Commercial Real Estate
As was leaked earlier today, so it would be:
- MOODY'S CUTS 16 SPANISH BANKS AND SANTANDER UK PLC
- MOODY'S CUTS 1 TO 3 LEVELS L-T RATINGS OF 16 SPANISH BANKS
- MOODY'S DOWNGRADES SPANISH BANKS; RATINGS CARRY NEGATIVE
In summary, the highest Moodys rating for any Spanish bank as of this point is A3. But luckily the other "rumor" of a bank run at Bankia was completely untrue, at least according to Spanish economic ministry officials, so there is no need to worry: it is all under control. The Banko de Espana said so.
"The US recovery must overcome the European divorce and the China slowdown in order for the US to grow more than 2%" is how JPMorgan's Michael Cembalest describes the reality of an un-decoupled world. There is some divergence as while the US economy if only growing at 2.0% and regional manufacturing surveys have rolled over, other economic indicators (JOLTS, railcar loadings, even select housing markets) are picking up. His point being that these trends will need to coalesce into more household spending (not just on cars) and capital spending in order for the US growth to grow more than 2%. For that to happen, some clarity may be needed on both the “2013 fiscal cliff’ and the “long term entitlement bomb”, which unfortunately calls for opposing fiscal measures to mitigate them. It will be hard for the world to grow if China depends on Europe which depends on China which depends on the US which depends on China and Europe. It’s an odd market: in the US, 98% of the S&P 500’s cumulative 27% return since January 2010 occurred either during corporate earnings season, or right after QE programs. The rest of the time, the S&P 500 is flat, since the economic news has not been that good.
As the economy slows, demand for jobs are about to increase, right? After all, it must be true, they just said it in the news!!!
Relative to their positively exuberant +2.7% GDP growth expectation, Goldman opines on the below consensus print for today's Real GDP growth. The composition of growth was seen as weak, with a larger add from inventories and less momentum in domestic final sales than they had expected. There is a silver-lining though as they suggest the weakness in national defense spending that explained part of the miss will possibly reverse next quarter (or not we hesitate to add). BofA adds that the strength in consumer spending and contribution from motor vehicle output look unlikely to repeat in future quarters. Auto production added more than a percentage point to growth. At least half of that is due to the recovery from Japan supply chains and is not sustainable. Outside of autos, GDP growth would have been just 1.1% - thank goodness for all that channel-stuffing.
Futures are unchanged after dropping steeply overnight following the Spanish re-downgrade as the Italian 5/10 year bond auction was bad, but still passed (somehow the lack of the European bond market ending is good news). This is ironic with Europe very much on edge following the release of very disappointing EU data, with German confidence, French consumer spending, Spanish unemployment all worse than estimates. Offsetting all of the negativity to some extent is the gross JPY10 trillion and net JPY5 trillion injection by the BOJ, which is a harbinger of what will happen west of Japan when push comes to shove. And so now all eyes turn to US GDP, which, continuing the Constanza bizarroness, better miss for stocks to surge, as a beat of consensus of 2.5% will mean the Chairman was not joking when he told the world he was morphing from a dove to a hawk (if only for theatrical purposes).
Pretend, from now on, that when you see this word it is written in Moldavian and needs to be translated. France and the periphery nations are screaming this word now while almost all of Europe is in recession and one that we believe will be much deeper than forecast. Consequently “growth” does not mean “growth” and the correct translation is “Inflation.” We have long said it would come to this in Europe and here we go. The troubled countries are going to beg and plead for Inflation and Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Finland are going to resist. With Hollande the most likely next President of France you are going to see a stand-off between the socialist and the centrist countries so that a log jam will develop and the consequences of its uncoupling are anyone’s guess except that it will be likely violent and an extreme series of events. The governance of Europe on May 5 will not be what is found on May 6 and preparation for this should be high upon everyone’s list.
I have to confess, I am tired of writing "structured" articles, the ones where I have to limit my thoughts to 800 words. So with this one I am taking a break. This is an unstructured stream of thought, in no particular sequence.
Get those rotten tomatos ready
The United States of America (and the rest of the world for that matter) has not fundamentally grown much at all over the last 40 years. We have instead replaced fundamental growth with the illusion of growth brought on by constantly increasing the monetary supply, aka, inflation. But like any good Ponzi scheme, even this one has a limit and investors briefly approached it in 2008. When it looked like our global banking system was going to collapse, investors started dumping everything in site, essentially a de facto rejection of dollar based assets. Alas, this terrible 'fiat' system is finally coming to its' inevitable end. And good riddance at that. The death of fiat money will be the best thing to happen to human freedom and liberty in over 100 years. However, you must realize that the deflation associated with the collapse of the dollar-based fiat monetary system will wipe out decades worth of false asset price growth in a very short time. Think days or months.
