Ignoring the knee-jerk reaction of stocks to rally 4% on the headlines that Dexia will be save and other banks will be recapitalized, it is worth thinking about what this really means and the next logical steps. For now I will not even focus on the fact that this was from a meeting of Finance Ministers and not heads of state. I left my "EU Leadership" trading cards at the office, but so far, not many of the big names, who can actually close the deal, have spoken. I won't even focus on the fact that Dexia has been on the fringe of "contagion" discussion. Look at articles about "contagion" or "debt crisis" and PIIGS and French Banks and German Banks and Italian Banks show up in nearly every article. Dexia is discussed less frequently, though ZeroHedge has been on top of it for awhile. So stocks rose 4% on a plan of a plan to plan a plan for a bank they hadn't heard of until this morning. Hmmm.
The latest EFSF “collateral” package shows once again, just how wrong Europe has it. Dreams of Eurobonds should be relegated to the trash bin. Fantasies that EFSF will leverage itself up to save Europe should be discarded. The latest outcome of EFSF meetings should be enough to let everyone know that even the people with the money have no clue what to do, and the structure of compromise will never get anywhere. The Greek bond rollover is another example of an overly complex, unwieldy mechanism, that doesn’t do what it portrays. Until Europe is willing to address the reality of the situation and take some simple but painful steps rather than complex, unworkable ones, that sound good but do nothing, the problems will increase.
Risk aversion has again dominated the European session in what is becoming a familiar theme. The postponement of the decision on the next Greek aid tranche weighed heavily on sentiment which was compounded by several other factors. Goldman Sachs cut their forecasts for global growth saying they expected the Euro-area to experience a “mild recession” and this was later echoed by S&P who also noted they see a 40% chance that Western Europe would experience a recession. Developments in the financial sector have been in focus with Dexia shares at one point falling 30% after reports that its exposure to troubled Eurozone sovereign debt amounts to more than its entire equity base, with the French finance minister having to say that France and Belgium will guarantee the banks creditors. Furthermore, Deutsche Bank cut their 2011 forecast for their core business area saying that Q3 results for this year will be significantly lower than forecast; the banks shares fell 8% before bouncing with the DAX index lagging its European peers. Elsewhere, there were solid government debt auctions from Austria and Belgium while the Italian government bond yield spread over Bunds tightened due to renewed market talk that the SMP was again buying in the Italian curve. Moving into the North American session the key data will be the Durable Goods and Factory Orders, while comments will be anticipated from both ECB’s Trichet and Fed’s Bernanke. Later into the session there will second round of Operation Twist purchases from the Fed while the Belgian cabinet will hold an emergency meeting to discuss the Dexia situation.
On Friday, as pertains to Dexia, a name that suddenly everyone is talking about yet which nobody except for this blog covered back in May, we predicted that "We expect a partial or complete nationalization to be announced imminently, which in addition to all other side effects, would lead in a Bear Stearnsing of all accrued profit." Sure enough overnight we got the following announcement from the French and Belgian Finance ministers: "As part of the restructuring of Dexia, the Belgian and French, in conjunction with central banks will take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of depositors and creditors. To this end, they undertake to guarantee to bring their financing raised by Dexia." Translation: Partial nationalization. And with 5 year CDS ripping in a good 6-8 point upfront, bid at about 26 points at last check, down from 35 on Monday, getting out while the getting was good sure seems like a good idea. Alas, none of this will be any consolation to equity longs, whose value has just dropped over 20%, as this is nothing but a repeat of Bear Stearns. We repeat that at the end of the day, Dexia CDS will trade just wide of Belgian default risk, which we in turn expect to soar in the coming hours.
It appears the US has decided to apply a scorched earth policy to China. While we are seeing flashing headlines that the Senate just passed a China currency bill 79 to 19 (we don't know what is in the bill yet), we doubt it will be something that China will be too pleased with, as most likely there will be some language about currency manipulation and/or some such typical politician propaganda. What is more troubling is that the CME just made sure the tens if not hundreds of billions of Chinese copper collateralized Letters of Credit just lost even more value following yet another margin hike in Copper, which raised initial and maintenance margins by 15%. If China perceives US actions as provocative (and it made very clear that US overtures in Taiwan already are), we may just see an 'oopsie' moment tomorrow when the Mainland decides to offload a few billions in US Treasurys. And the cherry on top was a 28.6% margin hike in Platinum: a direct warning to gold and silver longs once again.
