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Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: March 1 - Eurozone Jobless Rate Highest Since October 1997

European bourses are trading in positive territory ahead of the North American following a relatively quiet morning in Europe. Markets are led by the financials sector, currently trading up around 1.10%. This follows yesterday’s ECB LTRO. As such, the 3-month Euribor fix has fallen to 0.967%, a significant fall in inter-bank lending costs. PMI Manufacturing data released earlier today came in roughly in line with preliminary estimates. The Eurozone unemployment rate for February has also been released, showing the highest jobless rate since October 1997. There has been little in the way of currency moves so far in the session; however there may be fluctuations in USD pairs following the release of ISM Manufacturing data and weekly jobless claims later today.

ISDA Unanimous - No Payout On Greek CDS

As expected by virtually everyone:

  • NO PAYOUT ON GREECE $3.25 BILLION DEFAULT SWAPS, ISDA SAYS

Keep in mind, as criminal as this appears, and as damaging to the CDS market, the real trigger will be what ISDA does determines following the end of the PSI process. If there is no credit event then either, especially when the CACs are triggered as expected - an event which will certifiably be a trigger event under Section 4.7, then ISDA is truly hell bent on blowing up the CDS market as a hedging vehicle in its entirety.

As ISDA Sits To "Find" If Greek CDS Triggered, It Gets Second Greek Default Determination Request

Somehow, following three years of defaults, the world has only now figured out that the ISDA CDS trigger determination committee is made up of the same bankers, who stand to lose everything in the case of global out of control contagion, such as that which may occur if an unwelcome CDS trigger sends the house of cards collapsing, and force mark to market losses on all those institutions which hold impaired debt at par (all of them). As a result, the ISDA meeting which is currently in process is expect to find absolutely nothing, and we agree, however not for that particular 'conspiratorial' reason, but because ISDA is waiting for the PSI outcome for a realistic finding on a credit event. Because after all ISDA is not stupid: they don't want to appear like a pushover - remember how vehemently ISDA had opposed a Greek CDS trigger in the days when Europe still was not prepared for this outcome -  but on the other hand wants to preserve some CDS market credibility, which would disappear if none of the recent events in Greece were to trigger CDS. Yet more Greek creditors are getting impatient. Even as the first ISDA meeting has to find (that there has been no CDS trigger), the association's determination committee has just released that it has gotten a second question whether a "Restructuring Credit Event occurred with respect to The Hellenic Republic?" We find it rather odd (or not really) how suddenly quite a few requests are springing out of the woodwork by creditors who obviously are interest in a Greek default. As such the PSI gets quite interesting, because if the pre-PSI action is any indication, quite a few creditors are rather interested in triggering just the event they now consistently badger ISDA with.

QE3 Or Not To Be, A Brief Q & A

As good news appears to be bad news for now and the hopes of imminent dovish QE3-gasms gets pushed off a week or two, we thought it useful to dig into the mysterious central bank go-to play in a little more detail. Morgan Stanley's European Economics Team asks and answers five of the most frequently discussed questions with regard quantitative easing. From whether QE has worked to inflation fears and concerns over policy normalization and what happens if the public lose confidence in central bank liabilities, we suspect these questions, rather dovishly answered by the MS team, will reappear sooner rather than later, and as they interestingly note, the deployment of central bank balance sheets is, in essence, a confidence trick.

Phoenix Capital Research's picture

Germany is in a great squeeze. On one side the ECB and G20 want Germany to step up with more money to save Europe. On the other hand, German CEOs, voters, and even the courts, are increasingly wanting out of the Euro. This is not a situation that gives one much confidence that Germany will stick around for too much longer. It is my view Germany is going to do all it can to force Greece out of the Euro before March 20th (the date that the next round of Greek debt is due) or will simply pull out of the Euro (but not the EU) itself.


Guest Post: Is Housing An Attractive Investment?

In a previous report, Headwinds for Housing, I examined structural reasons why the much-anticipated recovery in housing valuations and sales has failed to materialize. In Searching for the Bottom in Home Prices, I addressed the Washington and Federal Reserve policies that have attempted to boost the housing market. In this third series, let’s explore this question: is housing now an attractive investment?  At least some people think so, as investors are accounting for around 25% of recent home sales. Superficially, housing looks potentially attractive as an investment. Mortgage rates are at historic lows, prices have declined about one-third from the bubble top (and even more in some markets), and alternative investments, such as Treasury bonds, are paying such low returns that when inflation is factored in, they're essentially negative. On the “not so fast” side of the ledger, there is a bulge of distressed inventory still working its way through the “hose” of the marketplace, as owners are withholding foreclosed and underwater homes from the market in hopes of higher prices ahead. The uncertainties of the MERS/robosigning Foreclosuregate mortgage issues offer a very real impediment to the market discovering price and risk. And massive Federal intervention to prop up demand with cheap mortgages and low down payments has introduced another uncertainty: What happens to prices if this unprecedented intervention ever declines? Last, the obvious correlation between housing and the economy remains an open question: Is the economy recovering robustly enough to boost demand for housing, or is it still wallowing in a low-growth environment that isn’t particularly positive for housing?

