The economic "recovery" has been based on a simple premise: debt can be substituted for income with no ill effects. As real household incomes have declined, the legitimate foundation of additional spending--more income--has eroded for the bottom 90%. The Fed's substitution of debt for income has only doomed the nation to a deeper, more painful realignment of real income and expenses.
As every 'real' corporate bond manager knows (as opposed to playing one on television), forecasting from historical defaults is a fool's errand as the process is entirely cyclical and non-stationary. The fact that default rates have been low for 4 years (thanks to an overwhelming flood of liquidity-driven demand for yield) is of absolutely no use when pricing discounted cashflows into the future. However, as Fitch warns, a jump in US high-yield default rates looms. There have been 10 LBO related bond defaults thus far in 2014, compared with nine for all of 2013. While most sectors remain relatively clam, the utilities and chemicals sectors are seeing huge spikes in defaults... which explains why the market is starting to price that in.
Watch what happens when new tech is used to create better products, cheaper than the incumbents could ever have dreamt of...
With Argentine politicians explaining that "Argentina is not in default" and ISDA set to decide if last night's default is an 'official' trigger event for CDS, it appears Kirchner, Kicillof, and their (k)omrades may have found an angel. The initial 'bailout' plan, by which Argentine banks bought the holdouts defaulted debt (then promptly acquiesced to Argentina's old debt-swap agreement), failed last night; but, as WSJ reports, JPMorgan is in discussions to buy the defaulted bonds of Argentina's holdout creditors. While this would not impact the default decision (that is history), it would speed up the exit from default rapidly. Of course, JPM is not doing this out of love for Argentina, we suspect they are on the hook for a few billion CDS and need some cheapest-to-deliver bonds to help them through the settlement process.
- Moscow fights back after sanctions; battle rages near Ukraine crash site (Reuters)
- On Hold: Merkel Gives Putin a Blunt Message (WSJ)
- Argentina’s Default Clock Runs Out as Debt Talks Collapse (BBG)
- Argentina braces for market reaction to second default in 12 years (Reuters)
- Banco Espirito Santo Plunges After Posting 3.6 Billion-Euro Loss (BBG)
- Adidas Plunges After Cutting Forecast on Russia, Golf (BBG)
- GOP Says Lerner Emails Show Bias Against Conservatives (WSJ)
- Londoners Cashing in Flee to Suburbs as Home Rally Wanes (BBG)
- BNP Paribas Reports Record $5.79 Billion Quarterly Loss (WSJ)
- Swiss Banks Send U.S. Client Data Before Cascade of Settlements (BBG)
- Putin Sows Doubt Among Stock Bears Burned by 29% Rebound (BBG)
It has been a deja vu session of that day nearly a month ago when the Banco Espirito Santo (BES) problems were first revealed, sending European stocks and US futures, however briefly, plunging. Since then things have only gotten worse for the insolvent Portuguese megabank, and overnight BES, all three of its holdco now bankrupt, reported an epic loss despite which it will not get a bailout but instead must raise capital on its own. The result has been a record drop in both the bonds (down some 20 points earlier) and the stock (despite a shorting ban instituted last night), which crashed as much as 40% before stabilizing at new all time lows around €0.25, in the process wiping out recent investments by such "smart money" as Baupost, Goldman and DE Shaw. The result is a European financial sector that is struggling in the red, while adding to its pain are some large cap names such as Adidas which also tumbled after issuing a profit warning relating to "developments" in Russia. Then there was European inflation which printed at 0.4%, below the expected 0.5%, and the lowest in pretty much ever, and certainly since the ECB commenced its latest fight with "deflation", which so far is not going well. The European cherry on top was Greece, whose dead cat bounce is now over, after May retail sales crashed 8.5%, after rising 3.8% in April.
Following this evening's lengthy finger-pointing lecture from Argentina's Kicillof, Argentina formally defaulted. Shortly thereafter the hoped-for private bank bailout deal also failed leaving the default process likely to take a while. So how has Argentina defaulted three times in the last 28 years? Simply put, the problem is not Judge Griesa’s ruling. The problem is that Argentina had decided to once again prefer deficits and unrestrained government spending to paying its obligations.
