Despite an overnight surge in the Chinese markets, with the Shanghai Composite closing up 2.4% following reports that China will not only continue with its "liquidity tightening" operation by, paradoxically, cutting RRR for smaller banks, but launch a stimulus for several Chinese provinces and city governments "on the quiet" in the form of jumbo-sized bank loans, and GDP news in Japan that were so bad they were almost good (although not bad enough to close the Nikkei in the green) US futures continue to take on water following the second worst week of 2013 as the market now appears resigned to a Taper announcement in just over 5 weeks (as we have claimed since May). News in Europe continues to be bipolar, with the big picture confirming that only dark skies lie ahead following yesterday's news that a new Greek bailout is just around the corner, or rather just after the Merkel reelection (even though Kotthaus perpetuated the lies and said a second cut in Greek debt is not on the agenda - although maybe he is not lying: maybe only Greek deposits will be cut this time), offset by on the margin improvements in the economic headlines, even as credit creation remains not only non-existent but as the FT reports (one year after Zero Hedge), some €3.2 trillion in financial deleveraging is still on deck meaning an unprecedented contraction in all credit-driven aggregates (one of which of course is GDP).
Back in April 2012, Zero Hedge pointed out something rather disturbing for the European banking sector and defenders of the European monetary myth: the "aggregate shortfall of required stable funding Is €2.78 trillion" which was the number estimated by the BIS' Basel III rules needed to return to some semblance of balance sheet stability in Europe. More importantly, this was a number so big, it was obvious that there was only one way to deal with it: cover it up deeply under the rug and pray it never reemerged. What happened next was inevitable: Basel III's implementation was delayed as there was no way Europe's banks could satisfy their deleveraging requirements, while the actual capital shortfall hole became bigger and bigger. Today, 16 months later, the FT discovers what Zero Hedge readers knew long ago in "Eurozone banks need to shed €3.2tn in assets to meet Basel III." In other words, not only has Europe not fixed anything in the past year, but the liquidity tsunami injected by the central banks merely taped over the epic capital shortfall that just got epic-er, increasing from €2.8 trillion to €3.2 trillion, an increase of half a trillion to over $4 trillion in one short year.
How would America ever survive without the central planners in the Obama administration and at the Federal Reserve? What in the world would we do if there was no income tax and no IRS? Could the U.S. economy possibly keep from collapsing under such circumstances? The mainstream media would have us believe that unless we have someone "to pull the levers" our economy would descend into utter chaos, but the truth is that the best period of economic growth in U.S. history occurred during a time when there was no income tax and no Federal Reserve. We never needed a central bank, we never needed the IRS and we never needed an income tax. America would be doing just fine without any of them. But instead, America chose to go down the path of collectivization and central planning, and now we are heading toward the biggest economic disaster in the history of mankind.
Since Detroit’s Chapter 9 filing in late July, it has slipped off the front-pages to some extent. The Chapter 9 process is underway and Barclays provides a deep-dive look at the various liabilities involved in the bankruptcy. From the pension obligation certificates (POC), which they believe could be subject to the most volatility over the course of the bankruptcy process and will likely recover no more than 30 cents on the dollar, Barclays' muni team expands on the various aspects of the eligibility process, historical precedents (such as Stockton, CA), and the tough decisions that investors face in deciding between short-term goal of certainty of payment or a long-term goal of maximizing returns. The judge has set a mid-March 2014 deadline for the city to file its plan of adjustment.
As David Stockman, Reagan's infamous Budget Director, writes in his bestseller, The Great Deformation: The Corruption Of Capitalism In America – "the last thing hedge funds do is hedge." The hedge fund complex is "not so much a conventional industry as it is a giant moveable trade": Wall Street trading desks frequently morph into independent hedge fund partnerships, and senior hedge funds often sire “cubs” and then sons of cubs. The protean ability of this arrangement to spawn, fund, and replicate successful momentum trades cannot be overstated, and has "generated trillions of permanent momentum-chasing capital." Ultimately, he warns, "apologists for the Fed’s evisceration of the capital markets could not see... they had unleashed the financial furies in the violent momentum trading modus operandi of the hedge fund casino."