Risk averse trade was observed in early European trade following the news over the weekend that Greece were to miss budget deficit targets set by the Troika with the Asian markets closing sharply lower into the beginning of the European session and consequently fixed income markets being heavily supported. Focus remained on the banking sector following reports that consultations are underway regarding the nationalisation of Belgian bank Dexia with further comments from ECB’s Noyer on the dependence of French banks on USD funding. At the Equity open Dexia opened down 12% with the French banks underperforming heavily, however as the session progressed risk sentiment did begin to creep back into the markets with the Euro-area manufacturing PMI’s generally being higher than expected. This was allied with the ECB’s Securities Market Programmed rumoured to be buying in the Spanish and Italian curves with significant tightening observed in both countries 10-year government bond yield spread over Bunds. Looking forward in the North American session focus will be on the Eurogroup meeting due to start at 1600BST where discussions on EFSF leveraging will be on the agenda. In terms of data there will be the ISM manufacturing report for September and the start of Operation Twist, alongside the latest Outright Treasury Coupon Purchases.
Bob Janjuah: "In One Year I Expect Global Equities To Be 25%/30% Lower; The S&P Will Reach Low 1000s In October"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/03/2011 06:56 -0500
Nomura Bob is back with another hotly anticipated if, unfortunately, grammatically flawless, market strategy piece. Short and sweet, Bob as usual cuts right to the point. "My secular view remains bearish. In or within a year from now I expect global equities to be 25% to 30% lower. My S&P500 target for the low in 2012 remains 800/900, and I think an 'undershoot' into the 700s is entirely possible. In this bearish outcome I would expect 10-year bund yields at 1% to 1.25%, 10 year UST yields at 1.25% to 1.5%, and 10-year gilts below 2%. The USD should do well, credit and commodities should not....On a secular basis, investors should remain cautious, and focus on strong balance sheets and strong/robust business models. I expect the next year to be about capital and job preservation. Any counter-trend rally should be tradable but short lived - it should be viewed opportunistically."
Tired of all the trite meaningless propaganda from Economic PhDs who crawl out of the woodwork every time there is a downtick in gold, proclaiming in big bold letters that the Gold "bubble" has burst, only to crawl right back in when gold soars $100/oz in the days following their latest terminally wrong proclamation? Or, alterantively, wondering what will happen to gold from this point on? Then the following report from Nomura is for you. As Saeed Amen analyzes: "In this article we explain why the price of gold has fallen in recent weeks. Notably, price action during Asian hours has become very bearish, which had not been the case in previous unwinds earlier in the year. In addition, it is likely that losses in risky assets such as equities helped precipitate unwinding of very heavily extended long gold positions. However, the key reasons for being bullish gold remain; namely, a very low interest rate environment and the potential for long-term demand from Asia. Also, the potential for gold’s status as a safe-haven hedge to tail risks arising from various uncertainties due to the European debt crisis is likely to be enhanced, especially now that short-term speculative positioning is relatively light. Also on a short-term basis, we have begun to see some reversal in gold back upwards during Asian hours, after the unwind." Overall, informative but nothing new to regular readers: gold liquidations on market plunge (confirming ironically that gold is now among the most liquid types of investments in the market) as had been predicted months ago, and the same long-term fundamentals for the metal once the current stock downturn shakes out all the weak hands.
On the policy front, a series of critical EFSF votes went through last week without any hiccup, including the German, Finnish, and Slovenian decisions. Though the clearing of these hurdles provided some support to markets in the earlier part of the week, renewed Greek headlines pushed risky assets lower. In FX, a similar pattern persisted as in other asset classes, with most Dollar crosses matching the round trip during the week, including in EM. Only a few currencies marked notable new lows last week, in particular the Canadian Dollar. Positioning has continued to move in favour of defensive currencies, in particular the USD. The latest IMM report hints at very stretched short positioning in currencies like the EUR, AUD, and CAD. The upcoming week will provide more detail on both key subjects. Firstly, we will get the latest round of PMIs, though regional US surveys and preliminary readings in Europe suggest that macro data will continue to stabilise at relatively low levels, as mentioned earlier. The second important issue is the upcoming ECB meeting.
