when will the CFTC finally look at the "banging the close" in the VIX by the NY Fed?) pushed the DJIA to a new record high, courtesy of the overnight USDJPY selling which in turn allowed all day buying of the key carry pair. Fast forward to today when once again we have a replica of the set up: a big overnight dump in USDJPY has sent the dollar-yen to just over 102.000. And since Nomura has a green light by the BOJ to lift every USDJPY offer south of 102.000 we expect the USDJPY to once again rebound and push what right now is a weak equity futures session (-8) well above current levels. Unless, of course, central banks finally are starting to shift their policy, realizing that they may have lost control to the upside since algos no longer care about warnings that "volatility is too low", knowing full well the same Fed will come and bail them out on even the tiniest downtick. Which begs the question: is a big Fed-mandated shakeout coming? Could the coming FOMC announcement be just the right time and place for the Fed to surprise the market out of its "complacency" and whip out an unexpected hawk out of its sleeve?

 
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Algos Waiting For Today's Flashing Red NFP Headline To Launch The BTFATH Programs





If predicting yesterday's EURUSD (and market) reaction to the ECB announcement was easy enough, today's reaction to the latest "most important ever" nonfarm payrolls number (because remember: with the Fed getting out of market manipulation, if only for now, it is imperative that the economy show it can self-sustain growth on its own even without $85 billion in flow per month, which is why just like the ISM data earlier this week, the degree of "seasonal adjustments" are about to blow everyone away) should be just as obvious: since both bad news and good news remain "risk-on catalysts", and since courtesy of Draghi's latest green light to abuse any and every carry trade all risk assets will the bought the second there is a dip, the "BTFATH mentality" will be alive in well. It certainly was overnight, when the S&P500 rose to new all time highs despite another 0.5% drop in the Shcomp (now barely holding on above 2000), and a slight decline in the Nikkei (holding on just over 15,000).

 
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Equity Blow Off Top Takes Brief Overnight Rest, Prepares For Another Session Of Low Volume Levitation





Last night's docket of atrocious Japanese economic data inexplicably managed to push the Nikkei lower, not because the data was ugly but because the scorching inflation - the highest since 1991 - mostly driven by import costs, food and energy as a result of a weak yen, and certainly not in wages, has pushed back most banks' estimates of additional QE to late 2014 if not 2015 which is as we predicted would happen over a year ago. As a result the market, addicted to central bank liquidity, has had to make a modest reassessment of just how much disconnected from reality it is willing to push equities relative to expectations of central bank balance sheet growth. However, now that the night crew trading the USDJPY is replaced with the US session algo shift which does a great job of re-levitating the pair, and with it bringing the S&P 500 higher, we expect this brief flicker of red futures currently observable on trading terminals to be promptly replaced with the friendly, well-known and "confidence-boosting" green. The same goes for Treasurys which lately have been tracking every directional move in stocks not in yield but in price.

 
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Equity Melt Up Accelerates; Bonds Also Bid





The melt up is accelerating and with the momentum tailwind back, newsflow is once again irrelevant: any news that are even remotely good are trumpeted, and any bad news - such as Europe's right storm rising in the northern states, and left storm surge in the states that demand more handouts from the northern states or China sinking a Vietnamese boat, the most serious bilateral incident since 2007 - are once again (and as usual) nothing more than a catalyst for even more liquidity injections. End result: the S&P futures this morning are 5 points above Goldman's year end target of 1900 and 45 points away from its June 30, 2015 target. Can this breakneck scramble on zero volume continue until Grantham's bubble peak level of 2,200 is hit? Well of course: after all anything goes in the centrally-planned new normal.  To be sure, this is an equity only phenomenon: moments ago the Bund future hit its highest level since May 19, while the 10 Year remains unchanged at 2.53% as it continues to price in the new "deflationary" (and Japanese) normal. And as has been the case during all such divergences of late, either bonds or equities are making a horrible mistake: the question remains: who? Since all equities are doing is tracking FX pairs to the pip and have completely forgotten all about fundamentals, we have a pretty good idea what the answer is.

