Charting The Biggest Structural Problem For US Banks, And What The Market Expects From Jackson Hole, Version N+1

Sometimes the general public can get confused in attempting to explain the complexities and the inefficiency of the banking sector when one simple chart brings the message home. A chart like that comes from the latest "Eye on the Market" from JPM's Michael Cembalest, who compares total bank deposits ($8.4 trillion), or bank liabilities, and total bank loan (about $2 trillion less) assets, or sources of cash flows that are supposed to fund bank liabilities and generate retained earnings, while the bank performs credit, maturity and risk transformation: a bank's three key functions. As the chart below shows, perhaps the primary reason why the economy is in its current deplorable state, is that instead of lending dollar for dollar to catch up with deposit growth, banks now rely on roughly $1.7 trillion in excess reserves with the Fed, an amount roughly equal to the difference between total deposits and loans, to plug the credibility gap. This also explains why according to Cembalest one of the expectations by the market from Jackson Hole is that IOER will be cut to 0% to promote bank lending, and thus the conversion of reserves into loans (something which the inflationistas out there will tell you is a big risk to a sudden surge in out of control inflation). So how does the Fed's direct intervention in bank balance sheets look like? Here it is.

Operation Twist Expectations (or LSAD) Returning With A Vengeance Explains Today's Moves In Stocks And Gold

Whether the Fed will upgrade QE2.5, or "ZIRP through mid-2013", to QE3, or Operation Twist, the form we have been predicting it would take since May, is still unknown: very few people know what Bernanke will say on Friday, minutes after the first revision to Q2 GDP reveals a sub-1% number. What is known is that while cross-asset correlation has soared over the past few days, the biggest driver of stocks over the past few days has been nothing but the 2s10s30s butterfly, which in turn is driven by On and Off rumblings of Bernanke doing the Twist. And here is the rub: when the Fed announces Twist it will be extending duration, it effectively means selling everything 10 Year and older (yes, QE3 could very well be LSAD or Large Scale Asset Dumping instead of LSAP). The goal of this action: make the 2s10s will go vertical and to pancake the 10s30s: a move that the butterfly is now indicating it is once again pricing in - today alone we have seen a massive 15 steepening in the butterfly: a nearly 20% move in the curve. It also explains why gold is being sold off today, because simplistic investors believe that without an actual balance sheet expansion, the Fed will not be diluting paper. Completely wrong: it will merely do so synthetically, from a duration basis. Furthermore, the market will very soon read through the Fed's intention which will be predicated entirely on asset rotation and not on incremental fiat capital. The final outcome will be QE4 where the Fed will have to match the synthetic duration extension with actual cash bond deliverables, namely monetizing bonds, a move which will be even more critical once the deficit spend starts soaring again in the next 3 months. And when it does, it will have to do so double time, to make up not only for previous synthetic exposure extension, but for future priced in moves. In other words, nothing has changed, and we fully expect stocks to soar if indeed Bernanke mentions "duration extension", together with yet another gold dump. The issue is that Op Twist in the proposed format would be physically limited by the amount of 10 Year+ bonds held in the Fed's SOMA. At last check it was not that many at all. So any surge in stocks will be albeit both painfully transitory.

Morgan Stanley Gets Downright Apocalyptic

Listening to David Greenlaw and/or Jim Caron as they strike out again, and again, and again, with delusions of economic grandure over US GDP and some historic 2s10s bull steepener which is never, ever coming, one would be left with the impression that Morgan Stanley has inherited the title of most permabullish sell side advisory from Deutsche Bank's economics department. Nothing could be further from the truth. Like any other bank, MS has perfectly hedged its rosy outlook by spoonfeeding its retail clients with the rosy view, while whispering the apocalypse case to its institutional clients (judging by last week's pummeling in MS stock, there is not that many of them left). Below we present the view of MS' equity strategy team under Adam Parker, who gives not only a distribution range for his year end S&P target (1004-1425), but a matrix specifying the probability outcome of either case. Bottom line, "while there is 18% upside to the year-end bull case and 16% downside to the year-end bear case, we assign a higher probability to our bear case than bull case, preventing us from becoming increasingly optimistic." When even Morgan Stanley tells you (or rather the whale clients who are now more than happy to sell into every low volume, retail driven rally) there is little to smile about, it is high time to look for the exits.

