The cash settlement world of OTC derivatives is not investing, but gaming. And the House sets the rules.
In the neverending saga that is the Greek exchange offer we have a new and very important player: the head of the Greek debt management agency, Petros Christodoulou, who is now actively threatening any Greek hold out hedge funds against doing what is in their LPs' best interests (suing Greece and the EU and holding out for par recoveries - as discussed here), by using not only the now trite and idiotic Mutual Assured Destruction clause which only those stuck in 2008 believe is remotely credible, but by advising hedge funds (which are actively forming ad hoc hold out committees as we speak, just as we predicted 6 weeks ago) that "there is just no money for holdouts...We are prepared for legal challenges but the risk here is that people are trying to be too smart." Oh, so now if one does what is in their interest, and dare hold out against collectivist fascist interests, they are "trying to be smart." We wonder if Mr. Christodoulou learned such brute force negotiating tactics at one of his former employers: JP Morgan or Goldman That's right - as we wrote over two years ago, the man who is now negotiating for Greece's and Europe's life (because a failed PSI will not only trigger CDS, more importantly it will result in an out of control default of Greece and likely its exist from the Euro and the Eurozone - two things that Germany would be delighted to see) is a former employee of the two companies that just so happens are the co-chairmen of the US Treasury Borriwng Advisory Committee, or as we have also called it before, "The Supercommittee That Really Runs America." Is the pattern finally emerging?
And now for a word from Fireman Tim...
While last winter every downtick in corporate earnings was promptly "explained away" by executives using the harsh weather excuse, one has heard not a peep from companies on the topic of an abnormally accommodative climate over the past 4 months. And why would they - after all it would mean that any gains, not that there have been many as most companies have reported below average results, have been artificially boosted by one-time events. Needless to say, the mainstream media would rather not touch this topic with a ten foot pole: there is an election to be won and the public can not be disturbed with facts (heaven forbid someone should mention seasonal adjustments - that's a death sentence). Which is why ironically we have to go to Goldman, which as noted recently, has once again turned bearish on the economy for one reason or another, to quantify the impact of the balmy winter. "Reported growth in the CAI is 2.8% for December and 2.9% for January. The estimates here imply that excluding the effect of warm weather, growth would have been 2.5% in December and 2.5-2.7% in January. Note that although January was very warm relative to seasonal norms, this followed a gradual warming in temperatures in October through December. We think our estimates of the weather impact may be on the low side, given that snowfall was also below seasonal norms this year. Lower precipitation can raise activity in some sectors. Our estimates imply that a normalization in temperatures could be a modest headwind to growth over the next few months. The extent of the drag depends on the specification, but a plausible range would be 10-40bp in March if temperatures return to seasonal norms by that month." Looks like Newton was right after all, despite all attempts by central planners to deny reality.
Here's the video of my original interview, recorded on Monday, February 27, 2012, about gold and silver price manipulation on the Keiser Report with Max Keiser.
This situation just can't last. Or can it?
European bourses are trading in positive territory ahead of the North American following a relatively quiet morning in Europe. Markets are led by the financials sector, currently trading up around 1.10%. This follows yesterday’s ECB LTRO. As such, the 3-month Euribor fix has fallen to 0.967%, a significant fall in inter-bank lending costs. PMI Manufacturing data released earlier today came in roughly in line with preliminary estimates. The Eurozone unemployment rate for February has also been released, showing the highest jobless rate since October 1997. There has been little in the way of currency moves so far in the session; however there may be fluctuations in USD pairs following the release of ISM Manufacturing data and weekly jobless claims later today.
As expected by virtually everyone:
- NO PAYOUT ON GREECE $3.25 BILLION DEFAULT SWAPS, ISDA SAYS
Keep in mind, as criminal as this appears, and as damaging to the CDS market, the real trigger will be what ISDA does determines following the end of the PSI process. If there is no credit event then either, especially when the CACs are triggered as expected - an event which will certifiably be a trigger event under Section 4.7, then ISDA is truly hell bent on blowing up the CDS market as a hedging vehicle in its entirety.
Regular readers are all too familiar with the saga of Goldman Sachs, which back in December 2010 called for a new American golden age, only to crash and burn as the economy not only slid right back into its depressionary glidepath but had to be bailed out by the Fed yet again. Sure enough, back in December of last year, the same firm made a surprising forecast, being the first of many (as others naturally jumped on the Goldman bandwagon), calling for an imminent housing bottom. Naturally, we scoffed at said proclamation. Two months later, which have seen two months of deteriorating conditions and declining prices, Goldman is out, saying that it may have just been kidding. From Goldman's Hui Shan: "In December 2011 we published a new house price model for 147 metro areas that pointed to a decline of around 3% from mid-2011 through mid-2012 before stabilizing in the year thereafter. Excess supply and negative house price momentum were the main drivers of the projected decline over the subsequent four quarters. In the year thereafter, the model suggested that house prices would stabilize as the negative momentum faded. Our model also pointed to substantial variation in house price appreciation across metro areas. Although city-by-city house price dynamics are particularly difficult to model, we projected increases in Detroit, Miami and Cleveland, but significant declines in Portland, New York and Atlanta during the next two years. Since publication of this forecast--which was based on Case-Shiller house price data up to 2011Q2--house prices have weakened anew....The implications of these changes are threefold: First, we now see a somewhat weaker near-term house price outlook. Specifically, we forecast that house prices will decline by 3.3% from 2011Q3 until 2012Q3, and by an additional 1.1% between 2012Q3 and 2013Q3. Second, the expected bottom in house prices is pushed out from end-2012 to mid-2013. Third, the long-run outlook for house prices is not significantly affected by our update." So for anyone basing their housing recovery call on Goldman, sorry - Goldman was only kidding. Again.
On this leap day, we have a busy schedule which includes the second Q4 GDP revision, Chicago PMI (expect another massive beat courtesy of consumers confident that they can have Apple apps, if not so much food, since they still don't pay their mortgages), various Fed speakers, of which most important will be Ben Bernanke who takes the podium in Congress at 10 am for his semi-annual monetary policy report.
- Euro-Area Banks Tap ECB for Record Amount of Three-Year Cash (Bloomberg)
- Papademos Gets Backing for $4.3B of Cuts (Bloomberg)
- China February Bank Lending Remains Weak (Reuters)
- Romney Regains Momentum (WSJ)
- Shanghai Raises Minimum Wage 13% as China Seeks to Boost Demand (Bloomberg)
- Fiscal Stability Key To Economic Competitiveness - SNB's Jordan (WSJ)
- Bank's Tucker Says Cannot Relax Bank Requirements (Reuters)
- Life as a Landlord (NYT)
Looks like the SEC is not done with Goldman Sachs, already the subject of the largest civil fine levied by the SEC on a Wall Street firm, aside for that whole Robosettlement farce of course - which still is not available to the general public, and is back for more wristslaps. Per Reuters: "The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission notified Goldman Sachs Group Inc that it may file a civil case against the bank related to a $1.3 billion offering of subprime mortgage securities, Goldman said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday. Goldman received the "Wells notice" on Feb. 24 related to the bond deal, which was underwritten by Goldman in 2006, according to the 10-K filing. A Wells notice indicates that SEC staff plans to recommend that the Commission take legal action, and gives a recipient a chance to mount a defense. The bank said it will be making a submission to SEC staff "and intends to engage in a dialogue" with them to address their concerns." Our only question is how will Goldman pin this one entirely on Fabrice Tourre who may or may not be still in the employ of the 200 West headquartered firm.
Earmuffs time for our German readers.