With the weekend full of on-again-off-again comments from various European, Asian, and US politicians and central bankers with regard the chances of various incarnations of the EFSF solving all of our ills (or not), Nomura's Fixed Income Research team has what we feel is one of the most definitive analyses of the various options. We have discussed the self-exciting strange attractor nature of the endgame that will be a leveraged EFSF many times recently. The Nomura team, however, does a great job of breaking down various scenarios, such as Structural Weaknesses of EFSF 2.0, Proposals for an EFSF 3.0 (and their variants), Leverage-based options, and EFSF 2.0 as TARP and how these will result in one of three final outcomes: fiscal union, monetization, or major restructurings risking the end of the euro, as everyone searches for a steady state solution to the 'problem' of the eurozone.
While the most elegant solutions have no official sanction, we think the necessary political resolve is yet to be forthcoming, and the technical issues are challenging if not insurmountable for many of the legal workarounds, resulting in the need for yet another round of parliamentary approvals. Consequently, we see a significant risk that the market, looking for large headlines and enhanced flexibility, will be disappointed at least in the short run.
This week's trifecta of key financial developments, that go far deeper than superficial headlines, namely China, Morgan Stanley (and European bank exposure in general) and the equity-credit disconnect, just got another major push. CNBC just interviewed Tim Backshall (of Capital Context) to discuss the dramatic moves in MS credit risk (which we mentioned earlier) and in an undeniably convincing accent (British, Aussie, South African?), he managed to bring many of our broader concerns into focus including global financial contagion, bank funding, Chinese growth, and high yield credit. We also learned that ZeroHedge is a blog.
The move in Morgan Stanley CDS has been grabbing some attention. It has moved wider than any of the other banks. Its exposure to French banks in particular has been part of the reason. Potential hedging of counterparty exposure has also been listed as a reason. (Once again I can’t help but wonder why derivatives in general, and CDS in particular, didn’t get forced into clearing or exchanges after Lehman). I don’t know whether Morgan Stanley is rich or cheap at these levels, but I think there is more digging that needs to be done and it should focus on Asian exposures because that seems to correlate best to the recent moves.
In what is perhaps the biggest face-palm moment of the day, the SEC's summary report on credit raters found 22 pages worth of supervisory failure and conflicts of interest concerns at each and every one of our NRSROs. However, perhaps the most notable headline, via Bloomberg was potentially much more litigiously serious:
*SEC SAYS `LARGE' CREDIT RATER APPEARED TO LEAK PENDING RATING
*SEC DECLINED TO IDENTIFY WHICH RATER MAY HAVE LEAKED DECISION
Now who could it be?
We have been discussing US (and European) financial risk for some time (especially recently with regard MS exposure to French banks). Since we published that article, we have seen incredible shifts in MS CDS and bonds even as stocks appear to shrug of some of the reality of the situation. An excellent article on Bloomberg last evening pointed out that not only was MS CDS at rather extreme levels, it was quietly as risky (if not more so) than many of the European banks that are making the headlines. Not only is MS CDS its highest since its spike highs in Q4 2008, the curve is inverted with 1Y risk trading 500/550 against 5Y risk at 455/470 which strongly suggests jump risk (or counterparty risk) is being aggressively hedged. With over $4.5bn of debt maturing in Q4 (which we have been pointing out for months - TLGP issues) and the increasingly binary nature of any outcomes, it seems the only real buyer of any MS debt are basis traders as the difference between bond spreads and CDS has halved in the last few weeks.
Today’s session has been a quiet one so far as markets digest yesterdays German EFSF vote and trading has seen light volumes heading into the month and quarter end. Weakening in the Euro currency was observed after higher than expected Eurozone CPI, which led to market participants further questioning whether the ECB will now be cutting interest rates in their monthly Governing Council meeting next week. As European bank fragility has remained in focus in recent times, news came from the EU Commission that they have temporarily approved state aid worth EUR 4.75bln to recapitalize three Spanish savings banks, although little reaction was seen in the markets. The largest moves have been seen in crude futures today with WTI and Brent trade down around USD 1, extending their quarter losses which remain on track for their biggest drop in 15 months. We’ve also seen the German upper house now approve EFSF expansion, and are awaiting final approval from Austria at today, although no time has been given. Looking ahead to the US cash open, focus will be on the US Chicago PMI data which is expected to show a slightly lower than previous reading at 55.0, plus the final University of Michigan Confidence number 10 minutes later. Hope will be that these readings add to yesterday’s indication of some recovery in the US economy.