Goldman: The Ball Is Now In The Fed's Court

What Zero Hedge has been saying for well over half a year has finally hit the mainstream, with pundit after pundit "suddenly" coming out of the closet and making the uber-bold proclamation that "QE3 is here." Yawn. That said, since Goldman's opinion is the only one that matters (see previous posts on this matter, especially those referencing the activities of one Bill Dudley at one "Pound and Pence"), here is Jan Hatzius explaining how the whole world now looks up to Bernanke to pick up the QE torch lit up in the past week by the SNB, the BOJ and the ECB, and take Central PlanningTM to escape velocity (which may well be needed if we hope to get Mars to bail out the Earth shortly). Specifically, when discussing what the Fed will announce on Tuesday, naturally follows Monday, or the day in which risk comes home to roost, Hatzius says the following: "First, we expect them to expand the scope of their “extended period” language to cover not just the exceptionally low funds rate but also the exceptionally large balance sheet. For example, they could rewrite the current forward-looking language in the statement to say that economic conditions “…are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate and exceptionally large asset holdings for an extended period” (our suggested change in italics). Indeed, our baseline expectation is that this change will occur at the August 9 FOMC meeting, although it is a relatively close call. Second, we expect the composition of the Fed’s balance sheet to shift toward longer maturities. This could happen via an increase in the average maturity of its reinvestment of MBS paydowns and/or a change in the reinvestment policy for its Treasury portfolio. However, we do not yet expect this for the August 9 meeting, although it is possible." Operation Twist 2 it is then, with unlimited purchases in the 2-7 year range to keep the yield at a sturdy 0%, and the 2s10s to surge record highs (alas, QE3 means inflation, inflation, inflation down the line) in a last ditch attempt to bailout America's financial system, which unfortunately has just entered wind-down mode.

Treasury Curve Pancaking As Stocks Approach 1252 Support

The worst possible news for financials, which basically never managed to tick higher in all of 2011, is now here as the entire Treasury curve has virtually pancaked today, making sure that the perfect storm for banks is here, with nobody trading (no sales revenue), prop trading dismantled (no trading revenue), and no lending revenue soon either (2s10s heading to 0%). The closed loop will send even more money into the 10 and 30 Year, causing even more pain for banks, and so on ad inf until Bernanke relents. And you can be certain that the CEOs of the TBTFs are on the phone with the New York Fed as we speak. Luckily, the next FOMC meeting is August 9 which means the market will only have to deal with this non QE3 uncertainty for a few days. Naturally when QE3 is announced, gold will promptly leave $2000 in the rearview mirror.

Capital Context Update: Credit Where Debit Is Due

Only a very few names managed gains in both equity and credit today (an interesting bunch - MAR, TOL, HOT, DHI, PEP, and SVU) as homebuilders were interestingly near the tope on the list of better performers in credit (which we suspect was related to the underperformance of the CMBX and ABX tranche markets as well as the higher beta exposure in some of the credit indices). Every sector was in agreement between credit and equity with a deteriorating move today as we note financials, leisure, and media were the worst beta-adjusted in credit relative to stocks on the day. Capital Goods, Utilities, and Consumer Noncyclicals performed the relative worst in stocks versus credit. The up-in-quality theme in credit is increasingly leaking into vol as we saw much less impact higher in vols in better-rated credits than in lower-rated credits. This was also the picture in credit though we did see the very highest rated names underperforming (financials?). This picture was somewhat different in equity-land where BB-rated and below names saw their stocks drop far less than A- rated and above names - once again we think this is to do with both financials dominating performance as well as the typical ratings/momentum correlation unwind.

Capital Context Update: Little Ado About Something

Contextually , credit and vol were much clearer about their directional view today (deteriorating) than stocks (mixed) . Financials saw modest vol compression but the rest saw vol increase on average at the sector level. Tech, Energy, and Media were the worst (risk-adjusted) performers in credit while Financials and Media were worst on average in stock land (risk-adjusted). Interestingly equity outperformed credit (divergently - as in equity rose and credit widened on average) in Basic Materials, Consumer Noncyclicals, Energy, Healthcare, Tech, Telecoms, and Utilities and the fact that Utes and noncyclicals were the best risk-adjusted performers in stock land suggest less rotation out of stocks and more rotation across sectors today.

How The Fed Sourced 83.4% Of Treasury Cash Needs Since The Start Of QE2

It is no secret that since the start of QE2 in November, the US Treasury has issued a gross $890 billion in debt in the form of various Bond, Bill and TIPS. This is cash that the US received in exchange for promises to pay interest and principal at maturity on various series of bonds. At the same time, over the past 5 months, there was $291 billion in debt maturity paydowns, or cash leaving the Treasury and going to those who are lucky enough to receive principal on US debt at maturity. That leaves a net of $589 billion in debt that was issued between November 1 and March 31: money used to fund the ongoing operations of the United States. This is all perfectly public and well-known. After all, every single auction is loudly announced by CNBC at 1 pm Eastern on auction days, with a breakdown between Direct, Indirect and Primary Dealer takedowns. Note that the Fed does not feature in this list of primary issuance bidders as that would be illegal, and would be monetization beyond even any semantic argument that the Fed does not, in fact, monetize. What is less known is that the true action in US Treasurys occurs in the secondary market, or that dominated by the Federal Reserve. Here is where the daily POMO takes place, where as we have noted on many, many, many occasions Primary Dealers promptly flip bonds purchased during a primary auction right back to the Fed. This is where the real source of Treasury funding comes from. And what many may not be aware of is that since the start of QE2, the Federal Reserve has purchased $491 billion of Treasurys in the Open Market (and $556 billion since the start of QE Lite). This $491 billion in indirect monetizations ultimately ended up funding government cash needs. In other words out of $589 billion in net issuance, the Fed has been responsible for 83.4% of the money needed to fund government transfer payments (among many other uses of funds) and keep the US consumer "strong", not to mention funding US defense, education, healthcare and every other aspect of US day to day cash needs. QE2 is supposed to end in precisely three months. During that time the Fed will fund another $400 or so billion in US cash needs. What happens after, nobody knows. 

