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Guest Post: Is The UK About To Engage In A Stealth Default?

If there was ever an article that should spark every British citizen to immediately shift their savings into physical gold this is it.  Basically, proposals are on the table to change the way inflation is calculated for bonds that payout based on the rate of change in prices.  Unsurprisingly, they are purposely attempting to use an alternative measure of inflation that allows substitution (so when people can no longer buy a steak and must spend the same amount of money on spam this shows up as no inflation)!  If this goes through, it is blatant theft.  This is why owning TIPS in the U.S. is a total fool’s game.  They will mark inflation to whatever level they want at the end of the day.  To whatever is most convenient at the moment.  You know, just like the banks mark their balance sheets.  But don’t take my word for it…

Guest Post: The We-Fixed-Nothing Chickens Are Coming Home to Roost

The reality that the global Status Quo has fixed absolutely nothing in four years is finally coming to roost in the global economy. Though there is an endless array of complexity to snare the unwary, the source of instability is both visible and easily understood: too much debt that will never be paid back. Making matters much worse, much of the money that was borrowed--by sovereign governments, local governments, households and private enterprises--was squandered on consumption or malinvestments, and so there are precious few assets or collateral underlying the debt. Even when there is an asset--for example, a vacant house in a vacant development in Spain, or a Greek bond--the market value is considerably lower than the purchase price. The reality is that trillions of dollars, euros, yen and renminbi in phantom wealth will disappear when the losses that have already taken place are finally recognized. Everyone in the world with exposure to the global economy will become poorer in terms of abundant money floating around buying goods and services as credit dries up and deleveraging wipes out trillions of dollars, euros, yen and renminbi of phantom wealth.

As Soros Starts A Three Month Countdown To D(oom)-Day, Europe Plans A New Master Plan

What would the weekend be without at least one rumor that Europe is on the verge of fixing everything, or failing that, planning for a master fix, OR failing that, planning for a master plan to fix everything. Sure enough, we just got the latter, which considering nobody really believes anything out of Europe anymore, especially not something that has not been signed, stamped and approved by Merkel herself, is rather ballsy. Nonetheless, one can't blame them for trying: "The chiefs of four European institutions are in the process of creating a master plan for the euro zone, the daily Die Welt reports Saturday, in an advance release of an article to be published Sunday. Suggestions targeting a fiscal, banking, and political union, as well as structural reforms, are being worked out..." Less than credible sources report that Spiderman towels (which are now trading at negative repo rates) and cross-rehypothecated kitchen sinks are also key components of all future "master plans" which sadly are absolutely meaningless since the signature of Europe's paymaster - the Bundesrepublik - is as usual lacking. Which is why, "the plan may well mean that the euro zone adopts measures not immediately accepted by the whole of the European Union, the article adds." So... European sub-union? Hardly strange is that just as this latest desperate attempt at distraction from the complete chaos in Europe (which will only find a resolution once XO crosses 1000 as we and Citi suggested two weeks ago and when the world is truly on the verge of the abyss), none other than George Soros has just started a 3-month countdown to European the European D(oom)-Day.

Phoenix Capital Research's picture

 

To be clear, the Fed, indeed, Global Central Banks in general, have never had to deal with a problem the size of the coming EU’s Banking Crisis. I want to stress all of these facts because I am often labeled as being just “doom and gloom” all the time. But I am not in fact doom and gloom. I am a realist. And EU is a colossal mess beyond the scope of anyone’s imagination. The World’s Central Banks cannot possibly hope to contain it. They literally have one of two choices:

  1. Monetize everything (hyperinflation)
  2. Allow the defaults and collapse to happen (mega-deflation)

Guest Post: Cashing In On Japan's Debt Conundrum?

On the heels of Fitch's sovereign credit downgrade to A plus (the fifth-highest investment grade), Japan's government debt continues to swell. With its debt at over 200% of its GDP, the Land of the Rising Sun appears to be embarking on a trek into the debt-laden unknown. As with any well-known macro-trend, there are speculators eager to capitalize on it. A ballooning government debt is often associated with sovereign debt crises, as market shocks can send the interest rate paid on the debt to unsustainable levels. Coupled with Japan's shrinking population (and thus tax base), the country is setting itself up for a hairy situation (data for both charts are from the IMF's World Economic Outlook Database). Enter Kyle Bass, one of the few hedge fund managers who made a killing when he bet against housing during the subprime mortgage bust. He and his fund have now set their sights on Japan, specifically shorting Japanese yen and Japanese government debt. His thesis is simple: with a debt-to-GDP ratio over 200% and a contracting population, it's only a matter of time before a sovereign debt crisis sets in, thus triggering a rise in Japanese interest rates – which the government would be unable to service with a shrinking and aging tax base. So far this strategy hasn't worked as Bass intended: according to ValueWalk, Bass' fund lost 29% of its value in April alone. That's not to say Bass' assumptions are incorrect. But there are alternative ways of looking at Japan's situation.

