Risk Management

Econflict Deepens: Reinhart, Rogoff Strike Back At "Hyperbolic" Krugman

Just when you thought the R&R debate was finished, it seems Paul Krugman's latest "spectacularly uncivil behavior" pushed Reinhart and Rogoff too far. In what can only be described as the most eruditely worded of "fuck you"s, the pair go on the offensive at Krugman's ongoing tete-a-tete. "You have attacked us in very personal terms, virtually non-stop...  Your characterization of our work and of our policy impact is selective and shallow.  It is deeply misleading about where we stand on the issues.  And we would respectfully submit, your logic and evidence on the policy substance is not nearly as compelling as you imply... That you disagree with our interpretation of the results is your prerogative.  Your thoroughly ignoring the subsequent literature... is troubling.   Perhaps, acknowledging the updated literature on drawbacks to high debt-would inconveniently undermine your attempt to make us a scapegoat for austerity."

Dudley Terrified By "Over-Reaction" To QE End, Says Fed Could Do "More Or Less" QE

Up until today, the narrative was one trying to explain how a soaring dollar was bullish for stocks. Until moments ago, when Bill Dudley spoke and managed to send not only the dollar lower, but the Dow Jones to a new high of 15,400 with the following soundbites.

  • DUDLEY: FED MAY NEED TO RETHINK BALANCE SHEET PATH, COMPOSITION
  • DUDLEY SAYS FISCAL DRAG TO U.S. ECONOMY IS `SIGNIFICANT'
  • DUDLEY: FED MAY AVOID SELLING MBS IN EARLY STAGE OF EXIT
  • DUDLEY: IMPORTANT TO SEE HOW WELL ECONOMY WEATHERS FISCAL DRAG
  • DUDLEY SAYS HE CAN'T BE SURE IF NEXT QE MOVE WILL BE UP OR DOWN

And the punchline:

  • DUDLEY SEES RISK INVESTORS COULD OVER-REACT TO 'NORMALIZATION'

Translated: the Fed will never do anything that could send stocks lower - like end QE - ever again, but for those confused here is a simpler translation: Moar.

Toyota Pulls Bond Deal Due To Soaring Yields: The Japanese "VaR Shock" Feedback Loop Is Back

Despite the eagerness of Abenomics and the new BOJ head Kuroda to have their cake and eat it too, in this case manifesting in soaring stock prices, plunging Yen, rising GDP and exports, and most importantly, flat or declining bond yields, so far they have succeeded in carrying out three of the four, as it is physically impossible for any central planner to completely overrule the laws of math, economics and physics indefinitely. Volatility aside the recent surge in yields higher is finally starting to take its tool on domestic bond issuers. As Bloomberg reports, already two names have pulled deals from the jittery bond market due to "soaring" borrowing costs. The first is Toyota Industries which as NHK reported, canceled the sale of JPY20 billion debt. Toyota is among Japanese firms that put off selling debt as long-term yields on government debt have risen, increasing borrowing costs, public broadcaster NHK says without citing anyone. Last week JFE Holdings announced it would delay plans to sell bonds due to market volatility. So two names down... and the 10 Year is not even north of 1%... But perhaps, more importantly, what happens to JGB holdings as the benchmark Japanese government bond continues trading with the volatility of a 1999 pennystock, and as more and more VaR stops are hit, forcing even more holders to dump the paper out of purely technical considerations: a topic we touched upon most recently last week, and which courtesy of JPM, which looks back at exactly the same event just 10 years delayed, now has a name: VaR shocks.  For those who wish to skip the punchline here it is:  A 100bp interest rate shock in the JGB yield curve, would cause a loss of ¥10tr for Japan's banks.

The S&P 500 Is Now A Gambler's Paradise With 76.9% Up Days In May So Far

Everyone knows the odds of winning in a casino are worse than 50% (often much worse depending on the game played). So who wouldn't rush to a casino where, instead, the odds were overwhelmingly in the gambler's favor? That's the promise of today's stock market, which has been experiencing an aberrantly high percentage of up days all year. Like all good benders though, this is going to end with one heck of a hangover...

S&P Downgrades Berkshire From AA+ To AA, Outlook Negative

Obviously with Buffett a major shareholder of Moody's, the only place where a downgrade of Berkshire could come from was S&P. Moments ago, the rating agency that dared to downgrade the US for which it is being targeted by Eric Holder's Department of "Justice", did just that.

What Have We Got To Look Forward To?

As another woeful week wends to a weary close... what we got to look forward to? Although markets appeared to be shooting off in every direction, we do expect we'll see clearer direction soon. Despite the noisy criticism earlier this week of Yen "competitive" devaluation, the G20 meeting said nothing. We suspect certain individuals were quietly sat in the comfy chair, had global reality gently explained to them with the aid of some rusty dental equipment, were slapped around a bit and told to shut it. As long as Japan can sign the pledge on “no competitive depreciation” without giggling we’ll be ok. We do suspect the warmest circle of financial hell is being reserved for those populist European politicians who've tried to appeal to voters with efforts to stem the financial tides, and punished markets for being markets.