Citi Recommends Buying Irish CDS In Advance Of "Nightmare On Kildare Street"

Earlier today, JPMorgan made waves by claiming, some would say rather uncouthly, that Portugal's government is about to keel over and die (even if it is undisputed- after all, on Wall Street no one can hear you speak the truth). Never one to be left wanting, here comes Citi with some charts of "parabolic" moves in the Irish 2 Year bond, and some even scarier claims. As expected any research report that starts with the words: "Oh dear...The picture on Irish interest rate markets is taking a very grim turn" - well, it is clear where it is going from there. In summary, Citi now believes that Ireland is essentially done for, or as Tom Fitzpatrick ever so more diplomatically puts it "things are about to get ugly", and recommends going long CDS since the entire short end of the curve has gone parabolic, now that Europe seems set to watch the island country explode, 2s10s has inverted in the past few days, and overall the Emerald Isle is now a dead man walking in the dumbest game of chicken since the creation of the euro. Too bad neither side is willing to back out, which will ultimately end with the eventual destruction of the eurozone and the euro. 

More Bad News For German Banks: Bund Curve Pancakes

Following this morning's near terminal posturing by JC Trichet, who almost, but not quite, is about to hike rates any minutes now, we promise, which saw the EUR surging to near 1.40, a far more troubling side effect is the accelerating flattening of the Bund yield curve. As can be seen below, the German 2s10s has dropped from a high of 210 bps in December to 156 bps, a nearly 25% contraction. Luckily, it has another whopping 14 points to take out the September lows, which back then resulted in deplorable European data, indicating how much more sensitive the continent is to the fluctuations in the yield curve. Furthermore, as March is when the calendar festivities in Europe start for real, German banks are rightfully cursing JCT to hell following his failed attempt to secure his ECB legacy as a hawk on the way out. Should the ECB indeed follow through with an April tightening, look for the iTraxx Senior Financials index to start the slow grind wider as risk in European banks come back with a vengeance.

Why Contrary To The Chairman's Lies, A Record Steep Yield Curve May Be The Most Bearish Indicator Available

The most important characteristic of current capital markets, aside of course from now completely irrelevant stocks, which there is no point in even discussing any more as the Russell 2000 has become nothing more than a policy tool for Bernanke in pitching idiot Congressmen how "successful" his failed monetary policy has been when all it indicates is how good he is at manipulating stock prices, is the record steepness of the yield curve, as we have been pointing out month after month (oddly the topic never gets boring as it hits a new record wide with each passing month). And while to Ben the steepness is simply more good news to regale his questioners, who have no idea what the difference between a bond price and yield is, with, it is just as easily the most bearish indicator available. Nick Colas explains why "the bears also have more fodder from the steep yield curve than an Alaskan salmon run: the long end of the curve could be blowing out over inflation fears, persistent government debt issuance, or even a future downgrade of U.S. sovereign debt." But don't worry- the Chaircreature will never acknowledge that there is a yang to every ying. Especially not when the ying has to be so well priced, that Bernanke's midichlorian count has to be off the charts to get his liquidity extraction timing perfectly and avoid either a hyperdeflationary or hyperinflationary collapse.

The Main FX Charts For The Upcoming Week: The 2s10s Is Set To Resume Flattening Again

Goldman's John Noyce once again lays out all the main charts to keep a track off in the coming week, with a particular focus on the EURUSD, EURUSD 2 Year swap spreads, USD 2 and 10 Year swap spreads, but most interesting are Noyce's observations about the 2s10s treasury curve, which he believes Noyce is set to resume flattening from record steep levels: "Putting all the pieces together; the aggressive weekly moving average setup and triangle like consolidation on 2-year swaps, the relatively less aggressive weekly moving average setup on 10-year swaps and the current extreme level of the 10-year/2-year curve, it seems the market is at a juncture where a break higher in short-end yields would be very significant both in specific yield related terms and also due to the USD’s +ve correlation to short-end U.S. yields in a number of currency pairs."