A one-stop shop summary of bullish and bearish perspectives on this weeks news, data, and markets.
Credit Sights on Deutsche Bank: "The capital shortfall of €3.2 bln identified by the EBA's capital exercise at 30 September 2011 has magically disappeared"
What the heck is going on in Europe, and why are the peripheral countries putting up with it?
According to the Bank of International Settlements, as of June 2011 total over-the-counter derivatives contracts have an outstanding notional value of 707.57 trillion dollars, ( 32.4 trillion dollars in CDS’s alone). Where does this kind of money come from, and what does it refer to? We don’t really know, because over-the-counter derivatives are not transparent or regulated. With regulated economic markets, when an underlying real asset is impaired (i.e. the company in question is bankrupt, the mortgage has defaulted, etc.), market value is assessed, default insurance is paid up to replacement or full value, bond holders and stock holders make claims on remaining value and the account is closed. There is no need for bailouts because order and proportion of compensation has been established and everything is attached to the value of the underlying asset. When the unreal, counterfeit economy intrudes, you now have a situation where a person can put in an unregulated, but recognized, claim to be paid a thousand times over in case of impairment. Say market participants have negotiated for a bankrupt company a 70% payback for bondholders and (36% payback for insurance claims), and I come with not one but rather 1,000 CDS claims demanding to be paid for each CDS.
Greece Draws The Line As Unity Government Leaders Refuse To Cede To Further Troika Austerity DemandsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/03/2012 14:02 -0400
It appears that Greece will not even have to wait until the dreaded March 20 funding D-Day. As was earlier reported, Greek PM Lucas Papademos may resign if he is unable to persuade his coalition unity government to agree to further Troika demands for additional austerity. It now appears that there will be no agreement, and thus the primary demand from the Troika for further cash disbursement will not be met. The FT reports: "All three party leaders in Greece’s teetering national unity government have opposed new austerity measures demanded by international lenders, forcing eurozone finance ministers to postpone approval of a new €130bn bail-out and moving the country closer to a full-blown default. Representatives of the so-called “troika” – the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund – have demanded further cuts in government jobs and severe reductions in Greek salaries, including an immediate 25 per cent cut in the €750 minimum monthly wage, before agreeing the new rescue. But representatives of all three coalition partners, including centre-left Pasok of former prime minister George Papandreou and the centre-right New Democracy of likely successor Antonis Samaras, said they were unwilling to back the government layoffs." Now we have been here before, and as a reminder the last time Greece threatened to pull out of Europe with the G-Pap referendum threat back in the fall, G-Pap was promptly replaced with the Trilateral Commission member and former ECB Vice President, Lucas Papademos. The problem is that for him to obtain power, he needed to form a coalition government. Well, that now appears to be in tatters, as not one party is willing to break to the Greeks that the minimum wage of €750 will be cut even further. The question is who will blink first this time, as it is quite likely that neither the Troika nor Greece want an out of control default. Unless, of course, this was Germany's plan B to the imposition of a Greek commissar all along...
The vast majority of professional investors are unable to contemplate truly dark times for the markets. After all, the two worst items most of them have witnessed (the Tech Bust and 2008) were both remedied within about 18 months and were followed by massive market rallies.Because of this, the idea that the financial system might fail or that we might see any number of major catastrophes (Germany leaving the EU, a US debt default, hyperinflation, etc.) is on par with Bigfoot or Unicorns for 99% of those whose jobs are to manage investors' money or advise investors on how to allocate their capital.
A few days after Germany proposed the stripping of Greek fiscal authority from the insolvent country, in exchange for providing funding for what German FinMin Schauble called today a "bottomless pit" (and Brüderle chimed in saying that "a default of the Greek government would be bitter but manageable), Sarkozy decided to demonstrate his "muscle" if not so much stature, and openly denied Germany, saying "There can be no question of putting any country under tutelage." Sure enough, it was now Germany's turn to reciprocate the favor. According to Bloomberg, "Finance ministers from the four euro- area countries with AAA ratings -- Germany, Finland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands -- will meet in Berlin tomorrow afternoon, a German Finance Ministry spokesman said." And as is well known, FrAAnce no longer a member of this, however meaningless, club. "The gathering is part of a a series of meetings convened by officials from the highest-rated euro states, the spokesman said, speaking on the customary condition of anonymity. Ministers will discuss current issues without briefing reporters after the meeting." And so the gauntlet of public humiliation is now once again back in Sarkozy's court. The good news: if the de minimis Frenchman does not get his act in order, and overturn the massive lead that his challenger in the April presidential elections has garnered, he will need to endure the humiliation for at most 3 more months. In other news, it appears that when it comes to saving political face, the rating agencies are actually quite useful.
Was the Chapter 11 Petition of MF Global Holdings filed fraudulently?