For many years, we have been extremely focused on shadow banking and most specifically the repo markets (recently here and here). Most market participants will go through their trading life ignorant of the fact that the leverage in this market is what drives their assets up or down in most cases (because understanding something new is so 'old normal' even if it remains a major potential catalyst for problems ahead). The regulators get it though (kinda). As Barclays notes, changes to the risk-weightings of low-risk assets in the repo markets means US banks will need to deleverage by raising $30bn of fresh capital or reducing their (mostly low-risk) assets by $598bn - not chump change in a market dominated by the Fed (and one that some have already raised default and liquidity concerns about).
Recent data releases have contained mixed messages. Bulls cling to anecdotal data points to support their 'recovery around the corner' green-shoots justification for equity valuations while bears remain mired in the reality of a slow and dismal recovery-less recovery. The following 13 charts (with 1 bright shining point of government sponsored exuberance) paint a different picture than the all-time high stock prices suggest.
According to the index the construction of the world’s tallest buildings have always coincided with the great slumps and recessions that we have gone through in history.
We do not inhabit a “normal” economy. We live in a financialised world in which our banks cannot be trusted, our politicians cannot be trusted, our money cannot be trusted, and – not least thanks to ongoing spasms of QE and expectations of much more of the same – our markets cannot be trusted. At some point (though the timing is impossible to predict), asset markets that cannot be pumped artificially any higher will start moving, under the forces of inevitable gravitation, lower.
First it was the TBAC's May presentation "Availability of High Quality Collateral" piggybacking on reasoning presented previously by Credit Suisse. Then JPM's resident "flow and liquidity" expert Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou rang the bell on regulatory changes to shadow banking and how they would impact the repo market and collateral availability (and transformation) in an adverse fashion. Now, it is the turn of Barclays' own repo chief Joseph Abate to highlight a topic we have discussed since 2009: the ongoing contraction in quality collateral as a result of transformations in shadow banking and the Fed's extraction of quality collateral from traditional liquidity conduits (i.e., QE's monetization of bonds). To wit: "Several recent regulatory proposals will increase the pressure on banks to reduce assets that carry low risk weights. Repurchase agreements are a large source of banks’ low-risk assets, and we expect banks to reduce their matched book operations in response to these proposals."
Greed; corporate arrogance; lobbying influence; excessive leverage; accounting tricks to hide debt; lack of transparency; off balance sheet obligations; mark to market accounting; short-term focus on profit to drive compensation; failure of corporate governance; as well as auditors, analysts, rating agencies and regulators who were either lax, ignorant or complicit. This laundry list of causes has often been used to describe what went wrong in the credit crunch crisis of 2008-2010. Actually these terms were equally used to describe what went wrong with Enron more than twenty years ago. Both crises resulted in what at the time was the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history — Enron in December 2001 and Lehman Brothers in September 2008. Naturally, this leads to the question that despite all the righteous indignation in the wake of Enron's failure did we really learn or change anything?
With the return of Federal Reserve Chair(wo)man odds at PaddyPower (leaving Summers a dreary 28% likelihood of winning) comes the Irish bettors' latest gamble... when will the US Fed initiate Tapering of QE? Based on the month during which the first reduction of QE bond-buying from the current $85bn per month, it seems (unlike the majority of prognosticators and standing blithely in the face of technical, political, and deficit reasons) that tapering will not begin until December at earliest with most believing 2014-or-later...
The LBMA clearing statistics therefore essentially represent huge daily trading through unallocated accounts, most of which is classified as spot delivery, but which is backed by very small physical metal foundations. The clearing statistics while interesting, need to be made more transparent and granular beyond the headline data. Otherwise they tend to obscure rather than illuminate.
- Ackman Says Pershing Square Takes 9.8% Stake in Air Products (BBG) - So is APD Carl Icahn's biggest ever short yet
- Latest Hilsenplant: Summers Hedges His Doubts on Fed's Bond Buying (WSJ)
- China Stocks World’s Worst Losing $748 Billion on Slump (BBG)
- U.S. Spy Program Lifts Veil in Court (WSJ)
- Abenomics on the rock again: Japan July manufacturing PMI shows growth at 4-month low (Reuters)
- EADS to be renamed Airbus in shake-up (FT)
- Goldman's GSAM has significantly increased its exposure to European equities (FT) - there is a reason why this is Goldman's worst division
- Japanese Megabanks Post Mega Profit Gains (WSJ) - when one excludes MTM impact from rate surge of course
- Ex-workers sue Apple, seek overtime for daily bag searches (Reuters)
- Hong Kong Yuan Deposits Snap Eight-Month Increase on Cash Crunch (BBG)
- Downtown NYC Landlords Remake Offices in Shift From Banks (BBG)