The grind higher in equities, and tighter in credit, continues as markets brush aside concerns about a December taper for the time being. Overnight futures levitation has pushed the Fed balance sheet driven record high S&P even higher, despite as Deutsche Bank points out, the fact that we had three Fed speakers advocate or talk up the possibility of a December taper, including the St Louis Fed’s James Bullard who is viewed as a bit of a bellwether for the FOMC. Bullard said the probability of a taper had risen in light of the strengthening of job growth in recent months. Indeed, he noted that the best move for the Fed could be a small December taper given the improving jobs data but below-target inflation readings. The Fed could then pause further tapering should inflation not return toward target during the first half of 2014. Looking at today’s calendar, the focus will be on US JOLTs job openings - a report which Yellen has previously highlighted as an important supplement to more traditional labour market indicators. US small business optimism and wholesale inventories are the other major data releases today. As mentioned above, US financial regulators are due to announce Volcker rules at some point today although as we just reported, the CFTC's meeting on Volcker was just cancelled due to inclement weather.
A zombie government armed with accounting tricks has bailed out a zombie banking industry using even more financial phoniness. A few numbers pushed here and there, and the industry is earning record profits. But out in the real world where people live and work, things aren't so rosy. Zombies make negligent landlords and dangerous neighbors.
Overnight repo rates are spiking once again in early trading as the typically smaller banks that are more desperate bid aggressively for whetever liquidity they can find. 5Y Chinese swap rates have also reached a record high as the Yuan reaches its highest since Feb 2005. Chinese authorities are clearly stepping up the rhetoric:
- *CHINA SHADOW-FINANCE RISKS WILL SPREAD TO BANKS, FANG SAYS
- *VERY BIG CHANCE ONE OR TWO SMALL CHINA BANKS WILL FAIL: FANG
- *SOME CHINA TRUST INVESTMENT FIRMS MAY FAIL, SELL ASSETS: FANG
- *CHINA MUST PLAN FOR BANK-FAIL SCENARIOS TO MANAGE RISKS: FANG
- *CHINA NEEDS TO PAY MORE ATTENTION TO CORPORATE LEVERAGE: HU
The gambit between the PBOC's liqudity provision and the growing dependence on their "spice" is clear - the question is, of course, will banks send a message (via the markets) to the PBOC or will they self-select (on first-mover's advantage) eradicating the weakest.
On December 23, 2013, the U.S. Federal Reserve (the Fed) will celebrate its 100th birthday, so we thought it was time to take a look at the Fed’s real accomplishment, and the practices and policies it has employed during this time to rob the public of its wealth. The criticism is directed not only at the world’s most powerful central bank - the Fed - but also at the concept of central banks in general, because they are the antithesis of fiscal responsibility and financial constraint as represented by gold and a gold standard. The Fed was sold to the public in much the same way as the Patriot Act was sold after 9/11 - as a sacrifice of personal freedom for the promise of greater government protection. Instead of providing protection, the Fed has robbed the public through the hidden tax of inflation brought about by currency devaluation.
Stunning Facts that Your History, Economics and Business Teachers Never Learned ...
Another of history’s many lessons is that governments under pressure become thieves. And today’s governments are under a lot of pressure.
Now that "bail-ins" have become accepted practice all over the planet, no bank account and no pension fund will ever be 100% safe again. In fact, Cyprus-style wealth confiscation is already starting to happen all around the world. As we warned two years ago, "the muddle through has failed... and there may only be painful ways out of this."
What are the consequences of a central bank creating trillions of dollars for speculation and a central state borrowing trillions of dollars on a permanent basis? As noted before, risk cannot be extinguished, it can only be offloaded onto someone else or masked for a short time. The consequences of this sleight-of-hand (the Fed creates money to buy Federal bonds so the government can borrow and blow trillions of dollars) are not yet visible, but there will be consequences at some point; the risks have only been temporarily cloaked.Borrowing and printing $10 trillion hasn't fixed anything; it has only raised the reservoir of risk to the top of the dam. Cracks are opening as the pressure builds, and we should not be surprised when risk and consequence reconnect and the dam gives way.
Physical demand remains robust internationally especially in China and India where premiums are moving higher again. In China, physical demand remains robust and premiums remain at elevated levels near $35/oz. In India, premiums charged shot to $20 an ounce overnight from $8-$10 on Tuesday.