Gold has risen to 8 week highs despite positive manufacturing data, higher factory activity in Germany, China and the US and the hope that a Greek debt restructuring solution is imminent. Demand for physical in Europe, Asia and internationally remains robust which is supporting gold. Investors will today watch the US weekly jobless claims data for the week ending January 28th. Adding to the very gold supportive interest rate backdrop, Japan's finance and economic ministers are putting pressure on the Bank of Japan to consider easing monetary policy even further. Negative yields on some bonds (such as TIPS) are very gold positive as is moves to let investors buy short term bills with negative yields. Gold is also being supported by central bank buying. Russia's gold and foreign exchange reserves rose to $504 billion in the week to Jan. 27 from $499.7 billion a week earlier.
Listen to the Landlord in Chief lay out his REO to LBO plan live and in stereo. Since everyone will end up paying for it, directly or indirectly, sooner or later it probably is relevant.
Bill Gross Explains Why "We Are Witnessing The Death Of Abundance" And Why Gold Is Becoming The Default "Store Of Value"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/01/2012 09:44 -0400
While sounding just a tad preachy in his February newsletter, Bill Gross' latest summary piece on the economy, on the Fed's forray into infinite ZIRP, into maturity transformation, and the lack thereof, on the Fed's massive blunder in treating the liquidity trap, but most importantly on what the transition from a levering to delevering global economy means, is a must read. First: on the fatal flaw in the Fed's plan: "when rational or irrational fear persuades an investor to be more concerned about the return of her money than on her money then liquidity can be trapped in a mattress, a bank account or a five basis point Treasury bill. But that commonsensical observation is well known to Fed policymakers, economic historians and certainly citizens on Main Street." And secondly, here is why the party is over: "Where does credit go when it dies? It goes back to where it came from. It delevers, it slows and inhibits economic growth, and it turns economic theory upside down, ultimately challenging the wisdom of policymakers. We’ll all be making this up as we go along for what may seem like an eternity. A 30-50 year virtuous cycle of credit expansion which has produced outsize paranormal returns for financial assets – bonds, stocks, real estate and commodities alike – is now delevering because of excessive “risk” and the “price” of money at the zero-bound. We are witnessing the death of abundance and the borning of austerity, for what may be a long, long time." Yet most troubling is that even Gross, a long-time member of the status quo, now sees what has been obvious only to fringe blogs for years: "Recent central bank behavior, including that of the U.S. Fed, provides assurances that short and intermediate yields will not change, and therefore bond prices are not likely threatened on the downside. Still, zero-bound money may kill as opposed to create credit. Developed economies where these low yields reside may suffer accordingly. It may as well, induce inflationary distortions that give a rise to commodities and gold as store of value alternatives when there is little value left in paper." Let that sink in for a second, and let it further sink in what happens when $1.3 trillion Pimco decides to open a gold fund. Physical preferably...
If anyone is tired of the daily European soap opera with surrealistic tragicomic overtones, they can simply shift their gaze to the 8th largest economy in the world: the insolvent state of California, whose controller just told legislators has just over a month worth of cash left. From the Sacramento Bee: "California will run out of cash by early March if the state does not take swift action to find $3.3 billion through payment delays and borrowing, according to a letter state Controller John Chiang sent to state lawmakers today. The announcement is surprising since lawmakers previously believed the state had enough cash to last through the fiscal year that ends in June." ....uh, oops? But sure, fix the problem of excess debt by more "borrowing" why not. As for the math: "But Chiang said additional cash management solutions are needed because state tax revenues are $2.6 billion less than what Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers assumed in their optimistic budget last year. Meanwhile, Chiang said, the state is spending $2.6 billion more than state leaders planned on." Quick, someone come up with a plan that involves subsidies and tariffs on China, or something else that deflects from what the source of the problem really is. Because the last thing that anyone in America would want to bring up is this thing called "responsibility" for their actions, or, as in now becoming the default case, the lack thereof. And why do that, when time spent so much more productively scapegoating this, and blaming that for one's own massive errors of judgment.
Interesting & Informative Documentary on the Power of Rating Agencies, Along With Reggie Middleton ExcerptsSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 01/31/2012 11:46 -0400
Ever want to know what a documentary that spits the truth about the rating agency scam and overall Ponzi would look like if it actually aired on international TV???
As if Merkel did not make it all too clear over the weekend that Germany no longer wishes Greece to be part of the Eurozone, and that the ball is now in Athens' court to accept what is a glaringly unfeasible demand, i.e., to hand over fiscal sovereignty over to "Europe" with Merkel having the cover of saying it did everything in its power to keep Greece in the union, here comes Commerzbank's CEO Mueller to pick up where Merkel left off:
- COMMERZBANK'S MUELLER SAYS GREECE SHOULD EXIT EURO ZONE
- COMMERZBANK'S MUELLER SPOKE TO DEUTSCHES ANLEGER FERNSEHEN
Presumably this means that German banks have sold off all their Greek bond exposure, and believe that the Eurozone would be better off without Greece in it. However, that Commerzbank, or one of the most insolvent banks in Europe, and only in line with Dexia, is confident that it can withstand the contagtion that would follow, only makes us even more skeptical that a Greek default and Eurozone departure will be contained, and in all likelihood will have scary implications for all European banks, not only German ones. Just ask DB's Ackermann...