About That Boaz Weinstein London Whale Bulls-Eye

Two days ago we made a simple observation: back in September 2011, Weinstein's firm SABA Capital hired one of the key JPMorgan prop traders - Maitland Hudson - who "ran JPMorgan’s proprietary trading of derivatives tied to commercial-mortgage bonds" and whose future job at Saba would "focus on relative value trades" - such as, perhaps, IG9 10 Year versus a basket of tranched trades... Our suggestion was that instead of being a brilliant credit trader as he has been called by Bill Ackman, and his antics while in charge of the DB prop desk certainly put theory in jeopardy, perhaps Weinstein is merely a wonderful headhunter: one who knows just whom to hire and when (kinda like Steve Cohen hiring key Pharmaceutical company R&D personnel in a perfectly legal transaction now that expert networks are done, but that is a topic for another day).

The Second Act Of The JPM CIO Fiasco Has Arrived - Mismarking Hundreds Of Billions In Credit Default Swaps

As anyone who has ever traded CDS (or any other OTC, non-exchange traded product) knows, when you have a short risk position, unless compliance tells you to and they rarely do as they have no idea what CDS is most of the time, you always mark the EOD price at the offer, and vice versa, on long risk positions, you always use the bid. That way the P&L always looks better. And for portfolios in which the DV01 is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars (or much, much more if your name was Bruno Iksil), marking at either side of an illiquid market can result in tens if not hundreds of millions of unrealistic profits booked in advance, simply to make one's book look better, mostly for year end bonus purposes. Apparently JPM's soon to be fired Bruno Iksil was no stranger to this: as Bloomberg reports, JPM's CIO unit "was valuing some of its trades at  prices that differed from those of its investment bank, according to people familiar with the matter. The discrepancy between prices used by the chief investment office and JPMorgan’s credit-swaps dealer, the biggest in the U.S., may have obscured by hundreds of millions of dollars the magnitude of the loss before it was disclosed May 10, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to discuss the matter. "I’ve never run into anything like that,” said Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.’s Brad Hintz in New York. “That’s why you have a centralized accounting group that’s comparing marks” between different parts of the bank “to make sure you don’t have any outliers” .... Jamie Dimon's "tempest in a teapot" just became a fully-formed, perfect storm which suddenly threatens his very position, and could potentially lead to billions more in losses for his firm.

Guest Post: Enter The Swan

We know the U.S. is a big and liquid (though not really very transparent) market. We know that the rest of the world — led by Europe’s myriad issues, and China’s bursting housing bubble — is teetering on the edge of a precipice, and without a miracle will fall (perhaps sooner, rather than later). But we also know that America is inextricably interconnected to this mess. If Europe (or China or both) disintegrates, triggering (another) global default cascade, America will be stung by its European banking exposures, its exposures to global energy markets and global trade flows. Simply, there cannot be financial decoupling, not in this hyper-connected, hyper-leveraged world.

All of this suggests a global crash or proto-crash will be followed by a huge global money printing operation, probably spearheaded by the Fed. Don’t let the Europeans fool anyone, either — Germany will not let the Euro crumble for fear of money printing. When push comes to shove they will print and fiscally consolidate to save their pet project (though perhaps demanding gold as collateral, and perhaps kicking out some delinquents). China will spew trillions of stimulus money into more and deeper malinvestment (why have ten ghost cities when you can have fifty? Good news for aggregate demand!).

Time To Load Up On Denmark CDS - Moody's Cuts Nine Danish Financial Institutions: Luxor Thesis In Play

Last time we looked at Denmark it it was in the context of Luxor Capital which had some very ugly things to say about the Scandinavian country in "Rotten Contagion To Make Landfall In Denmark: CDS Set To Soar As Hedge Funds Target Country." Now, 6 months later, Moody's has finally gotten the memo: "Moody's Investors Service has today downgraded the ratings for nine Danish financial institutions and for one foreign subsidiary of a Danish group by one to three notches. The short-term ratings declined by one notch for six of these institutions. The rating outlooks for five banks affected by today's rating actions are stable, whereas the rating outlooks for two banks and for all three specialised lenders affected by today's rating actions are negative  The magnitude of some of today's downgrades reflects a range of concerns, including the risk that some institutions' concentrated loan books deteriorate amidst difficult domestic and European conditions, with adverse consequences on their ability to refinance maturing debt. The latter concern is exacerbated by structural changes in the terms of Danish covered bonds and the mix of underlying assets that lead to increased refinancing risk. While Moody's central scenario remains that financial institutions show some resilience to what will likely be a prolonged difficult environment - and the revised rating levels for most Danish financial institutions continue to reflect low risks to creditors - today's rating actions reflect the view that these risks have increased."

Is Germany's CDS Pricing A 6% EUR Devaluation?

Whether the market is expecting more significant deterioration with the European debacle or somewhat perversely a rapid-response by the ECB (with its flood of EUR overwhelming USD), it appears the USD-denominated Germany CDS spreads are once again pricing in notable devaluation in the EURUSD exchange rate. Given the US and (almost explicitly given its dominance) Germany are more currency issuer than user, default risk is not the main driver of the CDS spread but currency re-/de-valuation (some might call it inflation) is much more of a factor. After EURUSD and German CDS being tightly coupled for months, last summer-to-fall's Eurocalypse disconnected them as the CDS market led exchange-rate lower. It seems with the current dislocation that USD-denominated (and EUR paying) German CDS are expecting EURUSD at around 1.1750 - or a 6% devaluation of the EUR. With today's dismal confidence data seeming enough bad data to spark QE3 hopes over here, we can only imagine the relative size of print-fest the two central banks will need to create in order for CDS to be correct.