It's all over but the crying: having explained Argentina's position (i.e. not giving to so-called vulture funds), Economy Minister Kicilloff explains:
- *KICILLOF SAYS HEDGE FUNDS NOT WILLING TO GIVE DELAY ON RULING
- *KICILLOF SAYS HARD TO BELIEVE ARGENTINA IN DEFAULT IF HAS FUNDS
- *KICILLOF SAYS ARGENTINA CAN'T COMPLY WITH COURT RULING
- *HOLDOUTS DIDN'T ACCEPT ARGENTINE OFFER: KICILLOF
As Bloomberg notes, by defaulting today, Argentina may trigger bondholder claims of as much as $29 billion -- equal to all its foreign-currency reserves. Just remember that the last 2 days have seen 'smart money' buy Argentine bonds and stocks to all-time record highs.
After an exuberant day in Argentine bond and stock markets, we are nearing a decision. With a handful of hours left until it's all over, various 'deal's have been proposed today from Argentine bankers as a last-minute rescue package. S&P has already decided that it's a done deal:
- *ARGENTINA CUT TO SD FROM CCC- BY S&P
- *ARGENTINA DEFAULTED ON $13B IN FOREIGN DEBT, S&P SAYS
- *ARGENTINA MISSED $539M BOND PAYMENT, S&P SAYS
And now, Argentine Economy Minister Axel Kicillof will speak in a press conference at country’s consulate in Manhattan (ironically a block from the holdouts' office).
While last night saw'The Holdouts' and 'The Argentina Delegation' come face-to-face for the first time in a decade for negotiations, when they went to bed late last night, there was no resolution. No news yet this morning of when the meeting will reconvene but it appears market participants are hopeful... The Argentina 2033 bonds are exploding higher. ARG 2033s are up over 10 points to a record-high price of 97.50. Let's hope they are not disappointed at the hopes for a bank bailout. Of course, we saw this kind of exuberant jump right after the initial pro-holdouts ruling drop...
- Fed Decision-Day Guide: QE Tapering to Inflation Debate (BBG)
- Obama says strains over Ukraine not leading to new Cold War with Russia (Reuters)
- Siemens to BP Prepare for Downward Russia Business Spiral (BBG)
- Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror (NYT)
- Argentina Banks Preparing Bid to Help Argentina Avoid Default (WSJ)
- Obama Weighs Fewer Deportations of Illegal Immigrants Living in U.S. (WSJ)
- India Warships Off Japan Show Rising Lure as China Counterweight (BBG)
- Hong Kong Popping Housing Bubbles London Can’t Handle (BBG)
- Carnage at U.N. school as Israel pounds Gaza refugee camp (Reuters)
This week's US data onslaught begins today, with the ADP private payroll report first on deck (Exp. 230K, down from 281K), followed by the number of the day, Q2 GDP, which after Q1's abysmal -2.9%, is expected to increase 3%. Anything less and in the first half the US economy will have contracted, something the purists could claim is equivalent to a recession. The whisper numbers are to the downside since consumption and trade never caught up and the only variable is inventory as well as Obamacare, whose impact was $40 billion "contribution" in Q1 was entirely eliminated and instead led to a deduction, something we expect will be reversed into Q2. Following the backward looking GDP (which will be ignored by the sellside penguins if it is bad and praised if good) at 2:00 pm Yellen Capital LLC comes out with a correction on her call to short social networking stocks, as well as admit once again that the "data-driven" Fed really has no idea what it is doing and how it will tighten, but that tightening is imminent and another $10 billion taper to QE will take place ahead of a full phase out in October. Joking aside, the Fed is expected not to do much if anything, which may be just the right time for Yellen to inject an aggressively hawkish note considering her inflation "noise" refuses to go away.
With hours to go until Argentina's grace period runs out and default occurs, investors are less than frantically selling Argentine bonds and pesos. They are lower but do not appear in full panic mode as we presume investors cling to hope that Argentina folds and pays off the holdouts (though there has been no sign of that so far). ARG 2033 bonds are down 3 points to 81 and the black-market peso is modestly weaker at 13.0 (near its record lows). Argentine CDS tightened modestly (as BofA warns the facts surrounding Argentina’s bond payments continue to be unique and deciding if CDS are triggered could take longer than expected) but 1Y CDS are holding at 4600bps (equivalent) - a 52% probability of default. Paul singer continues to defend himself (and the holdouts) from claims they are "dangerous fundamentalists" hell-bent on making it impossible for foreign sovereigns to restructure their debts.
Before you jump on the Bull market bandwagon of "don't fight the Fed," perhaps you should take a look at the quality of the debt the Fed has enabled and the diminishing returns on all that debt.