 

 
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USDJPY Desperate To Drag S&P To All Time High





Following the only major overnight econ event, which was the May German IFO Business Climate Index which dropped from 111.2 to 110.4 missing expectations of 110.9, the USDJPY has been on a soaring rampage higher hoping to push equities along with it (because now that gold manipulation is a proven fact, it is only a matter of time before the link between manipulating the USDJPY on thin volume with massive leverage and rigging the equity market is uncovered too), and at last check was just shy of 102.000. For now equity futures have failed to be dragged along although with the S&P all time high just around the horizon, the psychological level of 1900 staring the rigged market in the face, and the weekend just around the corner, it is virtually assured that the S&P will close at an all time high today - after all the people need to be confident when they go shopping at malls with money they don't have (but delighted by paper profits they haven't booked) so they boost the US non-GAAP GDP (at least before like Italy, the BEA too changes the definition of GDP to include cocaine and hookers). Finally, assuring a (record?) low-volume levitation today is the early closure of the bond pit ahead of Memorial Day holiday which also means only a skeleton crew of algos will be frontrunning each other to push the S&P over 1,900.

 
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Where The CapEx Is: Russia To Invest $55 Billion In Gas Deal, China Another $20 Billion





Western companies have buybacks that only reward shareholders here and now; the East actually spends capex to invest into the future. Case in point: today's "holy grail" gas deal announcement, which in addition to generation hundreds of billions in externalities for both countries over the next three decades will result in an immediate and accretive boost to GDP, to the tune of $55 billion for Russia and $20 billion for Beijing.

 
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Credit Mania Update – The Chase for CCC-Rated Bonds





Despite the plethora of talking heads proclaiming credit markets as awesomely supportive of stocks - High-Yield bond spreads are flashing red... But that's not stopping investors piling into the worst of the worst. As Liberty Blitzkrieg's Mike Krieger notes, in an all too reminiscent scene from 2007 (MBIA CDS traded 11bps at one point then remember), investors have been buying up bonds with a triple-C-rating en masse.

 
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Futures Taking Their Time Before The "Turbo Tuesday" Ramp





Not much going on tonight, except for the non-coupy martial law announcement in Thailand where the government is said to still be in charge of everything except for martial law decisions taken by the army of course, which in turn is in charge of everything else apparently including the central bank which intervened so extensively in the market, the Baht was barely changed at one point. There was also news of explosions and clashes in Benghazi but as everyone knows, what difference does Libya make at this, or any other, point. Additionally overnight there were reports that the cities of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk in east Ukraine were being shelled by the Ukraine army but that too barely registered as bullish for the USDJPY (which in now traditional fashion ramped during the US day session then sold off during Asia hours).

 
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Thai Stocks Tumble As Army Censors Media To "Avoid Provoking Unrest"





Despite proclamations that markets would open 'normally', Thai SET50 (stock market) futures are indicated to open -4.2% - its biggest drop since January's collapse. Thai CDS are modestly wider (+5 to 130bps) but early Bhat weakness has been rescued back by a mysterious bidder (rumored to be the central bank by several traders). The last 2 times martial law was invoked - in an entirely non-coupy-coup-like manner - general market weakness was less than we  have seen so far. Of course, the army has decided that in the interests of avoiding the "provocation of unrest and triggering fear" it will "ban the broadcast and distribution of news." Nothing like a military-coup, that is not a coup, with total media censorship to encourage capital flows and maintain peace in the nation.

 
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GaveKal On The Recent Emerging Market Surge: "Little To Suggest Any Sustainable Economic Healing"





Is there anything fundamental to explain why the equity indices of the "Fragile Five" countries, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, India and Turkey, have regained their recent highs? According to GaveKal the answer is a resounding no: "As investors, we like equity rallies to be propelled by fundamental factors, like earnings re-ratings or growth surprises. But there is little behind this rally to suggest any sustainable economic healing." So what is pushing this particular subset of risk higher? Why the global liquidity tsunami of course.

 
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