2012 - The Year Of Living Dangerously

...European banks are three times larger than the European sovereigns, the ECB is not the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States, the leading economy in Europe, Germany, is 22% of the economy of America, that there are ever and always consequences for providing free money, that Europe is in a recession and it will be much deeper than thought by many in my view, that the demanded austerity measures are unquestionably worsening the recession and increasing unemployment, that nations become much more self-centered when their economies are contracting and that the more protracted all of this is; the more pronounced Newton’s reaction will be when the pendulum reverses course.

ISDA To Hold First Greek Default Determination Hearing On March 1

For a while there it seemed that together with the LTRO and the Bernanke testimony, tomorrow's event trifecta would be joined by ISDA, which it had previously been rumored would make a decision on whether a credit event (read CDS trigger) had occurred in the context of Greece, and specifically following the ECB's stripping of its own bonds under some arcane exchange offer that only the ECB was privy to (this is not a determination whether a credit event has taken place related to the PSI - that will take place in late March). According to a just released PR, this won't happen, and instead ISDA will hold the meeting at 11 GMT on Thursday, March 1, the day after the LTRO, and announce everything was voluntary and by the books, just to avoid overloading the algos with bullish news at the same time (recall that the LTRO announcement will take place at 11:15 CET). In this way, the upside love will be spread over two days, which should hopefully result in another 30 ES point, as the headline scanning aglos no longer care what the headlines actually say, as long as there are headlines. Remember: when dealing with a bipolar Atari 2600 - quantity trumps quality any time, especially when coming off the biggest short-term central bank liquidity infusion in markets in history.

Unsuccessful Irish Referendum Would Prevent A Future ESM-Funded Bailout

While the now scheduled Irish referendum on the fiscal treaty, which will likely not pass successfully absent major concessions on behalf of Europe, will not precipitate a failure of the recently agree upon compact, as 12 out of the 17 contracting parties need to support the Eurozone, it will have an impact in that it would impact future bailouts of Ireland courtesy of preset European bailout mechanisms. In other words, should things take a turn for the worse, and they will, in the near future, Ireland will have to rely on itself to save itself. As a reminder, it took Europe 2 years to (supposedly) firewall itself from default and a collapse of its banks. How long will the same take for Ireland, because while the country may be standalone, its banks most certainly will not be. Remember that money is fungible. So are massive unrecognized Mark to Market losses. Morgan Stanley explains.

So Greece 'Defaults' And Europe Moves On...

So far there are no dramatic consequences of the Greek default.  The ECB did say they couldn’t accept it as collateral, but national central banks (including Greece’s somehow solvent NCB) can, so no real change.  We will likely get a Credit Event prior to March 20th once CAC’s are used to get the deal fully done.  Will the market respond much to that?  Probably not, though there is a higher risk of unforeseen consequences from that, than there was from the S&P downgrade. It just strikes us that Europe wasted a year or more, and has created a less stable system than it had before. Tomorrow’s LTRO is definitely interesting.  It seems like every outcome is now bullish – big take up is bullish because of the “carry” trade.  Low take up is bullish because “banks are okay”. Any weak bank looking to borrow from the LTRO to buy sovereign debt would be insane to buy bonds longer than 3 years and take the roll risk, but on the other hand, the weakest and most insolvent, got there by doing insane things in the first place.

Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: February 28

Stocks advanced as market participants looked forward to tomorrow’s 3yr LTRO by the ECB where the street expects EU banks to borrow around EUR 400-500bln. All ten sectors traded in positive territory for much of the session, however less than impressive demand for the latest Italian government paper saw equity indices lose some of the upside traction. Of note, the ECB allotted EUR 29.469bln in 7-day operation, as well as EUR 134bln for 1-day in bridge to 3yr loans. In other new, although Portugal's finance minister announced the country has passed its 3rd bailout review by the EU/IMF, this did not stop S&P's Kraemer saying that if there is a probability of default, it is higher in Portugal than in any other Euro-Zone country.