Turns out that for Europe, Cyprus was a "bail-in" template after all, and following an agreement reached early this morning, Europe now has a joint failed-bank resolution mechanism. Several hours ago, EU finance ministers announced that they had reached agreement on the principles governing the imposition of losses on creditors in bank 'bail ins'. Having already agreed to establish "depositor preference" in the pecking order of creditors at risk, the stumbling block to agreement was the availability of flexibility at the national level to complement the bail in with injections of funds from other sources. Under the compromise achieved overnight, once a bail in equivalent to 8% of total liabilities has been implemented, support from other sources can be used (up to 5% of total liabilities) with approval from Brussels. So investors (i.e. yield chasers) will foot the cost of bank bailouts? Maybe on paper. In reality, last night's agreement is the usual fluid melange of semi-rigid rules filled with loopholes designed to benefit large banks whose impairment may be detrimental to "systemic stability". To wit, from the FT: "While a minimum bail-in amounting to 8 per cent of total liabilities is mandatory before resolution funds can be used, countries are given more leeway to shield certain creditors from losses in defined circumstances." In other words, here is the bail in regime... which we may decide to ignore under "defined circumstances."
It is easy to get the impression that the naysayers are wrong on Europe. After all the predictions of Armageddon, ten-year government bond yields for Spain and Italy fell to the 4% level, France which is retreating into old-fashioned socialism was able to borrow at about 2%, and one of the best performing bond investments has been until recently – wait for it – Greek government bonds! Admittedly, bond yields have risen from those lows, but so have they everywhere. It is clear when one stands back from all the usual euro-rhetoric that as a threat to the global financial system it is a case of panic over. Well, no. Europe has not recapitalized its banking system the way the US has (at great taxpayer expense, of course). Therefore, it is much more vulnerable. Where European governments and regulators have failed to make their banks more secure it is because they tied their strategy to growth arising from an economic recovery that has failed to materialize. The reality is that the Eurozone GDP levels are only being supported at the moment by the consumption of savings; in orther words, the consumption of personal wealth. Wealth that is not infinite; and held by those not likely to tolerate footing the bill for much longer.
From Caijing, google translated. We hope the gist of the narrative in Mandarin is far less scary, because if the translation is even remotely accurate, then all hell may be about to break loose in China: "This morning, the Bank of China Bank moratorium on transfers, online banking, counters are inoperable... Customer service said, now silver futures transfer service has been fully suspended, online banking, the counter can not be handled, and now has the background system response, recovery time is not yet known."
Overview of the great unwind, which I suggest has three components--tapering talk in the US, Japanese selling foreign assets and the liquidity squeeze in China (squeezing another carry carry trade).
We now know that 'muddle through' is over, and just as we noted here "there may only be painful ways out of this crisis" as we evidenced by Europe's attack on Cypriot depositors. With the pillars of Abenomics starting to crumble, it seems plans are afoot to prepare for the bank failures that will come from a BoJ-inspired out-of-control bond market. As Nikkei reports, Japan's Financial Services Agency will enact new rules that will forced failed bank losses on investors, if needed, via a mechanism known as a "bail-in." The FSA report also notes that Mitsubishi UFJ (MTU), Mizuho Financial (MFG) and Sumitomo Mitsui (SMFG) are among those proposing amendments to allow them to issue the types of preferred shares or subordinated bonds that would be used in such cases. So not only will Japanese banks suffer VaR shock-driven needs to reduce JGB holdings but a weaker deposit base will further exacerbate the deleveraging.
Fractional reserve banking is unlike most other businesses. It's not just because its product is money. It's because banks can manufacture their product out of thin air. Under the bygone rules of free market capitalism, only one thing kept banks from creating an infinite amount of money, and that was fear of failure. Periodic bank failures remind depositors of the connection between risk and reward. What is not widely appreciated is that the ensuing government bailouts allowed an underlying shadow banking system to not only survive but grow even larger. To the frustration of Keynesians, and despite an unprecedented Quantitative Easing (QE) by the Federal Reserve, conventional commercial banks have broken with custom and have amassed almost $2 trillion in excess reserves they are reluctant to lend as they scramble to digest all the bad loans still on their books. So most of the money manufactured today is actually being created by the shadow banks. But shadow banks do not generally make commercial loans. Rather, they use the money they manufacture to fund proprietary trading operations in repos and derivatives. No one knows when the bubble will pop, but when it does a donnybrook is going to break out over that thin wedge of collateral whose ownership is spread across counterparties around the world, each looking for relief from their own judges, politicians, bureaucrats, and taxpayers.