Despite media rumors that the Portuguese foreign minister Portas, who resigned on Tuesday precipitating a complete collapse in Portugual bond prices and ushering in the latest European political crisis, has agreed to stay in the government as a Deputy PM and economy minister (nothing like some title inflation-pro-quo), things in Portugal are rapidly turning from bad to worse. To wit:
PORTUGUESE 10-YEAR BONDS DECLINE; YIELD RISES 14 BPS TO 7.60%
PORTUGUESE TWO-YEAR NOTE YIELD RISES 60 BPS TO 5.64%
PORTUGUESE 2-YEAR YIELD REACHES 5.66%, HIGHEST SINCE NOV. 20
The main reason for the collapse appears to be the near consensus developing this morning that no matter what the government does at this point, a second bailout of the small country is inevitable.
Given the US holiday, markets are likely to be thin today but there are some big news stories floating around at the moment. If the fast and furious events from the past few days in a revolutionary Egypt bear a striking resemblance to what happened in the spring of 2011, it is because they are strikingly comparable. Only this time, following the ouster of yet another US-supported "leader" by the US-supported military, the country's CDS has normalized at a level that is roughly double where it was two years ago as the implicit backing of the US looks increasingly shaky, following what was yet another bungled foreign policy venture by the Obama administration. But for now, the people are celebrating, just as they did in 2011. One wonders what happens between now and the next coup, somewhere two years (or less) hence. For now focus merely on who controls the Suez - after all that is really all that matters for the US. The other major story of yesterday, Portugal, continues to be in limbo,
Portgual stuck with austerity even after the orthodoxy changed. The finance minister resigned and was replaced by someone who promises continuity. This led to the resignation of the head of the jr coalition partner leader. Still, snap elections are not the most likely scenario.
A busy week, with a bevy of significant data releases, starting with the already reported PMIs out of China and Europe (as well as unemployment and inflation numbers from the Old World), the US Manufacturing and Services PMI, another Bill Dudley speech on Tuesday, US factory orders, statements by the ECB and BOE, where Goldman's new head Mark Carney will preside over his first meeting, and much more in a holiday shortened US week.
How bad is the situation? Quite bad. As as of last night, courtesy of SMRA, we know that the amount of ten-year equivalents held by the Fed increased to $1.608 trillion from $1.606 trillion in the prior week, which reduces the amount available to the private sector to $3.603 trillion from $3.636 trillion in the prior week. There were $5.211 trillion ten-year equivalents outstanding, down from $5.242 trillion in the prior week. After the Treasury issuance, maturing securities, rising interest rates, and Fed operations during the week, the Fed owned about 30.86% of the total outstanding ten year equivalents. This is above the 30.63% from the prior week, and the percentage of ten-year equivalents available to the private sector decreased to 69.14% from 69.37% in the prior week.
- Hilsenrising interest rates Business Feels Pinch of Swift Rate Rise (WSJ)
- Yellen Betting Defies 100-Year Jinx of Fed No. 2 Never Elevated (BBG)
- No sign of cyber leaker Snowden on flight to Cuba (Reuters)
- Back to the Future 2 is finally coming: Honda Sees ‘Flying Sports Car’ Making Profit by Decade’s End (BBG)
- Europe’s Richest Person Kamprad to Move Back to Sweden (BBG)
- Li’s Shock Treatment to China Lenders Evokes Ex-Reformer (BBG)
- In India, Gold-Related Shares Melt Down (WSJ)
- Citigroup Opens in Iraq to Tap $1 Trillion of Oil Spending (BBG)
- France warned on budget deficit (FT)
The Financial Times has revealed that Italy is facing losses of €8 billion due to derivative contracts that were taken out in the 1990s and that were restructured during the Eurozone crisis.
It was roughly four years ago when details surrounding such Goldman SPV deals as Titlos first emerged, that it became clear how for over a decade, using deliberately masking transactions such as currency swaps, Greece had managed to fool the Eurozone into believing its economy was doing far better, and its debt load was far lower than it actually was in order to comply with the Masstricht treaty's entrance requirements. As for the Pandora's Box that was opened following the disclosure of just how ugly the unvarnished truth in Europe is, following the Greek disclosure, leading to the general realization that the European experiment has failed and it is now only a matter of time before its final unwind, any comment here is unnecessary - ths has been widely discussed here and elsewhere over the past several years. Now it is Italy's turn. Overnight, the FT reported that "Italy risks potential losses of billions of euros on derivatives contracts it restructured at the height of the eurozone crisis."