Kyle Bass Is "Perplexed" At Gold's Low Price

"The stress is beginning to show," Kyle Bass warns during a wide-ranging interview with Bloomberg TV. "The beginning of the end," is here for Japanese government bonds as he notes that while quantitiavely it is clear they are insolvent, "the qualitative perception of participants is changing." But away from Japan specifically, there is a lot more on the Texan's mind. "Things go from perfectly stable to completely unstable," very quickly; even more so after 20 years of exponential debt build-up and Keynesian cover-ups; and it is this that he warns complacent investors that it is "really important to think about the capital at risk in your strategy." For this reason he prefers to hold gold rather than Treasuries, as, "when you think about the largest central banks in the world, they have all moved to unlimited printing ideology. Monetary policy happens to be the only game in town. I am perplexed as to why gold is as low as it is. I don't have a great answer for you other than you should maintain a position." His discussion varies from housing's recovery to structured credit liquidity "money is being misallocated by the printing press" and the future of the GSEs, concluding with the rather ominous, "at some point in time, I would much rather would own gold than paper. I just don't know when that time is."

Record 2,564 Spanish Firms File For Bankruptcy In Q1, 45% Higher Than Year Ago

Perhaps the best measure to gauge the European recovery is by the soaring number of companies going bust, because only from this perspective is Europe finally "fixed." As Reuters reports citing a report by Axesor, a record 2,564 companies filed for "insolvency proceedings", a more palatable version of the word bankruptcy, in the first quarter - an increase of 10% from Q4 and up a whopping 45% from Q1 2012. The reasons given: "tight credit conditions and meager demand." Or in other words: no actual cash flow to fund demand for products and services. Obviously it will take some truly phenomenal massaging and manipulation to represent GDP as rising in this environment, but we are confident the Spanish authorities are already on it, and somehow the Spanish pension fund, already 97% filled with Spanish government bonds, will somehow have a finger in yet another completely unbelievable economic print which will fool most of the algos most of the time on flashing red Bloomberg headlines.

Japanese Finance Ministry Warns Surge In JGB Volatility May Lead To A Sharp Bond Selloff

If Friday's session is any indication of what to expect in a few minutes when JGB trading resumes, we are about to have a doozy of a session on our hands (especially with Interactive Brokers already announcing all intraday margins on all Japanese products for Monday trading have been lifted). As a reminder, the 10Y JGB suffered only its second most volatile trading day ever this past Friday when the yield plunged by half (!) to 0.30%, then doubled in a matter of minutes to 0.60% - a 13 sigma move - and the bond trading session was interrupted by two trading halts when it seemed for a minute that the BOJ may lose all control of the bond market. Well, judging by the absolutely ridiculous moves in the USDJPY as of this moment, with the pair soaring 70 pips in a matter of seconds, we are about to have precisely the kind of insanely volatile session that the Japanese Finance Ministry itself warned may lead to a wholesale selloff in JGBs, offsetting even the New Normal Mrs Watanabe kneejerk which is to merely frontrun the BOJ in buying JGBs. Why? Because with implied vol exploding, VaR-driven models will tell banks to just dump bonds as they have become too volatile to hold on their books. The problem is that with trillions and trillions of JGBs held by banks, insurance companies and pension firms, there just not may be anyone out there to buy them.

Thanks Ben Bernanke: Using A Shotgun As Down Payment For A Car

Thanks to the Fed's ZIRP, the investing world is on a constant reach for yield; and due to the fact that the last bubble of investor largesse (ignoring leverage and reality) was not 'punished' but in fact 'bailed-out', participants in the financial markets learned nothing. Just as the last crisis was formed on the back of an insatiable mortgage-backed security market desperate for new loans (any loans) of increasingly dubious quality to securitize, so this time it is subprime auto loans that have taken over. As a Reuters review of court records shows, subprime auto lenders are showing up in a lot of personal bankruptcy filings. At car dealers across the United States, loans to subprime borrowers are surging - up 18% in 2012 YoY, to 6.6 million borrowers. Subprime auto lending is just one of several mini-bubbles the bond-buying program has created across a range of assets; "it's the same sort of thing we saw in 2007, people get driven to do riskier and riskier things." Of course, with auto production having been the backbone of so many macro data points that are used to 'show' the real economy recovering (despite the channel-stuffing), now that the growth in auto-sales are stalling, it is for the subprime originators "under extreme pressure to hit goals" in their boiler-room-like dealings to extend loans (at ever higher rates) and securitize while the Fed 'music' is still playing. It seems we truly never learn.

Meet Mary Schapiro's New "Revolving Door" Employer

When Mary Schapiro quit the laughing stock US stock market regulator, the only question was which Wall Street firm the latest SEC "revolving door" migrant would end up with, with most bets being on, naturally, Goldman and JPM. Today, to some surprise, the news hit that the former head of the internet porn-addicted regulator (which like clockwork always complains about its low budget: maybe get a refund for that bangbus.com subscription?) has decided to join none other than the revolving door extraordinaire consulting firm Promontory Financial. Per the WSJ: "Ms. Schapiro will work full-time in Promontory's office in Washington as a managing director leading the consulting firm's governance and markets practice and advising clients on risk management and compliance. Ms. Schapiro and a Promontory spokesman declined to say how much she will be paid in the new job." So who is Promontory? Nothing short of an "expert network" of all former government workers who having moved on, are willing to spill the beans about all the secrets of government operations... for a fee of between $1000 and $10,000 per hour. The chart below shows a sampling of all current and former employees of Promontory, explaining why it is a perfect fit for anyone intent on justifying the allegations of those who claim all the SEC does is provide a revolving door opportunity for ex-government workers.