The Fed Chairman, who is too busy to tweet at the moment, has just released his pre-recorded speech on Community Banking. In its we find the following pearl: "Despite some recent signs of improvement, the recovery has been frustratingly slow, constraining opportunities for profitable lending." Wait, hold on, yesterday the same Chairman told an eager headline scanning robotic world that economic growth was upgraded from "modest" to "moderate" - so which is it? Or will the Fed merely feed the HFT robots whatever cherry picked keywords are needed to nudge the market in the appropriate direction as required? Oh wait, we forgot... Election year. Carry on.
Earlier today, we reported that Germans are increasingly concerned that their gold, at over 3,400 tons a majority of which is likely stored in the vault 80 feet below street level of 33 Liberty (recently purchased by the Fed with freshly printed money at far higher than prevailing commercial real estate rates for the Downtown NY area), may be in jeopardy,and will likely soon formally inquire just how much of said gold is really held by the Fed. As it turns out, Germany is not alone: as part of the "Rettet Unser Schweizer Gold", or the “Gold Initiative”: A Swiss Initiative to Secure the Swiss National Bank’s Gold Reserves initiative, launched recently by four members of the Swiss parliament, the Swiss people should have a right to vote on 3 simple things: i) keeping the Swiss gold physically in Switzerland; ii) forbidding the SNB from selling any more of its gold reserves, and iii) the SNB has to hold at least 20% of its assets in gold. Needless the say the implications of this vote actually succeeding are comparable to the Greeks holding a referendum on whether or not to be in the Eurozone. And everyone saw how quickly G-Pap was "eliminated" within hours of making that particular threat. Yet it begs the question: how many more international grassroots outcries for if not repatriation, then at least an audit of foreign gold held by the New York Fed have to take place, before Goldman's (and New York Fed's) Bill Dudley relents? And why are the international central banks not disclosing what their people demand, if only to confirm that the gold is present and accounted for, even if it is at the Federal Reserve?
The most profitable business of the future will be producing Space Available and For Lease signs. Betting on the intelligence of the American consumer has been a losing bet for decades. They will continue to swipe that credit card at the local 7-11 to buy those Funions, jalapeno cheese stuffed pretzels with a side of cheese dipping sauce, cartons of smokes, and 32 ounce Big Gulps of Mountain Dew until the message on the credit card machine comes back DENIED. There will be crescendo of consequences as these stores are closed down. The rotting hulks of thousands of Sears and Kmarts will slowly decay; blighting the suburban landscape and beckoning criminals and the homeless. Retailers will be forced to lay-off hundreds of thousands of workers. Property taxes paid to local governments will dry up, resulting in worsening budget deficits. Sales taxes paid to state governments will plummet, forcing more government cutbacks and higher taxes. Mall owners and real estate developers will see their rental income dissipate. They will then proceed to default on their loans. Bankers will be stuck with billions in loan losses, at least until they are able to shift them to the American taxpayer – again.
For those confused, the Fed's Beige Book has been upgraded to the Beige iPad (apparently Ben is not a fan of the black or white version). Regardless, the latest version has just been released spewing forth the usual reflexive platitudes, in which the economy is said to be better because the stock market is higher, and so forth. In other words, the same stuff that completely ignores $110 WTI. Via Bloomberg:
- FED SAYS U.S. ECONOMY EXPANDED AT `MODEST TO MODERATE PACE'
- FED SAYS CONSUMER SPENDING WAS `GENERALLY POSITIVE'
- FED SAYS MANUFACTURING EXPANDED AT `STEADY PACE' NATIONWIDE
And more such headlines which nobody will actually read, except for the algos which scalp the optimistic tone put there precisely for such a purpose.
The real world revolves around cash flow. Families across the land understand this basic concept. Cash flows in from wages, investments and these days from the government. Cash flows out for food, gasoline, utilities, cable, cell phones, real estate taxes, income taxes, payroll taxes, clothing, mortgage payments, car payments, insurance payments, medical bills, auto repairs, home repairs, appliances, electronic gadgets, education, alcohol (necessary in this economy) and a countless other everyday expenses. If the outflow exceeds the inflow a family may be able to fund the deficit with credit cards for awhile, but ultimately running a cash flow deficit will result in debt default and loss of your home and assets. Ask the millions of Americans that have experienced this exact outcome since 2008 if you believe this is only a theoretical exercise. The Federal government, Federal Reserve, Wall Street banks, regulatory agencies and commercial real estate debtors have colluded since 2008 to pretend cash flow doesn’t matter. Their plan has been to “extend and pretend”, praying for an economic recovery that would save them from their greedy and foolish risk taking during the 2003 – 2007 Caligula-like debauchery.
Debt default means huge losses for the Wall Street criminal banks. Of course the banksters will just demand another taxpayer bailout from the puppet politicians. This repeat scenario gives new meaning to the term shop until you drop. Extending and pretending can work for awhile as accounting obfuscation, rolling over bad debts, and praying for a revival of the glory days can put off the day of reckoning for a couple years. Ultimately it comes down to cash flow, whether you’re a household, retailer, developer, bank or government. America is running on empty and extending and pretending is coming to an end.