One sign would be for non-energy junk bonds to begin dropping in price. That would mean large holders are exiting from all junk bonds, not just those companies affected by low oil prices.
Another sign would be sudden drops in share prices for banks or insurance companies that hold small amounts of energy-related bonds or bank loans, a clue that some market participants think they have derivative exposure.
A third sign to look for would be the rumors or news that the big, investment-grade energy companies are having trouble renewing their Commercial Paper, bank loans or maturing bonds (the Exxon-Mobils and Shells of the world).
As its recent 10-K confirmed, AAPL's domestic cash - the amount of cash available for such corporate transactions as dividends and buybacks - had dropped to just $18.1 billion (and that is including the several billion in commercial paper issued in fiscal Q4), the lowest domestic cash hoard since March 2010, a time when AAPL's offshore cash was a tiny $24 billion compared to the near record $137 billion last quarter! So knowing full well that a buyback a day keep the Icahnator away, AAPL, urgently looking to refill its domestic cash since its offshore cash remains untouchable (absent being taxed on its repatriation), did the only thing it could do: prepare to issue more bonds, which is what we forecast would happen a few weeks ago, and what the WSJ overnight confirmed is already in progress.
FOMC stops buying securities in the open market and the world falls apart, right? WOW. Are you folk’s economists, traders, or just a bit naive?
Central banks are printing rules almost as fast as they’re printing money. The consequences of these fast-multiplying directives — complicated, long-winded, and sometimes self-contradictory — is one topic at hand. Manipulated interest rates is a second. Distortion and mispricing of stocks, bonds, and currencies is a third. Skipping to the conclusion of this essay, Jim Grant is worried: "The more they tried, the less they succeeded. The less they succeeded, the more they tried. There is no 'exit.'"
QE has finally come to an end, but public comprehension of the immense fraud it embodied has not even started. In stopping QE after a massive spree of monetization, the Fed is actually taking a tiny step toward liberating the interest rate and re-establishing honest finance. But don’t bother to inform our monetary politburo. As soon as the current massive financial bubble begins to burst, it will doubtless invent some new excuse to resume central bank balance sheet expansion and therefore fraudulent finance. But this time may be different. Perhaps even the central banks have reached the limits of credibility - that is, their own equivalent of peak debt.
There was a time when one couldn't get Bernanke to shut up: whether it was swearing to Congress how the Fed is not monetizing debt, explaining to Ron Paul that gold is nothing but "tradition", or otherwise issuing one after another after another debt monetizing quantitative easing program in hopes that "this time" the trickle down from the record high stock market would finally unleash central-planning utopia, Bernanke's verbal insight was in a state of constant deflation. However, ever since his departure from the marble halls of the Marriner Eccles building, suddenly Bernanke's insight has hyperinflated to the tune of some $250,000 per hour of Bernanke's time (time during which he says such profound insights as "No Rate Normalization During My Lifetime"). So without further ado, and without having to fork over a ridiculous quarter of a million dollars, here is what the Chairsatan really said...
Last Wednesday the markets plunged on a vague recognition that the central bank promoted recovery story might not be on the level. But that tremor didn’t last long. Right on cue the next day, one of the very dimmest Fed heads - James Dullard of St Louis - mumbled incoherently about a possible QE extension, causing the robo-traders to erupt with buy orders. And its no different anywhere else in the central bank besotted financial markets around the world. Everywhere state action, not business enterprise, is believed to be the source of wealth creation - at least the stock market’s paper wealth version and even if for just a few more hours or days. The job of the monetary politburo is apparently to sift noise out of the in-coming data noise - even when it is a feedback loop from the Fed’s own manipulation and interventions.
With the AAPL EPS whisper number pointing to an EPS somewhere about 10-15 cents above the EPS consensus of 1.30, moments ago AAPL did not disappoint and reported Q4 EPS of $1.42, a solid 12 cent beat to expectations, a comparable beat to the top line beat, with $42.12 billion in revenue, also well above the $39.9 Bn estimate. The gross margin of 38% was right on top of expectations. In terms of product breakdown, AAPL sold 39.3 million iPhones, above the 38 million expected, with Mac unit sales of 5.52 million also above the 4.84 million expected, with only iPad sales of 12.3 million missing the 13.0 million estimate.
Straight-forward discussion about the investment climate and the week ahead. Light on hyperbole, heavy on analysis.
The market is extremely tired and the systemic risks underlying the Financial Crisis are in no way resolved. With investor complacency (as measured by the VIX) at record lows, the Fed withdrawing several of its more significant market props, and low participation coming from the larger institutions, this market is ripe for a serious correction.
Having admitted that the banking system problems in Portugal could be systemic, the President has a bigger problem now as the 3rd (and final) Holdco of the Banco Espirito Santo capital structure fiasco just filed for bankruptcy:
*ESPIRITO SANTO FINANCIAL GROUP SEEKS PROTECTION FROM CREDITORS
First it was ESI (storm in a teacup), then RioForte ("contained"), and now ESFG ("systemic"), and given the CEO's recent "detention" for money-laundering, we wonder how long before Banco Espirito Santo is forced to liquidate?
Banco Espirito Santo stocks and bonds are up notably this morning following comments from the Portuguese Central Bank that shareholders are interested in injecting more capital into the failed bank. This has - for now - reassured investors that a bail-in won't be necessary but, as Jefferies notes, "it's hearsay for the moment but it’s helpful." Chatter that "someone" is willing to throw another EUR 2 Billion at this "troubled" financial entity was enough to spur risk-on buying in most of European stocks with Portugal PSI20 surging almost 4%. The question is - after all this additional capital (at what will likely be a major haircut to current equity prices), who will do business with this bank (and why?) after already suffering through the fear of deposit confiscation or debt haircuts?
This clown parade of clueless opinions (did we mention Goldman had BES at a buy until this morning?), stretched all the way to the very top with Bank of Portugal itself issuing the following pearl:
- BANK OF PORTUGAL SAYS BES DEPOSITORS CAN STAY CALM
Uhhh, what else would the Portugal central bank say? Panic and withdraw your deposits from a bank whose exposures to insolvent entities have been largely unknown until today (and even now).
Brussels, we have a problem. As we warned 6 weeks ago, Espirito Santo International SA - is in a "serious financial condition" according to a central bank driven external audit by KPMG identified "irregularities in its accounts." Sure enough, the 'ponzi-like' maneuvers have left the bank unable to pay its bonds as Bloomberg reports bonds plunged to record lows after a parent company delayed payments on short-term notes. More importantly, given the divisively dependent nature of the domestic sovereign bond market (and hence the health of the EU) and its banking system, it is noteworthy that Portuguese bond risk has surged to 4 month highs with the biggest 2-day spike in a year. As one analyst noted, “The bigger question is whether the government will have to get involved,” leaving the EU taxpayer on the hook once again (for fear of M.A.D. threats) as most critically, it "will have to step in to prevent systemic repercussions?"