Eventually the money runs out. Much of America was shocked when the city of Detroit defaulted on a $39.7 million debt payment and announced that it was suspending payments on $2.5 billion of unsecured deb. Anyone with half a brain and a calculator could see this coming from a mile away. But people kept foolishly lending money to the city of Detroit, and now many of them are going to get hit really hard. But what Detroit is facing is not really that unique. In fact, Detroit is a perfect example of what the future of America is going to look like. We live in a nation that is rotting, decaying, drowning in debt and racing toward insolvency. Just like Detroit, a day is rapidly approaching when America will not be able to kick the can down the road anymore. Sadly, our politicians don't seem inclined to do anything about it and most of the population seems to think that our exploding national debt is not a significant problem. By the time it becomes clear how wrong they were, it will be far too late to do anything about it.
Not so long ago, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said it expected the U.S. government to register a budget deficit in the current fiscal year of $642 billion. But hold on a minute... The budget deficit so far (as of May 31, 2013) has already hit $626.3 billion, and we still have four more months to go in the government’s current fiscal year! The U.S. has been the family that spends more than it earns for many years now. In the short term, spending more than one takes in can work (especially if the Fed just prints new money and gives it to the government to pay its bills). But in the long term, if fundamental changes are not made to the government’s spending habits, financial chaos just starts all over again. Posting a budget deficit year after year is not sustainable. The debt-infested eurozone nations did very much the same; they borrowed to spend. Look where they are now.
"While we are not likely to see a repeat of that type of [30Y bond] bull market any time soon, we also do not believe we are at the beginning of a bear market for bonds."
"We are concerned by the growing downside of zero-based money and QE policies – among them a worrisome distortion in asset pricing, the misallocation of capital and ultimately a dis-incentivizing of risk taking by corporations and investors."
"We believe caution is warranted not just for fixed income investors, but for investors in all risk assets; avoiding long durations, reducing credit risk away from economically vulnerable companies and sectors"
"I'm terrified about what will happen to interest rates once financial markets wake up to the implications of skyrocketing budget deficits.... The accident -- the fiscal train wreck -- is already under way.... How will the train wreck play itself out? Maybe a future administration will use butterfly ballots to disenfranchise retirees, making it possible to slash Social Security and Medicare. Or maybe a repentant Rush Limbaugh will lead the drive to raise taxes on the rich. But my prediction is that politicians will eventually be tempted to resolve the crisis the way irresponsible governments usually do: by printing money, both to pay current bills and to inflate away debt.... And as that temptation becomes obvious, interest rates will soar. It won't happen right away. With the economy stalling and the stock market plunging, short-term rates are probably headed down, not up, in the next few months, and mortgage rates may not have hit bottom yet. But unless we slide into Japanese-style deflation, there are much higher interest rates in our future.... I think that the main thing keeping long-term interest rates low right now is cognitive dissonance."
It’s always a bit amusing to meet an investor making money in the markets right now who actually thinks it’s because he’s smarter than everyone else. Everyone knows the Fed’s quantitative easing program calls for them to buy $85 billion worth of bonds and mortgage backed securities each and every month. And the connection to market performance is clear. But, as is clear with USDJPY, Nikkei, and European sovereigns, the end of this exuberance is beginning to happen. All of this indicates that the leveraged investing herd seems to be squaring positions, going to cash, and paying back some of the USD-denominated debt they’ve borrowed. So far it’s all been an orderly move lower. And herein lies the trouble. Few investors are spooked right now because there is so much calm in the markets. But that calm can quickly turn into anxiety, which can quicly turn into all-out panic. It’s taken years (since 2008) to print so much money. This means that a market panic will unwind years’ worth of liquidity in a matter of weeks. It’s a financial tsunami that no investor should underestimate.
By now it is conventional wisdom that the Italian economy is foundering alongside all other peripheral European nations as a result of a failed artificial currency leading to an inability for external rebalancing, a flawed monetary system leading to a collapse in credit demand, and the lack of any structural reform (and sorry, but when your budget deficit is soaring alongside your debt it's anything but "austerity's fault"). However, there is hope. According to Italy's trade union CGIL, good news may be just around the corner as Italy looks set to recover its pre-crisis unemployment level... In 2076, or a brief 63 years from now. "So, you're telling me there's a chance."
In the 15th century, the highest standard of living in the world belonged to China. Places like Nanjing had reached the pinnacle of civilization with incredibly modern infrastructure, robust economies, substantial international trade, great healthcare, and a rising middle class. If you had told a Chinese merchant at the time that, over the course of the next several hundred years, global primacy would shift to Europe (and a relatively unknown American continent), you would have been laughed at. It was simply unthinkable given how advanced China was over the west. And yet, it happened. Ironically, the tables are turning yet again; in total objectivity, the patient is beyond cure at this point… and the math is quite simple. Nations typically enter this vicious cycle once they start having to borrow money just to pay interest on what they already owe. The US is already way past this point.